Getting it right is the hard part [2/2]

So the Bhagwan amassed tens of thousands of followers. Pretty successful, you’d say. Yet, what is left of his teachings today? Not so much. Even during his lifetime, his magnum opus, the city of Rajneeshpuram, built on American soil, failed to stand the test of time and collapsed. What went wrong?

Bhagwan’s religion was too short-term. It was optimized to attract followers in the here and now: he connected with disillusioned hippies, promised them purpose, housing and free sex. This worked pretty well, but as any reactionary knows, free sex is bound to result in drama as women inevitably betray mr Good for mr Horrible. In fact this is exactly what happened to Bhagwan himself when he was betrayed by his #1 women, Sheela.

But it goes further. Bhagwan thought children were a hindrance to enlightenment and encouraged his followers to sterilize. Perhaps he took a note from Christian priests and figured that the only way to outholy them was to have all his followers not have children? Who knows. At any rate, it is pretty obvious that sterilizing all your followers will not result in a fruitful longterm religion.

Now there are more mistakes he made, such as rounding up thousands of homeless people all around the US and bringing them to Rajneeshpuram. Bhagwan thought he could a) enlighten them by the power of his movement and b) use them to democratically overtake Oregon. Surprise surprise, he could a) not enlighten them, in fact had to sedate them to keep them under control, and b) in a Moldbuggian turn of events, his homeless were barred from registering to vote.

But you get my drift. Bhagwan’s religion was not sustainable in the long run; it’s flames burned bright for a few decades or so, then they extinguished.

Now, this is the part where I make a bridge to that one prophet who did build a sustainable religion: Jesus. It is at this point that I should mention a fierce debate I recently had with some devout Christians, here and here. I do not feel like repeating everything I said, but I will continue on the theme here.

First, I understand Christians’ visceral reaction to what they perceive to be my sacrilege. I feel like my argument is not as solid as it could be. I’d ideally make my argument without setting off their ‘burn the heretic’ alarms. The discussion reminds me of how, back when I was single, I’d go on dates with women and tell them stories of how sexy I was, which to my great frustration failed to result in sex. Technically I was correct, in that women have sex with sexy men, but you can be as technically correct as you want and still be completely wrong.

But on the topic of Christ, as I am still formulating my argument, there is no way not to offend devout Christians, since formulating a good argument requires a decent bit of iconoclasm.

Christianity as it once was is dead, and while my Christian critics accuse me of dancing on Jesus’ grave, I am in fact performing an autopsy to see what went wrong, how we can fix it.

Lies are a great way of organizing. You want the lies of your religion to be unfalsifiable, unlike with progressivism, whose lies have all been falsified. The argument goes that Jesus’ miracles are unfalsifiable, therefore great to organize around. My argument is that Jesus’ miracles have been falsified in the past 200 years, and I stand by that argument. I in fact can not not stand by that argument, because pretending I literally believe Jesus walked over water would be to fake faith. I just don’t.

I do believe that Jesus was God’s son. I can get behind that, since in a sense we are all God’s son. Jesus merely said it out loud and by doing so prevented usurpers from claiming they were more God’s son than Jesus. And the proof of Christianity is in the pudding: contrary to Bhagwan, Jesus started out small, with a band of disciples, grew Christianity during his lifetime, set up things in such a way that it exploded for centuries after his lifetime. This is highly successful, highly respectful.

But it is folly to believe we can go back to that and pretend the last 200 years haven’t happened. They have happened, and we should learn from what has happened. The power of faith is that people believe the lies, but if the lies are too easily falsified, faith falls apart. This is what has happened with Jesus in the age of smartphones, and no amount of putting fingers in ears and shouting LALALALA I CAN’T HEAR YOU will undo that.

Perhaps I am wrong. After all, Mormons believe Joseph Smith was in direct contact with God, and Amish founder Jakob Ammann made the Amish flourish without claiming any miracles to himself, without calling Jesus a miracle faker. But judging from the Mormon’s  most powerful leader, Mitt Romney, they are pretty cucked, and it is worth noting that the Amish forbid smartphones. So I think my case does not look too bad.

The recurring problem is that, if Jesus were to return to earth for a second coming, he would for unexplainable and mysterious reasons never be able to repeat the act of infinitely dividing bread and fish in front of a crowd, not with 100 smartphones filming him from every angle. This means he can also not perform that miracle in retrospect, after his death, because there will be 100 videos of him on the internet showing that he most decisively did not perform that miracle.

Take Jim for instance. Jim says a lot of stuff. How serious are we to take his stuff? I’d like to take it pretty seriously. But, say Jim has passed away, say the dissolution of the monasteries happens, say Christianity is reinstated as state religion. Who is to say we should still take Jim serious? After all, Jim was just a fat bald old man, while Jesus literally came back from the dead. Jim says no civilization has ever peacefully coexisted with Islam, but Jesus said that you should turn the other cheek, and Jesus came back from the dead. Did Jim come back from the dead? I didn’t think so.

You’re leaving yourself open for the same kind of holiness spirals that killed old Christianity.

Perhaps Jim can perform some miracles, maybe even some miracles after his death, and in doing so elevate himself as a continuation of Jesus? Maybe that’s too much to ask. I don’t know, I’m just throwing out ideas.

I understand that it is disruptive to shout that Jesus is a miracle faker, but I am wholly convinced it is more disruptive to shout that Jesus performed literal miracles and that anyone who does not believe that is a faithless cretin.

Anyways, that’s all for now. I’m off to take a well deserved break from all this internet shenanigans. I’ll be back.

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9 thoughts on “Getting it right is the hard part [2/2]

  1. No one should shout that anyone who fails to believe that Jesus literally and physically returned from the dead and performed literal miracles is a faithless cretin.

    But anyone who doubts that Jesus literally and physically returned from the dead should avoid being unduly and unnecessarily clear as to in what sense Jesus returned from the dead.

  2. Similarly, we should accept the literal interpretation of the story of garden of Eden – “literal” in the sense of Saint Augustine, who presciently warned us that if our literalism was a little too literal, we would step on the toes of scientists, and look like idiots, and therefore developed a “literal” interpretation that leaves plenty of room for Darwin and Darwinism.

    1. OK, so you are saying that Augustine thought this problem over a long time ago and came up with sufficient answers. So maybe Christianity not so dead as the parrot in the Monty Python sketch.

  3. And anyone who shouts that the “literalism” of Saint Augustine is insufficiently literal, and that it is holier to be more literal than Saint Augustine, is himself a heretic, and is engaged in a holiness spiral.

  4. Whosoever is holier than Jesus needs to be executed, and his body securely locked in a morgue for three days to check if he rises.

    Whosover is holier than Saint Augustine should be expelled from the state Church and excluded from state office and any position of authority in quasi statal organizations.

  5. My argument is that Jesus’ miracles have been falsified in the past 200 years, and I stand by that argument.

    Falsified by what? The existence of smartphones? The existence of smartphones combined with the lack of film of a miracle? If this really is your argument and I really am an idiot for thinking Jesus was literally a corpse for 3 days and then stood up and left, I would appreciate you explaining what, exactly about the last 200 years so powerfully falsified miracles. Forgive me if it seems like I am missing the point on purpose.

  6. You take as a presupposition something that has not happened for which you have no proof, and from that, retroactively dismiss what has happened. Do you see the error in that?

    In the same way that man will never be able to fly, or land on the moon, Jesus will be able to divide bread and fish as much as He pleases. Everything is impossible until it is done for the first time.

  7. Alf, this will not be a productive road. I said it to Spandrell, now I’m saying it to you.

    Real religion is revelatory, and comes from higher -> lower. Judaism starts with the Garden of Eden/Burning Bush. Christianity from the Incarnation. Islam from the Angel Gabriel.

    Stop worrying about “offending” Christians (you think you’d be the first? or second? or four hundredth?) and start worrying about the fact that you are considering making up a religion. That is a crazy person thing to do. Yes, yes, I’ve read Spandrell, we need ways to propagate adaptations to the masses, bla bla bla. It’s still crazy. Don’t you think society already has enough Big Lies? Why create another one?

    If you’re really set on this religion thing, why settle for second-best? Go ask God to give you a religion.

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