"The Modernists" is referring to the disenchantment of society as the institutional aspect of organized religion became less influential as the world grew. Nietzsche, Nabokov, and Kierkegaard have all written about how the world seems darker without the presence of a deity. This does not necessitate that the darkness is negative; in fact for some it means quite the opposite. In darkness there is sublimity, that is, an infinity of worldly possibilities. With organized theological structures, the light implies a finite world that relies on the faith of an afterlife to provide meaning. The image is not suggesting anything, with only the possible exception of the distinction between agnosticism and atheism, which is regrettably all-too-often misunderstood by you people.
Assuming the man depicted is the same man, he has grown in wisdom with age. He reaches a solid footing without all the "fluff" of religion in the steps upward, which have to be taught to a child to begin with (read: no child is born knowing religion, so if a person "knows" religion, that person has been taught to know religion). Also, notice the archway through which we can see a light. We can only surmise that the ground floor is large, with many rooms. Hence, no walls to keep him in, no ledges to fall off (no railings on the second floor or the staircase).
What we also see here is the revelation of no "heaven," and no "afterlife." As we discuss in our house, oblivion meets the dead. When we die, we become worm food, and become as nothing. We become what we once were: we revert back to the carbon atom.
All hail to the carbon atom!
My first thought was that the stairway should have been reversed: atheism on top signifying ascent into knowledge. But, as other people have noted, once atheism is realized, we're on sound footing, but I'm sure that wasn't the original intent. What's important here is the journey, not the direction.
Did you notice that the man at the bottom of the stairs appears to be Sigmund Freud?
Well, the sequence is quite correct.
But what I want to know is (pace. Richard Dawkins) WHY is there such an absurdity as a "Theology Professor" in a modern university? Whole departments of mumbo-jumbo, in supposed places of learning!
Religion as a phenomenon is fascinating, and I'm all for studying it - in the context of history, philosophy, psychology, literature, etc. But a "department of theology" makes about as much sense as a Ministry of Silly Walks. Waste of time and money.
Well all things being said it's at least comforting to see nobody's walking up the damn thing.
Ironic that the dark end is pointing away from the doctrines espoused during the dark ages.
I used this in a powerpoint for class a year or two back. Great image.
I think the old guy is carrying a glass retort- a piece of scientific glassware.
So, what was the point? To stimulate discussion or criticize atheism?
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June 29, 2013 to June 30, 2013 – Dublin, Ireland
October 19, 2013 from 9am to 9pm – University of Akron Student Union Theatre
Started by Rick Yost in Religion and the Religious, Atheism and Atheists. Last reply by Ron Humphrey 18 minutes ago.
Posted by Unseen on June 19, 2013 at 1:26pm
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