The “A Skeptic Goes” series is mostly part of my adventure in “personal growth” seminars that I happened to have either participated in, or in some cases read about. I’m not, and never have been, part of the “spiritual but not religious” crowd, but I have been interested in human psychology for a long time. I have been interested in what personal growth seminars could contribute to my understanding of that.
Then for a number of years I was involved with a woman (let’s call her “Isabella”) who was very interested in a number of New Age and spiritual practices. She knew I was an atheist and asked me to stay “open” to the various kinds of workshops and programs that she attended, and that she wanted me to accompany her to. I did my best to stay “open,” but some of it was just too silly for me. The various workshops that I attended include:
- In the late 1980s I went to an “Opening the Heart” workshop at Spring Hill of Ashby.
- In 1998 I went to a “Happiness is a Choice” workshop at the Option Institute.
- In August of 2004 I went to see Dan Cherry, a homeopathist.
- In September of 2004, I went to the Landmark Forum (the successor to EST).
- In September of 2007 I went to a “John of God” week at the Omega Institute.
- In December of 2010 I participated in a reading of the “Akashic Record.”
- In February of 2011 I went to the Millionaire Mind Intensive.
- In April of 2011 I went to the Pathways Institute “Personal Mastery Intensive.”
- In November of 2011 I received a reading from a professional astrologist.
- In December of 2014 I went to a Wiccan Yuletide festival, and in May of 2015 a Beltane festival.
- In March of 2015 I accompanied my sister-in-law in going to see a medium.
My experience at these various events was varied, and not monolithic. Some of these workshops were very interesting, some were powerful, some were moving, and some were just plain silly. I also found that — no matter how interesting some of these experiences may have been — that there is a strain of deluded thinking that runs through many of these and other New Age or Self-Help type of activities (and which I’ve written about in the “Purpose of the Blog” set of articles).
As an atheist, I’m concerned about deluded thinking of any kind. Part of my concern with both “religious” and “spiritual” thought is that much of it does seem to be deluded, and constitutes belief without evidence of the first order.