To understand reality in a reasonably concrete way we must know something of the historical processes that shaped that reality. If we can do that we feel at home in that environment.
However, we have been at this type of enquiry for less than 50,000 years, whereas our corner of the universe is now known to be about fifteen billion years old. So we are still groping. Our predecessors, the hunter-gatherers, also groped. But we know very little of their early attempts to make sense of the complex world they were adapting to, continent by continent.
In a 1984 book, Relativism and the Natural Left, William P. Kreml suggested that a consequence of this life-long probing of reality tends to scatter us along a left-right behavioristic spectrum. Those of the right, the conservatives, have more angst and feel that they need to control more. The left-leaning liberals are more accepting of Nature’s flux, and are more sympathetic to human hopes. But it is the same hopes that scatter us.
The Chinese, apparently, had less existential angst and accepted as fact that their world was a self-sufficient, self-perpetuating environment. They honored wise men, but invented no Gods, and needed no churches. The people of India somewhat similarly, though they were more inventive in trying to explain reality.
Western thought about these origins suffered from the paranoia of the Hebrew who were marginalized in the semi-deserts of Mesopotamia; and the bureaucratic impositions of Roman emperors who shaped Christianity as their state religion. Paul Shepard, in Nature
and Madness (1982), outlined these tensions as few others could. We should ask why Westerners have seemed more aggressive.
Science is the most disciplined method of enquiry we have so far invented, but it is only now coming into its own after a long mechanistic detour based on the positivism of first physics, then chemistry. The challenge now is to make it serve our understanding of environmental realities, rather than mere commercial ends.
Like art, religion is apparently a search for togetherness, and thus a reaction to the stress of existence, particularly for a social species like us. Europeans have probably had more exposure to these questions than most. The Reformation that rent Christendom five hundred years ago was a first-hand rehearsal. A Frenchman among their successors. Lukacs, recently expressed a novel perspective in a book, History and Class Consciousness.
God, he suggested, is a projection---as myth—of our frustrations with the beginner’s intellectual failure to understand reality as a historical process. Adding science to one’s keyboard may answer a lot of the remaining questions that still plague so many.