“Marijuana, Whiskey and an Episode of Westworld” - An Epiphany on God and Consciousness
It was my night off, and I celebrated it by having a cheat day off from my diet (even though I had 14 consecutive cheat days at that point). I poured myself a glass of fine Midnight Moon whiskey, smoked a relaxing bowl of marijuana and then feasted on General Tso chicken and cannoli’s (I said it was my cheat day). I was watching the new episode of Westworld when the combination of pot and the fantastic dialogue about consciousness between Dr. Ford and Bernard started me off on a long ‘stoned’ road of thought.
For some years I have questioned religion, faith and the existence of God. The answers I found created more questions, which slowly turned me from a Christian to an Agnostic. Instead of going to church and listening to men in robes preach with a certainty of knowing all of the answers from a book which has been edited continuously and misinterpreted throughout history, I have decided to follow what my rational mind and heart seems to lead me. From this time, I have grown more fascinated with myths, history, psychology, and science. Maybe the most significant influence in my thoughts on God and existence would be the works of Dr. Jordan B. Peterson and Jordan Campbell on how myths are essential to communicate humanities potential. But, it was the philosophically dense and near perfect storytelling of Westworld which made me had a marijuana-induced epiphany which I will meanderingly try to explain. So, buckle up. It's stoner logic time.
Myths have and will outlast religion. Myths are the stories that are left over when religion dies or parts of history which are forgotten. Religion is current, a focus on the particulars of a story and it teaches how to make a choice based around dogmatic principles. I am not trying to disparage all parts of religion because there are many, many benefits to having a community of people coming together and sharing a set of moral values. However, myths are timeless and wise lessons which shouldn’t be dismissed as childish fairy tales. When we go to war over religion, its because religion and our application of it are causing us not to appreciate the lessons passed down from our ancestors. Often, I find the strict certainty of religion misconstrues what these stories are trying to teach us.
This is the reason why myths have prevailed and outlasted religions since the genesis of consciousness. We went from worshiping the sun, moon and the stars. To fire, once we learned how to harness it. To the animals that we hunted and were hunted by. Then we created elaborate stories to help convey our understanding of our choices, ourselves and existence by transcendence through suffering.
For these stories to survive, they evolved into complexed organisms on their own, religion. We went from Sumerian to Ancient Egyptian, Mesoamerican, and Paganism. Which further evolved into Judaism, Taoism, Hinduism. And now we’re at the current stage of religious evolution by its form of the Modern versions of Judaism and Hinduism, Christianity, Islam, and Buddhism.
But through this evolution, man has corrupted the code, the genetics, the details of the stories that religion was supposed to embody. I feel it’s no longer about transcendence but control stemming from the fear of the unknown instead of embracing it, which our ancestors did through venturing out of both the literal and metaphorical cave and dealing with the consequences and rewards of the journey.
But the real code, or genetics, of myths, still prevail and are very much alive once we learn to recognize them. We still hear stories of Odin, Osiris, and Eastore (the Goddess we now know as Easter). The famed story of the great Flood and the Ark built to help life survive is communicated not only through Judaism and Christianity but through the Norse and Mesoamerican mythologies; with some minor degree of variations. Archetypes live in every religion. They are called by different names and take various forms, but they are still the same stories we’ve been telling since we began to communicate.
The most recognized archetype being the Hero and the journey people must take to become one. Moses did it, so did Luke Skywalker and Harry Potter. Famously made aware by Joseph Campbell in his book A Hero of a Thousand Faces and now being preached by Dr. Jordan B. Peterson. The hero becomes one by an ordinary person answering a call to adventure and venturing into the unknown. Through this journey, he faces the dangers of venturing into the unknown but are helped by other archetypes. One archetype is the wise man who represents the supernatural/transcendence who guides the hero on his quest. Also seen throughout religion and myths such as Moses’s Burning Bush, Luke’s Obi-Wan Kenobi and Harry Potter’s Professor Dumbledore. Even in the Divine Comedy, Dante was guided through Hell by the poet Virgil. I didn’t mention Jesus because his journey into becoming the messiah wasn't recorded but only what he became of it was. Or maybe he is humanities metaphorical wise man to guide us through our journey.
The Hero then faces an enemy, or an anti-hero, who wants to keep him from transcending because he has failed in his quest to become a hero or has become corrupted. Such as the Pharaoh, Darth Vader and Lord Voldemort who are archetypes of the tyrannical father. But his battle is not fought alone because once you accepted the call to adventure and the willingness to endure suffering, you will meet allies along your journey. Moses had Jethro, Arron and the Kenite’s. Luke had Han Solo and Princess Leia, and Harry Potter had Hermione Granger and Ron Weasley.
His journey comes to a climax when the hero must die (often metaphorically) so he can become worthy of being a Hero. Moses venturing into the Desert and not seeing the promise land. Luke not killing his Father/Darth Vader transcended him into a pure and merciful Jedi. Harry Potter had to die to complete the Deathly Hallow so he can finally defeat Lord Voldemort.
This extended analogy about the Hero’s Journey was just an example of how myths have found a way to survive by continually evolving through religion, art and more importantly, ourselves. These stories, even though fantastical, are based on humanities potential and achievements. Take away the magic and the miracles, and you see what humanity is truly capable of.
But, my marijuana-infused thoughts led me to a deeper appreciation of the importance of myths: Consciousness. Consciousness is still a wonderfully allusive mystery which borders on the miraculous. There are as many hypotheses on the origin of consciousness as there are myths. There is even debate on whether free will/ consciousness even exists. If I understand the argument correctly, the belief is the brain is just a function of automatic systems for just survival and procreation.
To go on a quick tangent, I genuinely think that the hypothesis is false. Yes, we do have automated systems in our brain because do you need your full brain power to brush your teeth or wipe your ass? Also, if there is no such thing as free will then what compels a man to endure hardship for a goal beyond procreation and survival? Such as a candidate for the Navy SEAL’s program. Or how do you explain the various forms of art and philosophy? Or the discipline to obtain knowledge and the courage to formulate a theoretical hypothesis, like the scientist who comes up with the idea of no free will. If humanity had no free will then there would have been no desire to leave the cave. There would have been no Sistine Chapel, no exploration across the Atlantic Ocean or no I-Pod. Consciousness exists because look what happens if you take away a person’s agency, hope or meaning for life: depression, violence, addiction, suicide, etc.
But, accepting the notion of free will/consciousness and why/how it exists is probably the oldest of questions; along with the question of the existential. The question of God. This is where I draw my meandering conclusion; I believe the answers and the questions are one-and-the-same. Why do myths last longer than cultures? Why do cultures separated by continents and had no communication with each other, often have the same myths? How does a man with most of his brain missing still function as an ordinary healthy man with a family and a job (The Scientific Mystery of a Man Living with 90% of His Brain Missing. Article in Big Think. By Paul Ratner).
To solve the mystery of consciousness is to find God.
I have faith in things beyond me. To say science has all the answers is the same as saying the Bible does too. But, the stories that survived millennia are telling us something which we may have long forgotten. I believe there is more to life, to existence, that we have yet to discover. But we need these stories to help guide us as much as we need science to explore the universe with all of its mystery and splendor.
I’ll leave you with these final thoughts: Consciousness and God are mutually inclusive in creation. If God does exist then, he would want his greatest creation to take care of each other. If God doesn’t exist, then we need to take care of each other even more.
Finally, smoking weed while watching Westworld is a hell of a trip.