Asking Life’s Ultimate Questions
I believe a very important, albeit perhaps inconspicuous process is unfolding in the country: The purpose of the next phase of Russia's historical development is crystallizing. And this process has little to do with the tiring search for the ‘national idea,' formulating a unifying ideology and activity of the like.
The growth of the crystal of public understanding is largely a natural process, one that poorly lends itself to regulation or organization. There is a feeling that the 25-year historical pause, during which time we were in a state of temptation and delusion, seems to be coming to an end.
"Return to civilization" and faith in a windfall raining down on us by courtesy of the invisible hand of the market has led to the realization that things have turned out just the opposite. It is becoming increasingly obvious that the West, not we, has reached a civilizational impasse (at one time we were in the same boat with it) and that no market economy can replace sovereign will or political and administrative thought.
A groundwork is coalescing that makes it possible for thinking and sensitive people (philosophers, religious figures, politicians, scholars, authors, writers, journalists, TV hosts, commentators and so on) to speak about concepts, ideas, values and objectives that can provide an intellectual basis for projecting the next historical step in Russia's development. Furthermore, many people today are becoming aware of these concepts and ideas, discussing them with considerable interest.
Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia Kirill recently made a major contribution to the formulation of historical purposes. On March 20, 2016, during the First Week of Great Lent, after performing divine service at the Christ the Savior Cathedral, he delivered a sermon. In it, the patriarch urged the faithful to fight the present-day global heresy: anthropotheism.
Human rights cannot be above God's word, the patriarch averred. The church should focus the entire power of its word and thought on overcoming this new kind of idolatry.
This heresy did not originate in the bosom of the church. At the beginning of the past century, Sergei Bulgakov addressed in depth the threat of anthropotheism in his work, Ludwig Feuerbach's Religion of Anthropotheism. Descartes with his advocacy of self-reliance, Auguste Comte with his religion of humanity and Ludwig Feuerbach's anthropotheism — these are the most important but not the only sources of the aforementioned infection. Actually, this body of philosophical ideas becomes heresy only because it has infected a significant part of Christians. The present author has no intention to critique this trend of philosophical thought.
Something else is important. Over the past 300 years, these ideas have been aggressively promoted. The scale of their dissemination is quite significant and we can observe the empirical consequences of this. The realization of the "everything for the person" principle and his exemption from debt to God eventually lead to the cult of the most disgusting qualities. Egoism, alienation, total irresponsibility, rampant abnormalities and pathologies, empty and groundless ambitions, passion for pleasures and obsession with success: This is a far from exhaustive list of effects resulting from the replacement of God by man.
If a person is not subject to God's will he inevitably becomes subject to the Devil's will. The cult of man leads to his degradation and degeneration. The patriarch also pointed to the risk that all of this can bring about "apocalyptic events." A society with this kind of people does not lend itself to reproduction.
I believe this can be put even more bluntly: Man has no independent value. The existence of man (mankind) has no meaning beyond the mission assigned to him (it). Without the divine assignment that man voluntarily accepts and carries out, sooner or later he devolves to a primitive state.
Analysis of the ultimate bounds and meaning of our existence becomes inevitable as soon as we refuse to follow the path of modern-day misanthropic humanism.
Here, it is essential to identify within all three Abrahamic religions what is related to the principles of religious life, regulates and guides man on his path to God and what can be attributed to God's providence in relation to man (mankind), to his "mission," speaking in modern terms.
Whereas the Talmud, the commandments and Sharia law provide clear guidance on the way to live, it will be far more difficult to find an answer to the question regarding man's predestination and the purpose behind his creation. There is something to discuss here.
Of course, in every religion there are plenty of followers who will maintain that their books provide full and exhaustive answers and that there is nothing to discuss. However, I disagree with this. A holy text also requires an effort to understand, analyze and interpret its content. The revelation presented in this kind of text has yet be understood, especially in the practical context: What is the mission that we should undertake and that cannot be reduced only to the needs of survival and reproduction, filling our own life, as well as collective life, with ultimate meaning and substance? What is the human image that we should try to emulate? Faith cannot and should not obstruct the search for answers to these questions or their discussion.
Now I will offer my own vision of this mission. It is not canonical and definitely not scientific. It is designed to illustrate a possible type of reasoning whereby we move from man's ultimate destiny to the fundamental objectives and developmental guidelines for social practices. This way of reasoning is not at variance with the principle, "render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and unto God the things that are God's." Based on the perception of man's destiny, developmental objectives are formulated in areas of activity that no one state can do without. Man is always free to decide which path to follow and whose side to take.
So, what can we tell ourselves, based on the well-known facts and the hints that we have received?
In all likelihood, man came into being as a result of some kind of "vaccination." Biological evolution ended with higher primates. By that time, the developmental impulse that was originally built into it had been exhausted. As a result of an act that is still not quite comprehensible, one of the species at the time was endowed with the highest possible potencies: the ability to love, think, understand and act at will. This biological species proved to be suitable material to imprint the image of God and his powers.
Originally, man has two hypostases: a divine and a natural one. As a matter of fact, all collisions and vicissitudes of man's fate are closely linked to this fundamental dualism. Why and how this happened can be gleaned from biblical tenets. If originally man was with God, it could be assumed that originally he did not have a physical body. In "the image and likeness" also means invisible. Physical incarnation occurred as a result of Lucifer's provocation. The latter convinced a well-known couple that they will be like gods "who know good and evil." Distinguishing between good and evil is the domain of the cunning one. God is love; there are no vibrations of evil there. Essentially, Adam and Eve partook of the apple from Lucifer himself, who infected them with a spirit of independence, individuality and jealousy, for which they were expelled from paradise. And they were not simply expelled but expelled with a radical change in their form of existence: they became mortal; they had to work; they became susceptible to illness, passion, and so on, i.e.; they acquired a physical body on earth.
What's more, presumably, matter itself and even biological evolution are the result of Lucifer's experiments. After all, as is known, having broken away from God and having proudly set out to surpass his Creator, he, being the most powerful creature after God, was also into creation. Thus, as a result of his successful provocation, he acquired a particle of his Creator, hoping that he would succeed in keeping it under his full control within his universe.
God lets all of this be as he hopes to spiritualize this matter and integrate it into his world through the embodiment of his most favored creature into Lucifer's material world and thus make the world even richer with more opportunities. Lucifer's plan ended up within God's plan.
Man is designed to rectify Lucifer's plan. His mission is to return the part that fell away into the bosom of Life. This is his assignment. We need to conquer death, decay and disease with the power of our light as spiritual and light-carrying beings [homo luminosities]. We need to learn to create matter and subordinate it to the spirit within us.
This explains Lucifer's fierce resistance: We jeopardize his creation; man can pull the rug from under his feet.
If God's design for man is what we have described and if we want to be on the side of the Heavenly Father then this design should provide guidance for arranging the core systems of activity.
We need to augment man's living capabilities instead of following the path towards his machinization and robotization. Today, the entire system of education is geared towards cultivating a partial, mechanistic and narrow-minded person.
Our man should be able to change and transform himself by developing his cognitive and practical skills and expanding his ability to control his feelings, desires and perceptions. His external transformation activity should be harmoniously balanced with his goal of changing himself and augmenting and realizing human (i.e., divine) potentialities.
We should teach the person to restore, renovate and even recreate his own body. The course pursued by modern-day medicine towards prosthetization (above all, pharmaceutical), microchips and the external regulation of bodily processes is pointed in the opposite direction.
We need to produce goods and products that increase a person's viability instead of cultivating technologies that impair his overall viability.
The production of such people should be the focus of state and public concern. Then we will interlock anthropocentrism with God's providence.