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John H.T. Francis – Reflections on Fundamental Matters: Not for the Satisfied Mind @JohnHTFrancis

Excerpt 6: Reflections on Fundamental Matters: Not for the Satisfied Mind – Chapter: On
Knowledge and Truth
Historical Disillusionments
Four key disillusionments in Human History are important to know about, not only in order to have a
concrete context of what is pure Speculation in opposition to actual Knowledge, but also in order to derive
some important lessons about mistakes of thought not to repeat in the future.
116. Of the last two thousand years, a large part of our knowledge, particularly Western knowledge, has been
intertwined with Religion. Some of the greatest thinkers were also great religious figures such as Saint
Augustine or Saint Thomas Aquinas. Moreover, some of the great religious notions were built on earlier
secular knowledge, and in the process, re-biased this knowledge sometimes in a rather unjustified manner
towards the doctrine advocated by the religion in place. The reason behind this is rather easy to understand:
in the tumultuous political times following the fall of Rome and the increased dominion of barbarous kings,
religious institutions were the only place where Knowledge was possible. Under the umbrella of Religion,
‘Metaphysics’, which was essentially a wide spectrum of Knowledge subjects, could develop more easily;
however, this did not happen without an influence from Religion. It is mostly at the age of Enlightenment
that the two, Metaphysics and Religion, started to take separate distinct roots again.
117. Under the influence of Judaeo-Christian and Islamic religions, and likely coupled with the strong
psychological human need for feeling and wanting to believe that it is a species of a special kind, it was taken
as ‘knowledge’ that Man and the place it inhabits, Earth, are the centre of everything. Man was considered to be a
very special creation; even some religions went as far as describing Man as the image of God. Man is fully in control
of himself and his decisions, and he is therefore under some sort of a ‘trial period’ by God on Earth to do the
good. Finally, this existence on Earth is not the last; once Man passes the trial, there is immortality, the
ultimate salvation from our mortal condition. God created the world for our trial, and once the trial is over, we are
recalled back from this world.
Four major concepts of Humanity up until the end of the Middle Ages conditioned and honed generations
after generations, four speculations with no duty of proof or validity behind them, and four great historical
disillusionments based on speculative reasoning. For the religious readers, the writer begs not to take the
below as an affront on all religious belief. It is rather an attack on elaborate speculations taken as irrefutable
doctrine without a duty of demonstration. One can very well be religious and not believe in purely false
speculations; the Church does not claim any longer that Earth is the centre of the world. No person valuing
Rationality and all that has been achieved by Humanity through decent rational effort should have a problem
rejecting these false speculations.

Reflections

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