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Technology comprises all the skills and tools developed by humanity for controlling nature and organizing society. In the West (Europe and America) the age of high technology is considered the apex of civilization, the fullest expression of common striving. Much to our dismay, however, civilization turns out to be a precarious venture that opposes the human-made world, the social order supported by technology, to the realm of Sacred Nature. This tension defines the baseline of the arch of metahistory.

Beliefs encoded in ancient myths from the Middle East and elsewhere suggest that human evolution was boosted by the intervention of more advanced beings, variously conceived as gods, divinities and "ancient astronauts." As the science of genetics moves us toward playing God by manipulating the ultimate code of life (DNA), humanity is faced with doubts about its qualifications for such divine status. The scientific technological imperative insists that what can be done must be done, but this conflicts with the growing evidence that science, especially when allied with commercial interests, often acts precipitously and against the well-being of society. Far from offering the keys to a utopian world, technology proves on a daily basis to be a PandoraƠs box of mixed blessings. Ultimately, the beliefs we hold about technology may be as powerful in determining the future for global society as technological innovations themselves.

technomania: term proposed by Gordon Rattray Taylor (R 235ff.) for the mental aberration exhibited by those who uncritically accept technology and view it as the single, supreme directive force in society. Writing in 1972, well before Internet and Information Age became household words, Taylor observed:

"Modern communications are praised because they bring us so much information; but an excess of communication confuses, unbalances in and output, and puts an end to reflection. Today, fee people have time to absorb all they hear and to incorporate it in their thinking and feeling. We could probably do with less information, not more." (R 237)

This caution reflects the advice of King Thames to the technocrat, Thoth (cited in Themes under Technology). Taylor concludes: “to sacrifice man to mechanism is in my view pure nihilism.” (R 244)

theism: by contrast to deism, which assumes as little as possible about God, theism is a belief-system that carries a massive load of assumptions about the single and supreme creator god. Theism asserts the fourfold belief that

(1) God is a personal entity,

(2) God is worthy of adoration of worship,

(3) God is entirely separate from the world and transcendent to the realm of nature, and

(4) God is nevertheless continually active in the world and in the personal reality of those who believe in Him.


Summary of Master Themes

The opposition between the natural world and technological society involves tremendous tension and determines many of the crucial moral dilemmas and survival-issues of our time. The three overarching themes -- Eternal Conflict, Origins and Moral Design -- resonate with the structural tension of the baseline of the arch, and so these themes recur constantly in every situation of contemporary life.

Each component of the arch represents a comprehensive and repeating phase of experience enacted through a range of specific mythemes through which human beings identify their personal and collective belief-systems. For instance, Eden, Paradise and the Golden Age are subsumed in Sacred Nature. The Fall, the Flood and War in Heaven are subsumed under Eternal Conflict. The mytheme of sacrifice, considered in two earlier cases in the Guidelines, appears in the category of Origins, because the sacrifice of the sacred king (messiah, the anointed one) is a ritualized belief upon which all civilizations were known to be originally based. But sacrifice is not exclusively restricted to that category. The meaning of sacrifice also figures within Moral Design and even Technology. The belief that we must sacrifice the earthƠs natural resources of the earth to have an adequate standard of living for global society is also an example of this mytheme.

In short, mythemes are fluid, capable of assuming different profiles relative to the five components of the arch. In the language of comparative mythology and depth psychology, the operative mythemes are said to "constellate" human activities both externally and in the personal psyche. This means that a mytheme such as sacrifice gathers around itself a specific pattern of enactments (constellation), rather like a magnet gathers iron filings into a rosette or figure eight. The overarching themes of metahistory are tools for detecting and deciphering these patterns. The five components -- Sacred Nature, Eternal Conflict, Origins, Moral Design, Technology -- are discussed at greater length in individual pages dedicated to them, elsewhere the metahistory Site.


theogeny: poetic or systematic description of the emergence of gods, usually considered as coeval with the origin of the universe.

Hindu myth expresses the belief in a steady-state cosmology in which the life of the gods goes eternally through two alternating phases of awakening (Days of Brahman) and latency (Nights of Brahma). The timing of these cycles runs into billions of years. Hinduism recognizes thousands of gods, permutations from the primordial trinity of Brahman, Vishnu and Shiva.

In J-C-I religion, god is conceived as the Supreme Being who preexists the universe and whose origination is never explained, hence there is no theogony in the Old Testament. In a poem called Theogony, the Greek poet Hesiod [after 800 BCE] describes various “generations” of Greek Gods: primordial, Titanic, Olympian. Apparently, Greeks believed that these gods were embodies in the forces of nature and could, in some cases, take on human guise. The goddess Athena, one of the Olympians, appears in various human disguises in the Odyssey of Homer. Recent critical studies indicate that Hesiodic mythology was the written form of an oral tradition which, in being written down, came to be spun on a masculine bias. For instance, Hesiod gives Zeus wife or consort, Metis, but when he conceives a child with her he swallows the mother so that he alone can give birth to the offspring, the war goddess Athena who springs from his brow. This exemplifies patriarchal scripting of a complex mythological tale.

theophany: the appearance of a god or superhuman entity in tangible form, detectible to the physical senses. The belief that gods and goddesses could assume human form was routine in pagan religion. In the Odyssey, the goddess Athena who champions Odysseus assumes several different forms, including Mentor, the old sage who advises Odysseus’ son, Telemachus. A passage from the Homeric hymn to Demeter is revealing about the pagan view of theophany:

Ensheathed in a veil of clouds,
Demeter withdrew from the company of gods.
Departing from Mount Olympus in the heights
She went in disguise into the cities of men, the grasslands.
For a long time no one saw her or recognized her,
for it’s hard for gods to be recognized by mortals.

(Boer, 97ff, modified)

These lines script the belief that gods and goddesses who assume human guise do not necessarily to do so in order to be recognized by human beings. Pagan theophanies are paradoxical, for the divinities like Athena who assume human form do not want to be detected in their simulation. This contrasts with the central belief of Christianity, that the “Son of God” who incarnated in Jesus must be recognized as a human divinity. Apparently, pagan spirituality did not demand any such recognition for its gods and may indeed have shied away from it.

The belief that divinities on the human plane remain mysterious and elusive, playing with appearances, is purely Asian in provenance. In Hindu myth and theology, Vishnu is the the god who plays hide and seek with appearances. See Beyond Theology (Basic Reading)


theurgy Literally, "god-working." Archaic term for practices of the Mystery cults in which intiates" worked with god," i.e., with divine, superhuman forces tha operate in the universe at large, in nature, and within the human psyche. Mastery of these forces in all three levels earned the initiate (man or woman) the title of Trismegistos, "Thrice-Great."

transcendence Literally, "rising above," but more accurately "going beyond," as in the sense of the Buddhist invocation, Gate Gate Paragate, Parasamgate: "Going, going, going beyond, going beyond the beyond."

One of the most important insights of metahistory is the religion-science collusion: how a great deal that Eurocentric Christian religion established up until the Enlightenment supports and complements the rise of scientific materialism after the Enlightenment. The notion of transcendence figures strongly in this nexus. Thus technological futurist George Gilder declares, "The central event of the twentieth century is the overthrow of matter... The powers of mind are everywhere ascendent over the brute force of things." And Eric Davis comments: "This technological dualism is most starkly reflected in the world economy's myopic and cavalier relationship toward the biosphere itself, the material matrix of trees, water, wetlands, critters, and toxins within which our bodies remain inextricably embedded." (TechGnosis, p. 115-6. Citing Gilder in Virtual Worlds, Penguin, London, 1992.)

The transcendence of the body proposed by Christian ideologues like Saint Paul is fulfilled, not refuted, by the latest technological fantasies of humans uploading their consciousness into cyberspace and attaining immortality in the grey goo beyond.



truth By one definition (favored by Gnostic initiates), realization of the organic nature of perception.

Two Truths Essential taching of Asian philosophy, proposing the distinction between conventional truth and ultimate truth, (in Sanskirt, samvrittasatya and paramarthasatya).In Ch'an, Zen, and Mahayana taditions, the doctrine of the Two Truths is often closely associated with non-attainment teachings. In Dzogchen, it is more closely related to self-liberation teachings.

I propose the distinction between the truth, which is relative and conventional, and truth without the the, which is ultimate. We can know the truth about, say, dental decay, given that we understand and analyze all the conditions pertaining to that subject, but we can only know truth outside of whatever conditions our realization of it. The truth is particular to certain conditions, but truth is beyond conditions and conditioning.

As human beings, we all embody truth. What is truth for our individual lives, lives in us at every moment, but we do not automatically realize the presence of truth (not the truth) in an immediate, lucid way. This is what Zen teaching means when it asserts that enlightenment is the realization that you are already enlightened.

See also veracity.