Religion: The Magic Turtle

© Jed McKenna

IN MY MOUNTAIN-AGAIN RABBIT-HOLE, the thing I find most unbelievable is belief. If I were in an elevator with a Christian, Muslim, or Jew, I think I could, like some spiritual decongestant, remove mental mucous and restore free thinking in thirty seconds. I know that’s not true, but that’s how thin and unconvincing religious belief appears to me. I can’t reconcile it. I can’t really believe that anyone really believes it.

I’m convinced that if we took the most devout believer out of their belief-conducive environment for a month, away from all their trappings and trinkets, their programs and rituals, away from their codependents and enablers, away from triggers and support systems, away from all the little ways we empower fictions that have no power of their own, then that person, along with my thirty-second elevator pitch and a few moments of honest reflection, could return to the world disabused of their religious affliction, and a real step closer to adulthood.

Nonsense, of course, but that’s the weird thing about having truth on your side; you start to think it counts for something. It doesn’t, but because truth is better than anything anyone could make up, you get this false sense of what it could do if unleashed upon a sleeping world, like you could just pry people’s eyes open and they’d have to see. Even as I write this, I know that’s not true, but I don’t know why.

That’s what my primary realization did for me. It pried my eyes open to the simple and obvious fact that the swamp of eternal delusion couldn’t be all there was. There had to be something else; a place where something made sense. That place was truth, and the ridiculously simple realization that truth exists made me grab a six-inch knife and jump out of my rickety little boat into a churning ocean of blood and froth in a hopeless bid to slay an enormous and unslayable beast. That’s why I’m so wrongly convinced that the same realization could have the same impact on anyone of sound mind and stout heart.

You can’t find truth in the swamp, but that doesn’t mean there is no truth. Before you can be blown apart by the realization that truth exists, though, you have to realize that you don’t have it and it’s nowhere in sight, and that’s the white-hot realization from which belief shields us.

Monotheistic religions can’t survive on their own merit so their time-tested strategy is to abandon common sense and be so über-nutso that they can’t be held to any reasonable standard of reason. This approach works for them, but it’s not of their creation or devising. It’s a facet of life in the fogbound, eyes-closed, fear-based dreamstate, and the soil in this part of the amusement park is so fertile that virtually any story you plant will sprout into an inhabitable fantasy. If you live in such a fantasy alone, you’re mentally ill, if you live there with a small group, you’re a brainwashed cultmember, and if you live there with a large group, you’re respectably religious.

I can only speak in general about monotheistic religions because whenever I swoop in for a closer look I get lost in the muck and mire and have to rise back out. Stated less metaphorically, the only thing I understand in U-Rex (The universe is all there is) is that nothing in U-Rex can be understood. There is no clarity possible in this interminable swamp, no possibility of anything more than more and more swamp. That’s why scientists and scholars and philosophers can dig and probe and sift forever and never reach an end. You can say the inhabitants of this swamp have their eyes closed, or that they’re fogblind, but the result is the same; no one can see anything, including the fact that no one can see anything.

Nothing can ever make sense in this swamp. That’s why we’re not doing any mudwrestling in this document; there’s never any point in engaging beliefs at their own level. Nor do we need to borrow their validity with one hand while invalidating them with the other. For instance, we don’t need to cite elements of quantum theory to bolster C-Rex (Consciousness is all there is) so it can then invalidate quantum theory.

The four broad categories of belief-system are philosophy, science, spirituality and religion. Religion is the strongest because it’s primarily emotional. However, it’s also the least credible and requires the most external reinforcement. It’s easy to see how someone might think light exists, or that Plato was a toga’d rockstar, or that meditation with a Zen motif can constitute a vehicle to somewhere, so those belief systems can chug along on their own steam, but the monotheistic religions are so intellectually flaccid that they can only remain erect by artificial means. The means is emotion and the emotion is fear.

Ultimately, of course, philosophy, science, and spirituality are no better than religion. There is no such thing as light, Plato played air guitar, and no amount of meditation can get you anywhere because there’s nowhere to go. Scientists might suppose themselves the sanest or least gullible because they have facts on their side, but their facts are written on the back of a giant turtle right alongside the facts of the immaculate conception and the virgins-forkillers incentive program.

Yes, fine, but what does any of this have to do with a theory of everything?

This: The defining feature of a monotheistic worldview is One Almighty God. It’s a short step from saying that there is One Almighty God to saying that One Almighty God is a theory of everything – the prime mover, the uncaused cause, the magic turtle that supports unsupported. No, it doesn’t make sense, but it doesn’t have to, that’s the magic part. Religions don’t have to stand on their own merit because they’re supported by the emotional buttressing of millions of needy believers.

Which is not to say that there’s no there there. If, as has been said, all religions contain a core truth, then the reality underpinning the religious experience is the same reality underpinning everything; overlighting intelligence, energy, flow and obstruction, co-creation, our direct connection to the absolute and infallible. The degree to which we are able to surrender ourselves and disempower ego is the degree to which we are able to let ourselves be guided, informed and enriched by this overlighting intelligence. In holy books this surrender appears as Thy Will be Done, Brahma is the Charioteer, the Will of Allah. This is the underlying reality of being, and anyone should be able to see this in their own life regardless of how much ego they pile over it. Anyone can see patterns unfold, desires manifest, prayers answered; the trick is to see what’s there and no more. What’s there is enough; we don’t need to use it as a foundation for cockamamie belief systems.

And that’s what they don’t know in the swamp. They don’t know that truth exists – that they don’t have to make it up.