Religion continued & concluded
Scientology 1.0.0 – Part 13
Organised Religion and nature
In the millennia before the Enlightenment, the world was mostly thought of the way it seemed to the senses: the world was flat, the sky was a dome, mountains “rose” (as one walked towards them), the sun “moved” by rising and setting, the constellations “roamed,” and so on.
Also, something to remember is that, for all of this time, most sedentary human civilisations were agrarian. Despite the rise of urban living six thousand years ago, when more and more people settled in cities, most people farmed. You planted, then harvested; all life was still firmly rooted in the basic, fundamental cycles of nature through husbandry, which has made up most of history since the Neolithic Revolution. This paradigm has only drastically shifted in the past one hundred years or so, an often overlooked fact. I mention this because it appears we’ve forgotten how this connectedness to the natural rhythms of nature and religion go together; how urbanisation can and does unmoor many from the underlying principles of all life: sowing, tending, and reaping; conceiving, living, and dying.1
Much, much later, towards the end of the Roman Empire, the Western part of the world fell into chaos. The strong authority of Christianity, combined with Roman law, brought order back. At the same time, the study of nature, which the Greeks had pioneered, came to a near halt.
Things got complicated. After Rome collapsed, philosophy (which, though not yet understanding how the universe works, was, at least, attempting to simply observe it) got eclipsed by another way of thinking. Clearly, from some points of view, the Greeks and Romans must have had it all wrong, or else they wouldn’t have made such a hash of things. Therefore, because of that (and other less logical reasons), the early Christian church thought there should be total submission by all to God and that all investigation into the natural world, being obviously pointless, should be abandoned. This meant that for awhile, nobody seriously tried to figure out how reality really works, but instead they were more intent on describing the universe in terms of how they felt it worked or wanted it to work. Sort of like today’s universities, only less histrionic and ill-intentioned.
So, investigation into the natural world was practically dead in the West during the Middle Ages. Then, miracle of miracles, around the first millennia, philosophy got a resurgence. The Islamic world had preserved a lot of the West’s previous research that the early Christians had destroyed, and had continued studying nature (for awhile, anyway, until it was halted by fundamentalism in the 11th or 12th century A.D.). The academies in Islamic Spain, plus the Crusades, helped to get the Christian world back into action observing the physical plane, and this is how what we now call science finally got on the table in the West. Well, sort of; baby steps, baby steps.
Throughout this time, from 700 A.D. to 1500 A.D., the Roman Catholic Church (not religion) was gradually captured by anti-social interests. It ossified and became more and more authoritarian. The resultant upheavals of the Reformation led to a lot of tension and the Catholic Church’s monolithic power was now weakened. This helped set the stage for philosophy to make a big comeback in the next period, which is called the “Modern Era.”
By the 17th century, natural philosophers (early scientists) were regularly challenging the pseudoscientific assumptions (“dogma”2) that were made by the Protestant and Catholic Churches, where they seemed to differ from observable facts. This, further disrupting the status quo, caused blowback, such as the Inquisition. From this backlash, there was created a sort of legend as regards the origin of the so-called schism between science and religion, which we sometimes hear about today.
One of the most cited cases is that of Galileo Galilei, the father of observational astronomy. Galileo’s examinations confirmed Copernican heliocentrism and were met with heated opposition from within the Catholic Church. The matter was taken up by the Roman Inquisition in 1615, which decided that his calculations were not just absurd but actually heretical since they contradicted Holy Scripture. Why? So what? Because the Earth, God’s creation, was the centre of the universe, and man, also God’s creation, was its temporal master. Therefore, the Church, being the gatekeeper to God Himself, was the rightful arbiter of man’s destiny, or something like that. Galileo was messing not just with the authority of the Church but with the very hierarchy of being itself. After all, it was precisely this hierarchy of the Church and the power of authority that went with it that, in no small part, helped to bring order to a world engulfed by chaos and death some 800 years earlier. Now a few upstarts, “natural philosophers” (and mere men, mind you), want to risk all that and send us back into anarchy?!
Even so, this backlash from the Catholic Church, the eventual ascendance of Enlightenment philosophy, and their secular world vision probably did not actually cause the clash between science and religion we see today, as far as I can tell. I submit this view because there are just too many cases of religious universities, both Catholic and Protestant, supporting natural philosophy and its emphasis on objectivity and reason. And because most Enlightenment thinkers were religious and, for the most part, in good standing with their various denominations, even the Catholic Church.
What I’ve read happened was far more complicated. It was a strange turn in philosophy, I think, that played the key role in this division, not religion, nor even any church.
In the 18th century, Enlightenment rationalism began to experience a truly serious blowback called the Counter-Enlightenment.
Despite the fact that the Catholic Church was attacking back against the Enlightenment, often with spectacular violence, Christianity’s world-view was still taking a heck of a beating in the 17th and 18th centuries as more and more “inaccuracies” in scripture, scientifically speaking, were pointed out. Science, though, is only concerned with the quantitative, measurable, and general aspects of reality and nothing else, and certainly not with the personal specifics of value, beauty, and meaning (which is most of everything because most of life is qualitative). This was deeply troubling to a new breed of thinkers.
These new voices were arguing, more or less, that one could not actually objectively know anything. They were saying that all reality is actually wholly subjective (like they thought religion was, which it isn’t, remember the moral codes?). Their concern was that the pendulum was swinging too far into the objective column, which, in some cases, it actually was (gosh, things are complicated, you know?). Eventually, all this added confusion left the West with a “God-shaped hole” and a crisis of meaning. (This objective-subjective thing is part of the next article.)
Some of the craziest thinking ever done in the West was done by these Counter-Enlightenment chaps. Ideas concocted by guys like the seriously goofy Jean-Jacques Rousseau and the diehard materialists Hegel and Marx were rich fertiliser for some of the worst bloodbaths and democides in human history (fans of the Counter-Enlightenment, don’t howl just yet, I get into this more later). Meaning, and the organising principles that go with it, began to slip away.
In all its forms, Christianity, as an institution, bears a great responsibility for failing to successfully rebut these convoluted ideologies as well as for actually perpetuating them in many cases.
The failure of religious institutions
With the rise of secularism (which is not a bad thing in and of itself), states determined to eradicate religion altogether arose as well.
The Eastern Orthodox Church in Moscow, despite having considered itself the true seat of Christendom (after the fall of Constantinople in 1453), gave way almost instantly to the Bolsheviks, who were super-atheists and would prove themselves amongst the world’s greatest mass murderers of all time.
Then there was the near total failure of the Roman Catholic Church to stand up against the Italian Fascists and, later, the German Fascists (Nazis). Neither group was nearly as wholly invested in killing everybody as the Communists were. They were more “discriminating,” perhaps because they weren’t entirely atheistic. This doesn’t make them better, of course. One of the justifications for the Nazis’ going after the Jews was that they weren’t Christian. This was possibly one of the reasons the Vatican didn’t step in. Grim stuff.
In the past century or so, especially since the 1950s, many denominations have “modernised”, including the Catholic Church to some degree, by becoming “liberal”, by watering themselves down into a permissive, all-accepting, “I’m okay-you’re okay,” New Age, wishy-washy version of their former selves, or, conversely, by becoming zealously “fundamental,” inciting things like the creation–evolution debate and stupid events like “monkey trials”3 and other such literalist balderdash.
An even worse betrayal by churches of all stripes was when, recently, all across the U.S. and Canada, most closed down, agreeing with their governments that they were “non-essential”. I mean, wow! That’s a total act of treason in my book. (Kudos to those churches that didn’t close.) All this is politics, pure and simple.
Going along to get along, obeying the government no matter what, has no place in religion. Nor is religion very useful when its leaders dilute moral codes or makes them so rigid as to be harmful.
Another example of where religious institutions have utterly failed: as reason became more codified in philosophy and as the printing presses published more and more in the colloquial (and as language itself changed), the cultural paradigms of the West also evolved. Somehow, Christianity failed to update so that it communicated; too much of scripture became just plain baffling, even if it was translated. The language of the Bible had, over time, become just too strange, despite all its “modern” versions, and the stories too alien. As reason becomes more commonplace, the technologies produced by the scientific method become more prevalent, and so the way the contemporary mind sees the world has just completely shifted. I mean, apples, snakes, marks of Cain, parting red seas, virgin births, etc. What?!!
All this contributes to a crisis of meaning, and has in fact gotten so serious that whole swaths of the West want to effectively do away with all the progress. Postmodernist thought prevails. But it isn’t really so much about whether there’s a God, which can and should be discussed, or debated, by thinking people all the time; no, the upset is about who gets to be boss. And by boss, I mean who gets to throw whom into prison or onto the bonfire.4
Right now, it is the secular authority of the almighty state, because when you don’t have a big, giant, all powerful, bullying church to worry about, you apparently get instead a big, giant, bullying state, often many, many times more deadly. If you want to know who your enemy is, it’s anybody who wants to give the state more power. When people throw away God, whose job was never to supplant personal responsibility, then you get the state, whose job is exactly that, and that’s the Devil of it.
Up ahead, the next stop: Hell. All aboard!
Besides the upset between scientism’s obsession with the objective world and religions’ insistence on the totality of the subjective universe, there are a couple more ways religion gets into trouble.
All religions, from the earliest days of man, were developed from an “in-group” perspective, of course. Any time a tribe met another tribe, it would be considered an out-group. This out-group would most certainly have had their own religion.
Encountering an out-group was, quite often, deadly, for one reason or another. It could be carrying an illness your group had no immunity to; it could be more aggressive by having more or bigger males; it might have had superior weapons technology; it very often just wanted your stuff, especially your women and children. Yes, life could be tough in those days. Of course, if the other group, the out-group, appeared weaker than your group, well, then you gave them your sickness or took all their stuff. And so it went. The successes and the failures were often thought to be a matter of whose gods were better, I’d guess.
As time went on and as particular in-groups grew in size and sophistication, they developed scripture that naturally continued to target out-groups as fair-game, and so it was that religion eventually came to be blamed for teaching violence. Some of this vestigial in-group, out-group stuff remains in the Bible, for instance, and has been grabbed up by bad actors as giving them divine justification for prosecuting some selected “out-group,” like Cathars or gays. In Christianity, this is a particularly heinous exercise because Christianity isn’t about in-groups or out-groups.
I should add, and in my view, this is the main thing that gets religion into bad odour with people: the happy vs. unhappy religious people. If someone is just a mean, unhappy person, going around being “religious” or spouting scripture at every turn, engaging in “hard-sell” evangelism, or molesting children, or what have you, then they’re just doing harm. Instead of blaming religion, we should justly consider them as the miserable people that they are, and that it’s they that have in fact betrayed religion, God, and the whole shebang, not the other way round, and turn our backs on them (and if children were harmed, throw them in jail too).
Only people who are usually, and most of the time, competent, happy, and trustworthy are justified in considering themselves religious.
A useful paradigm
In my opinion, Scientology 1.0.0 has a particularly useful view on the subject of religion.
Then there is the 8th dynamic. In Scientology 1.0.0, God is “indicated” by the 8th dynamic, but the subject is left there. As with the 7th dynamic, what exactly is the 8th dynamic is left to one’s own speculation, one’s own sacred view, as religions differ on the subject, because people do. This is in part why Scientology 1.0.0 embraces all denominations since one of its goals is to assist by helping people better understand how important, personal, and sacred these things truly are.
Using reason and logic to investigate the 7th and 8th dynamics is like peering down the wrong end of a telescope that has both ends smeared with vaseline. Consider instead that the 6th dynamic is its own domain with all the rules that go with it (which we are still figuring out), and that these rules do not apply in any real sense to the 7th and 8th dynamics, and that, instead, the 6th is an expression of the 7th and 8th dynamics.
The 7th is the dynamic of soul, creativity, art, beauty, quality, and so on. The 8th is the dynamic of Creation.
Mixing up these domains, these dynamics, could be considered a form of blasphemy. It’s not a good idea to define and describe the 7th or 8th dynamics as if they’re the same as the 1st through 6th dynamics, and vice versa. Confusing them either way, when not being silly, can actually tip the apple cart.
Why? Because thinking of the 7th and 8th dynamics as if they were material leads to materialism, and it’s getting stuck in the material that produces all the insanities, crimes and wars, that man has suffered from for so long. I mean, I wonder how many people who “saw God” in some way, then tried to make sense of it using reason, and are now wandering the streets as one of the “homeless”.
Although religion had almost everything wrong with the scientific aspect of the 6th dynamic, it did and does understand that without the 7th and 8th dynamics, there could be no true order, true goodness, or morality. Without this view from the 7th and 8th dynamics, there simply would have been no reason to stop bombing after Nagasaki, no reason whatsoever. Why not just keep dropping atom bombs on people? From the anti-religious point of view, we’re all just meaningless, disposable wet robots, after all. Just ask Stalin or Mao.
See what I’m saying? People who kill continuously, without stopping, are always atheists and/or materialists, even if they are the Pope or a priest. For them, morality is a kind of postmodern “construct” that means whatever they want it to mean.5
Religion is not a glitch, such as atheists like to see it, but one of the prime features in man’s toolbox; without the religious experience and perspective, we would have died out long ago.
To be clear, what I’m saying is, we didn’t get this far despite religion, but because of it.
Religion, what gets to be one?
Just as in ancient times, today there are many religions, some with gods or God:
Monotheisms: Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Sikhism, Baháʼí Faith.
Duotheism (sort of): Zoroastrianism
Polytheism/pantheism: Hinduism (which is also lots of other things).
Neither monotheistic nor pantheistic: Tenrikyo.
Ways: Shintoism, Taoism.
(A note to any adherents of the above mentioned religions: please don’t screech if I oversimplified yours, which I did in every case and for which I apologise. It’s impossible to make simple categories of things that represent the sacred and the ineffable, as demonstrated by the debates regarding the definition of religion.)
In the previous article, I gave the definition of religion as: a set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe, especially when considered as the creation of a superhuman (as in above or beyond human) agency or agencies, usually involving devotional and ritual observances, and often containing a moral code governing the conduct of human affairs.
The derivation: Middle English (originally in the sense of ‘life under monastic vows’): from Old French, or from Latin religio(n-) ‘obligation, bond, reverence’, perhaps based on Latin religare ‘to bind’.
The truth is that there is, as one may guess, some debate about the above. For instance, that derivation comes to us from Lactantius (c. 250—c. 325 A.D.) via Saint Augustine (354—430 A.D.).
Then there’s another one: religio comes from relegere: re (again) + lego (read), where lego is in the sense of “go over,” “choose,” or “consider carefully” (Cicero, 106—43 B.C.).
See the difference? The first indicates or implies theism; both Lactantius and St. Augustine were Christians. The second indicates the sacred with or without theism, perhaps because Cicero was a philosopher. (Everything I just said is grounds for eristics, yet one could argue on and on endlessly without anyone ever “winning.”)
Then there’s this whole other problem: how religion was thought about in the West began to change radically in the 16th century due to things such as globalisation in the Age of Exploration, which increased contact with numerous and very impressive foreign cultures and all their sacred places and practises. It was not unreasonable to wonder if these other things were “properly” religious. Some additional confusion ensued.
Compounding this confusion is the fact that, early in the 20th century, in 1909 to be exact, the United States Congress changed its constitution (ratified in 1913). Suddenly, its 1st Amendment, which prevents the government from making laws regulating the establishment of a religion or that would prohibit the free exercise of religion, was, over night, thoroughly compromised by the toxic 16th Amendment, which permits Congress to levy an income tax and, boom! “Houston, we have a problem!”
Why? Because now the federal state gets to decide, via the Internal Revenue Service, despite the guarantees of the 1st Amendment, what is a religion and what isn’t. And since no one can figure that out anyway, well, you get the drift… literally.
But Cicero was on to something. What more important thing can one do after food, shelter, and taking care of the family than take stock of the meaning of life, indeed, the meaning of the whole universe? Without considering these things carefully, as if they are sacred, which, of course, they are, how can one connect, even bond, with all that is bigger, greater, and beyond just one’s self?
Through the 18th and 19th centuries, certainly by 1953/54, the word “mysticism” had become hopelessly confused and conflated with other things, usually bad things. At that time, though, most of the U.S. was still pretty religious and the word “religion” wasn’t too confused… yet. Even so, regardless of the fact that Scientology is a religion, it still, only reluctantly, adopted the appellation because it was clear there was already an ill wind that was blowing nobody any good if they believed in anything “invisible.” Dealing as it does with the spiritual, getting itself identified as a religion was not in any way inaccurate, but even the word “spiritual” was becoming hopelessly contorted and meaningless.6 In a hard-core, materialist world, you can’t get clarity on these things no matter what you do.
Some people like to tell the story that registering Scientology as a church was my dad’s attempt at a legalistic “tax dodge.” On a purely personal note (being the anti-big government cuss I am), even if this were true, who cares? People paid as much as 89% in income tax back then, and businesses paid 52%. Compare that to the relative pittance individuals and businesses pay today.7
Would you happily pay out that kind of dough to an illegal enterprise (yes, The U.S. government is actually illegal, it’s called “constitutional drift”) that’s engaged in a merger with the private sector (crony capitalism: “beware the military industrial complex,” etc.), resulting in ever increasing governmental overreach and foreign adventurism? Wilfully, even ignorantly, supporting such an organisation is to be complicit.8
Another story is that Scientology was created to make its founder rich. The quote attributed to him is, “You don’t get rich writing science fiction. If you want to get rich, you start a religion.”9
I have researched this and if anyone can tell me where to find this quote’s origin, I’d like to know, not that I’d care much.
Speaking of making money, years later, he did get a sizeable windfall when he and my mother were jointly willed an estate by a close friend. They used this money to buy Saint Hill, a modestly sized manor estate in the south of England. (This was while the British economy was still in the dumps after WWII, and many such properties were up for grabs for pennies on the pound.) Later, in the early ’70s, he began collecting his royalties, which apparently he hadn’t done for over twenty years. He also sold Saint Hill to the church, a property that had gained considerably in value. He was doing stuff with this money, such as investing, and he would tell me about wins and losses in the market and that he was mostly winning. Possibly he was rich by then, I don’t know. I do know that he wasn’t cosying up to celebrities, flying about in a private jet, or driving around in a bullet-proof car like some robber sheikh, though.
Back to 1953, and Scientology 1.0.0 and why it was incorporated as a religion.
The American Medical Association had been battling various deadly medical practises over the years and had uniformly collaborated with the federal Food and Drug Administration to enforce its rules. The FDA generally went after some real malefactors, but unfortunately, also anything and everything that wasn’t sanctified as “medicine,”10 which included things like acupuncture and even nutrition, if you can believe it. These “alternative” medicines have been around for thousands of years but, in some cases, were perceived by the Feds as dangerous because people might turn to them when they were seriously ill and not avail themselves of “real” medicine until it was too late.
Scientology was very new (people are more comfortable with things that have been around for awhile); its founder had no official credentials in either medicine or psychology (a big crime of omission in the world of Scientism); nothing of it had been peer reviewed and published in respectable medical journals, yet it claimed to cure psychosomatic ills. On top of all that, it used what the FDA saw as a strange “lie detector” sort of device (an ohmmeter that will be discussed later), and, what was worse, this new religion prescribed vitamins.11 That it included past lives in its therapy, the FDA didn’t care about, but the media loved to use it to run Scientology down in the press. This was to the FDA’s advantage, to be sure, because who cares if the state goes after people who are to the public “just a bunch of weirdos.” Am I right?
So what do you do? Exactly. Dad was not one to heel, or even to be bothered to figure out how to mollify, or “do business”,12 with these powers and since Scientology is a religion then, voilà, it became a church.
But it didn’t succeed in backing off the feds. Because of the 16th amendment, the government could now attack and quibble about whether or not Scientology was “in fact” a religion. After-all, for the Feds, at the end of the day, it really is all about the money (and the power that goes with excessive taxation).
On top of all that, by transforming its public identity as an applied philosophy into that of a religion, it inherited the entirety of the confusion associated with all religions, which were increasingly perceived by the mass media and an ever-growing number of atheists and cynics as the cause of almost all the violence, wars, murder, and scams of the previous two and a half thousand years and more. Out of the frying pan and into the fire, as they say.
Anyway, that’s the beginning of Scientology 2.0, that identification as a religion and incorporation as a church in 1953 and 1954, at least as far as I know.
I suppose you can think of my explanation however you want; certainly take it with a grain of salt if you must, as you should, but it was a monumental decision, as I shall go on to further elucidate in future articles. At its core, though, it was a decision originally designed to protect my dad’s family, his friends, and his project.
Man! Well, there’s so much more to say about religion and much, much more than I will personally ever know. Here I have used broad strokes and barely scratched the surface. But I think, I hope, I’ve made my point, which is: if you find a fence in a field and don’t know why it’s there, find out before you tear it down. Same goes for religion.
So I’ll leave off on it for now, with just one final comment:
Really thinking about it, some of us have possibly never quite felt like we actually belong here, or there, or anywhere. That somehow, home, our true home, lies somewhere else, possibly far, far away and, perhaps, long, long ago.
This terrible loss, this loss of home, has left many of us in the West the loneliest people in the world: hungry ghosts shambling through lives so seemingly isolated from anything real that our sadness emanates like waves upon some lonely shore. If this is not you, then you are one of the lucky ones.
∞ is Home.
Today, due to certain misadventures with the wrong ideas about religion, many of us are deluded into thinking an all-powerful state could save us. More discerning people might strain under the idea that through “self-realisation” we can possibly reinvent meaning. Well, certainly, you can get your own house in order by means of self-help, self-education, and self-actualisation, but meaning, true meaning, can only be found outside oneself, by going home.
And that’s the purpose of religion: to help guide you home.
1 Today’s top four most famous atheists are all born and raised in cities: Christopher Hitchens (now deceased), was born in Portsmouth; Daniel Dennett, Boston; Sam harris, Los Angeles; Richard Dawkins, Nairobi. The most famous atheist of all, Karl Marx, was born in Trier and never lived anywhere but major cities.
2 A dogma is a belief or set of beliefs that is accepted by the members of a group without being questioned or doubted. Scripture is simply religious ideas, which should be open to discussion, or else the religion goes out of date, sort of like old software. This tradition of enthusiastically discussing scripture is one of the geniuses of Judaism.
3 This particular squabble was, as usual, not really so much about religion but who was paying for public schooling and what public schools should or shouldn’t teach. Would you, as a tax-paying evolutionist, want your kids to be taught there’s no such thing? No, you wouldn’t. Nor would a tax-paying creationist want their children to be taught that there is no God.
4 For those who might not have thought of it this way, the “authority” of government, whether by parliament, a king, a military junta, or a church, comes from the very simple and plain fact that, in whichever form, it holds a jealously guarded monopoly on violence. Don’t agree? Try not paying taxes for awhile, or hold your own trial and sentencing and see what happens. Participation in most nations is NOT voluntary. Wherever you go, you’ll be a “subject”. To break out of this, you’ll need membership in the class that owns that monopoly (and it’s definitely not pipsqueaks like Bill Gates).
5 It’s true that many “hawks,” such as you may find by the bucketload at the Pentagon or in government, call themselves “religious.” They aren’t, though, for if they were, they wouldn’t want to go to war every ten minutes. This is what is meant by hypocrisy.
6 Today, one often hears the claim, “I’m not religious, but I consider myself spiritual.” I’m saying, what in Jersey City does that even mean? Talk about confusion. All they are trying to say is that they are non-denominational. More befuddlement!
7 By the way, my dad was not against taxes. He was against the federal income tax because it: 1) interferes with the 1st Amendment; 2) is used to pay the interest on Federal Reserve loans to the government and “private,” “too big to fail” corporations; 3) suppresses personal productivity and innovation; 4) is used to finance foreign wars and adventurism; and 5) is used to subsidise mega-corporations such as big pharma and the military industrial complex.
8 At that very moment, in 1953 and ’54, the U.S. government was gaily crushing the democratically elected governments of both Iran and Guatemala.
9 Does anybody ever ask, if this were so, then why aren’t there thousands of rich, lucrative religions out there? There are actually only a few, and most of the “cults” that have come and gone were small affairs indeed.
10 “Approved medicine,” developed in the Crimean and American wars of the 1850s and 60s, excluded most everything except surgery and drugs. In other words, emergency medicine. This is a problem because most medicine is mild, such as eating actual food. (Which increasing numbers of people don’t. Eat food, I mean).
11 Vitamins were controversial because they competed with drugs. The 50s were the beginning of the U.S. age of Big Pharma, based on the German I.G. Farben model (hellooo Zyklon B!).
12 Which was done through bribes back then, same as today.