If my life has one rule, it is to avoid groupthink, which is what happens when other people want to rope you into their weird pathology so that they do not have to go down alone. Some of this is leftover from school, where one kid throwing erasers got punished but if the whole class did it we just had to skip recess.
Since that time it has become clear to me that the biggest risk to us as humans is to become unconscious, or unaware of the world around us. We must do this when we sleep, but to do it on an intellectual level — to deny the existence of reality — is fatal.
Delusion can take two forms. The individual can become megalomaniac, or obsessed with himself and his power, or he can become a cultist, part of a group that claims to guarantee his position as one of the few important ones. The more equality he gets, the less significant he is, and the more he needs one of these.
Groupthink is in the end a shared form of solipsism. Each person gets to believe he is the center of the world by extending the same right to others, and so all can dwell in “unity” based on being alienated except for token consensus about a few symbols.
This always backfires, like all cults, because those symbols end up leading them to do self-destructive things. When the golden calf first comes out, you see it as a way to bring the group together, but when the sacrifices begin, you realize that the only way the group comes together is by having a scapegoat.
Scapegoats exist in pairs with talismans. It does not matter which comes first. A talisman is a symbolic hope that will make everything right; the golden calf is a talisman. That however creates a scapegoat: all those who do not believe in the golden calf are what is holding us back.
The same is true of symbolism generally. If you categorize something as an absolute good, there must be a corresponding evil. This is an artifact of human thinking: we must, in our daily lives, say either “yes” or “no” to every decision that comes our way, which puts us in a passive mindset of waiting for a decision to be thrust upon us before choosing a path.
In this way, symbolism naturally leads to “magic words” style thinking, where we assume that we are negotiating with a personality like us. We project that onto the divine, when it is more likely something we cannot understand which is as much a part of the universe as gravity, energy, magnetism, and time.
At the core of all human problems is our tendency to mistake the lens through which we see the world, our perceptive brains, for the world itself, conjuring up a thing-in-itself that is false and made of our individualism or desire to be more important than reality:
Individualism (IDV) focuses on the degree the society reinforces individual or collective achievement and interpersonal relationships. A High Individualism ranking indicates that individuality and individual rights are paramount within the society. Individuals in these societies may tend to form a larger number of looser relationships. A Low Individualism ranking typifies societies of a more collectivist nature with close ties between individuals. These cultures reinforce extended families and collectives where everyone takes responsibility for fellow members of their group.
Individualists in groups have no problem with collective entitlements; in fact, they prefer it, because that way no individualist will be left behind. To them, this is security and safety through the form of a guarantee, which like warranties on home products sell well to the credulous who do not realize how little it promises.
Atheism never made sense to me; agnosticism did, since it is always wise to avoid stating a hard rule where data is lacking. We will never in this world be able to see the world of the gods, nor understand it, so claiming a hard yes or no is dubious.
What we have instead is faith, or the belief that because this world incorporates both destruction and creation in the maintenance of a created state, its goal is creation, even if it uses the opposite of that to further it. As Plato observes, in a relative universe, everything comes from its opposite.
And so from emptiness was birthed somethingness, and within somethingness, emptiness and somethingness battle it out so that a larger somethingness can persist. I call this meta-good, meaning that whatever good and evil can be surmised to be, they work together toward a larger good.
The gods are human projections, as we we conceptualize them, but a symbol is not its referent; a category is not its members. Therefore, even if our religions are imperfect, the underlying fact of a likelihood of a divine essence to the universe remains, and these religions are worth paying attention to.
Modern humans like to bury themselves under lore, rules, rituals, and other means-over-ends techniques. We use symbols and other tools to control each other and our world, and so we assume that spirituality is the same. But if God/gods is a force like gravity or magnetism, there is no need for this.
My own religion has three parts: (a) there is a divine center, (b) there is a continuation of life beyond the physical, and (c) the universe tends toward the “good” or long-term constructive, even through destruction. Religion is best left at this paragraph and thought about no further.
For all other matters, practicality reigns. Chastity produces happy families and healthy genetics; ethno-nationalism is required for nations to have a shot at enduring; civilizations decline when groupthink and megalomania converge. Do we need more tens of thousands of words to cover the big issues?
Obviously not. We are past superstition; there are no “magic words” we can say to invoke spells, gods, or good fortune. All of that is for primitive peoples. There are no golden idols that mean anything, but more importantly, symbols are an effect of the divine and not its cause, so there is no point worshiping them.
Does this have massive implications for religion? Not really; obviously, it should become more naturalistic and include the Lex Talionis along with its admonishments to be nice to each other. It should accept that the realistic is the good, and might does not determine right, but if right does not summon might, it loses and ceases to be.
Human fear of the world has held us back for too long. We fear that if we accept that its methods make sense, there will be no room left for us and our individual desires. However, it seems the opposite is true: when we embrace the world, we can stop spending our time and energy on illusions.