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Is Atheistism Gnosic?

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Just a few points, I have never heard the LDS church described as Gnostic, but it seems to make sense. However, what do the members think of that characterization?


As I understand it, gnosticism is a category or religion, as is monotheism or polytheism, rather than a particular faith. Gnosticism (as a category) is a religion that has mysteries and teachings that are revealed only as a member is initiated into higher levels of the faith. Not all converts are expected to attain the highest levels of the faith, in fact, full participation in the faith is limited to those who have attained full revelation through prayer, meditation, ritual etc.


Christian Gnosticism was once a major form of early Christianity. It is described by the church as a heresy, I think a kinder explanation is that folks who followed mystic religions that were common in the ancient world heard about Christ,liked what they heard, and worked Christ into their existing religions, rather than joining more conventional Christian communities. Or perhaps they heard the message third hand.


By contrast, in general, modern or mainstream or orthodox (with a small "o") Christianity believes that the fullness of the faith is available to every Christian, regardless of education or intelligence or how much you study, pray or meditate. This concensus holds from fundementalism to Catholicism,


It is an interesting rhetorical exercise to claim atheists are gnostics, but it really does not hold water. All gnostics, so far as I understand, believe that there is a deeper understanding (gnosis) of the truth that can be attained through their faith.


Atheists do not hold that there is a deeper truth.


In fact atheists may not be so different from believers if they believe in a moral code but do not believe there is even one god. My experience with atheist friends bears this out.





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Been giving it a pause to rethink if I'm shoehorning this concept. I don't think so! Consider Zen which is just as nihilistic as atheism.

Maybe it can be reasoned thus, that there is both an atheism of disbelief; as well as an atheism of nihilistic gnosticism which does seek to discover the non created elements of the Supreme Truth as seen in the practise of Zen....

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  • 4 weeks later...

My parents are Atheists. If you want an understanding of Atheists , I suggest you check out The Freedom From Religion Website.


By the way, this is not my plug For Atheists-just informatation so people on this thread have an understanding on what they are believe.


I am not an Atheist & I do respect everyone's beliefs systems.





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  • 8 months later...

While several modern groups may call themselves gnostic, the term generally refers to an ancient sect in competition with early Christianity. The word gnostic comes from "gnosis" meaning "knowledge." Gnostics believed that knowledgs of things spiritual was given directly to specific indiviuals. The gnostics had set beliefs about the nature of things. They should not be confused with the modern agnostics, whose name suggests we have "no knowedge" of things spiritual and divine. The gnostics believed that the God of the Old Testament who created the physical world and was evil is different from the God of the New Testament. They taught that the mission of Christ was to free people from the imprisonment of the material world. The body was seen as evil and the spirit as good. I believe that the gnostics were donatists, meaning they saw Jesus as a purely spiritual being who only appeared to have a body. Certain groups, such as the Albigesians of the middle ages held similar beliefs and I have heard some modern "wiccans" profess similar beliefs regarding the physical world and it's creator. Pure gnosticism, however, is generally extinct in the modern world. I assume that le Voyageur was referring to agnosticism, since extreme doubt about our ability to know spiritual truths could be considered related to atheism, which states that there are no gods. There are, however, important distictions between these two positions and agnosticism is as different from atheism as from theism.

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This might help on your quest for knowledge ;)


The doctrine of salvation by knowledge. This definition, based on the etymology of the word (gnosis "knowledge", gnostikos, "good at knowing"), is correct as far as it goes, but it gives only one, though perhaps the predominant, characteristic of Gnostic systems of thought. Whereas Judaism and Christianity, and almost all pagan systems, hold that the soul attains its proper end by obedience of mind and will to the Supreme Power, i.e. by faith and works, it is markedly peculiar to Gnosticism that it places the salvation of the soul merely in the possession of a quasi-intuitive knowledge of the mysteries of the universe and of magic formulae indicative of that knowledge. Gnostics were "people who knew", and their knowledge at once constituted them a superior class of beings, whose present and future status was essentially different from that of those who, for whatever reason, did not know. A more complete and historical definition of Gnosticism would be:



A collective name for a large number of greatly-varying and pantheistic-idealistic sects, which flourished from some time before the Christian Era down to the fifth century, and which, while borrowing the phraseology and some of the tenets of the chief religions of the day, and especially of Christianity, held matter to be a deterioration of spirit, and the whole universe a depravation of the Deity, and taught the ultimate end of all being to be the overcoming of the grossness of matter and the return to the Parent-Spirit, which return they held to be inaugurated and facilitated by the appearance of some God-sent Saviour.

However unsatisfactory this definition may be, the obscurity, multiplicity, and wild confusion of Gnostic systems will hardly allow of another. Many scholars, moreover, would hold that every attempt to give a generic description of Gnostic sects is labour lost."

The rest of the article may be found here:


Peace out,

Anne in Mpls

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Just a little Observation intended in no way to rebuke, rebutt or otherwise plague Anne. But if Gnosis was around before Christianity, then it was more likely the Christians borrowed a lot more fron the Gnosics than the Gnosics borrowed from the Christians.


As has been referenced Easter, Christmas, All Saints Day (Preceeded by All Hallows Eve, ie Halloween) all have roots in pre-christian festivals. As a catholic I have no problem acknowledging this. The date of Christ's Resurrection is not as important as the fact we remember and honor that He rose. The date of Christ's birth is not as important as the fact we remember and honor the fact our Savior was born of human flesh and dwealt amoung us.


All Saints Day is the day we honor all the saints, everyone who has found heaven, known or unknown. The date has no significance, its the honoring and remembering that counts.(This message has been edited by OldGreyEagle)

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The Gnostics borrowed from Christianity in that they attempted to explain Christ in terms of their spiritual teachings and copied many of the sacramental practices of early Christianity. For instance, they began referring to their demi-urge (the evil 'halfgod' who made matter) as YHWH of the Old Testament and Christ as a spiritual being and their pure god or his representative. It is not uncommon for an older religion to "copy" from a newer one. Hinduism's use of Buddha and explanation of his philosophy is another example. It was the termonology and outward signs that the Gnostics copied, probably because of the religion's growing popularity. Christianity's use of pagan feast days such as Mithras' birthday and the feast of Oestre by "coscheduling" are similar, but different phenomena.

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