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Gnostic Scientism and Technocratic Totalitarianism

Gnostic Scientism and Technocratic Totalitarianism

Introduction

Archimandrite Aimilianos explains that technology is not inherently bad: “Technology per se is not, of course, harmful, being the fruit of the reasoning and intellect of Man, who was formed in the image of God. But when, unrestrained and unbridled, it rushes headlong towards its destination, then it becomes Luciferous, though not bearing light but rather pitch darkness. The danger for us is the absence of accountability in the way in which technology is administered and exploited, a way which has as its aim the stifling domination of human life and the solution of problems by technical means, regardless of moral and metaphysical principles.”[i]

Science, as applied knowledge, requires certain goals to be achieved. The scientist attempts to apply their knowledge in order to achieve certain ends. Therefore, what becomes particularly relevant here is the question of ends. What ends or goals ought we to seek? Answering these questions requires an analysis not only into the necessary conditions for the possibility of knowledge in general (i.e., establishing the ground for the intelligible order of being), it necessitates an investigation into the very nature of man himself, the world, the cosmos, the polis, and man’s proper place in relation to them all. Of course these questions will be answered in different ways, according to one’s philosophical commitments, assumed paradigms, and the overall narrative that is historically situated within the particular ideological movements that dominate a culture.

Modernity and the Enlightenment marked a distinct shift in how man understood nature, himself, and his relation to nature. In rejecting the Christian tradition and the general philosophical outlook of antiquity, Modernity mechanized nature by abolishing any real objective essences in the world, creating the world in man’s image – according to man’s ideas. Modern man now views nature as something to be manipulated and exploited. No longer does he see himself as a creature of the earth, “shaped out of the earth and returning to it, his whole inner being nourished and enriched by his organic contact with nature and with the breath of the Spirit that had fashioned him as nature’s masterwork.”[ii] This resulted in a set of ideologies and demoralized practices that viewed all of nature, including man himself, without any real objective meaning, and therefore, modern man began to understand nature as something entirely malleable according to one’s own personal choices.[iii] Without, “an ultimate point of moral orientation, meaning, and enforcement of morality…”, and without the guidance of the Church, the contemporary modern world took the anthropological and moral considerations and rendered them “into micro life style choices,” and with it, “the loss of the authority of the moral point of view.”[iv] Man, severing his link with the divine (the intelligible ground of the order of being) and with nature, replaces the objective authority with his purely subjective resolution of the will (libido dominandi). The cosmos was no longer seen as a divine order, but a man-made system[v] created by a will to power and exploitation of nature. The Modern and Enlightenment project reduced human agency to the faculties of reason and will, resulting in a mechanized and instrumentalized view of the human person. In this gnostic recreation of the order of being, man realized he must appear as the unlimited master of being, which required that he “so delimit being that limitations are no longer evident.”[vi] Consequently, the modern project required a “management technique at the service of the strongest,”[vii] instituted by, as Lancellotti explains, “a technocratic elite which is not united to the rest of the population by any real ideal bond.”[viii] As Sherrard explains, “In this world—the world of the artificial environment, of the sophisticated manipulation of machines and techniques—the human element is gradually being eliminated. What this world represents is a new type of order, a new inorganic order, one not created by God but invented by man—one that is, in fact, precisely an externalization of man’s desire to make his own world without God.”[ix]

This stands in stark contrast to the age of antiquity, which is often mistakenly thought not to have developed any advanced technology due to their lack of knowledge.[x] However, this oversimplification misses the point that the ancients, although possessing a certain technological knowledge, purposefully did not employ or develop these techniques beyond a certain point. Because the ancient’s primary concern was religious and not technical, they did not employ or develop these techniques beyond the point where they would “impede or prevent what was far more important,” that is, the pursuit of the higher orders of reality and the transcendent ground of that order.[xi] For example, one “of the architects of St. Sophia at Constantinople was quite capable of making a steam-engine (some one thousand two hundred years before James Watt “invented” it), but he used his skill only to make the house he was living in shake as though there was an earthquake in order to get rid of an unpleasant neighbor living on the top floor.”[xii] In contrast to the ancient mindset, modernity answers the questions of “why should I produce this?” or “why should I learn this?” almost always in terms of efficiency. As Neil Postman points out: “Such an answer is considered entirely adequate, since in Technopoly, efficiency and interest need no justification… ‘Efficiency and interest’ is a technical answer, an answer about means, not ends…”[xiii] Of course, this brings to mind Marshall McLuhan’s “the medium is the message,” which reveals much about the modern approach to technology.

Hence, it is not technology per se that is the issue. The key issue here is that we see a fundamental change in the metaphysical outlook and general orientation of modern man as compared to antiquity. We find that the activities, goals, and even what constitutes knowledge to be essentially different from that of the ancient world. For modernity the highest activity and ultimate goal of man and society is that which is ultimately concerned with practicality, where the modern man now desires means over ends. Modernity takes contemplation and the socio-political orientation towards the divine and exchanges it for production and efficiency, seeing these as the highest type of activity. In fact, knowledge itself is eventually redefined solely in pragmatic terms. Moreover, in order to make way for the new age of man and the new science, the old world must be destroyed, and along with it her overriding orientation and pursuits. This is why Sherrard explains that the “West has developed technically in direct relationship to the decline of the Christian consciousness, for the simple reason that the “secularization” of nature, which permits it to be regarded as an object and so exploited technically, is in direct contradiction to the sacramental spirit of Christianity…”[xiv] In modernity, the old world is destroyed and society no longer exists as a divine order, but man-made. This, we will soon see, signifies what Voegelin identifies as contemporary/modern gnosticism. Commenting on this, Ellis Sandoz states: “The line drawn in the material before is mainly between philosophy an anti-philosophy in the form of gnosticism.”[xv] However, it is Eric Voegelin who explains the difference between the two:

Philosophy springs from the love of being; it is man’s loving endeavor to perceive the order of being and attune himself to it. Gnosis desires dominion over being; in order to seize control of being the Gnostic constructs his system. The building of systems is a Gnostic form of reasoning, not a philosophical one.[xvi]

In fact, Voegelin argues that the essence of modernity is gnosticism. As we will discover, there are definite links between modernity, gnosticism, industrialization, and politics that relate to technocracy and scientism. Here we only need to make a brief remark on how modernity connects to industrialization in light of what we have just discussed. Heidegger once remarked, “That which is earlier with regard to its dominance becomes manifest to us men only later,”[xvii] which echoes much of Nietzsche’s famous line from the Gay Science, “The tremendous event is still on its way, still travelling – it has not yet reached the ears of men. Lightning and thunder require time, the light of the stars requires time, deeds require time even after they are done, before they can be seen and heard.”[xviii] Hence, the dominance of modernity and the Enlightenment’s projects took time to become manifest and reach the ears of men. By the 18th and 19th centuries society began to manifest her earlier ideas and think on a more effective scale of production, utilizing “machines and gadgets in order to produce concrete results of a quantitative nature…” And as Sherrard goes on to argue, “they began to think this because they had accepted as true a philosophy which proclaimed that basically man was a two-legged terrestrial animal whose destiny and needs could best be fulfilled through the pursuit of social, political, and economic self-interest and the provision of an ever-increasing number and variety of material goods.”[xix] The consequence of such ideas amounted to further exploitation of both man and nature. However, the “world’s resources, natural and other, could not be exploited significantly unless there was a great development in the means of exploitation. So, perhaps for the first time in history, scientists—and especially scientists who would apply their knowledge—were to move into the center of the social and economic scene.”[xx] Here we find modernity’s path to industrialization and its essential connection with technocracy. 

What precisely then is technocracy? The seeds of technocracy begin with Saint-Simon and Comte’s positivism and their scientism. However, the overall ideas begin much earlier than the Saint-Simon and Comte. We have seen the radical shift in both thinking and orientation that occurred in modernity and the Enlightenment, which included how man approached technology and defined knowledge. For example it was Francis Bacon who famously declared that “Human knowledge and human power is the same thing, for where the cause is not known the effect cannot be produced.”[xxi] Not only is knowledge redefined purely in terms of pragmatic and predictive effects,[xxii] a new science, morality, aesthetics, and philosophy is created – in short, a new world. As Sherrard states, “When Bacon concluded that his novum organum should apply ‘not only to natural but to all sciences’ (including ethics and politics) and that it is to ‘embrace everything,’ he opened the road for the all-inclusive scientific takeover of our culture and for the urban industrialism which is its brainchild.”[xxiii] This is the Baconian prescription for “the total scientivization of our world…”[xxiv] In his New Atlantis, Bacon “conceived of a new social order dedicated to the expansion of modern science and progress in human achievement through dominion over nature…”[xxv] Nevertheless, the modern project of mechanization is perfected in the likes of Galileo, Descartes, and Newton, whose projects only accept a universal quantitative approach to everything and the application of mathematical techniques to all of nature. In this new social order, anything that does not submit to this universal quantitative project simply was not science. As Sherrard explains, “what could not be caught in the net of numbers was non-science, non-knowledge, and even in the end non-existent.”[xxvi] This, together with the revolutionary spirit[xxvii] of the new man who in his pretended autonomy revolted against heaven, resulted in a period that “is characterized by the increasing dominance of anthropocentric forms of political speculation, as opposed to theocentric questions.”[xxviii] Mircea Eliade himself defined modern societies as “those which have pushed the secularization of life and the Cosmos far enough.”[xxix] In Modernity, as typified by the Enlightenment thinking of Kant, not only must nature and her laws be conceived as radically autonomous from God, the Promethean rebellion against God must also apply to the human will. Both nature and the human will are now conceived to be radically autonomous from God. An autonomous mechanized nature and man leaves us without any objective meaning or grounding in the transcendent. As Bruce Foltz concludes, “such a world offers no inner resistance to manipulation and control, presents no grain against which we ought not to cut. In Heidegger’s words, it is a world that has become an inventory or resource (in German, Bestand) for technological control and consumption.”[xxx] Technology, therefore, is now being used as the sole means to exploit nature and recreate man and society according to the gnostic, atheistic, ideas to perfect the human experience without grounding this in the living God as the unconditioned grounds of being.[xxxi]

How does technocracy relate to our social-political considerations? The political power of the secular state, which attempts to maintain a canonical morality over a relativistic and nihilistic culture that embraces a plurality of moralities,[xxxii] has been exchanged for a “New Atlantis.” Political institutions, as John Gunnell points out, have begun to be “replaced by a ‘parliament’ of technical experts.”[xxxiii] This elite class of technical experts have come to be called technocrats. The technocratic image[xxxiv] now replaces the politician and provides mankind with a “vision of an industrial society wherein an elite class of engineers, scientists, industrialists, and planners systematically apply technical knowledge to the solution of social problems and the creation of a rational social order.”[xxxv] Much of their ideas and social engineering techniques (“social physics”) are presently being employed amidst our current “science.” The technocratic theory and ideology is further articulated and promulgated by the following important intellectuals: Max Weber, Karl Mannheim, Edward Bellamy, Bertrand Russell, Arthur Koestler, Zbigniew Brzezinski, et. al. However, the term “technocracy” originated with an engineer in 1919 named William Smith, and became popularized as an idea in response to the Great Depression, a movement John Gunnell explains that “for a time gained considerable notoriety and a substantial following,” and “began with a group of technicians and engineers dedicated to social reform whose concepts were modeled on the technological republic in Edward Bellamy’s late-19th-century utopian novel Looking Backward. They were also influenced by the economic theories of Thorstein Veblen and the principles of scientific management growing out of the work of Frederick W. Taylor, both of which suggested, much like the later work of James Burnham in The Managerial Society, that politicians and industrial entrepreneurs should, and would, give way to technical elites.”[xxxvi] C. P. Snow, who dramatically pursued the problem of the influence of experts on political decisions, argued that “one of the most bizarre features of any advanced industrial society in our time is that the cardinal choices have to be made by a handful of men” in a world of “closed politics” and “secret scientific choices” where there is “no appeal to a larger assembly … in the sense of a group of opinion, or electorate.”[xxxvii]

Technocracy is intrinsically linked to the socio-political system in a unique and interesting way. John Gunnell explains Technocracy’s relation to politics as follows: “1. In circumstances in which political decisions necessarily involve specialized knowledge and the exercise of technical skills, political power tends to gravitate toward technological elites. 2. Technology has become autonomous, hence politics has become a function of systemic structural determinants over which it has little or no control. 3. Technology (and science) constitute a new legitimating ideology that subtly masks certain forms of social domination.”[xxxviii] Again, much of this goes back to Saint-Simon and Comte’s positivism. Concerning Saint-Simon, Dante Germino explains that there was “a mania for system construction characteristic of the nineteenth century in particular… He was obsessed with the urge to reduce all explanations, all principles to a single over-arching formula. There could be only one science, one government, one religion, one organization of social classes.”[xxxix] Saint-Simon’s progressivism, socialism,[xl] and positivism would all coalesce into the ideology of scientism, providing the technological managerial ruling elite of the future technocracy with their own religion.[xli] As H.G. Wells predicts, the technological elite can use religion for social domination to control populations and the socio-political structures.[xlii]                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            

Gnosticism and Modern Gnosticism[xliii]

Since, as we have pointed out, gnosticism is “anti-philosophy” inasmuch as it severs the transcendent ground (Wisdom) of the intelligible world of being and creates a man-made speculative project whose aim is to have dominion over being, knowledge of the order of becomes impossible. Therefore, the fact about the impossibility of attaining knowledge of the order of being must be concealed. For example, Hegel conceals this very thing by “translating philosophia and gnosis into German so that he can shift from one to the other by playing on the word ‘knowledge.’”[xliv] We will see this is a common tactic in the various gnostic systems, which is meant to conceal the very questioning of the projects first principles. As Voegelin states regarding Hegel’s project, “If, therefore, I can build a system, the truth of its premise thereby established; that I can build a system on a false premise is not even considered.”[xlv] Unlike philosophy, where wordplay is intended to illumine thought, gnostic wordplay is used to conceal the “non-thought.”[xlvi] This concealment and gnostic wordplay is particularly relevant to our consideration of science.

Before proceeding further into our investigation of gnosticism and its relation to current “science,” let us get a clearer picture of Voegelin’s thoughts on the topic. Recall, Voegelin states that the “essence of modernity is gnosticism.” However, what exactly does Voegelin have in mind here? In Order and History, Voegelin provides us an explanation of gnosticism in general, both ancient and modern, and relates this to the idea of knowledge (gnosis), stating: “The knowledge, the Gnosis, of the psychodrama is the precondition for engaging successfully in the operation of liberating the pneuma [spirit] in man from its cosmic prison.”[xlvii] The essential core of any gnostic system is a man-made construction (speculative system) that creates an “enterprise of returning the pneuma in man from its state of alienation in the cosmos to the divine pneuma of the Beyond through action based on knowledge.”[xlviii] As Dante Germino further explains, “all varieties of gnosticism, ancient and modern are attempts to allay man’s existential anxiety by creating a ‘second reality’ or dream world in which he can find release from his fundamental (and in truth irreconcilable) unease.”[xlix] According to Voegelin, gnosticism and the modern political gnostic systems are a spiritual disease.[l] “The ‘system’ constructions of Hobbes and Spinoza, Enlightenment progressivism, Hegelian idealism, Marxist communism, Nazi racism, and various types of militant secular ideologies are all related to each other, whatever their apparent contradictions, as more or less perverted types of gnostic speculation.”[li]

Science and Gnosticism

Systems have arisen in history where science ceased being science, yet nevertheless operated under the guise of science. As Voegelin identifies, these include, but are not limited to, Marxism and National Socialism. In such socio-political structures, the society at large and the majority of scientists in those societies remove God as the intelligible ground of being, that which would ground science, and they begin to create speculative enterprises and systems that make certain questions practically and conceptually impossible.[lii] For example for Karl Marx his concealment in his gnostic speculation takes on the form of an “intellectual swindle.” Voegelin states: “Marx’s prohibition of questions has to be characterized as an attempt to protect the ‘intellectual swindle’ of his speculation from exposure by reason; but from the standpoint of the adept Marx the swindle was the ‘truth’ that he had created through his speculation, and the prohibition of questions was designed to defend the truth of the system against the unreason of men.”[liii]

Recent questions that have become prohibited are the questions about what makes science actually science. Again, science can only be science when it has its foundation in God who is the intelligible ground of being. Other conceptually impossible actions within the gnostic systems include the questioning of the “settled science.” If answers are given, it is often met with another speculative explanation that can neither be verified nor falsified. Hence, the “science” that is incapable of being falsified moves out of the realm of science and into the domain of pseudo-science. Voegelin goes on to argue that this takes on a religious quality and becomes known as scientism. Augusto Del Noce points out that “the distinctive ideology of the ‘technological society’ is scientism, the ‘view of science as the ‘only’ true knowledge…” This, he argues inevitably leads to a technocratic totalitarianism. He states, “Now, an advocate of scientism, and a society based on his way of thinking, cannot help being totalitarian inasmuch as his conception of science . . . cannot be the object of any proof . . . [he] does not intend to elevate other forms of thought to a higher level . . ., but he simply ‘denies them.’”[liv] In Scientism, not only are non-falsifiable methods employed, the totalitarian tactic of social feeling (social group think, which can be enforced through media, education, politics, corporations, the state, etc.) is used to enforce the “settled science.” In fact, both the positivists and founders of Scientism, Saint-Simon and Comte, advocated for the use of “social feeling” tactics to subordinate individuals and ideologically conform them to the new system in the name of “progress.” Voegelin identifies these things as essential components of gnostic systems and key features of Scientism.

There is a definite link to Scientism and technocracy. Neil Postman states:

By Scientism, I mean three interrelated ideas that, taken together, stand as one of the pillars of Technopoly… [1] the methods of the natural sciences can be applied to the study of human behavior… [2] social science generates specific principles which can be used to organize society on a rational and humane basis. This implies that technical means-mostly “invisible technologies” supervised by experts–can be designed to control human behavior and set it on the proper course… [3] faith in science can serve as a comprehensive belief system that gives meaning to life, as well as a sense of well-being, mortality, and even immortality.[lv]

What should be concerning to us is that we are finding these exact same elements, attitudes, and things happening now amidst the virus. In fact, it is something that existed prior to the virus with the issues surrounding the “settled science” of climate change. Although there may be scientists who believe in God, the overwhelming majority of scientists and the system itself that science now exists in, operates on definite secular atheistic assumptions. This current system is historically situated in our post-Enlightenment, technocratic-gnostic socio-political structure. If there are any doubts that this is the system in which our science now operates, in particular the “science” concerning covid, just read Klaus Schwab’s, Covid-19: the Great Reset. Not only does this provide great insights into how science can be manipulated or corrupted by secular atheistic and gnostic systems and ideologies, it provides us a clear vision and example of technocracy.

It is important to note that science doesn’t exist in a vacuum. As we have seen, science is embedded within certain socio-political structures and operates on the assumptions of those dominating ideologies.[lvi] Therefore, our science ought to be assessed in light of the current gnostic technocracy and its philosophy. Scientific analysis at this paradigm level will inevitably involve epistemological questions. Relating to the original discussion presented earlier, our epistemological concerns ultimately turn on issues of trust. This means the recent problems observed with nutrition science, climate change, and covid science must be assessed within the context of the dominating technocratic philosophy. We must ask ourselves are the gnostic technocratic ideas compatible with Orthodox Christianity, can the science be corrupted by the socio-political authority of that technocracy, can scientific consensus be trusted in light of this, and does this make certain “scientific” claims highly suspect and dubitable?

Various corporations, tech companies, foundations, banks, organizations, et. al. that form much of the nexus of technocracy and fund scientific research will often prevent other scientific discoveries from being published. This demonstrates that such organizations are often committed less to science qua science and more to certain philosophical ideas and agendas (as outlined in positivism), which are almost always at odds with our Christian beliefs. Furthermore, there are countless examples of top research and publications admitting to fraudulent findings and publications. One recent example is the editor of Lancent Journal (the most respected of the peer-reviewed medical journals), Richard Horto, admitting in 2015 that “Much of the scientific literature, perhaps half, may simply be untrue. Afflicted by studies with small sample sizes, tiny effects, invalid exploratory analyses, and flagrant conflicts of interest, together with an obsession for pursuing fashionable trends of dubious importance, science has taken a turn towards darkness.”[lvii] Dr. John Ioandis, one of the world’s leading experts on medical research, adds to this stating that 90% of medical research is tainted if not outright bogus due to influence from the industry. Marcia Angell (physician and longtime Editor-in-Chief of the New England Medical Journal) stated: “It is simply no longer possible to believe much of the clinical research that is published, or to rely on the judgment of trusted physicians or authoritative medical guidelines.”[lviii] Understanding this within the context of the current gnostic technocratic totalitarian system, we find that much of the problems are not simply due to error, sample sizes, or invalid exploratory analysis. Our scientific judgments and procedures can indeed be corrupted by the “specific authority”[lix] of our dominating gnostic system. For instance, the gnostic technocratic system can determine the overall scientific narrative and promulgate these ideas through the political structures, the media, academia, corporations, the WHO, DAVOS, etc. (something Gunnell points out) who are managed and controlled by technocratic elite. Of course “social feeling,” as Saint-Simon and Comte point out, becomes necessary to control and determine people’s thoughts and actions. In fact, this gnostic concealment tactic of “social feeling” has been recently used to shut down questions concerning whether Covid is a pandemic, whether the numbers and data are accurate, whether the tests are reliable, whether the proposed solutions have or will work, whether there is corruption and manipulation of the collected data, etc. We are often given the pseudo-scientific “non falsifiable” responses to many of these questions (e.g., “well it didn’t work because we didn’t lock down long enough, not enough people were wearing their masks, etc.”) This is another indicator that the supposed “science” is no longer science. These are the essential signs of a modern gnostic system, as Voegelin has pointed out. Of course, this doesn’t mean that at times we don’t actually do good science; however, it does illustrate how science can be corrupted and can become dubitable or untrustworthy.

Science versus Scientism

The problem at hand, therefore, can be traced back to a fundamental shift in thinking and orientation that occurred in modernity. Modern man began to view himself, the world, the cosmos, the polis, and his proper place in relation to them all in a radically different way from the ancients. In his Promethean rebellion, man severed the transcendent ground of being from the intelligible world, mechanized nature, and gave himself a pretended autonomy whereby he thought he could now exercise full dominion over being. In his Nietzschian deicide, modern man created speculative gnostic systems, and like Adam and Eve, he attempted to hide his sin by having his system conceal the truth. The abolition of both the transcendent God and nature resulted in a loss of objectivity, something that would have served as a helpful restraint on the morals, thoughts, and actions of man. Consequently, the libido dominandi became the only guiding principle, a sheer will to power where man could use (or misuse) technology to control, dominate and exploit nature all in the name of “science” and progress. For the modern man, “the speculative system in which the gnostic unfolds his will to make himself master of being” is insisted on being called “science.”[lx] However, in order to commit such deeds, science had to become absolutized, and with it, the entire scientivization of the world. This became the very essence of Scientism. It “is, literally, a resolution of the will: the resolution to accept as real only what can be verified empirically by everyone.”[lxi] Nevertheless, to carry out a complete scientivization of the world, Scientism had to relate to the socio-political sphere. Hence, the atheistic gnostic speculators created what is known as technocracy. Within our current technocratic totalitarian system, we have found another gnostic ideology that is dehumanizing, anti-scientific, atheistic, and completely at odds with Christianity. Since such gnostic systems corrupt science, we must be aware of their presence, dominion, and power to corrupt. Furthermore, we must acknowledge that technocratic totalitarianism, like all modern gnostic systems, attempts to conceal these sins by building a socio-political operating system that prevents asking foundational paradigmatic questions, making such questions – as well as others – practically and conceptually impossible.

Conclusion

What then is the solution to our current gnostic scientism and technocratic totalitarianism, beyond just becoming aware of it as such? As Sherrard himself explains, “It is superfluous to stress that this cosmic disorder, reflecting the radical dehumanization of our society, and incurable apart from a total re-personalization of the conditions of work in our society, is already well advanced…” And since “our society cannot be re-personalized or rehumanized without a dismantling of the whole present scientific industrial structure, we have something of the measure of the task that lies ahead.”[lxii] If, however, we are to rebuild our “society in the image of an integrated humanity, we must first be clear in our minds what it means to be human.”[lxiii] Since the idea of what it means to be human in Christianity is not the same in the secular atheistic technocracy of Scientism, we must first admit that there is simply no common ground in such matters.[lxiv] This is something Tristram Engelhardt himself was keenly aware of, particularly in the domain of bioethics and medical science. There is no common ground with secularism because, as Engelhardt argues, their “goal is to have secular professional ethics trump other moral obligations, including one’s obligations to God. ‘Selfless’ secular professionalism and social justice are thus invoked as objective moral norms that require health professionals to violate their ‘private’ obligations to God…”[lxv] He goes on to state that our Christian paradigm and “commitment to honor one’s obligations to God is characterized as a self-centered, selfish focus on private matters or private religious ‘feelings’ that are inferior in their force and that conflict with, and are overridden by, public secular social obligations…”[lxvi]

Here we have two worlds: a city of man and a city of God, and we are reminded of the Gospel passage that warns us “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other.”[lxvii] Pluralism and multiculturalism are failed experiments. Secular pluralistic societies attempt to combine and mix contradictory cultures, values, and ideologies. However, since the core values, morals, ideas, and commitments of distinct cultures and competing philosophical systems are fundamentally at odds with one another, it is inevitable that one group will have to compromise their essential beliefs. This creates a situation where ideological conflicts are simply resolved by the will of the stronger, an appeal once again to the gnostic principle of libido dominandi. In our current situation, it is the atheistic technocratic totalitarians, using the secular state, who exercise their will to power to eliminate any competing ideologies or practices. Therefore, multicultural and pluralistic anthems are simply Trojan horses, bringing an enemy whose ideas and ethos are incompatible with Christianity. As Engelhardt states, “We do not share common ground. Christianity has ancient roots that are immune from the consequence of the collapse of the Western moral-philosophic project.”[lxviii] Therefore, we find two paradigms, the Christian and the modern secularist, two world-views that are simply incompatible with one another. Within society, law, government, education, ethics, science, and medicine we find ideological conflicts, as well as conflicting prescriptions on how to conduct one’s life in the aforementioned areas. We continue to discover claims about science and what constitutes proper medical care that are simply incompatible with Christianity. We only need to look at the various bioethical conflicts to acknowledge “the incompatibility of claims made by the contemporary secular state about what should count as proper medical professional conduct and those claims grounded in the demands of God.”[lxix] Moreover, public policy and health guidelines regarding covid-19 are now being carried out by the secular state and technocratic elites that often contradict our liturgical practices and faith. We identified several problems with absolutizing science refusing to critically assess the scientific claims and approaches. We have highlighted the dangers of Scientism and pseudo-science, as well as pointing out general concerns about trusting a science that is now operating within the framework of a gnostic atheistic and antihuman technocracy.

Hence, the real krisis (judgment) is this: we must now make a decision, a judgment. Where do we put our trust? Do we put our trust in the city of man or the city of God? Do we put our trust in the secular, immoral, anti-Christian technocrats (where “science,” I have argued often no longer operates as science), elevating the empirical sciences (the lowest form of reasoning) with its ever-changing conclusions to the status of divine revelation and absolute truth? Or do we put our faith in the lives of the Saints, the life of the Church, in the Faith once delivered to us from God Himself, the Faith of the Orthodox, the Faith that established the Universe? It is not clear the precise ways the Christian should proceed in dealing with providing a suitable environment to conduct science and politics; however, it is my hope that through our current crisis we begin to see the religious nature of the threat at hand. It is my hope that we can identify the corruption of philosophy into philodoxy that culminates in the radical transformation of the political/social framework in which science exists and is understood. As I have argued, we now exist in a new social-political-paradigmatic order, where science has become something different than science. It has become a religion. The new religion is Scientism or science-dolatry, where the high priests are the scientific “experts”[lxx] and technocratic elites, and the devotees/worshipers are those who follow or participate in the gnostic structures of the totalitarian terror of technocracy. As Voegelin states: “Today, under the pressure of totalitarian terror, we are perhaps inclined to think primarily of the physical forms of opposition. But they are not the most successful. The opposition becomes radical and dangerous only when philosophical questioning is itself called into question, when doxa takes on the appearance of philosophy, when it arrogates to itself the name of science and prohibits science as nonscience.”[lxxi] We have entered into a new age based on the old reoccurring gnostic themes. We find an absolutizing of science (replacing philosophy, epistemology, ontology, and metaphysics with empirical sciences), an elevation of the “technical experts” to the infallible magisterium of the new universal religion, and the suppression – if not complete abolition – of all questioning and critical analysis of their project and new gnostic religion. There has, as Voegelin explains, “emerged a phenomenon unknown to antiquity that permeates our modern societies so completely that its ubiquity scarcely leaves us any room to see it at all: the prohibition of questioning.”[lxxii] Although these modern gnostic projects and speculative programs (as opposed to philosophy) have existed in the political paradigms of Socialism, Marxism, and National Socialism, the “conscious, deliberate, and painstakingly elaborate obstruction”[lxxiii] of logos has not been limited to these paradigms alone. We are living in the gnostic scientism of the technocratic totalitarianism of this present age.

Therefore, we ought to count this as a blessing. For a crisis will make things clearer to us. It will help us see what ideas and beliefs we are truly committed to. It will aid us in seeing where we put our faith and trust. Let us not forget, as the Optima Fathers pray: “Teach us to treat whatever may happen with peace of soul and firm conviction that Your will governs all.” This crisis is the will of the Lord. Glory to God! Let us make the best of it and ask ourselves: whom do we serve and where is our citizenship? Let us say, as the people said to Joshua, “I will serve the Lord.” With the grace and help of God, let us resist the spirit of the age and this world and declare, as the Psalmist says, “Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the LORD our God.”[lxxiv] May we pray that upon that dreadful judgment day, our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ will say to us “well done good and faithful servant”[lxxv] and not “depart from me. For I never knew you.”[lxxvi]

 

 

 

[i] Archimandrite Aimilianos, “The Authentic Seal: Spiritual Instruction and Discourses,” Anthropology and Technology.

[ii] Phillip Sherrard, “Modern Science and Dehumanization,” 2.

[iii]As Lancellotti states: “the technological society is no longer unified by any shared idea of the good, and the only possible common “moral” goal is the expansion of individual well-being, to be achieved by removing all forms of “repression” and by banishing from the public sphere any claim about objective truths and values that might constrain the pursuit of essentially instinctual appetites. (Carlo Lancellotti, “Augusto Del Noce on the New Totalitarianism, 326)

[iv] Tristram Engelhardt, After God: Morality and Bioethics in the Secular Age, 27.

[v] In destroying the ancient’s world, which possessed an overriding spiritual orientation in her pursuits, Sherrard states that modern man created a society that is “man-made, not a divine order. It is one in fact which represents a projection of the human mind that has cut its links with the divine and with the earth; and in so far as it has any ideals these are purely temporal and finite and concern only the terrestrial welfare of its members.”

[vi] Eric Voeglin, Science, Politics, and Gnosticism, 40 

[vii] Jean-Marie Domenach, cited in Del Noce, The Crisis of Modernity, 251.

[viii] Carlo Lancellotti, “Augusto Del Noce on the New Totalitarianism, 326.

[ix] Sherrard, “Modern Science and Dehumanization,” 2

[x] “It is often said that the mediaeval world also had its techniques and that these were not developed because no one knew how to develop them.” (Sherrard, “Modern Science and Dehumanization,” 6)

[xi] As Sherrard points out concerning the medieval world, “It is true that the mediaeval world had its techniques. But these techniques deliberately were not employed or developed beyond a certain point—the point at which they would begin to impede or prevent what was far more important: the realization of an over-riding imaginative view of life. Here the primary concern was religious, not technical, and technical processes that upset the over-riding conceptions of harmony and beauty and balance were, quite simply, rejected. (“Modern Science and Dehumanization,” 6)

[xii] Sherrard, “Modern Science and Dehumanization,” 7.

[xiii] Neil Postman, Technopoly, 161.

[xiv] Sherrard, “Modern Science and Dehumanization,” 7

[xv] Ellis Sandoz, “Introduction to Science, Politics, and Gnosticism,” xiii.

[xvi] Eric Voeglin, The New Science of Politics, 32.

[xvii] Martin Heidegger,  The Question Concerning Technology, 259.

[xviii] Frederick Nietzsche, The Gay Science, 125.

[xix] Phillip Sherrard, “Modern Science and Dehumanization,” 7.

[xx] Ibid.

[xxi] Francis Bacon, Novum Organum, 3.

[xxii] Comte had his famous dictum: Savoir pour prevoir (“To know in order to predict”).

[xxiii] Phillip Sherrard, “Modern Science and Dehumanization,” 8.

[xxiv] Ibid.

[xxv] John G. Gunnell, “The Technocratic Image,” 394.

[xxvi] Phillip Sherrard, “Modern Science and Dehumanization,” 8.

[xxvii]“ For modern science has its starting-point in a revolution in consciousness, or revolt against heaven, that has resulted in the reason first ignoring, then denying, and finally closing itself to the source of knowledge which is above it; and this has meant that it has been forced to turn for its knowledge exclusively to that which is below it—to the “external” world of sense-data and sense-impression.” (ibid., 13)

[xxviii] Dante Germino, Machiavelli to Marx, 7.

[xxix] Mircea Eliade, Myths, Dreams, and Mysteries: The Encounter Between Contemporary Faiths and Archaic Realities, 25.

[xxx] Bruce Seraphim Foltz, “The Gnosticism of Modernity and the Quest for Radical Autonomy,” 3.

[xxxi] Engelhardt sees morality grounded “not in philosophy but in an experience of the living God who commands.” (H. T. Engelhardt, After God, 217)  

[xxxii] “After metaphysics and after God, the secular fundamentalist state becomes a surrogate for God because, once reality, morality, and bioethics are severed from an unconditioned ground in being, and once moral reason is recognized as plural in content, one is not just left with a plurality of moralities and bioethics, but also the closest thing to a common morality and a common bioethics becomes that morality and bioethics are established as law and in public policy…” (Engelhardt, After God, 92-93)

[xxxiii] John G. Gunnell, “The Technocratic Image,” 394.

[xxxiv] “Many of the characteristic features of the technocratic image may be found in the work of Henri de Saint-Simon (1760-1825) and his vision of an industrial society wherein an elite class of engineers, scientists, industrialists, and planners systematically apply technical knowledge to the solution of social problems and the creation of a rational social order.” (John G. Gunnell, “The Technocratic Image,” 394)

[xxxv] John G. Gunnell, “The Technocratic Image and the Theory of Technocracy,” Technology and Culture, 396.

[xxxvi] John G. Gunnell, “The Technocratic Image,” 393.

[xxxvii] C.P. Snow, Science and Government (Cambridge, 1961), 1.

[xxxviii] John Gunnell, “The Technocratic Image and the Theory of Technocracy,” 397.

[xxxix] Dante Germino, Machiavelli to Marx, 280.

[xl] “Saint-Simonians were among the first to use the term ‘socialism,’ which entered the Western political vocabulary in the late 1820s.” (Ibid, 283)

[xli] “Scientists began to take the place of priests, initiating not of course into the kingdom of heaven but into the brave new world of more consumer goods and limitless economic growth. It was by courtesy of the scientists that the industrialists and bankers of the nineteenth century bulldozed their way to fortune and produced the devastation of the modern industrial world.” (Phillip Sherrard, “Modern Science and Dehumanization,” 8.

[xlii] See H.G. Well’s God the Invisible King.

[xliii] Voegelin lists six characteristics of gnosticism: 1) It must first be pointed out that the gnostic is dissatisfied with his situation. This, in itself, is not especially surprising. We all have cause to be not completely satisfied with one aspect or another of the situation in which we find ourselves. 2) Not quite so understandable is the second aspect of the gnostic attitude: the belief that the drawbacks of the situation can be attributed to the fact that the world in intrinsically poorly organized. For it is likewise possible to assume that the order of being as it is give to us men (wherever its origin is to be sought) is good and that it is we human beings who inadequate. But gnostics are not inclined to discover that human beings in general and they themselves in particular are inadequate. If in a given situation something is not as it should be, then the fault is to be found in the wickedness of the world. 3) The third characteristic is the belief that salvation from the evil of the world is possible. 4) From this follows the belief that the order of being will have to be changed in an historical process. From a wretched world a good one must evolve historically. This assumption is not altogether self-evident, because the Christian solution might also be considered – namely, that the world throughout history will remain as it is and that man’s salvational fulfillment is brought about through grace in death. 5) With this fifth point we come to the gnostic trait in the narrower sense – the belief that a change in the order of being lie in the realm of human action, that this salvational act is possible through man’s own effort. 6) If it is possible, however, so to work a structural change in the given order of being that we can be satisfied with it as a perfect one, then it becomes the task of the gnostic to seek out the prescription for such a change. Knowledge – gnosis of the method of altering being is the central concern of the gnostic. As the sixth feature of the gnostic attitude, therefore, we recognize the construction of the formula for self and world salvation, as well as the gnostic’s readiness to come forward as a prophet who will proclaim his knowledge about the salvation of mankind.” (Eric Voegelin, Science, Politics, and Gnosticism, 64-65)

[xliv] Ibid., 31.

[xlv] Ibid., 13.

[xlvi] “This point is worth noting because the German gnostics, especially, like to play with language and hide their non-thought in wordplay.” (Ibid., 32)

[xlvii] Eric Voegelin, Order and History Vol. 4, 19.

[xlviii] As Dante Germino states, “for Voegelin, modern political thought is spiritually diseased at its core.” (From Machiavelli to Marx, 14)

[xlix] Ibid.

[l] Ibid.

[li] Ibid.

[lii] “The murder of God, then, is of the very essence of the gnostic re-creation of the order of being.” (Eric Voegelin, Science, Politics, and Gnosticism, 41)

[liii] Eric Voegelin, Science, Politics, and Gnosticism, 11.

[liv] Augusto Del Noce, The Crisis of Modernity, 231.

[lv] Neil Postman, Technopoly, 391.

[lvi] “Specific Authority demands therefore not only devotion to the tenets of a tradition but subordination of everyone’s ultimate judgment to discretionary decision by an official center.” Michael Polanyi, Science, Faith, and Society, 59.

[lvii] Dr. Richard Horton, Offline: What is medicine’s 5 sigma? Vol 385, April 11, 2015). Offline: What is medicine’s 5 sigma? (thelancet.com)

[lviii] Dr. Marcia Angell, NY Review of Books, January 15, 2009, “Drug Companies & Doctors: A Story of Corruption”

[lix] See Michael Polanyi, Science, Faith and Society.

[lx] Eric Voegelin, Science, Politics, and Gnosticism, 32.

[lxi] Augusto Del Noce, The Age of Secularization, 104.

[lxii] Sherrard, “Modern Science and Dehumanization,” 5

[lxiii] Ibid.

[lxiv] In fact, as As Lancellotti himself states: “the technological society is no longer unified by any shared idea of the good…” (“Augusto Del Noce on the ‘New Totalitarianism’,” 326), and therefore, there cannot be a common ground with a society that does not have any unified shared idea of the good, let alone an idea of the Christian good.

[lxv] H. Tristram Engelhardt, After God, 254.

[lxvi] Ibid.

[lxvii] Matthew 6:24

[lxviii] Tristram Engelhardt, After God, 389.

[lxix] Ibid., 19.

[lxx] “Scientists began to take the place of priests, initiating not of course into the kingdom of heaven but into the brave new world of more consumer goods and limitless economic growth. It was by courtesy of the scientists that the industrialists and bankers of the nineteenth century bulldozed their way to fortune and produced the devastation of the modern industrial world.” (Sherrard, “Modern Science and Dehumanization,” 8)

[lxxi] Eric Voegelin, Science, Politics, and Gnosticism, 15.

[lxxii] Ibid., 16.

[lxxiii] Ibid.

[lxxiv] Psalm 20:7

[lxxv] Matthew 25:23

[lxxvi] Matthew 7:23

About the author

Fr. Deacon Ananias Sorem, PhD is CEO, Founder, and President of Patristic Faith. Father is an Orthodox apologist and Professor of Philosophy at Fullerton College and Carroll College. He has a BA in Liberal Arts from Thomas Aquinas College, together with an MA (Honors) and PhD in Philosophy (Epistemology; Philosophy of Science; Philosophy of Mind) from University College Dublin. His current academic work focuses on philosophical theology, epistemology, and the philosophy of science. Father is the author of several articles and peer-reviewed papers, including: “Searle, Materialism, and the Mind-Body Problem,” “Gnostic Scientism and Technocratic Totalitarianism,” “An Orthodox Approach to the Dangers of Modernity and Technology,” and “An Orthodox Theory of Knowledge: The Epistemological and Apologetic Methods of the Church Fathers.” He is also known for his YouTube channel, the Norwegian Nous, where he provides content on theology, apologetics, logic, and philosophy.

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