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Return of the Gladiators

Where Modern Materialism is Actually Leading "Enlightened" Peoples

Author Wm. Wilkens POSTED: 1/10/11
Translated and Edited by Brendan King  

Editor’s Note: This most timely article was first published by Der Nordstern in January of 1880. The original title was “Modern Materialism Observed.” Written by Wm. Wilkens, it is being made available for the first time in English thanks to a recent translation from the original German by Remnant columnist Brendan D. King. MJM

Christ has redeemed the Soul from the Flesh. Who, however, will redeem the Flesh from the Soul? With this question, Materialism was introduced into German literature. It is impossible to speak more clearly or in a more concise manner. In order to believe the most internal doctrines of modern Materialism, one must oppose Christianity. Christianity is the religion of the Soul. The doctrines of an eternal Divinity and an immortal human soul is the most internal prerequisites of that Faith; to liberate the Human soul out of the natural volumes of the sensual world and to raise it to a supernatural partnership with the Divine Lord is the essential, yes, the singular goal of Christianity. For this reason, Christ redeemed the spirit from the Flesh.

Who, however, will redeem the Flesh from the Soul? Materialism seeks this purpose. It denies the existence of an Eternal Godhead and regards the material, the changeable and unreal matter, as the basis of all things. It also denies the existence of an immortal soul independent of Human Matter. Its call lowers the human consciousness out of the heights in the religious life, extinguishing the boundaries through which the person differs before the animals, plants and stones. It frees the nature the senses, earthly and carnal, from the laws of Knowledge and Religion. Materialism therefore reclaims for Mankind the freedom to become like the beasts.

Christianity and Materialism are completely in opposition. What is Redemption to the one is servitude to the other. Therefore, in our present era, the apostles of the Christian religion and the Materialists are battling for domination over Mankind.

“Is that so,” becomes the question, which appears to leave this writer occupied in advance as a matter of eminent importance. Around scholarly controversies, the apostles of Materialism do not exert themselves – not around philosophical or scientific questions. They concern themselves with the matter of Christianity, which is therefore the Matter of the Human Race. If the propagators of Materialism in current society should ever come to have domination, there should take place something similar to if, out of the skies, that secret power through which the Planets and the Sun are bound in their orbits should suddenly disappear. Not only the light of Christianity would be expected to fade away in the triumph of Materialism; not merely Civilization, which has been created by the Catholic Church; but the entire world order would experience a general revolution, not merely political, but also social and moral.

To remove belief in God from the consciousness of Human Society, one must also remove the doctrines of morality, the conception of right, and the idea of the Social Order. It summons us back to the level of the beasts and the power of carnal desires are given free reign, – the passions of the unfettered will would lead to the instinctual blowout which dominates the nature of animals.

Our present age, in a frightening manner, seems to desire to approach this goal in that it spreads the Gospel of liberation from God in the furthest circles. Today, not only do individual philosophers commit these sins, but the souls of intellectuals are instructed to quiver with doubt; no mockeries may hope to cool their insolence in blasphemies against the belief in the Divine Lord.

We may also see in this age the denial of God's existence descending from the highest chambers of the universities down to the lowest classes of the people, in countless popular writings, in pamphlets, in novels, and in school books. Even cookbooks become instructors in Materialism. Even at funerals, speeches are heard against the immortality of the soul.

What has granted Materialism such power over those nations which have lived more than a thousand years in Christendom, and who arrives in a position to oppose it, in order to return to the glory of spirituality? To pursue this question in its entire perspective cannot be the purpose for this article. We desire only to deliver a contribution to this orientation in that we are trying to reveal the unveiled nature of modern Materialism.

The Materialistic theory would never have achieved the power which it now possesses, had she not covered herself with a shining costume, which conceals her true nature. Her modern representatives almost certainly knew well how to select this costume themselves. They describe their doctrines as being the result of scientific progress. They know that in the present day the believer in progress honors its idol and may be easily flattered with the words of science. We know this as well. Under the name of progress, the most ingenious ideologies of Nineteenth Century may be collected into the deepest marsh which has allowed them to be poured within in the name of scientific etiquette. Out of this double headed idol, we began endeavoring, therefore, to make the doctrines of Materialism ever more remote. We have come to believe that these teachings are not the result of scientific progress.

To seek around after the sources of today’s Materialism one must ascend into the earliest beginnings of human evil. The more one searches the most ancient historians, the more one becomes convinced that the fittest peoples have always practiced the pure worship of Immortal Beings. To misjudge this fact is common today, yet it is clearly stated in the most ancient religions. The holy books of the Hindus and the Persians, as well as the earliest documents of Egyptian mythology, spiritualize even the natural powers and recognize an outflow of the Divine even in the material.

The first millennium after the Flood was permeated to the depths with the light of Almighty God, Who revealed Himself to the first men, and with the memory of the superhuman desires, which the Human soul carried from Paradise. In order to believe that Evolution is the BEGINNING of all existence and that a pile of the atoms are the reason for Human life, the Human Species must be robbed of their original vigor.

We must seek the antecedents of Materialism before the Christian Era and, sure enough, we locate them first of all in the so-called Buddhists of 6th Century India. Here we first encounter the desolate, despairing presentation that there is no eternal and absolute being who created all things, that each person and all creatures of will go down to annihilation, and that nothingness is both the beginning and the end of all things

But let us leave the distant Orient. We desire to turn ourselves to the Greeks. The Materialists of today will be grateful to us if we pursue their pedigree into "Arcadia". They do not like, however, to flatter their Greek ancestors too excessively. The original freshness of the Greek genius did not know Materialism. The Ancient Greeks; not satisfied to honor God as a spirit and to promise the human soul an immortal life, spiritualized and populated the natural world, even the streams and trees around them, with intelligent beings, nymphs, and dryads.

In addition, the oldest philosophers of Greece did not know Materialism. Gales of water were seen as the likely origin of all things, but everywhere they stated, were gods and spirits. Pythagoras and Parmenides, both giants of the Classical intellect, strove to raise their view far above concrete matter. The wisest of all Greek physicists, the venerable Anaxagoras, tested and compared all the physical theories of his age, frankly held that the world could not be explained without the spiritual, and that the spiritual realm is what gives all order and all life.

The father of the Greek materialism is Democritus of Abdera, the laughing philosopher. Fortunately most of the books which he poured out in hundreds have not survived. And of what does the wisdom of the Philosopher of Abdera consist? It has more the character of a joke than that of a serious theory, but it earns our attention, for it forms – with a few modifications – the reasoned dogma of which all Materialism consists.

Democritus taught that an innumerable quantity of invisible, qualitative, and homogeneous, but spatially expanded Atoms which comprised the elements of all things. These empty atoms are composed of nothingness, indestructible, uncreated, and eternally moving. The body has no organized purpose and no reason to its design; chance forms a mixture out of them, depending upon the turbulence of chance, forming an ox, elsewhere a wood block, here a pearl, and there a toad.

It is not possible here to list the army of sources which contradict what these sentences have described. Thus may be found the Atomic Theory.

The acceptance of real, actual atoms as reasonable elements of nature is in itself untenable. Atom is named the indivisible. The indivisible can only be simple. That which is simple, however, can have no expansion. What has no expansion cannot also produce an expansion through composition. Therefore the Atomic Theory is in itself an absurdity which contradicts all serious philosophy ever written. More absurd yet is the empty presentation of that, which should surround the atoms. The most absurd of all is the belief that chance organized the world! Chance! On learned persons this produces the equivalent impression of a hammer blow upon the brain. Such hammer blows are, however, the greatest power of the Materialistic philosophy. Democritus moved us to believe, with the power of this hammer blow, that only fear evoked the existence of God and that the human body is merely a domain for its own atoms.

The Greeks of the 5th Century before Christ, in which Democritus let himself be heard were still too pious to not be appalled initially at such frivolousness. Soon, however, a reasoned army was added to Democritus; the so-called Sophists, bankrupt Philosophers who changed Philosophy into a certificate science. Instead of the insight of the truth, they sought out the vanity of the argument and instead of insight sought merely superficial developments.

Sophism, which began under the external glory that surrounded Greek power in the so-called Periclean Age to destroy Greece mark and kernel, denied the truth as a virtue and held each individual’s desire to be the measure of all things. Sophism is only a consequence of Materialism. The alliance that closed between them in Greece is now confirmed anew and we see it today before our eyes and in our own lifetime in Young-America, which leads a ground-swell of Materialism beneath the foam of pretentious rhetoric.

We do not wish, however, to speak of such disgraceful organizations. Christians will recall that it was the political authorities of Greece which protected the veneration of the gods against the frivolousness of the Sophists. However, we must mention that sublime seriousness, by whom the Greek priesthood represented the truth of the spiritual and the Princes that of Moral Law. We do not, however, omit to refer to the practical commentaries through which the doctrines of Materialism have been found in the plays of Ancient Rome.

There, where the Roman people played out the tragedy of their historical life, we must study this question: What does the world become when Materialism arrives in a position to dominate?

Blood lust filled all classes and all ages, from refined matrons to noble virgins, serious philosophers and wretched libertines. All cheered on the deaths of the Baptized, at the terrible madness at which gladiators tore each other to pieces, and as the condemned were brought to feed the beasts. All delighted in human blood. Therefore, the best illustration of the practical side of Materialism is to be found in the games of the Amphitheater.

The arenas reflected only the internal status of the Roman people. Despite visible luxury, there were slaves in every Roman villa. All, including children, died at the pleasure of the master and their bodies were cast by his decree into the ditches of the Appian Way. All of Imperial Rome had adopted the theory of Materialism and in all zones of public and private life, and ignored spirituality and the belief in eternal life.

All their beliefs inclined the Romans to the downfall of the Divine. If ever Materialism could have hoped to dominate the world and to banish the superstition of "spirituality," it held this hope in this era when Nero ruled and when Domitian sat upon the throne of the Caesars. Yet we return to the arenas.

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