Monday, 13 December 2010

A Child's Garden of Gnosticism - Revisited

So, I suppose that brings me back to me.

If God is All Good...
If God is All Powerful...
If God is All Knowing...

Why do evil things happen?

The problem is, as has been pointed out by the Rev. Doctor Stephen Hoeller of the Los Angeles Gnostic Church, that it is impossible to reconcile these premises one with another. Personally, I think I may have predated Dr. Hoeller since I figured this out at the age of 16 around about the time I dropped God. My reasoning went a bit like this:

If God is all-knowing, then God must be aware of human fragility and weakness so that any attempt at testing humankind is expecting man to be Godlike: pure and omnipotent etc.

Either that, or expecting man to fail. If that was the expected outcome, it hardly seems fair to put us through a test that we are by nature (God-given nature at that) destined to fail. We are either perfect and able to withstand temptation, or we are not. Or some of us are...although that would make us less than human, and more like God.

God-like...Like God?

It's getting tricky already! Especially if that God is jealous by self-proclamation.

If God is all good but allows catastrophe and evil to exist then he is not all powerful. If he is all powerful and allows such things to happen, then he is not all good at all.

Ah, but I hear you say: Evil came about because of man's original sin and we have been paying for it ever since. The sins of the fathers and all that. According to Saint Augustine, who turned tailcoat against the Manichees the minute he realised what had happened to Priscillian could happen to him: "sin" is a sexually transmitted disease.

Saint Augustine, however, was writing not far from 400 years after Christ was born. And nobody else had ever suggested such a thing as the idea of children born tainted with sins of their species.

What a horrendous idea! I am tempted to say: "Jesus would turn in his grave".

There...I said it.

Yet somehow, we have been fed this as "Gospel Truth" since the time we were able to understand speech...Generation after generation of newborns cursed to go through life with the greatest of guilts weighing down their innocent souls. And what was that guilt? Wanting to Know!

Let's take the proposition that God created man in his own image. This begs the question: "What image?" If we are speaking of a physical image, well all well and good. But if that is so then God must suffer the same decay as we do, and the same bodily inconveniences which I will leave to your imagination. If however, we posit that this may have meant "in God's intellectual image" (the Nous), then we have to assume that not only does man have free will, but the right to use it. That being so, it is hardly surprising that Adam would have found Eve's gift of interest. And what if man was not exactly created, but partook of the spiritual image of God? Then surely that would make man Godlike, or perhaps even God as a piece of a hologram is the whole hologram.

Even though holograms didn't exist when I was sixteen, this was the form my reasoning was taking.

Is it possible, I thought, that God might not be the good, powerful, knowing being that we have been told to worship? Suppose, having created man, God found out that his creation somehow was smarter than he had expected him to be? Or conversely, is it possible that God thought man his creation simple and foolish and unlikely to give Him any trouble? It all boils down to the rather more plausible possibility that either man was intended to be an automaton, created to serve a lesser God who being All Good should not have debased his creation in such a way in the first place, or else, man proved to be too smart for God to handle hence the prohibitions about trees and apples and all that. Man, he found, was investigative: he, and she, seeks knowledge as a way to truth, and having found the means to that truth becomes all knowledgeable, all powerful, and good. What is the nature of that truth? Could it be that man and woman, realising their bondage to their earthly bodies, recognised that within them was a heavenly spirit, forever at one with and a part of the true God? Could it be that this investigation led Eve and Adam to the conclusion that the one they have been told to worship "above all others" is not only jealous, but deeply flawed!

What would be the one and only outcome of this conclusion? Atheism. Apostasy before religion had even been created. Now obviously "God" couldn't have that and so to punish Adam, Eve and all humankind to come for daring to challenge his orders, they would be forever removed from this paradise he had created for them where they had been expected to remain forever in ignorance of their true origins.

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