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Wednesday, April 22nd, 2009

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Childhood's End and Gnosticism
Let me follow up my previous post by arguing that CHILDHOOD’S END by Arthur C. Clarke has a Gnostic attitude toward God, and I mean one God in particular. Gnostics are not heretics of Buddhism, Zen, Taoism, Shinto or Hinduism, after all, but of Christianity.

That the good guys in CHILDHOOD’S END look like cartoon Devils has already been mentioned in my previous post. Gnostics love the idea that good guys are bad guys, and bad are good: one Gnostic sect, for example, are Cainites, who think Cain was right to kill Abel. That the good Devils lead mankind out of their false world into the Pleroma, where we are all gods, has already been mentioned, albeit in Clarke’s book, the godhead is called ‘The Galactic Overmind’ — as if that change in terminology would fool anyone. The earth is not remade into a new world, as St. John of Patmos holds, but is destroyed by hidden fire, the arson of an abandoned prison, as Valintinus holds.

Gnostics take as their prime dogma the idea that the world as we know it is a deception, and that God is the Deceiver, that matter is evil, the human body a trap. In a science fiction setting, God cannot come onstage as a supernatural being and shown to be a liar, since science fiction properly so called stays within the bounds of the natural setting. (Any supernatural events, telepathy or reincarnation, are explained away as being psionic or superhightech in an SFF background, phenomena as subject to natural laws as biology or ballistics, not noumenal reality.) In a supernatural setting you can kill God, and throw Him into Tartarus. In a natural setting you can destroy His lies, but there is no Him.

Hence, in a natural setting the religion of the Magisterium can be shown to be false, and their evil attempts to destroy our daemons of free will by incision can be condemned. If an alethiometer is not ready to hand, maybe an alien gizmo provided by space devils will do instead.

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