Fathers’ Rights

A Chicago Blog

Archive for July, 2007

A Thought From Pope Benedict on Evolution

Posted by madcap on July 27, 2007

From the New York Post:

July 26, 2007 — Pope Benedict XVI says the theory of evolution is backed by strong scientific proof – but the theory does not answer life’s “great philosophical question.”

Benedict told 400 priests at a two-hour event that he’s puzzled by the current debate in the United States and his native Germany over creationism and evolution.

Debaters wrongly present the two sides “as if they were alternatives that are exclusive – whoever believes in the creator could not believe in evolution, and whoever asserts belief in evolution would have to disbelieve in God,” the pontiff said.

“This contrast is an absurdity, because there are many scientific tests in favor of evolution, which appears as a reality that we must see and enriches our understanding of life and being.

“But the doctrine of evolution does not answer all questions, and it does not answer above all the great philosophical question: From where does everything come?”

A transcript of the Tuesday event was posted in Italian yesterday on the Vatican’s Web site.

The speech came at the end of a three-week vacation in the mountains of northern Italy near the Austrian border, where people are worried that global warming will change their way of life.

“We all see that today man can destroy the foundation of his existence, his Earth,” Benedict said.

“We cannot simply do what we want with this Earth of ours, with what has been entrusted to us.”

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Obsession: Radical Islam’s War Against

Posted by madcap on July 25, 2007

This is a 12-minute ABRIDGED version of the multi-award winning documentary, Obsession: Radical Islams’s War Against The West – a riveting new documentary that exposes the threat of Radical Islam in a way never seen before!

This featurette was designed to give the viewer an overview of the scope of the film – and the threat of Radical Islam. The full film will be available in theatres soon. In the meantime, a 60-minute version is available for purchase at www.ObsessionTheMovie.com

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The Gospel of Judas

Posted by madcap on July 23, 2007

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Tammy Faye Passed Away

Posted by madcap on July 22, 2007

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The Da Vinci Code: A Response

Posted by madcap on July 10, 2007

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The Problem of Evil

Posted by madcap on July 7, 2007

From the Britannica Great Books; Syntopicon I, Pg. 605. Ch. 30

“The theory of good and evil crosses the boundaries of many sciences or subject matters. It occupies a place in metaphysics. It is of fundamental importance in all moral sciences- ethics, economics, politics, jurisprudence…

But the theological problem which is traditionally called ” the problem of evil” concerns the whole universe in its relation to the divine perfection…

How are we to understand the existence of evil in a world created by a God who is omnipotent and perfectly good? Since God is good and since everything which happens is within God’s power, how can we account for the sin of Satan or the fall of man, with all the evil consequent thereupon, without limiting God’s power or absolving the erring creature from responsibility?”

Greetings to all,

St. Thomas Aquinas, continuing from Aristotle, provides a beautiful insight into the goodness of the Kosmos. Here is the idea in a nutshell:

Fire, like all things, moves toward that which is good, the fulfillment of
the fire in itself. The brighter the fire grows toward its perfection, the
more it causes privation in air. It is the goodness of fire that has
“accidentally” caused the privation of air. And yet, even this privation
that was caused in air, moves in the end, toward the good; the fulfillment of fire. Therefore, evil is not a substance or a form, but an “accidental privation”that moves toward that which is good. Creation is not flawed, nor has He created anything that is not good, nor is there anything created by any other. The universe, as given, is perfect. I have posted a portion of Aquinas Question 49, from the Summa Theologica, but for a more complete study of the topic one should start with question 47, “Of the Distinction of Things in General.” Here Aquinas shows that the”distinction and multitude of things is from God,” and discusses “the justice of inequality in things.”

Question 48, “The Distinction of Things in Particular,” covers the
distinction between good and evil and defines what evil “is.” This then
leads to our present inquiry, what is its cause? Bringing these questions together, Aquinas’ “Treatise on the Creation” provides compelling insights into “the problem of evil.” Though I must admit he falls short on relieving God as the first cause of evil.

St.Thomas Aquinas

Question 49
The Cause of Evil
Summa Theologica
Translated by Fathers of the English Dominican Province

Summa Online

We next inquire into the cause of evil. Concerning this there are three points of inquiry:
(1) Whether good can be the cause of evil?
(2)Whether the supreme good, God is the cause of evil?
(3) Whether there be any supreme evil, which is the first cause of all evils?”

FIRST ARTICLE
Whether Good Can Be the Cause of Evil?

We proceed thus to the First Article:-

Objection 1. It would seem that good cannot be the cause of evil. For it is said (Matth. vii, 18): A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit.

Objection 2. Further, one contrary cannot be the cause of another. But evil is the contrary to good. Therefore good cannot be the cause of evil.

Objection 3. Further, a deficient effect can proceed only from deficient cause. Therefore its cause, if it has one, is deficient. But everything deficient is an evil. Therefore the cause of evil can only be evil.

Objection 4. Further, Dionysius says (Div. Nom. iv) that evil has no cause. Therefore good is not the cause of evil.

On the contrary, Augustine says (Contra Julian. i. 9): There is no possible source of evil except good.”

Aquinas:

“I answer that, it must be said that every evil in some way has a cause. For evil is the absence of the good, which is natural and due to a thing. But that anything fail from its natural and due disposition, can come only from some cause drawing it out of its proper disposition. For a heavy thing is not moved upwards except by some impelling force; nor does an agent fail in its action except from some impediment. But only good can be a cause; because nothing can be a cause except inasmuch as it is a being, and every being, as such, is good.”

In proof of this, we must know that evil is caused in the action otherwise than in the effect. In the action evil is caused by reason of the defect of some principle of action, either of the principal or the instrumental agent; thus the defect in the movement of an animal may happen by reason of the weakness of the motive power, as in the case of children, or by reason only of the ineptitude of the instrument, as in the lame…

It is caused by reason of the power or perfection of the agent when there necessarily follows on the form intended by the agent the privation of another form; as, for instance, when on the form of fire there follows the privation of the form of air or of water.

Therefore, as the more perfect the fire is in strength, so much the more perfectly does it impress its own form, so also the more perfectly does it corrupt the contrary.

Hence that evil and corruption befall air and water comes from the perfection of the fire: but this is accidental; because fire does not aim at the privation of the form of water, but at the bringing in of its own form, though by doing this it also accidentally causes the other… Hence it is true evil in no way has any but an accidental cause; and thus is good the cause of evil.

St. Augustine Confessions VII. 18-19
[XII] 18. And it was manifested unto me that those things be good which yet are corrupted; which neither were they sovereignly good, nor, unless they were good, could be corrupted; for if sovereignly good, they were nothing in them to be corrupted; for if sovereignly good, they were incorruptible, if not good at all, there were nothing in them to be corrupted…

Either then corruption injures not, which cannot be; or, which is most certain, all which is corrupted is deprived of good

So long therefore as they are, they are good: therefore whatsoever is, is good. That evil then, which I sought whence it is, is not any substance: for were it a substance, it should be good… because our God made all things very good.

More to come….

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The Gnostic implosion and collapse of second reality!

Posted by madcap on July 7, 2007

By, Chuck Jines

(The title will become clear after my note at the end.)

Link to original article.

I want to start this next chapter in this dialogue with the understanding that I have utmost respect for the various members of all faiths, including the Gnostic church. Aristotle, in the first line of his Metaphysics states, “All men by nature desire to know.” This desire is the seed of the soul that we all share. We are all on these websites because of our desire to know, our “urge to merge.” That’s why we go to our churches, mosques, and temples. That’s why we read the Koran, the Bible or the Nag Hammadi texts.

Let us all keep this foremost in our mind, while also remembering that although everyone may be equally entitled to their opinion, not all opinions are equally valid. Let us all have the faith to let loose of our chains and turn toward the Good, the True, and the Beautiful; gatekeepers of the One.

What are the Gnostic ideas?

What are these Gnostic ideas in themselves? I’m not talking about the realm of myth. I’m talking about the real things myth points to. These are the two Gnostic ideas in their most simple form once we strip all the poetic language away:

One) The world as given is flawed.

Two) These imperfections can be corrected through the process of a man-made system.

That’s it. No angels, no Bible, no Rulers at war, no debates on duality, just two simple ideas. These are quotes taken from the blog of an ordained Priest of the Apostolic Johannite Church, Jordan Stratford, that clearly affirm my premise:

These children – known as the Archons, or rulers – are a huge problem. They are in turn jealous of their Mother’s ability to create, and they create an entire universe over which to rule. The set themselves up as gods over their creation, but as they are imperfect their creation is flawed, cruel, and grotesque. This is the universe in which we live, and we are their creatures. It is a caricature of the Real World of union with the Pleroma.

The Gnostic must personally negotiate with the Archons, and debate, argue, and define the nature of that relationship.

I’ve never met a Gnostic who feels this is anything other than a metaphor, a powerful and transformative myth. But it does describe an almost universal sense of “this is not the deal”, that the SYSTEM (“kosmos”) of time, decay, disease, ignorance, jealousy, pettiness – does not reflect the “true” world, and that the god in charge of this creation must be cruel, insane, or both.

….. To be saved from the forces of deception and ignorance (maya in Buddhist parlance) one must attain enlightenment: the direct experiential intimacy with G@d that is gnosis. This experience is the birthright of every aware human person.

So here we have it. Two very simple, and very real ideas expressed through poetic-myth. Idea one, that “creation is flawed,” and two, the Gnostic prescription for salvation from this dilemma. Keep in mind that these Gnostic “Archonsor” or “rulers” that are such a problem to the Gnostic, are the same as Plato’s ground of being that we are to align ourselves to, rather than declare war against. These are also the “things in general” that God created during the first three days of creation in Judeo-Christian tradition.

Now here is the Spiritual Gnostic formula for creating the superman, as written by Brother Jordan. What’s so funny about this, is that these five points taken from Brother Jordan’s blog overlap quite nicely with Voegelin’s six characteristics of the Gnostic enterprise. Keep in mind Voegelin has “raped” Gnosticism according to Gnostics.

“Process of becoming a Gnostic. [a Superman]

Gnostic1) Aporia (“roadlessness”). A feeling of disorientation or exclusion from the accepted conventions of the world, and a sense that “this is not the deal”. The certainty that something is wrong with the universe, and creeping paranoia that a) this is not the real world and b) that the forces in charge of this world are hiding something secret, something powerful.

Voegelin One) It must first be pointed out that the Gnostic is dissatisfied with his situation. This, in itself, is not especially surprising. We all have cause to be not completely satisfied with one aspect of another of the situation in which we find ourselves.ins firt point)

Gnostic2) Epiphany (“shining above”). The big light bulb over the head, the primal “Aha!” that reveals the glowing spark of divinity in all things. A perception of real and immediate and undeniable TRUTH in art and life and joy and beauty and the sacred real.

Voegelin Two and Three) Not quite so understandable is the second aspect of the Gnostic attitude: the belief that the drawbacks of the situation can be attributed to the fact that the world is intrinsically poorly organized.

Three) The third characteristic is the belief that salvation from the evil of the world is possible.

Gnostic 3)Agon (“struggle”). This is where things get ugly. The problem is, the Opposition is real, organized, and thoroughly pissed off at your recent epiphany. You’re suddenly a lightning rod for “bad luck” in the form of THE SYSTEM – parking tickets, tax audits, bank charges, mechanical failures, illness, miscommunication. People are “worried about you”. This is where most people either give up and deny their epiphany, or go crazy and talk to themselves on the bus.

Gnostic 4) Gnosis (“knowledge”). Equivalent to the satori of Zen or the nirvana of Hinduism, this is personally-negotiated spiritual enlightenment. A first-hand experience of divinity as real and present. Tag, you’re it.

Gnostic 5) Charis (“grace”). This is Sainthood, the ability to radiate your own gnosis to others, and overcome the limitations imposed on you by the Archons.

Voegelin Five and Six) From this follows the belief that the order of being will have to be changed in an historical process. From a wretched world a good one must evolve historically

Five) With this fifth point we come to the Gnostic trait in the narrower sense – the belief that a change in the order of being lies in the realm of human action, that this salvational act is possible through man’s own effort.

Six) If it is possible, however, so to work a structural change in the given order of being that we can be satisfied with it as a perfect one, then it becomes the task of the Gnostic to seek out the prescription for such a change. Knowledge -gnosis- of the method of altering being is the central concern of the Gnostic.

I would hope we could all agree that these two simple ideas I presented are in fact fundamental to the modern Gnostic faith. I just clearly described the belief that the ground of being is flawed, and the Gnostic prescription for remedy, by using a direct source from the contemporary Gnostic church. I really think to argue about this would be intellectually dishonest. If fact, I would consider any objections to this basic premise to be a derailment designed to prevent further investigation as to the validity of these ideas. This would lead me to believe, that what Voegelin coined, an “intellectual swindle” was taking place.

Gnostic connections

If we can conclude that these two ideas in fact exist, the next step would then be to examine which other groups partake in these two Gnostic ideas. I have broken these groups into two general camps: spiritual Gnostics and secular Gnostics. I will first briefly give a general description of the spiritual Gnostic connection, and then point the way to the secular Gnostics’ partaking of the two Gnostic ideas. This is no figment of Voegelin’s imagination. This is like saying that the war on terror is really just a bumper sticker.

The common thread will be found in the creation of mystical and social systems, and the death of the individual: One death occurring in the spiritual world, the other death occurring in the historical world. Spiritual Gnostics are at war with the “ego,” or the sense of “I.” To these folks the path to “enlightenment” requires the destruction of the self. You must annihilate the ego in order to become a master.

In Marx, Nietzsche and others you must kill the God, and therefore they kill the man. Their recipe for this endeavor is the tearing down the world of divine moral and social governance, and replacing it with man’s own.

Both camps are two sides of the same coin; one inward, the other outward. One spiritual, the other secular. Both are attempts at escaping the boundaries of being. Both embrace the two ideas.

The spiritual connection

This is what the Gnostics say themselves about their connection to both Hinduism and Sufism. The two ideas are this connection.

2) Gnosticism is a lot like Buddhism

Because of Gnosticism’s insistence on personal responsibility and ethics, its emphasis on singular prayer, the practice of compassion, detachment from materialism and the striving for enlightenment, it has been called “the Buddhism of the West”. The similarities between Gnosticism and Mahayana Buddhism are so strong it has been speculated that there may have been ongoing contact between the two religions.

The similarities between Gnosticism and Mahayana Buddhism are so strong it has been speculated that there may have been ongoing contact between the two religions.

And this is my point exactly! The modern Gnostics claims total autonomy when being compared to secular Gnosticism. They do this by limiting Gnosticism to only those who are members of their church and follow the teachings in the Nag Hammadi text (which wasn’t even published in English until 1978!). They then openly abandon their claim to total autonomy, when they associate themselves with other spiritual traditions. This is a swindle designed to cover up the secular Gnostic connection.

I know Gnosticism when I see it, because I know the Hindu and Sufi tradition first hand. I mean some real old authentic Gnostic mystic alchemy traditions. I made a note of this in my comments in response to critics of my first article.

I also found the spiritual/secular connection through my own investigation. It was some time after this that I discovered Voegelin, who articulated the same things I saw in the world for myself.

Additionally, I have previously pointed out that Nietzsche found relevance in Buddhism. This connection is a GNOSTIC CONNECTION!

The secular connection

We see these same two ideas in modernity’s Gnostic mass movements.

One) That the moral and social structure as given is flawed and must be torn down.

Two) Through the re-organization of moral and social structures a new man, and society could be born.

These two ideas of the modern Gnostic secular mass movements owe much in common with their spiritual counterparts. They are in fact the same two Gnostic ideas applied to two different value spheres.

The Gnostic text poetically proclaims, “This world was not made according to the desire of the Life.” And then further asks, “Who conveyed me into the evil darkness?” We can recognize these same sentiments in Hegel’s “alienated spirit” and Heidegger’s description of man’s “flungness” into existence.

Others who have been influenced by the two Gnostic ideas include William Blake in the realm of poetry, Carl Jung in the realm of psychoanalysis, Herman Hess in his Damian and later Steppenwolf. And of course Nietzsche’s Zarathustra:

Before God!- Now however this God hath died! Ye higher men, this God was your greatest danger.

Only since he lay in the grave have ye again arisen. Now only cometh the great noontide, now only doth the higher man become- master!

Have ye understood this word, O my brethren? Ye are frightened: do your hearts turn giddy? Doth the abyss here yawn for you? Doth the hell-hound here yelp at you?

Well! Take heart! Ye higher men! Now only travaileth the mountain of the human future. God hath died: now do we desire- the Superman to live.

Friedrich Nietzsche; Thus Spake Zarathustra, The Higher Man, Cp. Two

These are not ideas of the ordered cosmos of Hellenic man, or the goodness of creation of the Judeo-Christian world. I have only touched the surface in this short little piece. To what degree Voegelin is correct in his insight, into the Gnostic influence on modernity, can and will be argued. The legitimacy of his general premises cannot easily be dismissed through mythological poetry. I agree with Voegelin that a primary factor of modernity is Gnosticism. What we often call the “culture war” is really a struggle between Judeo-Christian Hellenism and modernity’s Gnostic Humanism. Furthermore, Positivism, Relativism, Existentialism, and Historicism all share in the two Gnostic ideas.

Because these ideas do not hold up in neither historical, cosmological nor ontological critique, the Swindle, in all its forms, must be applied. The Gnostic will seek an escape from the critique at the first round of analysis.

Conclusion:

Ideas have consequences. This is Voegelin’s, and my, main thrust: the Gnostic ideas that the world is poorly organized and that man can re-organize the nature of a thing, ends in the destruction of human life. Voegelin stands firm on the ground prepared by Plato, Aristotle, Augustine and Aquinas. “The nature of a thing cannot be changed; whoever tries to ‘alter’ its nature destroys the thing. Man cannot transform himself into a superman; the attempt to create a superman is an attempt to murder man.”

I hope I have brought forth at least some clarity about the two Gnostic ideas and their connection to modernity. For further study I would refer you to two of Voegelin’s works: The new science of politics and Science, politics, and Gnosticism. For further understanding of the Big picture, Voegelin’s five volume masterpiece titled Order and History should provide months of mindful entertainment.

In my next writings I will be turning away from describing and defining Gnosticism’s two ideas, and throw them into the arena with classical Judeo-Christian Hellenistic thought to test them out.

The questions at hand: Is the ground of being something flawed and to be overcome? Or is it good and something to align our souls to?

Till next time, peace and blessings to all. Madcap

NOTE: Before publishing this article, two responses were posted in response to my second post that show the implosion of the Gnostic’s two ideas; and the flight back into “second reality.”

Bro. Jeremy posted a response: They’re On To Us!

I was rather surprised at how juvenile, and intellectually vacant his response was. Mine is not a critique of people’s intentions. My questions pertain to the effect of ideas upon both the interior and exterior world-space. I have never questioned the Gnostics’ intentions. A common symptom of modernity is to judge the intentions and not the actual results of ideas. It’s based in feelings, not reason. The Gnostic must avoid the light of reason at all cost. This is why Bro. Jeremy imploded into an emotional rant of no substance. He did not address any of the questions or relevant points to the arguments presented in my first article. The friction caused by his “second reality” being confronted by reality as is, forced him to retreat into claims of victimhood. Wallowing in feelings of injustice, claming to be charged with a conspiracy, he felt as if a “rape” had just been perpetrated on his ideas. This is a derailment par excellent. Voegelin goes in depth on what he calls a “second reality” that must be created when confronted with reality as it is. Voegelin eloquently exposes both Marx’s and Nietzsche’s admission that when confronted with reality, the Gnostic enterprise breaks down. This is why it is a swindle; they have full knowledge from the onset that the ground they claim to stand upon is a fraud.

JP also responds by bailing out of the debate and declaring it unimportant. Who has time to think about such things with all the “nice things” we could be doing instead?

and we’d have tons of self-congratulatory material, each of us “proving” our point.”

The problem with JP’s thinking is that he has failed to offer any self-congratulatory material that proves his point. He offers this assertion instead:

“THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS SECULAR GNOSTICISM. It’s an impossibility. Gnosticism without God, without its myths and without Sophia and the Logos and the Christos and Barbelo, and (*ESPECIALLY*) without gnosis and sacrament and prayer, is not Gnosticism. Period. End. Of. Argument.”

I guess that solves that! This sounds a lot like Al Gore’s “the debate is over” line of reasoning. I think Voegelin might be on to something after all. And remember; you Gnostics were the ones who knocked on my door.

Peace to all and to all a good night. Madcap

UPDATE: Donald has taken the time to answer my questions from my first post.

Q1.) Do Gnostics, as you define them, think that humanity can come to a point in time where things like starvation and war will be no more? If so, how will this come to pass?

A1.) “A world without starvation and war is possible, but it requires a maximum effort on the part of individuals…”

Q2.) Do Gnostics, as you define them, think that an individual can come to a point in their spiritual development where they can become free of all attachments and illusions of reality? If so, how can one achieve this? What should be done with the ego?

A2.) Yes, through the grace of gnosis. What to do with the ego is a question that puts the cart before the horse. One would know “what to do with the ego” after developing the level of communication necessary to attain perfection.”

I rest my case. Nietzsche and Marx thought the same thing.

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Nietzsche the Gnostic

Posted by madcap on July 5, 2007

Cross Posted on my new blog www.thoughtsongod.com

By, Chuck Jines

The following is in response to Nietzsche was Not a Gnostic by Brother Jeremy at Summer Harvest. His claim is that Eric Voegelin is mistaken in his understanding of Gnosticism. Brother Jeremy claims that Gnosticism in neither dualistic nor “world hating,” and that Nietzsche was not a Gnostic. His article is partially in response to an article I wrote titled The Age of Gnosticism. To get the background, you may choose to read these other articles. However, this article stands on its own, and can be read alone.

Brother Jeremy states that “Such claims [that Gnosticism is both dualistic and views creation as evil] are not only completely baseless, they’re completely devoid of any kind of provable assertion.”

I will now show, using Brother Jeremy’s own words and the Gnostic texts themselves, that Gnosticism is in fact both dualistic and has a negative view of creation. Or as Jeremy claims, they are “world haters.”

Gnostic dissatisfaction with the world

Lets take the term “World haters,” which Voegelin does not use, to describe the belief that creation is a poorly organized mistake. From this follows the attempt to re-create the world through man-made systems. Brother Jeremy contradicts his own premise and confirms Voegelin’s perspective, by explaining the purpose of this demolition job… rather than denying the Gnostic desire to tear down the ground of being. This is how Jeremy himself describes the Gnostic enterprise:

The point behind tearing down these structures, behind admonishing the control systems and demolishing the illusion of the world is to rebuild It… and I’m fond of referring to the Gnostics as the ‘original anarchists.’”

And this is how Voegelin describes it:

One) It must first be pointed out that the Gnostic is dissatisfied with his situation. This, in itself, is not especially surprising. We all have cause to be not completely satisfied with one aspect of another of the situation in which we find ourselves.

Two) Not quite so understandable is the second aspect of the Gnostic attitude: the belief that the drawbacks of the situation can be attributed to the fact that the world is intrinsically poorly organized.

Three) The third characteristic is the belief that salvation from the evil of the world is possible.

Four) From this follows the belief that the order of being will have to be changed in an historical process. From a wretched world a good one must evolve historically

Five) With this fifth point we come to the Gnostic trait in the narrower sense – the belief that a change in the order of being lies in the realm of human action, that this salvational act is possible through man’s own effort.

Six) If it is possible, however, so to work a structural change in the given order of being that we can be satisfied with it as a perfect one, then it becomes the task of the Gnostic to seek out the prescription for such a change. Knowledge -gnosis- of the method of altering being is the central concern of the Gnostic. [Science, Politics and Gnosticism; pg. 64, Eric Voegelin]

I would have to say that Jeremy’s definition of the Gnostics, as anarchists who set out to demolish the illusion of the world in order to create a new order, lends even deeper insight into the validity of Voegelin’s understanding of Gnosticism. Jeremy described what Voegelin would call the Gnostic enterprise. He confesses to possessing the desire of “demolishing the world.” He clearly states that the reason for this demolition is so that the Gnostic can “rebuild it.” His motivation for this endeavor must be that he views the world as intrinsically poorly organized. God screwed up, and Jeremy’s going to fix it!

To the Gnostic, the divine light of the “true” God is trapped in creation by the “trickster God.” This is how the basic philosophy is portrayed in Gnostic myths. It is in fact a well know motif. Joseph Campbell, who was hardly out to get the Gnostics, articulated and extensively wrote about this basic motif. It is a rebellion against reality as it is given; it is a movement that believes it possesses the power to alter the ground of being. It is an attempt to bring about heaven in the here and now. It is a revolt against the limitations of human nature.

While Jeremy may not believe in the actual ancient myths of the Gods at war, he still holds those basic beliefs. He claims Voegelin’s description of Gnosticism to be “baseless,” while living out his very claim! In other words, Jeremy is what he says he is not. Charles Taylor, in his work Sources of the Self, describes this modern Gnostic mass movement as the “worldview that claims not to be a worldview.” This is part of what Voegelin terms the “intellectual swindle,” and what George Orwell coined “doublethink.”

Duality of Gnosticism: The source of evil

On Jeremy’s point concerning Gnostics not being dualistic, I must again differ with him, in that it is the dualism that leads to the view of the creation as bad. Looking at the Apocrypha of Peter, one of the Gnostic texts, we find the following:

“… But many others, who oppose the truth and are the messengers of error, will set up their error and their law against these pure thoughts of mine, as looking out from one, thinking that good and evil are from one source.”

This is a central theme of Gnosticism that makes it dualistic. To the Gnostic, as I said before, the Divine light of the one God has been trapped in the creation by the trickster god, thus giving evil a source other than the one God. This idea expressed in the ancient myths evolved from mere myth to an actual philosophy.

In the Apocrypha of John we find this story of the fall of God into creation: The name given to the creator god in this account is Yaltabaoth. The trickster God is Elohim. It is said in this motif that “he called himself god.”

“…but the power in him, which he had taken from his mother, produced in him the likeness of the cosmos. And when he saw the creation which surrounds him and the multitude of the angles around him which had come forth from him, he said to them, ‘I am a jealous god and there is no other god besides me.’ But by announcing this he indicated to the angles who attended him that there exists another god. For if there were no other one, of whom would he be jealous?”

This then leads to the common interpretation that the serpent in the genesis account of the garden is the redeemer. It is Yahweh the creator god, who has been tricked by Elohim the trickster god, into trapping the soul of man in matter, forever imprisoning man. Therefore, life as it is, is something to be escaped.

The translator of this text, Frederik Wisse, sums up the matter as follows:

“Yaldabaoth is tricked into breathing light-power into him. Thus begins a continuous struggle between the powers of light and the powers of darkness for the possession of the divine particles of man. The evil powers put man in a material body to keep him imprisoned, and also create woman and sexual desire to spread the particles of light and make escape more difficult.”

This is no small matter and is the direct opposite of Occidental philosophy. Plato, Aristotle and St. Thomas Aquinas all maintain that evil is caused by the deficiency of goodness. Evil is totally dependant upon the good, and has no source other than the good. In contrast with this Occidental philosophy, Gnosticism is indeed dualistic. Not in that it does not recognize the one God, but in that it creates a lesser god in order to account for evil.

“On the contrary, Augustine says that there is no possible source of evil except the good…evil has no formal cause, rather is it a privation of form; likewise, neither has it a final cause, but rather is it a privation of order to the proper end; since not only the end has the nature of good, but also the useful, which is ordered to the end. Evil, however, has a cause by way of an agent, not directly, but accidentally.”Thomas Aquinas, Suma Theologica; Part one, Question 49

FOUNDERS OF MODERN SECULAR GNOSTICISM

While the spiritual Gnostics tend to elevate man as god, i.e. man is god who has forgotten himself; the secular Gnostics claim god is dead. Both however, share in the idea that man can be re-created, that man can be overcome. Hegel, Marx, and Nietzsche can indeed be considered the founding fathers of the Gnostic mass movements of the past century. Their ideas led to the holocaust and multiculturalism. Their ideas led to the political decline spawned by communism, and the moral decline caused by relativism.

The Gnostic Enterprises in recent history include Karl Marx, with his attempt to create the social man, Fredric Nietzsche with his attempt to create the superman, Hitler with his attempt to create the Arian man, and the New Age Movement with its attempt to create the god man.

All of these Gnostic enterprises ended in disaster. All of these secular Gnostic enterprises share in the belief that, as Hillary Clinton put it, man can “change what it means to be a human being.

Conclusion

The premises put forth by our Gnostic friend, Jeremy, can neither be substantiated in Gnostic text, Gnostic history nor modern Gnostic philosophy. Modern Gnosticism is without a doubt dualistic, and therefore views creation as a mistake. The attempt to re-create what God messed up, through a man made system, is the heart and soul of Gnosticism. This is true of the ancient Gnostics as well as our modern secular versions devised by the great swindlers Marx and Nietzsche.

Voegelin stands firm on the ground prepared by Plato, Aristotle, Augustine and Aquinas. “The nature of a thing cannot be changed; whoever tries to ‘alter’ its nature destroys the thing. Man cannot transform himself into a superman; the attempt to create a superman is an attempt to murder man.” In this respect Nietzsche was indeed one of the founders of the modern Gnostics.

UPDATE: Response to critics

  1. JP and Jordan,

    “Essentially what Voegelin’s logic boils down to, for me and for everyone involved in the contemporary Gnostic religion, is that he is taking the name of our religion and applying it to his own political ideologies. This isn’t just a semiotic quibble, it’s sloppy reasoning; what he’s doing is observing that some modern people like to ride horses and concluding that therefore these people are members of the Golden Horde. It don’t make no sense, chappie.”

    Thank you for your responses. Rather than trying to convince each other, why don’t we pursue the matter as a joint quest for truth. Most Christians would consider me a heretic just as much as they would you.

    You’re quite correct that this would be a sloppy line of reasoning. This however is not the reasoning I am employing. What I am saying is that both members of the golden horde and some modern people ride horses. Therefore both groups share something in common, while at the same time being distinctly different groups.

    The modern Gnostic church has no monopoly on the ideas they ride, any more than the golden horde were the only people to ever ride horses. Traditionally, Gnosticism is born out of other religions. The spiritual schools of the Gnostics, both ancient and modern, share some ideologies with many Hindu and Buddhist philosophies. It would be sloppy reasoning as well to state that the contemporary modern Gnostics are Buddhists. That’s not to say that they don’t both ride horses. In fact, they ride many of the same theological, and methodological horses.

    I was a member of Ananda Marga for several years. I practiced advanced tantric meditation and studied the philosophy of Shrii Shrii Anandamurti. This school is anything but an official contemporary Gnostic church. None of the Nag Hammadi texts are ever mentioned or studied. Ananda Marga is from the Hindu traditions, and a Gnostic enterprise.

    It is Gnostic in that, and this would be my broad definition, it offers self salvation through a method of realization (i.e. gnosis that all things are divine consciousness; duality is an illusion). It places God in the creation, and claims the possibility of total “liberation” from the self, in the here and now, as an ontological perfection of the soul, via their particular “secret system.”

    How religious Gnosticism translates into the “secular world” is through Marx and Nietzsche. Obviously both of these thinkers were less than friendly toward religion. You will not see Nietzsche state he is a Gnostic who reads aloud the Nag Hammadi texts at Gnostic services. However, Nietzsche found some relevance in Buddhism. “Buddha makes no promises and keeps every one of them.” (Twilight of the Idols and the Antichrist) What Fred was referring to was the Buddhist concept that you can know in the here and now, in opposition to the Christian concept of faith. Nietzsche was not a Buddhist, but he was a Gnostic in his idea of the superman. In this light, his Thus Spake Zarathustra can be rationally considered to be a secular Gnostic text. Nietzsche does not have to convert to Buddhism, or the Gnostic Church to partake in the idea that man can be overcome. This is the horse I am referring to, not the name of the stable. I’m not arguing that Marx and Nietzsche were members of the Gnostic church. What I’m saying is that they shared with the Gnostics the idea that the ground of being can be altered through man’s efforts. Of course, these modern Gnostic intellectual and political mass movements ended in disaster; as Plato, Aristotle, Aquinas and many others claimed it inevitably would, regardless of possible good intentions behind the attempt.

    I think your attempt to limit Gnosticism to those who read the Nag Hammadi text and attend Gnostic religious services is rather shortsighted. It’s like saying only people who live in our stable actually ride horses. I also do not understand all this upheaval over what “true” Gnosticism is. Why not simply stand on what you believe? Why is there such a problem with acknowledging that there are fundamental differences between Gnosticism and classical Occidentalism?

    I know what Gnosticism is, not simply by what I have read in books. I have been a practitioner of two well established schools of Gnostic teachings, first hand. Voegelin simply articulates aspects that I found on my own; I don’t need Voegelin to tell me what Gnosticism is. I’m rather surprised that Gnostics would spend so much time trying to claim they are not what they are. It’s everyone else in the world that is deceived and confused I guess.

    Having actually studied the Gnostic texts, and after many years of personal practice in Gnostic schools, I must be much more ignorant than I ever thought, if I am so far off the mark as to what Gnosticism is.

    This being the case, it would be in my best interest to stop making statements about Gnosticism and start asking questions so I can understand. These three come to mind:

    Do Gnostics, as you define them, think that humanity can come to a point in time where things like starvation and war will be no more? If so, how will this come to pass?

    Do Gnostics, as you define them, think that an individual can come to a point in their spiritual development where they can become free of all attachments and illusions of reality? If so, how can one achieve this? What should be done with the ego?

    Would Gnostics, as you define them, consider it unfair and disingenuous to take note of other schools of thought, belief systems, and political philosophies that might answer these same questions in a similar manner, thus tending to show a common theme that runs through all despite other differences? What name should be given to this common theme, should it actually exist?

    May the peace and blessings of the One be upon us all.

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Cracking the Gnostic Code

Posted by madcap on July 5, 2007

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Hinduism

Posted by madcap on July 3, 2007

documentary on the history of Hinduism.

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