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(5) The satan as Mimetic Desire Corrupted
Well, by gosh and by golly, I have been called a Gnostic. Those familiar with my work know that for me Gnosticism is the worst possible relationship we can have to faith. In response to yesterday’s post one poster said “I’m starting to think this belief system is in opposition with the physical sciences, which is a telltale sign of gnostic thought. It seems to exalt social thought and relationship with no explanation to reconcile the governing physical realities.”
Let’s unpack this before we go further. I have been saying that the satanic is not a creation of good by God turned evil. I am saying that the satanic is human in its origination. There, my cards are on the table. Now I must explain what I mean by this and it will take many posts to do so.
In reply to the poster above I would suggest that imitation of desire is first of all non-conscious; it is not something we learn to do, we are hard wired to imitate. The discovery of mirror neural networks by Rizzolatti (and his colleagues) in our brains in 1996 (known as mirror neurons) has validated this insight on the level of physicality. The research of Andrew Metzloff on imitation of infants just minutes out of the womb is a social scientific proof of this as well. Readers may turn to Science and Mimesis edited by Scott Garrells for essays on this topic.
What bothers this poster is that I cannot seem to
“Reconcile the physical sciences and the obvious display of hierarchical laws as a physical representation of spiritual truth. Whether thrones or dominions they were made through Him. Everything is currently physically deteriorating- 2nd law of thermodynamics. This is not God’s original design in the creation. How do you suppose the physical laws of science were changed, so that the entire created universe began to decay- not just a social degradation, but a physical one.”
Again I can only write so much in posts. My reply is that if there is anything we know about creation it is that it has been unchanging since the ‘Big Bang.’ Physical deterioration has been built into the universe, there was no such thing as some kind of Edenic ‘perfect Platonic’ universe. The poster reads the cosmology of the Genesis text through the Platonic lens of perfect creation – fall – restoration. I have already pointed out that there are two creation narratives. The first is really not protological as much as it is eschatological; everything God made is good and will turn out, in the end to be very good. But it is not perfect. Had it been the writer of the first narrative would not have said ‘tov, tov’ after God finished the creation but ‘tov, tov, tov’ (Hebrew has no comparatives or superlatives so if one wants to say ‘good’ one says ‘tov, ‘better’ = ‘tov, tov’ and ‘best = ‘tov, tov, tov.’).
While this creation is ‘very good’ it is not yet the ‘best’ (or perfect). That time is still to come, and has already come in the resurrection of Jesus!
The satanic element is introduced into the story of creation only when the human turns away from ‘imitating God’ in whose image and likeness they were made to imitating each other, a process begun internally by the female and externally by the male. The serpent in the text is a metonym for desire. In fact the Genesis 2-11 text is all about the phenomenon on mimetic contagion issuing in violence. An anthropological reading of this text still yields great insights into the human condition. This is why I have said time and again we must first change the way we think about ourselves before we can change the way we view God. Another way of putting this is we must first learn to read the Bible anthropocentrically (from below) before we read it theologically (from above). As long as we treat the Bible as first a text about God, we will not be able to see just how we make God in our own broken image. Only after we see this can we begin to see just how and where in the Bible (and especially in Jesus) God is remaking us in God’s own Jesus focused image. (If you are new to these posts you may wish to listen to this podcast: