I have atheist friends who tell me that religion is useles;, that while primitives may have needed it, we modern men certainly do not. To them I can only reply, “So you’ve answered it, then.”
“What?” they ask.
“The perennial question, asked by man since man began.”
“What question is that?”
“ ‘Who is man?’ ”
“Oh, that. Well, who needs to ask that any more?”
“So you’re satisfied with the answers that have been given.”
“Ah, then, we must still ask, even now in our day and time.”
And that is what religion does, if it is worthy of the name. All over the world religion asks “Who is man?” It’s true, there are many ways to ask. Science is one and science can tell us a lot about what we are. But what can science tell us about who we are or why are we here?” Those are questions, not for the scientist but for the philosopher or the priest. The scientist can tell us a lot about what has happened to us now that we are here. But he doesn’t have much to say about why we are here or how we first got here, not from within the sphere of science, anyway.* Science asks “What?” and “How?” Philosophy and religion ask “Who?” and “Why?”
The scientist, as a human person, can ask whatever question he wants. But from within his discipline as a scientist using science, the questions he asks science must be answerable by science. (I shall not dignify the pseudo-answer that we came from another planet with a comment. Such a notion does not give an ultimate answer to the question of “ultimately, where do we come from” but only begs the question: so where did those other beings ultimately come from?)
About the picture: No, I’m not sliding back to my New Aage days. I used that image to illustrate the point that man has always, and by diverse means, sought to understand the cosmos and himself. Astrology was one of those ways. Man looked at the stars, saw order and beauty there and contemplated in wonder. I still enjoy a night spent under the stars. The Magi were led to Christ by a star. Wise men they were to let themselves be led to the King of the universe lying in a manger by the beauty of the stars He made.
Peace be with you.
4 thoughts on “Man: who is he, why is he here, do we still care?”
Did studying astrology help or hinder your spiritual growth?
Studying astrology allowed me to understand some things about the spiritual life. Mostly it allowed me to fool myself into imagining that I understood some things about the spiritual life.
Hi Disciple. Your astrological image actually shows where the sun is *really* located in the sky during the year; the image doesn’t show where Western astrology says the sun is located in the sky during the year.
For instance, look at where the earth is located in the image, in January. A person on earth looking at the sun, will notice that the sun appears to be in the constellation Sagittarius. (The arrow from the earth in January points to Sagittarius.) So, if you look up at the sun on January 1, you’ll find that the stars in the background are of the Sagittarius constellation. Yet, in Western astrology, the sun in January 1 is said to be in Capricorn. Thus, Western astrology is generally off by a constellation.
I should point out that Western astrology is like this. Other forms of astrology (like Indian astrology) are actually more accurate in terms of the actual location of the sun. The Magi (who were likely Zoroastrian, but who could have been Hindu sages as well) likely followed a more Indian-like astrology.
Ah, you’re talking about the differences between sidereal astrology, the Vedic astrology of the jyotishis, and Western forms. I studied the Vedic form for a while but Western astrology was really my particular obsession. The tropical zodiac is indeed different but it is not off by a constellation, though that is a charge often laid at its door. The signs of the tropical zodiac are not constellations. They are 30 degree blocks of space which coincide with the constellations once about every 25,000 years (the Platonic year). In sidereal astrology one speaks of constellations and they are the star pictures in the sky. There is much more to each of these systems. But I gave all such study the heave-ho when I embraced the Church with my whole heart and mind.
Good to hear from you again, Dharmashaiva! Hope you had a merry Christmas and wishing you a happy new year too!