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Archive for September 5th, 2008

Atheist, evolutionist, professor Richard Dawkins embarks on a journey to plumb the depths of organized religion–from radical Islamics, to Jewish Rabbis, to Evangelicals and Fundamentalist Christians, to moderate Anglicans.

He examines the reasons why organized faiths continue to thrive in these modern times and the attack of religion against rational thought and science. He also studies how religious fanaticism can be traced and related to terrorism and human atrocities.

Join Professor Dawkins’ journey here.

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Self-help worshippers around the world have gotten a recent boost with Rhonda Byrne’s The Secret, which talks about the “Law of Attraction” which is simply:

Thoughts Become Things

This is great news for people looking for solutions to their various concerns, because the Secret Law of Attraction offers a panacea: positive thinking! It’s not far from the traditional genie in the bottle: wish and it will come true. In a world full of negativity and gritty ground-level realism, more and more people are being weighed down by their apprehensions to the point of self-fulfillment.

Check out the various testimonials to The Secret here:

The opening message:

The Secret reveals the most powerful law in the universe. The knowledge of this law has run like a golden thread through the lives and the teachings of all the prophets, seers, sages and saviors in the world’s history, and through the lives of all truly great men and women. All that they have ever accomplished or attained has been done in full accordance with this most powerful law.

Without exception, every human being has the ability to transform any weakness or suffering into strength, power, perfect peace, health, and abundance.

Although it’s a very awe-inspiring message: that positive intentions can easily manifest into reality, it could also be misleading when applied to various contexts.

  • Do all fat people remain fat because they think of their obestity?
  • Do all people sick with AIDS attract HIV by their intentions?
  • Do victims of atrocities (e.g. rape, murder, torture) attract those atrocities by their very thoughts?

You start “peeling the onion” so to speak on this “philosophy of intentions” and you immediately tread upon the politically incorrect.

Salon.com doesn’t pull any punches in this article:

Worse than “The Secret’s” blame-the-victim idiocy is its baldfaced bullshitting. The titular “secret” of the book is something the authors call the Law of Attraction. They maintain that the universe is governed by the principle that “like attracts like” and that our thoughts are like magnets: Positive thoughts attract positive events and negative thoughts attract negative events. Of course, magnets do exactly the opposite — positively charged magnets attract negatively charged particles — and the rest of “The Secret” has a similar relationship to the truth. Here it is on biblical history: “Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, and Jesus were not only prosperity teachers, but also millionaires themselves, with more affluent lifestyles than many present-day millionaires could conceive of.” And worse than the idiocy and the bullshitting is its anti-intellectualism, because that’s at the root of the other two. Here’s “The Secret” on reading and, um, electricity: “When I discovered ‘The Secret’ I made a decision that I would not watch the news or read newspapers anymore, because it did not make me feel good,” and, “How does it work? Nobody knows. Just like nobody knows how electricity works. I don’t, do you?” And worst of all is the craven consumerist worldview at the heart of “The Secret,” because it’s why the book exists: “[The Secret] is like having the Universe as your catalogue. You flip through it and say, ‘I’d like to have this experience and I’d like to have that product and I’d like to have a person like that.’ It is you placing your order with the Universe. It’s really that easy.” That’s from Dr. Joe Vitale, former Amway executive and contributor to “The Secret,” on Oprah.com.

For your own study and reflection, you can check out the DVD-movie version of Rhonda Byrne’s work here.

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