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Gnosticism and Modern Science

Author’s note: Our purpose here is not to make any definitive statements about the various allowable Catholic interpretations of creation, but rather to show there are some ‘red flags’ to consider when one chooses to go the Big Bang and evolutionary route––something endorsed by Pope Francis. For a brief but balanced view I suggest listening to Fr. John Hardon SJ on the topic.

In part one we defined Gnosticism. Here we’ll begin to explore the relationship of the Gnostic search for ‘origin of species’ to that of modern science.

The Cosmic Egg and Gnostic Chaos

Many ancient Pagan creation stories revolve around a ‘World Egg.’ According to Gnostic scholar Gilles Quispel, ancient Egyptian and Greek cultures depicted the “demiurge who creates and arranges the world” as coming from the world egg. This deity was the Egyptian deity Ptah, who the Greeks “borrowed” and turned into Phanes.[1]

The Jewish Gnostics also borrowed this system from the Orphics of Alexandria. But instead, they applied it the God of Israel, making Him the malignant Creator, “born from the cosmic egg formed in chaos,” arising to create the material world. Basilides, the leader of a Gnostic sect, called this the “great Archon, Abraxas.” The theme was common among the Gnostics, the Valentinian sect, and Manichaeans.[2]

This myth heavily influenced the most vehement, anti-Catholic Gnostic texts, such as: Apocryphon of John, On the Origin of the World, and Hypostasis of the Archons.[3] The story tells us that the “demiurge Phanes, who broke the world egg and fashioned the heaven and the earth,” was Ialdabaoth the lion-headed serpent: the “malicious” Creator of the world––the God of Israel. This ties to the myth of Sophia found “in the waters of chaos, so that the Demiurge is a reflection of her in primordial matter.”[4]

Here are the key points to take away from the Gnostic cosmology:

  • The Creator and creation comes from the Cosmic Egg.
  • This embodies the forces of chaos, hostile towards mankind.
  • This comes from Primordial Matter.

With these Gnostic foundations in mind, let us move forward to modern Occultism and see how they’ve since developed.

Creation in Occultism

Jewish Kabbalah and Gnosticism are in many ways similar, but in many ways at odds with each other. Kabbalah centers on the Old Testament with creation being good; it is not inclined to deal with the New Testament or Jesus Christ favorably (as would be expected). However, the Gnostics do the opposite: They reject the Old Testament altogether. As we know, they are also favorable towards Jesus Christ, but interpret Him in a way diametrically opposed to Catholicism and orthodox Christianity in general. Thus, the Gnostic and Kabbalah creation stories are surprisingly similar but with a few key differences. This suggests a dialectical inversion and tactic of the Adversary that synthesizes each on attacking the Church.

There are traditions that blend the two, whilst maintaining the same anti-Catholic synthesis. This we may call Qabalah with a ‘Q.’ It is the Hermetic, universal outlook that is more associated with magical societies like the Golden Dawn, Aleister Crowley, along with the modern big ‘O’ Occult traditions that we’ve discussed (e.g. Blavatsky’s Theosophy or esoteric Freemasonry).

They employ a similar cosmology, but use both the OT and NT. They read them in allegorical terms, abandoning any orthodox ‘literalism.’ They apply a Pantheistic reading, looking to tame the hostile forces depicted by the ancient Gnostics by employing a new ‘priesthood’ of science-oriented ‘adepts.’ These are the ones with the ‘gnosis’ to restore and re-order things to a theorized original unity of the primitive man and cosmos before the chaos of the Catholic Demiurge.

In short, they sprinkle spiritual ‘lingo’ on top of modern science, while keeping its foundations intact: Evolution, Darwinian origin of species, Big Bang cosmology and the like; additional spiritual dimensions are usually of an Eastern flavor.

Madame Blavatsky gives us perhaps the best synthesis that covers all the bases with her kind of mystic pantheism tied to Darwinian evolution. We’ll extract the relevant points from Blavatsky’s The Secret Doctrine:

  1. The beginning of the universe starts with a “Divine Thought” coming from the Supreme being, “impregnating chaos” into the “egg” that “contains in itself” all the materials of “all the Universe.” This contains elements of Gnostic cosmology.
  2. This “simile of an egg” expresses “the fact taught in Occultism that the primordial form of everything manifested” in all heavenly and earthly material is embodied in the symbol of the Ouroboros: The serpent swallowing its tail. This represents the “Kabalists” schema utilizing Gnostic cosmology.
  3. This “mystery” of the “Mundane Egg” is one of “self-generation and evolution” that repeats in the “Cosmic evolution in the egg.”
  4. Everything “expands” from “primordial Cosmic matter” and “primordial atoms” to evolve the universe by various evolutions from “double-triangles” (Solomon’s seal), leading to “the evolution of man’s as well as Nature’s principles.”
  5. These forces of nature develop in the evolution of the cosmos and earth; they are said to be the true meaning of “Angels” or “celestial Beings.” In short: angels in the Bible and mythology are not personal entities created by God, but simply the personification of natural forces that scientists work with and speculate on, such as gravity.[5]

In this system all Scripture and religious texts are speaking of ‘the gods’ allegorically, as forces of nature, that mankind can hardness and evolve. It’s also interesting to note that the primitive 1911 Rutherford model of the atom looks curiously like the hexagram of Solomon’s seal in magic. Even though the model is now seen as obsolete and incorrect, it’s design––reflective of an ancient sigil of magic and the Tree of Life in Kabbalah––is the most popular one used as a ‘logo’ for science, and worn proudly by Atheists everywhere.[6]

33° Freemason Manly P. Hall fills in the additional gaps for us. Here are the relevant exerts from his “Fundamentals of Qabalistic Cosmology.”

  1. The “I AM…Supreme Deity,” the “Infinite” made its “first point, or universal germ” in the “Ain Soph” of Kabbalah “shining upon space from an established first point.”
  2. Out of this “absolute concentration” of “every element and principle that will ever be used” became “finite” and “produced the Abyss, Deep, or Space.”
  3. The “vacuum of pure spirit” is a higher realm, but is “not considered…as a perfect void or vacuum,” and more analogous to a “Crystalline Chaotic Sea.”
  4. All “consciousness” and “universes in Nature” and everything that man evolves from “throughout the kingdoms of Nature” are “concentrated” in the “Auric Egg” of man, mimicking the “Kosmic Egg” that is “withdrawn into a central point.”[7]
  5. Quoting the Zohar, an important book in Jewish Kabbalah, Hall tells us that when God wished to reveal Himself, he “first made a single point,” called the “primordial” point of which all creation emanated out of.
  6. All this caused the “evolutionary process” relating to the angelic worlds of the 9 choirs of angels, with the heavenly spheres mimicking the lower “Decad of Evolution” involving the minerals, vegetable, animal, insect and reptile kingdoms. (i.e. Hall lays out an entire schema of Angels and Demons personifying evolutionary principles of Nature).[8]

If we pair Hall and Blavatsky’s Qabalistic cosmology with the common and proposed theories surrounding Big Bang creation, space, and cosmos, many fundamental parallels align.

The Big Bang: A Single, Infinite Point

Although sometimes contested, here are the “basics” of the Big Bang hypothesis (consider them in light of the aforementioned),

  • “All of the current and past matter” (i.e. everything ‘that will ever be used’) in the Universe “came into existence at the same time” (i.e. ‘universal germ’).
  • It was all “compacted” into a “very small” and “infinite” point that becomes “finite time” (i.e. ‘infinite first point’ becoming ‘finite’ in space-time) called a “Singularity” (i.e. a ‘single point’), which became the expanding “universe as we know it” (i.e. the point everything ‘emanated out of’).
  • The theory that “scientists” have given is that it “must have originated at a single point of infinite density” (the Zohar’s ‘single point’ of the infinite God revealing Himself) that “began with the Big Bang and has led to the current state of cosmic evolution” (i.e. the ‘evolutionary process’).[9]

There are other strange parallels to Hall’s Qabalistic system that match up to various speculations among popular science. Though space is often called a vacuum, apparently it’s not exactly a “true” vacuum––just as Hall mentioned. It’s said to be “an almost perfect vacuum, full of cosmic voids,” using words much like Hall’s Secret Teachings.[10] In fact, he said it was more like a ‘Sea,’ which is mimicked by a theory put forth in recent years that the “universe might be a ‘liquid superfluid,’”[11] along with other speculations on water in outer space.[12]

The Abyss of Kabbalah is also echoed in the various theories on Black Holes. They’re often described as “the Abyss” in space, along with other Manichaean terms, like how “Light [spirit] and matter that spear too close, breaching the so-called event horizon, enter an abyss.”[13]

The Big Bang: Cosmic Egg & Primordial Matter

The origins of the Big Bang Theory most notably come from two individuals with religious backgrounds: Alexander Friedmann (d. 1925) and Georges Lemaître (d. 1966).

Friedmann was baptized into the Russian Orthodox Church while Lemaître, the more famous of the two, was a Belgian Catholic priest. Friedmann seems to have slowly dissolved his faith over time despite keeping up appearances (e.g. having an Orthodox wedding ceremony). Lemaître, who followed in the footsteps of Friedmann’s work, also tried to keep his theory as religiously neutral as possible, to contrast the efforts and encouragements of Pope Pius XII.[14]

Despite the many debates, theories, and proposals that have arisen out of Lamaître’s original theories, everything is built upon these two key components:

  • That the universe came from a “Cosmic Egg” of sorts, breaking and sending matter into existence.
  • That it came from a “Primeval Atom” that contained “all the matter in the universe.”[15]

Already we see two major components of Occult creation cosmology:

  • The Gnostic Demiurge, breaking and arising out of the world egg to create the material universe, millennia prior to Lamaître’s theories.
  • The primordial matter and atoms of Blavatsky’s Theosophy, decades prior to Lamaître’s theories.

As for the ‘chaos’ that stems from the Gnostic Demiurge’s rise out of the broken Cosmic Egg, science has a theory to mirror that too. tells us, “The universe was in chaos after the Big Bang kick-started the cosmos,” as suggested in 2010.[16] There are plenty of other articles positing the same.[17]

Thus, it would seem that science figureheads like Neil deGrasse Tyson––who would shun all Theosophical systems as pseudo-science––promote a much more Gnostic cosmology in principle. He is famously known for saying that the forces of the universe and earth––created by the Gnostic Demiurge––are always “trying to kill us… it does not seem to be the product of a benevolent God,” instead connecting everything to a “universe erupted in a Big Bang” cosmology, conceived in chaos, arising from the Cosmic Egg of Primordial Matter, like Phanes-Ialdabaoth.[18]

Science or Occult Religion?

Whatever the reality of all the various observations, phenomenon, and theories, it seems a bit strange that they all coincide in ways quite fundamental to the Gnostic and Qabalistic cosmologies. Especially considering almost all of these ideas were formulated millennia ago, and further developed by the esotericists of Theosophy, Kabbalah and Freemasonry ranging from several centuries to decades before the Big Bang theory burst onto the scene in the 20th century.

These implications impact different groups in different ways. For Atheists who claim to shun all religion, such statements become rather ironic. As for Catholics, whether or not they want to follow in Pope Francis’ footsteps and accept the Big Bang theory or not, that is up to them. But with all the parallels of Occult cosmology that coincide, it might give a bit more comfort to those who prefer to lean more towards traditional ways of viewing Genesis creation and the cosmos.

In our next installment, we’ll explore the evolutionary side of the Gnostic ‘search for origins.’


[1] Quispel, Gnostica, Judaica, Catholica, p. 55.

[2] Ibid., p. 40.

[3] Rasimus, Paradise Reconsidered in Gnostic Mythmaking, p. 41 – Ophite texts.

[4] Quispel, Gnostica, Judaica, Catholica, p. 43, 367

[5] Blavatsky, The Secret Doctrine, vol. i, pp. 64-65, 85, 103, 116-119 – All the extracts in this section are taken from these pages.

[6] It should be noted that the hexagram is a symbol that can be found in Catholic culture, but the parallel being made here is Occultism and modern science, as these systems are far more alike, especially in light of Blavatsky’s speculations.

[7] Lest we have an egg confusion here, we may identify the ‘Mundane Egg’ or ‘Auric Egg’ with the creation stories of the Gnostics and ancient Pagans of the lesser Demiurge in contrast to the higher ‘Egg‘ of Kabalistic thought. In this higher sphere, the claim is that we are destined to return to this realm as part of their schema of pantheistic Oneness.

[8] Hall, Secret Teachings of All Ages, pp. 323-332 – This book was released in the same decade as the Big Bang Theory (1920’s), but Hall cites Rabbis and Kabbalah texts that range from decades to hundreds of years prior.

[9] Phys.Org, Matt Williams, “What is the Big Bang Theory?” 12.18.2015.

[10] Live Science, Donavyn Coffey, “Why is Space a Vacuum?” 9.19.2020 – Space is “almost” a “perfect vacuum,” but not really.

[11] Daily Mail UK, Jonathan O’Callaghan, “Are We Living ‘Underwater’?” 4.24.2014.

[12] NASA, “The Solar System and Beyond is Awash in Water,” 4.7.2015 – Water found in “surprising places.”

[13] Montana.Edu, Rachel Wergett, “Staring into the Abyss,” 5.25.2021.

[14] Tropp, Frenkel & Chernin, Alexander A. Friedmann: The Man Who Made the Universe Expand, pp. 209, 225.

[15] Holder & Mitton, Georges Lamaître: Life, Science & Legacy, p. 98.

[16], Clara Moskowitz, “After Big Bang Came Moment of Pure Chaos, Study Finds,” 4.4.2010.

[17] Science Daily, Northwestern University, “Big Bang Was Followed by Chaos, Mathematical Analysis Shows,” 9.8.2010.

[18] Bishop, Understanding Scientific Theories of Origins, p. 613

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