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Re: Gnosticism and Darwin

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  • 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 1 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 2 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 3 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 4 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 5 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 6 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 7 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 8 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 9 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 10 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 11 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 12 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 13 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 14 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 15 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 16 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 17 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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