Rahasya Poe, the Chico-based publisher of Lotus Guide (www.LotusGuide.com), has written what he admits is an angry-sounding book about the dangers of religious belief. "To Believe Or Not To Believe: The Social and Neurological Consequences of Belief Systems" ($19.99 in paperback from Xlibris) offers a litany of what Poe characterizes as "absurd" teachings from the Western scriptural traditions.
"You will find within these pages what I believe will be the final blow to organized religions," he writes. "If we want to evolve and move on we must first release ourselves from our primitive past beliefs and superstitions. . . . The purpose is to dislodge the need to believe altogether and to get you to think for yourself."
The first section traces the social consequences of religious beliefs; the second examines how easy it is to believe absurd things (the brain creates an emotional resistance to contrary evidence); the third charts the prospects for what Poe calls "spiritual evolution." The book is replete with interviews of such figures as brain researcher Andrew Newberg and "Lucid Living" author Timothy Freke.
Poe, like Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh, whom he praises, wants to be a "demolition man": "If what we've been reading in our Holy Books is nothing more than plagiarized writings of older texts, then put quite simply--God did not talk to Moses on the mountain. . . . This, in essence, means the very foundation of the Judeo-Christian-Islamic religions are based on a false premise, which means that everything from that point on is false; the prophets, the stories, everything, because they all base their authority on the fact that Moses talked with God."
Those same ancient documents, however, do provide Poe with what he takes are descriptions of alien invasion. The Mayan calendar is an example, he says, of accuracy that must have come from another world. "Since the beings who gave this information to the Maya said they would return when the calendar runs out in 2012 it only make sense to give it some serious attention."
Poe is right about the ease humans have in believing what they want and ignoring contrary evidence, and how our minds can be most closed just when we think they are most open.