Since the discovery of the New World, and because of the discovery, there has been a movement, long resisted by the Church, de-emphasizing the big life side of Christianity while emphasizing the life of the individual and how to conduct life morally. One of the main challenges, or questions to the Church’s big life authority was: Where did the Cannibals come from? The church had to find a place for the Cannibals in their existing biblical paradigm.
A first response was paradigm mapping; Mendieta found a place for the Cannibals in a parable from Luke 14. As the end of the world neared, a man invited three guests to his meal symbolizing the Jews, Muslims, and the Gentiles. The Cannibals definitely weren’t Jews or Muslims so they must be Gentiles. However, at a time when reason ruled the day, the stretch Mendieta made was easy to see. Why would the Jew and Muslims be so clearly defined by God and not the Gentiles? And didn’t the apostles preach to the Gentiles the middle east.
Jose de Acosta offered a better place for the Cannibals through reason. If the Bible says that all men descended from one man, then the Cannibals reached the Indies by land or by sea – probably by land, for it could not be disproved with 16th century geography. This explanation was good; It did not hurt the Church’s big life authority, for the time in that it did not point out any faults in the Bible’s paradigm. It is interesting that Jose de Acosta was a Jesuit.
For his explanation of the Cannibals reflects greatly the Jesuit movement of excellent education, not excluding the sciences, as well as their interpretation and direction of intention policies toward religion. Although many criticized them for this, as in the Provincial Letters by Blaise Pascal, these moves where necessary to reconcile the science they taught with the religion they preached.
Pascal accuses the Jesuits of making things too easy for their followers, and in many way Pascal is right – interpretation and direction of intension can be abused. But, the spirit of what the Jesuits where trying to do makes it possible for people to live life according to Christian morals and ethics, laid out by the Bible, from a contemporary perspective of the world. But, back to the Church’s problems with the New World, the Cannibals already had their own paradigms of government and morals that often seemed better then Christian ones.
Montainge writes heavily on the Cannibals’ paradigms, and how the Cannibals themselves criticize the European paradigms. The Cannibals found it unusual and contrary to their paradigm, that strong European men would follow a child king, because of hereditary right. The Cannibals did not realize that it was not just hereditary, but divine right as well, which gave the Church power over the King. Yet, the Cannibal strongest warrior paradigm was dangerous to the Church’s power, for it had reason on its side.
And why should the Europeans rule over and convert the Cannibals, if they are in way better ruled and more pious. Many of the Church’s arguments center around and Aristotelean states of nature argument. Sepulveda, argues that the perfect and powerful (Spaniards) should rule over the imperfect and weak (Cannibals), they should destroy the barbarism of the Cannibals and guide them to a more humane and virtuous life.
However, reason as Montainge showed quite clearly places the Cannibals out of the barbaric state to which the Europeans claim superiority, and as Mendieta observed some Cannibals remain so pure that they do not know how to sin. Clearly this posed some valid opposition to the Church’s paradigms and power, by presenting an alterative working paradigm.
Such problems do not arise from the religion its self, but from the Christian institution. The goal of Christianity is to direct peoples lives so they can get to heaven, not to explain the heavens. Before there was any concrete science religion had to be both a way of life and an explanation of life. Christianity went wrong in trying to place all confidence in the word of God though human envoys. What documents does Christianity have that came directly from God? Jesus did not write any of the Bible directly.
Not even the Ten Commandments came to us directly from God, free from human envoy. And whether they are God’s exact words or not, they still set down some guidelines on how to live. Even if you throw out the Bible’s story of creation as a literal story of creation, it holds value as a parable – it speaks of the vice of temptation. It could be that creation is speaking of the human race’s descent from one spontaneous creation of human intellect, or the creation of the male and female mind, not literally man and woman. Christianity has to accept the element of human imperfection in the Bible.
Even those divinely inspired are subject to the imperfection of their individual human incarnate. How can any mortal being possibly fully understand God – the things that God puts in the revelations of our profits? Our profits are human, St. Peter couldn’t even speak Latin, Mark, his interpreter, wrote most of his testament through Pete’s witness. But of course, we can still extract valuable lessons from these stories.
And why should humans be afraid to offend God, that perhaps God’s word is not a definitive explanation of the world. Aside from the human understanding point, it is a sign of devotion and flattery that humans, in their hour of need, turned to God for explanation. If as Descartes would have said according to Pascal, all God did, was put a fillip in things to get them going. Look at all that came of it; it is amazing.
Before humans had an understanding of how the universe arrived at its current state, they could see that it was divinely inspired and turned to God for explanation. Yes, God set things in motion and has the power to pull the plug. But that is as far as God goes in that sense of things – beginning and end, and . The human spirit is defining everything in-between. God gives each one of us life of which we can see the end and gives us guidelines for the middle.
Hopefully we add something to the big life in which the human spirit exists during our human incarnate life. To be part of that power after life-as-we-know-it, is where religion’s moral side applies. We want to live accordance with God to this end. History Essays.