A Reasonable man living in a Reasonable Age will always deny the existence of God and the gods as is right and good according to his agreeable nature; he will also deny anything which might even be remotely construed as deriving from the domain of non-linguistic, non-sensual, irrational Faith. For such is the natural, rational, and reasonable response that Reason will have (and must) toward any “thing” it deems to have originated outside of and independent to its own ceaseless aesthetic machinations, those “things” which transcend and thus cannot be fully grasped in their entirety by those senses. In fact, Reason cannot hold any opinion to the contrary, just as Faith cannot cede any ground in its conviction that all thoughts and deeds that might transpire in the domain of Reason are groundless from the start and inevitably terminate in meaninglessness, self-sabotage, and existential failure.
And if such can be said of the Reasonable man, so too will a Reasonable people, tongue, and nation in which reasonable individuals dwell hold similar opinions. In fact, a Reasonable people will express the sentiments of Reason to a far greater degree than will the lone individual, save for the small allowance it might grant the right of Faith to exist insofar as “Faith” is believed by rulers to serve as a useful outlet for the ventilation of the irrational instincts of its people. This allowance, however, is merely a practical means to maintain the balance of power between the rulers and the ruled. A Reasonable leader will, of course, not acknowledge the right of Faith to exist for its own sake, but only to more aptly control the ruled. For Faith is, in the eyes of Reasonable rulers, presumably fashioned in the image of Reason, and of man – not in the image of the Spirit who is Faith in its wordless, inapprehensible totality.
Astronomy is, indeed, the first fruit of Reason and was in many ways that area of intellectual study in which Reason first asserted itself not merely as a novel phenomenon and a practicable response to the end of the reign of the gods but as a pragmatic means of establishing a certain firm cognitive and objective foundation by which human civilization might begin again anew after the fall of the Bronze Age and with it, the deterioration of the archaic human mentality that had prevailed in the human psyche and his community from “time immemorial”.
However, inasmuch as early astronomy concerned itself with the intrinsically meaningless movement of the celestial bodies and their distance between one another and also the angles formed by the proximal cloistering of certain bright and prominent stars – that study which gave rise to geometry and by it, the entire inheritance of mathematical proofs passed down unto today – the priests who endlessly stared at the skies, working at the behest of the actual rulers who endeavored to maintain control and stability, had as yet no way to pragmatically apply this study upon the lower and more sensual ranks of society which, at least in the earliest centuries of Reason’s emergence, had to be cowed into submission, the primary means of such intimidation which came in the form of a completely arbitrary protocol which the gods of the starry sky apparently demanded that man follow so as to escape their wrath or perhaps be blessed by their providence. Bereft of the previously seamless communion with the “unseen”, man no doubt believed that the gods had fled because of some human wrongdoing, hence the need for earthly priests and seers and prophets to act as communicators with the gods on man’s behalf and to also act as stand-ins for the gods themselves, to be the mouth of the gods, sometimes real, sometimes not.
Out of this need to oppress the people by goading and frightening them through the minefield of omen and augury combined with man’s need for some sort of sign or communication from and with the heavens (into which the gods apparently fled) was “astrology” birthed, astrology which was the practical “application” of the inescapably meaningless pursuit of the astronomy; astrology which the pre-Socratic philosophers and earliest Greek statesmen and the rest of the Seven Sages endeavored to free their compatriots’ minds and thinking from — even if their beloved Homer and (more specifically) Hesiod had to be sacrificed to bring that about, an endeavor in which they were more or less successful, at least in the minds of the majority of educated Greek freemen and the upper echelon of Greek society.
As opposed to their neighbors in the eastern Mediterranean and especially those failed river valley civilizations of the inland desert, Greece, which I often say should be considered “the first successful subjective civilization”, was “successful” principally because they – perhaps for no other reason than to stand out as distinct and by it, better than their neighbors – managed to emancipate their minds from the overweening tyranny of astrology and the myths that clothe astrology in supposed flesh and blood, clothing which – as I have stated elsewhere – was intended above all else to maintain the aristocracy’s place atop their civilizational hierarchy and reinforce the existing status quo.
The tendency of all astronomers is to see astronomy and the mathematical laws that apparently govern the movements of the stars as somehow divine and to thus also see the geometry that was born out of such movements as also divine and fixed, which leads such ones to see themselves, as astronomers, as also divine, an opinion that students of great mathematicians always hold for teachers (for do not mathematical solutions almost always come through some sort of epiphanic revelation, epiphanies that only “the great minds” or else “divine minds” can intuit?).
Consider how different the trajectory of the West and the world might have been if Pythagoras had not stayed in Samos, or if he had chosen to establish his school in Athens and not that ignorant “backwater” of Magna Grecia, its distance from Athens which saved the Athenian mind from lapsing back into the oldest and most lethal of all errors that beset the earliest civilizations: that their fate was inextricably determined by the position of the stars – that error which those earlier subjective populations could not fully extricate themselves from, perhaps because they did not want to or had not the intellectual capacity to bring such extrication about.
The greatest inheritance of Greece was the poverty of her land; and also the remoteness of her islands, and isolation of her coastal cities as well as the absence of any single great river which may have flooded at certain unerring times and seasons; and also her abundance of olives and vines which – neither needing much rain, sediment, or soil fertility but only plenty of happy sun and aridity – bestowed upon the Greek populations a certain degree of natural autonomy, self-sufficiency, and independence from any single god-like potentate whose rule, of course, was always maintained by the priestly class and their incessant “interpretations” of the signs in the heavens, those usually a portent of the yearly floods. Subjective “original” or else “independent” thought would have more or less been impossible for the river valley civilizations or Egypt or Chinese civilization, the latter whose untenable deep, long gorges and inhospitable valleys, combined with their preference for the intensive cultivation of rice, demanded inconceivable amounts of coordination, cooperation, and administration, the likes of which could only come from a central administrator whose power was later interpreted as divine, unquestionable, and as stable as the yearly floods that fertilized the slopes upon which the rice would have been grown.
Devil walks into bar. Orders drink. Asks Philosopher sitting next to him: “And what do you do?”