isis unveiled, vol 2: chapter vi (the conflict between religion and science)

“The forefathers of our modern divines found authority for the Sortes in the verse where it said: “The lot is cast into the lap, but the whole disposing thereof is of the Lord”; and now, their direct heirs hold that “the whole disposing thereof is of the Devil.” Perhaps, they are unconsciously beginning to endorse the doctrine of the Syrian Bardesanes, that the actions of God, as well as of man, are subject to necessity? It was no doubt, also, according to strict “Necessity” that the Neo-Platonists were so summarily dealt with by the Christian mob. In those days, the doctrines of the Hindu naturalists and antediluvian Pyrrhonists were forgotten, if they ever had been known at all, to any but a few philosophers; and Mr. Darwin, with his modern discoveries, had not even been mentioned in the prophesies. In this case the law of the survival of the fittest was reversed; the Neo-Platonists were doomed to destruction from the day when they openly sided with Aristotle.

At the beginning of the fourth century crowds began gathering at the door of the academy where the learned and unfortunate Hypatia expounded the doctrines of the divine Plato and Plotinus, and thereby impeded the progress of Christian proselytism. She too successfully dispelled the mist hanging over the religious “mysteries” invented by the Fathers, not to be considered dangerous. This alone would have been sufficient to imperil both herself and her followers. It was precisely the teachings of this Pagan philosopher, which had been so freely borrowed by the Christians to give a finishing touch to their otherwise incomprehensible scheme, that had seduced so many into joining the new religion; and now the Platonic light began shining so inconveniently bright upon the pious patchwork, as to allow everyone to see whence the “revealed” doctrines were derived.

But there was still a greater peril. Hypatia had studied under Plutarch, the head of the Athenian school, and had learned all the secrets of theurgy. While she lived to instruct the multitude, no divine miracles could be produced before one who could divulge the natural causes by which they took place. Her doom was sealed by Cyril, whose eloquence she eclipsed, and whose authority, built on degraded superstitions, had to yield before hers, which was erected on the rock of immutable natural law. It is more than curious that Cave, the author of the Lives of the Fathers, should find it incredible that Cyril sanctioned her murder on account of his “general character.” A saint who would sell the gold and silver vessels of his church, and then, after spending the money, lie at his trial, as he did, may well be suspected of anything. Besides, in this case, the Church had to fight for her life, to say nothing of her future supremacy.

Alone, the hated and erudite Pagan scholars, and the no less learned Gnostics, held in their doctrines the hitherto concealed wires of all these theological marionettes. Once the curtain should be lifted, the connection between the old Pagan and the new Christian religions would be exposed; and then, what would have become of the Mysteries into which it is sin and blasphemy to pry? With such a coincidence of the astronomical allegories of various Pagan myths with the dates adopted by Christianity for the nativity, crucifixion, and resurrection, and such an identity of rites and ceremonies, what would have been the fate of the new religion, had not the Church, under the pretext of serving Christ, got rid of the too well-informed philosophers? To guess what, if the coup d’ état had then failed, might have been the prevailing religion in our own century would indeed, be a hard task. But in all probability, the state of things which made of the Middle Ages a period of intellectual darkness, which degraded the nations of the Occident, and lowered the Europeans of those days almost to the level of a Papuan savage – could not have occurred.”

H. P. Blavatsky

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