New Faiths - New World

New Faiths - New World
Faith in Science
By Carl Teichrib, Chief Editor
Volume 5, Issue 7

 

New Faiths New World
The religious environment of the 1800s and early 1900s was awash with new faiths, sects, cults, spiritual movements and esoteric groups. Without question, this time period is still impacting our 21st century society. Although the following list is far from complete, it does give a sense of the historic religious/spiritual shift.1820s: Mormonism takes root; Joseph Smith starts his church in 1830.
1825: The American Unitarian Association was founded. In 1961 it joined with the older Universalist Church to form the Unitarian Universalists.
1830s: The New Thought movement gains a foothold, spinning out groups and churches for well over a century.
1848: The birth of Modern Spiritism.
1863: Building on the 1844 proclamation of the Báb, Bahá'u'lláh declares himself the prophesied chosen One, and the Bahá'í faith was born.
1866: The Societas Rosicruciana in Anglia was formed, bridging Masonic and Rosicrucian elements in England.
1875: Theosophical Society started, and introduced Eastern philosophies to Europe and America social elites. Its influence has been monumental
1879: Christian Science, via Mary Baker Eddy, is organized as a church.
1879: Charles Taze Russell launched what is now recognized as the Jehovah's Witnesses.
1884: The Hermetic Society formed to study esoteric philosophy.
1887: The Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn was formalized under the Isis-Urania Temple in England.
1888: The Church of the Divine Science was established.
1891: The Unity School of "Christianity", an offshoot of the New Thought movement, was formed as Unity.
1895-1904: Although its beginnings are difficult to pin down, the Ordo Templi Orientis was formed as a Masonic-esoteric body. The OTO left an historically important mark on Western occultism. [See also Swedenborg,,,]
1909: Max Heindel organized the Fellowship.
1910: Sufism, a form of Islamic mysticism, was introduced to the Western World by Knayat-Khan.
1915: The Ancient Mystical Order Rosae Crucis, a Rosicrucian group, was established. Today, the headquarters for AMORC is located in San Jose, California.
1916: Blending Theosophical ideas with the Old Catholic movement, the Liberal Catholic Church was birthed.


"The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders, and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved." 2 Thessalonians 2:9-10

Faith in Science
Contrary to the many techno-geeks who flash up on the blogosphere, transhumanism isn't a new movement. True, its current embodiment owes much to Max More and his Extropy Institute, but the modern foundations lie far deeper – arising from post-Enlightenment thought, the Technological Revolution, the intellectual and theological experiences of the Gilded Age, and various worldviews that jostled for position during the twentieth century. [12]A pair of little-remembered French philosophers who had a teacher-student relationship, Henri de Saint-Simon (1760–1825) and Auguste Comte (1798–1857) are deserving of special attention. Simon, a progenitor of modern socialism, [13] and Comte, the father of "Positive Philosophy" [14] are the cofounders of contemporary sociology. Both men envisioned a science-based "new age for mankind."[15]Saint-Simon believed that the "scientists and captains of industry will replace the priests and feudal lords as the natural leaders of society." [16] Finding the idea of God defective, he saw a day when science would reshape mankind.

"It is obvious that when the new scientific system has been constructed, a reorganization of the religious, political, ethical, and educational systems will take place; and consequently a reorganization of the church." [17]

Believing Man had invented God, he was, however, open to the use of religion as a political tool. This was clear in his vision of a "New Christianity," which was to be the final and universal religion under a central morality: "All men should treat others as brothers." [18]The pillar of this new faith was a form of socialism that was to be organized and managed by scientific, artistic, and industrial directors. To the elite, scientific truths would be the new religion. To the masses, this faith would take the form of mystery. [19] Holiness would come through the works of our hands.

"New Christianity is called upon to pronounce anathema upon theology, and to condemn as unholy any doctrine trying to teach men that there is any other way of obtaining eternal life, except that of working with all their might for the improvement of the conditions of life of their fellow men." [20]

Worship would be regarded "only as a means of reminding men… of philanthropic feelings and ideas, and dogma should be conceived only as a collection of commentaries aimed at the general application of these ideas and feelings to political developments." [21]Bible study would be discouraged as this leads to metaphysical thought and the loss of positive ideas, and it would remind people of "shameful vices" that no longer exist – such as "bestiality and incest of all kinds." Bible study would also promote Bible societies, better recognized as missionary agencies, which would waste productive energies by encouraging a doctrine contrary to the needs of a scientific civilization. Furthermore, the study of Scripture "prevents the Protestants from working for a political system in which common interests will be managed by the ablest men in science, art, and industry – the best form of social system."[22]In 1803, Saint-Simon proposed that a group of twenty-one enlightened men be granted the permanent responsibility of overseeing human progress, and to achieve this task they would be given "the two great weapons of domination – prestige and wealth." [23] Scientists would yield "spiritual power," and in turn receive the esteem of humanity. [24] He also envisioned a politically-united Europe, and in 1814 circulated a "plan of organization" for a European parliament headed by a European King; "Men of business, scientists, magistrates, and administrators are the only class who should be summoned to form the House of Commons of the great parliament." [25]A New Christianity managed under scientific socialism would bring heaven on Earth,

--"The Golden Age of the human race is not behind us but before us; it lies in the perfection of the social order. Our ancestors never saw it; our children will one day arrive there; it is for us to clear the way." [26]

Auguste Comte, who trained in the École Polytechnique before working under Saint-Simon, expanded his teacher's worldview into a "Religion of Humanity." Understood through the laws of science, humanity was the "only true Great Being," and thus, humanity should "direct every aspect of our life, individual or collective." The God of traditional faith was floundering, according to enlightened intellectualism, and Comte's Positivism – knowledge grounded in science instead of theology – advanced a new paradigm: Scientific laws determine truth, and these unchanging rules govern both the natural world and the social environment. Positivism was a "regenerating doctrine," an "allembracing creed" that would lead humanity out of ignorance and into the light of science-based reason. Order and Progress would follow.Appointing himself the "High Priest of Humanity" and the "Founder of Universal Religion," Comte created a system of rituals to mark the stages of life, "from birth to 'incorporation' or 'transformation' in the Great Being." This included "positivist marriage ceremonies," and foreshadowing "group therapy," he devised "a system of group worship designed to reinforce social feelings…" [27]Individualism in this "new age for mankind" would be replaced by a scientifically derived collective. Comte boiled this down to a question: "Men are not allowed to think freely about chemistry and biology, why should they think freely about political philosophy?" [28]Commenting on Comte's worldview, Herbert E. Cushman wrote,

"Science alone must be the new foundation – a science of facts. The age of freedom of conscience will cease when indubitable science rules man in his ethics, psychology, and government as it now rules in the natural sciences." [29]

This would be a natural process culminating in a new social dynamic. First, the evolution of the mind would move from a theological framework to a positive worldview. In so doing, a change would occur in how people behaved. Society would follow this pattern, and the tide of evolutionary laws would inevitably move the collective human experience to new heights.
Demonstrating this advancement, Comte used biological analogies to illustrate social evolution well before Darwinist thinkingentered the intellectual landscape. Mankind would progress.Comte's influence was profound. His work was reviewed and considered by the likes of Hegel, John Stewart Mill, Nietzsche, Karl Marx, and Friedrich Engels (Marx derided Comte/Simon, while Engels displayed empathy – and by way of Comte found his mark with Lenin and Stalin). [30]
Durkheim, Herbert Spencer, Lester Ward, Max Weber, John Dewey, Andrew Carnegie, H.G. Wells, and B.F. Skinner were touched by his worldview. His ideas were embraced by many of Latin America's elite: Brazil national motto, "Order and Progress," was directly pulled from the French philosopher.Darwinian evolution emerged on the heels of Comte and Saint-Simon, and individuals such as Francis Galton and Karl Pearson advocated eugenics and Social Darwinism. Benjamin Kidd, a philosopher who pushed "social heredity" and the science of organizing human unity – what he called "the science of power" – described eugenics as the drive for "nothing less than the scientific breeding on a universal scale of the Nietzschean superman." [31] (Note: Fredrich Nietzsche was a German philosopher who taught the death of God and the rise of the Übermensch – the evolved superman, or Overman).Evolution provided a scientific alternative to the "myth" of Genesis; Man could now "play God." Physical and social evolutionary management was now possible, and science would become the new creed and technique of the new dogma. A better human-stock and a redesigned social fabric would be achievable; perfection could be realized through the applicationof knowledge.Although Saint-Simon and Comte are little known today, their fingerprints are nevertheless indelibly etched in civilization's fabric. The modern "Religion of Man," expressed through scientific socialism, secular humanism, and Technocracy – the belief that engineers and scientific experts should run society – owe much to this duo. Transhumanism also finds its roots in this soil, for transhumanism is far more than an endeavor to enhance individuals, but a calling to re-configure our species and thus re-cast civilization through science.Professor James H. Leuba, in his 1912 book, A Psychological Study of Religion, advocated aComte-like belief system where "man is at once human and divine." [32]

"A religion in agreement with the accepted body of scientific knowledge, and centeredabout humanity conceived as the manifestation of a Force tending to the creation of an ideal society, would occupy in the social life the place that a religion would normally hold…" [33]

Mankind would thus move "onward towards a goal already dimly discernible; a perfectly organized society…" [34] This would become a "transhuman power" and a "transhuman force."

"Humanity would play a role similar to the one given it in Comtism, but in which Humanity would be regarded as an expression of a transhuman power realizing itself in Humanity. In his direction, at any rate, points the Zeitgeist." [35] (italics in original).

Yes, the Zeitgeist – the spirit of the age – points to a transhuman future. And at the same time it directs us back to Saint Simon and Comte: The Religion of Humanity.Science of Mysticism Science and technology greatly expanded toward the last half of the 1800s and into the next century. It was an exciting era of innovation as demonstrated at the great world fairs and expositions of Paris, Brussels, and Chicago. Society from the 1880s to the 1940s witnessed a technical leap of mindbending proportions. All one has to do is consider the jump from horse-and-buggy to jet-powered flight, and from coal-oil lamps to the unleashing of the atom, all within the space of a single lifespan. In a narrower time frame, one writer, in comparing the Paris Exposition of 1900 with the 1893 Chicago World Fair, tells us; "In these seven years man had translated himself into a new universe which had no common scale of measurement with the old." [36]Other shifts were occurring. This was evident during the 1893 World's Parliament of Religions, held in conjunction with the Chicago World Fair. The Parliament boasted;

"This is the day a new fraternity is born into the world of human progress… IT IS THE BROTHERHOOD OF RELIGIONS." [37]

A type of universalism was advocated, one that would "establish upon earth a heavenly order." [38] One participant expressed it this way; "The goal before is Paradise. Eden is to rise." [39] Religion would morph toward a spiritual collective: Perfection in Unity.Philosophical societies, spiritualist groups, and new cults and religions gained adherents during this era – including Mormonism, spreading Joseph Smith's teaching that, "God himself was once as we are now, and is an exalted man." [40]
Esotericism also increased. Freemasonry and Rosicrucian orders found new traction. Theosophy, founded by H.P. Blavatsky, was birthed and made inroads in the United States, England, and India. An underground swell of national mysticism emerged in Germany, fueled in part by Theosophy, while paralleling the "God is dead" influence of Nietzsche and the ongoing sway of Comte's positivism.
The Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn came into existence, and through its occult teachings and experiential rituals it's members strived "to be more than human, to transcend physical limitations" – "to be more than human, and thus gradually raise and unite myself to my Higher and Divine Genius." [41] The esoteric "Golden Age" was coming into view, and it was wedded to a cryptic version of evolution: A step-by-step process toward Ascension.Presenting a Masonic perspective, W.L. Wilmshurst penned the following in his classic, The Meaning of Masonry.

"From grade to grade the candidate is being led from an old to an entirely new quality of life. He begins his Masonic career as the natural man; he ends it by becoming through its discipline, a regenerated perfected man. To attain this transmutation, this metamorphosis of himself, he is taught first to purify and subdue his sensual nature; then to purify and develop his mental nature; and finally, by utter surrender of his old life and losing his soul to save it, he rises from the dead a Master, a just man made perfect…"This – the evolution of man into superman – was always the purpose of the ancient Mysteries [the old religions of Babylon, etc.], and the real purpose of modern Masonry is, not the social and charitable purpose to which so much attention is paid, but the expediting of the spiritualevolution of those who aspire to perfect their own nature and transform it into a more god-like quality. And this is a definite science, a royal art…" [42]

Manly P. Hall, a noted Masonic and esoteric philosopher, equated this perfection to the occult Christ-state: An office or position representing the highest expression of spiritual evolution and human aspiration. [43] Degree-by-degree, Hall taught that humanity as a species-system is advancing "age after age." The goal is the awakening of the "dormant germ-like potentialities of Divinity residing within all human nature… divine perfection through aspiration." [44]J.D. Buck drove this point home; notice the all-or-nothing approach:

"It is far more important that men should strive to become Christs than that they should believe that Jesus was Christ. If the Christ-state can be attained by but one human being during the whole evolution of the race, then the evolution of man is a farce and human perfection an impossibility… Jesus is no less Divine because all men may reach the same Divine perfection." [45]

Buck viewed the symbolism and working of Freemasonry as the "Divine Science." Like Hall, the questfor perfectibility and ascendency moves the entire human race: "Humanity in toto, then, is the only Personal God; and Christos is the realization, or perfection of this Divine Persona, in Individual conscious experience" [46] (italics in original).This "human divinity" is individually appropriated yet completed in the collective, thus all parts of life eventually need to be subsumed, including science. Henry C. Clausen, while Sovereign Grand Commander – the highest officer of the Supreme Council of the Scottish Rite of Freemasonry – welcomed the role of natural science in the "Emergence of the Mystical."

"Science and religion will be welded into a unified exponent of an overriding spiritual power… The theme in essence is that the revelations of Eastern mysticism and the discoveries of modern science support the Masonic and Scottish Rite beliefs and teachings." [47]"Science and philosophy, especially when linked through mysticism, have yet to conquer ignorance and superstition. Victory, however, appears on the horizon. Laboratory and library, science and philosophy… outstanding technicians and theologians are now uniting as advocates of man's unique quality, his immortal soul and ever expanding soul." [48]

All of this represents what Theosophy views as the "evolution of the world soul," a process whereby spiritual and material progression are part of the larger drama of incorporation into the "Universal Over-Soul." Theosophy, the chief predecessor of today's New Age movement, considers itself the "Science of Religion," integrating Eastern beliefs with Occidental mysticism and interpreting sciencethrough an occult lens – including evolution and quantum physics. It teaches that all spiritual traditions hold elements of cosmic truth, and that all faiths will soon amalgamate into a new world religion.Humanity, therefore, must evolve and assimilate in order to manifest the "World Soul." In the 1892 edition of Lucifer, a Theosophical magazine of occult exploration, this translation process was described as passing from "the lower kingdoms of nature, up to the divine trans-human realisation atthe close." [49]Interestingly, the Lucifer title was chosen not just to "scare the goody-goody, with its popular connotation of brimstone and lurid flames of hell," but more importantly because,

"He [Lucifer] offers a philosophy of hoary antiquity… based on the researches of Sages and Seers, trained to the highest point of evolution yet touched by man… He offers a science which treads avenues of research unknown to the Western World [marked by traditional Christianity], and explores realms of the universe which the West either denies or marks as unsearchable by man. He offers a religion which outrages neither the intellect nor the conscience, one which satisfies the longings of the heart while justifying itself at the bar of reason… he thus comes with his hands full of gifts of priceless value…" [50]

In Theosophy, this Luciferian-inspired evolution occurs through seven "root races," and AscendedMasters – individuals who have already transfigured to a higher plane – assist in Mankind's perfection. Theosophists tell us we are moving into the sixth level of existence, with the final act soon to take center ring. Robert Ellwood explains,

"This is how I see the coming sixth root race… an amalgamation of all those relatively enlightened individual humans into what is really a transhuman stage, the neuro-technological linkage of all minds into a grand array of consciousness. That united supermind will be the seventh rootrace, the last which will have need at all for this physical world and which we hope will live on a spiritual level appropriate to its tremendous leap into cosmic consciousness." [51]

Faith in Lucifer, Faith in ManThe modern transhuman movement has largely been secular/atheistic in its outlook. [52] Rather than the Biblical Holy God who created mankind and extends mercy and judgment – concepts laughed at by many transhuman advocates – science becomes the light that guides humanity.
Ironically, while the future is being explored within the hard-wired environment of laboratories and technical institutions, the foundation of transhumanism rests on an ancient religious desire: Apotheosis, Man becoming "as God." Therefore, transhumanism is the technical quest for the Holy Grail, ascension through engineering. It is techno-Alchemy, or "Future Magic" as suggested by past director of the World Transhumanist Association, Giulio Prisco, who optimistically dreams of unlimited potential."Spacetime engineering and future magic will permit achieving, by scientific means, most of the promises of religions – and many amazing things that no human religion ever dreamed. Eventually we will be able to resurrect the dead by 'copying them to the future'." [53]

Carl Teichrib is editor of Forcing Change, a monthly online publication detailing the changes and challenges impacting the Western world. /p>
FC is a monthly, online publication dedicated to documenting and analyzing the socio-religious transformations now sweeping our Western world.Forcing Change is a membership subscription service, with an annual fee of $54.95 US. Membership in Forcing Change allows access to the full range of FC publications, including special reports, audio and media presentations, FC back issues, expert documents, and more. FC receives neither government funding nor the financial backing of any other institutions; rather, FC operates solely on subscription/membership support. To learn more about Forcing Change, including member benefits, go to www.forcingchange.org.

Note from Berit: May I suggest you subscribe to this great online magazine. This vital information will help us prepare for the challenges we will be facing in the years ahead.


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Endnotes:
12. James J. Hughes essay, The Politics of Transhumanism, recognizes the influence of Enlightenment and post-Enlightenment influence within the movement.13. Dante Germino, Machiavelli to Marx: Modern Western Political Thought (Chicago, IL: University of ChicagoPress, 1972), 273.14. "Auguste Comte," Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, accessed on April 27, 2011,http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/comte.15. Dante Germino, Machiavelli to Marx (Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 1972), 273.16. Felix Markham, introduction to Henri de Saint-Simon's collection, Social Organization, The Science of Man,and Other Writings (New York, NY: Harper, 1952), p.xxi.17. Henri de Saint-Simon, "Essay on the Science of Man," Social Organization, The Science of Man and Other Writings(New York, NY: Harper, 1952), 21.18. Henri de Saint-Simon, "New Christianity," Social Organization, The Science of Man and Other Writings (NewYork, NY: Harper, 1952), 85.19. Felix Markham, introduction to Henri de Saint-Simon's collection, Social Organization, The Science of Man,and Other Writings (New York, NY: Harper, 1952), xxiii.20. Henri de Saint-Simon, "New Christianity," Social Organization, The Science of Man and Other Writings (NewYork, NY: Harper, 1952), 105.21. Ibid., 106.22. Ibid., 107.23. Henri de Saint-Simon, "Letters from an Inhabitant of Geneva," Social Organization, The Science of Man andOther Writings (New York, NY: Harper, 1952), 9.24. Ibid., 11.25. Henri de Saint-Simon, "The Organization of the European Community," Social Organization, The Science ofMan and Other Writings (New York, NY: Harper, 1952), 47.26. Ibid., 6827. Dante Germino, Machiavelli to Marx (Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 1972), 289–296.28. W.H.G. Armytage, The Rise of the Technocrats: A Social History (London, England: Routledge and Kegan Paul,1965), 298.29. Herbert Ernest Cushman, A Beginner's History of Philosophy, Volume 2 (Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin Company,1920), 384.30. Edited by Robert C. Scharff and Val Dusek, Philosophy of Technology: The Technological Condition (Malden,MA: Blackwell Publishing, 2003), 6.31. Benjamin Kidd, The Science of Power (London, England: Methuen and Company, 1918), 78.32. James H. Leuba, A Psychological Study of Religion: It's Origin, Function, and Future (New York, NY: TheMacmillan Company, 1912), 330.33. Ibid., 336.34. Ibid., 330.35. Ibid., 328.36. David Lindsay, Madness in the Making: The Triumphant Rise and Untimely Fall of America's Show Inventors(New York, NY: Kodansha International, 1997), 269.37. Charles Carroll Bonney, "Words of Welcome," The Dawn of Religious Pluralism: Voices from the World's Parliamentof Religions, 1893 (La Salle, IL: Open Court Publishing/Council for a Parliament of the World's Religions,1993, edited by Richard Hughes Seager), 21–22.38. Merwin-Marie Snell, "Future of Religion," The Dawn of Religious Pluralism: Voices from the World's Parliamentof Religions, 1893 (La Salle, IL: Open Court Publishing/Council for a Parliament of the World's Religions,1993, edited by Richard Hughes Seager), 174.39. Emil Gustav Hirsch, "Elements of Universal Religion," The Dawn of Religious Pluralism: Voices from theWorld's Parliament of Religions, 1893 (La Salle, IL: Open Court Publishing/Council for a Parliament of the World'sReligions, 1993, edited by Richard Hughes Seager), 224.40. As quoted in Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine (Salt Lake City, UT: Bookcraft, 1989), 321.41. Israel Regardie, The Original Account of the Teachings, Rites and Ceremonies of the Hermetic Order of theGolden Dawn (St. Paul, MN: Llewellyn, 2003), 10, 135.42. W.L. Wilmshurst, The Meaning of Masonry (New York, NY: Gramercy Books, 1922/1980), 47.43. See Manly P. Hall, The Mystical Christ (Los Angeles, CA: The Philosophical Research Society, 1951) and Lectureson Ancient Philosophy (Los Angeles, CA: The Philosophical Research Society, 1984). A very important littlevolume by Hall is: The Lost Keys of Freemasonry (New York NY: Macoy Publishing and Masonic Supply Company,1923/1954).44. Manly P. Hall, Lectures on Ancient Philosophy (Los Angeles, CA: The Philosophical Research Society, 1984),16945. J.D. Buck, Mystic Masonry and the Greater Mysteries of Antiquity (Chicago, IL: Regan Publishing Company,1925), 62.46. J.D. Buck, Mystic Masonry, 61.47. Henry C. Clausen, Emergence of the Mystical (Washington, D.C: Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite of Freemasonry,1981), xi.48. Henry C. Clausen, Emergence of the Mystical, 92.49. "Consciousness," Lucifer, (London, England: The Theosophical Publishing Society), Volume 9, September1891-February 1892, 125.50. Ibid., "Our Ninth Volume," 2–4.51. Robert Ellwood, "The Next Stage in Human Spiritual Evolution, Part Two," Quest Magazine, online edition(Theosophical Society in America), http://www.theosophia.org/publications/quest-magazine/1498.52. Surveys were conducted regarding transhuman values and orientations in 2004–2006, and reported in James J.Hughes' essay, The Compatibility of Religious and Transhumanist Views of Metaphysics, Suffering, Virtue and Transcendencein an Enhanced Future (Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies, 2007). According to one survey,63 percent of transhumanism supporters consider themselves Secular/Atheist, with 30 percent of that number claimingAtheism, 16 percent Agnostics, 9 percent Secular Humanists, and 7 percent "Other." In the same survey, 24 percentconsidered themselves Religious/Spiritual, with 6 percent of that number being Spiritual, 4 percent Protestant, 2percent Buddhist, 2 percent Religious Humanist, 2 percent Pagan, 2 percent Catholic, 2 percent Unitarian-Universalist, and 2 percent "Other religion." Hinduism, Judaism, and Islam each accounted for 1 percent. Another14 percent responded with "Other" or "Don't Know," as compared to Secular/Atheist or Religious/Spiritual. SeeTable 1.2 in Mr. Hughes' essay.53. Giulio Prisco suggested "Future Magic" in a "mini-manifesto" posted to an online group called the "Order ofCosmic Engineers." Pisco's mini-manifesto has been reprinted in Ben Goertzel's book, A Cosmist Manifesto: PracticalPhilosophy for the Posthuman Age (Humanity+ Press, 2010), 10–11.Faith in Science p.6

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