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The Universal Life Church (“ULC”) offers a range of courses on spiritual and metaphysical topics. Most of their source materials are either open source or can be found in the public domain. This is not to say the courses are no good or that you won’t learn about the topics they provide, but it also means that a sincere student of their courses should also look outside the provided materials and verify the veracity of the offered instruction. Even college professors (the good ones) will encourage their students to question their instruction, the chosen textbook, and to challenge their assertions. In law school, we use the Socratic method, in which questions are met with questions to provoke thought on the part of the asker. That’s how new ideas are born.

Therefore, I find it troubling that ULC’s website offers a blog article linking the ancient Gnostics with the modern-day Ra Material and wars in the Middle East as a free sample of the Master of Gnosticism course. Unfortunately, it smacks of an New Age-like alternative to Second Adventism, a movement closely related to Jehovah’s Witnesses, Seventh-Day Adventists, and other similar Christian sects. The first part of the article explains the Gnostic view of the Old Testament God, Yahweh, as an evil ruler who also created lower forces called Archons and that the Gnostics believe that the Old Testament is a deception that maintains people’s ignorance and servitude. Gnostics aim to break free from this evil sphere and conventional morality. The article also highlights the anti-Judaic teachings of Gnostic leaders, like Simon Magus, who believe that the Demiurge holds captive the souls that belong to the supreme God. After that, the article becomes very problematic.

Firstly, the article seems to rely heavily on select sources rather than providing a comprehensive analysis of the subject matter. While the author briefly mentions the possibility of a rational approach to the academic study of religion, they do not make enough effort to present a well-rounded argument. The inclusion of “channeled” sessions as a source of information can also be seen as unscientific and unverifiable. Secondly, absent very slippery slopes and great leaps in logic the article fails to provide a clear or coherent nexus between the Gnostics and their view of Yahweh to the Ra Material, or what any of it has to do with present-day conflicts in the Middle East. In fact, the author relies almost solely on the Ra Material as the glue holding the thesis of his article together. As such, the article does not offer a clear or useful contribution to the current discourse on the Middle East or serious Gnostic studies.

Moving on, Part II of the article is an absolute mess of unfounded claims and pseudoscientific gibberish. The author cites The Ra Material, which claims to transcribe the communications of a supposedly spiritually unified society synonymous with the Egyptian Sun-God, Ra, as factual evidence. The article tries to draw connections to Gnostic views of Yahweh but ends up presenting an incoherent and confusing narrative about extraterrestrial-human intervention. The author acknowledges that most academic scholars would find the claims in The Ra Material ludicrous, yet they still try to draw parallels to indigenous traditions of “Star Nations,” demonstrating a severe lack of critical thinking and research. The article tries to present this unfounded material as legitimate, but it only reveals the author’s gullibility and lack of discernment. It is crucial to approach such unfounded claims with skepticism and critical thinking, but the article fails to do so, making it an embarrassment to any serious academic discourse.

But the article doesn’t stop there, it doubles down and just keeps going (and going):

Their primary goal is the complete subjugation of primitive (3rd dimensional) planets and the propagation of materialism, greed, mental distortion, injustice and suffering through creation of elitist social structures. The notions of Klingons and Romulans from Star Trek, and Darth Vader and his cohorts in Star Wars, all approximate the nature and means of this local quasi-feudal hierarchy. As a whole, it is as devoted to divisiveness as Ra’s Confederation is to the loving self-unification of all life. Again, we hear echoes of the Gnostic polarized cosmology .

This claim is nothing more than baseless and wild conspiracy-theory nonsense. There is absolutely no evidence to support the idea that there is a group of beings (let alone one with such a specific agenda) working towards the subjugation of other planets and the propagation of greed and suffering. To compare this alleged group to fictional characters from Star Trek and Star Wars is not only ridiculous but also serves no purpose except to further cement the absurdity of the claim. Furthermore, the unsupported assertion that this group is devoted to divisiveness while another (Ra’s Confederation) is devoted to the unification of all life is pure fantasy with no basis in reality. It is deeply irresponsible to make such unverified and outlandish claims without any evidence to back them up. Finally, the reference to Gnostic polarized cosmology feels jarringly out of place in this context and only serves to add an air of pseudointellectualism to an argument that is entirely unsupported by any actual facts. This claim should be dismissed outright as nothing but unfounded conspiracy-theory nonsense.

The rest of the article is a convoluted, conspiracy-laden mess that attempts to draw a connection between the Gnostic teachings and the Orion group’s supposed manipulation of human history and religion. However, this connection relies on a series of unfounded assumptions and lacks any real evidence to support it. The writer’s attempts to link modern-day conflicts in the Middle East to allegedly 3,000-year-old interventions by the Orion group are tenuous at best and seem to be based more on sensationalism and an overactive imagination than thoughtful analysis. Overall, this article is a prime example of conspiracy-theory thinking at its absolute worst and does nothing to further our understanding of human history, Gnostic studies, or our understanding of the universe. In fact, it feels very much like a plot from the famous science fiction franchise Stargate, a story that also draws parallels to ancient Gnostic philosophy. On that note, I would find this material far more enjoyable and entertaining if it were presented as a Hollywood blockbuster, or perhaps as an episode of Doctor Who.

Fortunately, it is possible to study and keep an open mind about mystical ideas and gnostic beliefs while remaining critical and skeptical. To achieve this balance, it is essential to separate personal beliefs and emotions from objective analysis, seek multiple viewpoints, examine the evidence presented carefully, and apply scientific methods or academic standards to evaluate the validity of the thesis. Even when speculating about mystical insights, it is always important to be mindful that such ideas are just mere speculation, and not get too carried away with our imaginations (as the author of the article in question did); and if you do get carried away, maybe write it down and present it as a work of fiction and keep your personal beliefs to yourself. It is also important to embrace critical thinking without dismissing ideas as false outright and be cautious about accepting claims that offer grand explanations with little or no empirical evidence. Additionally, maintaining an attitude of curiosity and a willingness to reevaluate conclusions if new data or perspectives emerge can help to balance open-minded curiosity with critical thinking and apply the principles of reason and empiricism to assess these ideas’ evidence.

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