From Infogalactic: the planetary knowledge core
Jump to: navigation, search

Gnon is a made-up term used mostly in blogs. A reverse acronym of "Nature Or Nature's God", it refers to the universe's highest organizing principles. Ultimately beyond human understanding, some principles can be deduced but may be hard to follow. While not proven to be wrong, it should be considered a metaphor that lies outside mainstream science.


The term is a compromise by atheists, agnostics, and theists to discuss high-level laws of nature and life[1]. Gnon could be seen as a personification of these laws.

It is most associated with Nick Land's Outside In blog, where the term was first coined[2] in 2013.

Principles of Gnon include endless competition, scarcity, and struggle. This causes more complex organisms or societies to form; however these can just as easily be destroyed if they lose sight of the requirements of existence.


Gnon gives alternative reasons for historical practices that are now universally condemned, for example slavery and human sacrifice. Both these practices may have partially served as a means of population control, since there were few other methods to prevent people from breeding.

Human sacrifice often happened in times of agricultural surplus. Instead of trying to store this surplus food, which might have caused a future baby boom, the food was indirectly traded with other communities that had a food shortage, in exchange for breeding-age members from these communities. These members were then sacrificed in highly visible ceremonies. This had several benefits: by disposing of its surplus food the community made itself less vulnerable to raiders, and it also reduced the population of competing communities. Those who practiced human sacrifice may not have consciously understood these motives.[3]

Traditional slavery likewise reduced the quantity and quality of competing populations, since slaves were usually traded across long distances,[4] and younger and stronger slaves were the most prized. High-quality slave genes could become incorporated in the ruling population, however. It would also be possible for slave-like traits to evolve in long-confined populations.[5]

Struggle for existence

Humans should strive to understand these laws even if they dislike them. All attempts to cheat Gnon must end in failure, but the temptation may be irresistible. For example, societies are said to go through stages from savagery to civilization to decadence[6].

Believers in Gnon are interested in the subject of human biodiversity, claiming that different human races have different abilities, and that their genes are in evolutionary competition. However, such talk is highly controversial.

As the harsh struggle for existence is mitigated, people who might have perished in an earlier age are able to survive and reproduce[7], allowing supposedly "inferior" genes to spread. This could lead to dysgenic evolution. IQ rates are already said to be falling across the world.[8] Proponents of the Gnon concept claim this can't last, and eugenics would be preferable to social collapse[9].

Gnon can be depicted as harsh and merciless[10]. It is a naturalistic concept, allowing for no paranormal events. There is no reason to think that benign forces are looking out for mankind. Gnon is meant to be frightening, and serve as a warning that lucky outcomes may conceal hidden horrors, like an anthropic shadow. Some depictions of Gnon may make reality seem absurd. It may even make the universe seem outright horrible, as in the concept of Malism.

In culture

  • Similar restrictions on human hopes appear in Tom Godwin's 1954 SF story The Cold Equations.
  • Gnon memes about the possibility of social decline are posted on the Tumblr account Wrath of Gnon.
  • The concept has been described as anti-Christian.[11][12]


  1. Reddit thread, Dec 23 2015.
  3. Peter T. Leeson, "Human Sacrifice", Review of Behavioral Economics, 2014.
  5. Andre C. R. Martins, 2000. Phenotypical Behavior and Evolutionary Slavery
  6. Francis Bennion, 1946,
  7. W. D. Hamilton, A review of "Dysgenics: Genetic Deterioration in Modern Populations", 2000,
  8. Richard Lynn, John Harvey. "The decline of the world's IQ", Intelligence, 36.2 (Mar–Apr 2008).
  9. Xenosystems post.