Terminal Knowledge

Fellow citizens of the Republic of Newsletters – if you haven’t already discovered Max Anton Brewer’s SCIOPS newsletter, I highly recommend it. He claims the newsletter is cyberpunk weirdness, but I feel as though that is far too reductive for the breadth of topics covered. There’s surveillance, tech, politics, religion, and all those other things we talk about at the dinner table despite being taught otherwise.

The latest one spoke to me as a former churchgoer who has lost three of his (religious) grandparents in the past few years. Here’s an excerpt:

Nietzsche called Christianity a slave religion. It was the fervent hope of a better life, one that would reward all the suffering and punishment of this world, that kept the many generations of Christians from violent revolt in their own lifetimes. The doctrines of pacifism, obedience, and patience combine to form a lifestyle suitable for serfs. The better you are at subjugating yourself before your Lord (note the feudal flavor here), the more you will be rewarded. But not in this life, and not by this Lord. Count on the invisible entity to kick down the prizes in the next lifetime. In this one, shut up and turn the other cheek and work.

Of course, Nietzsche was a showboating syphilitic with a bad attitude. But he wasn’t wrong. Christianity is a form of terminal knowledge: a dead-end of thought, a self-reinforcing mental trap.

Terminal knowledge, once acquired, is impossible to be rid of. Like a retrovirus in DNA, it lurks inside the mind, taking every opportunity to replicate its own structure. If you accept one of the memetic hooks, such as “there is life after death”, you invite the entire belief system to infest your mind. It’s all self-referential and internally consistent. If there’s life after death, then of course your soul must go somewhere else. It’s clearly not in your body anymore, after all. If it goes somewhere, is that place better or worse than this one? What makes a person go to a better place or a worse one? Better check the Special Book…

Previous letters don’t appear to be archived online, but if you subscribe now, at least you can be sure to get the next one…

Published by

Corey J. White

Corey J. White is a writer of science-fiction, horror, magical realism, and other, harder to define stories. He studied writing at Griffith University on the Gold Coast, and is now based in Melbourne, Australia. His first book, Killing Gravity, is out in 2017 through Tor.com Publishing.

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