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Can you make a religion out of thin air?

21 February 2014, 12:44
There's 'Believe' and then there's 'Make Believe'.  'Make Believe', as the name suggests, is a more manipulative process which involves making people think what you want them to think.
Here's an example.I am a doctor and I've discovered the cure for cancer.  I want to take it into the world and save millions of lives, but I need money to market my cure.  If you invest with me you can also make money...
Needless to say I am not a doctor, I do not have a cancer cure and I'm not trying to save the world,  but need a get rich scheme as I have no money.  The conscious ethic here is saving people, healing the sick - thus a good sentiment.  The unconscious ethic which I am manipulating you into not thinking about, is your own greed.
But let's get even more practical.  Is there a religion out there that was invented, much as my thumb-suck comment was invented?  If you do a little research you'll find there is.
It's Scientology.  It's founder, L.Ron Hubbard was a charlatan, but of course the Church of Scientology represent him as  "a pioneering explorer, world traveler, and nuclear physicist with expertise in a wide range of disciplines, including photography, art, poetry, and philosophy."
In fact he was a failed writer and injured soldier who was bankrupt and down on his luck.  His version of the 'I have a cure for cancer' (which other religions have as 'I offer you life after death in Heaven') was a process he called Dianetics.  He said if you could clear the debris that collected in a person's mind you could clear them and so enable a much higher standard of living.  Sounds promising, right?
The basic principle of Dianetics was that the brain recorded every experience and event in a person's life, even when unconscious. Bad or painful experiences were stored as what he called "engrams" in a "reactive mind". These could be triggered later in life, causing emotional and physical problems. By carrying out a process he called "auditing", a person could be regressed through his engrams to re-experiencing past experiences. This enabled engrams to be "cleared". The subject, who would now be in a state of "Clear", would have a perfectly functioning mind with an improved IQ and photographic memory.
An individual treatment cost $500 (that's around R5000).  Compare that to a visit to your local shrink or doctor.  Despite the cost, and many critics, many people went for it and Hubbard made a fortune in a short space of time.  He then spent a lot of time fleeing authorities, basically sailing on a luxury yacht to avoid being captured - hardly the stuff of a God or religious mystic.
So why would someone invent a religion?  What is the point?  The same reason I would try to sell you my cancer cure.  I don't have to do any work to take your money, I simply have to sell a good yarn.  A few minutes of talking shop, before I take your money.  What could be easier?
The point is, people believe what they want to believe, and many can influenced to believe what others make them believe (based on their inner wishes and wants).
In short, Hubbard was a liar.  Scientology is based on selling lies for money.  Somebody gains by spreading these lies (the liar).  In exchange for offering something intangible ('truth'), the liar earns an income.  For as long as people believe the lies and delay thinking objectively, or for themselves.
Don't believe me?  Read this and find your own truth:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/L._Ron_Hubbard

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