Cooper & Cary Have Words

#158 Disorganised Religion

July 27, 2023 James Cary & Barry Cooper Season 1
#158 Disorganised Religion
Cooper & Cary Have Words
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Cooper & Cary Have Words
#158 Disorganised Religion
Jul 27, 2023 Season 1
James Cary & Barry Cooper

James and Barry have words about what unbelievers really believe. Tara Isabella Burton has written a stimulating book called Strange Rites about people in the States who identify as "spiritual but not religious". She argues that America is not "secular" at all, but "spiritually self-focused".

Does that explain why people currently seem so willing to believe in phenomena such as ghosts, UFOs, and all things "woooooo"? And does it explain why the hyper-rational arguments of the new atheists seem not to have won the day?

Review of Strange Rites: https://www.solas-cpc.org/book-review-strange-rites-new-religions-for-a-godless-world/

Article by Tara Isabella Burton about post-rationalists: https://www.thenewatlantis.com/publications/rational-magic

Uncanny radio show: https://www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/brand/m0010x7c

Guardian article on the growth of religious belief in recent years: https://www.theguardian.com/news/2018/aug/27/religion-why-is-faith-growing-and-what-happens-next

Terrifying AI generated woman, LOAB: https://techcrunch.com/2022/09/13/loab-ai-generated-horror/

Paul Kingsnorth's spooky article on AI, The Universal: https://paulkingsnorth.substack.com/p/the-universal

The Out of the Silent Planet book group is on Wednesday 26th June at 8.30pm UK time. Join us on Patreon to take part. https://www.patreon.com/cooperandcary

All of Life for God
The All of Life for God podcast is an engaging and thoughtful collection of exclusive...

Listen on: Apple Podcasts   Spotify

Support the Show.

Unlock extended ad-free episodes, advance access, a huge episode archive, and bonus content, by subscribing to Cooper & Cary+ on Apple Podcasts. Or get everything on C&C+, together with video, and access to the exclusive C&C Discord server, by becoming a Patron.

Encouragement and/or open derision should be addressed here: cooperandcary@gmail.com

Production and music by Cooper & Cary. Opening theme by Beyond Our Galaxy.

Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

James and Barry have words about what unbelievers really believe. Tara Isabella Burton has written a stimulating book called Strange Rites about people in the States who identify as "spiritual but not religious". She argues that America is not "secular" at all, but "spiritually self-focused".

Does that explain why people currently seem so willing to believe in phenomena such as ghosts, UFOs, and all things "woooooo"? And does it explain why the hyper-rational arguments of the new atheists seem not to have won the day?

Review of Strange Rites: https://www.solas-cpc.org/book-review-strange-rites-new-religions-for-a-godless-world/

Article by Tara Isabella Burton about post-rationalists: https://www.thenewatlantis.com/publications/rational-magic

Uncanny radio show: https://www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/brand/m0010x7c

Guardian article on the growth of religious belief in recent years: https://www.theguardian.com/news/2018/aug/27/religion-why-is-faith-growing-and-what-happens-next

Terrifying AI generated woman, LOAB: https://techcrunch.com/2022/09/13/loab-ai-generated-horror/

Paul Kingsnorth's spooky article on AI, The Universal: https://paulkingsnorth.substack.com/p/the-universal

The Out of the Silent Planet book group is on Wednesday 26th June at 8.30pm UK time. Join us on Patreon to take part. https://www.patreon.com/cooperandcary

All of Life for God
The All of Life for God podcast is an engaging and thoughtful collection of exclusive...

Listen on: Apple Podcasts   Spotify

Support the Show.

Unlock extended ad-free episodes, advance access, a huge episode archive, and bonus content, by subscribing to Cooper & Cary+ on Apple Podcasts. Or get everything on C&C+, together with video, and access to the exclusive C&C Discord server, by becoming a Patron.

Encouragement and/or open derision should be addressed here: cooperandcary@gmail.com

Production and music by Cooper & Cary. Opening theme by Beyond Our Galaxy.

Speaker 1:

Hello and welcome to Cooper and Carey. Have Words. My name is James Carey. I live in the south west of England at a county called Somerset. It is a glorious place and it is summer here, but not too hot. At the time of recording. The rest of the world sounds like it's on fire, including possibly in Florida, where my friend and co-host Barry Cooper is. Are you on fire there, barry?

Speaker 2:

I'm not literally on fire, but in maybe in a metaphorical sense, james. Yeah, totally on fire. As you can imagine, my wife's completely addicted to a BBC show called Escape to the Country, and there was a recent episode there that was centered on Somerset. So that made us feel very sort of nostalgic for home, and I think there's a good chance that a small cottage in Somerset may exist in our future, so that's fun.

Speaker 1:

Well, that would be good, wouldn't it? So today we're going to get straight in, no waggling. We're talking about what unbelievers believe, and Barry and I have been thinking about this completely independently of each other. I don't quite know what the other one's going to say, but this is something I've been thinking about for a while, and also Barry's been reading a book, which he'll mention in a moment.

Speaker 1:

But the big question is what do unbelievers, non-christians, people who don't call themselves Christians, what do they actually believe? Because it isn't nothing. It's a whole bag of things, and obviously there are a thousand different types of non-Christian belief as well. So we'll get into those and then also just maybe landing it in the question how should this therefore affect our evangelism? Because I wonder if our evangelism is a little bit one note, and we're still trying to do it like it's the 90s convince people of their sin and tell them the good news that there's a savior, and whilst that is true and right, there may be other touch points, and we talked a little about this with Dan Strange, didn't we? The magnetic points in our wrong Bavic episode. So I guess it's a bit of a continuation of that. So, but, barry, you've been reading a book, I read the first chapter or two of it. Why don't you say a bit about Strange Rights by Tara Burton?

Speaker 2:

Strange Rights looks like this if you're watching the video Strange Rights. She has written this book, which is all about new religions for a godless world. 55 years have passed, it says on the fly leaf, since the cover of Time Magazine proclaimed the death of God. Yet while participation in mainstream religion has indeed plummeted, it says here, Americans have never been more spiritually busy. While rejecting traditional worship in unprecedented numbers, today's Americans are embracing a kaleidoscopic panoply of spiritual traditions, rituals and subcultures, from astrology and witchcraft to soul cycle and the alt right.

Speaker 2:

So clearly, without any apology, tara is giving a very broad definition of religion, which essentially is anything which brings people a sense of community, a sense of purpose, a sense of meaning. And, of course, if you use a definition that broad, then you can bring in such things as soul cycle. I might even add to that and it's certainly not original to me the idea of sport as being a religion, which I think is a big thing in the US and also in the UK, and I think it's a fair enough thesis, isn't it? The idea that we have a kind of God shaped whole and therefore, if we have rejected the traditional concepts of God in the mainstream religions, then we don't just kind of live a life suddenly where we have nothing in that whole. We have to put something in there and something will get sucked into it, whatever that is.

Speaker 2:

So basically she goes through over multiple chapters and teases out all kinds of outre religions. You know Harry Potter fandom and you know all kinds of weird and wonderful stuff. What did you make of the bit that you've read? How did it? How did that strike you?

Speaker 1:

Yeah, that was about that opening chapters, about this kind of live performance of this thing that you go. It's a totally immersive performance, isn't?

Speaker 2:

it, yeah, and I've been to something similar when I was in the UK. It's pretty fantastic.

Speaker 1:

It's a version of a Shakespeare play, isn't it? Is it Macbeth or something?

Speaker 1:

One of them was yeah yeah, and there are witches in it and you go into this house and the actors are kind of mixed in amongst you and it just becomes a thing. And this writer, tara, just got completely addicted to it and went to it several times, even though it costs a hundred dollars or more, and that people were going back again and again and again and it kind of consumed people's lives and disposable income and it did feel almost cult-like in its religious. Yes, it felt like a religious replacement, but wasn't planning to be religion and I you said the word spiritual and I think Christians have got a big track record of going oh, spiritual but not religious. I'll pick a team. You know it feels a bit Babylon B snarky, doesn't it, when to be disparaging of, of unbelievers, to say, you know, is to kind of dignify the fact that they consider themselves spiritual was actually quite a mean disposition.

Speaker 1:

But actually what Tara is showing in that really strange I mean strange rights, this kind of odd immersive theatre is that people really are searching and it's kind of sad and these people don't deserve contempt but in some ways pity.

Speaker 2:

But actually, just just listen, just listen, yeah, and when you think about the way that Paul preaches, when he says, you know, I see that in every way you're very religious, he doesn't say, well, I've seen these. You know the thing to an unknown god, you're not really religious. This is real religion. Let me tell you about Jesus. He actually says, no, you are very religious, and so he does use it as a sort of a common ground. So maybe we ought to be less snarky and more willing to take that approach.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, I'm thinking there's a new version of that, of that sermon, isn't there? I saw a plaque to an unknown god. Really, really, you know. It's like seriously, are we doing this? Come on, people, you know he doesn't do that, does he? He leans it and he's not someone who is you know, he's someone who doesn't shy away from controversy, right?

Speaker 2:

Yeah, not touchy-feely necessarily. So, yes, I think that's absolutely right. So Strange Rights is kind of a book-long demonstration of the fact that nature appores about Cume and that, yes, as Christians we ought to maybe see where there is common ground, I think, where this. I'm going to push back slightly on the snarkiness thing, because I do think there are definitely times when you're talking to people who say so yeah, well, I'm spiritual and not religious that you get the sense, as you tease that out, that really what they're saying is I want to be considered as quite a sensitive sort of person who's thought a lot about the world, but I just don't want to be tied down with any kind of commitment. I want freedom to be able to completely define myself, what I do and what God looks like, if anything, and that does feel obviously quite self-serving, but it's probably not a great thing to lead with. Well, you're just incredibly selfish, is it? No matter how you look at it.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, yes, sorry. Oh, would you like me to hold up a mirror to you? Narcissist Too much.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, yeah yeah, too much. I think we could be best friends. Yeah, it's not going to happen. So I think there is a lot in that. What do you read? My lord Words, words, words, words. You narrow your focus to just talking about the United States and possibly the UK and Canada as well, because certainly, if you look at the trend worldwide, I don't think it is true to say that traditional religion is on the decline. I mean, even the Guardian is saying that that's not the case.

Speaker 1:

So in South America, China, basically the whole of the rest of the world.

Speaker 2:

So, but yes, if you're just prepared to go right, let's just think about the states and maybe the UK. There's a lot in this. She's a very good, she's got excellent journalistic tendencies and it means that there's a wonderful sort of granular, almost exhaustive and exhausting kind of teasing out of the taxonomies of religion on the left and the right in the centre, and she basically ends up with three broad kind of definitions of the new religious folks. She's basically saying there's folks on the left, the progressive left, she calls it, which is kind of the social justice movement. That's the sort of religion. There are kind of the centrist techno utopians, people like Elon Musk and lots of the folks in Silicon Valley. That's another religion. And then you've got what she calls, I think, the atavistic right, which are, you know, bronze age pervert and you know, even, you know, think, jordan Peterson, adherents of his work, which is another sort of religion. But it's those three main strands that she ends up concluding are very much growing in the United States.

Speaker 1:

And I think that's a fair reflection. And the book was three years old and I think it has got a fair amount of traction, hasn't it? And I think you're right, it is American specific in one sense.

Speaker 2:

It does make sense of the sort of the tribalism that we're seeing, doesn't it? I think that's one really helpful thing that comes out of the book If we're trying to understand why people are just so freaking intolerant of each other, now more than they seem to be 10 years ago.

Speaker 2:

this has great explanatory power because it's not just a difference of opinion anymore, it's a difference of religion. It's a fundamental fault line between folks in terms of the way they see the hope for humanity and, you know, our chances of surviving as a human race. These are really sort of big questions. It's not just how you vote at the ballot.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, I read an interesting review of the book on the Solas website by a guy called Chris Smart, who is actually American, and he said he says Burton's main premise is that, despite the variety of these beliefs, they share common aspirations for meaning and purpose. Therefore, she states, america is not secular, but simply spiritually self focused. I passed her in the States and I think she's right. The country is drowning in ideologies and, in the process, becoming more divided than ever.

Speaker 1:

And it's interesting, isn't it, that these non specific theologies aren't actually uniting people. People aren't celebrating difference or not feeling threatened by other groups. Actually, they're making people trenchant in these, in these different silos, aren't they? Yes?

Speaker 2:

I think trenchant ought to be the word of the podcast. That's excellent, yeah, and it is because it is essentially self focused. What's interesting in in in strange rights in the book, is that she says that the one thing that unites, or three of those major strands that she identifies, is that they're essentially pagan in outlook, meaning that the God in each of these religions is basically you. It's either human intelligence or human emotion, or human DNA. So all of these religions envision that the ultimate good is within the world rather than beyond the world, as Christians or or Jews or Muslims would would understand it. So that's very much a major difference between, though, these new religions and the and the more traditional religions is that it's essentially self focused and contained within the world, and and if that's the case, then it again, it makes it makes sense that that would lead to tremendous fragmentation and conflict between people, because, yeah, if you're, if you're self focused, then it's very hard to find common ground with other people.

Speaker 1:

I would say Hmm, that's really interesting because in a way, it kind of opens up to completely different forms of belief.

Speaker 1:

There's the pagan view, which is as you've described it, which is, ultimately it's about your ancestors or it's about you, or it's about something within nature, a created thing, which they would say isn't a created thing, it's just a thing, a spiritual thing. But then there's the other view, which is the belief in the supernatural, and that there's definitely something out there that reveals itself in certain ways. So that would be spiritualism as well, as, obviously, you know mainstream religions, but they're actually very different, aren't they? And I think, in a way, people maybe aren't really differentiating between the two. I mean, having said that, there are there are people, I guess, who are involved in paganism, literal paganism and wicker stuff, where maybe they think this is just talking to themselves or talking to the universe in a non specific way, but but I guess there are others who really do know what they're doing and they really do think there are spirits out there who can be controlled and that we're getting into witchcraft at that point.

Speaker 2:

Well, you said a very interesting thing there the spirits and things like that which can be controlled, and I think that's the issue. So, even if you believe there is something, as it were, supernatural, sort of a ghost in the machine, the fact is it's something that you can control, you can get it to do your bidding and therefore, again, the focus is you.

Speaker 2:

So I think that is a hallmark of even those people who who now are showing that you know, these rationalists, former rationalists, who are now moving into the area of the post rationalist movement, which does see the value in traditional religion. But the big caveat is it only sees positivity in those things in so far as they seem to serve you.

Speaker 2:

So for example, you'll have a lot of rationalists or post rationalists who will say, yeah, I can see the benefit of organized religion because science has shown that adherents of traditional religious belief live longer and are less depressive and are, you know, have lower blood pressure and therefore the religion is a good thing, because it's good kind of. For me, it's very self focus, what it can do for me. There's a real pragmatism there. So again, I would argue that even in those cases, or people who are, you know, witches, who really believe in some sort of other outside themselves, essentially you're in it for what you can get out of this higher power.

Speaker 1:

Cover and carry are having words, words, words. So many words would you believe they're having more words. Someone should tell them to stop, as you were saying that just reminded me of. There are a number of people who have moved away from that strident secularism and they're just using completely different language now and you know they're not particularly shining examples. You know, then they wouldn't call themselves Christians, but I'm just thinking. I was listening to an interview with James Lindsay the other day, who's made a name for himself as a sort of an anti critical theory, anti neo Marxist Kind of guy. He wrote a book called cynical theories. In fact I think you read that book.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, that rings bell.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, it's written with Helen with. Written with Helen Pluck Rose, which is a wonderful name, and he started out. His first book in 2012 was called God Doesn't we Do? Only Humans Can Solve Human Challenges, that's the title, did you say?

Speaker 1:

Yeah, that's the title of his first book, according to his Wikipedia page, and he then kind of moved. So he was part of a happily within the new atheist movement and in the orbit of the Sam Harris's of this world. But it's interesting as he's Moved through. You know his next book is called dot, dot, dot. Infinity plus God equals folly. Interesting, 2015. Everybody is wrong about God. I love it.

Speaker 1:

But then he gets into part from me, this kind of yeah, attacking the paralysis in his view of academia, within the critical theory, and he basically Put published hoax papers to try to get them Taken seriously and some of them were. He wrote 20 hoax papers with pluck rose, who wrote that book with you and and Bogossian, and so eventually this all came out, that this stuff had been taken seriously. But he's continued. He continued on this trajectory towards a more conservative viewpoint because he's sort of seen where this Godlessness goes from, where, if reality or truth, is self-defined in some way. He's now looking at various forms of critical theory just thinking, well, this is absolutely insane and I I don't have the ammo to shoot this down. I don't have anything on which to, I don't have any hooks which are permanently in position On which to hang any kind of you know ropes that'll keep us anchored.

Speaker 1:

Yes, so I was hearing him talk very differently About, about, you know, judeo Christian faith or something like that. I can't remember when, but, but a lot of these guys have gone on this journey, haven't they? You know, poor Kings north will be another one where he's fully embraced Christianity and sort of Romanian orthodox. He's an orthodox. Yeah form.

Speaker 1:

So it feels. It just feels to me like the new atheism has definitely run out of road. Yeah, but that everything downstream from that feels like that's running out of road as well.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, that's right. It you know, going back what? 15 years.

Speaker 2:

Now To the new atheists, the four horsemen of the atheist apocalypse and, at the time, they're obviously an awful lot of ink was spilled in conservative Christian circles trying to sort of rebut the likes of Dawkins and the likes of, you know, christopher Hitchens and so on, and it just feels now it's as if people have read that and said it doesn't have enough explanatory power to explain my experience of life. Yeah, and when you try and live according to the principles that are outlined famously by those guys, you end up living a life where you experience a kind of vitamin sorry, vitamin deficiency Is why I saw you.

Speaker 1:

I've changed.

Speaker 2:

You, you feel a kind of vitamin deficiency, you feel Deneuded, you feel sort of stripped of aspects of your being that you really want to hang on to, because, yeah, it just doesn't make sense. I mean, what do you do with the experience of falling in love? What do you do with the experience of listening to a, you know, a bark cantata or Symphony, or writing a poem, or just just wondering at nature? You could it doesn't really do to say, well, we've evolved to feel that way, to have these feelings about these things, and actually any sense of the transcendent is just a delusion. You're being tricked. It's a kind of a mental, you know, brain, chemical trick that's being played on you. It doesn't really add up, does it in our experience? And so, yes, I think you're right, it doesn't have, it doesn't have enough explanatory power, anything like to be a, a consistent movement.

Speaker 2:

But, james, to what extent do you think this is just like a Ciclical thing, a fashion thing? Do you think that? It's just that we tend to sort of, like a pinball, go between two extremes? As a culture? We've had this sort of the very Strictly materialistic, pragmatic side of things, and we we've, we're kind of, we've decided we don't like that. So now we're rebounding back towards a more quote-unquote spiritual view of the world. Probably, given another 10, 15 years, it might sort of bag a tail back. Is it just because, yeah, that's the way things work, or is there something more lasting that might have happened?

Speaker 1:

Yeah, I don't know. I mean that's a good, that's a good observation. It is very hard to have any kind of distance on these cycles that are going round, I mean the other cycle he says dodging. The question that has definitely come round again is remember the X files. Do you remember the 1990s were full of Alien abduction stories, x files, crop circles, the 40 in times there was an awful lot of talk about ghosts and the paranormal and then and then that slightly went away because I think the new atheists at least Kind of terrorized people who had this sort of nonspecific spiritualist, quasar, judeo Christian faith and suddenly it was all nonsense and it was all fraud, yeah and then I don't think that lasted very long because it seems, to me at least, that there is a huge resurgence of interest I say huge, perceptible resurgence of interest in the supernatural.

Speaker 1:

It's interesting that the big hit of the last five years on streaming is stranger things which you really wouldn't have had, I don't think, 15 years ago. I just don't think that would have been a mainstream thing. It's interesting that it's not set today but it's set in the past. I don't quite know why it rings true being a phenomenon of the 80s rather than now, but it seems to me there is a bit of a resurgence. There is a BBC radio show that I listened to and I'm moderately obsessed with, called uncanny, and and it's it's off the back of two other shows. One was called the Battersea poltergeist, which was a drama, a sort of a dramatization of a haunted house in Battersea. It was quite well documented. And then another one called the witch farm, which was a an isolated farmhouse out in in Wales. But then uncanny kind of spun off this and people literally got in touch and gave their own ghost stories and and great theme tune by called by a bunch called lanterns on the lake, which is very haunting and has a lady singing. I know what I saw, but the overwhelming sense that you get from the people who are offering up their stories is I Don't actually believe in ghosts. Okay, I'm not religious, but I have seen a ghost. But this is what happened. I heard this. This then happened. I lived in this house. This happened, then this happened, then this happened. Then over the course of three years, this happened Until this happened and it all came to a head here. You know all that kind of stuff, yeah, and it just feels like a lot of people have got a story like that that now seems okay to talk about, when Previously it wouldn't have been.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, and the one thing that I thought there was particularly interesting, because it's partly an age Thing as well, going back to our new atheism, the first story on the first series of uncanny that they keep coming back to is in a tower block in Belfast at the Queens University, queens College, and it's interesting how the people in that room talk about these incredible Senses of evil that they felt. And they both had a dream at the same time, not knowing the other one did, and a whole load of things moving around and there was some proper, proper paranormal activity. But then they discovered people who heard the show, or they'd spoken to people who'd been in that room the year before or the year before that somebody had tried to jump out of the window or kill themselves, or, and is that because they felt something or because they'd done that? Did that mean that now, future echoes felt something? And? But there was one person who was in the room a year or two after them who got in contact With the show and said this is what happened to me, but you will need to disguise my voice and withhold my name because I can't be associated With this kind of thing, even though this person said I was revising for my exams and my folder flipped open and the pages just started wildly rustling to and fro and all that kind of stuff, along with you know other things.

Speaker 1:

But obviously he's an eminent scientist. We couldn't possibly admit to that because he still got the. But Richard Dawkins might be mean to me.

Speaker 2:

Kind of mindset yes, and now people don't really care.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, I've just been fascinated, and I don't recall having a supernatural experience like that and I'm not particularly eager for one. I'm not hoping for that to happen, but I am increasingly interested in having conversations with people, including clergy. Actually, you get called out to go and pray with people in these sort of situations. So yeah, have you ever had a supernatural experience?

Speaker 2:

I'm not sure on that one. I mean yes, because I became a Christian, so that was a very you know what I'm conservative angelical. I can Jesus do till the, till the crowns?

Speaker 1:

Yeah.

Speaker 2:

It seems intriguing to me that the rise in the interest of the paranormal and ghosts and UFOs has coincided with this recent at least promise of a governmental UFO information dump. That's about to happen, that's being talked about, and I just wonder what. Well, they've had one.

Speaker 1:

I mean, there's only been one.

Speaker 2:

But there's going to be this sort of more stuff that's about to come out. So, according to the Reddit threads that I've been checking out, and that is interesting to me because which came first? I mean, is it that the evidence quote unquote has come out first and then more people are going I believe in UFOs, or is it that, because more people are willing to believe in UFOs, this sort of evidence is suddenly coming out? You've got these? You know F-15 fighter pilots saying, well, yeah, here's the photos. This was my experience.

Speaker 2:

Is it just that people, as you've just said, is it that for all this time people have felt cowed, they're not able to talk about this stuff because if they do, they lose their job? But now it feels increasingly OK. I just wonder whether the fact that we are now more open to believing in these kinds of things, which might be considered sort of supernatural, yeah, that now we are going to hear much, much more about it, but not just because people feel emboldened to talk about it, but also because, if there is a genuine spiritual dimension to this, possibly on the darker side of things, that this is a tremendous opportunity for principalities and powers to sort of get their foot in the door and really mislead people.

Speaker 2:

I just wonder whether that partly explains why we're starting to see a huge explosion and talk about UFOs and so on.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, Because, it because I've noticed I don't know if you've seen this, but when people I don't think they're actually called UFOs are they really? They aren't they referred to as unexplained, anomalous, anomalous phenomenon, right? What they're saying is that actually, when we, these strange creatures that have sort of crashed into the desert of Roswell, that the documentation is showing not so much that these are extraterrestrial as first thought, but that they are in some sense interdimensional beings, is what they're being called, right, and it's just interesting to me that that's become a thing. So that is really interesting. If your working hypothesis is that there's something potentially demonic going on here, then a good description of that would be a sort of you know, an extra dimensional being, it seems to me is something that comes from an entirely different plane of existence would be a good description of that. I don't know if you've got any thoughts about whether this, these sorts of phenomenon, are truly extraterrestrial or whether actually there's something else going on.

Speaker 1:

Oh yeah, there's definitely something else going on that I don't. I simply cannot believe that these are beings from across the galaxies. I think that is just mathematically, physiologically, biologically not possible.

Speaker 2:

Right, is that? Because you know, if they've got the technology to come all the way across the galaxy, seems a bit odd that then they would accidentally sort of crash into the planet after all of that hard journey, or what is it?

Speaker 1:

Yeah, I mean, there are so many things like that and the government have known about them all this time and they chose the American government and they blow the air, but also, yeah, I think it's demonic deception. I literally cannot see it as any other way and I think it's extremely effective, and also the way that it's so the inter dimensionality, I think again, is something that is a very worrying turn of events, and this is something that the guys on the, the cultish podcast have picked up quite a few times, and so they've spoken about UFOs and I would highly recommend going to have a listen to some of their stuff on that because I think it's quite, quite well done and responsibly done, because their overall thesis is whatever whatever your starting point into the new age is, and be that.

Speaker 1:

because you would think to yourself but what have UFOs got to do with Reiki? Yes, and what's Reiki got to do with crystals? Sage Clemson.

Speaker 2:

And what's crystals?

Speaker 1:

got to do with astral projection, right, and what is like these? None of these things are linked, are they Surely? To which they would say I think, well, they are linked, because it doesn't matter where you start, you always end up miles away from Jesus. No one ever went into church and said, oh, I became a Christian because I saw a UFO. Or no one said an alien told me to go to church. Yes, said literally no one ever. And it's interesting when you dig into some of these experiences that they have, quite often A people who run after UFO experiences. They crave them, they want to be abducted by them and then they start to have these sort of things. There's an element of simulation about it, and so now there's a whole load of sort of meditation. People take drugs to meditate.

Speaker 2:

I come in what is called a CBT or something oh is it cyber-cylin, like you mean from mushrooms, that kind of stuff. Yeah, all those sorts of things.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, and it's a very popular thing to do now.

Speaker 2:

But if you do that, Some might say it's the only way to enjoy our podcast.

Speaker 1:

really, but lots of people have said, yeah, I did that and I like the third or fourth time it got quite sinister. And also one of the people said, oh, Jesus was one of us. By the way, Jesus is one of these beings kind of thing.

Speaker 1:

It's like, oh, that's weird, I wasn't even thinking about Jesus, but thanks for that. And so it just feels like this is a play being run and a deception, which is extremely effective Because it soaks up loads and loads of time, makes people obsessed with it and, essentially, if you say, well, I don't think these are literally physical beings from another planet, well, this isn't angelic, is it? So, therefore, what is it? You're not really left with any other options, and once you see that they always lead you away from Jesus, you think, well, okay, I think we can tell what that is.

Speaker 2:

And related to that. I've found in various kind of church settings that the professing Christians, who seem most wedded to conspiracy theorizing, are the ones who tend to be most divisive in the body. And I think again that's quite interesting.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, that is interesting, isn't it?

Speaker 2:

I think that's connected and of course it's not necessarily that they're believing supernatural conspiracy theories, but just the sort of the QA non-stuff seems, as you say, to drive people not towards Jesus but away from Jesus, and I've found that, pastually speaking, I'm having to continually try and remind those folks. It's like, well, even if that's true, jesus wins right, he's still Lord, like why you seem really kind of fearful and antagonistic about this and you're not talking to me much about Jesus and the Bible, you're just talking to me about these conspiracy theories. That seems to be taking up a lot of your mind time and your CPU cycles.

Speaker 1:

Yeah.

Speaker 2:

Is that really the way that a Christian ought to be? So there's something about grabbing onto that stuff. That means that you have to let go of Jesus a little bit. Yeah, which, yeah. So I think you're dead right on that. And of course I mean it feels like hovering around, or hovering just over this whole discussion is Chesterton's famous maxim where he says when men choose not to believe in God, they do not thereafter believe in nothing. They then become capable of believing in anything.

Speaker 2:

And that seems to me to be the dynamic that's at play. That it's that. We've got this. If you take God out of the equation, it creates a vacuum into which you will just really believe in anything and everything. It just becomes much more credible to you.

Speaker 1:

Well, my question is this Is our language, english, capable? Is English capable of sustaining demagoguery, demagoguery, demagoguery and by demagoguery?

Speaker 2:

you mean by demagoguery? I mean demagoguery, I thought so.

Speaker 1:

So the other thing I just mentioned, I read a book just going further down the line of the uncanny thing.

Speaker 1:

I read a book called Demonic Fos by a professor of psychiatry, richard Gallagher.

Speaker 1:

He's a professor of psych and so his job was to psychologically, psychiatrically, assess people who were being oppressed or possessed by demons.

Speaker 1:

And he's a Roman Catholic and he was in contact with some Roman Catholic priests who kind of basically did this for a living and he would basically say, oh, this person is mentally well, but obviously they're experiencing something which requires prayer and intervention. And so he wrote a quite boringly matter of fact book on this which was kind of reassuring in the sense of he wasn't saying, oh yes, the 25,000 patients that I've seen in my life all had some kind of demon. He said no, no, no, lots of mental illness and that's how it works. But yeah, so that was quite a helpful book because he is bridging the gap between proper rigorous science and psychiatry and this other world, and he was completely open to both and therefore the stories he tells about stuff that he witnessed when there were prayers for people who were possessed going on, and he said it was interesting how he would interview them, maybe several times and then eventually, on the third, fourth, fifth time of asking, this person would say oh, I did use a Ouija board for a few months back in 2006.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, so I'm sure that's not relevant, but yeah, I just mentioned that Back in 2006.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, oh, when did these feelings start happening? Yeah, it was about 2006. Right, yeah, so these were people openly inviting themselves. There is something about it, seems to me, that conservative evangelicals particularly we're sort of way behind on this stuff and we don't really think about it very much. Yeah. I'll say something about that, but there is a sense of inviting somebody into your body or into your home. Yes.

Speaker 1:

Which they, the principalities and powers, don't seem to have permission to do unless you give them permission in some way or another. But again, this is all a bit sketchy in my own reading.

Speaker 2:

I do think there's that reminds me of Matthew 12, you know, the return of an unclean spirit. You know that bit when Jesus says that you know, an unclean spirit goes out of a person and then it says to itself I will return to my house, from which I came. And because it's gone, the person into which that evil spirit goes has, as it were, swept themselves clean, put everything in order, and I read that as where you're basically just making yourself again. There's a vacuum there. There's an openness, if you like. What happens at that point is that not only does the evil spirit go in, but seven other spirits more evil than itself. They enter and dwell there, and the last day of that person is worse than the first, and he says so will also.

Speaker 2:

Will it be with this evil generation? I think that any generation of people which has effectively tried to sweep its house clean, actually speaking, has emptied itself, is going to find then that, you know, demons are going to have a field day because there's just a sort of an openness to all of this stuff. Once you get rid of you know the kind of traditional religions and traditional ways of thinking about God and embracing God. So I think there's an element of that in what you're saying, that the Ouija board stuff is. Well, I'm a rationalistic person. Things can't possibly do me any damage.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, so therefore, yeah, so I'm just yeah, why are you doing it?

Speaker 2:

I mean, I'm just doing it for a bit of a laugh. Maybe that's what a lot of people do. But there is also, I think, a belief that you can know it'll be interesting just to do an experiment, and if things go south, no problem, we'll just put the Ouija board back on the top shelf and it won't leave any lasting damage. But that, yeah, just makes us very open in a way that we don't want to be.

Speaker 1:

Yes, I won't be haunted for years by evil spirits that I don't believe in, and when the evil spirits come, I shall tell them I don't believe in them. Yeah, yeah, I don't know. So I think we are very shy as Christians about talking about this. I think, partly because of the success of the Dawkins is of this world. So we seem, you know, I've probably said on this podcast before I'm super interested in how uninterested Christians are in Jesus's driving out of demons. We don't really ever. You know, he, I think it is mentioned. I just read somewhere online that Jesus, jesus driving out demons, is mentioned 55 times in the New Testament and, depending on how you slice it or dice it, there are five, seven, 12 exorcisms, or driving out of demons or unclean spirits. It's the first miracle he does in Mark. Yeah, it's all over, mark.

Speaker 2:

It's all over the dominant theme there in terms of Jesus, its miraculous power. And again, what is slightly disconcerting about that is the gospels do make a distinction between those, for example, who are suffering with epilepsy, some sort of mental disturbance, and demonic possession. It's not as if this is some primitive view of the world in which every kind of mental disturbance is viewed as demonic oppression. That is not the way the gospels describe it.

Speaker 3:

Looking for a refreshing summer cocktail, why not try a Cooper and Cary? Only mix one ounce of middle-aged regret, a squeeze of barely contained cynicism and a shot of predestination. But please enjoy responsibly.

Speaker 1:

This guy who does the uncanny podcast. I met up with him for a cup of tea quite a few years ago because he was doing something similar for Channel 4 radio back in the days when Channel 4 had a radio station which lasted about. I don't remember.

Speaker 1:

It lasted about three weeks or something. It was just a tiny little experiment they did. He knows I'm a believer and he asked me what do you think when people see ghosts or whatever, what do you think they're seeing? And I said I've absolutely no idea and I've never, ever, heard a sermon on it in my entire life. Yeah, or demons, or anything like that. And so I must have heard many sermons on Jesus driving out demons.

Speaker 1:

The demons are never mentioned, really, and we seem very, very coy about it. And the other thing I often say is, if you study, jesus drives the demons out of Legion and they go into the pigs and the pigs go into the rush off the cliff and into the water. I'm left there thinking, okay, where are the demons now? And if you're part of a Bible study, then it's like, okay, so we're onto the no, no, no, no, no, no, hang on, hang on. There's an absolute ton of demons in that guy. They went into pigs for some reason and then they went off a cliff and went and they drowned. The pigs have drowned. I don't think demons drown. Well, you know. Well, I don't think we should be too morbidly interested in evil spirits. So I think we'll go on to the next bit. And it's just me, you know, clearly. But I don't think it is just me, no, but our coyness about these things as evangelical Christians who believe in Jesus, who literally terrified demons.

Speaker 2:

It's a bad case of being wise in our own eyes, isn't it?

Speaker 2:

We've imbibed the cultural suspicion of these things, and so we've played it down. But you know, if one of the moments post resurrection is Jesus saying you know well, you can't touch a ghost, you can touch me. Wait, what did you say? A ghost? So you're talking about ghosts as if there are actually a thing. Yeah, okay, we ought to talk about that. And again, I think it's where we've. You can fall off the horse on the side.

Speaker 2:

One is this kind of deep, deep, essentially trying to write them out of scripture, which I think is what a lot of conservatives and genocles do. On the other hand, I think it is true to say that there are strains of Christianity where it's almost like hang on, are you actually excited? More excited about demons and evil spirits than you are about Jesus? That seems odd. So, yes, it's definitely a try and stay on the biblical saddle. On this one, if you can, just to circle back, I guess we ought to try and sort of land the plane, or at least crash. Land the plane.

Speaker 2:

Circling back to the beginning, I think a lot of non-religious folks would say well, what you're talking about when you talk about this kind of rise in the interest of spiritual things, is essentially wishful thinking in the face of death. You know that people are moving towards those things as a kind of consolation, and that's all it is. One example of that would be I was listening to a Richard Herring's podcast and there was an episode with David Bedeal and his new book is called the God Desire, which is about wanting God to exist but knowing that it's nothing more than wishful thinking in the face of death. That's basically his hypothesis for why there are religious people in the world. You know, do you think there's?

Speaker 2:

What do we say to that when we have friends who are maybe not believers who say well, it's just wishful thinking, isn't it? That's why people go for this kind of quasi-spiritual stuff. They just want to believe there's such a thing as a soul. They want to believe that something persists beyond death. But you know, there's no evidence, is there? There's no evidence whatsoever. Like what do we say to that as believers?

Speaker 1:

Yeah, it's a good one, isn't it? I mean to say that there is no evidence is just is mad. And actually, just going back, the thing is only about David Bedeal. I've heard Douglas Murray say something similar. He says, like I'm all for religious belief, I can't believe. So what they've got right is their own spiritual blindness. In a way, I kind of I appreciate the fact that they own that.

Speaker 1:

It is very disconcerting if you're a Christian, because in a way they've given so much ground that we now don't know what to do next, because it's like they almost agree with us.

Speaker 1:

They just don't actually agree on the substance. They agree on the concept and sometimes we feel one of the things that we say is you know, show them something that they wish was true and then tell them that it is true. They can see how brilliant it would be if it were true, but they just don't think it is true. So that is very hard and in a way that's proof of spiritual blindness. And we need to remember the fact that anyone who believes, as you said slightly sanctimoniously for comic effect earlier, is a miracle. Spiritual sight is miraculous and can only be granted by Jesus, and even then the lights don't go on as quickly as possible. And going back to Mark's Gospel, we see that double healing of a man who's blind, who doesn't quite see clearly at first, and then he is healed again fully. So we should just be aware that this is all in Jesus' hands and therefore our proofs and arm waving and anecdotes and pleas aren't effective without Christ.

Speaker 2:

Yeah. And when these folks say, like David Beteal, well, just show me the evidence that there's life after death. And we say the resurrection of Jesus Christ, that's pretty much central to Christian belief. And they say, well, yeah, apart from that, again it's evidence of blindness, isn't it? Because that's literally what would be the best possible evidence that there is life beyond death. Well, somebody actually coming back and publicly dying and then publicly being resurrected would be quite a good proof, but that is not enough for people.

Speaker 2:

Like it says in the rich man and Lazarus, even if someone were to return from the dead, still they wouldn't believe. Yeah, again, it's pointing to what you're saying, isn't it? We need a miracle, we need the Holy Spirit to enable somebody to see oh yeah, the resurrection is really, is knocked down proof of what you're talking about.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, and I think you can say to someone if I showed you a refutable evidence, would you then believe, be honest with yourself? And I know you're not going to tell me the honest answer. Yeah, that's what I'm saying. But if I gave you a, refutable proof, you would refute it, and that's the thing that restructured me. Going back to this uncanny show, which is also going to be on TV there's a live tour as well going around, but they always have a skeptic commenting and then they always have a believer of some sort, and it's very occasionally it's a vicar in the Church of England, but normally it's a very spiritual person who believes in you know,

Speaker 1:

that these buildings can have resonances from past people and all that kind of stuff, which I would utterly reject as well. I think that would be. I don't agree with them. But what's so interesting is when this person tells really vivid, clear stories of well, this happened, then this happened, then this happened. The skeptic says no, no, it can feel like these things are happening and of course, what might have happened is X, y and Z, and you're like the story literally precludes from what you're saying is true, it's not true. Well, maybe this happened. No, do you remember? They said that this was the case and then this was the case and over the years, people said no, no, no, no, no, no, no. This day, on this day and on this day these things happened.

Speaker 2:

It's never going to be good enough, is it? The evidence is never going to be good enough.

Speaker 1:

And you want to say to them you do realize that if a crime was committed and this evidence was given, you'd probably get a conviction, the level of testimony that you would get. How much more testimony would you need? Well, I need a photograph. Yeah, but photographs can be doctored, and if I showed you a photograph, you wouldn't believe it. Yes, quite Well, that's very grainy, it's not very impressive. Yeah, oh, look at that. Well, that's a really convenient shot. That's a really good shot, isn't it? Yes, so I don't think we're having an honest conversation, so we need to be honest about that.

Speaker 2:

There's a certain sort of disingenuousness, but I don't think again saying to somebody you need to be honest about that. I'm not even sure that works, because I don't think they realize they're being dishonest in that sense.

Speaker 1:

Well, maybe that's true. Do you know what I?

Speaker 2:

mean, like I think when I was listening to David Bedeal I was thinking all right, you're saying you wish God existed. You really want to believe that God exists. But do you? I mean, do you really want to believe you know the quote, the Old Testament God? As a Jewish man, you want that God to exist really. You want the God that hates sin and punishes sin. You want him to exist? I think the answer is no. I would like a very particular sort of David Bedeal God to exist, one who was sort of totally okay with everything I do and everything I think. So again, it just feels quite disingenuous that to me.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, no, I mean, I've always been very impressed with David Bedeal because he is always really honest, and I listened to the Comedians Comedian podcast where he was interviewed, and a lot of his comedy does just come from him being unable to lie and just having to say the thing that seems so obviously true. So I do think you're right, I do think he thinks he's being completely honest about it, but obviously we would say, well, how much evidence would you need? But yeah, but also, if you'd met God, if God appeared to you as a man and miraculously did something in front of you, you would think that would be enough, wouldn't you? But the people who witnessed Jesus do miracles, crucified him. So is that that isn't enough, is it so? But I don't know where that gets you next.

Speaker 2:

Well, on your knees, I think, is where it gets you, isn't it? Which is great? It's a good place to be.

Speaker 1:

Well, we're agreed on that ending at least. This has been a curious episode. We're going to have a chat for longer over on the Patreon and the Cooper and Carrie pluses, because we threw this one out on our Discord, which you get to join if you join us on Patreon, and we'd love you to be part of that conversation. We often tee up our conversations and then people chuck in some thoughts, so we'll go over there and say a bit of an old hi, and if you want to join that, go to the link in the show notes or if you Google Cooper and Carrie Patreon, I don't think there are many other people masquerading as us on the internet, so you're probably in fairly safe hands with the algorithm on that one. And cool, we've already done. We've already got a few other episodes in the can. We're excited to be sharing those with you in due course. And if there's anything that you think we should be talking about and you're not a patron, then email us. Cooper and Carrie at gmailcom.

Speaker 2:

Cooper and Carrie at gmailcom Is that everything, barry, I think, so Lovely to chat, as ever, james, and thank you for listening. God willing, we'll be back in two weeks time. Cheerio Bye.

Unbelievers' Beliefs and Evangelism Approach
New Religions in America
(Cont.) New Religions in America
Decline of New Atheism, Resurgence of Supernatural
UFOs, Beings, and Spiritual Deception
Christian Beliefs on Demons and Supernatural
Challenge of Belief and Blindness
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