When asked why the layman should be interested "in so esoteric a subject as evolutionary biology," one of the leading evolutionists of our day, Professor S.J. Gould, responded:
“Because it tells us where we came from, how we got here, and perhaps where we are going. Quite simply, it is science’s version of Roots, except it is the story of us all." (The Religious Nature of Evolution Theory and its Attack on Christianity, John G. Leslie and Charles K. Pallaghy, Ph.D, creation.com)
Gould candidly admits that evolutionary biology is an esoteric account of the ultimate origin of life. According to this account, about 3 billion years ago lifeless chemicals laying around on an already existing earth somehow combined and finally transcended themselves after a hundred or a thousand identical operations thus allowing the transmutation of the chemical substances into life. Once life emerged, natural processes (evolution) were set in motion that supposedly eventuated in the arrival of man:
"If man has arrived at his present state as a result of natural processes rather than a supernatural will, he can learn to control these processes...The concept of evolution, which is now basic to the life sciences, has provided new and in some ways revolutionary answers to questions men have been asking for centuries. The two most important of these are, ‘Why am I here, what is the purpose of human existence, and what is the nature of the world of life that surrounds us?" (ibid, Dobzhansky, T., Ayala, F.J., Stebbins, G.L. and Valentine, J.W., Evolution, W.H. Freeman and Co., San Francisco, 1977)
Evolution said Dobzhansky,
".... is a light which illuminates all facts, a trajectory which all lines of thought must follow.” (ibid)
"Behind the development of every major technology lies a vision." ("The Metaphysics of Virtual Reality," Michael Heim, 1993, p. 118)
As Gould admits, evolutionary biology is an esoteric science, meaning that like all Mystery Religions, both ancient and contemporary, it has both an exoteric or outer meaning for mass consumption and a hidden, or esoteric meaning, for higher initiates. Hiding beneath the idea that life will eventually arise from the mixing of lifeless chemicals is a vision arising from the age-old technology of alchemy and behind Dobzhansky's phrase, the "light of evolution," lies its magical or mystical meaning: the Hermetic principle of the macrocosm's correlation with the microcosm, “As above, so below” symbolized by the chain of being, or with Darwin, the tree of life.
Hermes is the father of the magic tradition. His world-famous magic formula demonstrates the consubstantiality (oneness) of Herme's divine intellect with the Divine One Substance above. In teaching the meaning of the formula to his son Tat he said:
"The intellect, O Tat, is drawn from the very substance of God. In men, this intellect is God, and so some men are gods and their humanity is near to divinity...If man makes right use of (God's gifts), he differs in no way from the immortals." (God and the Knowledge of Reality, Thomas Molnar, p. 78)
Hermes Trismegistus had a guru, a teacher called Poimander who taught Hermes that,
"Unless you make yourself equal to God, you cannot understand God, for the like is not intelligible save to the like." (ibid, p. 79)
Molnar writes that illustrations of Hermetic science abound. For example, the "Asclepius," a famous Gnostic text of indefinite origin states,
"Man is a magnum miraculum...as though himself God....familiar with the race of demons, of the same origin as he; he despises that part of his nature which is only human, for he has put his hope in the divinity of the other part." (ibid, p. 78)
A thousand years later, Renaissance scholars and mystics discovered these esoteric texts and like Pico della Mirandola, argued that hermetic science---the divine technology of reaching divine status and powers through magic manipulation----is the best proof of the divinity of Christ. In other words, said Molnar,
"..by the time of the Renaissance the esoteric texts of the first centuries A.D. had acquired in scholarly and humanist circles an unparalleled prestige, confronting as equals the texts held sacred by the church. In Pico's estimation, 'nulla est scientia que nos magis certificet de divinitate Christ quam magia et Cabala' (there is no science that would prove for us Christ's divinity better than magic and the Cabala." (ibid, pp. 78-79)
In order for the magic to work, matter (the One Substance) must either pre-exist or have come into being from the Big Bang in order for lifeless chemicals to be laying around on an already existing earth. In either scenario, all being is at bottom one, or monistic:
“It means,” writes Thomas Molnar, “that there is an absolute although hidden concordance between the lower and the higher worlds, the key of which lends to the magus incalculable powers.” (Salvation through Technology: Creating A Posthuman New Breed, Dr. Martin Erdmann, herescopeblogspot.com, April 23, 2011)
Dr. Erdmann writes that alchemy is based on a Pelagian view of humanity. Human nature is supposedly good, thus the possibility for perfection is always present in life. Human beings are not flawed by the effects of ethical rebellion against the God of Revelation. Given this outlook, the self-transcendence of humanity becomes a sociological imperative:
“At the stage we have reached in scientific research our minds and intelligence will have to surpass themselves and rise to transcendent heights; the human, all-too human, will no longer suffice.” ( Mircea Eliade, The Forge and the Crucible: The Origins and Structures of Alchemy, ibid, Dr. Erdmann)
Esoteric knowledge and manipulation of the instruments (symbols) pertaining to the One Substance, or "higher world of true reality" by a higher initiate (the magician) are inseparably linked in esoteric doctrines. The Hermetic practitioner said Molnar, strives first for separation of the soul from the body (purification), and second, for the spiritualization of all matter. Darwin's formula attains the first goal:
"....the doctrine of evolution has swept the world, not on the strength of its scientific merits, but precisely in its capacity as a Gnostic myth. It affirms, in effect, that living things created themselves, which is in essence a metaphysical claim....Thus...evolutionism is a metaphysical doctrine decked out in scientific garb....it is a scientistic myth. And the myth is Gnostic, because it implicitly denies the transcendent origin of being; for indeed, only after the living creature has been speculatively reduced to an aggregate of particles does Darwinist transformism become conceivable." ( Dr. Wolfgang Smith in From Old Gnosticism to New Age I, Alan Morrison, SCP Journal Vol. 28:4-29:1, 2005, pp. 30-31)
Intellectual and moral transcendence (deification) of the monistic kind was made possible by the inventers of theories of spiritual/cosmic evolution. Molnar writes that travelers on this second highway were characteristically recruited from theology. Representatives are,
"Bergson, Laberthonniere, Le Roy, Blondel, Bloch, Teilhard de Chardin, Heidegger, Bultmann, Karl Rahner, and numerous others..." (God and the Knowledge of Reality, p. 133)
With Teilhard's idea, after millions of years of evolution, matter finally transcended itself thus allowing the transmutation of matter into god. Now that the One Substance is god,
"The great affair for modern mankind is to break its way out by forcing some threshold of greater consciousness." Christians should not fear the natural processes of evolution because it brings them inexorably to God and self-deification, "Though frightened for a moment by evolution, the Christian now perceives that what it offers him is...a magnificent means of (being) at one with God..." (Genesis, Creation, and Early Man, Fr. Seraphim Rose, p. 590)
Humanist philosophy, naturalism (monism), Hermetic magic, Cabala, evolution, and other forms of occultism were two sides of the same revival of Renaissance paganism underlying the intellectual edifice of modern science. Thus, C.S. Lewis argued in his great masterpiece, That Hideous Strength, occultism and humanistic rationalism are not enemies in principle but rather cooperating philosophies that are united against Christianity and Christian civilization.
Lewis underscores this point in "The Abolition of Man:"
"You will even find people who write about the sixteenth century as if Magic were a medieval survival and Science the new thing that came in to sweep it away. Those who have studied the period know better. There was very little magic in the Middle Ages: the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries are the high noon of magic. The serious magical endeavour and the serious scientific endeavour are twins: one was sickly and died, the other strong and throve. But they were twins. They were born of the same impulse. I allow that some (certainly not all) of the early scientists were actuated by a pure love of knowledge. But if we consider the temper of that age as a whole we can discern the impulse of which I speak."
In conclusion, evolutionary biology and Darwin's tree of life symbolize deep religious desires of transcendence and self-redemption, thus are incarnations,
“ ...of the ancient, deeply religious endeavor “to become like God” – infinitely wise, omnipotent, autonomous, and immortal." (Dr. Erdmann)