Science Envy, Religion Envy

I’ve noticed a weird kind of science envy in American Christianity as well as various New Age and occult circles. There’s creationism which tries to use science to kinda disprove scientific consensus. There’s incredible abuses of quantum physics by, well, what seems to be 50% of anyone writing on religion or spirituality. There’s a lot of “science” in the same way that someone cosplaying is actually the character.

Too many people want the dignity, applicability, and detail science around their complex spiritual experiences and faith. Or, without that, they want to discredit it. Meanwhile science would like more grant money, thanks.

On the other hand, there’s what we’ve seen break apart various atheist and skeptic groups – a fanaticism that borders on, well, religion. That need to disprove but not prove. The smugly sure atheists who seemed to have driven people from atheism. Atheists embracing bigotry that religious groups promote (oft anti-Islam). Assorted YouTube and TikTok bros that we’ve seen come and go (but not go enough) over the years. There’s a lot of religion among these supposedly scientific types.

Too many people want the surety and breadth of religion, the sense of utter rightness. Religion can’t truly deliver that, and science still wants its grant money as there’s actual shit to do.

Having been all over the religion map, I’ve wondered about this phenomena, of supposedly religious people wanting science to back them, and so-called scientific types being no different than religious fanatics. I’m sure you’ve seen this as well, and I’ve had conversations about it with friends.

Now I could go into my own take on this – and perhaps will, but I think it’s important to address the core. How is it religious types want to have the validity of science (or undermine it) and “scientific” types want the surety of religion? Because of power-hungry assholes.

That’s it.

If you’re a power hungry asshole that uses religion, then you can’t have science get in the way, you have to hijack it, destroy it, or preferably both. Science is a rival to you. Also since you’re all about power any rational thought or analysis is your enemy.

If you’re a power hungry asshole that uses “science” (I have to keep putting it in quotes), then science is not enough. Science is a mix of cooperation and argumentation, half freeform concert, half thunderdome fight with pillows. It’s not the kind of thing that will anoint a king or a messiah, but you can pretend to be one and claim you’re the Most Rational. So you do what you can to try to anoint yourself Brain Pope or whatever, and end up looking pretty religious (and perhaps unconsciously duplicate religion).

What is perhaps saddest is how much of religion and science gets defined by these various battles and personalities and grifters. Forget religion versus science, let’s try to diminish the amount of and power of assholes first.


Getting a Handle On The Messiahs: We Can Be Heroes

I’m still writing on Messiahs in our world. Last few times I suggested that Messiahs were usually pathological, at least in modern times, and often arose promising to clean up messes made by other Messiahs. It’s world saviors all the way down, a giant Jenga tower of narcissism and delusion.

(Probably why I adore the almost-certainly fictional story of Lao Tzu, who basically wrote one book and f***d off into the wilderness.)*

I’ve realized lower down the Messiah Tower of Babel-on are the Heroes.

The Heroes are people who aren’t Messiahs (yet) but want to fight a battle against darkness. They may not launch a Crusade, but they’re more than ready to get on board with whatever you’re willing to hand them. They’re vital fuel for the Messiahs, at least the pathological ones.

I see a lot of Heroes on the internet – what are sometimes called Keyboard Commandos, the 101st Chairborne, and so on. People who are ready to talk a big game, who want to be involved – as long as they just keep typing. They feel important for posting the latest meme, even if they’re at best a cog in a large social or propaganda machine.

I see plenty of Heroes ready to get sold a cause they can support if it’s not too hard.. They can “help the children” or “stop the conspiracy” or whatever. They’ll gladly donate or buy some merch or whatever is offered to them. They are happy to provide money so they feel good, funding whatever the Messiah Of The Month is. Maybe they even go to seminars and so on, shelling out funds to take hours of courses that will just get them to pay more.

Finally, there are the Heroes who take action – and make things worse or create more problems. They’ll go on some “mission” for whatever grifter they latched onto that invades privacy, disrupts lives, or accuses the innocent of crimes. Some of them do various forms of misery tourism where they “help” others by swooping in, take a few photos, and pretend to care for an hour. Hours just end up engaging in what is bluntly terrorism, their Hero status replaced with people screaming “false flag” or “lone wolf” – especially the Messiahs they followed.

The heroes are the foot soldiers – and cannon fodder – of the various would-be Messiahs. They’re much easier to rile up today with mass media, internet connectivity, and weakened social bonds. You can sell them a fantasy to keep your grift going with ease.

They’re also easy to rile up because of our media. So many tales sell hero stories, where the hero is righteous, supposedly humble, and of course ultimately justified in their actions. We’ve been told we have to be James Bond, Aragorn, and Jack Reacher. Of course, people want that, and are glad to buy a simulation by whoever will sell it to them.

We need more people who are people, not Heroes following a script. They’re just Messiah fuel.


* If you wonder my actual take on the Tao Te Ching, in my limited knowledge, I think there were a few writers who held the title Lao Tzu and that solidified a political guide to the Taoist mystical philosophy.

Getting a Handle On The Messiahs, Part 2

Earlier I noted I think most Messiahs are dangerous, because to think you’re one is to think greatly about yourself and ill about others. Such belief is often toxic, as you can tell by cracking a history book or watching the news, preferably with chemical support.

Such destructive Messiahs – and I’d argue most are, perhaps especially in our times – leave a trail of wreckage. They may not just lead cults when alive, but leave legacies of followup cult leaders, fractured lives, and endless piles of bullshit teachings. Even death won’t stop them as people find plenty of ways to follow someone after their passing. Like movies, you can start with one storyteller, but it takes a team to build an elaborate and overblown all-encompassing cinematic universe of pathology.

Now let’s think about the destruction left by such Bad Messiahs. It can be very extensive, from communities to countries. It can go on for centuries, eroding societies and relations. These problems can lead to crises and crises call for solutions. What do you get during crises?

You get more Messiahs.

The surest way to get some grifter, some arrogant person, or some delusional savior is to have a crisis. Someone will doubtlessly arise, claim they can solve it – perhaps only they can solve it – and then of course make things worse. Sometimes you don’t get a grifter, an egomanic, or some madman, but all three in a convenient a-hole size package.

Of course if people follow those Messiahs, they don’t solve the problem. They may make it worse. They might delay it, they might kick the can down the road a few years or even decades. But they’ll make other bad decisions, and the problems will often still be there. The Messiahs may still be there too.

If the Messias are still around they may try to save the day from the crap they helped create.

I see the latter a lot in the spheres of technology and politics. Things get worse because of someone’s greedy, boneheaded, or pathological decision and then the same asshole shows up with new solutions. Throw in the fact some people in tech and politics are basically silver spoon nepo babies with no sense or care of how the world works and you have a real nasty Messianic Stew. If any of these people leave the picture, plenty of others are ready to enter the Savior Sweepstakes.

Keep in mind that these Messiahs may not even think they’re solving anything. You’re just someone to steal from or get votes from. It’s easy to pose as a Messiah, there are plenty of examples.

So remember when you’ve got a Messiah don’t just be suspicious. Be suspicious they’re trying to solve problems created by other Messiahs. Hell, they might have created the problem they’re trying to solve – or say they’re solving.

Whenever you meet a Messiah, ask what other Messiahs created the problems they claim they’re solving. Then you have even more reasons not to listen to them.