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Re: Gnosticism and Darwin

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  • 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 1 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 2 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 3 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 4 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 5 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 6 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 7 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 8 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 9 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 10 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 11 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 12 of 20 , Mar 10, 2005
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                            Gich....

                            >>>"The righteous feel estrange­ment 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 13 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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