- by Phillip D. Collins ©, Mar. 28th, 2005
With the publication of The Da Vinci Code and the release of the Matrix films, Gnosticism has experienced a cultural revival in the West. Is the rise of Gnostic thinking simply a fleeting trend, like the outrageous clothing that Britney Spears or Christina Aguilera wear one day and never don again? Perhaps. Yet, it is interesting to note that the popularization of Darwinian evolution preceded Gnosticism’s ascendancy in the West. The significance of this fact becomes evident when one reads the words of Dr. Wolfgang Smith:
“As a scientific theory, Darwinism would have been jettisoned long ago. The point, however, is that the doctrine of evolution has swept the world, not on the strength of its scientific merits, but precisely in its capacity as a Gnostic myth. It affirms, in effect, that living beings created themselves, which is in essence a metaphysical claim… Thus, in the final analysis, evolutionism is in truth a metaphysical doctrine decked out in scientific garb. In other words, it is a scientistic myth. And the myth is Gnostic, because it implicitly denies the transcendent origin of being; for indeed, only after the living creature has been speculatively reduced to an aggregate of particles does Darwinist transformism become conceivable. Darwinism, therefore, continues the ancient Gnostic practice of depreciating ‘God, the Father Almighty, Creator of Heaven and earth.’ It perpetuates, if you will, the venerable Gnostic tradition of ‘Jehovah bashing.’ And while this in itself may gladden Gnostic hearts, one should not fail to observe that the doctrine plays a vital role in the economy of Neo-Gnostic thought, for only under the auspices of Darwinist ‘self-creation’ does the Good News of ‘self-salvation’ acquire a semblance of sense.” (242-43)In light of this intriguing observation, one could view the current rise of Gnosticism as the natural corollary of Darwinism’s unquestionable epistemological primacy in the West. The current Gnostic revival could represent the next stage of Darwinism’s metastasis.
It is interesting to note that the British Royal Society, the Masonic institution responsible for the promulgation of Darwinism, rigorously imposed a division between science and theology upon the halls of scientific inquiry. Webster Tarpley characterizes this division as “literally Gnostic.” Indeed, the restriction of scientific research to the corporeal machinations of nature is redolent of Gnostic thinking. It is a distortion of Platonic metaphysics, the conceptual framework of which emphasizes a separation of the corporeal (the Becoming) and the incorporeal (the Being). This framework bears close resemblance to the traditional Christian Weltanschauung, which divides existence into the spiritual and the physical. However, Gnosticism rejected the Christian Eschaton of heaven and hell. This is where the distortion begins.
According to Gnosticism, the physical universe is hell. Corporeal existence is a prison that fetters man through the demonic agents of space and time. However, through revelatory experience (gnosis), the sensate being of man could be transformed and this hell could become heaven. Guided by this Gnostic axiom, the Freemasonic Royal Society redirected scientific attention exclusively towards the material world. By focusing scientific efforts upon the temporal spatial realm, the members of the Royal Society probably hoped to see the eventual transformation of the irredeemable physical realm into the “immanentized Eschaton” of an earthly heaven.
This was also the ultimate objective of Marxism, which was disseminated on the popular level as both fascism and communism. It is no coincidence that, historically, both the Nazis and the communists exhibited a religious adherence to the Gnostic myth of Darwinism. Smith writes: “In place of an Eschaton which ontologically transcends the confines of this world, the modern Gnostic envisions an End within history, an Eschaton, therefore, which is to be realized within the ontological plane of this visible universe” (238; emphasis added). According to Vatican insider Malachi Martin, the Italian humanists who eventually created speculative Masonry “reconstructed the concept of gnosis, and transferred it to a thoroughly this-worldly plane” (519). Both Nazism and communism were birthed by organizational derivations of Masonry.
Given Gnosticism’s derision for all things corporeal, it is extremely paradoxical that its adherents exhibit such a preoccupation with this material plane. Nonetheless, the Eschaton must manifest itself within the temporal spatial realm. Gnostic psychologist Carl Jung reiterates:
“According to [the alchemist] Basilius Valentinus, the earth (as prima materia) is not a dead body, but is inhabited by a spirit that is its life and soul. All created things, minerals included, draw their strength from this earth-spirit. This spirit is life…and it gives nourishment to all the living things it shelters in its womb.” (329)It comes as little surprise that Darwinism, which is premised upon metaphysical naturalism and materialism, is so compatible with Gnosticism. Both emphasize the primacy of this material plane. Had such a metaphysical doctrine remained confined to the realm of academic polemics, it may have been harmless enough. However, this was not to be the case. The Gnostic myth of Darwinism eventually migrated from the abstraction of speculative philosophy to other areas of study. With this migration, Darwinism enjoyed epistemological primacy. Julian Huxley elaborates:
“The concept of evolution was soon extended into other than biological fields. Inorganic subjects such as the life-history of stars and the formation of the chemical elements on the one hand, and on the other hand subjects like linguistics, social anthropology, and comparative law and religion, began to be studied from an evolutionary angle, until today we are enabled to see evolution as a universal and all-pervading process.” (Qutd. in Newman 272)Inevitably, the Gnostic myth of Darwinism subsumed social and political theory. The result was the socio-political Utopianism that underpinned all of the 20th century scientific dictatorships. Nazi Germany stands as a prime example of a Gnostic scientific dictatorship edified by Darwinism. In fact, Darwinian Sir Arthur Keith candidly admitted: “The German Fuhrer as I have consistently maintained, is an evolutionist; he has consciously sought to make the practice of Germany conform to the theory of evolution” (230). Darwinism’s natural correlative, Gnosticism, was also present. Nazism was premised upon the occult doctrines of a Gnostic cult called Ariosophy, which promoted:
“[T]he rule of gnostic elites and orders, the stratification of society according to racial purity and occult initiation, the ruthless subjugation and ultimate destruction of non-German inferiors, and the foundation of a pan-German world-empire. Such fantasies were actualized with terrifying consequences in the Third Reich: Auschwitz, Sobibor and Treblinka are the hellish museums of Nazi apocalyptic, the roots of which lay in the millennial visions of Ariosophy.” (Goodrick-Clarke, no pagination)The Holocaust, which was an orgy of violence and death, represented Nazi Germany’s efforts to “immanentize the Eschaton.” In essence, Germany qualified as a Gnostic scientific dictatorship, edified by the “science” of Darwinism.
Communist Russia also exhibited all of the characteristics consistent with this profile. The Encyclopedia of Religion explains: “both Hegel and his materialist disciple Marx might be considered direct descendants of gnosticism” (576). In fact, Hegel is the ideological nexus where the Gnostic scientific dictatorships of Nazism and communism intersect. In The Secret Cult of the Order, Antony Sutton states: “Both Marx and Hitler have their philosophical roots in Hegel” (118). According to the Encyclopedia of Religion, the Gnostic Kabbalist named Christoph Oetinger significantly influenced Hegel’s early work (576). From Hegel would spring two of the worst scientific dictatorships in history. Both of them were Gnostic at their core:
“In this century, with the presentation of traditional religious positions in secular form, there has emerged a secular Gnosticism beside the other great secular religions–the mystical union of Fascism, the apocalypse of Marxist dialectic, the Earthly City of social democracy. The secular Gnosticism is almost never recognized for what it is, and it can exist alongside other convictions almost unperceived.” (Webb 418)As history has graphically demonstrated, the various religious crusades to “immanentize the Eschaton” are deadly serious. This truth is tangibly evidenced by the atrocities committed by the socio-political Utopians of secular Gnosticism. Both Auschwitz and the Soviet gulag are products of the same jihad. The secular theocracies that have waged this jihad have consistently been scientific dictatorships edified by Darwinism.
The Alchemical MandateInevitably, the Gnostic myth of Darwinism guides its adherents to the same conclusion… evolution requires man’s assistance. Through societal intervention, socio-political Utopians believe that humanity can facilitate its own evolutionary development and eventually “immanentize the Eschaton.” Freemason and Darwinian apologist T.H. Huxley wrote:
“Social progress means a checking of the cosmic process at every step, and the substitution for it of another, which may be called the ethical process; the end of which is not the survival of those who happen to be the fittest, in respect of the whole of the conditions which exist, but of those who are ethically the best.” (81)In actuality, Huxley was reiterating a central mandate of Masonic doctrine: the alchemical transformation of man into a god. Masonic scholar W.L. Wilmshurst provides a summation of this core precept:
“This—the evolution of man into superman—was always the purpose of the ancient Mysteries, and the real purpose of modern Masonry is, not the social and charitable purposes to which so much attention is paid, but the expediting of the spiritual evolution of those who aspire to perfect their own nature and transform it into a more god-like quality. And this is a definite science, a royal art, which it is possible for each of us to put into practice; whilst to join the Craft for any other purpose than to study and pursue this science is to misunderstand its meaning.” (Wilmshurst 47; emphasis added)Freemasonry rejects the belief in man’s creation by a supernatural God. This contention is clearly articulated in the constitution of the Great Council of Turkey, which was organized by 33rd Degree Masons:
“In a very early age and according to an inorganic process, organic life came to be. In order to produce cellular organisms cells came together in groups. Later, intelligence sprang forth and human beings were born. But from where? We keep asking ourselves this question. Was it from God’s breathing over formless mud? We reject the explanation of an abnormal kind of creation; a kind of creation that excludes man. Since life and its genealogy exist, we must follow the philogenetic line and feel, understand and acknowledge that a wheel exists that explains this great deed, that is the act of ‘leap.’ We must believe that there was a phase of development in which there was a great rush of activity that caused life to pass at a particular moment from that phase to another.” (Giovanni 107; emphasis added)What kind of creative role does man attain according to Masonic doctrine? 33rd Freemason Manly P. Hall may have provided the answer. Hall writes:
“Man is a god in the making, and as in the mystic myths of Egypt, on the potter’s wheel, he is being molded. When his light shines out to lift and preserve all things, he receives the triple crown of godhood, and joins that throng of Master Masons, who in their robe of Blue and Gold, are seeking to dispel the darkness of night with the triple light of the Masonic Lodge.” (54-55)Herein is the Darwinian metaphysical claim of “self-creation,” which provides the foundation for Gnosticism’s doctrine of “self-salvation.” Evidently, the creative role reserved for humanity is the role of the Creator Himself. Thirty-third degree Mason J.D. Buck condenses this contention into one simple statement: “The only personal God Freemasonry accepts is humanity in-toto . . . Humanity therefore is the only personal god that there is” (216). This was one of Illuminati founder Adam Weishaupt’s “inner Areopagites: man made perfect as a god-without-God” (Billington 97). This religion is nothing new. Throughout the years, it has reappeared under numerous appellations. W. Warren Wagar enumerates this religion’s numerous manifestations:
“Nineteenth—and early twentieth—century thought teems with time-bound emergent deities. Scores of thinkers preached some sort of faith in what is potential in time, in place of the traditional Christian and mystical faith in a power outside of time. Hegel’s Weltgeist, Comte’s Humanite, Spencer’s organismic humanity inevitably improving itself by the laws of evolution, Nietzsche’s doctrine of superhumanity, the conception of a finite God given currency by J.S. Mill, Hastings Rashdall, and William James, the vitalism of Bergson and Shaw, the emergent evolutionism of Samuel Alexander and Lloyd Morgan, the theories of divine immanence in the liberal movement in Protestant theology, and du Nouy’s telefinalism—all are exhibits in evidence of the influence chiefly of evolutionary thinking, both before and after Darwin, in Western intellectual history. The faith of progress itself—especially the idea of progress as built into the evolutionary scheme of things—is in every way the psychological equivalent of religion.” (106-07)A core doctrinal precept of the religion is the alchemical mandate for the conscious engineering of humanity’s apotheosis. T.H. Huxley’s protégé, Freemason and Fabian socialist H.G. Wells, presented an allegorized depiction of the alchemical mission to achieve apotheosis in The Island of Dr. Moreau. Astute readers will recognize the character of Dr. Moreau as an instrument of the Masonic Craft. Like the practitioners of the royal art, Dr. Moreau “consciously emulates the evolutionary laboratory of the world” (Suvin & Philmus 65). Years later, Darwinian fundamentalist and high priest of scientism Carl Sagan would recapitulate this alchemical mandate for the emulation of nature’s “evolutionary laboratory.” In his 1980 book Cosmos, Sagan asserted that, through the blind forces of evolution, man had come to inhabit the position from which he could now consciously control and direct the evolutionary process (320).
The scientific dictatorships of communism and fascism represented two such efforts to consciously engineer humanity’s evolution and “immanentize the Eschaton” on earth. Yet, these two Gnostic experiments in socio-political Utopianism are but microcosms of a larger religious vision. It is the religious vision of the supranational elite. Fanatical in their blind faith in the Gnostic myth of Darwinism, the supranational elite still pursues the same objectives today.
Re-sculpting Prima Materia
Martin explains that the humanist precursors to speculative Masonry desired “a special gnosis”
(520). They believed that this “special gnosis” was a “secret knowledge
of how to master the blind forces of nature for a sociopolitical
purpose” (520). The subjugation and manipulation of nature is a theme
consistently recapitulated by socio-political Utopians. One
socio-political Utopian to reiterate this theme was Fabian socialist
Bertrand Russell. In Religion and Society, Russell states:
“The way in which science arrives at its beliefs is quite different from that of medieval theology. Experience has shown that it is dangerous to start from general principles and proceed deductively, both because the principles may be untrue and because the reasoning based upon them may be fallacious. Science starts, not from large assumptions, but from particular facts discovered by observation or experiment. From a number of such facts a general rule is arrived at, of which, if it is true, the facts in question are instances… Science thus encourages abandonment of the search for absolute truth, which belongs to any theory that can be successfully employed in inventions or in predicting the future. ‘Technical’ truth is a matter of degree: a theory from which more successful inventions and predictions spring is truer than one which gives rise to fewer. ‘Knowledge’ ceases to be a mental mirror of the universe, and becomes merely a practical tool in the manipulation of matter.” (13-15; emphasis added)For the socio-political Utopian, science represents a “special gnosis” designed to manipulate matter and reconfigure reality itself. It is an instrument for the re-sculpting of prima materia and “immanentizing the Eschaton.” Technology has become the chief means of achieving this alchemical transformation of reality. Technology’s potential for such an application is evident in the etymological origins of the appellation itself. It is derived from the Greek word techne, which means “craft.” Simply defined, “crafting” is the skillful creation of something. Hence, expressions such as “outstanding craftsmanship” or a “master of the craft.”
In the context of socio-political Utopianism, “crafting” is the skillful creation (or, more succinctly, re-sculpting) of reality itself. The “special gnosis” of science has provided the means through techne. Mark Pesce, co-inventor of Virtual Reality Modeling Language, elaborates upon techne’s role in manipulating matter: “Each endpoint of techne has an expression in the modern world as a myth of fundamental direction — the mastery of matter…” (no pagination; emphasis added). This is the central precept of socio-political Utopianism: mastering reality itself.
Scientology provides an excellent example of this paradigm. Founded by sci-fi author L. Ron Hubbard, this religious organization espouses doctrines that closely align with Gnostic thought. For instance, Hubbard exhibited a distinctly Gnostic aversion towards the human body. In History of Man, he declared:
“The possession of a … body is a liability for through that body the being can be given pain, can be regimented by the routine demands of eating and care from harm … Today we live in a vast cult called Worship the body. Medical doctors, school teachers, parents, traffic officers, the whole society unites into this war-cry, Care for the body.” (Qutd. in “Low life expectancy of scientologists & Hubbard on violence,” no pagination; emphasis added)Moreover, Hubbard religiously adhered to the Gnostic myth of Darwinism. In Dianetics, he writes:
“It is fairly well accepted in these times that life in all forms evolved from the basic building blocks: the virus and the cell. Its only relevance to Dianetics is that such a proposition works—and actually that is all we ask of Dianetics. There is no point to writing here a vast tome on biology and evolution. We can add some chapters to those things, but Charles Darwin did his job well and the fundamental principles of evolution can be found in his and other works. The proposition on which Dianetics was originally entered was evolution.” (69; emphasis added)According to Scientology, reality is not governed by immutable principles or universal invariants. On the contrary, it is a malleable pliancy, the fabric of which can be manipulated through technology. Thus, Hubbard contends that man must not “face reality,” but must “make reality face him” instead (308). This assertion echoes the theme of mastering reality.
Eventually, Scientology became the subject of an ethnographic study conducted by a sociologist named William Sims Bainbridge. Bainbridge is also an adherent of an emergent scientistic religion called Transhumanism, which promotes “the breeding of ‘genetically enriched’ forms of ‘post-human’ beings” (Hayes, no pagination). Professor Katherine Hayles describes this “post-human” condition:
“[I]n the posthuman, there are no essential differences, or absolute demarcations, between bodily existence and computer simulation, cybernetic mechanism and biological organism, robot technology and human goals.” (Qutd. in Hook, no pagination)Like Scientologists, Transhumanists adhere to the Gnostic myth of Darwinism. Reiterating the contention of Darwinian fundamentalist Carl Sagan, Transhumanists believe that evolution can be consciously managed and directed. Warren Robinett elaborates:
“If mind is program and data, and we control the hardware and the software, then we can make changes as we see fit. What will human-like intelligence evolve into if it is freed from the limits of the human meat-machine, and humans can change and improve their own hardware? It’s hard to say. The changes would perhaps be goal-directed, but what goals would be chosen for self-directed evolution? What does a human become when freed from pain, hunger, lust, and pride?” (169-70)While Robinett is speaking rhetorically, it is interesting that he chronically compares humanity to a machine. As Professor Hayles makes abundantly clear, the “post-human” condition is man’s transformation into a machine. This could be the intended outcome of self-directed evolution. Transhumanists openly express their derision for the human condition. For instance, British roboticist Kevin Warwick candidly renounced his humanity: “I was born human. But this was an accident of fate—a condition merely of time and place” (qutd. in Hook, no pagination). This prompts a disturbing question. If the human condition was some sort of biological accident, then what is mankind’s ultimate evolutionary destiny? Bart Kosko, a professor of electrical engineering, reveals the final destination on the evolutionary map: “Biology is not destiny. It was never more than tendency. It was just nature’s first quick and dirty way to compute with meat. Chips are destiny” (qutd. in Hook, no pagination).
This aversion towards humanity echoes the precepts of an older religion. C. Christopher Hook elaborates:
“Transhumanism is in some ways a new incarnation of gnosticism. It sees the body as simply the first prosthesis we all learn to manipulate. As Christians, we have long rejected the gnostic claims that the human body is evil. Embodiment is fundamental to our identity, designed by God, and sanctified by the Incarnation and bodily resurrection of our Lord. Unlike gnostics, transhumanists reject the notion of the soul and substitute for it the idea of an information pattern.” (no pagination)Evidently, the Gnostic ambitions of socio-political Utopianism are alive and well. In fact, in the Gnostic tradition of Ariosophy, Transhumanism advocates the enthronement of an elite. This new post-human elite is dubbed the “GenRich” class. According to Transhumanist Professor Lee Silver, the end of this century will witness the ascendancy of the GenRich elite: “All aspects of the economy, the media, the entertainment industry, and the knowledge industry [will be] controlled by members of the GenRich class… Naturals [will] work as low-paid service providers or as laborers…” (qutd. in Hayes, no pagination). Like the socio-political Utopianism of Marxism, Transhumanism will not end class distinctions. Instead, it will just create new ones.
If Transhumanism were merely some marginalized organization, then such beliefs would be somewhat laughable. However, this is not the case. With chapters in more than 20 countries and luminaries occupying numerous academic institutions, the Transhumanist movement is a formidable force (Hayes, no pagination). Moreover, many of its members have been actively engaged in government-sponsored research. Clearly, the movement is more than the average cult.
The Gnostic religions of Scientology and Transhumanism represent links in an ideational chain, which finds its origins in ancient Mesopotamia. They are philosophical and religious scions of the Mystery religion. Of course, variants of the ancient Mysteries largely constitute the religious doctrines of the elite. Like communism and fascism, Scientology and Transhumanism are but microcosms of the ruling class religious vision for man. A stratified society of rulers and slaves, eugenical regimentation, a technologically altered reality, the complete obliteration of all those things that define humanity… all these comprise the anatomy of the Eschaton they seek to immanentize.