Joseph Campbell: New Age Rage- “…God is “only a thought”– not a reality.”
by Bill Lockwood
For those who wonder how it is that our culture is imploding, they need look no further than the New Age religious hodge-podge that is being promoted at the University campus level. For example, flatly rejecting, even ridiculing biblical concepts such as the resurrection of the dead as a “clown act,” the late New Age guru Joseph Campbell gives us his picture of a purposeless world in which everyone is simply to follow “their own bliss.” “I don’t believe life has a purpose. Life is a lot of protoplasm with an urge to reproduce and continue in being.”
With degrees from Columbia University Campbell later taught at Sarah Lawrence College. He had grown up as a Roman Catholic in New York but recounts his “conversion” experience to an anti-Christian worldview as occurring as a boy when he visited the Museum of Natural History. Captivated by “Native American mythology” he ironically bought into the Greatest of All American Myths—the general theory of evolution which posits that man evolved from lower life forms. “Science” made a “housecleaning of his religious beliefs.”
Using the unproved and unprovable Darwinian template Campbell utilizes this scenario and places it upon religious development as well. “Monotheism is an evolutionary development from polytheism” is the professor’s idea. Historical data that disproves this nonsense is simply dismissed. Irrationality is enthroned with no apology. This, of course, means a complete repudiation of the Bible which then became Campbell’s primary object of scorn. No wonder that Newsweek reviewed Campbell as one of the “rarest of intellectuals in American life; a serious thinker who has been embraced by the popular culture.”
Gnostics of the early centuries of Christianity fabricated numerous texts which espoused their paganistic worldview. Texts that they composed, such as the “Secret Book of James” or “The Secret Book of John” promote a godless experiential concept such as that Jesus did not really die on the cross as people supposed but was laughing “in space” above the cross. Current “scholars” such as Elaine Pagels, who have long ago rejected the inspiration of the Bible, have swooned over these self-conflicting anonymous texts. Salvation is to be found only by mystical “self-knowledge.”
Go back into ancient history where honoring of the “goddess” was practiced, declares Pagels and Campbell. Throw rational logical thinking out the window and get in touch the “god inside of you” exults Campbell. So taught the drug-induced hippies of the sixties. But the modern New Ager preaches the identical nonsense without mind-altering substances. Practically every Gnostic theme of yesteryear is repeated by Joseph Campbell.
New Age themes run rampant throughout Campbell’s writings. “Satan is god;” “Get in touch with the god inside of you;” the “vegetable world is conscious;” Get back in touch with nature; worship Gaia; our bodies are actually part of the goddess Gaia; one can never know the truth—any truth; heaven is “within you;” the Apocryphal Book of John of the Nag Hammadi “Scriptures” reveals the real account of Jesus’ life; denial of evil; God is “only a thought”– not a reality; You are God!; Let’s all worship the earth; God is wicked because he invented hell—and many other such blasphemous nonsensical assertions are lodged by Campbell.
One of the interesting aspects of those who reject the Bible is the fact that most of them sooner or later commit hari-kari in their thinking processes. The broadest-based example of this, demonstrated continually in The Power of Myth with Bill Moyers and in The Hero With a Thousand Faces, Campbell not only continually contradicts himself with wild assertions, but commits the serious fallacy of supposing that commonality proves borrowing. The Egyptian god Osiris supposedly died and was resurrected; Jesus is said to have died and resurrected; therefore they both are myths and Christianity is assumed to have borrowed the tale from the common mythology of the world. Assertions, assertions, assertions.
Campbell strategically ignores the fact that the Bible is amply demonstrated historically as well as examining the concept of fulfilled prophecies. Ancient pagan cultural myths do not even pretend to do this. But to New Agers, logical lapses seem to make little difference.
What Campbell refuses to do is to come to grips with the fact that the New Testament never purports to be a mere book of ethics or stories, but is good news bound up in the historical order rooted deeply in the historical narratives presented. What distinguishes Christianity from the rest of the world’s religions and philosophical systems is that it purports to be an actual historical record and it is verifiable at thousands of points as it intersects with secular records and archaeology. The New Testament documents are historically reliable and are doubtlessly authentic.
Can One Know the Truth?
Dogmatically railing against Christianity as “exclusivistic,” Campbell tells us that all religions, including Christianity, are merely subjective thoughts of adherents. If all religious philosophies are merely subjective opinions of men whose minds are nothing more than “excreting protoplasm,” as Campbell says he believes, how can he label one of those opinions—Christianity—as a “clown act” and wholly wrong?
If Campbell is right, he could never have discovered it nor could he have ever labeled one of those systems as illogical. “The person who thinks he has found the ultimate truth is wrong” pronounces Campbell. Is that statement of wrongness true? If so, how did he discover it seeing that his brain, by his own admission, is nothing more than moving protoplasm? In truth, even Campbell appeals to ultimate reality when seeking to slay Christianity.
Such is the plight of all those who have become infatuated with New Ageism. They may speak of peace and harmony and “oneness with the universe”—but they rage against the religion of Jesus Christ. Refusing to recognize the historical evidences of New Testament Christianity, New Agers throw correct thinking out the window of their minds and float into a make-believe world of Nirvana.