During a conversation with a friend, the subject of religion came up. This friend was very proud of the fact that she was not religious but rather "spiritual". It occurred to me after ascertaining exactly what she meant by spiritual, that there may exist yet another significant speed bump on the road to freethought in the form of this so-called spiritualism. Most of you know someone who ascribes to this quasi-spirituality. Those of you who don't personally know someone need only log on to any social networking site (except this one) and send friend requests to the 30% of members who call themselves "spiritual but not religious".

Some of this new spiritualism has a familiar Judeo-Christian tinge to it. Other manifestations take the form of ancient Egyptian mysticism, doomsday theorists or African ancestral worship; as if these folks have channeled their inner Erykah Badu (whose music I love by the way). Then there are the ones who just make the sh*t up as they go. But whatever form it takes, the fact remains that these people are just as deluded as any institutionalized theist. Perhaps they are not as inflexible in their reasoning, but certainly they’re just as misguided in their world view. So here's my question to this community of Black Freethinkers: Is this new "spiritualism" harming blacks just as much as the old school organized religions? Get @ me..

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Spiritualism, Humanism, Budhism, agnosticism, of which the first three are dogmas that resemble each other very closely. All very proud to shout they're godless, but all very proud to remain moral, good, mindful and anthropocentric. All three still obsessed with dogmas and "rectitude". The mind shutting out god entities, but still functioning in a godly manner, a religious manner. The problem with any "path" that includes any 'wavering' on the nature of reality, is that their minds are still so open, too open... that stuff falls out (to misquote the saying), like many French (a highly secular nation, which I admire on many points) and their obsession with homeopathy.

 

Yep, to me godlessness is only part way to freethought. Is it as harmful, hard to tell. At least with acknowledged godliness, there is a precise "enemy", but when people just get all fuzzy about reality, all one can criticise is fuzziness, which is practically impossible to criticize, since the followers evade all definitions. So I see it being insidiously bad, both for ethnicities and nationalities.

@ TNT666,

Your point about evasion of definition is well taken. It's so easy for the fuzzy thinkers to keep moving the goal post of what they actually believe because their doctrines aren't written on clay tablets or in the pages of ancient books. But I think you've gotten to the heart of the matter by challenging not their belief systems (if they can even be called that) but rather their underlying acceptance of the supernatural. Whether they call them "cosmic forces" or "intuition" or whatever, bottom line is that if it aint science fact, its science fiction.

@TNT666

I would like to hear more about your view that humanism is an anthropocentric dogma.  I have had trouble expressing this same opinion clearly.

This has been discussed elsewhere, as many atheists consider themselves Humanists, I would not want to derail this thread further. Suffice it to say that since we agree that there are no gods, then... the bible was written "by and for humans", which is the exact fundamental principal of Humanism, "by and for humans" (as opposed to god)... with the exception that Humanists are pro-LGBT (meh, one could state the literary Jesus would have equally loved LGBTs, so...). The human bible writers superimposed a god concept atop human desires, humans wrote the 10 commandments for the "well being" of humans, humans wrote the 7 sins, for the "well being" of humans. All religious texts are written by humans, for the attainment of human happiness. Humanists repeat that very same tenet. Some Humanists agree that nature also deserves protection, but only in so much as nature serves a human goal or need, not for nature itself. Humanists view the human induced drop in planetary biodiversity as the 'natural evolution' of human ingenuity, all a-ok. Any cocamamie dream and need that a humanist can imagine automatically acquires the status of 'natural evolution' 'just because' a human 'thought it'. In many ways it reminds me of Protestant/Mormon's obsession with wealth, "I get rich because it is my destiny, approved by the book". Their future is transhumanism, a future where humans are partially synthetic, eternal life (induced by fear of death), where food is completely synthetic, and energy/resource consumption is ever expanding, no matter the cost. Genetics run amok!

Anything that offsets reality in the realm of the supernatural is harmful. Spiritualism is much the same as religion; if tipoff comes in the first two syllables, "spirit." Any belief in things that do not exist is harmful in that it I'll prepares for reality. Fantasy is valid entertainment. Belief in fantasy is psychotic.

Ive been meaning to post on this.  I have numerous friends who have embraced this New Thought spiritualism largely based on this Secret/Law of Attraction nonsense.

 

Michael Beckwith, who has been on Oprah and appears in The Secret video, has built an entire megachurch in LA called Agape around this stuff. This brother used to be a weed dealer (not that I hold that against a person) who had a spiritual awakening. He claims to have met an African Shaman who could shape shift into animals (like Sam Merlotte on true blood), and to have healed a woman's tumor by "directed thought".

 

Now as to the question of harm I think define what we consider harm. If you consider the harm from traditional religion to be the degree to which it has contributed to racism, class inequality and homophobia, then these new age spiritual type are more likely to be allies.  But if your beef with religion is belief in things without proof, then there is no difference.

Well said Sparks! I can't believe I neglected to mention the "Law of Attraction" crowd. They are some of the most egregious proselytizers of new age spritualism. What angers and frustrates me about Beckwith and Chopra is that they claim that this so called Law of Attraction phenomena is somehow the result of natural forces playing out on a quantum mechanical level. What shameful liars they are!

Yes, I love the quote from an actual theoretical physicist  "if you think you understand quantum physics you don't". Yet these charlatans through it around to justify their specious assertions. It's a shame what passes for deep philosophical insight these days. But it's proof that the approach to knowledge these days seems to be "whatever makes me feel good is the truth."

 

The other beef I have with the law of attraction is that any progressive person should be appalled by the notion that the experience of every human being is fully shaped by the thoughts that they put out to the universe.  So the indigenous Americans and the African slaves caused their own plight through negative thinking.  Hogwash.

Thank you for post this thread I am currently reading a book by V.S.Naipaul,' The Mask of Africa Glimpses of African Belief', it is astonishing of the breath and deep of spiritual belief among modern day African people's, it permeates every aspect of their lives. This notion of spiritualism that has gained hold in this country is an outgrowth of the beliefs and practices of traditional peoples and  magical think cultures. The New Age devotees stepped in and established a half way house between the Abrahamic faiths and rational thought, which has deluded and misdirected people that much more. Yes, this is just as dangerous as "old school religions" and must be exposed for what it is, superstition that only sows more confusion.
One of the causes for doubting science in the US is big Pharma. There are so many recalls on abusive sales of those bloody drugs that people think all science functions like big Pharma, happily, big pharma is quite unique in its frequent complete denial of science in the pursuit of big cash (along with Nicotine and petrochemincal scientists, also cash motivated). For most in the USA, the frontmen of science are pharmaceuticals and medical doctors, as long as they don't clean up their act, people will doubt science in the USA. Many countries have better protections against release of dubious drugs by big Pharma, which protects the citizenry against junk science, while at the same time protecting the honour of the scientific process. It is not sufficient to educate, a society must establish rules that actually reflect that knowledge.
 

TNT, dude! You're opening a Gi-normous can of worms with this post. I remember listening to Freethought Radio a few months back and there was a very intense debate amongst an all-atheist panel on whether or not medical science could be trusted. On one side were those who argued that if the research was done in accordance with standard scientific practice (adhering to the scientific method), then the work was above reproach. The other side argued that there were waaaay too many conflicts of interest within the medical and pharmaceutical communities, not to mention too many billions of dollars in profits at stake, to ever accept clinical trials at face value.

 

I came down on the side of the latter and it seems you do as well. The science is almost never the issue. It's the handling and manipulation of the resultant data that’s problematic. But man, talk about your classic conversation starters. I'm almost afraid to add climate science to your list.

I would really like to hear this debate you mentioned. Can you provide a link to it please?

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