This morning I read an article www.guardian.co.uk/science/2011/aug/18/aliens-destroy-humanity-protect-civilisations#start-of-comments about how when an alien race finally made contact with us, they might just wipe us out so that we don't become some galactic plague. On the one hand, this is ridiculous beyond words. On the other hand it shows a disturbing undercurrent in the elite society: man is a plague best contained if not just wiped out. The Gnostics never left us!
Gnosticism was a belief system that grew up before Christianity and challenged Christianity in the early days. In fact, gnosticism took on a pseudo-Christian form. Gnostics believed that the physical world was a cosmic mistake, the workings of a demi-urge (the Old Testament Yahweh) who created the world and all it holds. This 'god' is capricious and evil. That he makes man in his own image makes man especially evil. Man is a soul trapped in a body by this demi-urge. Christ came from the good God (Abba) taking the form of a human being but not actually being a human being to show us a way to escape the clutches of the body and the demi-urge. The creation of new life was seen as a participation in evil. The gnostics were for abortion, birth control, and anything that prevented new life. They favored homosexuality as it was sex with no danger of procreation. They saw suicide as noble. They held the hoi polloi (the commoners, the riff raff, the great unwashed masses) as deserving of contempt and extinction. Since they possessed the secret knowledge (gnosis is the Greek word for knowledge), they were able to do that which the hoi polloi could not. Does any of this sound vaguely familiar to our world today?
Elite society takes a dim view of humanity. We are a pox on the created order and a burden to the planet in their eyes. They fantasize about our being wiped out by our own stupidity (see the upcoming movie Contagion for example) or because of our inferiority. My dad tells me about a friend he had in way upstate New York who thought all who live in the Adirondack State Park should be forced to move out and relocate elsewhere to keep the park in pristine shape. When my dad asked the man were he planned on moving, the man replied that he didn't...since he got how life should be lived in the park he could stay. It is the global warming specters who warn us that we have to live simply whilst they who get the enormity of the problem get to keep their multiple mansions, private jets, and limos. It is the politicians who say we need to tighten our belts while they are living high on our dime. The examples go on and on. The point is that there are those in the halls of knowledge and power who simply do not like humanity in the least.
What set Judeo- Christianity apart back in the early church is what sets it apart now; we see creation as good and humanity as the height of that creation. Humanity has a dignity and possible nobility to it. What I think so many see is when we lack that nobility. Consumerism and materialism cheapen us and make us seem as little more than a plague of locust in need of destruction. It is our ability to be selfless and self-giving that shows the depths of our nobility because it this ability to love that is the 'image and likeness of God' in which we are created. If we ever want to transform our society, it will be through a mutual selflessnes that mimics the love of God and sees within each human person the inherent dignity in which we are created. It will also allow us to treat the rest of the created order with respect, not seeing our environment as something to be pillaged within an inch of its destruction, but as something to wisely tended as a good steward.
On the wild off chance that intelligent life does find its way to our world, I would like to think they could see our ability to be wise and loving stewards and not just a cosmic blight to be wiped out. But you might want to go out and get your best ray gun anyway:)