Vulcan, of course, is just one of six now conventional yet always false and destructive gods of Olympianity. With devotion to him came adoration of the others as well. With remarkable speed, Olympianity replaced Christianity as the defining religion of the West and Christendom dissolved itself into Europe.
Devotion to Vulcan and the other Olympian gods, rather than to Jesus, led to radical changes. One, it resulted in “an increase in wealth and power that, for scale and speed, was perhaps unprecedented in the previous history of any civilization” (Arnold Toynbee, An Historian’s Approach to Religion , 196). This unprecedented growth came as a result of the exuberant commitment of unprecedented numbers of human beings to Vulcan and the manifest power that he made possible.
With Olympianity as the defining religion of an Exuberant Olympian Civilization, tolerance of non-Christian religions grew as the difference between Christian and non-Christian paled in significance to that between Olympian and non-Olympian.
Over time, this led to the abandonment of Catholicism or Protestantism, and eventually of Christianity itself, as a norm for admission to universities in Europe. Universities began accepting even non-Western, non-Christian students. These students, in turn, began to seek admission to Western universities to learn the military technology needed to defend their societies against an increasingly powerful and aggressive Olympian Civilization.
Second-rate powers Poland-Lithuania and Sweden, for example, had been able to use superior military technology to cause Russia to suffer a “Time of Troubles” (1603-1613). In response, Peter 1st committed Russian political and intellectual leaders to Westernization after 1689. Peter: the Exuberant Olympian with advantageous access to Western technologies in Holland and England.
Vienna successfully resisted the second Ottoman attempt to capture it in 1683. Afterward, Western countries put the Ottoman Empire on the doomed defensive.
The Ottoman Empire suffered humiliating defeat in the Great Turkish War (1683-1699). Afterward, the sultan hired nominally Christian technicians without first requiring conversion to Islam. After the subsequent defeat of Ottoman forces by Russia (1768-1774), Sultan Selim 3rd (r. 1789-1807) decided “to make the first attempt at a thorough-going Westernization of the Ottoman armed forces” (200).
Seeing the ascendancy of the Austrian Empire over the Ottoman, Greek Christian Serbs sought to transfer their allegiance to Austria without first converting to Latin Christianity. Latin Christian Austrian leaders agreed to their condition.
Non-Western rulers and peoples had no interest in Western civilization beyond learning enough military technology to avoid being conquered. As the Ottomans had learned, however, this was impossible. Civilizations are integrated wholes. Modification of one part, like the military, modifies the whole.
Western military superiority sprang from the use of Western weapons by disciplined troops; and  military discipline is the apex of a pyramid of social achievement. It is the fruit of law and order in civil life; for it cannot be established without effective hygiene and without regular pay. Effective hygiene in the armed forces requires a corresponding standard of public health in civil life, maintained by physicians with a Western medical training. The regular payment of troops requires sound public finances. Sound public finances require business ability and a productive economy. And the economy must be productive, not only of agricultural produce for feeding the troops, but of industrial skill for the manufacture of armaments in the Western style (Toynbee, 201-202).
In 1667, when Thomas Sprat wrote his History of the Royal Society, he could plausibly regard a commitment by Western Christian intellectuals of his day to the advancement of technology as good. He, and others like John Locke, saw it as a remedy for fanaticism rather than an anti-Christian devotion to a false god.
Yet, in the historical perspective given to Posterity by the lapse of 300 years, this narrowly utilitarian seventeenth-century self-portrait looks like an expression of the Late Modern West’s reaction against the evils of Western religious fanaticism in the immediately preceding age, and not like an objective self-appraisal; and it was assuredly a misrepresentation, and indeed almost a caricature, of the actual spirit of the Western Civilization either at the close of the seventeenth century or in any subsequent generation (203).
An exponentially technologizing West imposed itself on all other civilizations: “they must Westernize without reservations, and must extend this total revolution to every department to every department of human activity, if they intended to be successful in preserving their societies by mastering Western military technique” (202). The great irony: these traditional religious cultures, such as Greek Christian Russia, Ottoman Muslim Turkey, and Arab Muslim Egypt, all, without exception, had to subordinate their religion to Olympianity. To maintain any integrity at all relative to the Exuberant Olympian West, they themselves had to become primarily Olympian. What a Latin Christendom had ever failed to do, an Exuberant Olympian West had thoroughly accomplished in a remarkably short period of time.
Copyright © 2018 by Steven Farsaci.
All rights reserved. Fair use encouraged.
All rights reserved. Fair use encouraged.