chapter  9
21 Pages

Modern times

Rather than looking at time and history in a single religious culture, this final chapter asks what has become of these things in the modern world. Its theses are simple, but the journey it takes to reach them is rather complicated. I argue that ‘modern’, western notions of time and history are founded upon Newtonian ideas which are considerably less complex and rich than the temporal cultures we found in classical religious cultures. This is significant not just for religions and the discipline of history, but for all of us, for our lives are as defined by our ruling temporal order as were the lives of Christians in the second century or pre-conquest Australians. The second part of my argument is that modern temporality is in the process of collapsing, for, just as the Newtonian paradigm in science was replaced by Einstein’s re-description of the world, notions of relativity are also complicating our understanding of time.