There is a school of thought that regards the whole development of modernity beginning in the West in the Renaissance as a terrible error, entirely destructive of true religion and spiritual understanding. I sympathise with that point of view but don't agree. The truth is there was a great purpose behind what we loosely call the modern world but it was a risk that could either advance the human race and take it to new heights or else take it back to a primitive level from where it would have to effectively start again. Or even destroy it completely.
The experiment was in consciousness. Human consciousness became more focused on itself, more individual, so that it could be more creative and, once realigned to a spiritual sensibility, more godlike. From being largely passive children of God we could become gods ourselves, able to wield divine powers for the creative enlargement of the universe. This was always intended as the evolutionary path that humanity should follow but I believe that in the West a few hundred years ago the process was stimulated and accelerated. A gradual evolution was boosted. This was done by the incarnation of certain highly evolved souls who could act like leaven in flour, obvious examples Leonardo da Vinci, Shakespeare and Beethoven* but there were many others at various levels and in various fields, and also, I would conjecture, by angelic forces acting on human consciousness from within. This double process has brought about the world today.
However, sound as the principles involved were, everything depended on the reception of human beings to their new powers, as powers is what they were. Would they use them to become more aware of God or would it be to pursue their own individual ends in their immediate environment? We know the answer to that. Does this mean the experiment has failed? Not necessarily. It may be that it was never intended to be universal. Many individual souls have responded in a positive fashion. Many more (as is shown by the state of the world today) have not but if we think of comparisons in nature, this may be regarded as acceptable. For instance, how many seeds sprout and then grow to maturity? A fraction of those that are produced by the parent plants. This doesn't mean that souls that have not reacted properly, i.e. spiritually, are rejected and die but they may be replanted in other environments more suitable to their state of evolution. That is what I think is happening now. I have often written that it is a time of decision. It is a winnowing of souls, a real sheep and goats moment in the history of human evolution on this planet.
Earth is like a field in which many seeds are sown. Generally the growing process takes place in the normal course of events. Long periods go by when nothing much happens. Cycles roll round and there is little change. But sometimes growing conditions are enhanced, extra fertiliser is added, say, or there is an ideal combination of sun and rain. That is what has happened in the world, starting in the West and then, through the much maligned process of colonisation by the European powers, spreading elsewhere. Some plants have grown to be strong and upright but others have either not grown as they should or developed in the wrong way and turned into weeds rather than beautiful flowers. Perhaps it depends on the original seeds, perhaps on how they have reacted for the peculiarity of these particular seeds is that their development is due to inner as well as outer factors.
So now we are living at a time when the results of the experiment are being revealed. The stimulated individual consciousness of man is making its choice. A choice of God or self. The experiment is coming to an end. It was obviously not a full success. Indeed, it must be seen, as far as one can tell at the moment with limited vision, as a failure but then God knows what his intentions were and these may extend a lot further that we can see. (I say God. It is probably high spiritual beings more akin to the elohim of the Bible who are behind this experiment). But, as things appear to be here and now, the experiment has had only a limited success. The bulk of humanity has not responded to the stimulus in the right way. Perhaps, though, there will be either collectively or in the lives of each individual one final event that will call forth a definitive choice, a chance to put right errors of the past and seize the upward current. The groundwork is being laid with the diverging paths becoming more and more clearly marked out.
Divine sparks of consciousness come to Earth to unfold their innate qualities of Will, Love, Knowledge and Creativity. Incarnated in human bodies which have evolved as fit receptacles for them, they seek expression through the various groupings of mankind and epochs of history. They develop slowly. But each one of these sparks is individual and responds in an individual manner even if this is not really perceived as such until a certain stage in the process is reached. At that stage the process may be accelerated, pressures applied that will bring out innate qualities, good or bad. This is what has occurred over the last 5 centuries, though there are always greater cycles and lesser cycles so one cannot be completely dogmatic about this. But still one can say that the last half millennium is highly unusual, One can also say that the momentum that started then is reaching its climax now. At one time there may have been the possibility of a great spiritual leap forward. That presumably was the hope. It seems that this hope will not be realised collectively but it certainly still possible on an individual level.
The choice remains ours. To retune our individual self to the greater Overself of God or to keep it as a separate thing, pursuing its own limited ends in a limited material world. To join together in a holy marriage the two poles of spirit and matter within our being or to keep them separate, as in their different ways, the Buddhist and the materialist do. Clearly, the Buddhist is wiser than the materialist as spirit is the supreme principle but even he ignores the true divine destiny that is open to the modern consciousness in which goodness, beauty, truth and love can all be brought out into full expression.
* Musically, I prefer composers such as Bach or even Thomas Tallis but these wrote in existing styles whereas Beethoven did something new and had a much greater impact on consciousness.