A World of Stone, A “New Earth,” or Something Better?

There’s a growing realization that materialism and the rational, empirical worldview that comes with it has reached its expiration date.

So says Daniel Pinchbeck, in a NY Times Magazine article entitled “The Final Days” by Benjamin Anastas. Pinchbeck wrote an “alternative-culture bestselle4,” 2012, The Return of Quetzalcoatl. He is part of a movement that looks to the Mayan calendar as an indicator that the world will come to an end—or some kind of major spiritual revolution—on December 21, 2012. Anastas also quotes Chet Snow, who “tracks the impending consciousness shift on his Mass Dreams Newsletter, organizes annual crop-circle and sacred-site tours, and gathers [people] for conferences devoted to ancient mysteries and the paranormal.” Snow says,

The pillars of our expectations about the future in the West have started to crumble. Religion, politics, economics–none of it is working any more. So when you hear about the ancient Maya and this changeover in 2012 involving solar cycles and astronomical events, you say, ‘Huh, maybe I need to connect with that.’

We certainly need to connect with something. The Mayan calendar is hardly likely to be it, but Pinchbeck is right about one thing: materialist philosophy isn’t it either.

I’m about to crack open the book A New Earth, An Old Deception: Awakening to the Dangers of Eckhart Tolle’s #1 Bestseller by Richard Abanes. I already know Tolle has run afoul of the most basic reality of our relationship with God, which is that there is one God and we are not him. There is deadly spiritual danger in that error. Yet there’s also something below the surface there that I can appreciate. It’s his rejection of cold stone materialism; his refusal to accept that physical reality is all there is. In that much, at least Tolle is on the right track.

The Renaissance/Rock band Blackmore’s Night sings of what materialism has cost is, in “World of Stone:”

“On our own
In a World of Stone
We are not alone

“I had once believed in angels
They were everywhere I looked
A gentle hand guiding me
To give more than I took

“But I have died a thousand times
Watching all these angels fall
Their lonely eyes haunt me still
We will avenge them all

“On our own
In a World of Stone
We are not alone”

To believe what secular materialists (represented by Dawkins, Dennett, Hitchens, Lewontin, Provine, and the like) tell us is to consider that our world has become one of stone. The angels have fallen, not as Lucifer fell but as snowflakes fall and die in a lake. They’re gone. Scientistic naturalism has driven out the spiritual, and for this we have died a thousand times. I think this is indeed where the roots of Western New Age religion lie. With the angels’ lonely eyes haunting us, many are willing to avenge their deaths by slaying materialism and even rationality, choosing to rely on Mayan calendars instead.

This is not a necessary war. There is a better way than Tolle’s out of a soulless universe, though I can understand his appeal to those who do not know that.

Part of the beauty of Christianity is that it offers the best of both worlds. Spirituality and rationality coexist, for there really is a God and a spiritual world, and God, the Logos (the Word, John 1:1), is also the author of rationality. There is a most interesting ambiguity in Romans 12:1: our devotion to God can be translated either as a spiritual or as a reasonable act of worship. Both meanings exist in the original Greek word, and both apply.

New Age philosophy is a search on the wrong path, fatally aimed toward considering humans equal with God; yet it is also partly based in a search for the right thing: for a sense of spirituality, of connection to the Source. The author of this spiritual yearning is God himself, who created us in his image for relationship with him. This is, in Blackmore’s Night’s words, “the world we knew,” or at least the one we deeply sense is right for us.

This post is adapted from one originally published July 4, 2007.