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Wyrd, Causality, and Providence: A Speculative Essay

Ian McNish


Published: 2004/06/01


The arrival of Middle Eastern monotheism in Europe replaced a prior proto-scientific belief in causality with the teleological concept of Divine Providence, or the Will of God. Ancient Greek philosophy was supplanted by a demand that men should stop seeking to understand the nature of the causal forces at work around them, and accept these simply as the work of an all-powerful monotheistic God. A new, organized priestly class demanded that men must accept the "revealed" word of their God without question. The academy founded by Plato was ordered closed, and as Bertha Phillpotts first showed us, even among the Germanic nations the concept of Wyrd, which postulated an all-pervasive causal force, was replaced by the concept of Divine intervention or Providence. Europe entered the Dark Ages, and remained there until the rediscovery of the empirical character of the pagan classical scholarship made possible the Renaissance and the rise of modern science.