Wesley – re your blog today, “Good Grief: Now It’s Pea Personhood”

[http://www.firstthings.com/blogs/secondhandsmoke/2012/05/01/good-grief-now-its-pea-personhood/] — a real reductio ad absurdum:-)


What is really behind “movements” like this is gnosticism, especially ancient gnosticism (based on ancient mythology).  Various forms of gnosticism have been around since 5000 BC, and reappear in cycles throughout history (especially when traditional institutions are beginning to fail and collapse).  It parallels the History of Philosophy courses that I taught for 15 years, so I need to explain these gnostic myths to the students in my classes (shock!  They already knew the “myth” stories, but didn’t know to call it “gnosticism” or its ancient roots).


 It is the same source of dictums as today’s futurism, transhumanism, etc. – not new!  They all share a pantheism and are poly-theistic.  (For Pythagoras, for example, the whole cosmos is just one whole living breathing organism.)  Everything in the cosmos “emanates” from the original All or One (depending on the myth) — and all these “pieces” are simply parts of the ultimate One or All and thus “divine” (even peas!);  they are also all physically joined (hence, the pantheism).  So individual things in the universe are not really “individuals”, but rather just “pieces” of the original ultimate One.  Lots of problems with gnosticism, very anti-Christian and anti-Catholic, and has been blooming all over the place over the last few decades.  I noticed it all over the several universities where I taught, in the elevators, on cork boards, meetings announced over the intercom, etc.  It is, in fact, what is behind all this unethical genetic engineering, synthetic biology, futurism, transhumanism, etc., that we see today.  The Encyclopedia of Philosophy has a good article on “Gnosticism” that I used in one of my early articles (first one listed): 


—  “GNOSTICISM, the Heretical Gnostic Writings, and ‘Judas'” (April 9, 2006), at:



—  “Historic roots of human genetic engineering: REASON, Duke, and parahuman reproduction – 1972” (July 11, 2004), at:  http://www.lifeissues.net/writers/irvi/irvi_34winstonduke.html


—  “’Gnostic Soup’”:  Pagan fertility gods, IVF, Hollywood, cloning/genetic engineering,  bioethics, transhumanism, libertarians, drugs, eugenics, etc.” (Nov. 7, 2005), at:



What is interesting to me is what you said about Switzerland.  We’ve been going there for about 9 years now, mostly in the Alps for hiking.  But I have been aware of certain very gnostic sects in Switzerland, especially in the low/lake areas near Montreux and Lausanne – rarely heard from usually.  In fact, there is a large temple up in the mountains above Montreux that houses a sect called the White Templars.  They also have a temple somewhere in Canada, and you might remember several years ago that dozens of these people committed suicide in Canada because they thought the end of the world was coming.  Why the Swiss, who are so business-like and mostly very Christian and religious have tolerated these gnostics is beyond me, and it is very startling to see the reference to the Swiss committee report that you noted — although the Green Party is rather influential there!  I’ll have to talk to some of our friends about this over there this summer.

In short, all this “nature worship” and “Earth worship” stems from the ancient gnostic myths noted above.  “Peas” are “persons” because they are parts of the ultimate Person or god and therefore “divine”.  It is all over the place, but people just refuse to understand their presence, their appeal, and their power, around the world.  Most Eastern religions are also grounded in gnosticism, so there is a huge part of the world that would be sympathetic to these gnostic nature worshipers.

Whatever, 🙂  Great article!


[Dr. Dianne Irving’s professional activities include teaching positions at Georgetown University, Catholic University of America, and The Dominican House of Studies. She represented the Catholic Medical Association of the United States, and the International Federation of Catholic Medical Associations, at the Scientific Conference in Mexico City, Mexico, October 28, 1999 and presented a paper on “The Dignity and Status of the Human Embryo”. Dr. Irving is a former career-appointed bench research biochemist/biologist (NIH, NCI, Bethesda, MD), an M.A. and Ph.D. philosopher (Georgetown University, Washington, D.C.), and Professor of the History of Philosophy, and of Medical Ethics.]

About abyssum

I am a retired Roman Catholic Bishop, Bishop Emeritus of Corpus Christi, Texas
This entry was posted in GNOSTICISM. Bookmark the permalink.


  1. Curt Stoller says:

    Dr. Irving’s piece on the derivation of these “earth movements” is perfect. There is hardly anything that is ever really “new” to anyone who has studied philosophy, but few non-philosophers know why this is. One answer is that most profound questions resolve themselves into only a few possible alternatives, at least at the philosophical level. For example, if one asks what is the ultimate principle of everything . . . one could generate thousands and thousands of answers. But if you looked at all these thousands of answers you would find patterns in them and you would find that they all boil down to one, two or three basic answers: everything can be explained in terms of ONE principle, TWO principles or MORE THAN TWO principles: monism, dualism, pluralism. That is why philosophers like Dr. Irving do not have to sit in suspense at the edge of their seats waiting for the next “new” thing that comes along. New things will come along. Surprising things. Shocking things. But none will be completely new to a philosopher.

    The same situation that exists in ontology exists is epistemology. Various philosophical positions rest along a continuum: humans can know 1] EVERYTHING or 2] NOTHING or3] SOME THINGS that fall between these extremes. Similarly for anthropology: The extreme positions call man: 1] God, 2]Brute Animal or 3]something in between these. So you are left with just THREE basic positions. There can be variations: Man is not a god but an angel, a spirit. Man as an animal is the product of random cosmic events or selfish genes and so on and therefore is basically nothing. And there are usually many middle positions.

    What Dr. Irving has shown in tracing the earth movements back to monism and pantheism is what I often do in my posts: show the historical origin of something. What I would like to do now, though, is something different. Since the earth movement is fond of reducing man to the same level as every other life form, I would like to attempt a refutation of this based on the work of the Polish Thomist philosopher J.M. Bochenski:

    “Man is an animal, [but] he is a peculiar, quite unique animal. . . He is a remarkable animal. Much is peculiar to him which we find only faint traces of, if at all, in the other animals. What is most striking about this is that man, from the biological point of view, has absolutely no right to impose himself on the entire animal world, to dominate it and, to profit from it the way he does. He is an animal that has turned out badly. Bad eyes, almost no sense of smell worth mentioning, inferior hearing . . . he lacks natural weapons, like claws, almost completely. His strength is minimal. He can neither run nor swim fast. Besides this, he is naked and dies much more easily from cold, heat, and similar things than most animals. Biologically seen, he has no right to existence. He should have perished long ago, like so many other inferior animals. And yet things have turned out quite differently. Man is the master of nature. He has simply exterpated a long series of the most dangerous animals; other types he has imprisoned and made into house pets. He has changed the countenance of the planet; it suffices merely to look at the earth’s surface from an airplane or from the top of a mountain to see how much he changes everything. And now he is beginning with the outer world, the world beyond the earth. . . Now how is something like this possible? By reason.

    Man, although he is so weak, owns a terrible weapon, his intelligence. He is incomparably more intelligent than any other animal, even the highest. . . He seems to have not only more intelligence than the other animals, but also intelligence of another kind. This becomes apparent in the fact that he, and he alone, reveals a series of very special characteristics. The most striking of these are the following five: technology, tradition [language], progress, the capacity to think differently from other animals, and finally, contemplation.” Philosophy, 73-74.

    Professor Bochenski then goes on to elaborate on the five special distinguishing marks of humanity. As a type of introductory essay, his article is not going to elucidate the most difficult questions of medical ethics, although his principles provide a foundation for answers to those questions. But even in such an introductory essay, Dr. Bochenski has shown very clearly how man is not a pea and a pea is not a human being.

    As an aside . . . rest in peace Dr. Bochenski. The world misses your clear thinking.

Comments are closed.