Cycles and Stages of Civilization

I may be a Christian, but there are things I believe unequivocally that are not shared by all Christians.

(1) While history is moving inexorably towards establishing God’s Kingdom on Earth, no earthly minds know God’s timetable. Those who “just know” that the Rapture will occur “any day now” are, in my book, delusional. This means we are obligated to care about the future, and our role in building it, not leaving things to chance (i.e., folly).

(2) Even if we see history going in a specific direction, what it clearly discloses is that civilizations go through life-cycles just as individuals do. Empires rise; empires fall. I’ve written about this herehere, and here.

A Biblical perspective, moreover, suggests that there were at least two major civilizational cycles, possibly of global reach, before ours. One was destroyed by the Noachian flood; the other was scattered following its building the Tower of Babel, however we interpret the admittedly sketchy Biblical accounts.

Is there physical evidence for this? Yes. Dozens of “ooparts” — out-of-place artifacts — have been uncovered, some embedded in petrified wood or removed from solid rock geologists say is millions of years old. These are not products of any known civilization. In a major work entitled Maps of the Ancient Sea Kings (orig. 1966), author and science historian Charles Hapgood documented the existence of maps, the most famous used by the fifteenth century Turkish sea captain Piri Re’is, that show the South American coastline, Greenland minus ice caps, and portions of Antarctica prior to its becoming iced over. These were clearly compiled from maps long gone. Studies have shown them to be surprisingly accurate.

The so-called “experts” deal with these anomalies by the “scientific” method of securing them within the windowless museum basements buried beneath consensus reality and forgetting about them.

(3) There are good reasons to believe our present civilization has begun a long-term downhill slide, Trumpism notwithstanding. Where that slide ends, no one can be certain. But there are still things we can do to mitigate its consequences and possibly even thrive in a future that will be better than the present.

I will leave (1) to the theologians and focus more on aspects of (2) and (3).

In the articles linked to above, I took note of Sir John Bagot Glubb’s theory of the lifecycles of civilizations. Glubb’s ideas, as a few readers pointed out, are not perfect. In retrospect, he plays fast and loose with the lifespans of empires, some of which lasted much longer than the 200-plus years he allows. But the essential point is made. Lifecycles of civilizations exist. The idea applies to our own, which has stages or states we can recognize if we know what to look for.

The author who best expressed a stages-of-civilization theory was philosopher-sociologist Auguste Comte (1798 – 1857).

Opponents of the West’s shift toward a controlled, technocratic order see Comte as one of history’s villains. I get it. His philosophical ideology of positivism offered the foundation and impetus for many intellectual and political-economic sins. Still, he had useful ideas how an advanced civilization develops, and my focus is on these.

[To read the rest, go here.]

About Steven Yates

I have a Ph.D. in Philosophy from the University of Georgia and teach Critical Thinking (mostly in English) at Universidad Nacionale Andrés Bello in Santiago, Chile. I moved here in 2012 from South Carolina. My most recent book is entitled Four Cardinal Errors: Reasons for the Decline of the American Republic (2011). I am the author of an earlier book, around two dozen articles & reviews, & still more articles on commentary sites on the Web. I live in Santiago with my wife Gisela & two spoiled cats, Bo & Princesa.
This entry was posted in Christian Worldview, Philosophy, Political Economy, Where is Civilization Going? and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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