I have no doubt that there is a spiritual element to our world. Every culture on earth has sought to discover their existence, proclaim their ideals, and attest to their beliefs based upon some element of spiritual faith. From Mysticism, to Voodoo, to Ancient Greek Mythology, Buddhism, Christianity, the Muslim faith and so forth -- all cultures have an instinctive desire to bestow meaning to life through a higher spiritual connection. Religion has important roles, on the other hand.
|Human Attribute||Psychological Wisdom||Theological Wisdom|
|The Self||Self-serving bias is powerful and at times perilous, yet self-esteem, optimism, and personal control pay dividends.||Self serving pride is the fundamental sin, yet accepting divine love enables self-acceptance.|
|Freedom||We are both the creatures and the creators of our social worlds; persons and situations both matter.||Ultimate control lies beyond us, yet we are responsible creatures.|
|Rationality||Our cognitive capacities are awesome, yet to err is predictably human.||We are made in the divine image, yet we are finite and error-prone.|
|Belief and Behavior||Attitudes influence behavior, and attitudes follow behavior.||Faith predisposes action, yet also grows through action.|
Medicine, twisted, can kill people. More often, medicine enhances life. Can the same be said of religion? Stephen Jay Gould noted that much of his "fascination" with religion lay "in the stunning historical paradox that organized religion has fostered, throughout western history, both the most unspeakable horrors and the most heartrending examples of human goodness." The "insane courage" that enabled the horror of 9/11 "came from religion," noted Richard Dawkins. But so has the driving energy behind the founding of hospitals, universities, and civil rights campaigns.
In many ways, people of faith have found psychology's insights and critical analyses supportive of their understanding of human nature and their assumption that religion is sometimes toxic but also, in its healthier forms, conducive to altruism, happiness, and health.
For myself, I simply want to acknowledge that our Utah community is better off with the influence of the Mormon culture for it's strong family values, the naturally resulting industrious and cleverly functioning community businesses and for the Church's generosity. I am happy to be in the middle of all that. I have made many LDS (Latter Day Saints) friends and would hate to lose any of them due to a difference in a private religious opinion. I am optimistic of Utah's culture. Unfortunately, as with many of life's circumstances, it's often the minority populist that destroys the hard work of the good majority.
I attended Mormon Church regularly until about the age of 11 with my mother and, on occasion, my siblings. After age 11, I stopped attending. All my teenage and adult life I have had an overly quixotic notion that if the world's evangelical communities could somehow merge all of the world's spiritual documents into one congruent book that the resulting text would be closer to the truth than any other documents designed for spiritual guidance available today.
For me and for obvious reasons of human explanation, there is much to be said of humanity's desire to explain its purpose beyond our existence on earth. I'm quite certain that I have had a spiritual experience that can only be explained by a higher spiritual connection. I certainly believe that there is more to our human existence than what a hypnotist culture alone may be discovering through their professions' exploration of the mind's triggers and effort to explicate humanity's religious instincts through those triggers. See the article at Trans4mind about Brainwashing.
A recent heart-wrenching incident at my workplace that was acted out by a misguided group of LDS individuals has had a fortunate side to it. It has led to my own deprogramming (see the YouTube video How Cognitive Bias Generates Belief) and enlightened me as to my own spiritual connections. This incident has led me to the certain truth that the Mormon Church is wrong; no divinely influenced church would teach their disciples to use poisons against unsuspecting persons, assuming my perpetrator's actions have stemmed from the belief system being portrayed at their area Mormon Church (see this report).
My perpetrators, who attempted to poison me at my workplace, were a minority group of misguided Mormon zealots. The fact that each individual Mormon congregation is led by a Bishop who, aside from a two year Mormon Mission, has likely had little formal training in his faith outside of his congregation is the reason why there is such diversity in the teachings of the LDS faith. This diversity in its teachings is how these minority Mormon zealot groups are created.
To my complete satisfaction I know that the Mormon Church is not "the only true church on the planet," as they proclaim, and that no church on Earth likely holds the only truth. Because breaking through to a spiritual connection alone, " breaking through the veil," could not validate or confirm a belief by all world cultures unanimously, any spiritual connection should be kept private to one's own place of worship or to a person's home. And certainly, whether delivered through religious ceremony hand signals as my perpetrators utilized, or through a form of brainwashing, or an actual spiritual connection... no one should be subjected to someone else's belief unknowingly.
While I have a limited understanding of the LDS faith, I've observed in my business interactions that a differential in attitudes exist among misguided Mormon groups toward non-active Mormons and non-Mormons. I believe that these groups have been "programmed" beyond society's acceptable norms, and as a result would be willing to participate in activities beyond lawful and civil boundaries. Through further self investigation I think that my own Mormon programming came as a result of attending LDS Church during my rearing years. This heart-wrenching incident has finally freed me of this programming, of this form of brainwashing, and made me aware of its dangers. Through these experiences my understanding of religion has improved resulting in new found peace.