Category Archives: Books for New Agers

The Importance of Religious Pluralism in the Journey of the Soul

Not sure why, but I’m seeing an upsurge in the frequency of people becoming more hostile about their religion being right and everyone else being wrong (and even for the people who aren’t making a big deal out of it, there is a certain ‘my religion is better than your religion’ arrogance in lots of groups, and it just feels like its getting worse).  And I’m not just talking about the psycho-fringe here (or I’m really underestimating the size of said “fringe”).  I always find this a puzzling concept.  Sure there are a few really insane beliefs out there–mostly the ones that dictate ‘my way or else I’ll kill you!’–but for the most part, most religions all have the same core values and differ only in forms, names, and rituals.  And quibbling over these relatively minor issues is pointless. First off most of these people who want to scream for their own religion and no others seem politically motivated (I’ve seen all sides engage in this religious idiocy) given that it only alienates people away from your political causes.  Further, reason doesn’t hold this up?   I mean, do you seriously believe that God, a being of supposed infinite love, compassion, understanding and wisdom, cares about what ritual you use to get closer to him, rather than if you actually get closer to him or not?

And it’s not just implicit in reason, recent scientific research into reincarnation and near-death experience also demonstrate this. Scientific studies have shown that reincarnation is a fact and that you change from religion to religion based on your life—if that’s the case it can’t be that God loves one religion and hates all others.  Similar studies have also shown that during near death experiences everybody goes to heaven, doesn’t matter what their religion is…it’s almost as if God doesn’t give a shit what name you call him by.

potala palace lhasa

The Potala Palace, Lhasa, Tibet…it seemed like a place both remote and spiritual enough to serve as the starting place for the soul.

So does this mean that all religions are worthless?  That there is just God and his children and it doesn’t matter what you believe…not exactly.   Now, with that knowledge of near death experiences and reincarnation studies, it seems to be that the majority of religions are correct, that life is a series of rebirths, a progression of lessons and stages of learning all leading to Enlightenment…but that still doesn’t invalidate the idea that you should follow the religion you feel called to. If the soul is on a journey toward Enlightenment, let’s think of it as a journey.   For the sake of metaphor let’s say all souls start out standing in the Potala Palace in Lhasa.  High in the Himalayas, disconnected from the rest of the world.  And you know you have to get somewhere (Enlightenment) you have had it roughly described to you, but you don’t quite know where you are going or exactly how to get there.

How you get there would be comparable to the mode of transportation you take.  Some ways like Hinduism, Judaism, Buddhism, Taoism, Christianity, New Age belief and modern Paganism might be equivalent to walking, taking a bike, a boat, a car or a plane*, other religions maybe more like trying a unicycle with a flat tire, spinning in a circle believing you will magically teleport, digging through the center of the earth using a rusty spoon or launching yourself into orbit using high explosives and hoping you land in the right place. ** While in the minority there are religions that are all but useless in all cases…however most religions are more dependent on where you are in your journey. In this example if one religion is equivalent to riding in a car and you’ve hit the Pacific Ocean, it may have gotten you to this point but you need a different mode of transportation (a different belief system) to advance on the next stage of your journey.

Devil’s Bridge, Sedona, Arizona

Now for the sake of argument in this travel metaphor let’s say that Enlightenment exists at the Devil’s Bridge in Northern Arizona (chosen for the fact that it is beautiful, and the irony was just too good to pass up).

Now to get from our stating place in Tibet and ending place in Arizona there is no way a single mode of transportation is going to cut it the whole way.  You are at best going to have to walk part of the way, either take a boat or plane part of the way, and probably have to travel in some other forms of transportation for part of the journey.

The Journey of the Soul Metaphor

If only the journey of the soul was this short a distance.

Let’s add to the fact that you’re not always sure where you’re headed.  Granted as long as you’re moving you may be getting closer, or at least have a better chance to learn where the right place is as opposed to the stupidity of staying still, but that still doesn’t always mean you’re moving in the right direction (as some religions that could be used to progress can be misused to put you further away from God…Westboro come to mind).

You could use this metaphor for a lot of things, and show it flawed in numerous other ways.  I just want to show that even on a journey you may use different modes of transportation, as different religions may serve different souls on their journey to Enlightenment.

And my overall point here is that reason tells you God is too perfect a being to care what name you call him by or what rituals you go through to honor him, it’s silly to think that one religion is the right one and all others are false.  Yes there are some blindingly stupid beliefs out there, and there may be beliefs that are wrong for you in your life (take a car when you’re on the ocean) but just because your religious beliefs work for you don’t assume they would work for everyone. The most you can do is ask if you find that your beliefs are leading you to God (if they are, bully for you) and if someone else’s beliefs could never in any way, shape, or form lead a person to God (a religion that calls for stoning people in the 21st century for instance) and oppose those vile beliefs will all your heart and soul.

So even if you aren’t decrying that your religion is better than all others, it might also be best to not always believe that (I know some will think I’m only critiquing Christians here, but really this my religion is better than your religion arrogance can be found in almost every religion)…your beliefs may be exactly what you personally need in your journey right now, but don’t believe that your beliefs will work for everyone at every time.

sedona rainbow

you can never have too many random pictures of Sedona

*Try not to match those up, the religions are in more or less chronological order and the modes of transportation are more or less random.

** I may or may not have had Scientology, Atheism, Keynesianism (it denies basic reality so much and requires so much be taken on faith it’s pretty much a cult) come to mind here…oh and I can’t think what religion I had in mind when I mentioned strapping high explosives to yourself…certainly not a religion of peace.  Not everyone following those beliefs is stuck at a stand still, it’s just highly, highly unlikely they’re going to be making a major push forward in that life.  And this is the balance to an acceptance of other beliefs, admitting that there are some really dumb beliefs out there.

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Books for New Agers: Life Before Life—Children’s Memories of Previous Lives

Reincarnation

So I just finished reading Life Before Life—Children’s Memories of Previous Lives by Jim B. Tucker, M.D.  Yes it’s a book about reincarnation.  But unlike a lot of books about reincarnation that will look at one case of past life regression…or another case of someone having spontaneous memories and working through each case this is a summary of a collection of cases. 2,500 cases covering decades worth of research.  All of them involving children under the age of six, you know before you could theoretically prompt a child to say things.   These cases are being reviewed by the University of Virginia, Division of Personality studies.*

Let’s review some of the main points.

All the children are under the age of six.

All children recall having been someone in a previous life.

About two-thirds of the cases have been “solved”, that is they have identified a specific individual that the child has memories of being.

About a fifth of cases the child has a birth mark or structural defect where the person they claim to have been received a major wound (e.g., a child is born with a birth mark where a shunt had been in their previous life or a child who had memories of being a cop who had died when a bullet destroyed his aorta, being born with a bad aorta that had to replaced).  225 of these solved cases that involve birthmarks and other physical markers are covered apparently in great detail in a 2,000+ page, 2 volume study entitled  “Reincarnation and Biology: A Contribution to the Etiology of Birthmarks and Birth Defects”.

There’s a lot of specific evidence I’m not going over because I actually think you should read the book.  But trust me there is evidence.lifeafterlife

Particular cases are reviewed, their flaws and strengths are laid out and the author goes through other possibilities of explanation which are reviewed.  Tucker spends a great deal of time on the only other remotely possible answer for these children knowing what they could not, that being fraud on the part of the parents.  But given that numerous cases for the U.S. where subjects don’t believe in reincarnation, it seems odd that they would try to fake a case of reincarnation.  Further even fraud leaves too many unanswered questions…reincarnation does not.
The book is an excellent summary of the scientific findings of this group at the University of Virginia** and so while much of the scientific and statistical evidence isn’t presented, it does lay out a sound scientific case for reincarnation.  It deals with the challenges skeptics would bring up and addresses them, then tears them down.

I would highly recommend anyone interested in reincarnation, or looking for scientific proof to back up their faith, read this book.

Some of the more interesting highlights from the book include:

Apparently you are more likely to remember a past life if that life ended only a year or two before your rebirth, there are relatively few memories of distant past lives among these children.

Gender Identify Disorder may, at least in many cases, be related to a soul switching from one gender to another between the two lives and the confusion from change.

The after life, at times, may be as chaotic as this life.

Not everyone remembers heaven, but some do, and you are less likely to remember it if your death in your previous life was particularly violent or sudden.

If you meditate you are more likely to remember heaven in your next incarnation.

There are cases of children remembering their last incarnation being a fetus that was aborted or miscarried.

All that said this book raises some questions that I have and if anyone has any information on this I would love to know.  After reading this book it appears that cases where children are remembering their past lives are becoming more common, or at least it appears that way to me.  I’ll admit that it may simply be that this is only being studied recently, whereas in the past it was not.  However there are cases in the past of people remembering their past lives, Gen. George S. Patton for instance, but these seem to be very rare in the past, where the 2,500 cases collected by the University of Virginia (and you know if they can find 2,500 there have to be ten times that many they didn’t find) don’t make it common, but it certainly does not seem to be uncommon. This makes me wonder if the memories are becoming more and more common.  Since, quite frankly, none of the children in this book  come off as enlightened beings (nor any of their previous incarnations) these memories do not seem to be caused by the individual soul’s level of spiritual enlightenment, my question is does this maybe indicate a greater awakening in the collective soul of humanity?  Certainly this is not going to be answered anytime soon, but it’s something to think about.

Also, the birthmark and other biological signs described in the book are suggested to be related not to karma but more to the mind’s ability to affect the body (the book references the ability to make a hypnotized person believe they are being burned to the point that their skin blisters or the fact that signs of the stigmata are now believed to be caused by psychological not miraculous factors).  Now if the mind, and specifically it’s attachment to certain memorable events (usually what killed you would have a more powerful impact on you, or at least you would think), and we also take into account the issue of some souls not being able to fully adjust to their new gender in the form of Gender Identity Disorder…I have to ask in lesser cases could a soul attached to their previous gender affect the DNA of their new body, thus being the spiritual cause of the genetic factor in homosexuality?  And I bring this up because I have also seen this suggested in the book The Messengers and the issues of Gender Identity Disorder reminded me of it.

*The book was published in 2005.  And deals primarily with 1,100 cases that had been entered into a computer system for statistical analysis.  I can only assume that both the computer database and the total number of cases has increased since the book was published.

** For my conservative readers, it is funded by private endowment, not by tax-payers (although I assume the same researchers are paid by tax payer funds for any teaching they do at the University) so don’t even begin to question if money should be paid for this.

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Reflections on the Election: Why I was wrong, Why Obama Won, and what the GOP needs to do. Part III

It’s been a month since the election…and as you can tell from the limited number of posts, I’m still kind of depressed Obama won, America Lostabout this (and overworked at work, but that’s another story).  I’m still shell-shocked that people could be that stupid—even I, who believe the masses are idiots, can’t fully comprehend that people are so fucking stupid as to vote in a tyrant not once but twice.  It baffles the mind.  If you care about only what you can get you should have voted for the guy who would guarantee a higher chance at raises and better jobs: Romney.  If you cared about other people you should have cared about the guy who would have done the most to improve the middle class: Mitt.  If you care about character it would be the guy who personally does charity whenever he can: Willard Mitt Romney. Intelligence, that would be the guy who got his J.D. and MBA in the same 4 years: The Governor.  Experience, class, vision, leadership, surrounding himself with qualified people.  On every criteria you can come up with it’s a no brainer, but, but, but…

People are really fucking short sighted, envious and dumb.

But are we just powerless to do anything? Are we at the mercy of party leadership to pull us out of this tailspin the country has voted itself in (dear god that’s a depressing thought)?  Luckily no.  Unfortunately I’m not promising anything easy either.

So what can we as individuals do?

Well first I would like to turn back to the exit polls.  Now looking at ethnicity or gender or even age is pointless because there is nothing we can do to change that.   People are what they are.  (Yes, age changes, but it’s not like we have any actual control over it).

2012 exit polls education

Now education can change (complete shocker that Obama the no intelligence/no high school bracket and the no real world experience/postgraduate bracket) but unless you’re a parent most of us can’t really affect people’s education.  If you are a parent, I might suggest that you state you’re not paying for any kind of college education unless they get a degree in the Math/Science area and thus have marketable skills (if they want to get a dual major and have a liberal art as well, well you can negotiate) but parents do not pay for Sociology degrees they are worthless and breed dumb liberals.

2012 exit polls single

Next we turn to gender and marriage status.  A lot of to do was made about women in this election, but as you see it wasn’t really women so much as single women.  And I have seen conservative writers talk about how the single women pose a threat to liberty as they seem to look to the government for the security nets…but it if you look at the data single men are also pretty dumb. The conclusion I’m drawing here isn’t that women are liberal, it’s that single people on the whole are liberal and need to be stopped.  (Yes, I as a bachelor, may not want to throw stones in a glass house, but I’m not as dumb as my fellow singles who voted for Barry…but if you are or know any single, intelligent, conservative, spiritually open women in the Phoenix area…well…my email address is posted…).  Now does this mean we should all go out and get married without standards or relationships, that marriage is an end unto itself. No.  One of the reasons we have a high divorce rate is that people don’t take the time to plan and make sure they’re making a right choice.  So really unless you want to start playing matchmaker which some of us are more qualified than others (this would certainly not be a skill of mine).

2012 exit polls religion

And then we see that Obama did well with the non-religious crowd* and Romney did well with the religious crowd.  Let me put these last two points in context. It doesn’t have as much to do with faith or companionship.  For a lot of people it is an issue of safety.  If you have a spouse, if you have an active church community you have someone you know you can fall back on if things go bad, if you don’t have these things, then the psychology of most people is to seek something you can fall back on: the government.  Now I would rather people evolve and see themselves as their fallback (or at least maybe God) but if we’re going to get there we first have to have an economic system that allows people to take care of themselves (i.e. we need to get rid of liberals and progressives at every level).

So what does this have to do with religion?  Well it means that if you’re a member of a church you need to encourage, push for, and if necessary demand, that your church be more active in the community—charity, public works and improvement projects, fundraisers not for the church but those honestly in need. This should have nothing to do with demonization or dogma.  Only about helping the community and strengthening the bonds of community.

If you’re not in a church, say a New Ager, it couldn’t hurt to find a non-pushy church out there and see if they would like help with those charity projects.

If you’re in a church that does do these kinds of charity projects then see if you can invite people you know to help, don’t proselytize, don’t make it about belief, only about helping others.  (Also may I suggest making your charity functions known to the local middle and high schools—students, especially college bound students, are more and more looking for community service on their resumes—and let them know their parents are invited as well).

This has nothing to do with dogma, it has to with a core tenet in every religion I can think of, charity, community, compassion.

Show people that government isn’t the only source that they can fall back on.  Look at it this way, the way people talk about others often shows how they themselves think.  I call it the “I am the world” fallacy, and I’m guilty of it myself sometimes, we all are.  We tend to make assumptions about the way people act based on our own habits and thoughts.  Conservatives naturally tend to think that the government isn’t needed because we ourselves are more generous and just assume everybody does the right thing.  Liberals assume others are avaricious, cruel, irrationally selfish, and miserly not because they’re saints and know everyone else is stingy, but because they themselves are not compassionate at their heart—they fear they will have no one to fall back on because in their heart of heart they know they won’t help other either.  (Liberals give to charity less than conservatives and they volunteer a hell of a lot less than conservatives, see Who Really Cares by Arthur C. Brooks).

But if we get people who might not usually attend church to come to charity events we can show them that people do care for people and that we don’t need government to care for us…and maybe we can even show them there is personal joy in compassion and charity.  Trust me, a person who does charity out of the joy it brings them never votes liberal, liberals give out of guilt not joy.

So get your church (or any other group that has the resources) involved in the community (if you’re not doing at least 3 events a month, it’s not enough), invite people to come just for the charity aspect, and watch their belief that the government is the only one looking out for them disappear (also with more human contact and larger social circles we might fix that single problem listed above).

Also this process will help destroy that one thing that Obama did well in “He cares about people like me.”

2012 exit polls key points

Charity and a strong community teach us that we are capable of caring for people who aren’t like ourselves.

But that can’t be all we have to do.  Liberals have done a great job with controlling the media.  News, movies, TV shows, you name it there are liberal messages.  But we cannot give in on this.

So there are a few things we can do.  The first is that we can try to pull their funding.  Here at the Conservative New Ager we’re going after that Goebbels style propaganda wing MSNBC.  We encourage people to write to their advertisers and pull their ads.  It works.  If a company just gets a hundred letters asking them to make sure the shows they are advertising on are only reporting the truth, they will either pull the ads or they will use the power their money buys them to get results.  We have already heard from P&G and UPS.

The next thing is that we need to expose people to the truth.  I would recommend everyone use all the social media they have to expose their friends to the truth.  Now you don’t have to repost a thousand articles every day, but don’t be afraid to share something for fear of losing a friend.  For everyone you lose you’ll likely help push a two or three that much closer to the truth.  (And if you’re like me you don’t have many liberal friends left anyway, it’s the middle we’re trying to win, not the ones beyond hope).

Also if you get a real newspaper (there aren’t many left: The Wall Street Journal, the Washington Times…if it uses AP articles don’t bother) take it to work and leave it in the break room every day.  It can only help expose people to the truth.

But on that note we need to share the media that is conservative we need to focus on the stuff that isn’t the news and isn’t explicitly political.  Liberals have tried to infect every book, every movie, every show with liberal messages and just habituate people into thinking in liberal terms.  The problem is that most good literature is more conservative in its themes.  Self sufficiency, rational thought, ethical behavior, connection to God.  These subtle themes are in literature everywhere, even when it’s written by artists who are liberal themselves.  George Orwell was a socialist, but 1984 and Animal Farm are scathing critiques of the very state Orwell would likely have supported.   Given time, the truth will out, as a conservative writer once put it. What conservatives make the mistake of doing is trying to give people Atlas Shrugged and Ann Coulter and Thomas Sowell.  It doesn’t matter that we enjoy those, those books only preach to the choir.  If someone isn’t open to those ideas, if they’ve been indoctrinated to think conservatives are evil, Rand was psychotic, Coulter is vicious and Sowell is an Uncle Tom, it doesn’t matter if the facts are there, their emotional reaction to those works will prevent them from seeing the facts.

But that doesn’t mean you can’t share books and TV shows with friends, family, acquaintances. I’m sure we know lots of people who are not conservative but if they were introduced to those ideas the logic and reason of it would come out.  That is why I am putting together a list of books, movies and TV shows that depict the conservative themes and that we agree with, without being explicitly conservative.   The Individual, reason, ethical behavior, long term thinking, the truth.  These are things that bring people close to conservatism.  I would take a look at this list (and keep coming back as I hope to keep adding to it).  Lend these works out to people who you think might be open to them.  Give them as gifts for any holiday and any excuse you can.  And then discuss them with the person after they’ve read or watched it (never give out something you’re not familiar with already!  You don’t want to get caught where they make some silly liberal interpretation and don’t have a comeback for it).  It seems silly but ideas have power, and once they’re in a person’s mind they spread not just to affecting the other ideas of that mind but in the way they behave to others and the way they influence the ideas of others.  And if they get more conservative in their thoughts introduce them to the more explicitly conservative works…but don’t start with those, they’ll just shut people down.

Finally it’s the old stand-bys.  Write a blog or letters to editors.  Donate to organizations that promote your beliefs (right now I would focus on Heritage and Freedomwork because they do not seem overly obsessed with the social issues which are dragging this party down and giving the left too many easy targets), volunteer for campaigns, get involved.  We have four years where we can do next to nothing to save the economy or well being of our allies across the sea.  Nothing.  We have this idiot tyrant in charge and he will wreck the place as much as he can through a combination of stupidity and malice.  Focusing too much on that will be somewhat fruitless for us as individuals—but as individuals we do have the power to influence those around us and help bring them to our side.

*Also Obama did exceedingly well with people who aren’t not affiliated with any religion but are spiritual  you know, the kind of people the Republicans and Reincarnation was written specifically for.  If you know some of these people, could it hurt to give them a copy?

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Why I’m A Conservative and A New Ager

[I had a request to turn a comment I made on a previous blog into a blog of it’s own…so if this seems repetitive…that’s why…]

Recently a commenter left the following post:

I was really hoping to find a softer side of Conservatism here. I can’t seem to find that wherever I look. I also can’t understand how you can call yourself a New Ager and harbor so much anger? Completely hypocritical, as is most of the right… New Age = Love

It’s not hypocritical at all, and I’m sorry you feel that way.

New Age belief does not encourage or require that I turn off my brain or reason…and reason has a way of getting outraged when confronted with policies and actions that hurt others–you see it in the actions of Christ whipping the money changers, of Krishna telling Arjuna to slaughter his unjust relatives, in Lao Tzu talking about war needing to be conducted with the aim of peace, and in the actions and words of numerous other saints and enlightened beings in religions all over the world.

Yes New Age belief does believe in unqualified love of the soul…but not of the actions of the ego which hurts that soul. Those actions and the ideas that create them must be challenged both in ones own soul, one’s mind, and outside in the physical worlds. I cannot love the soul, and support the left which hinders the growth of the soul. And I cannot say obsequious appearance of concern for someone in the transitory moment is love, even thought the left tries to say it is. Love is caring for the true nature of the person, which is the soul and the soul’s journey to enlightenment.

May I ask you what you would consider “the softer side of Conservatism?” because is seems like all that term means is “a conservative who is willing to give in on any and every point, sacrifice any value, and capitulate on any policy just so liberals like you can be happy.”

If you’re repeating the liberal line about social conservatism, you’ll find none of that here. Social conservatism is simply liberal desire to control others by another name. As for my unwavering defense of capitalism and liberty, which parallel the New Age belief in free will, my support of charity over welfare, which parallel’s the New Age belief in spiritual growth…any moving from these points (other than in terms of practical compromise) to appear “softer” is to give into the manifestations of the ego in the physical world. I can’t be true to my beliefs in the New Age and not support them, defend them, and advocate for them. Yes I’m a little overzealous, (if you’re a New Ager you know it’s a habit of Indigoes to be passionate in the extreme)…but is there anything wrong in zeal for what is right and true?

Love is not opposed to reason, love and reason go hand in hand

But I would like to challenge your comment of “Completely hypocritical, as is most of the right…”
New Age belief believes in the free will. To support the leftist belief in government over the individual, entitlement over personal charity, control over choice…that would be hypocritical to support.
New Age belief believes that life is spiritual journey of learning. To support the left’s call for over-regulation that seeks to keep people from making mistakes takes away the ability to learn…that would be hypocritical of me to support.
New Age believes that every soul must make it to enlightenment on its own…thus the left’s call to force equality holds back individuals, and thus retards the day when all will make it to enlightenment…that would be hypocritical of me to support.
New Age belief believes in the quality of life, not the quantity…the left’s concern with income redistribution and entitlements of physical things places the focus on life on the wrong thing…that would be hypocritical of me to support.

In fact on every central tenet of New Age belief I can think of, New Age belief matched up with conservative economics and conservative foreign policy.

Almost every point of the left in economic and foreign policy is opposed the principles of New Age belief. And every belief of the left on social policy takes the correct idea to an illogical extreme. (I disagree with the social conservatism…but if you actually read a bit of my blog you would see that there are more than enough articles opposing that).

Is the right perfect. Nope. But it supports the individual. It supports choice and freedom and liberty. It supports my ability to grown and learn and develop. These are the bedrock principles of New Age belief as I understand them.

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From Republicans and Reincarnation: Part of the Ethical Argument for Capitalism

Robbing Peter to Pay Paul vs. Peter giving to Paul

“The inherent vice of capitalism is the unequal sharing of blessings; the inherent virtue of socialism is the equal sharing of misery.” —Winston Churchill

            Let’s look at two hypothetical systems.

System 1:

Peter is rich.  Very rich.  The government takes what it considers a reasonable amount of money (which has nothing to do with what a reasonable person would consider a reasonable amount).  Let’s say 31 cents on the dollar.  The government then takes that money and spends about 18 cents, of every dollar Peter makes, on Paul.  So what is the point of this system?  Supposedly it’s to help Paul improve his station in life.  We take money from Peter because Peter can afford it.  So now let’s looks at this.  Through the questions we established earlier.

  1. Is the action leading to a positive, neutral, or negative end?
  2. Is the action unethical or ethical?
  3. Is the benefit this action is providing removing a material or spiritual obstacle, or both?
  4. Is this a long-term benefit or short-term benefit?
  5. Is the action benefiting a large number of people or a small number?

I’m going to take these in reverse order, so bear with me.  This is hurting at least on face value a smaller portion of the population (not really, Peter as representative of “the rich”[1] is actually a fairly large portion of the population) to help a larger portion of the population (again not really, Paul as representative of those on the dole is a relatively small portion of the population[2]…but we’re going to play in the opposition ballpark for the moment).  So at least the argument (no matter how flimsy it is) is that few people are hurt and lots of people are helped.

But how are they helped?  Is this a long-term benefit or a short-term benefit?  When we talk about this we have to think about what Paul will do with that welfare check.  Now I couldn’t find figures on how many welfare checks are spent on capital investment or college tuitions, but given the fact that until the 1990’s welfare reform the number of people leaving the dole could not be described as a mass exodus, I think it’s a safe assumption that not much of that money was being used to better Paul.  Quite frankly it’s human nature.  People value things by what they sacrifice to get it, by the amount of work that goes into it, by what had to be done to earn it—thus money just thrown at you without strings has little value.  As such it will be spent on things of no lasting value.  Yes there are numerous examples of people who climbed their way out of welfare, and I applaud these people for the strength of character to fight human nature’s more lazy and apathetic tendencies, but no one can be foolish enough to say that these few examples are indicative of the whole—nor ignore the fact that many of these people who have gotten themselves out of the cycle of poverty are some of welfare’s harshest and most vocal critics.  Thus welfare in general is at best a short-term fix; it by no means attacks the root of the problem.[3]

So it helps lots of people, but is only a short-term solution.  Now obviously this has material benefit (at least for Paul, to hell if it actually depresses the economy as a whole) but does it actually have any spiritual benefits?  Sadly, and rather obviously, the answer is no.  Peter gets none of the spiritual benefits described in the previous chapter that come from giving, because he did not give by choice, the money was taken from him against his will.  Nor is Peter also likely to give to charity now, or at least not as much, because human nature is that once that money has been taken, then that person feels that they’ve already given, when they haven’t.  In fact if anything this leaves Peter more negative and bitter toward humanity as he now sees money stolen from him and given to people who are less than deserving and not using said money to better themselves.  This is likely to make Peter more bitter toward humanity around him, more cynical, and overall a worse human being.  So it’s actually a spiritual negative.  How about for Paul?  The answer is again in the negative.  Paul feels no need to earn this act of charity; it was given to him by an unfeeling, cold, heartless institution, not another human being.  The insult to self-esteem alone comes as a spiritual negative.  More often than not the psychological effects of such a handout will make Paul feel even in less control of his life than before because now that he must depend on the government for his existence—this increases his feelings of powerlessness, increases fear that he is not in control of his existence and rather a mere victim of fate and circumstance.  In short another spiritual negative.

Finally is it ethical?  No!  The phrase is “to rob Peter to pay Paul” for a reason.  It’s stealing money from a human being by force.  I know I don’t pay my taxes out of the goodness of my heart; I do it because I don’t wish to go to jail or have a standoff with the FBI and ATF.  I’m pretty sure that’s the same reason you pay your taxes.  They have jails and guns, a lot of them—certainly more than I would like to make a standoff against.  So in the end it’s theft.  A clear violation of “Thou shalt not steal” or its numerous variations in every religion on earth, and New Agers are no different on this point.  Stealing is stealing; it’s a complete and total violation of any conception of ethics I can think of.   Now we do honor the myth of Robin Hood, but not because he was a thief, as someone once tried to disprove my point that we never believe theft to be a good thing.  Notice that if you actually look at all the legends, it wasn’t that he robbed from the rich and gave to the poor (a more modern socialist reinterpretation) but rather robbed from the robbing tax collector and gave back to the people who had actually earned the money.  His heroism isn’t in the theft, it’s in putting his life on the line to get back for people what was stolen from them, what was originally theirs (which is what we would like to think the police do when they put their life on the line for us).

But don’t the ends justify the means you ask—to which I respond: did you read the previous paragraphs?  Even if there were cases where the ends justify the means, I can’t see how stealing hard-earned money from people is justified by short-term material benefits and long-term spiritual and economic harm.  The welfare system in all its myriad forms is actually harming the spiritual growth of everyone it touches.  Unless you were an atheist you couldn’t possibly support it, and even then to believe that this system pragmatically worked you’d need to be an atheist and a moron to… (Or am I being redundant there?)

System 2:

            So let’s say that starting today we started reducing all welfare entitlements.  Making them harder to get, requiring more oversight of the people who get them, and requiring even further time constraints in regards to how long you can be on the program.  In terms of social security this would be cutting benefits, raising retirement ages and begin to either privatize or simply eliminate[4] through a phased out process.  Now you might be wondering why I’m not suggesting this second system as being one of completely wiping welfare, social security, Medicaid, and Medicare simply off the face of the earth.  The answer would be that for better or much much worse, these programs have unfortunately become part of the country’s society and while they do eventually need to die, just cutting them with a machete, while greatly satisfying, will cause short-term chaos, and long term societal scars.  Welfare, like heroin, is not an addiction that one just quits cold turkey.[5]  There does need to be a large initial cut to show we mean business of somewhere in the ballpark of 10% cuts right off the top—but this needs to be followed by a 10 to 20 year plan of phasing these programs out of existence.

So assuming we do the right thing, and cutting these programs back with the intention of eventually leaving them only as significantly smaller local programs or just out and out killing them.  What are the benefits and losses?

First, how many people are helped?  While I’m sure we all agree that supply-side economics doesn’t work quite as well or as quickly as everyone thought it did back in the ‘80’s, but it does work, albeit its effects take time to work through.  When the economy improves everyone benefits, and when you cut government intrusion the economy improves…eventually.  But the fact of the matter is that more money in the hands of the people is still more money circulating through the economy and not being lost in some bureaucratic nightmare land that creates nothing but red tape and paperwork and thus doesn’t really add anything to the flow of the economy.  More money, more things being bought.  More things being bought, more profit.  More profit, more investment.  More investment, more jobs…you know how this goes.  So certainly this will take time, but then again that’s what we conservatives like—long-term fixes, not short term band-aids.  Further if we do this properly as a long term rollback of funds people receiving these handouts should have time to plan and adjust to the changing environment (like doing things of such a radical nature as getting an education, getting a job, or actually saving for retirement…I know it’s radical thinking, but I believe it just might work for most people).  So there is no harm to this group either.  So everyone makes out with the status quo if not better.

As I already said these are long-term benefits.  Long term the economy does better, more people have jobs, more people have control of their lives, and if we don’t fall in the trap of socialism again, this is a self-perpetuating system.  Yes, long term we will have recessions, can’t do anything about that, but they will work themselves out, and if people begin to learn how to save properly and educate themselves properly to be able to move from career to career if needed they will not need to worry.

But more than these advantages, this puts the control of a person’s life back in their own hands.  A major spiritual benefit.  For both Peter and Paul, the government is no longer butting into their lives more than it needs to.   This will reduce the likelihood of fear in their lives.  It will also increase the feelings of security since for Paul survival depends on himself now, and for Peter there is less worry about how much the Brownshirts at the IRS will be taking this year.  Further, as I pointed out previously, more money in Peter’s hands will increase the odds and amounts that Peter will give to charity, and this charity will come from living human beings who care about people not the cold, mechanical system of welfare.  With this charity to Paul comes the emotional and ethical ties that will force Paul to in some way to be worthy of the gift he has been given and improve himself.

So materially, psychologically, spiritually this provides long-term benefits to the majority of people.  But is it ethical?  Well we’re not stealing from anyone, so there it’s ethical.  And as I stipulated this program has to be carried out slowly, so were not just uprooting people from the system they have become accustomed to…But I hear one last objection about it being ethical coming from the far left: That people have a right to health care or a livable wage, or a right to care from the government in old age and that to deny them that right is unethical.

The crux of this argument is that everyone has a right to these things.  If you believe this you A) have not the foggiest conception of what a right is and B) are just as confused about ethics.  No one has a right to health care or a livable wage or even happiness.  What you have a right to is that the government will not overtly deny you the chance to achieve, to earn, or to buy these things.  But neither the government, society, your neighbor, nor your brother owes you these things.  You have rights to what you come into this world with: Life, Liberty, and the ability to pursue happiness (emphasis on the pursue).  Nor is anyone ethically required to provide these things to you just because you exist (except for your parents as long as you can’t provide these things for yourself).  First and foremost a person is ethically bound to seek their own happiness, not yours.  Now we are ethically bound to help those in immediate need; the Parable of the Good Samaritan comes to mind, but notice that in that case the story revolves around people who are not victims of their own laziness but literally victims to the violence of others or circumstance completely out of their control.  Yes we are ethically bound to help those people.  We are even ethically called for to be generous and charitable, but keep in mind the entire concept of generosity and charity are dependant on the idea we are not bound to help people out of duty, law, or right…if we were it wouldn’t be generosity now would it?  Further generosity does not call for us to help everyone who would come and demand our help—that would bankrupt anyone and certainly lead to personal unhappiness, a very unethical end.  Charity, to have true meaning and worth, must be to those who will use it for their own long term benefit and betterment, not merely short term waste, and anyone who demands the work and property of others as their own isn’t someone who cares about personal betterment because this is indicative of a character that believes in not doing anything for themselves.  Anyone with this sort of entitlement and need for instant gratification can never better themselves, because they cannot even conceive of what is required to better themselves[6].  Hence they are not worthy of the generosity or charity you would give.

Charity is ethical.  But its generosity must be coupled with a desire to improve one’s self, otherwise whatever work or money that is given is merely wasted.  The claim that one has a right to other people’s works is an affront to that belief and merely helps to instill a feeling of helplessness and that is irresponsible.


[1] Of course this isn’t accurate as it is more like the top 50% of wage earners that liberals like to define as “the rich”…so ask yourself do you personally make more than $45,000…if you do, then many in Congress define you as “the rich”.

[2] Unless you count all those elderly people who were somehow too stupid to have any understanding of saving for retirement, and rather chose to live like leaches off people who actually have jobs and know what the stock market is for, but one has trouble feeling sympathy for someone who had over forty years to plan for the inevitable and didn’t do anything about it.  And if you tell me they expected the government to be there for them…well that makes me lose even more respect for them. Even the Sheriff of Nottingham wasn’t dumb enough to think Robin was going to give the money back to him when he retired.

[3] I’m actually going to exclude all job training and education problems from this critique as those do actually attack the root of the problem and do exhibit long-term thinking.  I have no problem in theory spending money on those…although I’m sure the money itself could be spent more wisely.

[4] Even privatizing the system is the government still saying you’re too incompetent to handle your own money…which I’ll grant you, a good portion of America does fit into that description, but it’s still the government calling you stupid…this from an organization currently run by some of the biggest buffoons the world has to offer.  A statement about pots and kettles comes to mind.

[5] Interestingly enough, welfare also shares the quality of heroin of leaving its users emaciated, soulless shells of their former selves.

[6] I would like to point out that this critique is not aimed necessarily at those who are poor, but rather at the demagogues and activists that propose such a system of entitlement and character flaws, who in effect create a system that encourages the poor to stay victims and not seek a better life.

To read more Republicans and Reincarnation: The Conscience of a New Age Conservative is available at AuthorHouse, Amazon, and Barnes & Noble 

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Books for Conservatives: Adler’s “Ten Philosophical Mistakes”

So someone I think is an idiot recommended that I read Robert Nozick’s book Anarchy, State, and Utopia.  Now my expectations weren’t high, as I said the person who recommended is in my informed opinion an idiot’s idiot, but I’m willing to look at other arguments…and the title alone really lowered my expectations.  Sadly my expectations were not low enough.  The preface to the book suggested that Nozick provided the intellectual basis for modern libertarianism…and I can now see why I think most modern libertarians are utterly impossible to deal with.  The short version is that Nozick takes Kant’s hideously flawed ethics and tries to shoehorn them into justifying limited government.  Now an intelligent person (i.e. someone who doesn’t spend their life in academia) might understand implicitly (even if they don’t always articulate it as such) that just looking at means is stupid…and they also tend to understand that just looking at ends is stupid.  Ends and means must be taken together and to focus on one to the exclusion of the others is preposterous at best.  I initially resisted the temptation to hurl the book into the trash even though the entire foundation of Nozick’s arguments were trash piled on trash…but by the halfway mark I couldn’t stand the terrible logic anymore, threw the book away as no one should be subjected to that claptrap and turned back to an old favorite of mine which I haven’t read since college: Mortimer Adler’s Ten Philosophical Mistakes.

 

The book sets out to describe where most of modern philosophy made its mistakes when breaking from classical realism (From Plato and Aristotle to Aquinas).  Adler, one of the most well spoken philosophers of the 20th century, although a bit dry, always does an excellent job in explaining why things are the way they are.  I will someday get around to most of his major books on philosophy, but let me give you a brief overview. Adler was known as the philosopher for the everyman. Not because his ideas were simple or plebian but because he recognized the massive importance of correct philosophical ideas in everyday life and tried to state the complex idea in terms that someone who is not a philosophy major can readily grasp.  Not to say that this makes the books he writes on par with the simplicity of Dr. Seuss, Harry Potter or Obama’s understanding of, well, anything…but he does put it in as simple but still precise terms as he can and he tries to give examples that are readily accessible.  As you can guess this makes him really unpopular with the intelligentsia who like to pretend that philosophy or an understanding of it isn’t something for the average person and thus spend an obscene amount of time trying to obfuscate any understanding of it under mountains of jargon

The under appreciated philosopher of the 20th Century

 

The problem, especially with this book is that the errors made by many of the philosophers in the modern age are very technical and more often in the metaphysical or epistemological area. Don’t yawn.  The reason why this is important is that those little technical errors compound into massive cracks in ethical thought and politics and in turn have a disastrous effect on our lives.  And because of this it is important to understand the mistake, what the correct opinion is and why.

 

Now I’m going to go over a brief summary of these ten categories of mistakes, but understand, yes my justification of why certain ideas are right and others wrong is going to be lacking…go read the book if you want the full justification.

First category:  “Consciousness and Its Objects” Adler deals with the mistakes of Locke, Descartes, Hume, and Kant, skepticism, solipsism, and subjectivism.  In dealing with our ability to use our minds, these philosophers made the gross mistake of driving too deep a wedge between our minds and the outside world.  Skeptics claim we can’t be sure if what we’re experiencing and the solipsists claim that we don’t actually experience in the outside world and really just experience in our minds with no connection to the outside world.  It may seem stupid to go over a category that seems so common sense…but the problem is that the attack on the correct idea–that your mind perceives a world that exists outside of your mind and that the things in our minds (ideas, sense, memories, imagined ideas and things, conceptions, other objects of thought) and the two are very related—is a more common problem than you think.  Ever have someone tell you “Well, you can’t know that” or “well that’s your opinion” after you state an article of fact.  It may seem like a rather esoteric issue, but in fact it is the root of many problems in ethics, politics, psychology, and human existence. *

 

David Hume comes out looking like the idiot he was in this book...

Second Category: “The Intellect and the Senses.”  If you thought the last one was esoteric, this one is even more so.  Common sense and reason tell us that there is a difference between our thoughts and our senses.  One is informed by the other, but they are not the same thing.  And you would think it would take a real moron to mistake the two.  Well, let me introduce you to Thomas Hobbes, John Locke, George Berkley, David Hume who basically thought they were one in the same…and Plato, Descartes, Kant and Hegel who thought that they had little to nothing to do with each other.  The reason this becomes a problem is that it begins to degrade the nature of language (I’ll spare you the steps on how this works, trust me this is what Adler points out)…and that this is also a basis for the arguments of crackpots who think that humans are not superior to animals. So if PETA has ever annoyed you, you can blame this logical error as being part of that problem.

 

Third Category: “Words and Meaning”.  Locke seemed to argue that words are useless in communicating ideas (one wonders why he wrote so much) and Hobbes and Russell seemed to think words can only be about real things and that reference to non-tangible things is to be just speaking gibberish (if you can’t touch or see it, it’s not real).  Common sense may immediately dismiss these preposterous ideas, but if you’ve ever gotten into an argument of semantics with a moron who thinks they know more than you do (when they don’t) you may begin to understand why this issue might become relevant.

 

Fourth Category: “Knowledge and Opinion.”  You know something when you believe something to be true, you have a reason to believe it is true, and it is true.  You could teach a child that 2+2=5…but they couldn’t know that 2+2=5 because it’s not true…similarly a child can repeat the phrase 2+2=4 but until they understand why that is, they don’t have knowledge.  Without reason and truth it is merely opinion.  And in common usage of the term knowledge we can know things we have evidence and reason for even if we don’t know it in the same way with the same absolute certainty of arithmetic.  For instance, I know that capitalism within a Classically Liberal society is better than any other system yet conceived, and I have mountain of evidence, logic and reason to back this up…although if you wanted to be really strict it is merely highly justified opinion…but for the common philosophic usage of the word, I know this for a fact. I’m guessing again this seems pretty obvious…but let me introduce you to David Hume who thinks you can’t know anything beyond math and since nothing can be known you can’t even really have justified opinions and thus all ideas are equally unfounded…oh there’s Immanuel Kant who tried to get around this by filling our mind with an out of the box operating system he calls a priori knowledge.  Adler takes several pages to really dig into the stupidity of Kant’s lacking understanding of how we know things, but let me share with you my favorite passage from the whole book:

Kant, justifiably, comes out even worse than Hume

“How anyone in the twentieth century can take Kant’s transcendental philosophy seriously is baffling, even though it may always remain admirable in certain respects as an extraordinarily elaborate and ingenious intellectual invention.”

Which has to be one of the best back handed compliments I’ve ever read.

Why do Hume and Kant lead to such problems with their inability to know anything about knowing?  Well because in one way or another it leads to destroying the value of scientific falsifiability and reasoned argument and reduces all knowledge to nothingness…which leads to a complete abdication of personal responsibility to know the truth of things.  Look at any organization that requires mindless following (Nazism, Communism, the Democratic National Committee, Islamofacism, numerous individual churches) and all the problems they create to see why this is an important issue to understand.

 

Fifth Category: “Moral Value.”  Hedonists (Epicurus, Mill) ethical skeptics (Hume, Russell, Ayer) and wacky deontological Kant get beat up in this.  The hedonists fail to make the important distinction between wants and needs and mistake the former for the latter.  Skeptics, deriving from the earlier mistakes believe foolishly that you can’t make any meaningful statements about ethics and so whatever is popular at the time goes (see the lack of ethics is sociology departments, multiculturalism, and ignoring the barbarism and oppression of women in Islam…not to mention backing a lot of evil in the recent history of the world by governments). And what evil isn’t backed by the skeptics usually can look to Kant and his categorical imperative which Adler states “is an empty recommendation.”  From the detached and survey nature of the book Adler simply states proper ethics is “We ought to desire whatever is really good for us and nothing else” and work toward that true good…but he points you to Aristotle’s Nichomachean Ethics for more details.

 

Sixth Category: “Happiness and Contentment”  Tied heavy to the last chapter is the true good in life: Happiness.  And happiness is collection of virtues in action not just material contentment as utilitarians like Mill and Dewey might mistake it as (or you know the current government).  And while not a very common mistake Adler as tears apart the Stoics (and Kant) who didn’t understand that while doing the right thing is very important, you also have to succeed some of the time to actually be happy

 

Seventh Category:”Freedom of choice.”  You have free will and anyone who says otherwise (determinists and scientists, those who say that there is only the physical world) have no reasonable grounding for their beliefs.  Although while your will is free, it is informed by the outside world, nature and nurture.  This one is actually important to understand because you wouldn’t believe how often I am seeing arguments that people are mere victims of their computer like minds and its programming, with no will of their own…and it shouldn’t take long to figure out what kind of government that will lead to.

 
Eighth Category: “Human Nature.”  The fact that this book was written in the early 80’s didn’t allow Adler to be familiar with the term multiculturalism, but he was shooting down the stupidity of that dumb idea long before it took hold. Human beings are human beings and their nature does not change by race, culture, time, or upbringing and this means that rights are the same and inalienable for everyone, they do not change for any other group.  Also, he tears apart those ideas of PETA in raising animals to the value of humans.

Ninth Category: “Human Society”.  In this section, Adler takes aim at Rosseau, Hobbes and Locke for their arguments about the state of nature.  His argument is that these three treat the state of nature as if it was a historical reality and not a thought experiment.  To be honest I’ve never heard anyone take this extreme stance (but I will admit I’m more familiar with Locke than the other two…but I also admit that academia is an odd place and easily see this chapter coming out of an argument with some professor at the University of Chicago where Adler taught.  He argues, as would any historian or anthropologist that society and government have grown over time because humans are naturally social creatures.  He then attacks anarchists who believe that mankind can ever be molded into a being that doesn’t need society, like Marx’s communist utopia.

Tenth Category: “Human Existence.”  This chapter really required a full understanding of the previous chapters to go into any detail…and since I wanted to keep this blog “manageable” (at least by my long winded standards)…so let me just say Adler maintains life has a purpose and meaning.

 

Again I realize I’ve glossed over a lot, but I highly recommend this book to anyone who deals with any kind of discussion of ideas (politics and religion especially), understanding the underlying premises that Adler goes over is infinitely important.  Adler is not as simplistic as Rand who makes a good primer in philosophy, but lacks practicality and depth, but nor is he as dry as the works of his beloved Aristotle or Aquinas.  He’s dry but not so much that it’s almost unreadable for pleasure, he has meat on the bones of his philosophy, and while a few decades out of date it is still modern enough that the languages used doesn’t suffer from the kind of gap you get with a lot of the older philosophers.  Oh, and he’s right ninety-nine times out a hundred.  Really you should read this book.

 

Now let me counter some obvious and addle brain responses I expect to get because I’ve reminded people that there is an excellent attack on all the BS philosophers so beloved by the Ivory Tower…

(1)“Adler isn’t respected by philosophers!”  Well, the philosophers you read must never have mentioned in their worthless tomes that popularity doesn’t equal truth.  All that matters is if the argument is a reasoned one and conclusion is true or not.  If every philosophy professor in the world said Adler (and by extension Aristotle and Aquinas, since Adler is more about reiterating the correct philosophies of others and adapting them to modern issues than coming up with his own ideas) was an idiot, it still wouldn’t prove that he was wrong, only truth and reason would do that.  (Now please don’t think that I think everything Adler said is true, he’s human, he’s wrong sometimes, but when compared to Descartes, Hume, Berkley, Foucault, Satre, James, Kierkegaard, Leibniz, Marx…you get the idea, he’s on a far more solid grounding of reason.)

(2)“Well you didn’t disprove (such and such philosopher] and their statement of [such and such bullshit] in your blog.  Thus you’re wrong.”   It’s a book review, it’s 200 pages long, of course I can’t get into specifics.

(3)“Well Adler didn’t disprove…”  Yes he did, you didn’t read the book.

(4)“I did read the book and he didn’t…” actually he did, see page…

(5)“I did read the book and he didn’t…” You’re right he didin’t. He did tear out all of the idea that that specific point is based on though which kind of makes tearing that point apart silly and redundant.

(6) “You didn’t accurately describe [such and such BS philopher’s] ideas correctly”  Probably not.  Do you get the concept of a book review or a blog?  If I made this a 200 page discussion why not just post all of Alder’s book?

(7) “Adler’s biased”…you mean he has a reasoned opinion and while he admits that there is grey in the world will not back down from self-evident truths because there is also black and white in the universe. Yes, in that case he is biased…Although you might then like his 1,000 page tome “The Great Ideas” where he actually discusses all of these philosophers and their ideas quite dispassionately.

(8) “I did read it and I don’t agree with anything he had to say!”  Why are you telling me this?  Like I care.  Don’t listen to my book reviews if you dislike them so much.  Really I don’t understand people who keep coming back to be infuriated because they disagree with me and want to express their displeasure.  I can understand trying to keep up with people you disagree with so that you can consider new idea…but I just don’t get the childish need seek out and bully those you disagree with.

 

*There is some important hair splitting to be done here in relationship to my views as New Ager, and if I get any requests, I’ll go into that…but (1) I can see where you might see some contradictions between this point and New Age belief that I would agree would constitute a prima facie case against my spiritual beliefs (2) I have considered them and I believe that while there is a prima facie case to be made it does not hold up under scrutiny.

**On another side note you may want to watch Lost before reading Adler’s book…otherwise you may have a knee jerk reaction into hating half the cast from day one…and I really love Hume on Lost.

 

 

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Weekly Meditation: Words of Wisdom

I still really like this as an all encompassing New Age symbol

As a New Ager I find truth in most of the religions in the world.  And while I love to quote from A Course In Miracles(and could probably do so for years going at the pace of one passage a week) it has occurred to me that I should, in true New Age fashion, pull a selection of quotes from other holy books.  Before anyone gets offended it is meant as a compliment, I’m not trying to insult your religion.

This week I thought I would pull a quote from the Tao Te Ching, the central text of Taoism.  Written by Lao-Tzu before departing China to escape it’s superficial and corrupt life, he left a short book of his wisdom for the people of China (yes I realize that there is a lot of myth tied to that story, I still like it). The book is probably the shortest holy text in the world (unless you want to count individual books of the Old, New, and Gnostic Testaments of the Bible).  Written as a series of 81 short poems, the Tao Te Ching (The Book of Virtues of the Way), the book is often a series of double and triple meanings crammed into short, cryptic phrases.  (Given that Chinese is also a language that poorly translates into English, poetry especially, it is always best to read three or four translations if you’re going to try to read the book.)

For this week I’m going to go with a quote from the 19th poem in the Tao.  (I’m just going to go with my favorite translation).

“Give up kindness, renounce morality.

And men will rediscover piety and love.”–Lao Tzu

So what does this mean?  That you should give up being kind and moral?  No, silly.  It means that you should stop doing things because you are supposed to them because they’re rules or codes or values you’re supposed to hold.  Things you’ve been taught to follow.  Ideals society wants you to do.  Why? Because when you force people to do things you breed resentment, hostility, rebellion.  You should do things because you want to, because your personal reason dictates it, because it makes you feel good…not because someone says you should.

 

Why is this the weekly meditation?  This week I want you to ask yourself if you’re doing something because you want to and it makes sense…or because you’re expected to.  Reason and your heart are fine things to follow, and they will often agree with society’s rules, but make sure they are before you act.  I promise you you will be more in tune with yourself and the universe if you do what you want and think is right more than what is only expected of you…even if it’s the same thing, the intent and the reason make a huge difference.

 

 

 

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Weekly Meditation: Fear and Faith

Okay…

So I didn’t post anything during the weekend.  I did this because the internet has a nasty way of suggesting everything is an attack on something else…and publishing a New Age meditation on Good Friday, Passover, or Easer could be interpreted as an attack where none was meant.  I have no quarrel with you if you have found happiness in something other than New Age belief, as all paths lead to God eventually, and each time I considered it, it just seemed tacky to post on another religion’s holy day when I don’t embrace that holiday.  (Yes, I have issues with Easter…still too close to go into them).

Onto the meditation.

I thought it was time to return to A Course In Miracles for today’s meditation.

Lesson 48 from the workbook of the Course is a simple one:

There is nothing to fear.

Simple.  Hopeful.  To the point.

It goes along with the summary of the Course from it’s first page:

 This course can there be summed up very simply in this way:

Nothing real can be threatened.

Nothing unreal exists.

Herein lies the peace of God.

Now granted there is entire book explaining that sentiment, but it keeps coming back to the message: There is nothing to fear.  You are your soul, not your body, and thus you, the real you, can’t be harmed.  You are the child of a God that is infinite love, thus he cannot hate or reject you, otherwise it wouldn’t be INFINITE love.  There are no sins, only mistakes that are to be learned from and corrected.  In the end there is no punishment but what you give yourself, and even that isn’t going to harm you in any long-term sense.  There is nothing to fear, as, in the end, everything literally will be fine (now how far off that end is is up to you…but the longer you fear the longer it’s going to take to get to that end.)

So this week every time you come across anything that makes you worried, apprehensive, depressed, sorry or worried, repeat to yourself:

There is nothing to fear.

And believe it.

 

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Some misconceptions about the New Age

So the last couple of weeks I’ve fielded some questions about the New Age that seem to suggest people don’t really understand what New Age belief is (half the reason I wrote “Republicans and Reincarnation” was hopefully to dispel many of these misconceptions) but these few have come up in past weeks so I thought I would deal with them. Now some of these statements actually came from intelligent people, with working brains, these didn’t come from just my trolls, so I thought that another round of what New Agers believe couldn’t hurt. (After all nothing probably helped Christianity more than when they dispelled the claim made by the Ancient Pagans that they were cannibalistic…it’s their own fault really, drinking blood, eating flesh, when you use terms like that don’t be shocked when people don’t understand the metaphoric language).

So the first one that I’m going to deal with is the claim that New Agers don’t believe in God.

Now there are a lot of variations in New Age belief, and I certainly can’t speak for every single person who identifies themselves as a New Ager, but I think it’s a safe to say that we believe in God.

Every meditation, every book, every writer I know of that is associated with the New Age makes heavy reference to God.  And while there is no single book that encapsulates all the idea of the New Age, I would say a healthy majority will turn to A Course in Miracles which begins with the welcoming line “Herein lies the peace of God.”

Now how does this differ from most beliefs of God? Well we don’t believe you have your God and we have our God. For us there’s just God. Whatever name you call, you’re referring to God. Or in the words of author Marion Zimmber Bradley, “…All gods are One, and there is no religion higher than the Truth…” We believe in God we just don’t put the same masks that other religions put on him. And I realize that that last statement comes off a just more than a little pretentious, it’s not meant to. New Agers, at least rational ones, would probably admit that they put their own masks on God. We would just say that we are not trying to project our own flaws onto him as much as other religions might. No jealous or wrathful God here. Nor the many human issues of the Hindu gods. Certainly none of the flaws of Zeus. Definitely not a God that calls for genocide. For New Agers God is more along the lines of Aristotle’s definitions of the gods “reason contemplating reason” but more along the lines of “love contemplating and giving love” as we tend to find the two concepts go hand in hand. But I’m sure we’re missing something too…but at least New Agers are willing to admit we might not have as great an idea as to what we’re trying to comprehend using a limited human brain and even more limited human language.

But let me be very clear here, New Agers do believe in God.

You might also want to look at these previous posts:

In Defense of the Possibility of God

 

Another Attempt to Describe New Age Belief

The Cult of Cthulhu or my problems with most religions

The Problem of Evil

 

 

Next up…the claim that New Agers believe in many gods…

(And feel free to email me or comment about anything else about the New Age you want elaborated)

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The Law of Attraction and its detractors

So I’m suddenly getting comments about my blogs about the The Secret and the Law of Attraction. I don’t quite understand it. If you don’t believe it don’t believe in it, why do you need to insult other people’s beliefs? The supreme irony here is that more often than not these are the same people who claim I’m closed minded for critiquing Muslims for their rather backward religion. So let me see, beating up on people for a belief that doesn’t hurt anyone: good; beating up on people for a belief system that leads to tyranny, genocide, and massive human right violations: bad. Am I the only one who is confused?

My argument has always boiled down to two points. The first is that while I know I don’t have scientific proof in favor that the Law of Attraction, there is a preponderance of evidence suggesting that it may likely be true. My second point has been that, let’s for a minute say that I’m wrong about it and the Law of Attraction doesn’t work, then playing on oppositions turf for the sake of argument it still isn’t worth arguing about, it doesn’t cause anyone any harm and it still leads to a better quality of life. For some reason this has been interpreted as a contradiction. Apparently being able to suspend my own beliefs for a hypothetical situation is wrong…despite in any other context this would be considered being open minded. And really I just do it because the detractors claim that following this law hurts people. I can only attack that point if I for a moment play on their premises that it doesn’t work. Obviously if we play on my turf it doesn’t hurt people, but even if you assume it doesn’t work it still doesn’t hurt people. So why attack me for going about it both ways? Oh, I know why it’s wrong, because I then prove that the people arguing with me are still wrong for attacking this. I have a strong respect for defending the truth at all costs, but I also believe in prioritizing. For instance I hate socialism in all its forms. However, while I hate socialism I hate tyranny a hell of a lot more. So do I spend all my time critiquing the economic systems of the U.K. and Israel? Nope. Why, because those two countries are our greatest allies in the fight against tyranny and I prioritize that at the moment there are bigger issues to worry about. Now if we turned Russia, China, North Korea, Venezuela, the majority of the Middle East, Cuba, Mexico, and at least a larger portion of Sub-Saharan Africa into functioning democratic-republics, then yes I would be harsher on socialist nations, but right now I have bigger problems. I complain about socialism mainly in the U.S. because it (A) affects my life more directly and (B) because we are at a point where we might soon collapse if we do not go back to capitalism and if we collapse then we are certainly going to cease being the biggest obstacle to the tyrannies of the world. The same applies with the law of attraction. If you don’t believe in it fine, don’t, I am a huge believer in free will and won’t begrudge you any belief in your own life so long as it doesn’t hurt mine. But even if you don’t believe in it, aren’t there bigger false ideas out there for you to challenge? The rampant misogynism in Western culture? Anti-Semitism? Even among religious beliefs you have homophobia and the culture of fear that so many religions propagate…even if you’re right that the law of attraction, basically the idea that focused prayer can lead to a better life, doesn’t exist this seems to be biggest false idea out there, why attack this one when there are far worse ideas out there?

Now of course I believe it to be true, but we’re still playing in the opposition’s ball park. They claim that they need to oppose this because it hurts people. Really. How? The basic idea of the law of attraction in all its forms can be broken down into a few simple premises.
I. Believe that you and you alone are responsible for your life.
II. Be grateful for what you have to eliminate negative thoughts in your habits of thought.
III. Focus on the end of what you want, not how you are going to get it.
IV. Act as if you already have what you want in life.
V. Believe that the universe will respond to your thoughts and it will come to you.
Now the argument over the science comes into the fifth part and again for the sake of argument, let’s say that is totally bunk. So you don’t get the payoff promised. How do the other 4 parts hurt you? “Believe that you and you alone are responsible for your life.” Now basic psychology tells you that people who take responsibility about their life, that they are responsible for their actions, their thoughts, and the outcomes of those are certainly happier and more productive. The opposite is that we are responsible for our actions, that it’s nature and nurture and chance and fate that determine our life and we aren’t responsible for what happens to us. I think we all have enough experience to know that the people who always take responsibility for their actions are much happier and more productive than people who always blame others for what goes wrong (and even those who never give credit to themselves when things go right).

Now someone might claim that there is a happy medium, people who take responsibility but admit there are things out of their control, and that seems rational on the face of it, but actually it’s not. Because responsibility isn’t so much what happens to us, it’s about how we respond to what happens to us. “Why do we fall? So we can learn to pick ourselves up?” as one of my favorite movies puts it. The actual other extreme is taking too much on yourself. It’s saying that you are responsible for your actions but only looking at the past and not picking yourself up. It’s only dwelling in the guilt, the fear, the blame and being as paralyzed as the people who don’t take any responsibility for anything (if we weren’t playing on the opposition’s field I might also point out that the Law of Attraction will sometimes give you something bad so as to ensure you’re in the right place at the right time to get what you really want, e.g. losing your job which forces you get the want ads in which you find your dream job has just opened up but you would have never seen it if you hadn’t been looking for a new job). And yes this obsession with the past and the blame could be a terrible side effect of taking responsibility for everything in your life. So I guess it is a valid complaint. If only every person who preached the law of attraction also told people that for the law to work they need to focus on what is already good in their life and be grateful for all those good things….oh wait.

Point two of any version of the law of attraction is that you have to focus on what’s good in life. So I guess we don’t have a valid complaint against the philosophy yet.

But maybe this optimistic outlook at what is good in your life is a bad thing. I’m going to assume most of you just rolled your eyes at reading this sentence. For those you who don’t know medical science and psychology have long since proven that optimistic, grateful people are happier, less stressed, healthier, live longer, and have a better quality of life. There are no downsides I have ever heard of to being optimistic and grateful for what you have. So how does telling people that they need to appreciate what they have hurt them? I guess you could argue that if someone becomes too complacent with what they have they’ll be come stagnant…but then you read points three and four and that kind of goes out the window.

Point three and four deal with having goals and acting toward them. Start with the goal in mind and act in accordance with getting that goal. Now it’s been a while since I’ve read The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People but I seem to recall these are basic principles of any goal oriented system. Start with the goal and be the change you want to see. Typically speaking isn’t that how you get what you want, even if you the universe isn’t helping you get what you want because of your thoughts, these are still the actions that will result in getting what you want. So what’s the down side? How does this harm people?

So we’re playing on the opponents and there is no harm to a person’s life through the first four required points to the law of attraction. But, the opponents say, it will lead them to depression when they don’t get what they want! They’ll be more optimistic, more goal oriented, healthier, probably have more friends and more efficient in whatever field they have chosen for a profession (which probably means more money). Okay, so if I’m wrong about the law of attraction they don’t have the island they wanted…but they probably have more than they did before they changed their attitude to follow The Secret. I don’t think most people would complain.

Now those that complain that the law of attraction isn’t real will probably say that success in life is highly dependent on luck. But I think we’ve all heard the sentiment that luck is opportunity plus preparation. The first four points deal with preparations that are actually required for success even if you assume that the law of attraction doesn’t work. So there is literally no way this can harm people. All the law of attraction says is that the opportunity is dependent on you being prepared and you looking for the opportunity, that the opportunity literally doesn’t exist until you look for it, it is dependent on you looking for it (kind of the Schrödinger’s cat of destiny).

So please, tell me, someone who disagrees with the law of attraction, how on Earth do you claim that it harms people. That to preach this is wrong. That to make money by selling good psychological practices is a con? How?  By believing in basic psychology that everyone knows leads to better life?  I’d love to hear examples of how this could go be bad…not vague statements about well it could lead people to do have long term problems (which it won’t) but actual examples or at least hypothetical situations.

And of course there is that other point…you know the one where it is a fact of nature. Our thoughts do control our life. They do affect all those literal variables that cascade into the opportunities we can reap the benefits of or eliminate those opportunities before they ever even materialize. Now I will admit that this is an article of faith. I do not have irrefutable scientific data to show that I am right and all who disagree with me are wrong. But the opposition doesn’t have that either. I would say however that the preponderance of the evidence is on my side. There are studies that show prayer works, there are studies that prayer doesn’t work. The funny thing is that when you take a step back you find those who come into the study to prove that prayer doesn’t work prove that prayer doesn’t work and that those seem more unbiased or to show that prayer does work always seem to show that prayer has some effect (Wow, it’s almost like thought effected the reality around it…no I won’t go that far, but I will say perhaps it’s a little hard to ignore the fact that scientists are people and it’s hard to remove bias from people). Also, how do you set up a control group, only find people who have absolutely no people praying for them? Tell the patient “we’re going to perform major surgery, but you can’t pray for yourself.” Atheist in a foxhole? It’s not exact mathematical proof, but there is the suggestion of proof. (Here are a listing of studies done in looking at the effects of prayer…I I find most interesting the ones of people who told that they were being prayed for and then did worse than the control group…do you think that guilt and self hatred which may have put them in that medical condition would have made them feel even worse being told that they were being prayed for and maybe countered the prayers for them?). So I will admit that I don’t have iron clad scientific proof if you admit that you don’t either. It’s an issue of faith (one that interestingly enough doesn’t hurt anyone). Of course my favorite part of this argument against the power of prayer in scientific studies is that it’s just the placebo effect. As most of these studies rely on people not being told they were being prayed for there isn’t a placebo effect present…someone has to know they’re being given something for the placebo effect to be present. But what’s really funny about this is the problem modern science is having with the placebo effect. Apparently for the last decade or so, drugs that have previously been tested when retested show less of an increase over the placebo effect. And when you go back and look at the data it’s not that the drug is less powerful it’s that the placebo effect has been getting stronger over the course of time. So people expecting there to be a change is leading to stronger changes even if there is no real drug present…it’s not just that is seems like expectation is changing reality, but it’s almost like the thoughts of people are getting more focused and thus having a larger effect on reality. But you’d have to be one of those crazy New Agers who believe we are on the cusp of a New Age where there will soon be a major jump in the evolution of the human soul.  But I’m always open to hearing other theories as to why the placebo effect is getting stronger.   Now those who don’t believe in the law will probably argue that science doesn’t support the idea, but this is a foolish understanding of reality.  Things are true whether science and prove them or not.  The earth moved before Galileo, it was round before Columbus, gravity pulled light before Einstein…reality exists before science, just because modern science can’t prove something it’s the worst arrogance to say that just because science hasn’t proven it yet it isn’t so.  Real human life has to admit that science doesn’t know everything, especially when it comes how we live our lives.  Yes it would be foolish to fly in the face of science fact, but what science has not proved or disproved, (things like the existence of God, the soul, the afterlife, or this law), it should not be assumed that just because science hasn’t proven something yet it should not be acted on.

Now I will concede that foolishness in conjunction with surface understanding of the law of attraction could lead to problems. For instance prayer healing, the idea that if you pray hard enough you can immediately fix life threatening problems. You know, prayer works great for a disease like cancer because they take time, and those who preach the law of attraction are very clear that it takes time for effect to appear. In terms of faith healing, it’s often something that requires immediate attention, if you think it’s only a matter of how hard you pray, clearly you don’t understand that there is a time delay issue involved in how the law of attraction works. Further, let’s take an extreme view of the law of attraction, if you attracted this disease you clearly do not have the law of attraction mastered, go get medical attention and with the extra time you have to live and take some more time to get it down. The spiritual text A Course in Miracles draws a line between what it calls miracles (a true understanding that the world is a reflection of our thoughts and the ability to control the world through our thoughts) and magic (an understanding that thinks the world is something more than just an illusion projected by our thoughts, which tries to control things in that illusion through the illusion, science is included in this). A Course in Miracles makes it clear the only way you are going to learn the truth of the world is by living, learning, and growing, you can’t do that if you’re dead. If you’re experiencing problems, especially medical ones, if you know how to control miracles (well you wouldn’t be in that situation) use them—if not, probably demonstrated by the fact that you’re in a situation that could really use a miracle don’t be an idiot and go for magic of science and medicine (you have to appreciate the apparent irony of that phrase). The law of attraction is something that works, but it’s not an immediate fix to problems (unless you’ve reached Enlightenment and then I seriously doubt you’ll be reading this blog if you have). The law is supposed to be used in conjunction with reason not in opposition to it.

Of course the thing that always surprises me is that the argument I made about the first four points of the law of attraction just being good positive psychology aren’t made by my opponent. Instead of arguing against it in totality they should be arguing, “well of course being goal oriented and optimistic leads to a better life, you don’t need any mystical element to explain that” which would actually be a much harder argument for me to refute and I would have to just fall back on “Yes, but my spiritual belief system says that it also affects the world around you and provides you with the opportunities that reflect your attitude. Can’t prove it but that is what I believe, and it’s not worth arguing because you can’t disprove it.” I admit that’s a weak argument philosophically, but it’s an issue of faith and only a fool would think that you apply the laws of science to faith. But no. They take the tack that it hurts people and it must be challenged at all costs. Again I’d love to see an example of where it hur.t someone. I suspect however that it has more to do with the first point. People don’t want to be responsible for their actions. They want to avoid thinking and doing. These are often the same people who argue their life is terrible not because they didn’t get an education or a job or what not, not because of their choices, but because the government didn’t give them this or that, that the system is broken, that life is unfair and we need to make it more fair for the disadvantaged. They dislike it because the philosophy leaves no room for excuses or others to blame. It requires that you think for yourself. It requires that you act in accordance with those thoughts. It requires that you take responsibility for those thought and actions. And for some people that is a horrifying idea.

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Books for New Agers: Temple Of The Winds by Terry Goodkind


And so we come to the fourth book of the Sword of Truth Series. Wait weren’t the other books “Books for Conservatives”? Yes, yes they were, but the theme of this book more suits a spiritual lesson than a political one.

First, of course, my very brief synopsis that tries not give out spoilers for the whole series but still makes it seem like a book you should read. In this volume Richard and Kahlan have to deal with Emperor Jagang’s first major move against their kingdom: the releasing of a deadly plague that threatens to kill everyone in their kingdom. And the only way to stop it is to betray one another. It really sucks to be the hero sometimes.

But it is this threat of betrayal that leads directly into the book’s main theme, the Wizard’s Fourth Rule:
There is magic in sincere forgiveness; in the forgiveness you give, but more so in the forgiveness you receive.

(Yes, there is a reason this is getting published on the same day as this week’s meditation).

The Sword of Truth Series is based quite heavily on Ayn Rand’s Objectivist philosophy (this will become really evident when we get to the 9th rule which it takes word for word from Atlas Shrugged) but in many ways Goodkind has created a philosophy somewhat superior to Rand’s beliefs in these books. Rand is famous for saying that there are only two ways to deal with people, through reason and through force. This sadly completely ignores the third way people interact with each other—through love. And it’s moments like this that show Goodkind knows much more than Rand.

As I suggested in the meditation for the week, forgiveness helps you out. Not forgiving someone for something often takes far more energy, far more time, far more effort in our lives than forgiving them and moving on. And it’s very refreshing to let it go and not carry that around anymore. In fact it’s almost cliché to list the psychological benefits to forgiving people even if you don’t tell them you have forgiven them, whereas holding onto grudges creates long term health problems from the constant stress. But more than the physical benefits, it is the spiritual benefits that this rule provides that are more important.

Whatever religious tradition you follow, there is likely a theme of forgiveness, of letting go of the past and moving on. The reason for this is that within every rational religious tradition is the idea that there is something of the divine within us. We sometimes do not live up to that, but forgiveness is the recognition that the divine within us is more important and more lasting than any mistake. Forgiveness lets you ignore the dark part of our lives and admit that those times are temporary and already past, that what exists now is only that part of the divine.

Forgive. Not necessarily forget, someone may screw up to the point where you can no longer trust them, but you can still forgive them even if you never trust them again. But you do need to sincerely forgive those around you because it is the only way to see yourself as something better than a collection of your mistakes, which we all have made. We probably all fall short of perfection in living up to this rule, but that doesn’t mean we should give up in trying to live up to it. Just forgive yourself the moments where you were not your best and move on.

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A week of retrospectives

In honor of Republicans and Reincarnation being published I thought it would be a good time to take a break from new blogs (also because how many times can I talk about the budget before you slit your wrist) and go back over some of the best blogs in the last 2 years of this blog.

Obviously if something major happens that requires a blog but most things (like the budget and the terrorist acts in Oslo) require some time develop well thought-out responses and not just knee jerk reactions.

This will also be a good chance to bring some new readers in and welcome in the new format at WordPress.

So any favorites you want me to bring to the forefront?

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Republicans and Reincarnation is for sale!!!!

It’s for sale.

Republicans and Reincarnation: The Conscience of A New Age Conservative is finally for sale!!

You should buy a copy. Or three. One for you. One for your best friend whom you want to have one of the best books of the 21st century. And one just because you never know when you’ll need a back up copy.

Buy it at my publisher AuthorHouse

Barnes & Noble

Amazon  (although they apparently are not selling the Kindle version just yet, but they should have it up soon).  

Prices for the book are lower at my publisher, prices for the Nook at B&N is lower than the price at my publisher.  (Royalties are higher from my publisher, so you know where my bias lies).

Feel free to write a review or two…Feel free to mention it to every carbon based life-form you know…feel free to forward information to any member of the media you know.

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The Secret and Pseudoscience

So I recently came across an article in the New York Times critiquing the popular New Age book The Secret and its new sequel The Power. And as expected it laid out the usual skeptical tripe against New Age belief. This partly annoys me, but it also amuses me. New Agers as we tend to believe in a little of everything get hit the hardest when skeptics try to critique belief systems.

(Although you ever notice how elitists will critique Jewish and Christian prayer, Buddhist meditation, Hindu Yoga and all the accompanying beliefs that come with it…but there is one system of belief they never seem to critique. That would be the system with the most anti-Semitic, most misogynist, most bitter, most violent and most hate filled religions, both in terms of what is laughably referred to as a holy book and certainly in practice. I’d name that religion but I have no immediate desire to have a fatwa issued against me…but you probably can figure out which religion founded by a genocidal lunatic I’m talking about. But back to my original point for this cat-walk, isn’t it utterly hypocritical of skeptics to critique beliefs that work for the good and make people feel better, but don’t’ like to critique on the same grounds butchers. But it’s worse that these are often the same people who tell you you’re a racist if you criticize this particular religion. But it might just be because if you insult Jews and Christian and Buddhists and Hindus and New Agers they’ll feel sorry for you for your limited view of the world and not, you know, cut your head off.) But enough of my side comments…is The Secret Pseudoscience?

Well here’s the thing, they can list quite well the psychological points on why people are willing to believe in the Law of Attraction which states that our thoughts create reality. You think about something long enough, good or bad, and you’ll get it. But while you can point to the psychological reason why a person might be drawn to this, even without scientific data to back up that belief, the authors offer absolutely no evidence against the idea that the Law of Attraction is true. They claim that what evidence is given on quantum mechanics is wrong, but the day I simply trust a psychologist on quantum mechanics is the day I trust a linguist on politics. Quantum mechanics is a field that even the people who study it don’t have an idea what it’s really all about. But thought does seem to have some part to play in it. Is it really a terrible jump in logic to believe that thought might create reality instead of the other way around? It isn’t illogical in light of the utterly bizarre things we learn from quantum mechanics. But just because it’s a possibility isn’t scientific proof. At this point I am merely saying that just because you can’t prove scientifically doesn’t mean it isn’t true, nor does it mean it’s true. This is realm of faith. And science should have the common decency to stay out of the realm of faith. Conversely faith should have the tact to stay out of science (i.e. evolution is real, intelligent design for the start of life is still up in the air though).

Further one has to ask the pragmatics of such a critique. If it makes people feel more empowered, focused and goal driven…what exactly is the harm. So you’re out 23 dollars for the new book. If the you bought the first book and the DVD too you’re out about $75. I’ve spent more on a single dinner. Possible positive psychological effect for a relatively cheap price. I fail to see why among all the evils in the world, this is one these author’s choose to attack.

But my favorite part of the criticism is where they reveal that they never really read the book. They’re just making complaints without knowing what the hell they’re talking about (it’s a classic skeptic move). As proof that the logic of the Law of Attraction doesn’t work they offer this very stupid thought experiment, “What if a thousand people started sincerely visualizing winning the entire $200 million prize in this week’s Lotto? How would the universe sort out that mess?” Well, maybe if you read the book you’d have read you’re supposed to focus on what you actually want and not worry about the means. People don’t want to win the Lottery, they just want the money, how is mildly irrelevant. And because your brain would keep going through a thousand different ways you could get the money, you’d never win the lottery that way.

So why attack this area of faith when it really hurts no one? After all if works for you personally use it. If it doesn’t, then skip it. It’s not like we’ll ever have any kind of scientific test that can prove thoughts affect reality….

…oh wait. We do have those tests. We have a large body of research studying prayer. Now not all of the evidence is conclusive and some studies show a greater effect than others, but the general conclusion is that prayer actually does cause a measurable difference in the recovery of patients (even when they don’t know they’re being prayed for). Now, if these studies are correct then there are only two possibilities for how prayer affects the recovery of hospital patients. Either God is up there in heaven with a big clip board and saying “Oh, he only got 99 prayers, he dies–he’s got 2,000 prayers, he lives.”….an illogical way of looking at things. Or option 2, God doesn’t really get involved in this world directly and it’s the thoughts of the prayers that affect reality. Oh that’s the law of attraction. I wonder what would happen if those prayers studies used the principles of The Secret and The Power (i.e. focus only on what you want and don’t think about what you don’t want….I’m sure some of the people praying were praying that the person didn’t get sick, which according to the law of attraction means you’re focusing on getting sick…the universe doesn’t really understand negating adjectives). If they did that I’d be willing to bet a year’s salary that the recovery rates would go even higher.

So. Law of Attraction 1. Bitter psychologists 0.

I hope the two psychologists who wrote this found some happiness in trying to tear down other people’s harmless beliefs…but I doubt they have a concept of what happiness is.

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Filed under Books for New Agers, Faith, New Age, Prayer, The Secret