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Gnosticism, Alive and Well in Central Maine

On the road in central Maine today, I came upon the following church sign:

  
To overcome the world is to believe that Jesus is the son of God.  To believe that Jesus is the son of God is to overcome the world.  I realized I was looking at an example of modern gnosticism.

Gnosticism is an old idea a bit like that movie the Matrix, minus the leather and Keanu Reeves. What we perceive to be reality, the story goes, is a falsehood, a deception, worse, an enslavement meant to keep us from the truth that will set us free, the truth that what we perceive to be the real world is an illusory veil separating us from the real reality, the deep truth of… 

… well, name your deep truth of choice. Gnosticism is a vein of thought jumping from religion to philosophy back to another religion and outward to story.  In gnostic Christianity the deep truth is the reality of God and Heaven, a reality we gain access to only when we learn to reject the world, to reject the devil’s illusion, to reject the temptations of flesh and material objects, to even let go of our bodies.  What might look to others like death is the gnostic’s triumph, entry into the Kingdom of Heaven.

When I see a sign like this, I realize that a gnostic Christian and I have very little to talk about.  After all, if you reject the very idea of observable physical reality and embrace only the truth of a world you haven’t yet managed to glimpse, you won’t have much of a standard to agree with an empiricist, someone who believes that we ought to use patterns in what we observe to guide our understanding and consequent behavior.  To a Gnostic, I’m a devil’s dupe.  To me, the gnostic is someone who relies on imaginary stories.  Neither of us will trust what the other says.  Neither will believe that the other has a solid foundation for action.

In other news, we have a presidential election coming up…

11 thoughts on “Gnosticism, Alive and Well in Central Maine”

  1. John says:

    Really? Then PROVE evolution. Oh that’s right you can’t. Why? Because it’s only a THEORY. Or better yet, prove how the Big-Bang created the universe. Wait a tic! Can’t do that either can you? It takes as much Faith to put your FAITH into a human beings THEORY as it does to believe or have FAITH that there is a loving God who created all of this. Choose your poison. Because in the end nobody REALLY knows for sure till we get to the other side. So it might be wise to maybe not totally burn your spiritual bridges. Just saying

    1. J Clifford says:

      Principled religious belief is not the same thing as ignorance about how science works, or about the content of scientific discoveries, John. Sigh.

      1. John says:

        Go ahead and rationalize away your lack of faith in a supreme creator. It doesn’t matter how you cut it, the theory of evolution is only a theory! Regardless of how or why you came to that conclusion, it still has never been proven unequivocally . man is fallible. as we have been seeing in recent days regarding the Big Bang and scientists now changing their theory of how the universe came into existence! Now instead of saying that it started off as one point and there was a huge explosion which pushed all the materials necessary to create a human being on this planet out into the galaxy they’re saying now that the universe may be shrinking!. They are also looking gravitational waves, and how that is going to affect the scientific community definition of gravity! basically the way I look at it is like this-mankind has absolutely no idea how we came to be here. scientifically speaking using the scientific method yes by human logic and human intelligence it does tend to look as though evolution is a good explanation but that still leaves room for error. But again I reiterate it is only a THEORY. so you can sit there and try to make me look stupid and feel dumb about myself but in reality you’re no better than anybody else! Unless have the bones to the missing link! Well do you?

        1. Jim Cook says:

          Since you ask, there are indeed many fossilized bones establishing many “missing links.” See here for some of them:
          http://irregulartimes.com/2015/09/22/yet-another-set-of-transitional-forms-this-time-to-turtles/

          1. John says:

            Human ones? I didn’t think so. The only on human bones they have found are bones of Giants which only backs up the biblical story in Genesis. The Smithsonian Institute has done an excellent job of covering up practically every single find of human bones that would be considered giant giant. They wouldn’t want anyone to start suspecting the Bible might be true would they? That would definitely mess up their little plan to eliminate God and Jesus from the picture. So that all men to be their own gods! The same lie the serpent told Eve in the garden the same like he tells / intelligent / rational and educated people today all across the world! He’s very clever. Yes a world full of individual demigods people living by the motto of doing that wilt shall be the whole of the law! Well what a wonderful world that will be! Look at what a good job we’ve done to it in the last 200 years! And that’s just for the handful of idiots at the top running things! Imagine when the entire planet gets lied to and made to believe that they too can be their own God! It’s going to get real interesting

          2. John says:

            Richard Seed,
            The Nobel Peace Prize recipient was quoted as saying that amongst other things ” I am going to become a god. And if you’re going to try to stand in the way of me becoming a god, we are going to have a war”.

          3. Jim Cook says:

            Thank you for acknowledging the existence of many “missing links” for animals in the fossil record. Your desire to exclude human animals from this pattern is not supported by available evidence, however. I suggest you read more. Look up Homo Naledi, for instance. The Smithsoninan has a good initial review piece that contains links to additional information: http://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/new-fossil-discovery-change-what-know-human-evolution-homo-naledi-180956559/?no-ist

    2. Jim Cook says:

      Only from a gnostic point of view, John, in which theories describe the unknowable. From an empiricist point of view, a
      good theory (like those of evolutionary biology) provides specific predictions that are testable on the basis of real-world observations. The predictions of the set of theories comprising evolutionary biology match observations of the perceptible world around us.

    3. Harry says:

      Faith is an english translation of the greek word pistis which means to put yourself totally into an idea. Fundamentalist Christians think it means believing something that you know isn’t true. Try reading between the liness of scripture rather then taking it literally and your mind and spirit can exist together.

  2. jeff says:

    I love science. Every discovery only reveals how God works.

  3. T. Morey says:

    An event by any description, by any language, by any interpretation, is the same event. If you want truth, look at the event as it is and keep your own opinion out of it. What people fight over during science vs religious debates is no more than a 2000 year old pissing contest that men feel they need to kill each other over. The language around an event changes but both approaches seek the truth and both in one way or another fall short. Just look at events, record them and accept them as the truth. That’s the closest you’re ever going to get anyway because it is only the event itself that remains the same regardless of the labels we attach to them. How do you know God isn’t a combination of gasses, particles, and energy? If it takes both the male and female energies to create life, how do you know God isn’t both? How do you know that all of the galaxies combines do not form the shape of a human? Or that the Christianity doesn’t come from Norse Mythology? Or that science isn’t just a political tool? I don’t believe that entirely, but there are events which may point to the truth being otherwise and the same can be said about religion. Both have been influenced, altered and manipulated by the corruption of men with something to lose or gain. The event itself does not CARE what benefits man. It just is. How do you know that ghost, spirit, energy, ether, and magnetic resonance aren’t all different words that describe the same event? You don’t. None of you do. These are descriptive human words. Words are nothing more than symbols that help us to communicate and relate to ideas. If every person on the planet came up with a different word to describe one thing because they are looking at it from a different point of view, it would not change the reality of the one thing. If you look at a black shadow and your parents are scientists and his parents are from an unknown tribe who believes this is a piece of the sun’s backside, it doesn’t change the shadow. The shadow’s nature is what it is no matter what name we decide to give or or how we decide to interpret it. You all need to get over yourselves and realize how very little we are actually capable of understanding. Understanding the true nature of any thing is limited where we stand so we are better off not attaching any permanence to any of our own ideas and just focus on whatever it has to offer as it is on its own. Without our opinions.

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