Monday, July 20, 2015

Could Dark Matter Be the Gnostic "Imitation"?

For the past few weeks I have been studying one book of the Nag Hammadi library called the Tripartite Tractate. Using that book, in June I posted a Simple Explanation of Gnostic Cosmology, briefly explaining and illustrating the Gnostic creation story.

Last week it occurred to me that the way scientists describe dark matter and what the Tripartite Tractate calls "The Deficiency" sound very much alike. It looks as though a case can be made that an ancient religious document is describing a process that has only recently been scientifically hypothesized. 

Let me try to explain: 

Dark Matter is invisible, but we can see a projection of its assumed location in this false-color representation of light-blue clouds at the center of Galaxy Cluster Abell 1689. 
Image credit: NASA, ESA, D. Coe (NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory/California Institute of Technology, and Space Telescope Science Institute), N. Benitez (Institute of Astrophysics of Andalusia, Spain), T. Broadhurst (University of the Basque Country, Spain), and H. Ford (Johns Hopkins University)

More about this NASA Hubble Space Telescope image here. 
Scientists now believe that our universe is filled with an invisible type of matter that far outweighs ordinary matter by a ratio of over five to one. According to the European Space Agency's Planck spacecraft census of the composition of the universe, ordinary matter only makes up 4.9 percent of the total, while dark matter makes up 26.8 percent. (The other 68.3 percent is made up of formless energy.) As explained in the Simple Explanation's Dark Matter blog article, dark matter was first hypothesized in the 1930s, but it wasn't until the 1990s that astronomers were able to observe what they take to be dark matter.

Not much is actually known about dark matter, since its presence can only be inferred by its gravitational effect on the light travelling from distant stars and galaxies. Recently, some astronomers have proposed that dark matter may be the source of mysterious gamma rays emanating from a ring around our galactic center. 

According to a 2013 article in Discover Magazine, here is what scientists generally believe about dark matter: it is "the glue that holds together the universe and all its rich diversity," and most dark matter tends to "gather in giant, diffuse clouds." Dark Matter particles could also be lurking in a gigantic, invisible disk near the center of our galaxy, "smashing into each other" creating a "strange type of [gamma] radiation" that is "60 billion times as potent as ordinary yellow light." 

NASA continues to process data that maps dark matter's distribution throughout the universe. The image below shows that dark matter is randomly distributed thoughout the cosmos.
This map shows the oldest light in our universe, as detected with the greatest precision yet by the Planck mission. The ancient light, called the cosmic microwave background, was imprinted on the sky when the universe was 370,000 years old. It shows tiny temperature fluctuations that correspond to regions of slightly different densities, representing the seeds of all future structure: the stars and galaxies of today. By analyzing the light patterns in this map, scientists are fine-tuning what we know about the universe, including its origins, fate and basic components. Image courtesy of ESA and the Planck Collaboration.
Lastly, from wikipedia: "The most widely accepted explanation for these phenomena is that dark matter exists and that it is most probably composed of weakly interacting massive particles (WIMPs) that interact only through gravity and the weak force. Alternative explanations have been proposed, and there is not yet sufficient experimental evidence to determine whether any of them are correct."

That's all that is known about dark matter. Now let's switch hats from cosmologist to philosopher to consider The Imitation.

Last month's Gnostic Cosmology blog article explained that our universe was created as the result of a Fall from a state of non-physical spirituality to an initially dark, material state. Below are three illustrations out of the Simple Explanation of Gnostic Cosmology relevant to this discussion. The first poster presents the overall Gnostic Cosmology. The second and third illustrations pertain to the events leading up to the Fall and its consequences:
Gnostic Cosmology according to the Tripartite Tractate, by Cyd Ropp.  Beginning with the Originating Consciousness known as The Father, this diagram starts at the upper left and proceeds clockwise to The Son, then The All, then to the hierarchical arrangement of The All, then to The Fall of the Presumptuous Thought down into the Dark Chaos known as The Imitation. (The remainder of the poster is dealt with in the Gnostic Cosmology article.)

This stage in creation is known as the First Order of Powers. Everyone and everything knows its place and is happy.  The final Aeon to arrive at the top of the pyramid, known in the Tripartite Tractate as "Presumptuous Thought," looks down at the hierarchy and sees them all arranged underneath him. This gives that Aeon the mistaken idea that he is in charge of the pyramid. He reaches upward to reinsert the pyramid into the Metaverse. This is done without authorization, resulting in The Fall.
The Fall tumbles the harmonious arrangement of Aeons into Chaos. They Fall into confusion. They are dispersed and alone for the first time, cut off from each other and the All. This is now called the Deficiency, and the Imitation. Logos panics and abandons the Imitation and retreats back to the All. God the Father also retreats in horror from the Deficiency, which throws up a Boundary containing the Imitation. 

Prior to The Fall, there was no material, only mind. Beginning with undifferentiated consciousness (The Father), mind first became aware (The Son). The Son then differentiated its thoughts and qualities into All potential thoughts and All potential qualities (The All, aka The Fullness, aka The Pleroma). The Fullnesses then named themselves, which automatically sorted them into hierarchical relationships. From this hierarchy of The All came the final expression of the Fullness--the final cherry on top of the stack--known in the Tripartite Tractate as "Presumptuous Thought." Presumptuous Thought was a singular entity that combined all the other Fullnesses' qualities into one mind. It was Presumptuous Thought that initiated the Fall from the immaterial plane when it mistook itself for The All and acted unilaterally rather than harmoniously.

Now, listen to these descriptions out of the Tripartite Tractate concerning the consequences of "The Fall" of Presumptuous Thought that led to the Creation of our Universe:

"Those who belong to the arrogant thought and those of the likeness are called ... "the Dark Ones"... (98, 15).

"The things he had wished to grasp and reach, however, he produced as shadows, phantoms, and imitations, for he could not bear to look at the light but looked at the depths, and he faltered. Because of this, he suffered a division and a turning away" (77, 11).

"Those who came into being from the presumptuous thought resemble in fact the Fullnesses of whom they are imitations, though they are phantoms, shadows, and illusions, deprived of reason and light, belonging to this empty thought, being nobody's offspring" (78, 28).

"The Word, then, was the cause of these things coming into being, and he became increasingly desperate. He was dumbfounded. Instead of perfection he saw deficiency; instead of unity he saw division; instead of stability he saw disturbance; instead of rest, upheaval" (80, 11).

"Those who had come into being did not know themselves, nor did they know the Fullness from which they had originated, nor did they know him who had become the cause of their existence. For since the Word was in such an unstable condition, he no longer attempted to bring forth offspring in the form of emissions...of glory.... Instead, what he brought forth were feeble and small creatures, infected with the same sicknesses with which he himself had been infected" (80, 15) .

"The imitation that had taken place solitarily in this state was what had been the cause of the things that do not exist of their own from the beginning. In this state he continued to produce such deficient beings, until he began to condemn the irrational things he had produced" (81,2).

Perhaps the production of the "Dark Ones" of the Imitation was the initial cosmological event that kicked off the Big Bang. These Dark Ones, these "shadows," had "no reason," no "light." Instead of the perfection of the hierarchical arrangements, these Dark Ones came "into being" in a state of "chaos." Rather than acting in unity, these Dark Ones manifest "division," "disturbance," "upheaval." These Dark Ones did not resemble the "glory" of the Fullness, but were feeble and small. 

This is the initial state of Creation according to Gnostic cosmology. No light, chaotic, no life, no rules. Filled with feeble, small things, isolated from one another and alone. You could easily call them WIMPS (weakly interacting massive particles). These Dark Ones/WIMPS did not lack the information inherent in ordinary matter, but they were unable to organize themselves the way normal matter does, because they did not possess the spirit of cooperation, coming into being as they did out of a solitary act. 

The Tripartite Tractate goes on to describe how this was only step one in creation, with a quick adjustment that halted production of the Dark Ones until a more "reasonable" form of matter could be produced that combined light with matter, leading to the eventual redemption of matter by mind and spirit...  But that's another article for another day....

Lastly, by borrowing information from the unlikely source of an ancient wisdom book that lay buried under Egyptian sand for almost 2,000 years, we can generate a scientific prediction that will prove or disprove a measureable hypothesis. This Gnostic creation story claims that the first material objects in our universe were dark matter. Light and ordinary matter followed some time later and began a never-ending dance with dark matter. The Simple Explanation predicts that scientists will be able to prove that dark matter was the initial material product of the early universe. You heard it here first.