Friday, July 11, 2008

Happy Science: Religious Cults in Supposedly Atheist Japan

It is not uncommon to hear Japan come up as an example of a predominantly atheistic nation which seems to do just fine by itself. Although as a long-time resident of Japan, one thing that has always disturbed me is the widespread proliferation of superstitions, lucky charms, and that which feeds on such things: cults.

The nefarious Aum Shinrikyo cult which was responsible for the sarin nerve gas attacks on the Tokyo subway system in 1995. It amazingly still had about 1500 to 2000 members as of 2004 and has regrouped itself under the name Aleph. At it's height, it had approximately 40,000 members worldwide. This is, of course, small by the standards of the great blood-thirsty world religions. But they ended up killing 12 and injuring an estimated 5000 commuters as a result of their madness.It just goes to show that small fanatical organizations can be just as dangerous as the big ones. It's all a matter of will and timing.

Well, what got me online today, was that my wife found a promotional pamphlet in our mailbox today, and we almost died laughing when we started looking through it. It's for a new brand of religious quackery called, get this, Happy Science. It was founded by Ryuho Okawa (大川隆法) a former student of law and finance who got it into his head to make a religion and call himself a god. He claims to be "El Cantare" the reincarnation of Buddha and that he can offer the road to eternal peace. They offer seminars in appreciating your role as a "Civil Servant of the Universe" (宇宙公務員) and even give you a badge stating such that you can wear with pride (embarassment?) for having attended. (And of course shelled out a nice lump of cash to boot.) Their literature has all the standard earmarks of religious cult propaganda ala The Jehovah's Witnesses, The Door Christian Fellowship, or any other average ordinary everyday bilking mill for loonies. If you're lucky enough to live in Japan then you can even take advantage of their "Satory Land" virtual fun park accessible by cell phone. For those who don't speak Japanese "satori" means "enlightenment", so calling the site "Satory Land" is a bit like calling it "Calvary Camp" or "Salvation Fun Park". My personal favorite translation would be "The Happy Buddha's Enlightenment Funland".

What surprised me was that it seems like they're making forays into the international arena as well, with temples in Hawaii, San Francisco, and Brazil. Their site is also available in English and Chinese. Here's the link:

I recommend checking it out for a good laugh. Or at least it would be, if it didn't seem to be so successful. It's absolutely amazing to me that enough people are willing to support as obvious a business ploy as this and to the extent that they can have 24 temples in Japan proper and ones internationally as well. This guy's books are supposedly best-sellers. Here is a guy practically claiming to be the reincarnation of god and people are giving him money hand over fist. Of course people have a soft spot for people like the Dhalai Lhama who claim that they're a reincarnation of some ancient whatchamacallit or whatnot. But seriously, how could someone spend money on this and look themselves in the mirror. Guess Ayn Rand was pretty close to the mark when she said that the choice to believe in God is like murdering your mind.

Perhaps the most disturbing thing about this nonsense is that they actively are recruiting parents to indoctrinate their children with it. If you take a look at the membership page, they explicitly state how they are recruiting "Angel Members", children from 0-6 years old who can be initiated via a special "Infant Entrance Ceremony". I wouldn't say that it's big enough to be too dangerous yet. But it's never good to be complacent about such organizations. The Nazis started out as a fringe organization that polarized an entire nation. And it wasn't so long ago that the entire nation of Japan worshipped their emperor as a divine sun-god for whom they would passionately lay down every last life in a nightmare of self-immolation. (And there are still plenty of those out there. If you don't believe me, look into the controversy over the film, Yasukuni)

Don't get me wrong, there are plenty of rational, even-minded, concrete Japanese out there. But there are also a lot of collectivists, fanatics, and spiritualists as well. Especially, of late, the media seems saturated with tales of the paranormal, miracles, and the terrors of modern science. Then again, their economy is set to take the fall again amidst a lumbering and suicidal welfare system and an addiction to social programs. Will reason triumph in Japan? Or will it be quacks like Okawa who end up having the last laugh?


Avery said...

wow, an objectivist who hates everything. what a surprise

American Anti-theist said...

So, I take it you're a firm supporter of cults, then? I don't hate everything, just people who don't use their brains. It's fascinating that you could read a blog attacking cults and religion and from that surmise that I hate everything.

I'll say what I love: Freedom, Art, Music, Kabuki, and my wife, among other things. Fundamentally, what I, and all other objectivists, love the most is life. If you believe that saying that one loves their own life warrants demonization then I pity you.

Mike said...

Hey, American Anti-theist,

I just wanted to give you a heads up that Buddha isn't a god.
So, while I can still see that Happy Science might be another cult, I just felt the need to point out the inaccuracy of you stating that the leader of the cult was claiming to be God.

Oh, also, on a sarcastic note, props on mentioning the Nazis in your argument. Nothing says 'professional' like likening a group to the nazis.

All in all, I guess I'm saying, I don't disagree with your message, just the way you went about delivering it.


American Anti-theist said...

Actually, you'll note I never claimed that Buddha was a god. (Although some sects of Buddhism definitely treat him as such). This particular cult seems to embody their leader with god-like powers and to venerate him as a deity. He does claim to be a god. He also claims to be the reincarnation of Buddha. Neither of these are assertions of mine. But regardless, I think it's meaningless to debate theological apocrypha. He's a conman and not even that slick a one at that, which is the main point.

As per the Nazis, I don't believe that I actually used them as part of any argument at all, simply as an example. That the Nazis existed is a historical fact and a poignant one. That nationalism and religious zealotry still exist in some form or another in Japan is another fact. That small fringe organizations can come to be popular political movements over time is also a historical fact. I was merely highlighting the necessity of keeping an eye on such fringe organizations lest thy become a threat to everyone. I'm sure there are many Japanese who wish they had kept a closer eye on Aum Shinrikyo.

Mike said...

Ah, ok.
I thought that you were stating that because he claimed to be the reincarnation of Buddha, he was claiming to be God.
I did not know that he directly claimed to be God, but rather thought you were making that leap. My bad.

Also, I guess I'm just busting your chops about referencing the nazis because they're usually brought up in juvenile debate strategies. Just the mention of them made your stance seem a little weaker to me because of association.

Your response to my comment was well thought out, and you defended yourself well.

Thank you,

American Anti-theist said...

Thank you, too. I always appreciate commentary and criticism. It makes the ideas clearer and helps people understand them better. Hope you enjoy some of the other content here as well.

Best premises,

American Antitheist

Anonymous said...

My question would be what is so bad about Happy Science? There are thousands (if not millions) of people benefiting from the teachings and improving quality of life as a result. How is this a bad thing? They are very active in social issues and support a great number of people in Japan and throughout the world. And sorry to say it is not a "cult" in the sense that it is one of, if not the biggest religious movement in Japan and is now a world religion. To compare them to Aum Shinrikyo is ludicras. Have you actually read any of the books? Sounds to me you have read 1 pamphlet done a quick Google search, and just rubbished it as part of some private emotional agenda. If you were really interested in disproving their claims why don’t you actually read some books, practise it's theories for a time and see for yourself. Leave your baggage at the door and actually explore it. I'm all for commentary and enquiry but you come across quite misinformed and very biased. Belief in God or a higher power, either you have it or you don't and there is no proof either way - simple, no God bashing website is going to change that sorry. But if you put the god stuff aside and look at the Happy Science core teachings there are some very sound principles that can help people living today - universal techniques that are timeless throughout the ages. But hey the success of the movement and the type of people it attracts (Ryuho Okawa provides guidance to world leaders, including the Japanese prime minister) says alot more than your blog i'm afraid. A bit more substance please and your work might actually be worth reading. And no i am not an exclusive member of Happy Science, i have however read many of the books and found them very useful, and quite profound.
Cheer up tiger:)

American Anti-theist said...

Happy Science is hardly the biggest religious influence in Japanese life. Saying it doesn't make it so. And even if it was, it lends nothing to it's credibility. Christianity is gigantic and any in depth reading of the Bible shows it to be a prehistoric farce.

Also utility doesn't equal evidence. Simply because people who believe in a religious fallacy have done good things, does not make their religion any more meritorious as such.

To me the assertion that a businessman/lawyer just conveniently became the reincarnation of Buddha is pure drivel. Extraordinary claims merit extraordinary evidence. The lack of any such evidence to support his extraordinary claims brands him as a snake oil salesman from the get-go. It certainly disqualifies him from the domain of science.

Finally, the social rank of devotees does nothing to prove a religious belief. Reagan consulted astrologers. So, the prime minister consults with mystics? So what? 50 years ago the entire nation also used to believe the imperial family was a direct descendant of the sun god. Both the claims of Happy Science and those of Imperial Shinto are invalid to a rational apprehension of the universe. All kings have leaned on the shoulders of mystics. Just as brute force always requires spiritual reassurance of it's virtue. Reason requires neither.

Reason vindicates itself by measuring it's claims and ethics against reality, an immediate and tangible guide. Once again, extraordinary claims merit extraordinary evidence. The burden of all religious devotees is to prove their claims. Given that there is no tangible evidence of God or Buddha, or celestial civil servants, then that means you and your buddies have a lot to prove. The burden isn't on rational people to try out your insanity and see if it works. We have better things to do than run down every lunatic tangent that surfaces on the internet. If you hold that your religious beliefs are true, your burden is to prove them to me so that you can convince me of their truth.

But it seems that you don't have an argument capable of that. Which leaves you in a pinch. Your assertions of profundity seem little more than a label you use to cloak the murky cloud of your own incoherent reasoning. Or can you prove otherwise?

If you cannot, then I assert that your defense of this pseudo-religion stems either from madness or deceit. The former if you truly expect people to believe in things merely on your unvalidated assertion of its truth. The latter if you know that it's a load of bull and still proselytize. I leave the choice to you.

I am God-hating. I take that as a badge of honor. I hate any belief system which seeks to murder the mind of man as religion does. Until you and your kind can justify your voodoo spiritualism, don't expect me or any other rational human being to take it seriously.

Your incantations are gibberish to the ears of science. Your regalia is rubbish to its eyes. And most importantly, your power is non-existent to those who do not fear the unknown.

Best premises,

American Antitheist

Anonymous said...

who do you think created the universe?

do you believe that there are universal laws that govern the physical and spiritual worlds?

Anonymous said...

do you think that man was created just to be born, grow old, get sick and die?

do you ever think about what might happen to you after you die?

do you believe there is life after death?

American Anti-theist said...

Let me answer your questions in order:

1. who do you think created the universe?

Noone. It has always existed in some form or other. Matter and energy cannot be created or destroyed. They only change form.

2. do you believe that there are universal laws that govern the physical and spiritual worlds?

I believe that there are universal laws that govern the physical world. I do not believe in a spiritual world. If you mean psychology, yes there are rules which govern it.

3. do you think that man was created just to be born, grow old, get sick and die?

I think that man was born to live life. Joy is the reward for living a life in accord with moral laws derived from his nature as a rational living being. Suffering is the punishment for living an irrational life which conflicts with his nature as a rational being. And no, noone is necessary to mete out punishments or rewards. Those universal laws of reality mete them out quite well without a conscious operator.

4. do you ever think about what might happen to you after you die?

Yes, I think that nothing happens. Absolutely nothing. One minute you're here, the next the light switch is off and everything you ever were is gone except for the impact you have left behind. But as for consciousness, there's nothing left to be conscious so it doesn't make sense to assume that there is anything else.

5. do you believe there is life after death?

No. See above.

Hope that helps a bit.

Best premises,

American Antitheist

Anonymous said...

if there is no life after death, who or what are ghosts?

American Anti-theist said...

Simple, there aren't any.

Anonymous said...

(Anonymous B)
Let me tell you what's rotten about Happy Science. They endlessly sell books, tapes, seminars, and prayers that run hundreds of dollars. I MEAN ENDLESS. This is how it's done in Japan or with Japanese people. I remember how they sold picture of Okawa in gold colored frame for approx $10,000 in Japan. They have this thing where you are given an angel status for handing over $100,000. I see they are branching out here and it seems like they are presenting a very different front offering free meditation seminars and making it seem like everything is really voluntary but they get very pushy with the Japanese people. I have actually heard him say in one of their member only dvd(in Japanese) "Love me more than your husband or wife or children or mom or dad," then he went on to say "if what I say and what your parents say are different, take mine." RELATIONSHIP CONTROL!! In another one of those dvds, they actually made a suggestion in the line of fortune that you have comes from god, so it should be given back to god(Okawa) and they were featuring this one family that donated a property that's been in the family for generations and saying how this was a better decision than leaving it to their children or grandchildren. SCARY! Now I could not believe I was seeing this when I saw it but I SAW IT. They are so after the obvious. And then once you get caught into this they'll mind control endless streams of money out of you by saying things like it's a miracle to be here when he's here and a rare opportunity in your many reincarnations to be able to make donations and they'll keep on coming up with all kinds of donation programs to the point that every call or email you get is about another offering opportunity. Like I said earlier, they are branching out and I think they're taking advantage of the fact that people here can't understand what they are saying in Japanese or their past record out in Japan or even what people out in Japan are saying about them in Japanese. I read a bunch of complaints about former members and ex staff regretting the time and money spent on them or trying to get their family out of it. They are hardly the most influential religious movement in Japan like they claim to be. They had over 300 candidates in the election last summer and not a single one of them was elected. I think what's in their books sounds like they make a lot of sense because they are based on major religions or spiritual people from the past. I've figured out that Edgar Cayce talked about reincarnation, soul training, and Atlantis 100 years ago. Okawa has also made prophecies in the past that fell far short of reality. The most notable one that a lot of ex members can remember is "THE END OF THE WORLD IN 1999" --yes he did....and this probably served to put an end of the world pressure prior to 99. The most recent one was during the election last summer where one of their candidates (Soken Kobayashi) claimed during his campaigne that Okawa said Kaoru Yosano is going to die within 6 months of the election. (this is on You tube) The man is well alive but why would somebody as grand as the "Father of all souls" or the "Great Consciousness of the Universe" subject an individual to such humiliation during the election? With all his talk about love and utopia in his books, guess what Okawa and his wife's solution to the crisis in North Korea is? "Bomb North Korea." This is what they said.....
Wish somebody would step in to put an end to all this. I am so tired of keeping an eye on my family to make sure they are not being pressured to write a big check or anything....This is the reality of Happy Science. I think people needs to pay more attention to what they actually do and say more than what's written in their books. This is so horrible for anybody to come between God and person and do this....

American Anti-theist said...

Thank you for the comment Anonymous B. I think that perfectly underscores the nature and danger of cults specifically and religion in general. Also, thanks for filling us in on all the specifics about Happy Science in particular. Yeah, it seems that even the "harmless" cults aren't so harmless.

Anonymous said...

Wow. A lot of great and informative arguments from this blog. You all are great writers and I hope I can make an argument that is worthy to this page.

One thing I felt after reading this thread is one basic thing. First off, let me say that I am a man that does not belong to any religion or am a promoter of any spiritual group. As an American, I feel that what I cherish most about this country is the freedom of speech and the right of choice. I love to see diverse culture and history in our country. Furthermore, I also love to attempt to understand people's life experiences from all around the world to get a better understanding of their present day ideals.

Who is to say that someone is right or wrong in certain perspectives or choices? Ideals come from people's own life experiences that have made them unique to the person next to them. I feel that people have the right to choose how they live their lives and follow what they believe would better themselves.

However, I do completely understand your stance in seeing negative things happening throughout most all religious organizations. Whether mass suicides, gas bombings in subways, corruption within churches or molestation of children...we here in America have heard it ALL. But is it JUST to judge an entire group of people based on these specific events that have occurred? Maybe to some, but this seems very similar to what we call "racial profiling". Because some radicals from certain Middle Eastern countries decide to terrorize the US, can we say that ALL Midden Eastern people are terrorists? Or if an African-American person commits a serious crime, can we say that ALL African-Americans are criminals? I can give many negative examples from people of all ethnic backgrounds. So my point is, why do we not single-out specific people in religious organizations, but rather the entire group?

In general, can majority of people in this world say that believing in a religion is a bad thing that leads to corruption and destruction to all human kind? I believe No. But if majority of people involved in religion end up committing something negative, I would argue that. But in most of my life experience, God lovers I have encountered have promoted Love, Kindness, and Happiness. It is rare that I see anything different. These are choices that people have made based on what THEY feel is a good thing for them. If it helps them live a more positive and enriched life...more power to them. If they decide to donate 100,000 dollars to the church because they believe they are doing good...let them. It is not our money and not our choice. As Americans, we must let people have freedom of choice and not judge them negatively based on that. You just never know where someone is coming from because every person's experiences are unique.

Anonymous said...

...continued from last blog...
One example I have before I go is about a friend of mine who suffered from stomach cancer and had to remove her entire stomach for just a slight chance of future survival. After her surgery, she had what some would call as a "revelation". After studying their books, her perspective on life changed toward a more enriching and fulfilling life. She claims that this book gave her hope to survive. Today, this woman is still alive and more healthier than even before her surgery. Whether I believe that this book and religion ACTUALLY helped her or not, I don't care. In her eyes, it did, and I will always support her decision in being a part of that church because in her life experience it gave her the hope to survive and be a better person. I would look like a true "a-hole" if I had said that this book brainwashed you in believing and feeling what you are feeling right now. This person today has donated over 150,000 dollars to the organization hoping that is can change other people's lives as well. Some would say that some religious organizations are all about money...sure they are....they need to expand just as any corporation does. But when I see that a religious organization are full of people of positivity and love, I support that, even if I believe in their message or not. It's not my life, it is their life, and if it makes them happy in doing so, I say let them have their FREEDOM OF CHOICE and be excited that they are HAPPY! Religious or Atheist...people ALL strive for a happy fulfilling what makes you have that happy life and don't clown the person next to you who has chosen a different path.

American Anti-theist said...

I appreciate your open candor and your emphasis on looking at things positively, however I have to point out some problems with your proposed stance.

First of all, it is relatively easy to say if someone is right or wrong in certain choices. If somebody invests all their money in a stock such as Enron and doesn't diversify, that's pretty much universally regarded as a bad idea. Same thing if you jump off a cliff, or hit on your sister-in-law. These are not things conducive to a long, happy fulfilling life. Judgments are made possible by values. If you hold something as a value it compels you to judge others by those values. The only way someone could live without judging anyone in anyway would be either to have no values or to withhold their moral judgment in all situations. I am convinced that only the most amoral person could withhold their judgment in the face of what they consider to be evil. This goes for anyone regardless of their values or beliefs. The presence of values necessitates judgment.

Second, there is a distinction between those of a religious group and those of an ethnic group, a very important one. Members of an ethnic/biological group are classified as such merely on the basis of their biology. This classification gives no information about the contents of their mind or heart, their moral status, their intentions or capabilities. As such, it is logically invalid to judge a human being on the basis of the melanin content in their skin, as such a value judgment would have no value whatsoever. Members of religious groups, political parties, and philosophical organizations, however, are blatantly obvious about the values they hold, their intentions on others, and the judgments that THEY make about good and evil in others and what should be done about it. These are valid bases for judgment because the aspects of their person that you are judging are the precepts they hold, their intentions toward you, and their estimation of your worth and rights.

Ultimately, the most negative thing about religion is it offers predictive statements about the the nature of reality as fact...statements which are at best erroneous and at worst outright lies. Is it safe to encourage or forgive one shyster? Perhaps. Is it safe to allow their lies to be acknowledged as a basis for the formation of our concepts of truth and reality? Absolutely not.

Is it friendly to overlook your friend's penchant for hamburgers and beer? Of course, what they eat is their choice. Should your friend be able to waste their money in any way they see fit? Sure, it's their choice. But if you sit idly by and let your friend be manipulated by liars and thieves, then I would doubt that you are really that person's friend. But then again moral relativists don't really care much about truth do they? They're much too pragmatic for that.

But don't get me wrong. As a libertarian-minded capitalist, I would never advocate a government purge of religion. I simply advocate the disrobing of it. The popes and preachers and intergalactic civil servants have no clothes. Let people be educated of this. Let everyone see how ridiculous it is to believe in religion. Let everyone laugh their ass off at the Muslims and Jews and Christians and all the petty cults and cultists coveting the hidden power that some mysterious murky desire has conjured in their minds and they have named God. Let them be the butt of the joke and let us take every shred of respect from the altars. All religious propositions are physically impossible, morally incoherent, and hopelessly irrational. When religion ceases to be respected, their only remaining prey will be the same deranged old women who scuttle in to see Palm Readers and Astrologers and who believe every tabloid ever written. So Laugh Your Ass Off. I know I am.

Martin said...

Recently read a book by Ryuho Okawa titled “The essence of Buddha”. Towards the end of the book I began to doubt whether Ryuho Okawa might be a cult leader. A bit of googling confirmed my doubts and I chanced upon your blog about Happy Science. In your reply to Avery’s comment you said “Fundamentally, what I, and all other objectivists, love the most is life.” I am surprised that a person who loves life is unable to see the creator in the creation.

Could there be a god?
The simple truth is we don’t know, and there is no way to know for sure. We cannot prove or disprove god. To believe or not is a personal choice.

Is there any advantage in having faith in a loving god?
Faith is not going against reason; rather faith requires that we go beyond reason. There are lots of mysteries that science has been unable to explain. Science has its limitations; anything that is not measurable is not acceptable to science. Reason alone cannot explain all mysteries. Human intellect has its limitations. Faith gives us Hope and Hope inspires us to live and move forward in the face of troubles. When we believe that there is no god our thoughts are prone to be pessimistic. Our belief in god, works as an incentive to do good to others and as a warning to prevent us from doing evil to our fellow beings.

In the end if it turns out that there is no god, then the person who believed in god had nothing to loose because he lived a more productive life because of his belief in a guiding light. A person who has Hope as a result of his belief in a loving god has a better chance of living a more fulfilling life than an atheist. An atheist has nothing to Hope for after this life. So even if there is no god it would be psychologically advantageous to believe in a loving god. However belief in god does not guarantee that evil will not befall us and that we have all the answers!. In spite of not having any such guarantees people like Socrates were willing to die for what they believed in.

We all have to have faith in something. It is part of being human. Everybody has a religion, its something that she/he is truly passionate about. Religion requires faith. It gives us Hope about the afterlife. Many people believe in god not because they have solid proof of gods existence but rather because of their experiences in life, their faith owes more to experience than reason. Near death experiences of many people are a mystery even though they don’t constitute as proof of life after death.

“We have just enough religion to make us hate, but not enough to make us love one another.”-Jonathan Swift

American Anti-theist said...

The reason I don't see "the creator in creation" as you put it is because there is no creator there to be seen. You acknowledge this when you reaffirm that nobody can know whether or not there is a god. The truth is that there is no natural phenomenon that requires the existence of a god for an explanation. There is no trace or sign of such a being. To consciously decide to believe in something when there is no evidence whatsoever is to turn reason on its head. Reason requires facts and evidence to operate. To discount one's senses and force your mind to accept things on faith is essentially the operation of convincing yourself that reality should not figure in your epistemology. It is the first step into fairyland.

Many people believe in god. Many people also wear Che Guevara T-shirts. A lot of people believe in a lot of noxious ideas. And usually the reason that they do so is because at some point they have done exactly what you suggest and suspend their reason and judgment for the sake of faith. (Faith being frequently used to express some vague spasm of whim and emotion that is expected to justify anything.)

I also take umbrage at your assertion that atheists must be pessimistic, less productive, and devoid of hope.

I believe in the almost limitless capacity of human beings to apprehend their world, themselves and their problems by using the faculty of reason. This is a belief not based on faith, but demonstrated time and time again through the travails of history. Show me one plague that was cured by god. I will show you vaccinations and medical wonders all achieved through the use of rational intellect. Mankind creates his own miracles and tragedies, God is irrelevant.

Finally, I cannot stress enough that religious belief is not psychologically is the murder of your mind. It may be comforting to make yourself believe in some fairyland after death to which we all flock, or whatever conjecture takes your fancy--be in heaven, hell, purgatory, or reincarnation. However, for the same reason that it is not healthy to wander through life hallucinating, it is not healthy to wander through life replacing knowledge of reality with arbitrary whim.

Reality is. It exists. It has certain qualities and for life to exist within that reality it must meet certain conditions all of which are objectively identifiable. This is the basis of knowledge which makes all science, all communication possible.

The assumption that there is an afterlife and a god has necessary consequences to one's psychology. If you will be forgiven in the next life, why worry too much about this one? If all it takes is faith to be forgiven your sins and be granted eternal paradise, then why not sin as much as you long as you have faith? And more fearsome...if it is holier to die for your faith, then why not? Why not wage endless war and crusade and Jihad? Death means nothing. Life is expendable.

I do not subscribe to this belief. Since this world is the only one there is, Life is precious. Death is irrevocable. If you squander your life and relationships, there will be no chance for redemption in some mystical hereafter. I must make the most of those relationships now. There will be no second chance. This makes every accomplishment, every friend, every moment of love and joy a precious jewel to be savored and exulted. It is a race against time to see how much and how fully I can live my life before time is up and I wink out of existence forever.

American Anti-theist said...

Would I love to live forever? Perhaps. I love life. But I do think that there is an element to human nature that would simply lose all its luster if death were removed completely. Once everything has been done, everything explored, everything known...what else is left? An eternity sitting on the couch watching reruns of Touched by an Angel? No, thank you.

No, I will live every day the best I can. I will treasure those who are of value to me and minimize the impact on my life of those who are not. I will try to build the best life I possibly can for my family and my self. I will try to write and think and speak and create as much as I can.

And I do all these things because I recognize that my life is the sum of my creations and the only thing that will extend beyond that life is the imprint I make upon this world, nothing more and nothing less. I will not be there to see what imprint I have left, if any. I will have no knowledge or consciousness of what happens next. But I don't need to.

I don't need to create lies and illusions to trick myself into feeling good about life. I DO feel good about life. As Aristotle said, "Happiness is enough to make life desirable and lacking in nothing." Happiness is the end and purpose of life. As long as I can have led a happy life, I will have no regrets when it is my time to go.

Do I fear death? Most certainly. More people should. It is the casual disregard for life engendered by religious faith which continues to wreak so much pain and misery on this earth.

Martin said...

Thank you for your comments.
On a personal level, some of the existential questions I had to deal with were

who am I
where do I come from
where am I going
why am I here…

I find the answers that science gives to these questions inadequate.

American Anti-theist said...

"Who am I?"--Only you can answer that.

"Where do I come from?" -- You are born from the biological combination of your mother's egg and your father's sperm. The development of your mind is a combination of the pressure of outside influences on you, your genetic inclinations, and your rational choice.

"Where am I going?" If you don't know, who possibly can?

"Why am I here?" You are here to be happy and to live your life to the fullest. But you must first understand what you are to understand what it is that will make you happy. To understand what you are at a deep level requires patient devotion to understanding reality at a fundamental level.

Best premises and if they be in error, may you have the wisdom to correct them,

American Antitheist

Martin said...

"I know that I know nothing" Socrates.

American Anti-theist said...

"Existence is Identity, Consciousness is Identification" Ayn Rand

Anonymous said...

You talk about the mind and I wonder do you think the mind is something you can prove? Is it the brain wave patterns that you refer to as mind? In one of the arguments that Happy Science gives to believe in God or not, is the fact that you can not see the mind or emotions, more specifically Love. Yet they exist.
You also say that energy is not created or destroyed so what do you think happens to the life energy, our mind, after we die?
I am studying Happy Science now and got to the point of questioning their real motives when I asked some members to do a fundraising walk for abused children with me and most said “no.” If they truly want to make a difference don’t you think they would have said yes? I do anyways.
I have studied Buddhism before and all I got from it is “life is suffering” which brought me to the conclusion of “why not end suffering, and stop having babies?”
Happy Science claims to be so unique and encompass all of the world beliefs to a point that they are not a religious faction; they are the Science of being Happy. But the more I do my own research in to the world religions I find they are not unique and they do not encompass the world religions and are in fact creating their own.
I could go on and on just like everyone else here, but I truly wonder what you think of the above mentioned questions.
I was told once that “religion is what you need to believe in order to get you through this life.”

American Anti-theist said...

Can you prove the existence of the mind?

Well, existence, identity, and consciousness are axioms. That is, they are irreducible facts, the basis from which all other reasoning must proceed. As such, they are givens, things which are impossible to be proved but must be used in any attempt to disprove them.

For example, you wrote me a message using a written language. To write in that language and have me be able to read it and reply to your question, all three of these axioms must be assumed to be true. You have a mind, which had an idea. You assigned the specific arrangement of symbols necessary to write that idea out in English. This assumes that there is, indeed, something known as English, that there are other people who are aware of its rules and that by adhering to them, that I can interpret the words you laid out and derive at least a close approximation of what you intended to convey by them. This all assumes that you and I have minds, that reality exists and exists according to the same rules for both of us, and that we interpret it in a similar way. Without these assumptions, no language could possibly function.

So, while you cannot prove deductively that you exist, or that your mind exists, any attempt to do anything confirms the existence of both. They are axioms, givens in any interaction with the world.

God is not an axiom. There is nothing self-evident about the existence of a god. To the contrary, most evidence would seem to point to god's non-existence. God is not an irreducible primary, but an abstract personification. I do not need to assume that god exists in order to argue against its existence. As such, the argument that Happy Science uses is misleading to say the least.

Energy isn't created or destroyed, but the engine of the mind, which is the biological brain can wind down and stop. We call this death. Of course all the bits of matter which go into making your body and enable you to think are still there after you die, but the motion isn't. It is the motion of your biology which enables you to think. When it stops, so do you. It's similar to a car that runs out of gas and electricity. Yes, all the parts are still there, but it doesn't do anything.

American Anti-theist said...

I think your conclusion that if "life is suffering" then "why not stop having babies" is spot on. It goes directly to the idea that religion is anti-life. Religion wants people to suffer, to be ashamed, to be guilt-ridden and pleading for mercy from a malevolent universe.

Why? Because people who lack the ability to know things for certain without outside validation will always need somebody to validate them. With that task comes great power. And that is where priests and kings usually come from--that is, our desire for validation leads us to erect "greater people" over us to tell us what to do.

Anyone who calls into question the existence of your mind, is simply asking you to substitute their mind for yours, asking you to hand over your will entirely.

The same goes for anyone who claims that all things are subjective and that we can never know anything for certain.

The same goes for all those who would say that "no man is an island" but somehow any circumstantial mob has the collective wisdom to act.

This is why I am not just an atheist but an anti-theist. I consider religion not only to be a poor choice, I consider it to be actively and consciously evil. The people who run religions want you to surrender all knowledge of the world and then to trust their little black book entirely. They want you to surrender your consciousness and volition. They want to murder your mind.

Religion is unnecessary. It will give you nothing that you need to get through life. What will get you through life is one thing, and one thing only--your mind.

Reason and rationality, the use of logic, the contemplation of your nature through rational philosophy--these are the things which will arm your mind with the tools necessary to negotiate life's pitfalls. And those primary tools are morality, foresight, and judgment. These are not easy things to understand or to explain. But if you are sincerely interested in elevating yourself beyond the need for religion, I strongly recommend that you look into basic logic, Aristotle, and the writings of Ayn Rand. Richard Dawkins' The God Delusion is also very good, but he is a bit socialist for my taste and his meme stuff is complete nonsense.

If you are interested in reading Ayn Rand, I recommend "We the Living" as a good place to start her fiction. Either that or "Anthem".

Beyond that, there are numerous links on the right hand side that offer a wealth of information resources.

And, of course, I will always be glad to answer any questions you may have.

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for your words of wisdom and your suggestions on reading.

Anonymous said...

Do I think he is a god - NO
Do I posess the wisdom, intelligence, or charactor to get through life feeling secure - NO
Do I believe his monthly newsletter delivers a positive teaching of well being and confidence in myself and my fellow human being - YES
Do I feel he is preeching hatred, selfishness, or destruction - NO
Do I know where the universes energy originated from - NO

American Anti-theist said...

The answer to your second question provides the context for all the others. If you are unable to live life with wisdom, intelligence or character, then my question is why should we listen to you?

If you are not wise, but a fool by admission, what claim to knowledge have you?

If you are not intelligent, but stupid by your own declaration then for what reason should anybody ever listen to you about anything?

If you have no moral character and are thus evil, why should you be followed?

Do you think that blindly following any person who claims to fill up your deficiencies will make you more competent in any of those areas?

Wisdom is gained through experience.

Intelligence is practiced and honed through intellectual rigor.

Character can only be created by examining morality for yourself.

Human beings are creatures of self-made soul. You cannot expect anyone to give you one in exchange for your allegiance. You have to make it yourself out of blood, sweat, tears, and thought.

If you shirk that responsibility, then you are less than worthless, because you do not value your own life enough to make it better.

Anonymous said...

Ryuho Okawa is coming to Malaysia and he promotes his religion through newspaper today.At first I thought it would be motivational event or something.Until I found out it's a japanese cult that call Happy Sciences.I lol'd hard

American Anti-theist said...

Glad that we saved you the trouble of going. :)

thetruth said...

well, I just attended a 'talk' by the Master Ryuho Okawa in Singapore. Prior to that, i attended another talk by Happy Science on 'changing your fate'. Though the talk was pretty surreal to me because the speaker was talking of spirits and angels and souls as if these beings were all around us, i decided to join as a member to find out more. I was intrigued by the prayer book they promised to members. Well, for a donation of $10, i became a member and was given a book consisting of 3 short prayers.
There were many people attending the 'seminar' by 'Master' Okawa. As i was registering, i realised that i had to pay $20 for the seminar BECAUSE i am a member, lol. Non members have to pay $10 to attend the talk. Looks like even salvation cost money these days, lol. After the talk, you are encouraged to become 'devotees' which i take is a higher step than just being a member and you will be given 4 books, a couple of which are actually detailed prayers on the little prayer booklet you were given when you became a member, of course for another modest fee of $40, lol. Which brings me to thinking, why didn't they tell me all this when they are recruiting members? By paying more, you get better prayers??!!
And now i read about pictures of him selling for $10,000 and statues for $100,000 ???!!!!
Doesn't that ring the warning bells in your head?
As for the talk by 'Master' Okawa, he did not really focus on the topic of 'Happiness and Prosperity', instead it became a talk on the political progress of Singapore and his opinion on how it can be achieved and sustained. Frankly, if i want to hear that, i would talk to a politician or an economist. To make matter worse, many times i just couldn't understand his japanese accented english and his many struggles to find appropriate words. All in all, I was disappointed there was nothing spiritual that i can find or feel in that seminar. Nor did it help that he mentioned how he is able to access the spiritual world and talk to spirits of famous people in the past like jesus, Muhammad, Moses, buddha even Mozart...etc etc (Really??!!) and that Happy Science is compatible with all religions. What is evident is that Happy science is leaning heavily towards buddhism concepts, so how can it be compatible with the concepts of Abramiac religions like Judaism, christianity and Islam?
So, is there anything good about Happy Science? I do find the recommendation to meditate and reflect on your day's activity to be useful and the message to love and forgive. But does it need the reincarnation of 'El Cantare' to bring this message that is so readily available in other religions? I am told that 'Master' Okawa is also the reincarnation of the Buddha as well as many others.(17,000 years ago - La Mu in Mu Continent

12,000 years ago – Thoth in Atlantis

7,000 years ago - Rient Arl Croud in ancient Inca Empire

6,500 years ago – Ophealis in Greece

4,300 years ago – Hermes in Greece, Crete Island

2,500 years ago – Gautama Siddhartha (known as Shakyamuni Buddha) in India.)

If he is, why would he get married and have children when his duty is to the people of the world and have expensive taste in wrist watches?
Yeah, i couldn't help noticing the beautiful watch he had on his wrist at the seminar. :)

Anonymous said...

Gosh! I registered last week to attend his talks this weekend. Am going to give it a miss! Don't wanna waste my time involve in cults.

Thanks for the info. Save my day!

American Anti-theist said...

The trick is that Happy Science IS compatible with all the world's religions. The minute you abdicate your judgment and replace it with some stranger's judgment, you basically surrender your mind and all grasp of reality to the whims of your handler or priest. In this way all religions revel in the destruction of your mind.

Anonymous said...

Nop, it's not really compatible with Buddhism.

The truth is all these cults are going to stay either you want it or not. You're probably angry because it harmed you or someone you know, but what happened can not be undone. Or do you hate it because you think that the world should not have cults? To think that something should not exist when it exists is fact not according to reality. By hating, because hoping to undo what can not be undone or thinking what exists as something should not exists is some form of delusion. If you analyze the root cause of your hatred, you will find nothing but bullshit and suffering. There's always something to justify what you do and many things happend in your mind subconsciously. Reasons are almost always tainted with delusion.

From your arguments, it seems like you're intelligent enough to understand. Hatred and intelligence are parallel. Hatred drives you to find fault in everything, intelligence is finding fault in areas that you can fix and improve you and subsequently the society. Hatred lacks virtue, intelligence is not. Not yet fully investigated by me though.

What is virtue? Virtue is avoiding wrong, doing right things. What is wrong and right? What increase suffering to yourself, others is wrong, anything lessen suffering is right. Harmlessness, chasity, take what is not given, true and beneficial speech and mindfulness are right, opposite of these is wrong. To deepen your virtue beyond this, you need more wisdom, wisdom comes from happy, peace and calm mind, only if you're virtuous. Opps, chicken and egg.

Dude, please don't hate religions, I'm buddhist, don't hate my religion. :)

American Anti-theist said...

Dear Anonymous,

No, I am not angry at any particular cult or religion. What I am irritated by is faulty reasoning and a host of people who choose to lay their claims for need at my doorstep. I couldn't care less what you believe as long as you don't try to foist it on me or innocent children.

Also, you are insane. To think that something should not exist when it is a human institution and the only reason for its existence is a mandate of human will, then it makes complete sense to argue for its dismantlement or abolition when it is an institution which increases human suffering and particularly when it is an institution which targets nonbelievers specifically as suitable targets of persecution (i.e. slavery, religion, the democratic party, the republican party, the communist party, etc.)

Furthermore the only thing parallel between hatred and intelligence is your apparent hatred of intelligence and the regret you have for being unable to string a cogent argument together. I can only assume that your sad devotion to a mystical faith has not provided you any great insight into the minds or hearts of men.

As your comments from that point on devolve into mindless burbling, I will refrain from responding any further. May you some day crawl out of the cave.

American Anti-theist

LDS said...

I just wanted to correct something. Ryuho Okawa doesn't say he is a reincarnation of the Buddha. He says he is El Cantare, who is a reincarnation of Alpha and Elohim, i.e., God.
In contrast, Okawa teaches that Buddha, Christ, etc. are High Spirits, who are reincarnations of his brother souls or branch spirits.
That's from the English website for Happy Science.

I'm quite certain that teaching contradicts the doctrine of every other religion.

American Anti-theist said...

Thanks for the update. It's very likely they've changed the wording since I first posted this article years ago. I did recently update the link to the website.

Every religion has a mystical bogeyman who claims the hotline to god or claims that their prophet is the manifestation of some mystical mumbojumbo or other. I don't see any difference between the doctrine of Happy Science and any other.

Yuki said...

Dear American Anti-theist,

As per your observation that Japan 'as an example of a predominantly atheistic nation which seems to do just fine by itself' is quite far from the truth.

How can you define a country who is said to have the world's highest suicide rates to be doing 'fine'?

You said yourself as an 'objectivists, love life'. Well, quite a large percentage of Japanese people have statistically shown not to love life and have chosen to end it.

What is wrong with an organization who is encouraging people to choose life over death? Love over hatred and jealousy, Wisdom over folly, Self-reflection rather than self-absorption?

How you draw a parallell between Happy Science to Aum Shinrikyo is beyond me.

Japan has a culture of collectivism because they are an agrarian society - not everyone is an independent loner like Ayn Rand's heroines. Who are you labeling fanatics, just because someone leaves a pamphlet in your mailbox, they are a fanatic?

Seems to me you are the Anti-theist fanatic that is spreading negativity and defaming an organization whose will is to do good in this world.

At least they are leaving a positive impact and are spreading hope and love, oh, I'm sorry you don't believe in such human concepts lacking rationality.

Compassion and altruism is just another way the selfish-gene manipulates our emotions for self-preservation.

Me said...

Dear Anti-Theist

I have to say that i felt so much that you are attacking other people on web by words. No one can speak a "perfectly rational word". You must see yourself if you are speaking a perfectly rational word. I'm not good at english speaking but do know that there are many things which can be spread or understood beyond word, and there are misunderstanding even between the people who use language. First of all, you cannot be happy or justify yourself if you don't stop arguing only with words. Write down about your beliefs in Theism, Reason, rationalsim, objectivity that everybody can nod at you... Seems to me that you want to be understood and cared by other people. You used many times that you "pity" on other people here. It only shows that you are so much afraid of being pitied by others. Don't be afraid, you have no fear of the unknown, aren't you. How brave you are, but you seem as if you have so much fear of the existing religions... You just have the right to blame the people who lost their ability to depend on themselves and have the blind-faith, but shame on you that you are unable to blame on wrong individuals but making a sweeping criticism on the whole idea of religion and the positive aspects it'd done for humanity in history. Who are you claming yourself as a better man than who sacrifaced themselves believing in after-life and the values related to it? Before saying that "People who has a religious belief have a burden to prove it to all people", you must have proved in front of everybody that you are a better person than those Saints! Come on up to stage and say that you are a better man that Jesus Christ because Jesus believed in the other world and sacrificed, and i truly believe that he was JUST a fool! And next, you must prove that you are not insane. Do it and get some verification from humanity that you are not insane, then we can talk again here or wherever. Before that, you must study more how to distinguish people who did good or bad in religious belief, which religious organization helped or harmed the humanity in which aspects in which period in history,'s all different. Too much to study for you to say that you "hate the religious belief". Hatred is your emotion, not your reason. Which is it that you exactly hate, is that Mother Terresa for ex., Jesus, Buddha? Or such a wrong-doing people who have blind-faith, or people who pitied on you only because you have no religious belief.. They must be lack of rationality but you are too. We all are. And no problem on it. Emotions complement it. Not any perfect rationality can give you hope for life, hope for after-life when you are really in suffering, that there should be some other value which is unseen. Emotions includes love, altruism, hope, beliefs and many things. The fundamental property of "belief" is that it cannot be "proved". But also there is no "proof" that there does not exist after-life.

American Anti-theist said...

Response to Yuki:

It is not my observation that Japan seems to do fine by itself, if you look at what I said it is:

"It is not uncommon to hear Japan come up as an example of a predominantly atheistic nation which seems to do just fine by itself. Although as a long-time resident of Japan, one thing that has always disturbed me is the widespread proliferation of superstitions, lucky charms, and that which feeds on such things: cults."

I am repeating what is often said of Japan in atheist circles. The rest of my article points out the fallacy in assuming Japanese are atheists.

Per your comment about objectivists loving life and Japanese having a high suicide rate, I would say this: If more Japanese were objectivists, then there would be a lower suicide rate because they would love life more. To my knowledge, the predominant strains of collectivism in Japanese culture render this impossible.

Per your assertion that blind devotion to a faith trumps a love of life in the real world, I would say that you may choose to go mad in pursuit of your personal bliss, but do not expect men of reason to respect you for it. You may stare into space drooling in joy for the ecstasy you have imagined for yourself, but lacking substance all your delusions are simply that and have no merit for those of us who chose to live and prosper in the real world. The extent to which you choose to disassociate yourself from reality is the extent to which you choose to murder your mind. If you cease to think of the real world, then you can survive only by the mercy of those who refuse to deny reality. I have no respect for such as would throw themselves wholly apart from the real world and expect the rest of us to catch them. If death is your wish, then die, but leave the world to we who choose to think.

Per your assertion that agrarianism leads to collectivism, this is false. American was an agrarian society that developed a unique sense of individualism. This is what led to the industrial revolution which led to a global rise in the standard of living across the globe. Philosophy drives principles not your source of food.

Per your assertion that religion leaves a positive impact, I say no. Religion is the mind-killer. To believe in it, you must ignore the rest of the world. This is not the path to enlightenment.

American Anti-theist said...

To Me:

I need prove nothing to you. I require neither your warrant or sanction. I am the warrant and the sanction.

I fear no pity. I do not worry about you at all. I do not speak to you or for you. I speak to the rest of the world and I speak to warn the unwary who are at risk of being lulled by the mind-killing numbness of the stratagems employed by religious proselytizers. I speak to the youth to alert them. I speak to assert my existence in this world.

Whether you acknowledge me or not is irrelevant. I will do just fine without your condescension. The reason is thus: I understand the real world, and as such a person I will always have the skills to enable me to prosper in real life.

The only thing which can stand in my way are those irrational thugs of the spirit who choose to do mad things like hog-tie science and condemn learning. I view the religions and cults of the world as dangerous for this reason and so I speak against them.

But frankly, if the majority of the world chooses to ignore what I say, it doesn't matter one bit. We of the mind will continue. We will withdraw into our own lives, as we did during the dark ages. And once, your suicidal society has realized its wish, we will emerge for the second renaissance. In the long run, reality will be the final arbiter of who is right and who is dead. I would simply wish to help mankind avoid the wretched years of lost knowledge and persecution such dark ages must entail.

Religion is the voice of darkness. Listen to it at your peril.

Anonymous said...

Very interesting and well writen blog. Can you tell me if this Happy Science cult is the same as the cult run by Nicole Grace, AKA Kundalini and her 'company' Satori Sciences Inc. I am trying to learn more about her.


American Anti-theist said...

I'm not sure, as I haven't delved that far into the membership. But keep us posted if you find anything out! :)

Anonymous said...

Thank you for your blog. It's both educational and entertaining to read :)

A happy science building recently open next to my home and for a moment I thought it was a place dedicated to the learning of science and self improvement without theist doctrine. I'm sadden that it appears to be another pseudoscience cult.

Anonymous said...

Oddly enough, as I was seated down waiting for the subway this afternoon a nice old lady presented me with a "gift" of two pamphlets on Happy Science.

I'll give them a good read over. I could use a laugh.

I'm an American expat living in Nagoya right now, I'm also a humanist and over the years I've come to regard religion with more and more contempt. (Especially after what it's been doing to America lately.) Of course, it's a google search on Happy Science Cult that brought me here - appreciate the info, and also your views on it all.

It's nice to see more and more Atheists coming as of late (especially in America!!) - the change is almost like a breath of fresh air.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

Thank you very much indeed for your blog.
my family and myself sincerely appreciate your unselfish and your absolute wisdom to warn this kind of undesireable japanese cult influencing all over south asia.

Thanks again. May all universal excellent aura bless you and your family.

katherine silva said...

I just found your blog and am saddened to see that you stopped writing on here. I wanted to express how impressed I am by the way you have answered the criticism of others. Your ideas are well thought out and are organized in a way easy to read, but at the same time pointing to a level of intelligence that can be admired. It is hard to find people in this world who have your views and I both admire and thank you.

American Anti-theist said...

Thank you for your kind words, Katherine. I haven't given up on the blog completely though. I still try to respond to comments as I notice them. I'm hoping to kick back into active mode one of these days, just busy with life right now. Best premises to you.
American Antitheist

Anonymous said...

Haha I just google'd this. When I was an exchange student living in Tokyo this crazy old lady come up to me and took me to one of their temples and I watched one of the videos of "el contare" what an awkwardly lultastic experience I had that day at their expense. I hope they enjoyed the wrong phone number I gave them lmao.


Anonymous said...

Hi, I'm not sure if anyone has mentioned this before. I'm an ex-cult member and it wasn't a choice to join a cult through faulty reasoning or lack of intellect.
Anyone can fall prey to cults. They are manipulative and psychologically abusive. They convince you that any faults in their groups are just in you, and they isolate you from society so they can brainwash you.
It is pretty simple psychology and you can do it to anyone.

Please don't judge people who get taken in by cults, no one chooses to join one, they are recruited, often through coercion.

They cause a lot of psychological damage to individuals and the after effects can stay with them the rest of their lives.
They're extremely dangerous.

American Anti-theist said...

I'm sorry that you've had to go through that experience. However I think you'd agree that what makes one the most susceptible to cults is the readiness to surrender one's own judgment to an outside force. I agree they are extremely dangerous.I hope that after you've had a chance to review my blog more thoroughly, you'll see that I am very much against all religions for the same reason.

Dailyquestoinsandreflections said...

I find your blog very interesting.....I came across the Happy Science Cult
recently...and I agree with most of your
keep up the good work....
most people are too gullible for their own good and the good of mankind...and giving chance to such opportunists like Okawa.

Anonymous said...

Happy Science is a very nice organisation. I love the books ant movies. They have never pushed me to do nothing. I could always make my own decision what to do and when. To tell the truth I like to live with their ideas. They are logical and I benefit from them a lot. I would recommend you to read one or two books. :)

stevebgood said...

I'd love to see American Anti-theist reaction when he passes away from this world and realizes the lights didn't go out after all, since we are actually the consciousness inside the body and not the body itself. Then again, maybe there won't be much light where his consciousness dwells in the world that exists beyond the veil of materialism. Faith is very important because in the world where thought is everything, if you don't believe, how can it exist? If you think the outcome after your physical death is the same whether you believe in the spirit world or not, you are mistaken. In the other world your thoughts manifest instantly, so if you believe the lights go out and there is nothing, then that is what you will experience. Problem is, you will still exist within that nothingness and not know how to escape it, since you have no faith in anything else. At that time, even though you were an atheist, you will probably cry out "God, please help me, I am lost," and even though you made so much effort to disprove Him and lead people away from Him, He will come, because His love is infinite :) But that doesn't mean there won't be a karmic price to be paid for leading people away from the truth. Everything operates under the law of cause and effect and no sin is greater than leading people away from the truth by diminishing their faith in God and the afterlife. In all seriousness, if you don't believe in God, or life-after-death, you are much better off to keep those views to yourself rather than spreading them around and poisoning the minds of others, since that will very likely cause seriously negative consequences for you when you leave this world.