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Valentyn Stetsyuk (Lviv, Ukraine)

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Prehistory: Cognition of God's Intents and Acts

The development of man's representation of God can be traced by comparing religions of prehistoric times with the religions of the East, Judaism, traditional and reformed Christianity, Islam. The gods of primitive people were cruel creatures, the kindness of which had to be deserved by victims, sometimes even humans. The peculiarity of religions is that their dogmatics practically do not change, as various changes shake the authority of spiritual authorities, while it must remain unshakable and be supported by an old tradition. Changes in the spiritual sphere of individual human societies under the influence of God's will lead to the emergence of new, more perfect, more humanistic religions.

Just as the Lord cannot leave a person without help in knowing Him, He can not disregard the religious beliefs of man. Every religion is a creation of the human spirit, it arises after the insight of an individual when he understands God in his own way, but the Lord cannot completely entrust people with the ideological meaning of religions, as they affect human activity and can go against His plan. If the world was not conceived by man, then he should not develop it according to his own discretion contrary to God's will but should strive to become His helper.

The influence of God on the development of beliefs is well demonstrated by Confucianism. Confucius did not know about the tendency in people's ideas of the divine essence as more and more favorable to them. Nevertheless, he based his teaching on the principle of "Rén" – humaneness, which does not seem practical. However, the humanization of beliefs occurs only where people are ready to embrace new, progressive ideas. Spiritual changes of man for millennia reflected in Judaism, Buddhism, Hinduism, Confucianism, prepared the perception of God as a loving father. However, Christianity has not become a universal religion, some people have not perceived it for centuries, or its dogma has been reinterpreted both in later religions and in Christianity itself, as evidenced by the separation of Churches and the Reformation. Obviously, there can not be a universal religion at all, because today most religions lose their former authority. However, the universal category, which shapes morality in society, must exist, since the decline of mankind can not be tolerated by the Lord. Such a universal category is the human conscience.

Conscience is what fundamentally distinguishes man from animals, although E. Fromm saw this difference in a decrease in the deterministic behavior of a person by instincts and in an increase in the brain (FROMM ERICH. 2010: 148-149). These are all quantitative changes in the process of biological evolution of the animal world, while conscience is a qualitative change in the psychology of the human species. It is impossible to imagine that conscience could develop in a person only under the influence of the circumstances of life and the external environment with a constant struggle for survival. Conscience as a person's ability to self-esteem, obviously, developed out of a sense of shame, which hinders from a certain kind of actions that may be considered unworthy in the eyes of others. Animals do not have a conscience as well shame, a primitive man had no shame too, and the fact of its appearance is recorded in the Bible. However, as it was noted above, the word "conscience" does not occur in the Old Testament, which may indicate the development of this human phenomenon in later times. The first among the apostles, St. Paul begins to use the corresponding Greek word and after that, it is already quite often found in the texts of the New Testament. The understanding of the meaning of conscience probably arose in the Apostle Paul under the influence of the teachings of the Stoic philosopher Cleanthes (c. 330 – c. 230 BC), whom he quoted in his speech in Athens. Cleanthes described conscience as the ability of man’s self-preservation, and his disciple Chrysippus (ca. 280 – ca. 208 BC) described conscience as a consciousness of inner harmony. The ideas of the Stoics were developed by medieval scholastics as the law of the mind, inspired by God at the man (FROMM E. 2002: 170). Nevertheless, the growing role of conscience as a moral factor in human behavior is so inconspicuous that it gave reason to B. Russell to assert that ethics in the historical plan "has not made any definite advances, in the sense of ascertained discoveries" in the historical plan [RUSSELL BERTRAND, 1995: 163]. This becomes clear if we recall his assessment of conscience as a “very unreliable adviser” [RUSSELL BERTRAND, 2013: 85]. Obviously, he did not know that the word "conscience" is absent in the Old Testament.

Unlike Russell who was an atheist, progress can be seen in all modern religions in assessing the meaning of conscience. His deepest understanding is noted in the pastoral constitution of the Second Vatican Council "Joy and Hope", which lasted from 1962 to 1965, in which we find the following words:

In the depths of his conscience, man detects a law which he does not impose upon himself, but which holds him to obedience. Always summoning him to love good and avoid evil, the voice of conscience when necessary speaks to his heart: do this, shun that. For man has in his heart a law written by God; to obey it is the very dignity of man; according to it, he will be judged.(9) Conscience is the most secret core and sanctuary of a man. There he is alone with God, Whose voice echoes in his depths.(10) In a wonderful manner, conscience reveals that law which is fulfilled by the love of God and neighbor (11). (GAUDIUM ET SPES, 1965, 16).

The meaning of conscience as a Divine moral law is indicated, but common words reach hardly public consciousness. Like any law, the moral law of conscience must also be proved and the proof consists in the realization of the growing importance of conscience for the behavior of a person in the process of his spiritual development. However, in the middle of the 20th century, among the younger generation, there was a noticeable tendency to reduce the internal need to control their behavior by moral duties. A good illustration of this process is the "sexual revolution" that began in the 1960s. It has already outlined by the practice of shameless kisses of French students in public. Such looseness in behavior led to fundamental changes in the sexual sphere due to spreading the ideas of existentialism-personalism with the absolutization of the priority of personal freedom over responsibilities to society. In this process, attempts to overcome hypocrisy and bigotry, which were often manifested in external chastity, can be considered positive, but sexual practice uncontrollable by morality can not only harm the health of an individual and greatly narrow the range of his interests, but also disorient society as a whole. Unlike animals, human sexuality has gone beyond the reproductive instinct and has become not only one of the means of obtaining pleasure but also a significant factor in shaping human social behavior. At the same time, the sexual relations of a man and a woman are reduced to techniques and have lost the spiritual joys of physical contact. Simplification of the view on sexuality occurred through the gradual loss of the authority of religions and the decline of moral standards produced over the centuries, which had the goal of controlling human nature inherent in a cultural person. As already mentioned, people, unlike animals, have a sense of conscience and shame, and these feelings are embedded in man by the Creator, therefore, consciously their reduction is nothing more than entering into opposition with Him.

The state of the systemic crisis in which the world resides is disturbed by philosophers, sociologists, ecologists, and public figures, but they are practically not touched on the topic of conscience if we ignore the position of the clergy, which is now considered by very few. The fundamental importance of conscience is not sufficiently reflected in the literature. The reason for this may be that people with a clear conscience do not receive visible benefits in society and rarely have success. Although a clear conscience contributes to the preservation of health, as noted in the German proverb "Ein reines Gewissen ist ein sanftes Ruhekissen" (a clear conscience is a soft pillow), it cannot be said with certainty that people with a clear conscience use God's special mercy. However, it can be assumed that unscrupulous people lose God's guardianship when they neglect the gift of God and, abusing free will, fall under the court of society. Nevertheless, it can be said with confidence that people who are guided by their own conscience live and act for the benefit of their inner circle and society as a whole. Agreeing with this, one can come to the conclusion that not a distinct person, but that community of people to which he belongs, is the primary and highest spiritual value of all mankind, which is an ascending hierarchical structure – family, clan, team, parish, confession, fraternity, nation, race. Christianity well reflects this idea in the prayer “Our Father,” in which the appeal to God is conducted not personally on behalf of the person who prays, but from many co-religionists. At the head of each of such communities of a hierarchical structure should be a person of high morality, whose duty should be to take care of the community as a whole and its members. That is, it will be the real embodiment of structured humanism based on the principle of "Rén" of Confucius and the idea of the social contract of Thomas Hobbes.

Some intellectuals, concerned about the systemic crisis, intuitively believe that the salvation of mankind can be provided by deep and radical psychological, spiritual changes of man. More recently, on a historical scale, there was no threat to human survival. The diversity in their own understanding of good and evil ensured the survival of those peoples whose priority values ​​corresponded to different living conditions and historical experiences. In the era of globalization, there is a need to adopt a kind of social contract for a unified system of values ​​for all of humanity. Moreover, it "must be objectively justified, optimal, consistent with modern reality and, in particular, with the threats posed by the global crisis" (VOIN A.M. 2016:12)

Such thoughts in general terms have long been voiced by Schweitzer, Mesarovic, Pestel, and other analysts, and more than thirty years ago, Erich Fromm wrote about this need in such a dramatic tone:

For the first time in history, the physical survival of mankind depends on the radical spiritual changes of man (FROMM ERICH, 1986, 21).

But the Lord did not create man in order to allow his destruction. We must think that He foresaw the possibility of crises in human society and took preventive measures. In the meantime, we must agree with the need for spiritual changes in a person, but the question arises immediately – in what direction should they take place? We have already come to the conclusion about the development of mankind under the sign of increasing humanization, but the recurrences of cruelty in the world on a large scale indicate that, on the one hand, humanization should not be universal, but differentiated, and on the other, that it should be reinforced moral laws, among which conscience should not take the last place.

Spiritual changes in a person depend on a comprehensive knowledge of God and in recent decades this need for many thinkers has become more and more obvious, although, without the participation of God himself, it goes beyond the limits of human capabilities. Colingwood, for example, arguing the unknowability of the essence of God, wrote that His character as a substance is "… not only not open to the human mind without His help, but even incapable of being shown. All that we can know about God is His activity" (COLLINGWOOD R.G. 1996: 103).

In principle, science is engaged in that, it studies the activities of God, especially not emphasizing the ultimate goal of the conducted studies. Physicists, not having a real idea of the initial conditions for the evolution of the universe, are looking for them and, not finding, are forced to ask themselves questions, the answers to which under the present state of physics can only be sophistical. For example, Einstein all his life worried about the question: Did the Lord have a choice in creating the world? Are the laws that govern the universe unique and in what situation could they be quite different? (REES MARTIN. 2008: 33). After fifty years, Lee Smolin poses the question, God created the laws of nature when he created the world, or they have a certain mathematical form fixed in some abstract principles (SMOLIN LEE 1997, 17). In fact, these thinkers, having set themselves a very difficult question, how the Lord created the world, look for an answer to it and do not find it. Meanwhile, it would be more fruitful to answer the questions what it was he who created. After getting the most obvious answers to it, you can move on to more complex and interrelated issues such as why. Of course, no one will give complete answers to them, but some products of the Lord's creation can be searched in the geological history of our planet and in the prehistory of mankind, although they can not give us relevant data on the creation of the universe, but about the creation of the Earth and its inhabitants they can say a lot.

Asking the question what exactly the Lord created, it is logical to look for an answer to it, as already noted above, starting with the most obvious facts, first of all taking into account the features of the earth's surface and the people that inhabit it. If we talk about the features of man as a biological species, then most striking is the presence of three distinct anthropological races among mankind. Trying to find an answer to the question of why the Lord conceived this and picturing in general outlines the prehistoric ethnogenetical processes, we assume that He followed the idea of structuring the future human society. The first step in implementing this idea was just the division of the human species into three races. The white, yellow, and black races were distributed separately on the earth's space, but without insurmountable boundaries, which made possible cross-breeding, which provided additional variability and polymorphism of mankind necessary for its evolution, as is known from biology. However, the significance of this process goes beyond it:

Not only biologists but also philosophers and politicians should understand the true price of monotony: changing the environment can destroy all representatives of this species if they are identical (ROLLER ANN. 1978).

However, the cross-breeding of races for a long time could gradually lead to a largely homogeneous anthropological characteristic of the population of the Earth, and this could harm the development of man, if there was no structuring of the human community on other grounds. Simultaneously with its anthropological structuring, social structuring began along the vertical and horizontal lines. The smallest structural elements were tribal communities, among which the generic nobility stood out. The competition between individual communities in the struggle for survival led to their integration into larger associations connected by a common language, which provided such a process due to their communicative capabilities. The formation of individual languages occurred in geographical areas with natural boundaries, which limited contacts between individual groups of people and accordingly prevented the spread of new linguistic forms created in different places.

These areas were called ethno-producing, because the formation of different ethnos or ethnic groups occurred on them repeatedly. It is important to note that the emerging nations with their own languages were initially tied to the land, i.e. to a certain territory in the future, this attachment in most cases took place. Violation of this principle has always led to conflicts sometimes with tragic consequences. An example of this was the events in Bosnia at the end of the 20th century.

The aggregate of such areas occupies a space that is several times larger than the area of each of them. The corresponding places on the earth's surface are several – in the basin of the Upper and Middle Dnieper, in the basin of the right tributaries of the Volga, in the interfluve of the Dnieper and Don, in the Amur basin, and in Transcaucasia among the lakes of Van, Sevan, Urmia. The features of the relief of these territories are such that it is difficult to assume their accidental origin, without the will of the Heavenly Architect. The ethno-producing areas were the result of geological controlled processes, during which mountain chains and a river network appeared, which eventually became the boundaries of these areas. Similarly, God's actions aimed at ensuring ethnic diversity on the principle of polymorphism, by it is necessary to explain the configuration and features of the landscape of Europe, which resulted in the formation and development of numerous peoples from ancient times. Nowhere in the world, there are so many small mountain massifs of complex folding, such as the Ardennes, the Vosges, the Harz, the Rhine shale mountains, the Ore Mountains, the Sudeten, Towtry, Schwarzwald, etc. Europe also has the most dismembered coastline as compared to other continents.

Such geographical features predetermined the role that Europeans played in the history of the world. However, with the development of the ways of communication, these physical features lose their significance, while the significance of the spiritual and creative potential of other peoples, who have mastered the achievements of European culture and technology, is growing.