where has the “tree of knowledge” led us?
“There’s a war out there, old friend. A world war. And it’s not about who’s got the most bullets. It’s about who controls the information. What we see and hear, how we work, what we think… it’s all about the information!” – Cosmo, film Sneakers, 1993
You see the advertisements for it every where: “Life-long learning” “Continuing Education”. We live in the “Information Age” where everything is about selling information about us. It seems an irony when you think about how the world got to its present state of madness from that garden so long ago and that temptation of the “tree of the knowledge of good and bad”.
Our lives have changed to the point that we our constantly “studying” everything while missing the reality going on around us. That’s why bad scenarios like our present situation seem to sneak up on us.
If we get stuck in what is termed “over-analyzing” the minutia ( which the university push towards “specialization” lends itself to) and forget the scope in which such relates, it leads to confusing that with complete thinking. Its that which gets a person started down the path of madness they are not aware of. A touch of madness is not the danger. Its the right balance of it that gives us one of the layers of complexity we need to have an honest doubt about things. That is part of what Chesterton is talking about when he says “If once the man could become conscious of his madness, he would cease to be man”. Sane men are complex. Mad men almost never are. Or in other words, as Chesterton continues in his essay from Orthodoxy
“The Christian admits that the universe is manifold and even miscellaneous, just as a sane man knows that he is complex. The sane man knows that he has a touch of the beast, a touch of the devil, a touch of the saint, a touch of the citizen. Nay, the really sane man knows that he has a touch of the madman. But the materialist’s world is quite simple and solid, just as the madman is quite sure he is sane. The materialist is sure that history has been simply and solely a chain of causation, just as the interesting person before mentioned is quite sure that he is simply and solely a chicken. Materialists and madmen never have doubts.”
Chesterton then continues his thoughts on the dangers of madness as seen in government officials who promise to “change the world” for those foolish enough to believe them from his Miscellany of Men which you can read from the provided link.
“Going mad is the slowest and dullest business in the world. I have very nearly done it more than once in my boyhood, and so have nearly all my friends, born under the general doom of mortals, but especially of moderns; I mean the doom that makes a man come almost to the end of thinking before he comes to the first chance of living.
But the process of going mad is dull, for the simple reason that a man does not know that it is going on. Routine and literalism and a certain dry-throated earnestness and mental thirst, these are the very atmosphere of morbidity. If once the man could become conscious of his madness, he would cease to be man. He studies certain texts in Daniel or cryptograms in Shakespeare through monstrously magnifying spectacles, which are on his nose night and day. If once he could take off the spectacles he would smash them. He deduces all his fantasies about the Sixth Seal or the Anglo-Saxon Race from one unexamined and invisible first principle. If he could once see the first principle, he would see that it is not there.” – G. K. Chesterton, The Mad Official, A Miscellany of Men
Yes, who else is going to “change the world” but crazy people who can no longer honestly acknowledge their limitations with the knowledge they do have? This business of trying to be “god” is leading us all into their madness. Can we not admit that we are seeing that right now?
So, perhaps, as the sane alternative, sane people realizing that the only logical answer is to let Christ change the world supernaturally with his return through the coming of his Kingdom and for we to attempt the more doable – to change ourselves with His help.