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Christianity &Islam &Politics Johnson on 30 Jan 2009 12:35 am

Why do people believe insane things?

This page tells a very strange tale:

When Prophecy Fails

This is the tale:

A Chicago housewife, Mrs. Marion Keech, had mysteriously been given messages in her house in the form of “automatic writing” from alien beings on the planet Clarion, who revealed that the world would end in a great flood before dawn on December 21. The group of believers, headed by Mrs. Keech, had taken strong behavioral steps to indicate their degree of commitment to the belief. They had left jobs, college, and spouses, and had given away money and possessions to prepare for their departure on the flying saucer, which was to rescue the group of true believers.

To any reasonable person, what Mrs. Keech preached is insane. Yet she convinced a group of people to leave jobs, family and possessions and follow her. How did she do it?

We face this same question with religion in general. How does a religion gain followers? The beliefs of every religion are just as insane as those of Ms. Keech, as described in this video:

The beliefs of Scientology are clearly insane:

One of the major tenets of Scientology is a belief that each human is inhabited by alien spirits, what L Ron Hubbard dubbed, ” The Space Opera”. It is a basic belief of Scientology that a human being is actually an immortal spiritual being, termed a thetan, that is presently trapped on planet Earth in a “meat body.” The thetan has had innumerable past lives and it is accepted in Scientology that lives antedating the thetan’s arrival on Earth lived in extraterrestrial cultures. Descriptions of space opera incidents are seen as true events by Scientologists.

Yet hundreds of thousands are followers of Scientology.

As described in the video, the beliefs of Mormons, Muslims and Christians are just as insane. Yet billions of people follow these religions. These people are no different from the followers of Ms. Keech.

Why do people choose to believe in insane religions? Why do they consciously choose insanity over rationality? Why do they make this choice with such fervor? It would appear that a majority of people have brain structures and/or wiring that predispose them toward religious behavior. There is a great deal of evidence for these structures. These two articles will help you learn more:

1) Neurotheology

2) Why People Believe in God An Empirical Study on a Deep Question

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