This post examines how Gnosticism permeates all worldly human activities of the Progressive sort.
Readership: All; Christians;
Reader’s Note: This post is the eighth in a series on Gnosticism.
Length: 1,800 words
Reading Time: 6 minutes
I came across an insightful article at The Catholic World Report (Benjamin Wiker): The New Gnosticism (2011-05-02).
I can’t confirm the veracity of the source, but this particular article strikes me as being an extremely incisive exposition on the influence of modern Gnosticism, and this article is 10 years old! I encourage readers to go read the article in its entirety and come back to comment, but in the interest of time, I’ll pick out a few excerpts that reiterate what I’ve been talking about in the last few posts of this series. [Emphasis mine.]
“This new Gnosticism is rooted in modern science, rather than ancient spiritualism, and sees the human body itself—even the distinction of male and female—to be something that is fundamentally flawed and in need of transformation by human technological power.”
The essence of the temptation in the Garden of Eden was to choose human capabilities over revelation. Whatever it may have started as, Gnosticism has metastasized into promoting the essence of the Fall. Modern science is merely one useful vehicle that is assumed to achieve this purpose.
“…heresies… are almost always human simplifications of Divine mysteries. God reveals something that is above human understanding, and the heretic tries to reformulate it to accord with human understanding.”
Although it may very well start out as an honest attempt to apprehend the ineffable, the logical mind is incapable of handling it, so it eventually is contorted into something that is heretical, a defacto Gnostic ideology.
“The new Gnosticism didn’t spring forth all at once, but was gradually built up over several centuries using four key elements: first, the belief that the goal of science is not the discovery of truth itself but the relief of human suffering and the extension of human life; second, the acceptance of an entirely materialist view of reality; third, the Darwinian belief that things in nature are randomly rather than divinely contrived; and finally, an aggressive secularism rooted in atheism.
Some of the original proponents of the Scientific Method professed to be believers (e.g. René Descartes), while some were agnostic. (Francis Bacon was purported to be a Rosicrucian.) They developed the Scientific Method as a reliable way to arrive at factual truth and either confirm or debunk various theories, some surrounding religious tenets put forth by the Catholic Church, others Gnostic or superstitious in nature. But since then, due to a multitude of “Empirical” detractors (e.g. Voltaire, Hume, et al.), their writings have been viewed strictly in support of atheism. For example, Charles Darwin originally offered the theory of evolution as a biological explanation of creation, but atheistic thinkers hijacked the theory and removed the idea of a Creator. Since the research as of late has uncovered evidence of what is being called Intelligent Design, they’ve had to backtrack on this stance. They haven’t yet formulated an alternative explanation for this.
For the new Gnosticism, God doesn’t exist and material reality is the only reality. The material universe (not God) is eternal, and our world was created and is continually formed and reformed by the fickle ministrations of chance. The fickle “god” Chance, therefore, becomes the equivalent of the ancient Gnostic demiurgic deity who created the evil material world. Creation by chance—the random variation and natural selection of Darwinism—gives us a faulty material biological world that causes so much evil and suffering. The goal of science is to transform the faulty material by technological power, so that we may live in a this-worldly utopia, where nature provides plenty without our labor, all sickness has been wiped away, endless physical pleasures abound, there is perpetual peace, and medicine has bestowed on us physical immortality.”
“Also evident is the old Gnostic desire to simplify things, to mold them according to what the human intellect can easily and completely grasp, to replace divine mystery with human clarity. Materialism itself is a great simplification, reducing all the vast complexity of reality to a few simple things we can understand. It’s easier to reduce everything in nature to a few laws of physics or a few basic chemical reactions; it’s easier to reduce the intricate, deep, and often entirely mysterious nature of human thought, choice, and action to some simple mechanism (like stimulus and response) or passion (like fear, sexual desire, or the desire for self-preservation).
We also find heretical simplifications of the Christian doctrines concerning sin, but with a twist. As with the old Gnosticism, the cause of sin and suffering is the bad material world. The new Gnostic believes that nature is randomly contrived. The human body itself is the result of blind processes, cobbled together over millions of years of evolutionary meandering. Evil action, physical suffering, and material want are not the result of the human disorder of sin, but are the inevitable outcome of unguided evolution. Nature, including human nature, is a mixed bag. But bad luck in nature, especially human nature, can be overcome by the union of human intelligence and human technical power.”
This author is somewhat of a rebellious Catholic! — writing these things in a Catholic magazine while the Catholic Church officially believes in evolution — so this guy really thinks for himself.
This next paragraph clearly explains how the role of science differs between the Gnostic and the Christian.
“Here, we must stave off a possible misconception. Christianity isn’t antiscientific or anti-technological. The development of pure science and technology are both essential aspects of our nature. Nor is the amelioration of human suffering and want a bad thing. The orthodox Christian differs from the modern Gnostic, not in having technology, but in the spirit of its use. The Christian accepts the limitations of human nature as good, and subordinates technology to them; the new Gnostic sees those limitations themselves as evil, or at least arbitrary, and therefore sees no problem with overriding them.
The new Gnostic sees science as a vehicle to “improve” the human condition.
We should now begin to understand why, in our times, the aim of technology is so often and so avidly the manipulation and recreation of human nature. The assumption of the new Gnostic is that he has been handed a work in progress, a work brought to an arbitrary and unsatisfying point by blind evolution, and that his most important task is to take this defective material (genetic or otherwise) as his clay, and remold it according to the desired purposes.
And so the common complaint that contemporary scientists are playing God is not misplaced. In the materialist universe, human beings are the only rational creatures, and therefore the only ones who can act as intelligent demiurges recreating the material world and human nature itself.”
The author goes on to name several examples of modern day Gnosticism, all having the aim of reconstructing humanity into something deemed to be an improvement.
- The push for gender equality.
- Gene editing in the goal of attaining immortality.
- Methods of “Alternative” reproduction.
- Eliminating the effects of gender using a thorough moral and societal reconstruction.
- The redefinition of sexuality in terms of pleasure (which is common to both sexes) rather than procreation (where the contributions of each are quite different).
- The advocacy of contraception and abortion so that both men and woman are equally removed from the connection between sexuality and childbearing.
- The redefinition of marriage as a union of a man and a woman to mean nearly any association, including its opposite, homosexual marriage.
- The notion that being a wife and mother is a kind of biological punishment or inferior vocation from which technology and politics must help women escape, rather than (as Christianity maintains) a noble vocation essential to our natural good.
- The notion that father and mother are not unique aspects of the natural family but can be replaced by the gender-indifferent “parent” or “caregiver.”
- State-sponsored care of single mothers.
- The drive for women to work outside the home was initiated in part by the desire not to be entirely beholden to ne’er-do-well or tyrannical husbands, but even more by the Gnostic notion that being a wife and mother was a kind of slavery to biology. The mixed motives are also present in the passion for state-sponsored daycare.
- The politically correct elimination of gendered pronouns—not just the he/she imbroglio, but the already noted substitution of “parent” or “caregiver” for mother and father, and we may add, of “partner” for husband and wife.
“Reconstructing speech in this way isn’t just the result of a desire to eliminate injustices against women, but even more, to signal that gender and what comes from it are things we need to transcend. The elimination of gender in speech is a reflection of the desire to eliminate the effects of gender in society and in nature itself. With the abovementioned efforts, we may also include the holding up of manly females and effeminate men as iconic by the various media, and the pushing of woman into traditionally male jobs (construction worker, fireman, policeman, soldier), and the pulling of men into jobs usually associated with woman (nursing). All serve, in one way or another, directly or indirectly, the elimination from society of the divisions and distinctions caused by male and female.
We have then uncovered an important aspect of the new Gnosticism that was not in the old: given that the new form is bent on the this-worldly task of recreating defective nature, it is essentially political. Political correctness isn’t just a matter of correcting speech or history textbooks. The new Gnosticism understands politics to be half the essential means of correcting reality. Technical power and political power are yoked for the sake of a complete recreation of our world where the defects and limitations of the human body have been entirely overcome by the human will and the benefits have been spread evenly throughout society (if even by force).”
Topics for Discussion
Readers may like to consider how the following cultural trends are examples or vehicles of modern Gnosticism.
- Critical Race Theory?
- Q Anon?
- Therapeutic Moralistic Deism?
- The Online Amateur Sex Industry and Socialization (AKA OASIS, e.g. Bumble, Instagram, OnlyFans, etc.)?
- Vaxx pseudo-science?
- What about Fake News?
- Is the whole “post-truth” phenomenon an individual-specific expression of modern Gnosticism?
- Or how about the way scientific research these days tends to prove what the sponsors want people to believe, and research supporting opposing views never passes the review stage?
I believe we could find many aspects of these things that could be classified as Gnosticism-in-effect.
Once your eyes are opened, you’ll see Gnosticism everywhere!
- The Orthosphere: Atheism, Agnosticism, and Cultural Low Self-Esteem (2014-05-08)
- Σ Frame: A Brief History of Gnosticism (2021-10-26)
- Σ Frame: The Religion of Gnosticism (2021-10-27)
- Σ Frame: 10 Defining Traits of Gnosticism (2021-10-28)