Intelligent Design and Gnosticism

I thought it might be fitting to offer a few brief words of appreciation for that ancient movement, which has not entirely disappeared even today, which took the argument from design completely seriously. I am thinking, of course, of the Gnostics. They were Biblical literalists to boot, taking at face value the references to God’s apparent ignorance of where Adam and Eve were, and other details that usually are taken as symbolic anthropomorphisms. When that was combined with their “design theory”, it led them quickly to the conclusion that the highest God known through philosophy cannot be the same as the creator of this material world, with all its flaws and imperfections.

Having pointed out that Biblical literalism is the fast track to atheism, it seems only fair to point out where the Intelligent Design track leads…
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  • Jordan Stratford+

    It seems to me your argument is based on equating Marcionism (which was indeed literalism) with Gnosticism (which was definitely NOT literalist). This is a very common mistake. However, Marcion reject gnosis outright, and if we can assume that the term “Gnosticism” has any meaning at all, it must be based on Gnostic soteriology, which Marcion rejects.The Gnostic authors of Thomas, Philip, Thunder: Perfect Mind, Hymn of the Pearl, Naassene Psalm etc can in no way be considered literalists. (Of course, neither can they be considered dualists, but that’s another thread!)Respectfully,Jordan

  • Jordan Stratford+

    Please do forgive typos and repetition, the coffee is brewing as I type, and all should be well after a cup or three.Blessings,J

  • James F. McGrath

    Believe me, I understand about the coffee. I can understand and engage in intelligent conversations with people of very different faiths, cultures and philosophies, but I have a really hard time taking seriously someone who doesn’t drink coffee! :)I visited your blog and want to mention it here as a fascinating place to visit. What I had in mind when I referred to the ‘literalism’ of the Gnostics is that many of them (not only Marcion and his followers) took literally the references to the creator god’s behavior in Genesis and elsewhere, and concluded that he is an arrogant lesser power and not the most high God, the ultimate. Having said that, their literalism was certainly selective, in the sense that they were also quite happy to engage in spiritual exegesis. In a sense, they would presumably have agreed with the dictum that expressed the viewpoint that was embodied in later ‘orthodoxy’, “the whole Bible is true, and some of it actually happened”. They merely would have disagreed about which things fell into the latter category.Thanks again for your post. As someone who finds panentheism appealing, as you also seem to, I hope we can have further theological discussions on topics of mutual interest!

  • Ian

    After I skimmed Behe’s Edge of Evolution I found myself thinking that was where Behe’s pursuit of ID had led him – to a malicious designer, who seemed to be far more demiurge than loving God…which is one of the reasons I have always found ID to be incompatible with mainstream Christianity. But then I started thinking about the way that people blame God for “Acts of God”, and I realised that popular perceptions of God probably aren’t compatible with the idea of a “loving God” (and I abandoned my grandiosely titled post called “Intelligent design and neo-gnosticism”)

  • Rev. Illuminatus Maximus

    HiInteresting post. You might also enjoy this essay: The Incredibly Strange Story of Intelligent Design, which advances much the same conclusion.

  • Anonymous

    As a gnostic (therefore true)christian, and I say that knowing my beliefs are different that most who fancy the new age foo-foo. I should say that the ancient gnostics were like myself, Unintelligent Design people. I find it odd that people equate “herm aphrodite” with paganism rather than the Jehovah’s lame attempts at rigid sexuality. The “id” movement springs from the Demiurges own arrogance, whe we know the universe is far from perfect. The ancients seem primitive to you for discussing androgyny, pandrogyny, intersex people aka hermaphodites, homosexuality, male nipples, and the mother of all of Saklas’s screw-ups, Ectopic Pregnancies. Yes, our earthy carnal creator God is an idiot and unfortunatately we have our societies run by monkeys behaving like ostriches who deny that sex exists outside of the hetero marriage bed and who believe that all pregnacies will come to term if not aborted. The science says otherwise. The reality says otherwsie. Human decency says otherwise. Now lets talk about the prostatic utricle. Yes, God-Saklas hates gays. I give you that. Thats the point, isn’t it? God hates gays, God creates gays, God is probably androgenous bisexual, and he never takes personal resposibility for what he does. On top of that he creates a G-spot messagable in the colon of males. God is certainly Saklas, an idiot. I’m not angry, I’m being forthright and my hermenuetics is sound. I have the holy spirit in me, and it laughs at your satanic “id”.