01-Sep-2010, 09:21 AM
(This post was last modified: 01-Sep-2010, 09:23 AM by Ajita Kamal.)
Quote:I couldn't help to notice, A organized religion is nothing but cult in bigger size.
I used to think exactly the same way until recently. BTW, I don't meant to ignore your reasons. In fact, I think they are totally on point. But in order to differentiate between religion and cult, let's look past the commonalities and seek the specific qualities of a cult that distinguish it from a religion.
A couple of months ago the Skeptics Guide to the Universe podcast had a long discussion on this subject that made me change my mind on this subject. Here are some episodes where they discuss this:
An older one: http://www.theskepticsguide.org/archive/...d=1&pid=80
The one that I listened to that made me change my mind: http://www.theskepticsguide.org/archive/...=1&pid=253
The host of the podcast, Steven Novella, also wrote a nice blog post on the question that was discussed in the above podcast: http://www.theness.com/neurologicablog/?p=1958
Apparently, even James Randi was of the same opinion till a couple of years ago- that religions are just larger and more diverse cults. He changed his mind when he actually had to work with a group dedicated to providing support for the victims of a cult.
This brings me to the most definitive set of characteristics that cults possess (cited by Novella in his blog post):
Again, as you correctly point out, there are many similarities between religions and cults, and of course we can argue that all religions started as cults, to some degree or the other, but there is a lot of literature on the subject that suggests that we should characterize cults based on certain distinct group tendencies, and differentiate cults from religions in general. All said, its a fuzzy distinction, but one that makes practical sense when you consider things from the perspective of the victims.
"Fossil rabbits in the Precambrian"
~ J.B.S.Haldane, on being asked to falsify evolution.
That's Really Good information kamal, It defiantly changed perception of cult.
We don't see information control, verbal abuse, and important thing deception, i.e true motives are not revealed at beginning
In that perceptive scientology is defiantly a cult, I'm very sad to see that it has 500,000 members in it.
Yet still religion has some of the cult features like
Guilt and Fear,
Attack Independent Though,
Some texts from bible,
"If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple."(Luke 14:26)
"Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness?" 2 Corinthians 6:14
I don't want to make statement, but monotheism has some of its properties not all though.
Like you said, its a fuzzy distinction.. In perspective of victim it make more sense..
For me, when we say cult it is an organization with "secret mission". It is headed by a deceitful person. Perhaps, cult connotes Satanism but on the other hand, when we say religion it is an organization with a positive outlook in life. Its center is God's teachings. Thus, God is the head of it.
No matter what... gods can't exist. Why believe in afterlife or rebirth? Nothing but, wrong thoughts. Belief in god(s) is the result of WISHFUL THINKING.
Give ayyavar's response to Ajita Kamal, I'd argue that it's fair to state that the only meaningful difference between a religion and a cult is whether the founder is alive or dead. By this definition, Scientology is a former cult that successfully made the transition to being a religion after L Ron Hubbard passed away.
There are also religions that sit in a grey area between being a religion and a cult. For example, the Roman Catholic Church has cult-like elements in the relationship between the Pope and the followers. However, all Popes claim to be successors to Jesus (the founder of Christianity who is long dead, assuming he even existed) and thus don't fulfill the living founder requirement for cult status.
Hinduism is extremely tricky. It doesn't even bother to name its founders, being based on a quartet of Sanskrit hymn collections (4 Vedas) with a large number of composers. However, Hinduism is notorious for its guru industry (and many gurus even claim to be avatars of god!), and pretty much any guru you can name would unambiguously become a cult leader if they were to stop calling themselves Hindus (though they probably wouldn't, since they claim their teachings are somehow derived from the 4 Vedas).
And then there's Tibetan Buddhism, where the highest living religious authority (the Dalai Lama) claims to be a single soul who keeps being reborn over and over for the same religious leadership role. And yet at the same time, the Dalai Lama is not the founder of Buddhism (that honor goes to, well, the Buddha). Thus, Tibetan Buddhism is roughly analogous to the case of Catholicism, but with an accent of Hinduism's guru industry.