The Liminalist # 205: What’s Left When We Stop Believing?

Back with Gib Strange for a post-retreat conversation, on belief & disbelief, heaven & hell, the Devil & God, Jesus & Job, & connecting to a guiding principal of goodness.

Part One: Mapping Hell (0 – 36 mins)

Returning to dark research, mapping the history of trauma, seeking the hidden angelic, the feel-good industry, paper-thin reasons to be cheerful, angsty teens and cheerleading jocks, creativity & articulating new insights, distrusting positivity, the magical method of “what-if,” trying on belief & disbelief, using a nail to knock out a nail, the spectrum of belief, truly liminal, dealing with the dogmatists, negative identity complex, a guiding principal of good, faith in the midst of delusion & malevolence, the shadow as proof of light, God & pain, testing Job, imagination experiments, science & theology, the problem with atheism, Rene Girard’s conversion, Jordan Peterson & Sam Harris, Thomas Ligotti, the contradiction of nihilist philosophy, man’s evolving awareness of God, how God becomes conscious, tests of faith, spiritual autolysis, Christ’s temptation, doubting everything but God, heaven stormers driven by doubt, bootstrapping into galactic consciousness, forcing God to show his face, how children drive parents to prove their love, punishment as love, why Christians believe in Hell, Hell as proof of God’s love, mapping Hell on Earth, finding evidence for Heaven.

Part Two: A Probe from Elsewhere (36 mins – 1 hour 13 mins)

The Kingdom of Heaven where no one talks of God, aligning with the Sun, a personal turning point, the awareness of an absence, the God who wasn’t there, the most natural pain-killer, an incapacity to love, the numbness of damned souls, reigning in an S & M dungeon, kings of pain, love & powerlessness, the Christians’ reliance on the Bible, God-Satan-humanity power spectrum, the guide to avoiding Hell, an unnatural onus on scripture, observance & guidance, the body & sin, extending awareness into hidden dimensions of being, remembering to believe, a permanent record, Big Mother & the gods of capitalism, getting lost in mazes to map them, sending & receiving intel from central command, a probe from elsewhere, the alien-sorcerers underground network, distorting reality via 2nd-hand testimonials, spokespeople for the mysteries, Philip K. Dick & the success of failure, the virtue of keeping on going, seekers who claim to have found, completing a mission, the maze of the mind, the ever-changing nature of the maze, The Shining, God’s eye view, the error of using a knowledge base to seek freedom, the devil’s trick.

Part Three:  Trust the Process & Wait (1 hour 13 mins – end)

A temptation, a newfound sense of freedom, outside the mind, the journey of zero distance, something to look forward to, the opposite of a carrot, becoming unmotivated, a lifetime’s habit, chopping wood & carrying water, fruit-picking in the summer, a real carrot.

Outtakes: (40 mins, 25 MB)


Gib Strange’s site

Songs: “Knob Wobbler,” by Gib Strange; “Standing” by Norman Fagg; “Applegate” by Little Teeth; “These Words” by Hazelwood Motel.


4 thoughts on “The Liminalist # 205: What’s Left When We Stop Believing?”

  1. Eternity in hell, reminds me of a hellish dream I had where I was in hell and felt the ‘weight’ of eternity upon my soul. The weight was the torment.
    Heaven, the place where nothing happens. A blade of grass does not bend under the sole of the foot, and bowel movements never occur either.
    C.S. Lewis; Outer space trilogy, and The Lion, The Witch, And the wardrobe, and The Great Divorce.

  2. Alvin Plantinga is the go-to guy for the Problem of evil.

    Forced to reconcile the reality of our world with with an anthropomorphized
    literalist fundamentalism, he does come up with a downright reasonable
    solution–there can’t be free will without evil.

    The thing about religion is that it is a package of functionally evolved cognitive therapy
    techniques (almost before there was the concept of such a thing) in a robust, emotionally appealing package, that make the average human psyche navigate the traumas of life, much better than it would have otherwise (at least in the survival-of-the-fittest sense, and it seems even beyond that), something pretty much proven by the global spread of religion.

    Of course logical flaws can be found in religion, because its a projection of reality like a map.
    To make certain information about life, consciousness and human nature easily accessible, ie. in a usable, graspable, and memorable fashion.

    One of the problems we are having culturally right now in terms of religion, is a hostile, out-of-touch elite, whose effects in other areas are more commonly noted. They simply do not
    care whether religion is required for the actual well-being of the folks who don’t have a lot of
    leisure to cast about for a philosophy, or the money to access experts for individualized guidance on personal self-development when they run into problems. In fact, they prefer a disabled, dependent atomized population, of the kind described in Huxley’s Brave New World. Human’s aspire to dignity, but slaveholders do not.

    Of course there are other problems with religion, and one of them is that religion, which must change slowly according to its very nature, has been overwhelmed and unable to keep up with social change, has also split off from its heart (what can you say about a religion whose founder said, “Woe to you SCRIBES,” whose transmission is now carried out via university degree?), and *has been encouraged* in improper development towards in-the-head irrelevancy, rather than engagement with life.

    You can read of how the Soviets suppressed religion in this way in Will and Ariel Durant’s The Tragedy of Russia (detailing their personal travels their during the early years following the Communist Revolution), and then it becomes interesting to note that unlike 501 c(3) charities in the US, now barred from electoral politics, churches are now barred, on pain of losing their tax -free status, from even recommending legislation on the local level, and this change occurred in the 50’s in the US, IIRC, in concert with other religion-suppressive measures.

    “The Mercator projection exaggerates areas far from the equator. … Greenland appears larger than Africa, when in reality Africa’s area is 14 times greater and Greenland’s is comparable to Algeria’s alone.”

    That doesn’t mean we decide not to have and use maps!

    300 years ago, Emanuel Swedenborg was already describing in detail how anthropomorphized characteristics of God in the Bible were not accurate, but were the
    best metaphorical, communicative tools available to the spiritual visionaries of the time
    to poetically communicate their intuitions about God (ie. the Holomovement).

    Jealousy means one’s lover will keep one to himself, and perhaps punish for deviance,
    but is that in fact not a correct metaphor for the role of Truth in our lives?

    Won’t truth be inescapable really for us (exactly unless we plunge into the hellish narcissistic existence of avoiding reality, and controlling everyone around us to preserve that control), so won’t we encounter pain to the extent that we succeed in veiling ourselves from it? God is existence personified, but the more one has a particularized, technical view of reality, the more one is incapable of looking at religion as anything other than the story of yet another object, God, and then conclude that the existence of this object is a fantasy.

    I’ll admit that I think dualism in religion is now creating a lot of problems, but other than that, I know the ultimate nature of reality is beyond my grasp, so its best to have a consensus working hypothesis of it, that includes reverence and joy, and innately compassion and respect for the human person, which…the scientific worldview does not, and which the restrictions of everyday life in civilization does not adequately foster and protect.

    Its both comic and tragic, that in our (America’s) vast endarkenment concerning our intellectual heritage, trusting people are …in a search for protecting themselves from the hostile propaganda they (rightly) know they are immersed in, are being misguided into
    Biblical literalism, something the Christian church *never* traditionally, not even at its founding, embraced.

    St. Augustine for example published a straightforward and thoughtful critique of believing in
    “young earth creationism”. That was 1700 years ago! Yet, in an attempt to do the right thing,
    a small but significant number of Christians either believe in or consider this today.
    I deeply suspect the people propounding these views are more propagandists than Christians, and I see the people believing them, more as victims of sophistry than perpetrators.

    They’re much less of a threat to scientific inquiry than …TV, poverty, and poor science education in the schools. In fact, they (seem to be intentional liars) but they provide an interesting foil for deeper understanding of
    critical thinking to proceed from. Check out this debate with creationists:

    Question: Kieth and Anderson radiocarbon-dated the shell of a living freshwater mussel and obtained an age of over two thousand years. ICR creationists claim that this discredits C-14 dating. How do you reply?

    Answer: It does discredit the C-14 dating of freshwater mussels, but that’s about all. Kieth and Anderson show considerable evidence that the mussels acquired much of their carbon from the limestone of the waters they lived in and from some very old humus as well. Carbon from these sources is very low in C-14 because these sources are so old and have not been mixed with fresh carbon from

    the air. Thus, a freshly killed mussel has far less C-14 than a freshly killed something else, which is why the C-14 dating method makes freshwater mussels seem older than they really are. When dating wood there is no such problem because wood gets its carbon straight from the air, complete with a full dose of C-14. The creationists who quote Kieth and Anderson never tell you this, however.”
    I am not sure exactly who and how directed meddling with Christianity in the US has proceeded, but I sure do believe it has happened.

    The smashing of the Middle-east in the last twenty years had plenty of backing by secular people, but close examination shows an absolute hysteria being whipped up now against
    Iran…by pastor Hagee for example.

    Since US elections can be swung (and usually are) by only a few tens of thousands of votes in a few states,

    certainly the political control tactic of first…segmenting some Christians into a more polarized, cultic state, then delivering brainwashing on specific agenda topics such as particular wars,to this group, is not a historical hypothesis I am willing to discard.

    Particularly with what I know about the Southern Baptist Convention–the largest Protestant denomination in the United States.

    Marketing is a long-established science now, and dreadfully, we know engendering internal conflict for political conflict is a long-developed intelligence-community specialty.

    Jesus said: “Behold, I am sending you out like sheep in the midst of wolves; be wary and wise as serpents, and be innocent (harmless, guileless, and without falsity) as doves.”

    Oh, that is a hard prescription to follow, and American Christians aren’t following it,
    because they are just listening to their pastors deliver a dumbed down version of Christianity.

    And if the atheist community was anywhere near as wise as they think they are, America would be doing a lot better than it is. I recognize Sam Harris’ intelligence, but am not particularly impressed with it, and there’s no question he was hateful, and spoke ignorantly about Islam. His debate with knowledgeable and Arabic speaking former Middle-eastern NYT correspondent Chris Hedges, notable demonstrates his pig-headedness.

    As Harris’ position became completely unacceptable with the gradual cooling of ardor for revenge via the passage of time, and the shedding of blood, Harris changed it.
    I’m agnostic as to what blend of disingenuousness versus learning that shift contained.

    Here’s an interesting comment on this particular lack of wisdom in the atheist community,
    from someone apparently in it:

    “I didn’t know how I felt about the war in Iraq” is suspicious and unsatisfactory.

    Anybody have any blog posts, videos, or podcasts in which Sam discusses this in more depth?

    To my mind the war in Iraq was obviously idiotic in its premise.[NB–there were several presented to the public] It was never going to work

    [yes and no…it was never going to ‘work’ according to its stated motivations, which were deceptive as to what the motivations for the war were, it perhaps could have worked (at least better, albeit with unnecessary loss of life), if the actual motivation of the planners had been the benefit of the Iraqi people, and if such a non-existent party had had firm grasp on the levers of power in the country) ]

    and so much that is wrong with the world today, be it with Islam or the current state of politics in the west, is an extension of the awful decision to occupy Iraq.

    It is curious to me that Sam Harris, who I generally find to be brilliant, could not see why he should have 100% opposed the war in Iraq. It seems to me that the more you know about Islam, the more obvious it should have been that the war was ill-conceived and likely to make the problem of Islamism worse.”

    Some have argued that it wasn’t obvious, and to people who weren’t paying attention, it wasn’t obvious, but that’s no excuse for the people whose job it was to pay attention. If I’m your neighbor, and I don’t know how to give you all the help you need to get better when you break your leg, I’m not at fault. If I’m your doctor, and it isn’t obvious to me, I am committing the crime of malpractice.

    There was indeed plenty of evidence that the war would be a disaster. It was obvious to experienced critical thinkers with a grasp on reality. It was even obvious to Dick Cheney, who had previously stated in a video (a decade earlier, what the results of deposing Saddam would be), to generals who noted that the invasion plan violated basic principles of control, etc.

    Russia and France offered to foot the bill for quadrupling surveillance of Iraq (to allay WMD concerns) if the US would abandon invading it. It seems it was also obvious to them that invasion would be a disaster. But not obvious to the wisdom and emotional balance of the saint of New Atheism.

    I will say Harris sometimes offers incisive commentary…he’ll have to put a lot of it out there
    to undo the harm he did after 9-11.

    Hedges wrote a book, “When Atheism becomes a religion.”

    I liked this comment by David Woods at Amazon on it: “This shows that human nature, if you want to call it that, uses religion or lack of religion to arrive at the same negative result. Therefore, self analysis of one’s true nature and motives is what’s most important.”

    • Gives me some rather meaty stuff to ponder. C-14 pre and post flood. The event horizon and creation of new old. I need to dig up a few sources.

  3. The Sambia people of New Guinea practice ritualized abuse and sexual abuse of males beginning at age 9. From my cultural perspective, I think it’s disgusting. But…who am I to judge another culture?

    We could say, the Elite practice of ritual abuse is also part of a different culture that worships predation (as you have said), in order to desensitize themselves from empathy and make the “important” choices our species “needs.” I think it’s disgusting, and by our culture’s standards criminal…but who am I to judge?

    At what point do we personally defend our fellow species against deliberate pain and suffering? Well, firstly when we are aware of it. And secondly, when we realize it is actually affecting us and our future. How can we allow ourselves to be complicit in this tragedy, and not (at least) speak out against it?

    We can always take the broad view, and say we’re not personally reaponsible. But, at a certain point ☝️ we are, and only lying to ourselves. That is the hardest thing to face. I do think the responsibility of these things is to varying degrees. If the local priest is fiddling with kids and no one does anything? The priest is shuffled to a new place and no one cares? Who is responsible ? Ultimately it’s the priest and the Church. The individuals committing and perpetuating these atrocities are the worst offenders– but if we ignore it, we let them get away with it, we’re then complicit.

    Kudos to Jasun in braving the path of exposure and really seeking collaborators in the fight for human dignity. It is a tight rope to walk, speaking truth to power is to be fearless. You have to be willing to be strung up in the town square and made example of. I don’t think everyone is this brave.

    We have to believe in ourselves when we stop believing in the external. Not in a worshiping way, but in believing we’re doing the right thing– as objectively as we can. I think this is the greatest challenge we have, the recognition of our own soul. That we are children of the Universe/theInfinite/”God” and we are responsible for what we do in this life and what we leave behind. Will we clean up the mess of our ancestors or keep sweeping the dirt under the rug for the next tenants?

    The last point I want to make is often what Jasun does, and bring it back to the body. A miracle of symbiosis. A hundred billion cells working together creates this new thing called self realization. How long did it take us to get here? Are we going to allow these rich dynasty assholes to continue to fuck us over and celebrate their tyranny by praying on the innocents? How many more millennia will we let it happen? What type of world would we like to live in? What individual choice are you going to make right now, today, tomorrow, in this short experience of your life (which could be gone at any moment)that will help move us toward that better future?


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