Religion: The World Haters

"God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good." So Genesis I sums up the creation of the world. But one family of Near Eastern sects had the opposite view: it believed that the Creator and his work were evil, and that men's souls were imprisoned by earthly life. The only escape was salvation through possession of an esoteric gnosis (Greek for knowledge), which led to union with an abstract supreme being. Such was the creed of Gnosticism, a strange amalgam of beliefs that was orthodox Christianity's main rival in...

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