Dante's Inferno: Circle 6 for the Heresy of Materialism

Dante's Inferno categorically presents the different strata of sin. The concept of sin revolves around the rejection of God's Revelation and Christian virtues. 

 Circle 6  (Canto 10) is the place of torment for all who commit the sin of heresy in deference to "profane and vain babblings, and oppositions of science falsely so called" (1 Timothy 6:20).   Among the heretics are both the materialists of his own time as well as the Greek nature philosopher Epicurus (341-270 B.C.E).   While the common definition of materialism is love of pleasure, wealth, and things for example, the presence of Epicurus points to something far worse, something altogether sinister.

Epicurus was one of the important theorists in ancient Greek natural philosophy who taught that the universe is composed of physical atoms. Indian Buddhists such as Dharmakirti and others, also contributed to well-developed theories of atomism,  the idea that everything ultimately consists of aggregates of matter.  Reality, soul, and mind are nothing but matter in motion.

Atomism is metaphysical nihilism, 

"... the theory that there are no objects (objects do not exist). This position has been held by philosophers such as Parmenides, Buddha, Advaita Vedantins, and perhaps Kant (according to some interpretations of his transcendental idealism). Blob theory can also be considered very closely aligned with mereological nihilism (there are no parts and wholes). Obviously if metaphysical nihilism is correct, empirical reality is an illusion." (What is Metaphysical Nihilism? OpenTopia.com)

What this means is that so radically has atomism banished God from nature that not only is there no ultimate source for life but none for man's 'self'---- his soul/spirit, the seat of his personhood:

Jesus to Buddha,   "You seek to solve the problem of suffering, and in order to solve it, you say that the self doesn't exist.....you took God away from them (and) your espousal of an absence of self is the most unique and fearsome claim you made...First, you told them there is no God. Then you told them there is no self.  You also told them there is no one to pray to.  You told them there is no evil one to fear. You told them everything is only within themselves, even though those selves do not exist."  (The Lotus and the Cross: Jesus Talks with Buddha, Ravi Zacharias, pp.59, 60, 67, 70)  

Atomism set all things in unceasing, purposeless motion by reducing everything---including man, his soul, and even his thoughts---to mindless atoms perpetually colliding with each other in a void.  Man was reduced to a biological machine, mind (spirit) to brain, and thought to movement of chemicals and firing of neurons.  This view has changed very little:

"We are descended from robots, and composed of robots..."   --Daniel C. Dennett, Kinds of Minds

Plato was one of the most forceful and compelling critics of Atomism.  In Book X of Laws, he indicts  Atomists for reversing the natural order, which they did by placing non-life bearing matter before Nous (mind/soul), and for the reductionism that sets everything in motion and reduces man to a machine. 

Plato foresees only misery, social disintegration and ultimately,

"...the ruin of both states and families" should Atomism become the accepted view."  (Darwin Day in America, John G. West, p. 6)

Though Christianity reared a mighty barrier against Atomism, it would be resurrected along with ancient esoteric doctrines during the Renaissance by among others, pantheist Giordano Bruno, Thomas Hobbs, Descartes, and Paracelsus.

With the source of man's humanity (mind/soul) expropriated by materialists and conferred upon "lifeless chemicals" "electricity" "phosphorous" and "blood," for example, a rush to discover the key that unlocks the mystery to life and mind was ignited which has been unleashing unspeakable evils ever since. 

Believing that some type of electricity was the animating principle of machine-man, Giovanni Aldini performed macabre experiments on the decapitated heads of animals and once he had overcome his repugnance, on humans.  For his experiments, he procured the freshest specimens possible by placing himself,

"....under the scaffold, near the axe of justice..."   Rationalizing his horrible experiments by saying that only the, "unenlightened part of mankind (will be) apt to entertain a prejudice..."  Aldini applied electricity to various parts of decapitated human heads which produced "the most horrid grimaces (but the) action of the eyelids was exceedingly striking.."  (Darwin Day in America, p. 15)

Julien de la Mettrie (1709-51), Paul Henri Thiery, and Baron D'Holbach (1723-89) all agreed that the mind is the property of dead matter and man nothing but a machine.  La Mettrie speculated that machine-man's rational life is entirely determined by physical causes  running the gamut from raw meat, to climate, blood circulation, and gender.  Genetic inheritance, posits la Mettrie, causes machine-man to commit crime.  This view casts parents, and especially all traditionalists such as faithful Christians and Jews into the role of "first cause" and would later manifest itself in the belief that State ‘experts,'  or Hillary's "village" experts should have control of children.   (ibid, pp. 16-18)

Pierre Simon Laplace (1749-1827) viewed scientific materialism as not only the pursuit of God-like omniscience but of the Holy Grail itself---power to create a New Man.   If an intelligence could grasp "at a given instant...all the forces by which nature is animated" proclaimed Laplace, it could devise a mathematical formula that would predict everything that would ever happen, and "nothing would be uncertain, and the future, like the past, would be open to its eyes."  Scientists should reduce everything in the universe to mechanical laws that could be expressed in terms of mathematics, advised Laplace, for the promise of such knowledge was incredible power...even over life and mind itself.  (ibid, p. 20)

Herbert Spencer, Fechner, Lotze, Wundt, and the pantheist monist Ernst Haeckel, inventor of the scientism dictum---ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny---all agreed that life and mind are properties of dead matter.  Haeckel moreover imagined ether to be the primitive life-making substance which, as was the case with the primitive fire of the Stoics, changed one part of itself into inert mass while the other part became the active principle, spirit.  Today, many scientists routinely resort to Haeckel's postulate without ever inquiring into its pantheist implications.

Haeckel would later write,

"Pantheism teaches that God and the world are one...pantheism is...an advanced conception of nature (and) a polite form of atheism."  The truth of pantheism, confessed Haeckel, "lies in its destruction of the dualist antithesis of God..."  The godless world system being constructed, said Haeckel, "substantially agrees with the monism or pantheism of the modern scientist."  (Monism, Ernst Haeckel, www.pantheist.net/)

During the century to follow, Charles Darwin (1809-82)  helped spread materialism to the masses.   As Stephen Jay Gould argues,

"Darwin applied a consistent philosophy of materialism to his interpretation of nature, "and "the ground of all existence; mind, spirit, and God (are reduced to) neural complexity." (ibid, p. 41)

According to Darwin, natural selection and the laws of heredity acting on matter produced mind, morality, and civilization.  By describing how lifeless natural mechanisms caused the complexity of life to alchemically emerge from lifeless matter, Darwin helped transform materialism from a fantastically bizarre tale told by power-mad Prometheans on the fringe of society to a hallowed scientism principle enshrined and worshipped by modern scientism and ‘enlightened' Westerners and inadvertently by intellectually proud and weak priests who have supplanted the Genesis account of creation ex nihilo with Darwin's materialist theory.

It was during this time that Social Darwinism, Progressive Liberalism, Socialism, Communism, Nazism, Secular Humanism and Transhumanism were developed out of metaphysical materialism.  Classical Liberalism on the other hand, was subverted and corrupted by the materialist faith into what is now known as modern Liberalism. 

Of these, Communism (Marx and Engel's dialectical materialism), is considered to be the most highly developed philosophy of materialism.  It rests on three fundamental metaphysical presuppositions:

1. Deified Matter: The Ultimate Substance which, though non-living, non-intelligent, and non-conscious, nevertheless somehow possesses the emergent properties of life, mind, consciousness, and soul.

2. Evolution: Since Marxist dialectic requires a theory with clashes (thesis and antithesis) and leaps (synthesis), Marxists have all but abandoned Darwinism and have instead embraced punctuated equilibrium:

"Many people confound dialectic with the theory of evolution," noted G. Plekhanov. "Dialectic is, in fact, a theory of evolution. But it differs profoundly from the vulgar (Darwinian) theory of evolution." (Fundamental Problems of Marxism, 1929, p. 145)

3. Spontaneous Generation: An offshoot of specifically Darwinian thought accepted unreservedly by Marxists as their dialectic requires a strictly materialist explanation for the origin of life from dead matter. In the words of M.A. Leonov:

"Marxist philosophical materialism remains beyond all doubt that at some time or other in the remote past, life must have arisen from non-living matter." (Outline of Dialectical Materialism, 1948, p. 494)

In a modified version of the Stoic conception of the earth as a living organism possessed of its own soul,  dialectical materialism declares that earth is "one entire organism...its organs the various races and nations of men."  Not only is the earth alive and evolving upward on evolution's magical escalator, but so too are history and society, for they also are living entities in a continuous state of motion.  And man?  In a modified conception of Atomism's dehumanizing view of man, dialectical materialism states that man is nothing but,

"...a colonial aggregation of cells," and to "consider him an individual would be an error."  Man---the aggregate of cells--- is nothing but an extension of society, history, and earth.  (Russian Textbook on Psychopolitics, Chapter II: The Constitution of Man as a Political Organism)

It was Marxist materialists who made the first attempt to scientifically re-engineer human beings after the fashion of Buddha's metaphysical nihilism said Vishal Mangalwadi, India's foremost Christian intellectual.  After seizing control of Russia, they utilized terroristic mind-conditioning techniques and re-education with emphasis on Darwinism as well as brain-altering drugs, electro-shock therapy, torture, and other brutal measures to,

"...liquidate all expressions of individual identity in favor of an impersonal collective, communal consciousness." (The Book that Made Your World, Mangalwadi,  p. 74)

Modern materialist states began by rejecting the living God of Revelation and man's soul/spirit, and then moved to deny immutable truth and objective standards of right and wrong.  They threw out sanctity of life and demonically reduced man to matter in motion.   The end case, in every instance, was to place absolute power over  "atomized masses" into the hands of psychopaths and autocratic states to be wielded without restraint or mercy.  

Of all belief systems, the materialist faith has been by far the bloodiest.  In his book, Death by Government, R.J. Rummel comprehensively details the roughly 170 million people murdered by materialist governments during the 20th century. 

From 1917 to its collapse in 1991, the Soviet Union liquidated about 62 million.  During Mao Tse-tung's reign, 35,236,000 were murdered.  Hitler's Nazi's killed 21 million.   

 Even at its mildest, as is thus far the case here in America, there is a steady level of confiscation, corruption, fraud, lying, propaganda, and stifling of freedoms and free speech.  For the first time ever, Americans are afraid of saying certain words.  Parents fear disciplining their own children.  To dissent against evolution is to become a social leper.   More ominously, America's Ruling Class materialists have banished the living God of Revelation, thrown out both sanctity of life and objective standards and are in process of undermining and destroying traditional marriage.   In their eyes,  "We the people" are atomized beings.   Totalitarianism and genocide loom just over our horizon.

As early as 1926, President Calvin Coolidge was aware of and deeply concerned by the insidious spread of scientific materialism in America.  As he knew, Americans are free only because of the Judeo-Christian foundation laid by the country's founders.  In a speech he delivered in Philadelphia, July 5, 1926 to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence, Coolidge tried to call Americans back to their Judeo-Christian heritage.   He told them the Declaration's principles of liberty arise from man's God-given inalienable rights.  And these are found said Coolidge,

"...in the texts, the sermons, and the writings of the early colonial clergy..."  The clergy preached equality "because they believed in the fatherhood of God and the brotherhood of man."  Sanctity of life, the right to self-defense, and all the rest of our individual liberties were justified "by the text that we are all created in the divine image, all partakers of the divine spirit."  God's children therefore, have no "superiors;" there are no modern-day "divine rights kings" who possess "any right to rule...over them."    (Back Fired, William Federer, pp. 269-271)

The Declaration said Coolidge,

"....is a great spiritual document."  Its principles are not material but spiritual.  "Equality, liberty, popular sovereignty, the rights of man---these are not elements we can see and touch.  They are ideals (whose) source and roots (are) in religious convictions.  They belong to the unseen world."

President Coolidge cautioned Americans that,

".....unless the faith of the Americans in these religious convictions is to endure, the principles of our Declaration will perish.  We can not continue to enjoy the result if we abandon the cause."

Coolidge ended his speech with a stark warning,

"We must not sink into a pagan materialism..."   (Back Fired, William Federer, pp. 269-271)

Heedless to Coolidge's warning, "we the people," whether outside the church or within it, have embraced the sin of materialism in the form of endless pleasure, wealth, status symbols, and so forth.   Stupefied by "pagan materialism" we have in effect ceded control of our children and our country to today's other heretics, America's materialist Ruling Class who, believing they are "enlightened" and "scientific,"  have unleashed misery, social disintegration and ultimately, as Plato foresaw, are bringing about "the ruin of both states and families."  

Today's Atomists are leading America over the Gadarene Cliff.

In this light, we are able to understand why Dante placed both the materialists of his own time as well as the Greek nature philosopher Epicurus in the 6th circle of the inferno.

@Linda Kimball