The Demiurge in Gnostic lore refers to the evil material universe created by a lesser and/or inferior creator deity. In Gnosticism, the Demiurge is a being that never should have come into existence, the result of Sophia emanating without her male counterpart, Yeshua. She desired to create something apart from the divine totality and without the receipt of divine assent. In this abortive act of separate creation, she gave birth to the monstrous Demiurge and, being ashamed of her deed, she wrapped him in a cloud and created a throne for him within it. The Demiurge, isolated, did not behold his mother, nor anyone else, and thus concluded that only he himself existed, being ignorant of the superior levels of reality that were his birth-place. Thus the Demiurge is frequently identified as the Abrahamic God Yahweh.
The Gnostics attributed to the Demiurge much of the actions and laws that in the Tanach or Old Testament. The figures of the "Angel of YHWH" and the "Angel of Death" may have contributed to the Gnostic view of the Demiurge.
Gnosticism also presents a distinction between the highest, unknowable “alien God” and the demiurgic “creator” of the material. Some systems of Gnostic thought present the demiurge as antagonistic to the will of the Supreme Being: his act of creation occurs in unconscious imitation of the divine model, and thus is fundamentally flawed, or else is formed with the malevolent intention of entrapping aspects of the divine in materiality. In such systems, the demiurge acts as a theodicy (a solution to the "problem of evil"). In the Apocryphon of John circa 200 CE, the demiurge has the name “Yaldabaoth,” and proclaims himself as God:
- "Now the archon who is weak has three names. The first name is Yaltabaoth, the second is Saklas (Syriac sækla, “the foolish one"), and the third is Samael (Syriac sæmʕa-ʔel, "Blind God"). And he is impious in his arrogance which is in him. For he said, ‘I am God and there is no other God beside me,’ for he is ignorant of his strength, the place from which he had come."
In Xenosaga, Wilhelm may be the Demiurge.