–Whenever a new religion appears in history it is not too difficult to identify the oracles and priests that fostered its growth. In Islam, the prophet Muhammad came to prominence in the 6th century and after his death, his followers split between those who followed his cleric cousin Ali (his followers were called Shiites) and the followers who preferred the cleric Abu Bakr (he was one of Muhammad’s advisors) became known as Sunnis. The cult of Mormonism began with the prophet Joseph Smith who shared his oracles and then appointed various clerics to assume leadership in his new-found faith. Religions always follow a similar order of protocol; a prophet speaks and rises to prominence, priests are ordained, symbols are organized, and the people are told how to live. Later on, as the religion becomes fraught with various contradictions, bad teachings, or moral lapses, new prophets and oracles will emerge to correct the contradictions, speak to the falsehoods and address any moral improprieties.
In 18th century Europe a wave of new thinking swept the landscape, some contemporaries called it a new Age of Reason, others referred to it as the great Enlightenment, however, whatever one may call it, the old established ways of thinking that humanity had existed under for as long as anyone could remember were being challenged, questioned and in many cases abandoned with little care. In barely less than a hundred years, the moral and intellectual certitudes that had remained the fabric of all cultures throughout history were swept away by this new religion.
Initially, the leading intellectuals of these new ways of thinking recognized what they were doing; namely, creating a new religion. One of the true fathers of modern science and positivistic thinking, Auguste Compte understood that humans are religious creatures and can only think through the lens of religion. During the 19th century he wrote one of the most influential science texts of his time, “A General View of Positivism” with the goal of raising an entirely new generation of scientists who were freed from the bonds of believing in the old narratives that began with a god or gods having created everything. Compte literally created the Church of Positivism and declared himself the high priest, complete with symbols, narratives, and clerics as a way of transitioning the people away from the old religion, and toward his new religion of scientific objective reasoning (positivism). Compte’s main contention was that everything, all the ‘facts’ in the world and all of history could be known only through using the positivistic scientific method. Because this new way of thinking started with the rejection of the old world narratives, it didn’t take long before the clerics and oracles that followed Compte soon abandoned the whole “we are a religion” notion. Although they continued to implement all of the identifying characteristics of religion (origin story, symbols, clerics, and oracles) they began telling the masses that they themselves were not religious, and that they were the exact opposite of a religion; they essentially said they were ‘Not-Religion’.
The Not-Religion people who followed Compte spent the next century or so writing about the ‘facts’, researching the ‘facts’, and lecturing on what they said were ‘scientific facts’ unlike any other people group before them. This is when we saw the greatest evolution of the term ‘fact’ take place; it went from the old-world notion of simply referring to the action of the person, to a term that attempted to replace the word ‘truth’, and especially erased the old way of understanding self-evident truths.
One of the main contentions of these self-proclaimed scientists and purveyors of ‘facts’, is that positivistic science enabled them to be “purely objective”. Actually, not only was this an important argument they made, it was the very basis on which their new way of thinking existed; they believed that by putting aside old (religious) ways of thinking and embracing the scientific method, they were able to objectively interpret the ‘facts’ and come to conclusions that were free of bias and error. Entire volumes of books and literature were published backing up their claims; ‘the scientific method leads to unbiased fact-based conclusions’ they told all of humanity. Fact-based science was freeing the human mind from the yoke of religious mythology, or so they thought.
If one takes the time to look at the various scientific ‘facts’ that were supposedly discovered by the Not-Religion people in the 19th century, it is incredible to realize that the vast majority of these ‘facts’ are no longer believed by any modern peoples. If one were to prove to a modern-day Muslim or Christian that 99% of everything in their holy book is untrue, the result would most likely lead the individual to abandoning their faith altogether. Usually it takes very little “proving” to result in someone abandoning their religion. I have met ex-Catholics, Protestants, and Muslims who still believe much in their holy books, yet because they saw one or two items they believed were contradictions, they left their faith altogether. Thus, as much as the Not-Religion people scoff at Christians, Muslims, and other god-fearing people for being bound to their religion by ‘blind faith’; in all actuality it often takes very little to shatter the faith of those who are knowing-religious. We especially see this among young people raised in god-fearing homes; the vast majority of these young people when they enter university and are exposed to skepticism regarding their religion are more likely to abandon the religion of their parents then stay faithful.
However, even when a modern Not-Religion person realizes that 99% of what was taught to be ‘fact’ a decade ago is no longer a ‘fact’, they continue on in the premises that were never proved in the first place. Even when a Not-Religion person is shown that the heroes of their belief system erected erroneous ‘facts’ that nobody in their right mind believes anymore, the Not-Religion person will still stick firmly to their not-religion.
The fascinating thing about the Not-Religion people that arose in the 18th,19th, and even 20th centuries is that for the most part, the overwhelming majority of their scientific ‘discoveries’ and ‘facts’ have been either disproven or rejected by the modern sciences themselves, yet these Not-Religion people of the past are still revered has heroes and prophets.
Take for instance the father of psychology, William James. When I was studying for my undergraduate degree in psychology, James was held as one of the most prominent heroes in developing the field of psychology. Space was set aside in the textbooks to mention what a great psychologist he was and how essential he was to the very existence of psychology as a science. Being impressed with the positive attributes heaped upon James, I went out and bought as many books by William James I could find. Thus, it was much to my surprise to read a great many things in his books that not only sounded less like the modern psychology I was being taught in the 21st century, but actually was self-described by James to be “spiritual” and “religious” ideas. While James was no cookie-cutter fundamentalist Christian, he was heavily influenced by the Christian spiritualism of his day, and for him, psychology could not exist apart from a strong bond between that religiosity and spirituality. Of course, my textbooks and professors spent little time delving into the teachings of William James, nothing more than a cursory glance was ever spent on a few items in his works, and only that which contributed to an overall narrative that psychology was true was ever mentioned in the classroom, nothing but ‘facts’ that confirmed psychology to be true was ever given to us students.
Another example can be demonstrated in the field of psychology with Sigmund Freud, the 20th century psychologist that helped shape so much of the Western World. Next to James, it is Freud who is widely considered to be the intellectual genius that brought psychology into the modern world and contributed to its adoption by all the Western countries as a matter of ‘fact’. Throughout my undergraduate classes I was required to write more essays on Freud than any other theorist, and it is likely that even now, nearly eighty years after his death, the majority of people throughout the world if asked to name a famous psychologist will name Freud above anyone else. However, almost as an afterthought, it was nothing short of bizarre that my textbooks would quietly note that less than 1% of all psychologists in the world are currently Freudian theorists; you see, even though people still discuss the Id, the Ego, etc. and other elements of his theories, no current psychologists worth their salt actually believes or practices anything Freud taught because they believe the current ‘facts’ disprove him!
Can you imagine what kind of Christian someone would be if they believed 99% of everything Jesus taught to be untrue? For that matter, if the majority of Muslims believed the Koran was 99% incorrect, how different would modern day Islam look? Yet in the field of psychology at least, this is the very case; the vast majority of ‘facts’ that men like James and Freud taught their entire lives are no longer accepted as ‘fact’.
Imagine how the patients of James and Freud would feel had they lived into the 21st century to learn that everything that was done to them on the psychologist’s sofa was ‘factually wrong’ and ‘factually’ proven to be unhelpful and destructive? What kind of intellectual swindlers maintain an unbroken connection to their past heroes, even when they actually denounce nearly everything their heroes taught and practiced? Isn’t this what the Not-Religious maintain that Christians and other religious people do; continue on believing in things that have been proven ‘factually’ false by ‘science’?
If the basis of the scientific method, which was supposedly ‘discovered’ in the 19th century, was a purely objective way of thinking and researching, why have modern day scientists denounced the myriad of ‘objective’ scientific conclusions of the past? If the ‘facts’ from last year have been disproved, why can we not expect the current ‘facts’ that are being proselytized upon the public to be proved false in the future?
Shortly before I was born, in the early 1970’s a supposedly majority of fact-based scientists were predicting a global catastrophe; because of human pollution, we were headed to the next ice age. Apparently, by implementing the scientific method, these scientists had interpreted the evidence to mean that we were factually going to be freezing our rear ends off in less than a generation. The cover of all the major news magazines portrayed pictures that confirmed the findings of these Not-Religion scientists; images of a frozen earth, “The Big Freeze” and “The Cooling of America” adorned magazines like Time. Entire evening news shows dedicated themselves to talking about what to do when this ice age arrived and how humanity could survive. Yet, before I even graduated high school the fact-based Not-Religion people made a 180-degree turn; not only had they decided the ‘facts’ did not prove an ice age was coming, they determined the exact opposite; the earth was getting too hot, man-made global warming was going to bring catastrophic disaster to the earth.
How did the Not-Religion people in the 1970’s get the ‘facts’ so wrong? We are not talking about the Not-Religion people of the 18th century, neither are we talking about the Not-Religion people of the 19th century, we’re talking about men and women studying the ‘facts’ a mere forty years ago! Perhaps even more perplexing is how much tax money was taken from every day ordinary citizens throughout the Western World in the 1970’s and the modern day, and distributed to these Not-Religion people to gather, analyze, study, and perpetuate the ‘facts’ as they saw fit. Countless billions, perhaps trillions of dollars were given to the Not-Religion people to perpetuate a fact-based philosophy in the 1970’s that they would later recant by the 1990’s where they would tell us complete opposite ‘facts’!
As we have discussed, the core thesis of the Not-Religion that arose in the 18th century is that their way of thinking was the purest objective methodology that had ever been developed by mankind. It would have been counterintuitive for them to admit they were not being objective, especially since they were convinced in their own minds that they were being objective. Yet, as we have seen, the great wealth of evidence points to massive hypocrisy, bias, and poor methodology in everything they’ve done, so much so that even when faced with the evidence that their facts of yesterday and yesteryear have been entirely disproven they continue on like foolish children in their insistence that they did not eat the cookies out of the cookie jar, even though their hands are covered in cookie crumbs.
Before we consider at greater length the full scope of the religious ideology of the Not-Religion and understand how they have risen to power by embodying all of the characteristics of a religion (origin story, symbols, prophets and clerics) an important question stands out at this phase of the investigation; if the ‘facts’ of these scientists and intellectuals were constantly being disproven from the very beginning of the Enlightenment, how did no one seem to notice? How did it escape the public’s attention that psychologists quit teaching the very concepts that had led to the creation of psychology? How did no prominent thinkers appear to recognize that the biological ‘facts’ of the 18th century were replaced by ‘new’ and contradicting ‘facts’ in the 19th century which were then replaced in the 20th and 21st century? Why did physicists, astronomers, and scientists of so many different ilk remain utterly silent as the ‘fact’s from the prior decade were erased from textbooks and replaced with new contradictory ‘facts’? The answer to these questions is that a few thinkers did notice, and it led to a great war that never took place.