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I don't know why, exactly, but I've been getting a real kick out of Beliefnet lately. It's heavily linked from Huffington Post, and it's been a pleasant diversion from the endless convention coverage. So, the other night I clicked on their rundown of unusual religions. Kind of fun. Definitely some things I've never heard of. Asatru? I know of people who consider themselves Odinists and a lot of rune readers -- Ralph Blum was my author, once upon a time -- but Asatru? New one on me. It goes on... Eckankar. Who hasn't heard of Eckankar... Then I get to the punchline.
Maltheism is the belief that God does exist, and that God is evil. Maltheists see God as the true spiritual enemy of humanity, and oppose God because of this. The Maltheist movement was founded by Paul Zimmerman, who was active on Beliefnet until his death in 2003. His motto was "God against Humanity: choose a side!" Maltheists believe the most important thing is how we treat each other as human beings, and support the self-empowerment of the human race.
Maltheism: God vs. Humanity
That got my attention. This is a religion?
So, I googled it up and learned from Wikipedia that it is a Usenet creation.
Maltheism is an ad-hoc coining appearing on Usenet in 1985, referring to the belief in God's malevolence inspired by the thesis of Tim Maroney that "even if a God as described in the Bible does exist, he is not fit for worship due to his low moral standards." The same term has also seen use among designers and players of role-playing games to describe a world with a malevolent deity.
I'm not sure if Tim Maroney is a person or a pseudonym, but I can't help reflecting on the Angel Maroni, who appears in Mormon doctrine... and nowhere else, to my knowledge.
As the Wikipedia entry makes somewhat clear, opposition to the god construct is not original, or new.
A related concept is dystheism (Greek δύσθεος "ungodly"), the belief that a god is not wholly good, and is possibly evil. Trickster gods found in polytheistic belief systems often have a dystheistic nature. One example is Eshu, a trickster god from Yoruba mythology who deliberately fostered violence between groups of people for his own amusement, saying that "causing strife is my greatest joy."
But polytheistic deities since prehistoric times have been assumed to be neither good nor evil (or to have both qualities). Thus dystheism is normally used in reference to God, the omnipotent deity associated with monotheistic belief. Indeed, the moral absolute of good and evil has historically arisen in parallel with monotheism. In conceptions of God as the summum bonum, the proposition of God not being wholly good would of course be a contradiction in terms.
What came to my mind, however, was some of the Gnostic conceptions of the Demiurge and the Archons. According to some Gnostic teachings, "God" did not create this planet. Rather, it was created by a Demiurge, and is, therefore, very flawed. The Demiurge came into being by the creative of the aeon Sophia, who, according to some readings, made the error of creating without the partnering of another aeon. The result was the flawed creation and the incursion of the Archons who purport to rule the creation and all within it.
The role of Sophia in creation according to Gnostic scriptures is very curious. In the Pistis Sophia, Sophia is deceived by the demiurge and archons who make a false light shine below, and when she descends to embrace the false light they bind her and steal her Light-power. In other Gnostic scriptures she conceives the demiurge without the consent of the Most High or apart from union with her Divine Consort, thus giving birth to the monstrous form of Yaldabaot – the lion-headed serpent. In any case, in one way or another Sophia brings about a shattering of the unity and harmony of the Divine Realm, the Pleroma of Light, and in so doing becomes the cause of the imperfect creation, the Great Matrix or Entirety.
The somewhat controversial Gnostic scholar and author John Lamb Lash explains Sophia's "error" thusly:
Precise language is important in the expression of living cosmology. Precise poetic terms, if you will. The Aeon Sophia did not make a mistake and create the universe and the Archons. She acted unilaterally, without pairing with another Aeon, and projected herself beyond the galactic core. Aeons are formless powers in the galactic core of each galaxy. There are many galaxies in the Universe. Sophia did not create the Universe, she emanated the world order we experience as the triple system: sun-moon-earth. Sophia did not make a mistake, but she exaggerated her involvement in her emanation, her Dreaming. Hence, she herself became embodied in her Dreaming. This is a rare event, not typical of the way Aeons operate. As a side effect of her excessive involvement in her Dreaming, Sophia plunged from the galactic core. (Imagine a surge or spike of luminous, foam-like matter from the galactic core into the encircling arms.) The impact she made on the elementary matter in the galactic arms produced an inorganic species, the Archons. The Archons then proceeded to fabricate an inorganic planetary system, a clockwork mechanism. The Earth, the living planet that embodies Sophia, was then captured in that lifeless system. This is the “mistake” – or, better said, the anomaly of our world system.
So, from a Gnostic perspective, it is not "God" who is the enemy, as Maltheism would have it, but the Archons, who subvert our entire awareness, and endeavor to keep us prisoners of our own endless suffering. According to Lash, however, Jehovah, the Judeo-Christian God is most definitely the enemy.
Gnostic texts clearly state that Jehovah is the “Lord Archon,” a reptilian type of alien predator who dominates the hive-mentality of the embryonic or Grey aliens. Jehovah, whom the Gnostics called Yaldabaoth, is truly an extraterrestrial being whose realm is the planetary system independent of the earth, sun and moon. He is not an “advanced being” (i.e., more evolved than humans) but a demented alien with certain superhuman or deific powers. Gnostics taught that Jehovah infects humanity with the belief that he is their creator god, but in fact he cannot create anything. The NHC is very clear that Jehovah-Yaldabaoth is the commander of the Archon species.
Not so different from the nascent, Usenet born Maltheism. In fact, some of it is eerily similar. Such as this rumination from Craig Zimmerman, son of the late and lamented Paul Zimmerman.
The world is under attack from an extraterrestrial force, not of this Earth. Those in charge deny there is a problem, deny that there is anything wrong. In fact, unbeknownst to us all, those in charge are collaborating with the enemy.More than just collaborating: they are acting as the enemy's fifth column, propagandizing to us the notion that this alien foe is really our friend, and that we should joyously embrace eternal servitude to this monstrous force.This sounds like the theme of the long-running TV series "The X Files," or the plot from a new Oliver Stone movie, doesn't it?Except it's the way things really are in this world, and the way they have been for centuries.The extraterrestrial force is God. The collaborators are the God whorshippers who tell us, despite all evidence to the contrary, that God is good, worthy of our devotion and supplication.They tell us, despite all the evil God has wrought upon us (and all the good he takes credit for that happened naturally with no assistance from him), that we should whorship him, obey him, fall in line and accept him.
And, maybe they're onto something.