Tom: Welcome to Apostasy Update. I’m T. A. McMahon, and in this program we are addressing biblical eschatology—what the Bible has to say prophetically about the last days prior to the return of Jesus Christ. My partner in this discussion is Carl Teichrib. He’s the author of Game of Gods: The Temple of Man in the Age of Re-enchantment.
Carl, welcome back, and thanks for joining me in our ongoing discussions of where the world and Christendom are headed according to the Scriptures as history draws to a close.
Carl: Thank you, Tom.
Tom: You know, much of the information, folks, if you’ve been following these programs, much of the information that we’ve been presenting in this series is taken from four books: America, the Sorcerer’s New Apprentice; Carl’s book, Game of Gods; Christianity and Anti-Christianity in Their Final Conflict; and most importantly, the Bible, which is God’s direct communication to mankind.
We’re now focusing on Carl’s book Game of Gods: The Temple of Man in the Age of Re-enchantment, and last week, Carl, as you know, we discussed chapter 14 of your book, and it seemed like the program was over before we really got started. Two things that I want to discuss from your book are transhumanism and “do what thou wilt,” as both as ways to better one’s life, or so we’re told.
Let’s start with transhumanism, Carl. Give us a definition of that.
Carl: Transhumanism is a philosophical movement that says through science and technology we can grasp our evolution, because, in their view, evolution is true. We grasp evolution and we then chart our own course forward, remaking man, eradicating illness, bringing about longevity, enhancing our capabilities, cognitive capabilities, physical capabilities, and for some of the transhuman movement, even moving beyond death, becoming immortal, and for more than a handful to become as God. And the god-talk is rife within the transhuman community, the idea that through our machines, really, honestly, Tom, through the works of our hands, that’s what this is, we become as God.
What’s fascinating with this conversation about transhumanism is it really has flourished in the digital age, because now our computers, our telephones (which are no longer telephones), all of our gadgets point us to a period maybe sometime in the future where we could now see this reality, that technology transforms us into something else. But the idea has been around since the very beginning of time, that we can take something, we can now employ this to our benefit to become as God.
Tom: Right. Carl, we have, really, a lot to talk about in this one, and as we saw last week, it goes very quickly! But I would be remiss if I didn’t start with what I’m wearing and what you’re wearing. But forget what I’m wearing—what about what you’re wearing?
Carl: Oh, boy! Because last week, Tom, we talked about transformational festivals, evolutionary culture, I thought I’d wear a shirt that I received as a gift at a transformational festival I was attending. It isn’t really even a festival, it’s more like a community or a gathering. This is from 2018. I was at Burning Man. We had a camp beside us, a young man by the way of Adam hung with us all week long, and he was fascinated by our conversations. We talked about Christianity, we talked about religion, we talked about philosophy. Now, we had never met Adam before—a great guy! We developed a friendship with him. He ate meals at our camp. We spent time interacting all week long, and all week long he was learning. In fact, at one point halfway in the week, we were bicycling across the playa, going somewhere, and it was dark, and we pulled over to see something, and I looked at Adam and said, “Dude, what’s wrong with you? You’re at Burning Man—you have every sensual pleasure under the sun at your fingertips and you’re hanging out with a bunch of Christians!”
He goes, “I’m learning so much from you guys.”
Anyways, later on in the week, Adam’s wearing a shirt, and I go, “Man, that’s a funky shirt!” And he goes, “Hang on!” And because Burning Man’s economy is not a barter or a consumer economy, it’s a gifting economy, he came back from his tent, and he gifted me the shirt off his back.
Tom: Wow. That’s absolutely terrific. I’m not sure my wife would let me out [laughs] of the house with that! Nevertheless…well, you see, that’s why I’m wearing what I’m wearing, okay? But no, that’s absolutely terrific. Thank you, Carl, for sharing that with us.
You know, as I said last week, we talked about so much, and certainly it all comes back to the idea, the mantra, actually, that “I’m God, you’re God, we’re all gods.” That’s it. And I, you know, thinking that through, I would call the people who had that mentality, it’s basically, “In us we trust.” That’s what this is all about.
Now, there’s another…well, the other aspect of it was the motto, which I’ll—which was instigated by Aleister Crowley, who referred to himself as “the Beast, 666,” and he was known as the wickedest man in the world. But his rallying cry, and this is where this is going, was, “Do what thou wilt,” which he pretty much did, right?
Carl: He did.
Tom: So, Carl, how influential was Aleister Crowley?
Carl: You know, in the 1950s or so, his name more or less slipped off the radar, at least in terms of popular culture. In the 1920s, in that time period, he was very influential as a British socialite of sorts. People flocked to him. He was friends with Aldous Huxley. But it was in the 1960s where you saw popular culture gravitated to his idea of “do what thou wilt.” And in the 1960s, it was being lived out at that point experientially. The concept of, if you would transgress, if you do what you’re want, you’re actually transgressing against the barriers that hold you back, and then you can find a new path forward. You can become more than yourself. You can become even godlike.
Timothy Leary was very clear that Aleister Crowley’s motto was the rallying cry of the 1960s. It was understood that Aleister Crowley’s works, his philosophy, his rituals, his esoteric writing, it was a staple for some of the main popstars and popular cultural icons of that era. Really, “Do what thou wilt” underscored the 1960s counterculture movement.
Tom: Well, you know, going through your book, it’s amazing to me… You know, I think I mentioned last week I graduated from high school in 1962, so everything, and especially your timelines and all this stuff that you pointed out—the music groups and so on—you know, it’s not like I was heavy into that stuff, but you couldn’t get away from it. This was our, among my peers and all of that, and I wasn’t a believer. Didn’t become a Christian until certainly after college, and, you know, later than that. But nevertheless, all the things that you’re writing about, all the people that you’re describing, that was my era and so on. And to see that spelled out, especially identifying it the way you have, you know, again, it was music to me, it wasn’t religion! You know, I was kind of a lapsed Catholic. At one point I was a devout Catholic, and then I jumped off that boat, okay? But the point being is that you have opened up, in my understanding, what was going on! You know, even though I—we didn’t go to Woodstock, but there was, I think it was the Blue Goose thing up in the North, Michigan or somewhere around there. But it was never a religious thing, it never had the sense of what you’ve understood and what they were clearly, clearly saying, what they were clearly doing and promoting and so on.
Well, you know, Carl, and I saw this in your book too, which really blessed me, one of my favorite questions I ask people, especially those who hold a religious or spiritual perspective, is, “Well, how does that work?”
Now, I’ll give you an example: I might ask Roman Catholics regarding their belief in purgatory, “Well, how’s that work?” In other words, I’m asking them to help me understand the what, the how, and the why of their belief or practice. Rarely—and I don’t know if you’ve had this experience—rarely if ever do they have knowledgeable, even reasonable answers, which I want them to realize. I mean, that’s the purpose of asking that question. You don’t have—you know, you say that, whether it be in chapter 15 or whatever—no, we don’t impose, we ask, and we want them to explain so that they can come to an understanding in their own heads, not because I said it or you said it or whatever. Certainly the Word of God says it, but, you know, I mean obviously that’s the place where they need to go to find true answers to what they’re into, but basically we want them to question. I mean, isn’t that what they claim to be about? “Well, let’s question the rules. Let’s question the laws. Let’s do all of that.” No.
So, having said that, Carl, regarding, “Do what thou wilt”—well, you give us a summary in your book. I’m quoting you: “Break the rules.” This isn’t our thoughts, this is just what you’re saying this is what it’s about. “Break the rules. Go beyond convention. Pursue your carnal passions. Be your own master. Exert your will. Transform through transgression.” Well, if you ever ask them, “How does that work? How does that play out?”
Carl: It’s interesting you bring that up, because sometimes you don’t even have to ask, you already see it in motion. So I’ll give you an example, because I’m wearing this from Burning Man: If you were to go back to Burning Man in the 1990s, my friend Bob Worley, he did go. Bob Worley comes and he’s part of our camp where we do outreach to the Burning community, right within their own city. But if you would have gone back to Burning Man in 1996, 1995, 1997, that era, it was out of control. People were dying. People still die! But it was utterly out of control. It was to the point of “do what thou wilt” was bringing about their destruction, and they knew it! They recognized that their own destruction was upon them, because they had taken “do what thou wilt” to the ragged edge, and then after that, all there is is destruction.
Carl: And so a few years later, they had to revamp—in fact, they already began the revamping process because they realized this doesn’t work! And so later on, I think it was 2002 they put together the Ten Principles. Basically it’s their own Ten Commandments! And my friend Bob approached one of them, and I can’t remember which person it was, I don’t know the full story, but more or less chided them that, “Guys! When did you guys become a Christian organization?”
“What are you talking about?”
“Well, here you have your Ten Principles. Where do you think the idea of order and structure and authority and rules come together? Where did this come from? Because in your ‘do what thou wilt’ world, obviously it ran into a brick wall.”
Tom: Absolutely. Carl, we get—well, I’ll challenge our audience, and again, I’m sure most, many of them (or perhaps all, I don’t know) are believers, okay? But I will challenge anybody, “Okay, why don’t you make up ten rules for yourself?” What do we know about the Word of God? “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked.” Okay? So I…well, I don’t throw a guarantee on it, but it’s my best guess, and it’s a really good guess, they will not be able to keep their own rules.
Tom: It’s just…it’s the heart of man. You know, the other thing about that is, you know, I mentioned earlier Woodstock: this was the flower children, this was wonderful, this was—what, there were 400,000 people?
Carl: Yes, roughly. Nobody really knows. There might have even been another 100-200,000 on top of it! It was out of control in terms of even their own ticketing. They didn’t even know how many were there.
Tom: Right. But it was touted as, hey, harmony, we all get along, we love each other, and they were “doing what thou wilt!” But wait a minute—let’s talk about another one: Altamont. The Rolling Stones. And I have some insight into this: the security guards were the Hell’s Angels, okay? So there was a death. There was this thing gone awry, big time. I think—well, there’s another quote from your book: “One observer wrote, ‘Woodstock is the potential, but Altamont is the reality.’” That’s what happened, that’s what took place, and of course, again, it’s in keeping with, you know, with the heart of man in all of that.
The other aspect is, as I was thinking about that, I’m going to quote you from Psalm:7:15-16: “He made a pit,” talking about the wicked, you know, that’s the context, “he made a pit and digged it, and has fallen into the ditch which he made. His mischief [actually, destruction] shall return upon his own head, and his violent dealing shall come down upon his own head.”
So, you know, it’s not that God—God will deal with all of this stuff. Everybody’s held accountable and so on. But we create our own destruction. On what basis? Because we do what we wilt. It never has a good turnout.
You know, the other thing I think about is mankind, certainly nurtured by his own sinfulness and led on by the wickedness of Satan, so he’s adding to this, invariably corrupts and destroys everything that God has created for good—sex, for example. Hey, that’s God’s design. It’s wonderful, it’s beautiful, it’s pure when it’s done His way. But when it’s not…I mean, and you could go own the list of all those things.
Carl, the other thing in your book that really blessed me, I guess maybe because of my background, you know, as I mentioned I have an undergraduate degree in fine arts, so I’m always looking at that and seeing how it’s being used. But you mention a movement called Dada—D-A-D-A, folks, if you’ve not heard about it. Tell us a little bit about that, and I’ll give you some of my examples. What is Dada?
Carl: Well, Dada is an art movement. It’s been around for a long time. It was a reaction against tradition, a reaction against customs and norms, and it took art into the realm of, really, absurdity.
Carl: It was the realm of absurdity. Looking to find artistic expression—really, you could almost say it was a call that said to the culture, “There is no purpose, there is no meaning. Everything is pointless. Everything is absurd.” And so that’s where Dada took the—that’s really where the Dada art movement took it. It was an experience of absurdity, and from Dada you jump into the Happenings, where that was now a theater of absurdity. Nothing had to make sense. Everything could be a mash, everything could be mushed, and it didn’t have to make sense. It was a collage of experiences. That’s where Happenings took us.
I’m glad you brought up Dada, because Dada is one of the art movements, and then through that the Happenings, and also surrealism…
Tom: But, Carl, let me…
Carl: …yeah, and that becomes today’s transformation. That’s this stuff!
Tom: Okay, but let me give our viewers—let me give them an example: one of the icons of the Dada movement, Marcel Duchamp, okay. You want to…I mean, if we could put one up here, I would, but it wouldn’t be worth it. One of his art items that he submitted to—it wasn’t a contest, it was to an art show, but more than just a show, was a toilet. Just a toilet, okay, a urinal, exactly, and he submitted that! And they had to accept it, but I don’t think they put it in the long run.
The other thing that he found, based on all that you’ve described, was he found a postcard with the Mona Lisa on it. Well, what did he do? He turned that into “anti-art.” He put a mustache on the Mona Lisa with her cute smile, okay, and a goatee. So that was the mentality.
You know, but then also, and then you can add onto this, because it’s going in the direction that you just started, what about music? Music, beautiful music, consonants, okay, melody, harmony, and so on. Now we go into dissonance—not that there isn’t a place for that when you’re orchestrating, but nevertheless, when that becomes the mentality, you know, I think of people like Arnold Schoenberg, okay, certainly…somebody could argue and say, “Well, no, this was really important in the movement.” Well, everybody is saying that no matter where the movement goes: “Well, this is transition,” and so on. We have John Cage, you know? He would take a grand piano and put screws in it to change it into a drum, all right? Now, folks, what’s my point here? It’s the something that starts out which has beauty and really attracts us in a wonderful way goes to dissonance, goes to corruption, you know, goes down the line. John Cage, certainly his music, you could say that about it.
I watched a concert—well, a part of a concert of his music—I could only take about two minutes of it, because it was repetitive. It was like, you know, going back to a drumming kind of thing, you know, that is certainly a part of paganism and so on. Much of it to me is orchestrated by the adversary and so on.
But then one of John Cage’s partners for life was a man named Merce Cunningham, and he talked about dance: everything is dance, according to him. So what we’ve done is we’ve taken these things, everything is art, everything is music, everything is dance. No, no. That’s not the way it works. It is a destructive progression—degression, actually—down the line.
And, Carl, before you respond to that, I wanted to read you a quote from America, the Sorcerer’s New Apprentice, because I think it really relates to this. This is, well, it’s a thought that Dave and I wrote in America, the Sorcerer’s New Apprentice: “If we claim that we are God, we have demeaned the very concept of God. We haven’t lifted ourselves to God’s level, but we have dragged God down to our level. If everything is God as Hinduism teaches, then nothing is God, because the very word ‘God’ has lost its meaning. And if the New Age leaders who are bringing this ‘enlightenment,’ so called, are demonstrating what it means to act like God, then they have clearly demeaned the long-accepted concept of a supreme being. If everything is supreme, then nothing is supreme.” It’s…if everything is dance, then, you know, what’s the point? If everything is music no matter what, if everything is art…anyway.
Sorry, continue on with where you’re taking this.
Carl: But that’s a very good point. And so let’s go back to the definition of transhumanism that I gave in the beginning of our talk. At the 2018 Burning Man, transhumanism was more or less the theme. The theme for 2018 was “I, Robot.” So the art pieces, the workshops, a lot of the lectures were built around transhuman themes: Can man and machine come together? And I’ve spent, as you know, I’ve spent a fair amount of time interacting with the transhumanist community. I have an entire chapter dedicated just to that, and they’re asking the question, ultimately asking the question, “Well, what is a human being?” Well, back to your point, if we look to break down what humanity means by integrating with technology, however that might look—and honestly, I don’t think it works; I think it ends up becoming a bloody utopian nightmare that never becomes a utopian salvation story, that’s for certain! But then the question arises: What is a human being? What is dance? What is art? What is humanity? Everything is up for grabs, and in the postmodern realm, everything is up for grabs with no answers being allowed. It’s just “stay in that question.” Now we’re moving beyond that, saying, “Well, we know the answers. We’re going to make them up ourselves!” We have this lived experience to say, “I now know what dance is! I now know what art is! I now know what being a human is: it’s me upgrading myself into the Cloud,” or whatever it might be. No, no, we’ve run into the realm of absurdity. But that’s what we celebrate, because in the worldview of monism or oneness, everything is everything else. Your cancer is the same as the stop sign behind you. It’s the same as the mic, same as this shirt you’re wearing, Tom. It’s absurdity. No, there are distinctions and differences, and they’re God-given.
Tom: Yeah. You know, and we’ve been saying this all along, that, folks, I hope you picked up on it, you know, and I don’t think we can overstate it, and that is man has rejected God and he’s trying to work it out on his own, and no matter what path, where they go, how they go down it, and so on. It’s not working, it never has worked from the beginning. You know, the adversary, Satan, to Eve: “You’ll be as gods.” It’s never worked out.
But that is the end of the story in the sense of this temporal world. We have an Antichrist who sets himself up in the temple of God to be worshipped as God. No, it’s not going to happen.
So all of these things, they’re…well, I want to throw something else in, and I’d like you to address it. So obviously it wasn’t happening, didn’t happen through “science,” so-called, it didn’t happen through our “enlightenment,” so-called, and all of that stuff. But you know, now we’re, as we pointed out, what the stage we’re in now is electric shamanism. This is shamanism, now we’re involving technology in a way. Carl, what about…well, look, if we can’t work it out with ourselves, how about if we invent some machines that have intelligence? Artificial intelligence? What do you think?
Carl: Good luck! Good luck! And this is, I’m saying this, Tom, I’m saying this of course in a sense that’s facetious, but at the same time, I’m sorry, I’ve been in the transhumanist communities I’ve integrated in terms of spending my time with them, I’ve invested in it—it’s interesting how their hope is, and I’ll give you an example, Ray Kurzweil, former director of engineering of Google, his hope was immortality. Well, Ray is getting up there in years already! Good luck!
I remember having a conversation at a hotel during the Global Future’s 2045 event which took place in New York City. I won’t say the gentleman’s name, but he’s a leading figure in the transhumanist community, and he’s been working towards a transhumanist goal to become immortal, to go past death based on his technology, or based on the technology that can be applied, or the science that can be applied. And he looked at me and he said, “I’m not one day closer from when I started 30 years ago.” He was honest about it! He went, “You know, we have incredible technologies. We’re using an incredible technology right now, but technology has utilitarian function, and it stops at that utilitarian function.” The toilet remains a toilet. A truck remains a truck. You can glitz it up with all kinds of gadgetry, its utilitary function still remains only that.
My concern about transhumanism is not that it will succeed, my concern is what kind of problems do we unleash in the attempt to prove our point that we can transgress and transform?
Tom: Yeah. You know, there are many movies out today—as maybe many of our viewers know that for a time I was a screenwriter in Hollywood, so I’m interested in the medium, and I know the…I know from biblical standpoint, from a biblical Christian standpoint, all the issues and the problems. So there are very few movies that you need concern yourself with, or even watch. But what I’m getting at here is that way back when, I watched a movie called Bladerunner, and without going into it, Harrison Ford starred in this and so on. But the thing that—I’m not even sure if I was a Christian, and I can’t remember the deal, but I know I was stunned, because the hero, Harrison Ford, falls in love with a machine, a drop-dead gorgeous machine. And the way this movie ends, okay, is that he basically rides off into the sunset with this machine that he loves. I’m thinking, What?? What did I just see here? Now, because Hollywood will take wickedness and move it to its max, now there are a lot of movies out there—well, not a lot, but there are a number of movies (I haven’t seen them, but I just, you know, read the reviews and so on) in which artificial intelligence involves high sexuality, okay? Man and machine. This is wickedness, this is utter destruction of, you know, humanity that’s made in God’s image, okay? It’s horrendous. But people are not just gravitating for it, as I said, I quote from Jeremiah, “The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked.” There is a penchant for that. There is a driving toward that because of the sinfulness of man. But God can deliver from that, and that’s why He sent Jesus to pay the penalty for our sins, to change our lives. I don’t care what anybody’s into, all the stuff that we’re describing, they can be delivered from that, and there’s only one way, and that’s paying the full penalty for our sins. Either we pay for it, or Jesus pays for it, which He did, and offers that to all of us.
So, again, artificial intelligence—dead end.
Carl: And I’ll bring it around full circle, Tom: Burning Man, a lot of people think Burning Man and that culture and the transformational culture movement is a movement that is populated with hippies—I mean, this is a shirt that kind of looks like that. It’s not. It’s populated with the tech culture. In fact, Burning Man can be described as Silicon Valley’s event. It really is San Francisco and Silicon Valley’s kind of tech-networking meetup, mashup, where you can find yourself rubbing shoulders with the CEOs of major tech companies. In fact, Eric Schmidt, the man who made Google what it is, the CEO who made Google what it is, when he was hired, when Google was looking for a CEO to run the company, he was hired primarily because he had Burning Man on his resume, and it was understood that if you understood Burning Man, if you could grasp that, you could get Google. And so the tech industry, literally the transhumanist industry, which is why 2018, the theme fit so well, “I, Robot,” dovetails completely with this celebratory side of oneness.
Carl: It is techno-shamanism.
Tom: Right. And, you know, enlightenment through drugs, huge part of it. Maybe not everybody, but there are other ways, as we’ve talked about, to get into altered states of consciousness, which, dance…you name it, it’s all there. But that’s the goal: to be enlightened so we can move on in our evolution. No, that’s it.
Well, Carl, we’re out of time for this. What I’m hoping for, the Lord willing, in our next session, we’re going to summarize all 20-some programs—we’re going to need the Lord’s help for that! But I think it’s important for us to recap, and to present your perspective, my perspective for what we’ve been doing wonderfully—I say “wonderfully” in terms of my getting to know you, my relationship with you, and so on. It’s been an absolute treat, but I want it to be edifying for those who have taken the time to participate, to watch this and so on. So, the Lord willing, next week we’ll do that.
Thank you, Carl.
Carl: Thank you.