This Dark Age

A manual for life in the modern world.

By Daniel Schwindt

NOTICE:
This Dark Age is now available in paperback on Amazon. The print version is MUCH cleaner than this online version, which is largely unedited and has fallen by the wayside as the project has grown. If you’ve appreciated my writing, please consider leaving a review on the relevant paperback volumes. The print edition also includes new sections (Military History, War Psychology, Dogmatic Theology).

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Exoterism and the futility of apologetics

Exoterism is characterized by an inability to prove its claims. It cannot satisfy the desire for certainty, and this is because it stands as a bridge between metaphysical certainty and base rationality. It brings metaphysical truth downward so that those who cannot “know” it can believe in it, but it does not and cannot bring these truths within the range of the rational faculty, as should be obvious. And so we find the ever-present tension for believers between the desire to know for certain that what they believe is true.

This should also serve as a warning against apologetics, which is the attempt to justify religious beliefs on rational grounds. Obviously these arguments do nothing to convince those not already predisposed to accept them, since they cannot prove what they claim. In fact we cannot help but suspect that apologetics and the libraries of books dedicated to that purpose serve more to comfort the believer and satisfy (in a false way) his desire for rational certainty than they do to actually convince those who do not already “believe.” In this way, many believers actually sell their inheritance for a mess of pottage by degrading their belief to the level of rational argument.

This is why an exoteric religion must collapse: it has no credentials and no proof of its Truth because it depends on esoterism for its certainty. Exoterism on passively participates in this certain but can never obtain it. That is why it is suicide to reject it.

If the dogmas of the faith seem to stand on their own feet and seem to have their origin in the exoteric system itself, this is not surprising, and it misleads the many into thinking that esoterism is not needed. But this is because the esoteric aspect of the religion is not visible. It cannot be observed in the Rome, synthesizing metaphysical certainties into exoteric dogmas in efficient, assembly-line fashion. In other words, the fact that the exoteric seems to have no esoteric essence and that it is “self-sustaining” is an expression of the transcendence of esoterism. If one does not participate in it, its presence should at least be evident by the baffling fact of the stability of the exoteric aspect and the presence at its center of doctrines that it can in no way justify or explain.

Unfortunately, however, the usual inference on the part of believers for this “mystery” is that God Himself is at the helm, handing down these dogmas in some way directly to the spiritual authority, that authority having no more insight into the matter than the average believer. A spectacular example of this ignorance regarding the development of doctrine can be seen in the contemporary Protestant view of the Bible. In the Protestant view, the Bible was not only produced and verified absent esoterism, it did not even require the Church at all, but descended from Heaven bound and translated into English for private, individual interpretation.

In a very strange way, contemporary “Bible Christians” reject esoterism in theory while in practice they believe that each and every believer is an esoterist capable of discerning and synthesizing all necessary doctrine for themselves.

The nature of exoterism is such that the religion a person “believes in” is a matter not of proof or of certainty but of credulity, which depends on circumstance, disposition, and sentiment.

If there is any truth to the claim that there is only one religion that is the exclusive possessor of Truth, it is from the point of view of the individual believer and is true in sense that the individual in question would not be able to participate in that Truth via any other religion. In other words, the exclusivity of the Truth in a religion is true not of the religion but of the capacity of the individual to perceive it. If, on the other hand, this is extended to mean that the religion itself, without respect to the individual in question, is the sole possessor of the Truth, this is patently false and denies the differences in human types that are obvious to all but the most superficial minds.

I tried to explain that exoteric doctrine cannot justify itself to the believer. And yet there is no shortage of believers and saints who speak of the certainty obtained through their belief. This is why we should distinguish between the exoteric teachings themselves, on the one hand, and, on the other hand, the spiritual influence that may or may not act on the believer via those teachings. Remember what was said above about exoterism as a spiritual means. Religious beliefs serve their purpose when the prepare the way for the believer so that the spirit, which blows where it will, may act. At that point the believer may acquire a kind of certainty, but remember that this certainty is haphazard, not guaranteed, and is commonly described as given by God without rhyme or reason. It is therefore not intrinsic to exoterism or its content, but is the work of the Holy Spirit made possibly by the “preparatory” function of exoterism. It is often a kind of mystical certainty that does not amount to metaphysical knowledge but is a mode of experiencing the Truth and coming into contact with it.

Although I’ve said that no “proof” exists for the exclusive truth of one religion, I should emphasize that I did not say that there are no proofs in favor of religion itself; only that these proofs, when they are valid, pertain in some way to all traditional religions.

It is contrary to the nature of God, which includes justice and mercy, that he would leave humanity in the dark for thousands of years without a legitimate light to guide them. And yet this is what many Christians seem to think. Moreover, it is pretension plain and simple to suggest that Christianity, which is one of the youngest of religions, should lay exclusive claim to Truth.

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