Accidental Scientology

If you follow Mike Cernovich on Twitter, you’ve probably seen a lot about DMT experiences and their spiritual significance lately. To quickly sum it up in meme form…

How it started:

How it’s going:

That second tweet comes off as bonkers, certainly; and it’s easy to simply ridicule and dismiss the whole thing. But while its good to be skeptical of his conclusions, we shouldn’t be dismissive of his experiences. I can’t help but conclude that there is a spiritual significance here–just not the significance Cernovich thinks. After all, if you’re familiar with the doctrines of Scientology, then this is not the first time you’ve heard the message in this tweet.

As I understand it, you have to spend a fair amount of money and do a lot of Auditing before they actually tell you this, but the Church of Scientology teaches that people are really Thetans–a kind of transdimensional quasi-omnipotent being. Unfortunately, we have been trapped in physical human bodies in the MEST (matter, energy, space, time) universe. The reason we don’t even remember this supposed true nature is because we’re loaded down by traumas from this life, past lives, and even false traumas that never belonged to us in the first place. These “engrams” are Scientology’s version of karmic baggage and are what Auditing is supposed to remove in order to cross the Bridge of Total Freedom and finally live as Thetans once again.

And yes, all of that is encompassed by a pulp sci-fi narrative involving Xenu (the tyrannical ruler of the Galactic Confederation,) a universe-encompassing video game, and all the salacious tidbits people love to make fun of. However, the core of the religion really isn’t appreciably different from Cernovich’s tweet. So while I can’t claim to know the going price of DMT, I’m guessing it’s something of a bargain compared to the costs of joining the Church of Scientology when you consider the similar results.

But there’s nothing new under the sun, and that’s true of  Scientology as well. If you look past L. Ron Hubbard’s schlocky writing, all you’ll find is the ancient heresy of Gnosticism.

Gnosticism was one of the first major heresies to pester the early Church. The Gnostics taught (stop me if you’ve heard it before) that people are really divine, spiritual beings who became trapped in human bodies in the physical universe. However, by gaining gnosis–the secret knowledge that only initiated Gnostics were privy to–you’d be able to escape from this material prison and live according to your true spiritual nature. They had a more fantasy-oriented mythology involving godlike Aeons, the Pleroma, the Demiurge, and so forth, but at it’s core it’s the same thing once again.

So yes, everything from Scientology to Star Wars to The Secret basically borrowed this whole schtick from Gnosticism. But then, the Gnostics only copied what they were told by that one angel of light who first offered secret knowledge to humanity with the promise, “ye shall be as gods.”

Now that might actually sound pretty compelling. All these different people from all these different times piercing the spiritual veil in different ways and all arriving at pretty much the same doctrines–just wrapped up in different aesthetics. It’s not that big of a stretch to think they were all hearing the same message from the same spirits.  These similarities are precisely why I don’t think Cernovich’s DMT experiences are “fake” per se. I do think he probably had a spiritual experience with the tea.

But there is a big problem with message and spirits alike: It all stands against the teachings of Jesus Christ.

This is the advantage Christianity holds over all the various mystery religions:  It’s not that it rings truer or fits with our spiritual experience better. It’s that Jesus Christ actually rose from the dead–not in the sense of a story or a doctrine, but as a matter of historical fact. That changes everything. In The Secret, Rhonda Byrne lists all sorts of famous people who supposedly knew the same old secret spritualism: Shakespeare, William Blake, Beethoven, da Vinci, Plato, Socrates, Francis Bacon, Isaac Newton, and so forth. But the other thing they all have in common is that they’re all dead–their bodies have rotted away in the ground.

But Jesus is alive. You don’t need E-meters, secret societies, or just the right blends of herbal teas to know the hard fact of what happened out in the open 2000 years ago. And if you want to know about life after death, who better to consult than someone who actually died and came back? If you want to know about God, who better than the One who made the absolutely insane yet demonstrably sound claim to actually be God?

I’ll take Jesus’ word over those of a DMT Elf any day of the week. And Jesus says that His Father, the Creator of the universe, made a very good physical world and created us with very good bodies–not prisons that obscure and deny our true natures. Jesus himself took on that very good human flesh, and when He died, He rose to life again with that same very good flesh now glorified. He promises us that same embodied salvation in resurrected flesh, not an eternal life as wandering spirits.

Any spirit who tries to draw us away from that flesh is inevitably attempting to draw us away from the God who Created us with it. When an Apostle chosen by Jesus Himself instructs us to discern between good and evil spirits, he immediately points us right to Christ coming in the flesh.

Whenever you hear from spirits, it should always raise the question: Which spirits? I’ve seen Cernovich acknowledge the existence of both good and and evil spirts and seems to more-or-less associate them with angels & demons. He also seems pretty sure that he can tell the difference on the basis of the experiences themselves. But let’s just say I’m skeptical of the angelic explanation when I hear people start passing on teachings from “DMT Elves” and find the same teachings that the devil has been peddling since the literal Garden of Eden.

Could psychedelics open one’s mind to the idea of God? Sure. Humans are designed for belief in God. Denying the divine means ignoring those parts of ourselves. It may be that the kind of experiences triggered by drugs like this make it harder to continue sidelining those parts. But seeing a beautiful sunrise, a wide-open sky, or any natural manifestation of sublime beauty can do the same. It has been so since the dawn of time, for the heavens declare the glory of God. Humans are inevitably religious–even atheists.

The bottom line, however, is that none of these experiences are self-interpreting–not even DMT experiences. By natural religion and intuition, we can know that God exists, but we’re never sure where we stand with Him. For that, we have to rely on a Word from outside of ourselves. Not from spirits veiled behind secrets, but from the God who actually lived among us and openly shared our human nature:  Jesus Christ.

About Matt

Software engineer by trade; lay theologian by nature; Lutheran by grace.
This entry was posted in Apologetics, Gospel, Heresy, Paganism, Spiritual But Not Religious, Theology. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Accidental Scientology

  1. Sue K says:

    I just found your blog. Somehow I landed on your three kinds of doubt article, and found it very helpful. I thank you for your blog!
    I came upon this DMT article while searching for your thoughts on cannabis and now the popular delta 8 use. I know many are using these for depression, anxiety, pain etc. As more of a pharmaceutical drug than recreational. However you still get the high. I have heard people say that using THC opens a person up to demonic influence, which it seems DMT does as well. What are your thoughts?

    • Matt says:

      Hi Sue,

      Thank you! I’m glad you’re enjoying the blog.

      I don’t know much about the specific drugs in question, so I can’t get too specific, but I will say this:

      DMT users mostly seem to agree that it’s a spiritual experience–in the sense that they communicate with spirits of some kind. If they’re correct about that, then they have no good means of discerning whether they’re consorting with angels or demons. If they’re incorrect about it being spiritual, then their minds are just making stuff up about the spiritual world. So it’s either demonic deception or self-deception. Neither of those options is good for the user. I wouldn’t consider DMT even for medicinal use.

      I haven’t heard those claims regarding THC, so I don’t have an opinion on its medicinal use. But insofar as it really is like DMT, the same logic would apply. If it opens you up to consorting with spirits, then you’re taking a huge risk of demonic influence. If it doesn’t but you think it does, you’re deceiving yourself.

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