||"dawnbreak in the west"|
Sunday, May 22, 2011
Islam is God's religion
Walton's thesis is that "Genesis One" (which I attribute to the Priest, "P") is classically Near Eastern. The elderly gentlemen in the skullcaps, at the synagogues and the Vatican, are not - any longer - Near Eastern. The latter preach on the assumption that God is not infused with the world; He is outside it, acting via miracle.
To "P", this latter-day school of thought would have posed, quite literally, a cosmic horror. Anyone can read Genesis 6-7 and see what happens when "Atlas shrugs" (as it were). Clearly there has been a change amongst the readers of Genesis One between "P"'s day - the 600s BC - and now. That change didn't start with Darwin.
I think the change starts with Hellenism. The Greek conqueror Alexander imposed upon the Semites the school of Aristotle, and Aristotle exiles the gods. For alternative creation theories, the Greeks offered similarly secular hypothesis like those of Anaxagoras; about which I recommend David Sedley's Creationism and its Critics in Antiquity. The Greeks brought along also their own ethnic mythology, with Zeus and the Trojan War; and they tolerated the old Canaanite religions by way of syncretism - so, Baal became more like Thor. (But of course the Canaanites were always more like Greeks than like their bumpkin colinguals up the hills.)
All of these philosophies and religions, in defiance of "P", assume the world to survive without purpose or function. If there are gods, they aren't much stronger or better than humans.
"P" - speaking for the hillmen - assumes that the Âliha created Cosmos before assigning function to it. What "P" doesn't do is argue for it; nor even assert it, much. There just wasn't the need until 332 BC. One expects that, after 332 BC, the hinterland Near East would have reacted against this violent imposition of polyideological chaos, and so it did...
All is vanity
The book of Ecclesiastes proposes, for a world gone meaningless, despair.
The skullcaps conceded the point to the Hellenes: that God - having delivered His Message - has retreated from the world, and now acts via miracle. Humans have free will and may choose their purpose.
1 Enoch 83-90 is as far as I know the forerunner of apocalypse; I would also cite Daniel 7. These texts cluster around Antiochus IV, although said texts likely had predecessors. In them the world suffers tribulations, as happened in Noah's time. Unlike Noah's time, though, the present is not suffering a relapse of tohu and bohu. Rather, God is displeased and smites the world - from outside it.
Apocalypticism, then, was a first attempt by Near Easterners to assert God's power in a world which had exiled God. All apocalyptic movements from the Jewish root, from Alexander to Heraclius, failed. God did not return; the priests and rabbis never did dislodge Hellenism.
The reactionary endstate
Hellenism leaves open - as Victor Stengler points out in The Fallacy of Fine Tuning - that there might be other entities outside the Cosmos, with their own ability to tweak the world. Christianity asserts that God is sovereign over them, but a mortal might appeal for an angel's intercession.
Against disbelief and compromise, over the 600s and early 700s emerged the Qur'an. The Qur'an proposes to restore the Near East, this time under the Arabs. In asserting God's primacy over and over, the Qur'an assumes a milieu, from Alexandria to Khuzistan, of exactly that Hellenism, absent from the world of "P" - that which Islam must oppose.
God in Islam has Will: initially perhaps hamd (if we are to believe Nevo and Koren), and by the time of the Marwanids sha'. God's Will is supreme. The endstate of Islam is as Robert Reilly explains it in The Closing of the Muslim Mind, to the point where God is the only entity possessing Will.
However it is a mistake to assume that this "insha'llah" fatalism was just invented by the Muslims. Islam, itself, is an endstate: this "triumph of the Will" (as Reilly puts it) is a culmination of a longstanding project - to rehabilitate the ancient Near Eastern worldview, and to restore it as a philosophy.
All other faiths compromise with the world. Islam is the last survivor of God's religion.
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