TIMES OF RISE AND DECLINE OF RELIGION AND MORALITY (1)
In the first volume of the magazine Strannik in 1901 appeared an extensive article by B. Titlinov devoted to the decline of religion and morality, a phenomenon we observe today – the beginning of the 21st century of the third millennium.
In the course of the historical life of mankind it is not difficult to observe periods when the pulse of life seems to begin to beat stronger, in all parts of human activity. Revival begins, energy increases, productivity increases, the whole human body awakens, and humanity takes rapid steps on the path of progress. On the other hand, with these bright epochs we meet other epochs which, like dark stripes, stand against the background of history. These are the periods of decline, stagnation and darkness. There are no glorious names in them, no great events, no immortal works of art and creatures of creative thought, no radiance of genius or at least faint reflections of talent. People seem to have exhausted their strength, exhausted their spiritual treasures, and, exhausted and tired, sank into apathy.
The history of the religious consciousness of mankind shows us the same picture. In it we see periods of decline and periods of rise. And here this alternation of decrease and increase is clearly evident, as well as in the general course of life of the human race. At certain points in history, religious feeling weakens and fades, altars do not see priests, temples are deserted, religion loses its leading role in life, and people go their own way, as if they don’t need heaven and it’s as if they’ve forgotten about it. All their attention is then focused on the immediate material reality; and usually in the field of external culture in such periods mankind achieves remarkable successes. Along with these successes, there was an increase in mental activity, the development of science and philosophical thought. These rapid successes play a significant role in the decline of religion that has characterized such centuries. Intoxicated by the proud consciousness of its power, humanity experiences its frivolous youth with its dreams and ideals, with its self-confidence and self-confidence, with its rejection of authority and tradition. The mind, carried away by the victories in the field of knowledge, boldly takes on the role of omnipresent in all matters and promises man without supreme help, relying only on his own strength to penetrate the secrets of existence. And man’s mighty faith in himself, and at the same time an exaggerated faith, inadvertently gives rise to that indifferentism and skepticism which freezes religious feeling.
But there are other epochs that we can call centuries of human faith. For the most part, they come after centuries of declining religion and their opposite. Man’s adolescence passes quickly, and frivolity is replaced by wise experience. The youth of mankind is transient and the passions and mistakes of the past days are fleeting. Life has not kept its promises; science and philosophy stand helplessly before the mysteries of existence, without being able to penetrate beyond the door of destiny. Then the need for prayer and faith, always alive in the human soul, a need that can weaken but not disappear, is revealed with all its force; which can be muted but not erased. The “eternal questions” seek their solution with particular urgency, and the desire to find answers to them reaches its apogee. Dissatisfaction, dissatisfaction with the present arises with unprecedented force, and because there is no hope for the future, there is only one way out – despair, or return to faith. And helpless humanity appeals to the forgotten sky. Religion, hitherto destroyed, enjoys the most lively interest, and the rise of religious feeling is felt in all spheres of life. Faith has never been hotter and more insistent. Man has never, with greater confidence, turned in his dawn to the afterlife, never with greater devotion has he surrendered himself into the hands of Providence. Indifference and skepticism give way to religious awakening and for a long time lose all meaning in the eyes of the people.
The history of mankind dates back to the primitive times of mankind. We must also turn there if we wish to trace from the very beginning the stages of development through which religious life has passed, the periods of its decline and rise. There are no historical monuments left from those distant times, and the only guide we have is the Bible, although the information reported in it is too short and incomplete. However, and without the possibility in this case accurate research, us and transmitted in the Bible. The facts show that the fluctuations of religious feeling were not alien to the earliest times of history (biblical). Namely, the Bible tells us about the universal forgetfulness of God before the flood. According to her story, this was an age of utter wickedness, when every man plotted evil all his days. Religious feelings, the need for prayer, and help from above have visibly weakened to the point that people did not want to remember even heaven, despite all warnings. The voice of the preacher of repentance thundered in vain among them. Only the waves of the flood could wash away the wickedness from the face of the earth, and with it the depraved humanity, which has forgotten its Creator.