Conservative religious views toward New Thought, aka perennial philosophy

view of fictional solar system spaceAre the teachings of Wayne Dyer, Deepak Chopra, and Eckhart Tolle blasphemous?

In reality, New Thought teachings are certainly not blasphemous; after all, they seem to agree with correctly understood religious teachings. However, we must remind ourselves that perspective is everything. (If you are in the good — nay, the essential habit of thinking critically, then kudos to you; you probably don’t need such a reminder.)

When I reviewed today’s list of Google searches that led viewers to this Search for Truth blog, one of the search phrases caught my eye:

Are the teachings of Wayne Dyer blasphemous?

Such questions almost certainly come from those who still look at religion and spirituality from a limited, fundamentalist-style perspective — people who can still look forward to that amazing “a-ha” moment: the realization that all valid religious and spiritual messages are actually in harmony!

structure - indoorsThe opinions resulting from such a loaded question are largely predictable. Like virtually everything else in life, the answer depends upon one’s perspective.

New Thought: A Practical Spirituality, by Mary Manin Morrisse

If your point of view comes from religious fundamentalism, then the “YES” answer is obvious (and thus the loaded nature of this particular question). Are you a religious fundamentalist? Do most religious fundamentalists even realize that they’re fundamentalists? Those unsure or curious can check out this quick and easy test for religious fundamentalism.

church steepleThose who choose to interpret the Bible literally – Hard Right Christian fundamentalists, Biblical literalists, Biblical inerrantists, etc. (the word Christian alone is far too general; thankfully, many Christians reject fundamentalism) – have little choice but to consider spiritual views like New Thought or the Perennial Philosophy as blasphemy. Their reasoning is ultra-simple:

Any worldview that fails to interpret the Bible like we do is blasphemous, by default.

Of course, those “born again” (in the sense of traditional Christian fundamentalism) would not describe their answer that way. Their explanations would probably include some type of emotional pleading, another term for appeal to emotion — a common logical fallacy used to support all kinds of religious beliefs.

Those raised in fundamentalist Christianity have been taught for all or most of their lives that Jesus is the literal, physical son of God who died to save mankind from itself. Saving mankind was necessary because — thanks to the actions of Adam and Eve — man is imperfect, inadequate, and sinful by nature. Believing so, Christian fundamentalists honor that sacrifice in a specific, prescribed manner and adopt a certain set of religious beliefs in order to be saved, or to live with God and Jesus in heaven — thus avoiding eternal torture in hell.

airplane at sunsetTrue believers might wonder aloud how anyone could possibly ignore such an amazing gift of love. “Knowing these things, how could anyone do anything else? I mean, don’t you feel it?

And there’s the appeal to emotion: Answers that tug at the heartstrings. Emotional appeals usually seem more meaningful and are thus more likely to cause listeners to pause and reflect. The appeal to emotion is a logical fallacy because, instead of providing any legitimate evidence to answer the question, the answer simply generates an emotional response. This is the substantial power of emotional pleading, or the appeal to emotion — used so frequently because it works so often, especially when listeners are not prone to critical thought or reasonable skepticism.

structureMany thousands of other world religions and spiritual traditions throughout history – including Wayne Dyer’s worldview, which is sometimes called New Thought – do not include one iota of appreciation or respect for the literal killing and sacrifice of God’s son. And that glaring omission of Christ makes all of those (non-Christian fundamentalist) views inherently blasphemous. For true believers within fundamentalism, there’s simply no other way to view opposing or alternative belief systems.

NOTE: This post remains unfinished but does contain some completed points… As always, thanks for visiting.

Conclusion: Perspective is everything!

earth from space, clouds and weatherAs philosophers and scientists might say, there is no such thing as an objectively true answer to this kind of loaded question. There could not possibly be a sole answer that would be objectively accurate from all perspectives.

That is, one’s answer depends entirely upon one’s perspective. Perspective is everything.

To paraphrase Stephen Covey, author of the fantastic book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People,

The way one looks at the problem is itself the real problem.

If we were in a Muslim majority country, then most uniquely Christian fundamentalist beliefs would be considered blasphemous – including the belief that Jesus was the literal, physical son of God – or even the belief that Jesus was in any sense divine.

In this sense, perspective really is everything!

To the true believers of Christian fundamentalism

When you set aside the time and determination to conduct some serious research, the lay of the land will become clearer. Please carefully consider and contemplate the precise underlying reasons why you reject all other gods (apart from God, or the deities described in the scripture of your own revealed religion).

For example, what are the specific reasons you do not believe in Allah, as described in the Koran?

With this new knowledge, you will then understand why followers of other religions reject your literal interpretations and beliefs, your version of God, etc.

In other words, to any readers who are American Christian fundamentalists — those foreigners who follow the major religion of their own culture are exactly like you. They believe exactly what you would believe, had you been born there instead of here. While this is not necessarily true of every Christian fundamentalist in the United States, it probably applies to all those who have never seriously investigated any other religion… and sadly, this includes the majority of U.S. religious fundamentalists.

In past periods of history, the failure of everyday religious folks to objectively examine religious alternatives — presumably in an effort to align one’s beliefs with truth and reality, as we hope most would desire — was more understandable. Today, however, there is no excuse now that the world’s information is literally at your fingertips. The only reason modern religious fundamentalists fail to perform a responsible, genuine search for religious or spiritual truth is the unfortunate closed-mindedness that usually accompanies modern religious fundamentalism in the United States — particularly on the far right.

Related subject: Proverbs & perspective

The massive effect of perspective – whether based on the point of view of the individual, one’s culture, or religion – creates a sort of rarity for objective truth. After one carefully contemplates and then better comprehends the principle of perspective, one realizes that most proverbs, or statements of conventional wisdom, are not true from all perspectives. In other words, proverbs are not objectively true.

Proverbs vs. perspective: Patience & proactivity

Patience:
All good things come to he who waits.

Proactiveness:
The early bird gets the worm.

Resources: Are the New Thought teachings of Wayne Dyer and others blasphemous?

Religious fundamentalists criticize Wayne Dyer’s beliefs

Other resources related to this post

Conventional wisdom and perspective

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In other words, it’s all about perspective; different strokes for different folks, as they say. Different people see things in different light.

This post was started on Friday, March 16, 2012.