- Sep 3, 2002<<"Gnostics, when they stand up to identify themselves, would
have to agree to the majority of these tenets, but whether the
interpretation of them would be literal, psychological,
philosophical, or other must be left to the individual." (p. 190) >>>
Gnosticism can be interpreted on all the above levels. I know
involving science in the mix has been labeled "new age" by more than
a few people. Also, science is a function of material universe, and
thus any conclusions drawn could be said to lead to nothing more than
the demiurge. But, quite obviously, we live in this world and are
under it's physical laws, and the experience of it is highly
unpleasant (that whole death and suffering and eating business),
which prompts us to search for answers to our questions. The ancients
were not above using science as allegory.
I suppose if you want, the demiurge starts with the formation
space/time/matter; the big bang. (Although the big bang as just a
theory is constantly refined and altered as new phenomena are
discovered). No one will argue that DNA is a code, highly complex and
specific. That this code could have developed randomly *seems*
impossible, and that's the major argument used in the creationism.
The problem with creationism is that it's not just about proposing a
theory that incorporates seeding or some kind of intelligence. The
theory also has to adhere to whatever scriptural dogma, and with any
contradiction real science is dismissed while pseudo science and
charlatanism takes its place.
One theory I've heard is that all possible universes exist
simultaneously, thus all possible combinations of things, and we just
happen to be in the one that supports life and thus it *appears* to
us to be ordered by intelligence whereas it might not necessarily be
so. At least it's a valid counter argument.
The gnostic texts I've encountered have at least two instance
of "matter flung apart". One is in Origin of the World. Astronomy was
fairly advanced in ancient times. Archeologists have even found what
looks like glass lenses for telescopes.
The 15 point argument had one interesting idea:
<<As an analogy, consider the 13-letter sequence "TOBEORNOTTOBE."
Those hypothetical million monkeys, each pecking out one phrase a
second, could take as long as 78,800 years to find it among the 2613
sequences of that length. But in the 1980s Richard Hardison of
Glendale College wrote a computer program that generated phrases
randomly while preserving the positions of individual letters that
happened to be correctly placed (in effect, selecting for phrases
more like Hamlet's). On average, the program re-created the phrase in
just 336 iterations, less than 90 seconds. Even more amazing, it
could reconstruct Shakespeare's entire play in just four and a half
I wasn't exactly clear on this, so I went searching on the web and
found a slightly better explanation.
(copying someone elses post on here)
<<Molecular Biologists think that what made the close quarters
exchange of chemicals so feasible would be the beginnings of an oily
protective layer surrounding the outside, not necessarily a full
fledged membrane but a makeshift sort. With the chemicals (yea, im
too tired to fricken list 'em) this provides the medium for
combination to occur. In 1980's a Richard Hardison of Glendale
College wrote a computer program which resembled the very primitive
cells. 'as an analogy, consider the 13-letter
sequence 'TOBEORNOTTOBE.' Those hypothetical million monkeys, each
pecking out one phrase a second, could take as long as 78,800 years
to find among 26 to the 13th sequences of that length.' Theres a
creationist sort of argument... Now to the program. 'Now with the
sequence 'TOBEORNOTTOBE' the computer would randomly put down letters
and the program would preserve the letters that fit the right spots.
Recreating the phrase took 90 seconds... Now, reciting the entire
Hamlet play it took the program only 4 and a half days to recreate
it.' And for all you creationist swines that some how think thats
stupid I have only profane things to call you. But this represents a
primitive cell perfectly due to the closeness of all the chemicals
that sparked the first RNA strand, but thats another chapter.>>
The problem with this argument is how are "the right spots"
determined? It is predicated upon the idea that *something* knows and
preserves the phrases that are correct, in the failed attempts, till
the "correct" mode is achieved, which is the final work. In this
case, the computer program compares and preserves the failed attempts
to some standard (the complete play), until the correct result is
achieved. And that the entire work is known beforehand so that such
preservation can be made. I can't see this as an evolutionary model
simply because if several of the "right spots" aren't filled (as in a
DNA sequence) than you get a failed life form which doesn't survive
in order to be built upon. Why would evolution build on the failed
life forms, which presumably wouldn't survive to be built upon, in
order to create the "right" ones? It sounds like building a house of
cards. This model is more of a hindsight is 20/20 attempt. Evolution
in the real world occurs in dramatic spurts, while other times it
lags for aeons. Also, the concept of "right spots" is nonsense,
because all life is connected to and influenced by all other life and
environment and in constant flux. The pattern spots on a butterfly
are a reaction to it's environment, the environment is also a
function of the life forms in it, etc.. There's nothing "right"
or "wrong" about it, it just is as it is at any particular time in
reaction to everything else. But why any living system takes on it's
particular form as compared to all others which could conceivably
successfully exist is the real mystery. For example, dinosaurs
existed for what? 100 million years? They never evolved to higher
life forms. Why not? There was certainly enough time.
Another thing the article didn't address is the problem that Darwin
is no longer accepted as is. Not that evolution in whole is wrong,
but that Darwin's theory of how it proceeds is inaccurate. It was a
good theory, but it doesn't mirror what's now known about our real
world. Evolution in Darwin was a **slow** process of aeons of change
and elimination building upon each other to achieve a final result.
It was based on a stable model. Evolution in the real world is
bizarre and the environment is chaotic. There are random almost
spontaneous leaps from lower to higher levels of life (and much
higher at that). The earth has also encountered several world wide
extinction events. It's not stable and constantly undergoes dramatic
changes of topography and weather. That life not only evolved, but
apparently evolved several times, is amazing. That it evolved to
higher levels at all is truly amazing. There are, also on the other
hand, life forms on this planet that have remained basically the same
for tens of millions of years. So, I have no answers and neither does
anyone else as to where science fits and what the correct theory is.
Every theory so far is mixed with bunk and speculation. Human
history itself is a huge mystery. There's archaelogical evidence that
human beings may have been around for far far longer than generally
acknowledged. The history of just this continent alone is nothing
like that taught in schools. But because the evidence is anomalous
it's dismissed as a potential forgery or hidden away in embarrassment.
<<"Thus, science welcomes the possibility of evolution
resulting from forces beyond natural selection. ..>>
What I don't like about this is the word "natural". Natural is more a
term used to define not what *is* but rather *what we know so far*.
It's bogus, IMHO.
<<So, keeping Hoeller's words in mind, where does the mythological
demiurge fit in evolutionary "life's history"? And the pneuma,
trapped in the "physical and mental containers"?>>
In the theory of tripartation, the body/hylic is easily understood.
More difficult is psychic versus pneumatic, or mind versus spirit.
What exactly is the difference?
I've interpreted the psychic as the individual personality. So it
would be shaped by several factors; inherited traits, environment,
experiences. All are derivative to the material universe. (The soul
gnosticism is still a material structure.) We're also as a human race
on whole preprogrammed to specific drives and behaviors. We're
mammals for example, and not insects or plants.
If you want to look at the psychic scientifically then it's perhaps
the brain? The brain which we scientifically use to explain thought,
although no one is quite sure how it works exactly.
Allegorically, could drives and personality traits be interpreted as
the archons? (The Buddhists see ego as a jailer.) In gnosticism the
body and soul was created by either the demiurge or the devil, and is
still a function of matter. The spirit given by the Father animates
Spirit as consciousness itself? Consciousness is a tricky concept.
Buddhists separate the notions of ego and consciousness, they are
*not the same thing*. One Nag Hammadi text implies similar.
Paraphrase of Shem there are three roots. This is a quote from the
introduction in Nag Hammadi to the text, not the entire thing. This
text has alway fascinated me because it implies any number of things
not found in mainstream gnosticism.
"The cosmogenic myth reported here is related to those systems which
consider the universe as rooted in three principles. It opens with
the description of the three great powers or roots: at the top reigns
Light Infinite, called "Majesty", which is thought filled with
hearing and word; located at the bottom is darkness, a male principle
which is "wind in the water" and possesses the Mind (nous) wrapped
with the restless fire. Between these two powers is Spirit, a quiet
and humble light. The harmony which prevails at the beginning derives
from the fact that each of those roots reigns in itself mixing with
the other two. It is important to note that the text makes no
allusions to any previous actions taken by Darkness to seize the
Mind, nor does it mention a fall of the Mind. However, the events are
essentially triggered by the will of the Majesty in an effort to save
Suddenly Darkness stirs and the Spirit discovers the existence of the
bad root. By the will of the Great Light the waters separate and
darkness comes up with the eye, the Mind. The Spirit reveals himself
to Darkness and by doing so loses a part of his light to the benefit
of the Mind.
The exalted light then reveals himself through his son, Derdekeas. He
appears as the likeness of Spirit, thus initiating the salvation of
the Mind and the ascent of the Spirit's light in order to deceive
Darkness, the Savior provokes the creation of the universe from
water, part of which transforms into a giant Womb (also
called "Nature"). The restless fire goes into the Womb. Fooled by the
fire, Darkness, on seeing the Womb, becomes unchaste, has intercourse
with the Womb and ejaculates Mind."
There's more, such as the savior engaging in all sorts of trickery,
such as putting on several "garments" such as one of universal light,
one that is "trimorphic", one of fire where he "prostitutes himself
with nature", and in very un-gnostic fashion "Derdekeas puts on the
garment of the Beast and prompts the womb to produce heaven and earth
and all kinds of seed. He also makes her give birth to female
entities, the winds, and to male entities, the demons. The latter
mate with the winds and thereby cast off the power they have, which
is Mind.....At the end of time, Mind will take his repose with Faith
in the cloud of Hymen."
There's more, but this is certainly a new twist on the story!!
All this is to save Mind from the Dark crooked root, and presumably
do away with the Dark root altogether.
(Interestingly the Paraphrase text is not given on gnosis.org)
"The middle" or middle place is an idea found in other texts. In some
cases it's the abode of the demiurge. One text I remember seeing had
is as a place of evil that you don't want to get caught up in, Gospel
of Philip "And so he dwells either in this world or in the
resurrection or in the middle place. God forbid "the middle". It is
death." Sounds like here.
Run a search on "middle" and read.
--- In gnosticism2@y..., lady_caritas <no_reply@y...> wrote:
> I really should give this thread a subject name. :-)
> --- In gnosticism2@y..., lady_caritas <no_reply@y...> wrote:
> > In his new book, _Gnosticism, New Light on the Ancient Tradition
> > Inner Knowing_, Stephan Hoeller says, "Gnosticism holds that
> > beings are essentially not the product of the material world.
> > important term in this statement is _essentially_, for Gnosticism
> > focuses on the essence rather than the physical and mental
> > that envelop this essence. Though the theory of biological
> > did not exist at the time of the ancient Gnostics, one might
> > that unlike their mainstream Christian brethren, they would not
> > objected to it. For they believed that the human body originates
> > earth but the human spirit has come from afar, from the realm of
> > Fullness, where the true Godhead dwells. A human being consists
> > physical and psychic components, which are perishable, as well as
> > spiritual component, which is a fragment of the divine essence,
> > sometimes called the divine spark." (pages 17-18)
> > I quote this because recently the July, 2002 issue of _Scientific
> > American_ had an article, "15 Answers to Creationist Nonsense."
> > (Sometimes Yahoo has the tendency to mess up the links. If this
> > happens, please just copy and paste onto your browser or type it
> > http://www.sciam.com/article.cfm?articleID=000D4FEC-7D5B-1D07-
> > 8E49809EC588EEDF
> > The author, John Rennie, gives well-informed rebuttals to the
> > most common arguments raised against evolution. In this article,
> > Rennie admits, "The origin of life remains very much a mystery,
> > biochemists have learned about how primitive nucleic acids, amino
> > acids and other building blocks of life could have formed and
> > organized themselves into self-replicating, self-sustaining
> > laying the foundation for cellular biochemistry." Later he
> > states, "Thus, science welcomes the possibility of evolution
> > resulting from forces beyond natural selection. Yet those forces
> > be natural; they cannot be attributed to the actions of
> > creative intelligences whose existence, in scientific terms, is
> > unproved."
> > Rennie also says, "Intelligent design offers few answers. For
> > instance, when and how did a designing intelligence intervene in
> > life's history? By creating the first DNA? The first cell? The
> > human? Was every species designed, or just a few early ones?
> > Proponents of intelligent-design theory frequently decline to be
> > pinned down on these points."
> > So, keeping Hoeller's words in mind, where does the mythological
> > demiurge fit in evolutionary "life's history"? And the pneuma,
> > trapped in the "physical and mental containers"? IOW, later in
> > book, Dr. Hoeller says (regarding points he offers describing a
> > Gnostic), "Gnostics, when they stand up to identify themselves,
> > have to agree to the majority of these tenets, but whether the
> > interpretation of them would be literal, psychological,
> > philosophical, or other must be left to the individual." (p.
> > His second tenet reads, "The manifest universe of matter and mind
> > created not by the original spiritual unity but by spiritual
> > possessing inferior powers." (p.188) So, Hoeller's opinion is
> > mythology could be interpreted in a "literal, psychological,
> > philosophical, or other" sense. I wonder how many
> countless "Gnostic"
> > variations we might encounter explaining our existence regarding
> > the "first DNA" or "first cell" or "first human." Or does that
> > even "matter"?
> > Just thought I'd throw this out for discussion to the forum.
> > Cari
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