The enlightenment separated man from God. Covid will separate us from our own humanity.

A recent UK Government campaign urging people to consider 'cyber' for their next career move caused controversy, October 2020

Something very sinister is going on in the UK (and likely elsewhere). Having shut down sectors of the economy related to arts and leisure, we’re now seeing a push to move those workers into “cyber,” by which i guess they mean online work.

Why? What possible rationale can there be? No wonder conspiracy theories abound these days.

For me, as a long-standing opponent of the enlightenment project and rationality as an ideology, it seems striking that it is these sectors which have been targeted.

The first wave of the enlightenment overturned man’s connection to God and nature in an experiential way, reducing the beauty of the universe to mere facts and figures.

Of course an atheist will argue that it’s perfectly possible to appreciate the beauty of nature without believing in God. To do so is to be a product of enlightenment thinking.

I is a mindset which assumes that there’s something called ‘The Universe’ and something separate called ‘God’ and that, while religious people believe God created The Universe in the way that a potter might make a bowl, non-religious people can enjoy The Universe just as well without that belief. But that separation, that distinction between God and Nature is what I’m calling First Wave Enlightenment.

This idea of God as a person or entity like you and I is a modern idea. Rather, if you see God not as a man, but as the pattern or natural laws which govern the universe, the picture changes drastically.

The mathematical formulation that governs how the planets orbit the sun is God. The forces of gravity and electromagnetism which dictate matter and motion are God. The carbon, oxygen and water cycles which flow through you when you eat, drink, and breathe are God. And they also mean that you are nature, as much as anything else in the world.

You are also held together through those electromagnetic forces. You also have a body that keeps itself alive through its natural workings, which you have zero say over. Try thinking yourself dead. It can’t be done. You can’t even hold your breath long enough to pass out; if you really want to do yourself in you have to apply some sort of mechanical process to disrupt nature.

That is what the Bible means when it says that God is in everything, including us. Its worldview unifies God and Nature, including man, as an unending One.

Anyway, the decoupling of man and God/Nature largely having been accomplished, this new wave seeks to decouple us from our humanity. The arts deal primarily in the imagination, in exploring human thought and emotion. The leisure industries connect us to one another, allowing us to share in each others’ lived experiences and to find common ground and meaning. It is precisely these industries that have found themselves locked down.

This new phase of the enlightenment cannot be allowed to succeed. If it does, we will have been reduced to mere cogs in a machine, endlessly clicking buttons in service of the online artifice and telling ourselves that that is what it is to be human.