I am giving him more attention than he is due, but Jeremy Rifkin doesn't know what the hell he's talking about:
Both the Abrahamic faiths--Judaism, Christianity, and Islam--as well as the Eastern religions of Buddhism, Hinduism, and Taoism, either disparage bodily existence or deny its importance. So too does modern science and most of the rational philosophers of the Enlightenment. For the former, especially the Abrahamic faiths, the body is fallen and a source of evil. Its presence is a constant reminder of the depravity and mortality of human nature. For the latter, the body is mere scaffolding to maintain the mind, a necessary inconvenience to provide sensory perception, nutrients, and mobility. It is a machine the mind uses to impress its will on the world. It is even loathed because of its transient nature. The body is a constant reminder of death, and therefore, feared, disparaged and dismissed in the world's great religions and among many of the Enlightenment philosophers.The ludicrously grotesque generalizations of his argument, conflating "faith" with feudalism ("At the dawn of the modern market economy and nation-state era, the philosophers of the Enlightenment challenged the Age of Faith that governed over the feudal economy with the Age of Reason.") and blaming most of society's woes on the "battle" between theologians and philosophers ("Theologians and philosophers have continued to battle over faith vs. reason ever since, their debates often spilling over into the cultural and political arenas, with profound consequences for society.") is one I should really respond to with: I wish we were that important. I wish serious theologians and serious philosophers really had that much impact on society. But I don't really see it.
Most of all, the body is to be mistrusted, especially the emotions that flow from its continuous engagement with and reaction to the outside world. Neither the Bible nor the Enlightenment ruminations make much room for human emotions, except to depreciate them as untrustworthy and an impediment either to obedience to God in the first instance or to the rational will in the second instance.
And then to conflate Neo-Platonism and Protestant Christianity with Hebraic thought and Judaism, and lump all that together into a blanket statement on "religion" which encompasses Buddhism, Hindusm and Taoism (hint: only one of those three is accurately considered a "religion"), as well as reject the very materialism that underlies modern neuro-science and biology ("The experience of the transcendent is a set of neurons firing in particular arrangements of the lobes of certain brains!"); well, such is the state of public intellectualism in America today.
"Neither the Bible nor the Enlightenment ruminations make much room for human emotions, except to depreciate them as untrustworthy and an impediment either to obedience to God in the first instance or to the rational will in the second instance." Huh? What? Has this guy even read the Bible, much less examined a scientific text older than those of Descartes' era? Even the so called "Cartesian split" wasn't as radically fundamental as Rifkin is. Most of the better stories in the Hebrew Scriptures are people going off on wild actions prompted precisely because they are emotional, and how God either uses that happy accident to better ends, or patches the mess back together again, or just goes along with the flow. Emotions are "an impediment...to obedience to God"? Has he read the Christian mystics? At all? Has he even read Malcolm Gladwell's best-sellers, or the slew of economist turned sociologists who are busy explaining human psychology in terms of reasoning based on emotions, not classically defined reason?*
No, of course not. Ignorance is a state that allows us a purer contemplation of truth, uncluttered as our minds are by knowledge and reasoning that might obstruct our facile insights based on nothing.
*To be fair, I don't consider Gladwell or those economists seeking fame and best-seller riches intellectual heavyweights either, but for Rifkin to imagine and then present his ideas as a bold fresh gift to humanity; well, the arrogance and ignorance is O'Reilly-esque.