Usually, the mad scientist is depicted as a wild-eyed character in his laboratory mixing various bubbling and smoking flasks of chemicals or hurling electric bolts across the room. But today we must not simply consider the mad scientists as being comic or fictional characters. They are very real and continually and secretly researching ever more destructive physical, biological and psychological weapons against humanity. They are psychopaths in the service of other psychopaths dominating politics and money.
What makes scientists “mad”? The madness of scientists is the toxic mental and spiritual effects of scientism and nihilism.
Scientism is an ideology advancing the dogmatic assertion that material science is the only sure way to get knowledge. Other access to knowledge such as religion, philosophy and moral teaching is regarded as mere opinion. Scientism is the impoverishment of thought and moral reasoning. It deprives the human being of answers to the fundamental questions about life since the empirical methods of science have no way of dealing with them. So they are simply ignored. This is a feature of modern times.
Today the maddest of scientists are not like those portrayed in fiction. Among others they comprise biologists modifying DNA, psychologists developing social messaging to control public opinion, and computer scientists devising new programs to track people. The majority of these are atheists.
But today the maddest of scientists are not like those portrayed in fiction. Among others they comprise biologists modifying DNA, psychologists developing social messaging to control public opinion, and computer scientists devising new programs to track people. The majority of these are atheists.
The empirical science of which we speak is the study of causes to gain knowledge about the physical world. Coupled with mathematics it gives us enormous predictive power to understand nature, to use nature and to manipulate it and bend it to our will. It can it be used for good purposes – for example, to cure diseases and save lives. We benefit from much of today’s science. But it can also be used for evil purposes – for example, to destroy cities or manipulate people.
Mad science followed modernity. It did not exist in Medieval times. The Modern Age began around the 15th or 16th Centuries. There is no specific date we can point to. But we can see characteristics which grew at about that time. One of the first “modern” writers at the time was Niccolo Machiavelli, whose work The Prince was a wholesale repudiation of classical politics. Ancient and Medieval writers had stressed ethics and morality for government action. But for Machiavelli the purpose of politics was the acquisition and maintenance of power. The Prince was a practical how-to book for that purpose and morality had no place in politics. It was a work which was roundly condemned but frequently followed. The new “modern” way brought about in the coming age differed from Medieval society in that people gradually lost the sense of the transcendent dimension of human life. We can trace the stages in which modernity evolved and flourished as in the Renaissance, Protestant revolt, French Revolution, the Enlightenment and Industrial Age, now culminating in a digital Information Age.
In modernity we can find the essence of nihilism. What is nihilism? In one aspect it is an attack on the mind. In another aspect it is an attack on the spirit.
In modernity we can find the essence of nihilism. What is nihilism? In one aspect it is an attack on the mind. In another aspect it is an attack on the spirit.
“Nihil” means “nothing”. Among the ancient Greeks the radical skeptic Gorgias tells us that: Nothing exists. If it did exist we couldn’t know it. If we could know it we couldn’t communicate it.
Nihilism is the embrace of nothingness. It is essentially a war on being. Its spiritual beginning goes back to the dawn of time and the rebellion of Satan and his angels against the will of God. Since then, although Satan could not create or uncreate anything, he has been trying to attack God’s creation to deny Him the worship of his beloved creatures.
Nihilists of the most radical type deny being. This may seem to be preposterous. No one can deny that we see and experience the particular things of this world – dogs, cats, trees, flowers, rocks, other people, etc. But that is not what the nihilist is denying. Let us take, for example, the ancient Greek philosopher Heraclitus who is alleged to have said that you can’t step twice into the same river. That is because the river has changed. It is no longer the same river. Everything we see changes. Reality itself, according to the nihilist, is change: progression through time. Nothing simply is. There is no stable, objective being. There is only becoming. Concepts and names don’t change and hence do not refer to a reality. They are mental constructs which the nominalists say we use for convenience.
We communicate with words, and words are signs representing concepts which must refer to something objectively real or we could not communicate with others. Indeed, it is not possible to speak of change unless there is something unchanging by which it can be measured. Yet we see today an attack on stable definitions of things.
If one limits his view of reality to only material things, then, of course, one only sees becoming, not being. But this leads to absurdities. We communicate with words, and words are signs representing concepts which must refer to something objectively real or we could not communicate with others. Indeed, it is not possible to speak of change unless there is something unchanging by which it can be measured. Yet we see today an attack on stable definitions of things. In George Orwell’s dystopian novel Nineteen Eighty Four the people were made to use dictionaries which were periodically issued to replace words no longer allowed to be used. We don’t have an official dictionary but some things can no longer be said in public without incurring public opprobrium.
This situation has not developed overnight. It is the gradual evolution of ruinous philosophical errors starting some centuries ago. We had been given a sound perennial philosophy from the Greeks to the Medieval period of the West. The high point in Scholastic philosophy was reached with the writings of St. Thomas Aquinas, which borrowed much from Aristotle. It would be helpful to review some of what was taught in ontology about being.
There are ten categories of being: “substantial being”, and nine categories of “accidental being”. Substantial being is what a thing is, its definition. It is not material, but rather apprehended only by our mind. Accidental being are those attributes which we apprehend through our senses and do not exist on their own, but rather are features of a substantial being. “Green tree” is a being. “Green” is a color and an accidental quality of the substantial being of the tree. The substantial being of the tree, its ‘treeness’, is nothing we can see or touch. But we apprehend it. Treeness doesn’t change. We always know what treeness is. Just as we always know what the river of Heraclitus is regardless of how it changes.
The unborn child can be defined away by the state as humanness is what the state says it is. And if this is true for an unborn child the only thing keeping the state from viewing any other human being in the same way is politics.
If a stable substantial being is denied then only particular material things are regarded as existing. We would live in a world of becoming not being. Then who determines what things are? There can be no regard for the transcendent. There is no recognition of an objective truth. Empirical science is reduced to reductionism. So, what is a human being? To the modern biologist the human being is just a collection of organic organs – the accidental qualities. The unborn child can be defined away by the state as humanness is what the state says it is. And if this is true for an unborn child the only thing keeping the state from viewing any other human being in the same way is politics.
In addition to this attack on the mind’s reasoning ability nihilism also attacks the spirit. Nietzsche defined nihilism as “there is no truth” and “there is no answer to the question: Why?” There are no meaningful pursuits. Life has no meaning. People are left with a restless search for something they once had but later abandoned.
The nihilist spirit is often manifested in a will to destroy. It is anti-creation – not only of God’s creation, but also of human creations since it is all meaningless anyway. Nihilism isn’t so much atheist as it is anti-theist. The nihilist is at war with God. Like Satan of Milton’s Paradise Lost, the nihilist would rather rule in hell than serve God in heaven.
In his book on nihilism Eugene (Fr. Seraphim) Rose wrote:
No place is secure from the encroaching empire of Nihilism; everywhere men feverishly pursue the work of “progress” for what reason they do not know, or only dimly sense. In the free world it is perhaps a horror vacui that chiefly impels men into a feverish activity that promises forgetfulness of the spiritual emptiness that attends all worldliness;
Who can fail to recognize nihilism in the current trends of birth control, abortion, avoidance of normal marriage, that those who do marry would rather have pets than children, transgenderism, same-sex marriage with adoption of children, the attempted normalization of “queer” lifestyle by exposing underage children to drag queens and other perverse activity. More young people today suffer from anxiety about the future and depression for what they believe is a pointless existence. The list can go on and is ever increasing. And who can fail to realize the presence of Satanic evil rampant in the world. In modern society politics trump truth and morality.
The Incarnation is no longer regarded as the turning point of human history. What develops in modernity are secularism, Gnosticism, revolution, and ultimately totalitarianism and violence.
There is a nihilist essence to modernity, an idea which links the aforementioned historical events like a thread. As noted by Italian philosopher Augusto Del Noce, it is a repudiation of the time before it and exclusion of supernatural religious transcendence. The Incarnation is no longer regarded as the turning point of human history. What develops in modernity are secularism, Gnosticism, revolution, and ultimately totalitarianism and violence.
Secularism is a political vehicle for transmitting Gnosticism throughout society. The Gnosticism we experience today is not the same as the pagan Gnosticism encountered by the early Christians. That Gnosticism denied creation ex nihilo by a personal God and presented itself as an alternative theory: salvation through esoteric knowledge. It is an atheism offering only negation. But a society cannot be founded on pure atheist denial of God. There must be found a substitute for supernatural transcendence. The Gnosticism of the modern age is post-Christian and dependent upon Christianity. Its hallmark is the radical immanence of a non-supernatural worldly transcendence. In other words, a redemption in history for building a utopian paradise on earth. The philosopher Eric Voegelin called this “immanentizing the eschaton”. It is redemption by means of political action. We see this as progressivism. Secularism codifies the repudiation of the supernatural in public affairs which is a de facto non-theism.
Some things follow from this. First of all, Gnosticism is a pseudo religion. Christians are in a religious war with the minions of modernity presently polluting society in a paranoid mind set which we call “wokeism”. It is a self expressive individualism adopted by “woke” persons as a dogma. Note that one cannot argue with them. There is no basis for any dialogue with those who from the start deny the premises for rational discussion. They will not accept any contrary opinions. Rational criticism simply bounces off of their impervious belief system. They will use the government and media to shut down any public discourse which presents facts or opinions not in accord with their ever changing current ideology. They do this to assert the power of man to create and redeem himself. Redemption from what? From the assault, emptiness and hopelessness which results from abandoning God.
Revolution is needed to tear down the old social structures and values. Ethics, morality and truth stand in the way of revolutionary progress and threatens their power. And so, the Revolution must be total. To accomplish this the Revolution must ultimately make use of violence.
Secondly, revolution is needed to tear down the old social structures and values. Ethics, morality and truth stand in the way of revolutionary progress and threatens their power. And so, the Revolution must be total. Nothing outside the accepted belief system with its changing dogmas can be tolerated. To accomplish this the Revolution must ultimately make use of violence. With Gnostic society having abandoned ethics there is no justice one can appeal to for redress. The violent attacks on the social structures become normalized and even ennobled by the Gnostic spirit.
Natural law still stands as a barrier to the designs of the revolutionaries and is seen as a threat. So, the goal now is an end to marriage and family as these are founded on loyalties outside that of the state. The attack on marriage and family has been going on for many decades reaching a crescendo in our times. Starting with easy divorce, contraception, the ultimate violence of abortion, and now every imaginable perversion, there is no way to rationally oppose these assaults once traditional ethics and morality have been abandoned. The sociological results are evident everywhere in the West. People are increasingly avoiding marriage and children. Countries are depopulating.
The Gnostic revolution is built on empty promises. It demands sacrifices today for a fraudulent future earthly happiness. And because those who believe in God, by maintaining their traditions, stand apart from the cultural sewer of the leftist and “woke” population, they will be subjected to the martyrdom of exclusion. They will be exiled within their own country and denied the rights of their citizenship. But those who have accepted the idiocies of the leftist paradigm are psychologically worse off. The Gnostic dream eventually crumbles and outside of supernatural religious transcendence there is nothing to replace it. Amid the signs of pathological enthusiasm and entertainments there is a profound depression.
Society can go through a Vitalist stage which emerges as a religious impulse. But truth is abandoned as a criterion for human action. The standard that takes its place is that which is “life giving” or “vital”. The unchanging doctrine of a stable institution is rejected in favor of experience, feelings, subconsciousness and psychic manifestations. What is judged as “out of date”, static or “rigid” is a basis for rejection of traditional values. According to Pope Pius X the Modernist vital immanence is regarded as the germ of all religion, including Catholicism. Hence, all religions are true. But Vitalism ultimately produces a world weariness and subsequent rage at the world as people suffer from a spiritual famine.
In the nihilism of modern secularism we achieve the spiritual affect desired by Marxism but not achieved – the deadening of the public regard for the supernatural transcendent aspect of human life. Officially, there is no recognition of our duty to worship God.
In what ideologies do modern people seek salvation? They seek an in-this-world ideology avoiding anything transcendent. But the accepted ideology should be emotionally rewarding. Humanism fits the bill. It is emotionally satisfying to feel that we are somehow saving the world. Of course, charity is a supernatural virtue which gets us into heaven. But secularist humanism without God in an attempt to create a future utopia or classless society lacks an understanding of the nature of man as a “fallen creature.” We are imperfect beings and will always be imperfect beings. There are poor people in this world and there will always be poor people. We can extend charity to people but we cannot eliminate poverty or sickness.
In the nihilism of modern secularism we achieve the spiritual affect desired by Marxism but not achieved – the deadening of the public regard for the supernatural transcendent aspect of human life. Officially, there is no recognition of our duty to worship God. Marxist economics as initially conceived was an utter failure. It promised a future utopia and classless society to arise from socialism, which only drove people into poverty and despair. Its essence, as Lenin observed, is pure atheism. In the nihilism of modern secularism we have to a great extent achieved what Marxism didn’t in what we can call the Affluent Society. Material benefits are in abundance. As in a socialist economy there is no official public recognition of God. Rather, there is the conscious exclusion from public affairs of acknowledgment of our dependence on God, and religion is driven into the sphere of private practice. We are constantly distracted from thought of the supernatural by entertainment, consumerism, and noise. Scientism with its technology has been astonishingly successful in providing material comforts never before seen by the world.
To return to the topic of scientism, scientism has two corollaries: (1) if we can gain more information we must gain it, no matter what use we will make of it, and (2) if we can do something we must do it, no matter what harm we may cause. Scientific research, as long as it is not directed to ideologically taboo subjects, is heavily funded and is a powerful political tool. These corollaries develop from the Gnostic program of self redemption in history. They are necessary to sustain the idol of progress towards a presumably inevitable utopian future. Scientism is an outgrowth from the Renaissance and Enlightenment. One need only point to the writing of Sir Francis Bacon, for example in his New Atlantis in which he writes glowingly of future technological advancements which we now see in recent history – a veritable utopia with ever advancing progress.
There is still the Catholic Church, which is the presence of Jesus Christ in the world and up to now has prevented the total collapse of society into an abyss of self destruction. Unfortunately, Gnosticism and nihilism to some degree have penetrated the Church to the highest ecclesiastical levels through Modernism.
There is still the Catholic Church, which is the presence of Jesus Christ in the world and up to now has prevented the total collapse of society into an abyss of self destruction. Unfortunately, Gnosticism and nihilism to some degree have penetrated the Church to the highest ecclesiastical levels through Modernism. Pope Pius X warned about and condemned Modernism in his encyclical On the Doctrines of the Modernists (Pascendi Dominici Gregis) . As early as the latter part of the 19th Century and the beginning of the 20th Century, he foresaw the creeping attack on doctrine. The Modernist program was to dissolve the stability of doctrines by filtering them through the prism of “vital Immanence” and the “religious sense”. Dogmas, said the Modernists, are symbols and subject to evolutionary development. Since religion comes not from supernatural revelation by God but from out of human experience through Vitalism, all religions are to be embraced in ecumenism. Which is to say no religion is the true one because nihilism denies truth.
The Second Vatican Counsel, ostensibly for the purpose of opening the Church to the modern world, officially welcomed the toxic spirit of the modern world into the Church. The document Gaudium et Spes (The Church in the Modern World) speaks of “men who are truly new and artisans of a new humanity. (paragraph 30). And at paragraph 55 we read:
Thus, we are witnesses of the birth of a new humanism, one in which man is defined first of all by this responsibility to his brothers and to history.
One wonders whether anyone with a Catholic mind actually read Gaudium et Spes before it was promulgated as an official document of the Church. New humanity? What was wrong with the old humanity? A new humanism? Responsibility to history? Actually, not history, which relates to things of the past, but to an undefined progressivist agenda. Towards what? A Gnostic future utopia? A Teilhardian “omega point” where by evolution matter and spirit become each other? This is not the only document wherein one can find a Hegelian spirit. The “Spirit of Vatican II”, touted by the progressivists within the Church, is raised to cancel the previous 19 centuries of Church existence.
Pope Francis also said that there is a need to create a different Church. Indeed, he doesn’t claim the authority of Jesus Christ but of a “Holy Spirit”, one supposedly having a change of mind after 19 centuries of guiding the Catholic Church through its Tradition.
Is this still the Church founded by Jesus Christ? The nihilist/Gnostic spirit in the Church has never been made more evident than in the present pontificate of Pope Francis. The Conciliar Church under Francis is nihilist because he does not believe the Church has an essence or substance to which he must adhere. This essence is stable throughout its tradition, which he must eliminate so he can do what he wants. We don’t want to rashly judge his personal motivations. But there is ample evidence from his public actions and communications to warrant criticism as to his apparent defection from the Church. For example, this is what Pope Francis said on the World Day For Consecrated Life (with emphasis added herein):
We cannot pretend to see these signs and go on as usual, doing the same old things, drifting back through inertia to the forms of the past, paralyzed by fear of change. I have said this over and over again: nowadays the temptation to go back, for security, out of fear, in order to preserve the faith or the charism of the founder ... is a temptation. The temptation to go back and preserve traditions with rigidity. Let’s get this into our heads: rigidity is a perversion, and beneath every form of rigidity there are grave problems.
So, if we hold on tenaciously to the faith (i.e., Roman Catholic belief) and to the charism of the founder (i.e., Jesus Christ) we suffer from perversion. Pope Francis also said that there is a need to create a different Church. Indeed, he doesn’t claim the authority of Jesus Christ but of a “Holy Spirit”, one supposedly having a change of mind after 19 centuries of guiding the Catholic Church through its Tradition. Perhaps this is why in 2020 Pope Francis dropped the title of “Vicar of Christ”.
Having abandoned Jesus Christ, the apostate Vatican hierarchy is less than useless in providing the light of Christ to the world. Instead, it is up the orthodox laity and faithful bishops to do the real work of evangelization. Soon, as many believe, Jesus will take charge and by an illumination of conscience foretold by saints and mystics will let everyone in the world know exactly where they stand spiritually in the light of absolute holiness. Even the just have cause for concern since every thought, word and deed will be brought to memory. I would not want to be in the shoes of Pope Francis when it happens.
So, what are we to do? Nihilism will not go away. But modernity as we know it now will change into something else. New digital and biological technologies may bring us to an anti–human future. However, there is a ray of hope in the world as people are more aware now of the impact of nihilist policies and see through the lies and fraud of the elite. Religiously, Catholics are turning to traditional practice and liturgy. Surely, we must cling to our traditions, seeing the value bequeathed to us by our past. Our goal is an eternal life which begins here. That life must be one of religion and prayer. Only God can save us.
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