Gnosticism was stamped out completely and its remnants are so badly mangled that special study is needed to get any insight at all into its inner meaning.
The perpetual enemy of faith in the true God is not atheism (the claim that there is no God), but rather Gnosticism (the claim that God is known).
In Gnosticism, the physical world did not ultimately matter - which meant physical suffering did not matter either. Seeking 'enlightenment' meant cultivating an attitude of detachment, even indifference.
Grounded in the natural philosophy of the Middle Ages, alchemy formed a bridge: on the one hand into the past, to Gnosticism, and on the other into the future, to the modern psychology of the unconscious.