- Sep 8, 2002
Reply to Cari’s message #6509:
>>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"?<<
Since you wrote that, Cari, I’ve been thinking about my own experience with that topic. My parents really didn’t want to question the issue (creation). For me, however, the two worlds of science and religion didn’t seem to collide at all—the whole thing was very much a NON-issue. Part of the reason for that was due to a misunderstanding.
Among my earliest childhood recollections were stories we kids listened to—some to entertain, some to educate, still others to just plain old scare us straight! One such tale, from a set of 78 rpm records (yellow, if anyone else remembers them), was about Thunder and Lightning. In the tale, a man was about to sacrifice his son (in accordance with customary ritual) to appease the gods, making the storm go away. In the end, with the youngster already bound and ready to be sacrificed, the man instead decides that his son need not die and screams out, “Bring me a goat—bring me a young goat!”
Over time, the memory of that story converged somehow with the biblical account of Abraham and the near-sacrifice of Isaac. In that tale, the patriarch opts for the slaughter of a ram he finds in a nearby thicket. The part I was missing was that Abraham didn’t have some sudden inner revelation. It took an angel shouting at him to prevent him from killing his son, revealing that God had merely been testing his faith.
As a result of the confusion of those stories, I had erroneously thought that Abraham had come to his senses, as it were, and that it made an interesting case for the possibility that as Man evolved in a physical sense, he came closer to realizing the internal spark of Divinity, enabling him to cast off the shackles of the material world and his hitherto Demiurgic lord. That concept worked for me, even as a very young child (without the Gnostic terminology, of course!). To me, the whole notion of scientific evolution was even more remarkable when imagining that other forces had set the entire process into motion, waiting for the day that man would awaken, not only to have self-realization, but the ability to realize something greater than himself.
While I can no longer reconcile the story of Abraham with my views, it should now be evident why I was so pleased with Incognito’s earlier recommendations (waaaay back) of Stephen Mitchell’s introduction to and translation of The Book of Job. Indeed, this story works even better, at least with regards to witnessing the mettle of one who is repeatedly put to the test. More than an account of proving the measure of Job’s faith, however, Mitchell shows how the story details a personal transformation—a level of understanding which Job could not have gained by faith alone.
It’s really a fantastic, quick read, if anyone has yet to encounter it. The front-cover William Blake engraving should be indicative that this is not simply another mainstream interpretation of the same old sad story.
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