Rational Thinking & Skepticism vs. New Age Mumbo Jumbo (part 2)
(continued from Part 1)
Someone should write a book – “The Lazy Man’s guide to Success and Happiness: Wish Your Troubles Away Without Diet or Exercise”. They could create a legion of ignorant followers who sit around all day and do nothing but think…think how miserable they are…think how unjust life is…think how badly they would like “this” or “that”. I’m sure it would be a resounding success.
The very notion that the movie “What the (Bleep) Do We Know?” quoted the Bible helps to dispel ANY credibility it might have had under the guise of “science”. The Bible itself is in dispute as anything other than a storybook, and therefore can’t seriously be used as a legitimate reference.
And while we’re on the subject of religion, let’s cover another subject of wishful thinking – prayer!
Another waste of time with no documented evidence for its efficacy. One of the most well-known and largest test of its kind was done by the John Templeton Foundation back in 2006. Their results overwhelming showed that external, third-party prayer was not effective in reducing complications following heart surgery.
Another great commentary on the epic failure of prayer can be seen on this video, “The Systematic Failure Of Prayer – The Atheist Experience #592“.
What has been proven, however, through numerous interesting experiments, is that prayer seems to work for people to heal themselves, but has a statistically significant failure rate when directed at another person or outside one’s self (as in praying for rain or to win the lottery). This suggests that the “healing power of prayer” deals more with the biological healing ability of the body and offers no proof whatsoever for any external divine force.
This likewise dispels the notion that we make our own reality since the concerted efforts of prayer on others have statistically failed time and time again. There is also a little thing known as the placebo effect. Some people meditate, others pray. It all comes to the same thing in the end if the person believes in it strongly enough. Again, nothing mysterious or divine there, no matter how much the New Age people or religious fundamentalists would like to believe it.
This same effect can be applied to any other of a host of snake oil remedies, such as crystals or power words (mantras) – more poppycock! It isn’t the object itself or the spoken word so much as the belief in it that works its “magic”. Mantras are tools of focus and have no power themselves. The same with crystals or religious talismans.
Biofeedback is a real, provable phenomenon that people can train themselves to perform. It has nothing to do with mysticism. It also only works on the self, not on others – again dispelling the notion of creating your own reality (since the ability to do so presupposes the notion of affecting other people). If it only affects yourself, then there is no altering of reality, only of your physical perceptions (which is not at all the same thing). To affect reality, you must likewise be able to affect and influence other people or events outside yourself with the power of your mind alone – a feet that has never been proven.
People have an ability to heal themselves. Period. But this is a highly limited ability and not at all some product of faith-based thinking. There’s nothing miraculous about it. To try to ascribe external influences to readily viewable phenomenon is caveman thinking and does no credit to the human race for even considering it.
SPIRITUALITY & REPACKAGED RELIGION
A sad fact of history is that religion and the type of delusional thinking we’ve already discussed were the causes of the Dark Ages, a period of more than a thousand years where no scientific advancement was allowed and even basic science that had been learned centuries before was abandoned. This alone is perhaps the greatest indictment of religion.
Did you know that Eratosthenes proved that the world was round nearly 1200 years before Christopher Columbus sailed for the New World? And yet Christopher Columbus had a hard time convincing other people that the world wasn’t flat! How could that be, more than a millennium after it was already proven that the world was round?
New Age thinking is merely a repackaging of religion for people who don’t consider themselves religious. The new word is “spiritual”, as if this places their delusions on a higher plain than your regular, run of the mill religious people. Really, it’s just a more PC term that means the same thing.
New Age people suggest that organized religion is false since it relies upon the support of a man-made organization. The word “spirituality” is somehow supposed to excuse them to pursue the improbable and the outright silly without repercussion from the scientific community or their more rational neighbors. The reality is that they are still kooks believing in supernaturalism.
To avoid being caught up in the hysteria, we must always question. We must question whether it seems to be true, whether the facts back it up, and whether we believe what is being said because it sincerely sounds salient or because we only want to believe it. Religion is much the same. The very notion defies all rational thought, but people so strongly want to believe in it that they convince themselves of its veracity, often to all contrary evidence. This is wish fulfillment, not reality.
THE MYTHOLOGY OF CHRISTIANITY
God and Heaven and all that nonsense are less real than Santa Claus. At least the legends of Santa Claus can be traced to actual folk tales. The stories in the Bible have almost zero proof outside the Bible. In fact, more and more is coming to light that the actual person of Jesus Christ may never even have existed!
This is of interest because even people that don’t believe in God are often willing to allow that there was at some time in history a real person that the fantastical stories were attributed to. However, there is a great deal of proof that the man himself was complete fiction. In fact, most of the geographic places spoken of in the New Testament gospels can not actually be traced to legitimate sites in the Mid East today (such as Nazareth – which didn’t even exist in Jesus’ time). Even the Holy Land tours are bogus!
Numerous scholars have taken a hard look at the ancient texts of the scriptures (the real documents, not today’s distant translations) and they’ve found that the places suggested by various cities, hills, crypts, cliffs, bodies of water, and other landmarks named in the Bible simply don’t coincide with the actual geography. To create these tours, people have had to completely transpose locations to match those in the stories.
Despite this, and despite all the contradictions and inconsistencies in the gospels, plenty of people will come back from traveling in modern-day Jerusalem and tell you wholeheartedly that they could “feel” they were walking the steps once traveled by Christ himself. Again, we see wish fulfillment in all its glory. People are impressionable, that much is obvious, but the ignorant see this as “proof”.
The moral of the story is to never, ever underestimate man’s ability to fool himself – or you! You will see it constantly if you look around you. Don’t fall into the trap of New Age mumbo jumbo. You will spend your life wishing for everything you could otherwise achieve if you only worked proactively to make it happen. Crystals, UFO’s, guardian angels, and wishful thinking won’t work. Only concerted thought coupled with positive action gets the job done. Anything else should be dismissed until it acquires a practical application – something the movie “What the <bleep> Do We know?” sorely lacks.
Anyone can talk a good game, but unless they have proof and tools to back up their talk, they are merely a distraction and should be pushed aside. Banish it from your mind! People can tell you anything, but the best therapy is to make them prove it to you first, then you can render an educated opinion. If they cannot prove their case or are unwilling to address your skepticism, then you can dismiss them easily.
Remember: Life is too short to get caught up in someone else’s fantasy. Don’t ever stop questing…but be sure to always question while questing.