Certainly, social media “presence” cannot be construed as an indicator of the intellectual level of a group, be it formal or informal, however, it might provide clues as to what is considered important and acceptable for said group. Or, at least, for the enforcers of the self-imposed rules in the social media platform.
It is widely known that I am a member of several groups on different social media outlets that self-style themselves as “Masonic” – all of them interpreting that affiliation in different ways. For most of us, that’s quite normal, since anybody just vaguely familiar with this topic is aware that the “universal and monolith” worldwide Freemasonry is a myth (mainly perpetuated by anti-masonic conspiracy guys and ignorant Masons, as well). Instead, what we have is many flavours and styles and “rites” of Freemasonry. It used to be that one thing was common to all of them, namely the thirst for knowledge – seeking the “light” in Enlightenment-era Masonic lingo – which was in accord with the universal human quest for knowing the hidden mysteries of nature and science.
A few years ago, I had the privilege to present in one of my favourite lodges a lecture about our rational, scientific heritage in Freemasonry. The fact that in the mythical (and mainly lost) past history of the Craft the religious, more exactly Christian roots were defining elements, nobody can deny. The most widely accepted origin theories, alluding to medieval guilds, incorporations, mystery plays, all point to Christian religious aspects. It should not come as a surprise, because it is known that for many centuries the only accepted and acceptable intellectual-spiritual framework in Europe used to be Christianity. Exclusively Roman Catholic at the beginning, and widening later to encompass the Protestant interpretations as well. In the above-mentioned lecture I argued that parallel to this heritage, there was and still exists another line of intellectual “bloodline”. It started, perhaps, with the Baconian method, going all the way through the Royal Society’s scientific “revolution” and the Newtonian worldview…
After the institutionalization of the Grand Lodge system (following 1717) one of the defining figures of the early Freemasonry, and possible the leading force behind the introduction of the third degree, was a certain John Theophilus Desaguliers, a close collaborator of Newton, who was known as a lecturer of the Experimental Philosophy. Desaguliers and his early Grand Lodge officers and ideologues pushed Freemasonry toward a less Christian character, aiming to make it a universally acceptable place for all creeds and religions. This pendulum-like movement of de-Christianization and re-Christianization is a permanent characteristic of Freemasonry… we just don’t like to talk about it.
In light of everything written above, one might think that a contemporary philosophical academic text discussing the relation of religion and science should be of interest for Masonic groups. So, when I found on the website Academia.edu an ”entry for the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy”, an article by Helen De Cruz, a senior lecturer in philosophy at Oxford Brookes University, I enthusiastically shared it to a Masonic group. The title of the article is RELIGION AND SCIENCE. In a few minutes, it has been deleted. The reason, and I am quoting the exact feedback received from the admins:
Please keep all posts on the page about or directly relevant to Freemasonry without deviation into hot topics that are not a part of Freemasonry on the whole.
If recommending an academic article for reading and, eventually, discussing it, is considered “deviation” and “not part of Freemasonry”… maybe I should seriously (re)consider my views of this organization. Or of the men that claim to represent it.
P.S. It is true, religious and political debates are not allowed in the lodges, an old reference to the Old Charges, which meant to stop sectarian arguments. Scholarly discussions among educated men – in and outside of the lodge – are supposed to take place all the time, as part of our daily advancement in knowledge.