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Re: Gnosticism and Darwin

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  • Raven Skydancer
    Hi Gich; I asked my inner being, my God Self within me, whom I call High Self, and the answer was, YES , to your question... The Gnostic Gospels were not meant
    Message 1 of 20 , Mar 6, 2005
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      Hi Gich; I asked my inner being, my God Self within me, whom I call
      High Self, and the answer was,"YES", to your question... The Gnostic
      Gospels were not meant to be a comentary on the 'origen of
      species'... nor was Darwin necessarily right about everything, or
      maybe... anything. Smile

      Namaste, Sky

      --- In gnosticism2@yahoogroups.com, "gich morgan" <gich2@b...> wrote:
      >
      > Hi All!
      > Is there a place for the Theory of evolution in Gnosticism?
      > Gich
    • Raven Skydancer
      Hi Cary; You wrote; It sometimes can be excruciating reading old stuff we wrote.LOL ;-) In looking back on some of the old stuff I have written in times
      Message 2 of 20 , Mar 6, 2005
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        Hi Cary; You wrote; "It sometimes can be excruciating reading old
        stuff we wrote.LOL ;-)"

        In looking back on some of the old stuff I have written in times
        past, it's not only "excruciating", some of it is down right
        embarrassing... Wink

        Namaste, Sky



        --- In gnosticism2@yahoogroups.com, lady_caritas <no_reply@y...>
        wrote:
        >
        > --- In gnosticism2@yahoogroups.com, "gich morgan" <gich2@b...>
        wrote:
        > >
        > > Hi All!
        > > Is there a place for the Theory of evolution in Gnosticism?
        > > Gich
        >
        >
        > Hello, Gich. I just did a search on the group message board search
        > engine and found a thread from about 2 Ā½ years ago touching
        > on "evolution." With all our new members since then, we might want
        > to readdress this subject if people are interested.
        >
        > If you're interested in reviewing some of the old thread, it starts
        > with post #6508 [and I repeat it in #6509 since I had forgotten to
        > include a subject title ;-) ]. If you scroll to the bottom of that
        > post page I link below, you'll see continuing posts of the thread
        > listed. And it continues past those listed in that one post, too.
        > Just keep checking the bottom of other posts in the thread for more
        > follow-up posts.
        >
        > This thread took some curves here and there, so some posts might be
        > more on target or interesting to you than others.
        >
        > http://groups.yahoo.com/group/gnosticism2/message/6508
        >
        > So, regardless of past discussion, please feel free to rehash
        > information and bring some welcome, fresh ideas to the table. None
        > of us want to be tied to *all* our ideas and opinions from years
        ago
        > anyway. It sometimes can be excruciating reading old stuff we
        > wrote. LOL ;-)
        >
        >
        > Cari
      • Mike Leavitt
        Hello gich ... Did evolution as a concept even exist at the time of the Gnostics? Regards -- Mike Leavitt ac998@lafn.org
        Message 3 of 20 , Mar 6, 2005
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          Hello gich

          On 03/06/05, you wrote:

          >
          >
          > Thanks Cari!
          >
          > I've looked at some of the old thread you mention but can't find a
          > straightforward answer to my question:
          >
          > Is there a place for the Theory of evolution in Gnosticism?
          >
          > Yes?
          >
          > No?
          >
          > Maybe?
          > Gich

          Did evolution as a concept even exist at the time of the Gnostics?

          Regards
          --
          Mike Leavitt ac998@...
        • Tsharpmin7@aol.com
          hi Gich... You wrote: Hi Crispin. You write if you re asking whether or not a contemporary Gnostic can find a place for the Theory of evolution, then i
          Message 4 of 20 , Mar 7, 2005
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            hi Gich...

             

            You wrote:

             

            Hi Crispin.

            You write 'if you're asking whether or not a contemporary Gnostic can

            find "a place for the Theory of evolution," then i would say  absolutely

            yes.' I'm trying to get to grips with the concept of 'the spirit within'; 'the

            inner spark; and similar expressions. This 'spirit', this 'inner spark', is

            divine. It exists within all men and, as I understand things, if only we

            can acquire the esoteric gnosis (and so get to know our own inner

            spirit and through this come to know God and his purpose) we will be

            saved. 

             

            crispin replies:

             

            actually, not according to all Gnostic teachings.  i don't have the

            references handy right now, and maybe someone can help me out

            here, but i seem to recall occasions where it sounded to me as though

            the gnostics were somewhat emphatically declaring that not every

            "human" was possessed of this "inner spark;"  that some Gnostics

            seemed to think it was, in a sense, a somewhat exclusive clubbut

            that's a pretty literal interpretation of what i've read, and their actual

            meaning may have been a bit more sophisticated.  it may have been an

            insiders way of expressing a conviction that not all humans have the

            capacity to exploit it regardless of whether of not they possess it;

            whether or not they desire or seek it.

             

            Gich wrote:

             

            But acquiring the esoteric gnosis requires some (spiritual) effort on our

            part which, presumably, is not possible unless there is a spiritual side

            (an 'inner spark') to our existence.

             

            crispin replies:

             

            sounds logical. 

             

            Gich wrote:

             

            If we accept the Theory of Evolution, then where does primitive man

            fit in to this 'spiritual' scheme of things? I can't imagine that beings

            only slightly removed from apes had this 'inner spark' at all. 

             

            crispin replies:

             

            maybe all matter contains this "inner spark":  humans, apes, toads,

            rocks, water, air, etc., especially if evolution is a tool of the divine as

            opposed to a purely mechanistic view of evolution.  and let me say

            right now that i lean towards intelligent design -- but reject Genesis

            and all other religious cosmogonies i've encountered including all

            Gnostic varieties -- and am not adverse to the idea that evolution

            could be a tool of an intelligent designer.

             

            Gich wrote:

             

            From God's point of view there wouldn't have been any point in

            implanting it because the beings in question would never become

            sufficiently spiritually aware to produce the (spiritual) effort required

            to acquire the esoteric gnosis. 

             

            crispin replies:

             

            i'm not about to address God's p.o.v., but i get what you're saying. 

             

            Gich wrote:

             

            But gnostics believe that present-day man does have this 'inner spark'.

            So we are left with the question: when (in our timeline) did God decide

            that mankind had become sufficiently evolved to make implanting the

            'inner spark' worthwhile? I just can't see this. 

             

            crispin replies:

             

            i'm not at all comfortable speculating about what God did or did not

            decide, much less God's motivations, desires, capacities, etc.  maybe it

            (this "inner spark") was always there but the capacity to perceive

            and/or exploit it was not. 

             

            Gich wrote:

             

            Presumably mankind evolved at different rates in different parts of the

            world; so some groups would have been rewarded (??) and others

            not.  

             

            crispin replies:

             

            i'd question (??) that idea of reward as well. 

             

            Gish wrote:

             

            Has all of mankind on Earth today evolved to a sufficient degree to be

            rewarded with this 'inner spark'? 

             

            crispin replies:

             

            as mentioned earlier, i'm pretty sure some Gnostics did not believe all

            humans have that spark, so it wouldn't be a matter of reward as much

            as dumb luck.  perhaps i'm one of the unlucky non-sparklers who only

            imagines he's a spiritual being, i.e., i'm essentially delusional perhaps. 

            i really don't know the answer to your question.  i would like to believe

            all life contains this spark, this connection to the divine, and that all

            relatively sane and healthy humans can develop the capacity to

            develop, or evolve, into beings of a much higher perception and

            awareness through some process that strips us of our social/cultural

            conditioning and our false selves (plural!), but my likes and dislikes

            seem to carry little weight with reality. 

             

            my body was dead, or nearly so (i don't know), immediately after my

            accident, and from what i experienced -- unless it was a purely

            mechanical/hallucinatory phenomenon as many have suggested -- i

            have little doubt that we are spiritual beings and that our spirits can

            survive, consciousness intact,  outside of the physical body (for a while

            at least: eternity is another question altogether, so i won't assume it).  

            so my hopes and experiences are that we are all in some way

            connected to the divine, or God, and, as seems likely to me, probably

            everything else.  the all?

             

            Gich wrote:

             

            It seems to me that the concept of a spiritual 'inner spark' implanted

            into mankind by God is incompatible with the Theory of Evolution;

            and hence Gnosticism itself is incompatible. 

             

            Gich

             

            crispin replies:

             

            i may be alone in this, but i'ts not always clear to me when i see the

            word Gnosticism used amongst us whether or not we are speaking

            historically of the Gnosticism of the 1st millennium or are we

            speaking about current "Gnostic" thought.  my guess, concerning the

            ancients, would still be yes though.  using sophistry, wit, creativity,

            etc., they would have adapted.  We see this happening time and

            time again in every spiritual/religious movement i've ever

            investigated.  even today it looks to be a matter of adapt or die.  as

            to how the Gnostics would have adapted is anyone's guess (i've

            already suggested that it could have been employed as a form of

            propaganda to reinforce ideas about the debased nature of matter),

            but i certainly don't think they'd throw in the towel, as the highest

            ambitions of Gnosticism by far superseded their own mythologies. 

            as to current Gnostic thought or practitioners i  would imagine its

            pretty much the same.  i know i don't have any personal or

            emotional stake in regards to how life and humanity ultimately came

            to be.  i love monkeys and apes and really adore the idea that they

            might be my ancestors, and i sometimes think, right or wrong, i see

            that same spark that i see in us residing behind their eyes as well.  i

            just feel awe thinking about it or witnessing it.

             

            your friend,

             

            Crispin Glover III

             

          • pamela661
            In my ventures, I have only read a little Darwin, but if I remember correctly he did not completely trace the theory of evolution from apes to humans. In
            Message 5 of 20 , Mar 7, 2005
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              In my ventures, I have only read a little Darwin, but if I remember
              correctly he did not completely trace the theory of evolution from
              apes to humans. In other words, I thought the "trail" was somewhat
              incomplete - hence the theory of "the missing link". Sooooo,
              theoretically, Darwin's theory is still that - a theory. Gnostism,
              in my experience is simply a spiritual theory on the ways of
              spiritual existence - which by the way is open to change as new
              information is learned or discovered. I feel that the point of
              being gnostic is to serve the idea of what I feel is truly right
              theologically, while leaving room for change if and when I feel my
              beliefs need to given any new experience or information I find. I
              guess what I'm getting at after all this rambling is that no one can
              say yea or nay to your question but you. What do you feel is
              right? Or perhaps maybe that is something you can explore to serve
              your god. All in all, I feel it is the journey or the search for
              knowledge that is important, not just the answers. I hope this
              helps a little.
            • lady_caritas
              There is much to address here, but I ll just bring up a few points to focus on for now, and perhaps others would like to join in, too. As far as historical
              Message 6 of 20 , Mar 7, 2005
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                There is much to address here, but I'll just bring up a few points to
                focus on for now, and perhaps others would like to join in, too.

                As far as historical Gnosticism is concerned, the ultimate ineffable
                Unknown (or unengendered father, etc.) doesn't decide, reward, have a
                point of view,... is basically, in fact, beyond existence and any
                human conception. (A message board search might direct you to past
                discussion of this apophatic theology.)

                So, I suppose I wonder what is meant in this discussion by the
                term "god"? The various Gnostic mythologies show this world to be an
                abortion, as a result of the fall of Sophia, from whom spiritual
                sparks fall. Now, depending on the mythology, the demiurge, who is
                the artisan, creator of our world, either can be viewed as very
                negative (the sparks become trapped in the material prison) or even
                more positive (Valentinianism, where creation is viewed as a tool, a
                vessel to aid the maturing spiritual fruit). In any case, Gnosis
                destroys "lack," and the material world is deficient.

                Now, of course, caution should be taken in remembering that this is
                mythology, metaphor. The esoteric nature of Gnosis doesn't suit a
                black and white literal approach. Likewise the spirit isn't
                physical, so even though the theory of evolution wasn't around for
                those ancients, I don't see it as incompatible in describing
                biological occurrences, whether as part of a physical prison or an
                accommodating vessel.

                Cari

                --- In gnosticism2@yahoogroups.com, Tsharpmin7@a... wrote:
                >
                > hi Gich...
                > You wrote:
                > Hi Crispin.
                > You write 'if you're asking whether or not a contemporary Gnostic
                can
                > find "a place for the Theory of evolution," then i would say
                absolutely
                > yes.' I'm trying to get to grips with the concept of 'the spirit
                within';
                > 'the
                > inner spark; and similar expressions. This 'spirit', this 'inner
                spark', is
                > divine. It exists within all men and, as I understand things, if
                only we
                > can acquire the esoteric gnosis (and so get to know our own inner
                > spirit and through this come to know God and his purpose) we will
                be
                > saved.
                > crispin replies:
                > actually, not according to all Gnostic teachings. i don't have
                the
                > references handy right now, and maybe someone can help me out
                > here, but i seem to recall occasions where it sounded to me as
                though
                > the gnostics were somewhat emphatically declaring that not every
                > "human" was possessed of this "inner spark;" that some Gnostics
                > seemed to think it was, in a sense, a somewhat exclusive club.
                but
                > that's a pretty literal interpretation of what i've read, and
                their actual
                > meaning may have been a bit more sophisticated. it may have been
                an
                > insiders way of expressing a conviction that not all humans have
                the
                > capacity to exploit it regardless of whether of not they possess
                it;
                > whether or not they desire or seek it.
                > Gich wrote:
                > But acquiring the esoteric gnosis requires some (spiritual) effort
                on our
                > part which, presumably, is not possible unless there is a
                spiritual side
                > (an 'inner spark') to our existence.
                > crispin replies:
                > sounds logical.
                > Gich wrote:
                > If we accept the Theory of Evolution, then where does primitive
                man
                > fit in to this 'spiritual' scheme of things? I can't imagine that
                beings
                > only slightly removed from apes had this 'inner spark' at all.
                > crispin replies:
                > maybe all matter contains this "inner spark": humans, apes,
                toads,
                > rocks, water, air, etc., especially if evolution is a tool of the
                divine as
                > opposed to a purely mechanistic view of evolution. and let me
                say
                > right now that i lean towards intelligent design -- but reject
                Genesis
                > and all other religious cosmogonies i've encountered including
                all
                > Gnostic varieties -- and am not adverse to the idea that
                evolution
                > could be a tool of an intelligent designer.
                > Gich wrote:
                > From God's point of view there wouldn't have been any point in
                > implanting it because the beings in question would never become
                > sufficiently spiritually aware to produce the (spiritual) effort
                required
                > to acquire the esoteric gnosis.
                > crispin replies:
                > i'm not about to address God's p.o.v., but i get what you're
                saying.
                > Gich wrote:
                > But gnostics believe that present-day man does have this 'inner
                spark'.
                > So we are left with the question: when (in our timeline) did God
                decide
                > that mankind had become sufficiently evolved to make implanting
                the
                > 'inner spark' worthwhile? I just can't see this.
                > crispin replies:
                > i'm not at all comfortable speculating about what God did or did
                not
                > decide, much less God's motivations, desires, capacities, etc.
                maybe it
                > (this "inner spark") was always there but the capacity to
                perceive
                > and/or exploit it was not.
                > Gich wrote:
                > Presumably mankind evolved at different rates in different parts
                of the
                > world; so some groups would have been rewarded (??) and others
                > not.
                > crispin replies:
                > i'd question (??) that idea of reward as well.
                > Gish wrote:
                > Has all of mankind on Earth today evolved to a sufficient degree
                to be
                > rewarded with this 'inner spark'?
                > crispin replies:
                > as mentioned earlier, i'm pretty sure some Gnostics did not
                believe all
                > humans have that spark, so it wouldn't be a matter of reward as
                much
                > as dumb luck. perhaps i'm one of the unlucky non-sparklers who
                only
                > imagines he's a spiritual being, i.e., i'm essentially delusional
                perhaps.
                > i really don't know the answer to your question. i would like to
                believe
                > all life contains this spark, this connection to the divine, and
                that all
                > relatively sane and healthy humans can develop the capacity to
                > develop, or evolve, into beings of a much higher perception and
                > awareness through some process that strips us of our
                social/cultural
                > conditioning and our false selves (plural!), but my likes and
                dislikes
                > seem to carry little weight with reality.
                > my body was dead, or nearly so (i don't know), immediately after
                my
                > accident, and from what i experienced -- unless it was a purely
                > mechanical/hallucinatory phenomenon as many have suggested -- i
                > have little doubt that we are spiritual beings and that our
                spirits can
                > survive, consciousness intact, outside of the physical body (for
                a while
                > at least: eternity is another question altogether, so i won't
                assume it).
                > so my hopes and experiences are that we are all in some way
                > connected to the divine, or God, and, as seems likely to me,
                probably
                > everything else. the all?
                > Gich wrote:
                > It seems to me that the concept of a spiritual 'inner spark'
                implanted
                > into mankind by God is incompatible with the Theory of Evolution;
                > and hence Gnosticism itself is incompatible.
                > Gich
                > crispin replies:
                > i may be alone in this, but i'ts not always clear to me when i see
                the
                > word Gnosticism used amongst us whether or not we are speaking
                > historically of the Gnosticism of the 1st millennium or are we
                > speaking about current "Gnostic" thought. my guess, concerning
                the
                > ancients, would still be yes though. using sophistry, wit,
                creativity,
                > etc., they would have adapted. We see this happening time and
                > time again in every spiritual/religious movement i've ever
                > investigated. even today it looks to be a matter of adapt or
                die. as
                > to how the Gnostics would have adapted is anyone's guess (i've
                > already suggested that it could have been employed as a form of
                > propaganda to reinforce ideas about the debased nature of
                matter),
                > but i certainly don't think they'd throw in the towel, as the
                highest
                > ambitions of Gnosticism by far superseded their own mythologies.
                > as to current Gnostic thought or practitioners i would imagine
                its
                > pretty much the same. i know i don't have any personal or
                > emotional stake in regards to how life and humanity ultimately
                came
                > to be. i love monkeys and apes and really adore the idea that
                they
                > might be my ancestors, and i sometimes think, right or wrong, i
                see
                > that same spark that i see in us residing behind their eyes as
                well. i
                > just feel awe thinking about it or witnessing it.
                > your friend,
                > Crispin Glover III
              • pmcvflag
                Hey Mike.... ... Gnostics?
                Message 7 of 20 , Mar 7, 2005
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                  Hey Mike....

                  >>>"Did evolution as a concept even exist at the time of the
                  Gnostics?"<<<

                  Interestingly, it did. In fact, it predates Gnosticism and existed
                  all the way back in the time of the pre-Socratics (Anaximenes, for
                  instance). I think most people today think of "evolution" as a
                  completely modern concept that simply sprang into being. While it is
                  true that the Greek and Latin philosophers that talked about the
                  notion of evolution did not have all the evidence to work through,
                  bones, genetics, etc., but the basic concept was still there.

                  Gich...

                  >>>"I've looked at some of the old thread you mention but can't find
                  a straightforward answer to my question:

                  Is there a place for the Theory of evolution in Gnosticism?"<<<

                  I know you want a "straightforward" answer, but I think it may be
                  there more than it looks. When Cari points out a couple posts back
                  that we have to remember the destinction between the Demiurge and
                  the trou source, and to remember that much of what we are talking
                  about is metephor, it brings to the front that to some extent your
                  question sort of goes against the point of evolutionary theory and
                  the point of Gnosticism. What I mean is, it is as if you asked "is
                  there any place for solor power homes in psychology?"

                  I could say yes, or no, or maybe, but the larger question is why are
                  we trying to compare solor power with theories on how the mind
                  works? The two areas neither confirm or deny the accuracy of the
                  other.

                  The physical means by which humans came into existance isn't really
                  something that Gnosticism gives much attention to. If it was
                  evolution, or some kind of "god", it is still just the physical
                  world which is the realm of the Demiurge, not the Source. Remember,
                  Gnostics don't believe we were created by the real spiritual
                  unknowable source, and it was not "God" who gave us spirit.

                  So, just as you can believe in psychology AND in solor power, I see
                  absolutely no reason you could not believe in evolution and Gnosis.
                  Perhaps one might even argue that in comming to understand the
                  physical mechanics of our origin one could come to know the limits
                  of that physical existance... just as the advancement technology
                  such as solor power and the like could give us additional leisure to
                  explore our psychology.

                  PMCV
                • Mike Leavitt
                  Hello pmcvflag ... My mind is going, I should have remembered that. Regards -- Mike Leavitt ac998@lafn.org
                  Message 8 of 20 , Mar 7, 2005
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                    Hello pmcvflag

                    On 03/08/05, you wrote:

                    >
                    >
                    > Hey Mike....
                    >
                    >>>> "Did evolution as a concept even exist at the time of the
                    > Gnostics?"<<<
                    >
                    > Interestingly, it did. In fact, it predates Gnosticism and existed
                    > all the way back in the time of the pre-Socratics (Anaximenes, for
                    > instance). I think most people today think of "evolution" as a
                    > completely modern concept that simply sprang into being. While it is
                    > true that the Greek and Latin philosophers that talked about the
                    > notion of evolution did not have all the evidence to work through,
                    > bones, genetics, etc., but the basic concept was still there.

                    My mind is going, I should have remembered that.

                    Regards
                    --
                    Mike Leavitt ac998@...
                  • pmcvflag
                    Hey Gich You wrote..... ... I read many, many years ago that one should not use analogies when trying to prove a point. They lead to confusion, muddled
                    Message 9 of 20 , Mar 8, 2005
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                      Hey Gich

                      You wrote.....

                      >>>"Hey PMCV

                      I read many, many years ago that one should not use analogies when
                      trying to prove a point. They lead to confusion, muddled thinking
                      and incorrect conclusions. I'm afraid your 'solar power -
                      psychology' analogy does not help me at all.

                      When you write '.... to some extent your question sort of goes
                      against the point of evolutionary theory and the point of
                      Gnosticism' I'm afraid I don't agree. You seem to view the two
                      topics as completely disjoint but In my attempts to understand the
                      gnostic idea of the 'inner spark' the theory of evolution looms
                      large. Perhaps my other post on this subject clarifies my
                      confusion."<<<

                      I completely agree with you that analogies are an imperfect medium.
                      Unfortunately they are sometimes what we have to fall back on when
                      something gets difficult to explain. In fact, allegory, metephor,
                      analogy, parable, these are all core methodologies in traditional
                      Gnostic texts. Which means, without dealing with these methods we
                      cannot hope to understand the Gnostic texts as they were intended to
                      be understood. Our only other recourse is to take them literally.
                      Are you taking them literally when you read them?

                      However, understanding then that I did not make my point very well,
                      may I point out that Cari and Crispin also answered you saying the
                      same thing that I did only in different ways. Perhaps they were a
                      bit more clear.... I don't know because you didn't respond to either
                      of them. I can only go by your answer to me.

                      Maybe it is simply a matter of us talking about different things.
                      Let me then ask you a question that may help me to understand
                      exactly where you are coming from with your question. Can you point
                      out any specific Gnostic texts that in your view either seem to
                      imply or deny the possibility of physical evolution? I mean, is
                      there something in the text that made this seem important to
                      reconcile physical evolution with spiritual evolution?

                      Let me point out, again just for context, that the Gnostic texts
                      really don't deal with physicality so much other than to simply deny
                      that physicality is so serious in the spectrum of spiritual
                      existance.

                      Since the Gnostic story of how the "inner spark" came to be part of
                      our human existance is not necessarily meant to be taken at face
                      value (and we can't assume that all people actually have this
                      spark), we are really left with a problem as to how to compare it to
                      something that IS literal... i.e., evolution. The only way to do
                      that would be to try and make the Gnostic cosmogeny literal as well.

                      So, as you can see part of the reason it may look like you are not
                      getting a straight answer may be simply that we are not on the same
                      page in our subject matter. What are your observations on this
                      possibility?

                      PMCV
                    • eyeambetty
                      Hello Cari, ... it seems like the question of literal vs mythical interpretation is something that many of us struggle with, especially newcomers, like myself
                      Message 10 of 20 , Mar 9, 2005
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                        Hello Cari,


                        --- In gnosticism2@yahoogroups.com, lady_caritas <no_reply@y...>
                        wrote:

                        > Now, of course, caution should be taken in remembering that this is
                        > mythology, metaphor. The esoteric nature of Gnosis doesn't suit a
                        > black and white literal approach.


                        it seems like the question of literal vs mythical interpretation is
                        something that many of us struggle with, especially newcomers, like
                        myself to Gnosticism.
                        i've actually been grappling with understanding the function of myth
                        for the last couple of months, specifically the function of Gnostic
                        myths.
                        i came across some passages in a book i've been reading, "The History
                        of Gnosticism" by Giovanni Filoramo (one of the best books i've read
                        thus far on Gnosticism), that were very insightful.
                        under the heading "The Nature of Gnostic Myth" it reads:

                        "The mythological revival of the Gnostics is not an isolated
                        phenomenon and cannot be explained simply by means of oriental
                        influences. If it is true that the mythological material on which
                        Gnostic thinkers work derives from the available religious traditions
                        of diverse provenance, it is equally true that they generally
                        transform them, endowing them with new meanings. And if it is true
                        that Gnostic myths are myths in their own right because they are the
                        basis of the realities of this world, because of their particular
                        narrative form, the structure of their underlying thought and their
                        characteristic richness and varied symbolic value, it is equally true
                        that their content is not unrelated to history. In other words, as
                        structural analysis has shown, myth as the manifistation of primitive
                        thought posseses an independent form of expression, which prevents it
                        from being reduced to the level of a mere mirror of reality or an
                        aetiological explanation. At the same time, above all in literate
                        societies, it cannot be attributed solely to a combinatory mechanism
                        endowed with a particular logic removed from the influence of
                        historical changes. Gnostic myth thus no longer relates the
                        activities of gods separate from humankind , but only those of that
                        original Anthropos(human being), from whom individual anthropos, or
                        humans are descended through fragmentation, and dispersal. The change
                        of emphasis is decisive and betrays the centrality that reflection on
                        humankind has acquired.

                        In this respect Gnostic myth has only one predecessor: ancient
                        Orphism. This was a religion of the book, inspired by holy scriptures
                        from which it derived its doctrines and purificatory practices. These
                        scriptures contain and transmit a mythical story of Dionysus'
                        assasination by the Titans- in a form that reverses the view of
                        traditional mythology of the type recorded by Hesiod. If the mythical
                        account in the "Theogony" develops, as it does, from the indistinct
                        to the distinct, from the void to the full, from chaos to cosmos,
                        from atemporality to the affirmation of a chronos, or time, the
                        Orphic myth is inspired by a contrasting aim to explain, to justify
                        itself and at the same time to establish the passage from an initial
                        ontological plenitude to the existential void of the present. In this
                        way the Orphics seem to condemn the traditonal mythical structures
                        that are used to affirm the primacy of existence and to guarantee
                        hierarchies and equilibrium between humankind and gods, and
                        consequently within humankind itself."

                        "Gnostic mythology also adopts this reverse perspective as the result
                        of its own radical dualism. It is now a matter of understanding,
                        intuiting and reliving the origianl drama, the initial situation that
                        provoked the rise, the establishment and triumph of evil, an evil
                        that now has acquired an ontological toughness and substance. This
                        cosmos is incurable and must be rejected. Myth thus acquires the
                        functions of salvation. It describes the way of salvation, reminding
                        the Gnostic of his true origins and showing him how to escape from
                        the cosmos. But above all, like all myth, that of the Gnostics is
                        essentially a story of origins: there lies the key of all that one
                        thinks one possesses. But the 'origins' of the cosmos coincide with
                        the pouring forth of Being, a Being that is the Anthropos, for the
                        human has now become the predicate of the divine. The manifestation
                        of God to himself: this is at the heart of the myth, that seeks
                        access, like all theosophy, to the mystery of that first throb of
                        Being, that initial moment, that original conflagration from which
                        the pleromatic universe would emerge.

                        And this manifestation can only take place through the medium of the
                        imperfect narrative that pertains to the era of myth.
                        As "Geschichte", or history, a sucession of archetypal events that
                        proceed from plenitude to deficiency in order to establish and
                        thereby explain it, this divine self-manifestation cannot be
                        described in logical and discursive terms. In the heart of the
                        individual Gnostic it takes shape as an individual process, which is,
                        however, at the same time a moment in a more general process and thus
                        in that same manifestation of God to himself. the mythological
                        narrative form is thus the only channel, the necessary bridge between
                        Being and its becoming.

                        On the screen of imaginary myth of the Gnostic thus projects divine
                        events and exiles that to the modern interpreter can appear only as
                        stages in the search for a new identity, the attempt to refashion a
                        different basis for a conception of the individual in crisis, to
                        which the underlying logos of the Gnostic mythos is striving to
                        restore to its origianl and archetypal unity.

                        Gnostic mythological accounts reveal a profound cultural
                        transformation. The Gnostics'is a conscious and reflected mythology.
                        Using pre-existing material, the Gnostic shuffles them round and
                        gives them a new task and purpose both profound and original: by
                        penetrating the divine mystery to circumscribe and to clarify the
                        same mystery of humankind."

                        i hope this might be helpful to some...

                        take care, betty
                      • lady_caritas
                        ... is ... a ... myth ... History ... read ... traditions ... [...] ... mythology. ... Betty, thank you. The passages you quoted were most appropriate to our
                        Message 11 of 20 , Mar 9, 2005
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                          --- In gnosticism2@yahoogroups.com, "eyeambetty" <eyeambetty@y...>
                          wrote:
                          >
                          >
                          > Hello Cari,
                          >
                          >
                          > --- In gnosticism2@yahoogroups.com, lady_caritas <no_reply@y...>
                          > wrote:
                          >
                          > > Now, of course, caution should be taken in remembering that this
                          is
                          > > mythology, metaphor. The esoteric nature of Gnosis doesn't suit
                          a
                          > > black and white literal approach.
                          >
                          >
                          > it seems like the question of literal vs mythical interpretation is
                          > something that many of us struggle with, especially newcomers, like
                          > myself to Gnosticism.
                          > i've actually been grappling with understanding the function of
                          myth
                          > for the last couple of months, specifically the function of Gnostic
                          > myths.
                          > i came across some passages in a book i've been reading, "The
                          History
                          > of Gnosticism" by Giovanni Filoramo (one of the best books i've
                          read
                          > thus far on Gnosticism), that were very insightful.
                          > under the heading "The Nature of Gnostic Myth" it reads:
                          >
                          > "The mythological revival of the Gnostics is not an isolated
                          > phenomenon and cannot be explained simply by means of oriental
                          > influences. If it is true that the mythological material on which
                          > Gnostic thinkers work derives from the available religious
                          traditions
                          > of diverse provenance, it is equally true that they generally
                          > transform them, endowing them with new meanings.
                          >
                          [...]

                          > Gnostic mythological accounts reveal a profound cultural
                          > transformation. The Gnostics'is a conscious and reflected
                          mythology.
                          > Using pre-existing material, the Gnostic shuffles them round and
                          > gives them a new task and purpose both profound and original: by
                          > penetrating the divine mystery to circumscribe and to clarify the
                          > same mystery of humankind."
                          >
                          > i hope this might be helpful to some...
                          >
                          > take care, betty


                          Betty, thank you. The passages you quoted were most appropriate to
                          our discussion.

                          It also further emphasizes that various "pre-existing material"
                          didn't force or determine some kind of experience in eclectic,
                          shallow fashion, but rather was employed in original manner as a
                          means of expression for a very unique, profound human understanding.


                          Cari
                        • Gerry
                          ... That title has been on my wish list for some time now. Each time I see passages from that book taken out of context elsewhere on the Net, I end up wishing
                          Message 12 of 20 , Mar 9, 2005
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                            --- In gnosticism2@yahoogroups.com, "eyeambetty" <eyeambetty@y...>
                            wrote:
                            > [...]
                            >
                            > i came across some passages in a book i've been reading, "The
                            > History of Gnosticism" by Giovanni Filoramo (one of the best books
                            > i've read thus far on Gnosticism), that were very insightful....





                            That title has been on my wish list for some time now. Each time I
                            see passages from that book taken out of context elsewhere on the
                            Net, I end up wishing I had a copy of it right in front of me (so I
                            could hit someone over the head with it, if nothing else!). Now
                            you've piqued my curiosity even further.

                            And I still haven't managed to get a copy of Mead's _Fragments of a
                            Faith Forgotten_. I did locate one recently at a bookseller's in
                            Richmond and have tried to talk myself into the drive up there to
                            check out the condition of it. I may wait a while longer; I've also
                            noticed that Dover is coming out with a new edition (in just a couple
                            days) on his "Pistis Sophia," so I may be able to maximize my spree
                            if I wait a bit.

                            Gerry
                          • pmcvflag
                            Hey Gich I have not read the book by Harris that you mention, so I have no idea how accurate it may or may not be. I ll limit my observations to dealing with
                            Message 13 of 20 , Mar 9, 2005
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                              Hey Gich

                              I have not read the book by Harris that you mention, so I have no
                              idea how accurate it may or may not be. I'll limit my observations
                              to dealing with your observations... if that is ok.

                              >>"I am taking literally the idea of 'the inner spark', 'the divine
                              within'. It seems to me to be a fundamental part gnosticism."<<

                              I think we would all agree here, Gich, that this is something meant
                              to be taken literally. However, it does not follow that the method
                              by which it comes into the individual is meant literally. BTW, I
                              also thought I would point out that this spiritual aspect to the
                              human pneumatic is not always described as being "within". On the
                              contrary, it is sometimes talked about as something out there,
                              above, that we can ascend to or connect with. Consider the many
                              passages dealing with the "consort" or sometimes the "twin". This is
                              the spiritual spark, but it obviously is not described in these
                              cases as being an "inner spark".

                              >>>"My problem regarding evolution is that I could not 'see' how sub-
                              humans could possibly have a pneumatic component (inner spark) and
                              so fit into the gnostic system. However I now think my difficulty
                              has been resolved...."<<<

                              I think I see what you mean there a bit better now. let me deal with
                              this at the same time as what you say next....

                              >>>"So ALL humans (whether sub- or not) possess the 'inner spark'
                              but not ALL will be saved because salvation requires considerable
                              personal spiritual effort (which presumably the sub-humans were
                              never capable of) together with Divine intervention!!"<<<

                              Ok, consider this passage for a minute....

                              "For he who is ignorant, is deficient, and it is a great deficiency,
                              since he lacks that which will make him perfect."

                              While this particular text does talk about being called by
                              the "Father" in much the way you describe, it by no means assumes
                              that we all have that ability to gain Gnosis, or that spiritual
                              spark.

                              Anyway, what you said about the spark and "sub" humans would apply
                              to animals and one celled organisms as well. By the reasoning you
                              present you would not only have to worry about the spark in humans,
                              but also the spark in animals, plants, even one celled algea in the
                              ocean. When did this spark descend? At what point did we
                              become "human" and were is the line between us and other animals?

                              But what is the point of that? Why do proto-humans have to fit into
                              the Gnostic system? Why do mushrooms need to be saved? Remember, one
                              cannot find pnuematicism without first reaching the psychic level.
                              It would seem to fit MORE into the notion of evolution to not assume
                              that early people had yet attained this function.

                              >>"So the Divine will choose!!"<<<

                              In Gnosticism, it is questionable as to what we could mean
                              by "Divine". The First Father? It doesn't "choose" anything. The
                              Second Father? Maybe, there does seem to be more of a notion
                              of "divinity" and will attached to it even though it is infinite.
                              The Logos or the Sophia? This seems the more likely when talking
                              about divine human interaction. But when many people use the
                              word "Divine" they really mean the Demiurge. You can see why the
                              lingo you chose can look a little vague in this particular
                              situation. Perhaps for the sake of clerity in dealing with the very
                              specific and subtle Gnostic motifs we should try to use the Gnostic
                              lingo. I think that will help our communication.

                              PMCV
                            • Tsharpmin7@aol.com
                              hi PMCV... i m very much in the habit of using the divine yet i never intend for it to be mistaken for the Demiurge. when i use the divine i m
                              Message 14 of 20 , Mar 9, 2005
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                                hi PMCV... i'm very much in the habit of using "the divine" yet i
                                never intend for it to be mistaken for "the Demiurge."  when i use
                                "the divine" i'm generally referring to that ineffable source of  life,
                                light and perception that, i suppose, most people call God.  since
                                there are multiple Gnostic mythologies/cosmogonies, some of
                                which had much less flattering opinions of the Demiurge than
                                others, what are you suggesting we use as a source for our
                                nomenclature here?  this looks like it could get pretty sticky
                                without a sizable consensus amongst us.  i'm willing to seriously
                                consider anything you have to offer.  i'm pretty flexible with this
                                sort of thing.
                                 
                                your friend,
                                 
                                Crispin Sainte III
                                _______________________________________________________
                                _______________________________________________________
                                 
                                In Gnosticism, it is questionable as to what we could mean
                                by "Divine". The First Father? It doesn't "choose" anything. The
                                Second Father? Maybe, there does seem to be more of a notion
                                of "divinity" and will attached to it even though it is infinite.
                                The Logos or the Sophia? This seems the more likely when talking
                                about divine human interaction. But when many people use the
                                word "Divine" they really mean the Demiurge. You can see why the
                                lingo you chose can look a little vague in this particular
                                situation. Perhaps for the sake of clerity in dealing with the very
                                specific and subtle Gnostic motifs we should try to use the Gnostic
                                lingo. I think that will help our communication.

                                PMCV
                              • pmcvflag
                                Say Crispin, what you said here confused me a little.... ... never intend for it to be mistaken for the Demiurge. when i use the divine i m generally
                                Message 15 of 20 , Mar 9, 2005
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                                  Say Crispin, what you said here confused me a little....

                                  >>>"i'm very much in the habit of using "the divine" yet i
                                  never intend for it to be mistaken for "the Demiurge." when i use
                                  "the divine" i'm generally referring to that ineffable source of
                                  life, light and perception that, i suppose, most people call God."<<<

                                  The very point of the "Demiurge" is to point out a problem with what
                                  most people call "God". Jews, Christians, Muslems, even atheists...
                                  they all worship the Demiurge in one way or another. Animists, and
                                  various tribal religions the world over, some forms of Buddhism
                                  (though perhaps not other forms) and so on, many of them worship the
                                  Demiurge. Perception is a function of the Demiurge, as is life on
                                  this Earth.... at least according to the Gnostic sources. What most
                                  people the world over call "God" is, in fact, the Demiurge. Can you
                                  see where my confusion is coming from? At one moment you say you are
                                  not talking about the Demiurge, and in another moment you seem to
                                  say you are.

                                  In Gnosticism the "Source" is more than just "infinite"
                                  or "ineffable"... in fact there are three types of infinity... but
                                  the Gnostic source is truely apophatic.

                                  >>>"since there are multiple Gnostic mythologies/cosmogonies, some of
                                  which had much less flattering opinions of the Demiurge than others,
                                  what are you suggesting we use as a source for our nomenclature
                                  here? this looks like it could get pretty sticky without a sizable
                                  consensus amongst us. i'm willing to seriously consider anything
                                  you have to offer. i'm pretty flexible with this sort of thing."<<

                                  Ah, good point Crispin. I should have made my intent more clear. All
                                  I really meant to say is that we should make clear when we are
                                  talking about the First Father, the Second Father (Barbelo), the
                                  later Aeons (Sophia and Logos), or the Demiurge. Whether we wish to
                                  put a positive or negative spin on the Demiurge is really not so
                                  important, I only wish for us to all make clear when we are talking
                                  about one of these four basic forms of "Divine" at any particular
                                  moment so that we know which page we are on at that specific time.
                                  Since we are talking about Gnosticism, maybe we should use the
                                  language of Gnosticism rather than personal terms.... just so that
                                  we understand each other. See what I mean?

                                  I have been absolutely beat down in other "Gnostic" groups for
                                  suggesting this, but I honestly think that it is simply logical
                                  (.....Logos) that we should use a common language to talk about
                                  these things. I think that the "Gnostic" language is the obvious one
                                  we should stick to here.

                                  PMCV
                                • pmcvflag
                                  Hey Gich... ... Sorry to be picky but could you define apophatic ? Gich
                                  Message 16 of 20 , Mar 10, 2005
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                                    Hey Gich...

                                    >>>"Hey PMCV
                                    Sorry to be picky but could you define "apophatic"?
                                    Gich"<<<

                                    Sure, the term "apophatic" refers to a theological understanding in
                                    which the divine source is so completely and absolutely infinite
                                    that it can not be described using any attributes. Instead it is
                                    described in a way known as the "via negativa", which is to say it
                                    is described in negatives. This is because anything you can talk
                                    about is a measurement. If we say "God is good" then we have given
                                    god an atribute, but Gnostics do not believe that the true spirit
                                    exists within the field of time, so it has no attributes that the
                                    mind can understand. This is why you will see in a number of Gnostic
                                    texts a long list dealing with what the true spirit is not. It looks
                                    something like this...

                                    "The source is not large, nor small, neither good nor evil, not
                                    light nor dark, itt does not think or will, nor see nor hear, nor
                                    have any thing that we can understand"

                                    Sometimes you will then see an aditional note that explains that we
                                    may call it "good" or talk about its "will" only because we need
                                    some kind of language to talk about it.

                                    This is what "apophatic theology" is.

                                    You also ask me to provide links to "Gnostic" groups that are not
                                    related in any way to traditional Gnostic thought. Here is one in
                                    specific for those here who feel they would better enjoy that kind
                                    of environment....

                                    http://groups.yahoo.com/group/GnosticGathering/

                                    PMCV
                                  • pmcvflag
                                    Gich.... ... almost a perfect description of how I have felt most of my life, not that I m claiming to be particularly righteous. I have never been able to
                                    Message 17 of 20 , Mar 10, 2005
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                                      Gich....

                                      >>>"The righteous feel estrangeĀ­ment in the world!! Wow! This is
                                      almost a perfect description of how I have felt most of my life, not
                                      that I'm claiming to be particularly righteous. I have never been
                                      able to discuss philosophy or religion with anybody until I
                                      discovered this gnostic cyber domain!"<<<

                                      Well, I don't know that I would call Gnosticism "Apocolyptic" as the
                                      word is commonly used, but I do think you would be interested to
                                      note that one of the Nag Hammadi books is actually called "The
                                      Stranger" or "The Alien". The Gnostics of old did not consider
                                      themselves to belong here in material existance.

                                      >>>"This implies that there are gnostic systems which DO NOT give
                                      prominence to the redeemer and his mission! I'm hoping this will be
                                      clarified later in the book but do you know what systems are
                                      referred to and, if so, I would appreciate your comments on these
                                      non-redeemer systems."<<<

                                      Even the Gnostics that DO give an important role to the "redeemer"
                                      or "Soter" do so primarily as an example. Gnostics did not believe
                                      Jesus died for our sins. The mission of the "redeemer" is our own
                                      mission, and everyone who gains Gnosis becomes that savior.

                                      However, as you point out there are Gnostic texts that really only
                                      mention this in passing. I believe what Harris is talking about here
                                      is Sethian Gnosticism. In this form it is Seth, not Jesus, that is
                                      given the role of bringing Gnosis into the world. Again, it is the
                                      teachings not the teacher, and usually Seth is not really much of a
                                      focus the way Jesus tends to be in the Christian texts.

                                      PMCV
                                    • janahooks
                                      ... important and you ... Gich, I was looking for info on that earlier this week. All I ve had time for right now is to read the Valentinian version that is
                                      Message 18 of 20 , Mar 18, 2005
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                                        --- In gnosticism2@yahoogroups.com, "gich morgan" <gich2@b...> wrote:
                                        >
                                        > Hey PMCV.
                                        >
                                        > In my studies the concept of the "divine twin" seems to be
                                        important and you
                                        > say something about this in this old posting.

                                        Gich, I was looking for info on that earlier this week. All I've had
                                        time for right now is to read the Valentinian version that is
                                        contained in a link that Gerry put in the links section. I think it
                                        says *Valentinus and Valentinian tradition*. Last link on the page.
                                        jana
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