The eclipse yesterday passed without much to-do. There were no demons or reptilians making their first public appearances, no aliens, no nuclear weapons going off, and the earthquakes were all localized affairs that had nothing to do with east-coasters. It was not the end of the world, nor even the end of the country, despite the coincidence with a 241-year cycle that marked the country’s inception and the last time this particular eclipse happened. There were, however, some astoundingly stupid comments dribbled out by our internet elite.
I happened to catch a glimpse of the action from through my kitchen window. It was largely a matter of chance. At about the time of its peak, I glanced outside, and not unlike our President, I just stared right into the sun without any eye protection. Fortunately, a cloud passed by, so I got see a bit of the crescent.
I can tell you for certainty that it was no big deal, at least in any life-changing context. Is it a big deal that the moon just so happens to be of the perfect proportion to the sun to allow the eclipse to be a thing? Naturally. Is it a big deal that we’re capable of comprehending that? Of course. God be praised! Our planet not only sustains life, but we’re even intelligent beings that can recognize that! We aren’t even just intelligent beings, but our planet just so happens to witness an extremely unlikely astrological event known as an eclipse! The odds of this are… well… we’ll have to get back to you on that. They’re pretty low.
Just a reminder, courtesy of our infinitely intelligent denizens of social media: our ancestors invented religion to explain events like this. How do we know that? Because, as secular, enlightened fellows with access to Twitter, we can tell the difference between the totally normal course of the moon across the sky and the incomprehensible blatherings of primitives. All religions are, after all, created equal, which explains the wholesale embrace of human sacrifice in primitive cultures and the utter rejection of it under Christianity. What’s that? Truth? Nah, you got it all wrong! It’s all relative to circumstances and power struggles. Religions don’t pursue truth. They’re just a means of control, like The Matrix.
There’s a term for this… oh right, it’s ‘historical ignorance’. It’s what happens when you start making up history in order to substitute what really happened for what seems to make more sense. Sorry dude, but much of history doesn’t really make sense. You know why? Most of human action doesn’t make sense. Much of the natural world doesn’t seem like it makes sense, either. It’s intelligible, certainly. But it’s not exactly intuitive.
If the Enlightenment has revealed anything to us, it’s that the unrestrained human will to reason is so self-reflexive that it destroys its own concepts within the very same generation that they are conceived. Point the skeptical logician in any given direction and just let him go! In a few years, he’ll be either arguing Humean nonsense and convinced that bricks can turn into beach balls when they’re thrown at windows, or he’ll be confusedly mumbling about German Idealism and eternal returns. Worst case scenario: he’ll be doing both, and he’ll be convinced that Marx’s economics solutions are good ideas. At that point, it’s time to put the young logician out to pasture. Alas, we hardly knew ye.
The thing is, belief in gods would not have lasted more than a hundred years if such belief was little more than the dictatorial and politically-supercharged rhetoric of an oppressive regime. I cite as an example the Soviet Union. Seventy years, and then boom! They’re tearing down the monuments erected in service to their own version of a thousand-year Reich. Idolatry is bad enough, but formulaic idolatry is as counterproductive as it is futile. Say what you want about the Church, but it’s the longest-lasting single human institution around.
Yes of course, it was the mystery of the eclipse that made early-Empire Roman citizens stop to listen to the traveling apostles as they preached to works and prayers of Jesus in AD 36. Yes of course, the strange workings of atmospheric and astrological disturbances were best explained through the esoteric, complicated metaphysics involved with the mystery of the Trinity. Yes of course, everything from thunderstorms, why different species of grasses exist, and why sometimes the planets go backwards in the night sky—it’s all explained away by our primitive forefathers with their baffling Middle-Eastern sand religion about that one time God came down to Earth and got crucified. It’s so obvious that’s what religion is about! I wish I had known that sooner!
It’s not really worth arguing with idiots whose illiterate interpretations of scripture serve as their own way of patting themselves on the back for being sophisticated and self-aware philistines. The best thing to do, of course, is what any sensible grade-schooler would do when confronted with another mind-numbingly embarrassing answer from the class idiot to a simple question out of the textbook: mock the guy relentlessly. And then, in this case, point him in the direction of the nearest gathering of Thomists.