This is the time of the inversion of values when everything is turned upside down so that top becomes bottom and bottom top. We call this progress because we have lost all connection to spirit and transcendent reality but, in fact, it is nothing more than the collapse of being to the plane of matter which, without spirit, becomes chaos as in unqualified formlessness. It can never quite reach that state because spirit exists whether we believe in it or not but it can approach it and, the less we do acknowledge transcendence, the closer we will approach it. Virtually everything the modern world is based on comes from the rejection of spirit.
The descent from spirit to matter is recognised in traditional teachings on the four ages, ages which descend from Gold to Silver to Bronze to Iron. The Golden Age is fully open to spirit. This was the world now only known to us in myth when gods walked the Earth and civilisation and culture were based on reconstructing the pattern of the heavens. Authority was with sacred leaders who were in touch with the higher worlds and transmitted the sense of those worlds to the populace who themselves instinctively responded to the reality of spirit.
The law of entropy applies to cycles of human existence as it does to everything in the material world. As time passed consciousness became more constricted and the material world more present. Leadership passed to the second caste, a warrior aristocracy of kings and nobles. There was still a strong sense of the spiritual but the affairs of this world began to assume a greater prominence. This, by the way, only applies to more advanced sections of humanity who were able to form coherent civilisations. Primitive people, unfashionable as it may be to say that there were such, existed in the typical primitive state of closeness to the earth, generally speaking unable to separate themselves from nature.
At this point we should say that in one sense the whole of historical time is part of the Iron Age when matter is the main focus of conscious awareness and spirit has fallen from its rightful pole position. But there are cycles within cycles, patterns are repeated on higher and lower levels, and the descent from Gold to Iron is repeated even within the Iron Age itself as it is within all authentic human civilisations.
The descent to the third phase comes when aristocracies degenerate, losing touch with their core virtues such as honour, chivalry, loyalty and responsibility for those over whom they stand. Power now shifts to money and those who trade, the merchant or, in modern terms, the banker and the industrialist. The economy is of central concern and higher values begin to be lost and replaced by utilitarian ones, appropriate to the material plane on which attention is now concentrated, thrift, industriousness and practicality. Equivalent vices come into play too. But then there comes a further descent and power begins to shift to what was traditionally regarded as the lowest caste, what we today call the people or the masses. Simply by virtue of numbers they start to become of significance. We have entered the age of quantity in which matter assumes the rights of spirit with the consequent inevitable loss of all higher values relating to truth, goodness, beauty etc. This is clearly the age we are now in though it must be recognised that there is always considerable overlap between ages. We might regard this new phase as starting around the time of the French Revolution, given a large boost with the Russian Revolution and now spreading throughout the West. Even if the masses do not yet have actual political power, as the merchant class still holds onto that in most places, they can influence it enormously, and they undoubtedly have cultural power due to their increased financial power and also the fact that materialism is the default belief system even among many religious people who effectively relegate their religion to a subset of an overall material world view. The current dogma of egalitarianism is a tell tale sign of the descent of power to the mass population.
We can see the decay of spiritual influence in every area of human life as would naturally be the case since it is a universal phenomenon that primarily affects consciousness though the psychic and physical environments also coarsen. Art which started off as sacred then became 'high' and is now more or less just popular is a particularly obvious example but you can see the descent everywhere. Nothing is exempt, including, and in some ways especially, religion.
I don't reject Darwin's theory of evolution as a partial explanation of how animal forms developed but it is very one-sided. Unlike the two other apostles of modernism with whom he is sometimes bracketed, namely Marx and Freud, he was clearly a serious scientist engaged in serious work which could have brought about, if regarded as applying only to certain aspects of the creative/evolutionary process, a real advance in understanding. But unfortunately it was taken as a complete description of how life developed and grew. It has become the creation myth of the materialist and the extraordinary harm it has done is seldom recognised. For what it did was to reduce Man to a creature that ascended from the mud instead of descending from the stars, and it is used as a justification for all the spiritual degradation we see today. If we are solely material, only material values matter. We are all equal, all equally nothing.
But the attempt to establish equality, believe it or not, and most people won't believe it, is actually a gross spiritual error. What was the first attempt in this vein? It was Satan's attempt to be equal to God. He then encouraged Adam and Eve to do the same thing. Myth, you say? Perhaps, but myth is putting inner truths into story form. Equality is not a Christian virtue. Certainly God loves all his children and they all have their rightful place in the hierarchy of being, one that no other can fill, if they follow the correct path. But the created world is precisely based on this hierarchy of being which provides it with all its extraordinary richness. In terms of creation movement into the spiritual requires increased differentiation, differentiation in overall oneness, yes, but each created being must realise his or her full individuality to be an authentic soul. Pure oneness or equality is sameness and can only exist in a non-manifested state or that of formless matter which is the direction we are currently headed as all spiritual order and structure break down. Those who wish to break free of this downward pull must recognise it for what it is or they will be pulled down with it.