Friday, October 23, 2009

If spiritualism / religion is good for you, how come it kills its adherents?


Well, it happened again. A flock of New Age spiritualist mind zombies seeking enlightenment go on a retreat of “self discovery,” where there are “powerful earth energies;” pay cash to their Guru leader; step into a “sweat lodge” and promptly keel over. Three die, many more are sickened.

According to survivor reports, people were feeling nauseous and passing out and wanted to leave. But the leader and self help Guru James Arthur Ray, self proclaimed “spiritual warrior” insisted they stay inside for their own inner strength.

In the post event hysteria Ray coordinates a communication between the dead followers and a “channeler,” who assured the survivors that the dead are happy where they are and didn’t want to come back. How comforting… and convenient. The survivors didn’t buy it. Finally.

It’s not like this is the first time in recent history that the willfully stupid seeking some “spiritual enlightenment” put their trust in a charismatic spiritual leader and been lead like lambs to slaughter.


  • Guyana – Jim Jones (Christian)

  • Waco - David Koresh (Christian)

  • Heavens Gate- Marshal Applewhite (Christ delusion nut)

  • Order of the Solar Tradition- Luc Jouret (Christian mixed nut)


Those religious sects, cults and spiritual groups , plus the murders of children / family members at God’s behest, have chalked up about 1,300 corpses so far. This latest debacle won’t be the last time either.

There is this thing about people who abandon self-reliance, reality, and common sense preferring to entrust their lives and money to someone who is on a “higher plane of consciousness,” or is in touch with his “inner spiritualism;” or who professes a special relationship with Jesus, in pursuit of something beyond reality. You’d think in this day and age they’d be a little more skeptical, a little less gullible and malleable. But they are Believers which by definition means gullibility and dependency.



  • When was the last time anyone heard of mass suicide at a meeting of non-believer National Academy of Science fellows at the behest of the head of the Academy?

  • Or an atheist organization drinking cyanide laced Kool Aide during a family outing?

  • Or MENSA members collectively subjecting themselves to life threatening conditions at the say so of a MENSA group leader?

Nope, Nada. It seems that being “spiritual” or “religious” is the prerequisite to being gently lulled into suicide by a shepherd.

What sets The Thinking apart from the Spiritually-Dependent-Religiously-Oriented-Dirt Nap- Candidates? ... Thinking!!

19 comments:

Tangled Up in Blue Guy said...

When was the last time you heard of an atheist group kidnapping children, putting them in workhouses and then telling them that their parents abandoned them?

NewEnglandBob said...

This is a fantastic post, Hump!

Heathen said...

I’ve spoken and worked with otherwise intelligent physicians and pharmacists that insist on the validity of their chosen faith (young-earth creationists) in spite of the overwhelming evidence against it. The strength of the religious meme always amazes me.

These people are trained to evaluate every new therapy and diagnostic study in light of the evidence for or against it. Evidence based medicine is an important concept in the teachings at medical and pharmacy schools around the country. Unfortunately, reason stands no chance when pitted against religious indoctrination.

These physicians and pharmacists are somehow able to use evidence and reason when evaluating journal articles, but leave all intelligence at the door when they enter church. They ask for more evidence when discussing new treatments, but actually avoid evidence when discussing topics they find threatening to their faith (evolution, the age of the earth, etc.).

The religiously devout often appear powerless to make good decisions while under the guise of a religious activity. If they decry the sweat lodge retreat (or any other religious function) as suspicious and dangerous, the other sheep may turn on them. Blasphemy!

Peer pressure at its best, and most dangerous.

Dromedary Hump said...

Tangled,
Um..lemme think... Never? ;)
It takes religious delusion to pull those kinds of stunts.

NewEnglandBob,
Thanks pal.

Heathen,

I have often seen the same skeptical and analytical traits of otherwise normal folks, totally evaporate when anything threatens their faith. Some day that will be a recessive trait.

you said: "If they decry the sweat lodge retreat (or any other religious function) as suspicious and dangerous, the other sheep may turn on them. Blasphemy!
Peer pressure at its best, and most dangerous."

I read Mat Taibbi's The Great Derangement (i don't necessarily recommend it). He had one good story recounting his experience in a fundy spiritual week.
When it came to talking in tongues they actually taught people how to do it and encouraged them. One woman told him she does it because everyone else is doing it. So Mat did it too and got lots of approval.

yep, it's not anything related to thinking with these people, it's monkey see monkey do... now give me a banana for approval.

Rachelle said...

Once again, you've hit it on the head, Hump. :)

My niece sent me this link. LOL!:

http://holykaw.alltop.com/how-to-choose-a-religion-the-flow-chart

Dromedary Hump said...

Rachelle..
THAT IS A GREAT CHART!!!

I'd have made provision for Christian fundies as a third option for "are you annoying", or maybe THE ONLY option for having an "IQ under 100."

Also, I'd have asked "do you have a death wish?"...and directed them to start their own cult.

:-)

thanks

Glenn Livingston said...

Hump... thanks so much for being the constant voice of reason, fighting for our secular society.

Religion is the psychology of obedience. Religious arguments proceed from authority, not logic.

Which is why supernatural belief is a constant impediment to rational progress, and why its adherents willingly place themselves in harms way.

As a psychologist, I was taught NOT to challenge people's delusions until I thoroughly understood their underpinnings, and was confident they could function without them.

But on a societal level, and in particular where there is mass reinforcement of the delusion, I now fear this is a dangerous philosophy.

In fact, I don't know if you realize that medical professionals are not allowed to diagnose a mental disorder for a delusion if it has common cultural support.

You're inspiring me to get more involved!

Be well,

Dr. G :-)

(Your Fellow New Hampshire Atheist)

Dromedary Hump said...

Glenn said: "In fact, I don't know if you realize that medical professionals are not allowed to diagnose a mental disorder for a delusion if it has common cultural support."

Interesting. I was unaware of this, but can I understand the basis for it.

I wonder... if someone crucifies themselves to a 2x4 in their back yard every Easter, would that qualify as a mental disorder? How about someone who believes they are possessed by demons?

Or, because it is practiced in certain communities and countries by religious fanatcis, or demonic possession is bibllical, is it considered "culturally supported"?

Hump

Anonymous said...

@Glenn

"As a psychologist, I was taught NOT to challenge people's delusions until I thoroughly understood their underpinnings, and was confident they could function without them."

So the belief in an Abrahamic God is not to be discussed (and all that goes with it, demonic possession, witch burning, faith healing, etc.)?

But a belief in the Greek Gods (aka Zues, Hera, et.el.) or other dead religion is considered OK to discuss?

How about UFO abduction, Loc Ness, Big foot, crop circles, vaccination is linked to autism, homeopathy, etc? What would be consider off limits?

Is there an accredited body of psychologists that puts out these rules (laws?) or educational guidelines of what's considered societal norms vs individual delusions?

Thanks
Fastthumbs

Glenn Livingston said...

Well, I haven't researched it in a LONG time so don't quote me yet, but:

I believe the DSM IV (the diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders... kind of the bible for psychological/psychiatric diagnosis) specifies exceptions in certain cultures for such things as believing one's dead parent visit with news from the afterlife, mild cases of possession or spiritual mania, etc.

Similarly, I believe crucifying oneself on a 2 x 4 every Easter would probably be exempted, unless the person really claimed to be Jesus.

Don't shoot the messenger! (Not saying I agree, only reporting facts here)

G :-)

PS - If you've never read "The Three Christs of Ypsilanti", you'd find it fascinating. 3 men each claiming to be Christ were brought together in hopes of resolving their delusions. But no such luck... very intriguing to see how people can maintain a delusion in spite of overwhelming evidence to the contrary.

Glenn Livingston said...

PS - Fast Thumbs -- good point, and you're essentially correct. We're not supposed to diagnose mental illness when large proportion of the population holds the same belief. Seems wrong, doesn't it?

Praise Thor!

Dromedary Hump said...

"If you've never read "The Three Christs of Ypsilanti", you'd find it fascinating. 3 men each claiming to be Christ "

Now THAT sounds fascinatig. It's going on my reading list.

Thks,

Dromedary Hump said...

EVERYONE:
One of my readers Talya has requested we complete a survey for a sociology school project.
I did it and it took about a minute to complete.

If you have a spare minute please give her your input. Thanks

Heres the link:

http://www.surveymonkey.com/s.aspx?sm=Eg6K01OMTyllCzgBrD0mRQ_3d_3d

No Guy in the Sky said...

Great Job Hump!

JD Curtis said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Rachelle said...

That was a quick survey. :)

Heathen said...

Quick, easy survey.

Anonymous said...

Religion doesn't kill people. People kill people. The people that would kill over religion would kill over a car or a job. That's like saying job promotions kill people. A religion is a belief. Beliefs and thoughts are incorporeal and therefore cannot kill people.

Dromedary Hump said...

Anon:

Great denial, perfect rationalization. Utterly fallacious and fractally wrong.

If one believes they can fly, that Belief is icnorporal, but their jumping off a building because of/prompted by that belief will kill them.

And those who sacrificed their first born to Moloch would have killed their kid even if they didnt have a god who would bless the community in return?

And the Mayans and aztecs would have committed ritualized murder without the need to placate their gods?

And the hundreds who drank poison Kool Aide in Guyana, would have killed themselves enmasse or eventually if they hadn't subscribed to delusional religiosity and a religious cult leader?

And people who allow their kids to die from an easily treatable disease because their religion teaches them that Jesus answers all prayers... they would have let their kid die without medical attention even without that religious belief?

And people who die during exorcisms would have been killed even if they had been treated by a psychologist instead of a religious shaman following religious doctrine.

I fuckin think not.

Religion encourages crazy and mindless actions which can and does lead to unnecessary death. It has for centurys, it does now...it will in the future until it is finally a bad memory...Like Moloch and the Aztec religion.

Anon...come back when you can think rationally, outside the bonds of religious limitation, and when you have a name.