So my post on the spiritual state of West Europe hit a nerve even though it’s bad manners to give away what post gets a lot of pageviews since it reveals other posts do shitty and it is best to fake it ’till you make it but then again people tell me autism is our most powerful weapon so I figure I might as well just spew out an autistic stream of consciousness and get it out of my system anyway. Anyway.
Let’s riff on this theme of spiritual exhaustion.
Human life follows rules of nature which is to say we live within the confines of Gnon’s laws. Evolution turns out to play a major role. Now Darwin’s ideas of evolution states that the fittest shall survive. What is the fittest? For mankind the fittest mostly boiled down to the tribe that was best at smashing to pulp the skulls of other tribes. So the ability to outsmart and outsmash your enemy has been heavily selected for.
An crucial feature of this is cooperation. The story of evolution seems to me the story of endless prisoner’s dilemma simulations: to cooperate or not to cooperate, that is the question. From Gnon’s perspective there is no moral reason whatsoever to cooperate, but he does seem to favour cooperation for two main reasons:
- A team can accomplish things an individual could have never done alone. 10 monkeys kill 1 monkey no problem.
- If you are working together you are not slicing open each others throat which by itself is a net gain.
So the story of mankind’s evolution is the story of the evolution of cooperation. Not because cooperation was morally superior, just because it worked so well. So how exactly did nature instil this sense of automatic cooperation? Religion.
Religion gives a sense of identity, gives a sense of personal belonging within the larger world. I have faith, therefore I am. All societies are religious and the further you go back in time the cruder a society’s religion was. Faith is shared within the tribe, that is the entire point of it. Better to collectively sacrifice a child to the gods than to have no collective rituals at all, for lack of cohesion points to lack of cooperation and lack of cooperation leads to paranoia as to whether your neighbor plans to smash your skull in which means you might just be better of pre-emptively smashing in his skull.
So we are wired for religion, not because of some mysterious supernatural force but because being plugged into the same superorganism gives all the organisms belonging to that superorganism an evolutionary edge. This is why, when viewed from a skyscraper, people function like ant colonies, why people in groups so easily tune into a collective consciousness. Ask anyone who has performed for a large group. Our brains are wired for collective experiences of faith. This is why Moldbug’s cladistic ordering of strands of Christianity makes so much sense: religions evolve in similar patterns to, say, Darwin’s finches.
The problem of course is that evolutionary faith works retroactively: first comes the evolutionary pressure, second comes the religious adaptation. From historical example it seems that a good adaptation (e.g. the teachings of an excellent prophet) may guide a superorganism for several hundred years before the evolutionary pressures have changed in such a way that the prophet’s teachings have grown obsolete, or worse, counterproductive. For instance, Jesus’ teachings of universal love made the Anglo-Saxon unconditionally altruistic, but modernity’s cheap transport and prog-sponsored mass immigration makes unconditional altruism suicidal.
Which leads to another important point: modern superorganisms are messy. Like, incredibly messy. Your average modern citizen has to deal with co-workers, family, friends, strangers, fellow countrymen, foreigners, people on tv and the entire internet! Dunbar’s number, fukdat’s number. The fact that a country like the Netherlands or the US even has a functioning sense of identity is testament to the immense strength of our religious wiring. But our faith is strained and sick.
I am cautious with statements such as that last one because it is easy to idealise the past which we do not really know. Perhaps faith has always been strained and sick and is it really just the way things work. But I do not believe that. Sometimes I read old books and I read a sense of serenity and belonging that modernity just lacks.
Socrates said that beauty is an object fulfilling its function. I maintain that the function of religion within a superorganism is to elevate its participating humans to a higher level of functioning, e.g. make it so that total level of functioning is higher than the sum of its individual components. Or, in simpler terms: that attending church adds to the quality of your life. Seems to me that modernity has turned religion into its bitch. Attending the cathedral clearly lowers the quality of your life. But to stop attending the cathedral is to stop cooperating with the grandest superorganism in the history of mankind: the Grand Empire of the West. All our religious instincts tell us abandoning such a powerful superorganism is a very dangerous idea.
This is why Trump, besides being an ironclad leader, is also a timely prophet: he gives the average American permission to dump the worst strands of leftist religion. This is also why West Europe finds itself in deep shit: we have codified leftist religion deeply in our written laws specifically to prevent counter-prophets like Trump from rising to power. We take our ‘checks and balances’ very serious. So we have invested too much skin in the game to come to our senses, at least not until things deteriorate to the arbitrary point where your average West European no longer dares to travel by public transport (or to travel at all).