25 Comments
Apr 24·edited Apr 24Liked by John Carter

I had the pleasure of meeting Michael Collins at Liberty Forum here in New Hampshire.

I hope to get a chance to talk to him again, as while all the criticisms I've been hearing have merit (some more than others), I do think he and Simone's hearts are in the right place and they're actually trying to do something about it.

The nature of religion makes it impossible to engineer, and it's not going to come from someone who's a staunch atheist, because they will tend to automatically dismiss the entirety as irrational.

If I were to attempt to engineer a religion, I would look at first for the evidence of what is likely to exist outside of this infinitesimal slice of material reality and see what makes the most sense.

After you determine that, then the methodical and scientific exploration of that evidence could point the way towards what that larger reality contains, and might allow a better understanding of what we actually are, and what our purpose is.

I have my own ideas on this naturally, and at some point might put them down so others might consider if they are useful to them, but given the infinite and expanding nature of consciousness and reality it's a certainty all individual consciousness will, in time, find out for themselves - and the joy is truly in the journey.

Expand full comment
author

I do think the Collins' hearts are in the right place, and in my own piece I'm going to be quite sympathetic to them. The key issue to me is that religions are not designed by left-brain analytic engineering. They emerge from the shadows of the mythic subconscious, via direct encounters with the numinous infinite. You can't MAKE them, you can only be OPEN to their emergence.

Expand full comment

What about scientology? That seems like one that was made, and appears to have a healthy profit model built right into it.

As far as true faith goes, Orthodox Christianity is my choice. That means the rest of you are heretics, and you will have to burn. Sorry John, I love your articles but heresy cannot be tolerated. Please report to the stake I have set up nearby with the huge pile of firewood under it. We'll get it over with as fast as possible, you won't feel a thing (mostly). 😉

Expand full comment
author

Scientology is certainly an example of a cult that was fabricated quite shamelessly, right out in the open. I talk about that a bit in my upcoming essay.

Expand full comment
Apr 27Liked by John Carter

And yet, Hubbard's origin story strikes me as more accurate than most Abrhamic religions.

...Except for the 757 styled spaceships flying out of volcanos. That was a bit o'er tha' top.

Expand full comment
author

If nothing else he spun an entertaining yarn.

And I'll say this for the scientologists: they're the one group in Hollywood, other than the main group in Hollywood, that absolutely no one will mess with.

Expand full comment
Apr 27Liked by John Carter

On the whole I think they do more good than bad. Look at the movies and roles Tom Cruise has managed to do (e.g. American Made, Oblivion, Les Grossman in Tropic Thunder, etc.). In some of those cases they were openly messing with the main group. Which, leads me to remember someone once said you can judge a tree by that fruits of it.

I do however think Hubbard may have accidentally tapped into some higher consciousness with the themes he used in Battlefield Earth and Scientology's mythology, or maybe he really believed it, who knows.

Expand full comment
Apr 24Liked by John Carter

Broadly agree, but IMO the error the Collins' are making is there's no rational basis to religion. There is an overwhelming body of mostly anecdotal evidence that something far greater than our perceived reality exists, and can be experienced. At some point, you need to accept that overwhelming anecdotal evidence is, well... Overwhelming.

It's impossible to touch the face of God if you believe (irrationally or ignorantly) that it doesn't exist.

IMO we must integrate the left and right brain thinking to get closer to the truth.

Expand full comment
author

Right. And that last part of your comment gets at their problem - it's almost entirely left brain, all logos, no mythos.

Expand full comment
deletedApr 25
Comment deleted
Expand full comment

That, while incorporating scientific study and engineering of transpersonal/religious experiences and the underlying mechanisms.

IMO warrior-poet-scientist-engineer-mystics will be the next phase of human evolution.

Expand full comment

There's a perfectly rational basis for religion without going into the "cavemen trying to understand lightning" or "It's written, so there!" ruts:

It makes people feel better.

Of course, if we were to go into details, then it would become necessary to look at religions/faiths separately, since if one does so the historical record of each comes into play when it comes to judging whether or not it was/is indeed rational (after we sorting out whose rationality we're using) - but [Religion] the idea is perfectly rational in itself.

Expand full comment

Religion, for those in the trenches, is synonymous with authority.

The small people don't have the tools to defy religion. When it no longer addresses their lives, they simply abandon it.

If you talk to them, they don't deny the authority, they just don't participate, which puts everyone in a really weird place. If anyone cares, this is part of the why behind rock music, because it is real, it is transcendent, and it lives in the hearts of the small people.

Honestly, everyone can put their gifted precise grey matter arguments together, but it won't matter, because the small people won't grasp the language.

Why the Gnostic?

Because the power of Gnosis lies in its direct, sweaty, agonizing appeal.

I do realize that the wild, transcendent, uncouth waves of people tranced out scares the fucking shit out of those in polite society. I do realize that talking about hanging with dead people is just too much for an intellectual approach to existence.

Okay.

I'm not asking anyone for anything here. I'm just going to point out to anyone willing to listen that true spirituality is a lovers embrace of transcendence, and that transcendence never occurs in well behaved rooms of politely seated people reciting by rote to some dude in a suit or a funny hat.

Expand full comment

Many thanks John. Was a pleasure to chat with you.

Expand full comment
author

Likewise!

Expand full comment

Fundamentally the problem with the Collins's project is that a strictly materialist approach to maximizing fertility ends with mass-produced bugmen in artificial wombs and humanity becoming eusocial.

Expand full comment
author

This is a very large part of it, yes. They miss the point of religion, mistaking the positive effects (e.g., higher fertility rates) for the purpose. It's a reductive approach.

Expand full comment

> Universal Catholic Wokeism vs. the underground gnostic resistance of organic right-wing mytho-memeticism.

For your attempt to present that dichotomy, wokeism and especially transgenderism is extremely gnostic.

Expand full comment
author

I've heard James Lindsay try to argue this, but I'm less than convinced.

Expand full comment

Given the kinds of things you find convincing, I'm not impressed.

Expand full comment
author

>Eugine isn't impressed

>It's a day that ends in y

Expand full comment

Religion has become a convenient casualty and scapegoat for a deeper phenomenon: the exponential growth of cynicism. The progenitors of ancient, traditional faiths may indeed have been cynics (I simply don't know). But I think few of their followers would have been. A religion is not to be found in the temple but rather, in the heart of the temple-goer, the "true-believer". That is where the sacrifice of faith can be found. Otherwise, discussions about the various beliefs, trappings and rituals are not actually focused on the faith itself but rather, upon its dogma. The "woke" have not yet proven themselves to be "true believers" as they have not been required to offer any meaningful sacrifice. On the contrary, they are routinely rewarded for their spectacle. This sort of cult is nothing new. But I doubt it will have the staying power of the true faiths. Despite my own misgivings, the Christians seem to be one of the few groups capable of withstanding the current tide of hatred against them. And while I abhor the current pontiff, the throne of Peter may outlast the bunch... I don't believe in the "Magisterium" (much) but I do not doubt its authenticity...

Expand full comment
deletedApr 25·edited Apr 25Liked by John Carter
Comment deleted
Expand full comment
author

I've had thoughts like this at the back of my mind for a while. What faiths grow organically in an asteroid hab? I have this vision of a coming of age vision quest where a young kid goes out alone in vacuum armor with aerosolized psilocybin in his air supply...

Expand full comment
deletedApr 25Liked by John Carter
Comment deleted
Expand full comment
author

True, but it also causes brain damage.

Expand full comment