Secularization: A Segue for Humanism
Such a paradigm shift could already be underway. Among one of its chief "evangelists" is William Sims Bainbridge, sociologist and member of the National Science Foundation. Bainbridge concerns himself predominantly with the development of a new world religion, which he dubs the "Church of God Galactic." Expanding on the characteristics intrinsic to such a church, Bainbridge suggests, "its most likely origins are in science fiction" ("Religions for a Galactic Civilization").
According to Bainbridge, secularization provides the religio-cultural segue for this new religion. Examining the sociological phenomenon of secularization, Bainbridge makes an interesting observation:
“Secularization does not mean a decline in the need for religion, but only a loss of power by traditional denominations. Studies of the geography of religion show that where the churches become weak, cults and occultism explode to fill the spiritual vacuum.”
- "Religions for a Galactic Civilization"
Secularization has been commonly associated with atheism. Indeed, past periods of secularization have seen the decline of theistic faiths and a general rejection of traditional notions of God. No doubt, the publication of Origin of the Species and the subsequent widespread promotion of evolutionary thought had this effect. However, periods of secularization do not represent the obliteration of religion, but the preparation of the dominant religio-cultural milieu for the arrival of a new religion. Secularization and its correlative, atheism, only act as a catalyst for an enormous paradigm shift. This begins with the realization of a significant philosophical paradox intrinsic to atheism. Authors Ron Carlson and Ed Decker explain this intrinsic paradox:
“It is philosophically impossible to be an atheist, since to be an atheist you must have infinite knowledge in order to know absolutely that there is no God. But to have infinite knowledge, you would have to be God yourself. It's hard to be God yourself and an atheist at the same time!” (17)
In order to be philosophically consistent, the atheist must eventually conclude that he/she is a god. Whittaker Chambers, former member of the communist underground in America, revealed the name of this faith in one's own intrinsic divinity:
“Humanism is not new. It is, in fact, man's second oldest faith. Its promise was whispered in the first days of Creation under the Tree of the knowledge of Good and Evil: 'Ye shall be as gods.'” (Qutd. in Baker 206)
Simply stated, humanism is the religion of self-deification. Its god is Man, spelled with a capital M to denote the purported divinity intrinsic to humanity. Of course, this was also the religion of Freemasonry. In fact, humanism and Masonry have shared a long historical relationship. In The Keys of this Blood, deceased Vatican insider Malachi Martin examined the emergence of "a network of Humanist associations" throughout early-Renaissance Italy (518-19). These organizations represented:
“a revolt against the traditional interpretation of the Bible as maintained by the ecclesiastical and civil authorities, and against the philosophical and theological underpinnings provided by the Church for civil and political life.” (519)
Although these groups espoused an ostensible belief in God, their notions of a Supreme Being were largely derivative of the Kabbala:
“Not surprisingly given such an animus, these associations had their own conception of the original message of the Bible and of God's revelation. They latched onto what they considered to be an ultrasecret body of knowledge, a gnosis, which they based in part on cultic and occultist strains deriving from North Africa-notably, Egypt-and, in part, on the classical Jewish Kabbala.” (519)
Thirty-third Degree Freemason Albert Pike revealed that "all the Masonic associations owe to it [the Kabbala] their Secrets and their Symbols" (Pike 744). According to Martin, however, this ancient Hebraic doctrine was modified considerably by the early humanists:
“Whether out of historical ignorance or willfulness of both, Italian humanists bowdlerized the idea of Kabbala almost beyond recognition. They reconstructed the concept of gnosis, and transferred it to a thoroughly this-worldly plane. The special gnosis they sought was a secret knowledge of how to master the blind forces of nature for a sociopolitical purpose.” (519-20)
Many of the semiotic artifacts comprising the early humanists's iconography and jargon were also directly related to Masonry:
“Initiates of those early humanist associations were devotees of the Great Force--the Great Architect of the Cosmos--which they represented under the form of the Sacred Tetragrammaton, YHWH, the Jewish symbol for the name of the divinity that was not to be pronounced by mortal lips. They borrowed other symbols--the Pyramid and the All-Seeing Eye--mainly from Egyptian sources.” (Martin 520)
The Great Architect of the Cosmos, the All-Seeing Eye, and the Pyramid also comprise the esoteric semiology of Freemasonry. What is the explanation for all of these commonalities? According to Martin, these shared characteristics were the result of a merger between the humanists and the old Mason guilds:
“In other northern climes, meanwhile, a far more important union took place, with the humanists. A union that no one could have expected. In the 1300s, during the time that the cabalist--humanist associations were beginning to find their bearings, there already existed--particularly in England, Scotland and France-medieval guilds of men who worked with ax, chisel and mallet in freestone. Freemasons by trade, and God-fearing in their religion, these were men who fitted perfectly into the hierarchic order of things on which their world rested.” (521)
Evidently, there couldn't have been two organizations that were more diametrically opposed than Masonry and humanism:
“No one alive in the 1300s could have predicted a merger of minds between freemason guilds and the Italian humanists. The traditional faith of the one, and the ideological hostility to both tradition and faith of the other, should have made the two groups about as likely to mix as oil and water.” (Martin 522)
Nevertheless, the late 1500s would witness the amalgamation of these two groups (Martin 522). The most evident corollary of this organizational coalescence was a noticeable difference in recruiting practices:
“As the number of working or 'operative,' freemasons diminished progressively, they were replaced by what were called Accepted Masons--gentlemen of leisure, aristocrats, even members of royal families--who lifted ax, chisel and mallet only in the ultrasecret symbolic ceremonies of the lodge, still guarded by the 'Charges' and the 'Mason Word.' The 'speculative' mason was born. The new Masonry shifted away from all allegiance to Roman ecclesiastical Christianity.” (Martin 522)
Indeed, the new Masonic doctrine appeared to be one that thoroughly eschewed Christian concepts:
“There was no conceptual basis by which such a belief could be reconciled with Christianity. For precluded were all such ideas as sin, Hell for punishment and Heaven for reward, and eternally perpetual Sacrifice of the Mass, saints and angels, priest and pope.” (522)
The new Mason was no longer an architect of freestone. Instead, he was an architect of the technocratic Utopia mandated by Bacon's New Atlantis. His god was Man himself, an emergent deity sculpted by the Kabbalistic golem of nature through the occult process of "becoming." Of course, this concept would later be disseminated on the popular level as Darwinism and the world would call it "evolution."
These humanist-Masonic concepts remain firmly embedded within the science fiction genre. In an interview with humanist David Alexander, Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry commented:
“As nearly as I can concentrate on the question today, I believe I am God; certainly you are, I think we intelligent beings on this planet are all a piece of God, are becoming God.” (568)
In addition to espousing this core precept of the humanist-Masonic religion, Roddenberry's Star Trek presented a technocratic world government under the appellation of the "Federation." Of course, one could argue that such concepts are simply part of an innocuous fiction concocted for entertainment. According to Bainbridge, however, there is "government-encouraged research" devoted to the realization of "the Star Trek prophecies" ("Memorials"). Apparently, the demarcations between fact and fiction are becoming increasingly indiscernible.
As science fiction vigorously proselytizes the masses in the humanist-Masonic religion, the spiritual vacuum left by secularization is being filled. As Bainbridge previously stated, the immediate elements to supplant the orthodox ecclesiastical authority are "cults and occultism" ("Religions for a Galactic Civilization"). The contemporary religious counterculture movement has most vividly expressed itself through the explosion of scientistic cults in the late twentieth and early twenty-first century. Bainbridge himself has been actively involved with some of these cults, which act as working models for his Church of God Galactic.
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