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Religion thwarts Spirituality

  1. Apr 16, 2010 #1


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    "When you subscribe to a religion, you substitute nebulous group-think for focused, independent thought. Instead of learning to discern truth on your own, you’re told what to believe. This doesn’t accelerate your spiritual growth; on the contrary it puts the brakes on your continued conscious development. "

  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 16, 2010 #2
    I think the keyword is "subscribe". Personally I enjoy reading and learning about all religions and philosophies. They all have something to offer. In fact I was just at a Wiccan meeting last month. I would never join, but I found it an educational experience.

    btw, is that first sentence switched around? Isn't focused independent thought better than group think???

    fyi, let's not bring any value judgments of specific religions into this discussion.
    Last edited: Apr 16, 2010
  4. Apr 16, 2010 #3
    I think this is all backwards..

    group-think > independent thought
    learning to discern truth on your own < being told what to believe
    Independence and critical thinking =/= spirtual growth
    Being told what to believe and group-thinking = spiritual growth


    All backwards IMO
  5. Apr 16, 2010 #4
    That article is pretty sophomoric and petty.
  6. Apr 16, 2010 #5
    Try telling us how.
  7. Apr 16, 2010 #6
    Did you read it? It is basically some name calling sprinkled with other arrogance.
  8. Apr 16, 2010 #7
    Which parts offended you the most? For crying out loud this is a discussion site, discuss!! :D
  9. Apr 16, 2010 #8
    This guy seems like self-help guru on an infomercial. Looks like one too. Trying to evangalise his own form of spirituality.

    Besides the insults, awareness of what?

    another cheapshot based on subjective opinion. I could say the same of all people who buy all his self-help books. If people don't need religion or a spiritual authority, then why is he selling books as an authority on spirituality. I think he just sees religion as competition. I see this guy as a Deepak Chopra like personality. Click on some of the links and the stuff he is selling.

    He goes on to cherrypick religious people as inbreds, hypocrites, stupid, evil, and slaves.

    ?? This guy is just going on his own intuitive prejudices and not much else.
  10. Apr 16, 2010 #9


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    The way I read it, it's saying, that religion = group think. That religion prohibits independant thought. So, if the author is criticizing religion for dictating and restricting what a person thinks, the sentence makes sense. In this case, it does apply to some religions.

    I haven't read the link, so I have no opinion on whatever else the person said.
  11. Apr 16, 2010 #10
    Are we discussing the website which is indeed crackpot or the OP's quote?
  12. Apr 16, 2010 #11
    I thought it was the OPs quote, but now I'm not sure. :tongue:
  13. Apr 16, 2010 #12


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    The OP's quote is from the link. He's quoting the author.
  14. Apr 16, 2010 #13
    Who just so happens to be a fissured storage container.

    I can honestly say religion has made me more spiritual. To each their own I guess.
  15. Apr 16, 2010 #14


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    I didn't read the whole site, but he's selling 3-day "Consciousness Growth Workshops" so right away I see him as a bit shady.

    Even if I agree with some of his points, I don't care for the tone of his rhetoric. If his ideas regarding "Consciousness" are valuable, he should be able to sell them without needing to tear down established religion. For example, regarding his reason #5 - I think it's a cheap shot to call a church donation the same as "Support Your Local Pedophile."
  16. Apr 16, 2010 #15
    This is obviously true but what doesn't cause groupthink? Humans only seem to be able to unite AGAINST something or somebody else. Unity loses its meaning without something to unify against, which is quite often other people or idealogies. We see it in the guy's link. He is against something. Is religion any more uncritically lapped up, than say government? capitalism? Morality? Or any other kind of authority from what Weber called "the eternal yesterday"? Meaning the authority of tradition. I'm sure most of us here grew up in mainly capitalist societies. Who actually sat down and gave communism a good look? Who questions capitalism? Are we slaves to it? We are born into everything. The entire world was imposed and had plans and demands for us before we were even thought of. We are bound.

    Life is big, scary, and ends unresolved. Some people need crutches to deal with that fact. And I say, why not? I would actually like that kind of comfort but religion doesn't do it for me. Nothing does. Which is why I am a mess.
  17. Apr 16, 2010 #16


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    If we go by just the quoted excerpt, what is conveyed in it is hardly a new idea (and not terribly crackpottish by itself). We've heard similar thoughts expressed before by Voltaire, Jefferson, et al (most of whom we now refer to as deists).
  18. Apr 17, 2010 #17


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    Just another waffling self-development guru - the authentic voice of the american dream. Now there is group think for you.

    By tugging on your own bootlaces, you will haul yourself to a higher plane (where dollars flow like water and all consumer goods will be yours).
  19. Apr 17, 2010 #18


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    Ok, instead of making personal attacks on the author though, I'm more interested in what you all think about the idea:

    "When you subscribe to a religion, you substitute nebulous group-think for focused, independent thought. Instead of learning to discern truth on your own, you’re told what to believe. This doesn’t accelerate your spiritual growth; on the contrary it puts the brakes on your continued conscious development. "

    I didn't realize he was trying to sell stuff, I just thought the idea I quoted was interesting. I honestly came across it while googling random stuff and just happened to agree with the point.

    I think this is definitely true in the sciences and in many practical aspects of life. Not in spirtuality, though.

    I'd like to hear why, exactly...?

    What do you define as spiritual growth? I think it pertains from mind and brain in terms of self-consciousness and our ability to realize who we really are despite our self-image and the image projected on us by society.

    There are even spiritual arguments that follow from the lack of true self, and instead the integration into your environment (through both society and physical/energy exchange)

    Following from your definition of spiritual growth, please extrapolate.

    I agree. My father actually introduced me to a lot of religions. I grew up a pluralists and eventually became an atheist. I'm also a nihilist, but not in the dark, dreary way it's always portrayed and/or stereotyped. My nihilist point of view is that the point of life (as far as each of us individuals is concerned) is subjective, but that shouldn't demean the value of the meaning of life any.

    I have a similar appreciation of the eastern religions, especially Taoism.
    Last edited: Apr 17, 2010
  20. Apr 17, 2010 #19


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    You have not yet made it clear whether you want to discuss the particular world-view of a vacuous internet self-development guru or some general philosophical question.

    But it the general question is about the meaning of life, as implied by your claims of nihilism, then the best way of finding meaning would be through a well-grounded theory of meaning.

    Science generally tries to model the world in meaningless terms (material explanation, effective and substantive cause only). Meaning is to be found in Aristotle's other two causes - formal and final.

    Modern religion claims to fill the causal gap, supplying the meaning - the formal and final causality. It sort of works in some ways, but it fails in the wider sense.

    Where it works is when it does encode successful group-think. Religions evolved as the moral codes of cultures. They would be the accumulated wisdom of how to act that would allow groups of people to collectively be successful. Religion in that sense is not random ideas or weird beliefs but just time-proven ways of behaving.

    So the religious group-think is meaningful information that should shape individuals.

    Modern society as we know it became secular because the group-think became more general. Through philosophy and abstraction, we moved to a system based on general laws and principles - the local freedoms granted within a generalised framework of more fundamental constraints.

    This more detached approach - where individuals were suddenly made more responsible for their own decisions against a background of philosophical "truths" rather than more immediate social group "truths" - did leave people uncertain about where the actual meaning in their actions came from. Science too, being so strictly materialistic, eroded this sharp sense of meaning that exists in the small world of traditional society (where every rock and tree has social meaning).

    A gap was created. Confusion was bred. Meaning, in the systems view, always comes from the global scale of the hierarchy. Which for humans means the wider social group. But in modern society, where is our "group" that is our constraining context? It seems to be spread over so many levels, to be so diffuse and hard to see, that we can feel there is no rock of certainty at all.

    Some people respond by looking for certainty in the hermetic rigidity of some religious cult (scientology, etc). Or a social tribe (punks, emos). Or a career (the persona or a salesperson, a doctor, an engineer). Or a nationality (a proud american, a proud israeli).

    There are other responses like the attempt to transcend reality, to become the meaning giver yourself - Nietzsche's superman. Each of us can ascend the ladder of self-development to become our own god.

    This is what makes the likes of Pavlina so objectionable and shallow. It fails to recognise that meaning comes from our global constraints. To be globally free would in fact to become actually meaningless.

    How you go about finding meaningful constraints in a modern world with so many options, so many choices, and so little stability, is an interesting question. But Pavlina is not offering any intelligent guidance.

    The answer lies not in transcending group-think but in finding the most satisfactory (for your purposes) level of group-thought from which to derive meaning in your actions.

    The self-actualisation of new age spiritualism is a nebulous path. At least organised religion has organisation, even if it seems dated and out of touch with modern reality and knowledge.

    A better modern response might be an awareness of the global constraints set by the bounds of human nature and the earth's ecological limits. Issues like peak oil or climate change certainly ought to be a concrete source of meaning in people's lives.
  21. Apr 17, 2010 #20
    "Something as elaborate—as time-, energy-, and thought-consuming—as religion would not exist if it didn’t have secular utility. Religions exist primarily for people to achieve together what they cannot achieve alone. The mechanisms that enable religious groups to function as adaptive units include the very beliefs and practices that make religion appear enigmatic to so many people who stand outside of them.”

    -D.S. Wilson, Darwin's Cathedral

    "One reason that I don't spend a lot of time bashing religion is because there are so many other flagrant departures from factual reality to pick on. Take the patriotic history of nations--the leaders who can do no wrong, the noble "us" and evil "them"--who needs supernatural agents when we can so freely re-arrange the facts of the real world?"


    "Trust that which gives you meaning and accept it as your guide."

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