Readers, please enjoy this guest blog post by Gus diZerega, author of the new God Is Dead, Long Live the Gods.
That encounter was both the greatest blessing of my life, and its greatest challenge. I had just completed my PhD in Political Science, a field based entirely on secular science, and now I had encountered a being I experienced as more powerful than anything I had ever imagined, more loving than I could have imagined, and more real than I was. And in scientific terms, She could not exist.
That afternoon in Berkeley’s Tilden Park led to decades of living two lives while trying to be loyal to both. I continued to publish in refereed academic journals and teach college and university classes. I also became a Wiccan who explored other compatible spiritual practices. Occasionally I would write on these spiritual subjects as well. But I had no idea at all how to connect them.
In my new book, God Is Dead, Long Live the Gods: A Case for Polytheism, I think I have found a way. I use two strategies, and I think they pay off.
First, I start from the bottom up, rather than the top down. If consciousness exists in even the simplest material, as seems to be the case, how might we get to the Gods? And beyond. This approach integrates physics, biology, and the social sciences with spiritual realms, rather than working from those realms down into the world of matter. One approach is not intrinsically better than the other, but a bottom-up approach sheds light on some issues less explored traditionally. Including our individuality.
Second, the “meme” connects the physical world on which modernity focuses with the world of gods and spirits. In secular terms, the meme is any word or behavior that transmits meaning from one person to another. Memes are independent of particular individuals even though they depend on people to spread them. Intriguingly, scientists find themselves forced to use animate terminology to describe them. The Western occult tradition has a similar concept, the “thought form,” a psychic entity given its meaning by disciplined adepts. But the rough equivalent can arise unintentionally, and are called “egregores.” In a sense, memes are wild thought forms.
The chief difference between memes and thought forms is the former supposedly exist entirely within minds, while thought forms exist somewhere outside our heads. In exploring their connection, I examine evidence consciousness does not exist only within our heads, as any experienced Witch would know from personal experience. I do not argue the Gods are thought forms. They are far from it. But thought forms/memes enable us to integrate secular science with a living world all the way up and all the way down.
Along the way I demonstrate that monotheism, polytheism‘s great competitor, is always polytheistic in practice, because the term makes no sense and never has. I also show that a mouse possessing a common bacteria is smarter than the same mouse without it, and that plants learn and remember.
Our thanks to Gus for his guest post! For more from Gus diZerega, read his article “God Is Dead, Long Live the Gods: Polytheism in a Living World.”