Talk:Pseudoreligion

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(random heading)[edit]

(inserted for readability: the oldest is the least topical. Rursus dixit. (mbork3!) 20:24, 30 April 2010 (UTC))


I would ask that interested individuals, particularly those who had previously raised objections to the article, particularly for POV issues, look over the revised incarnation for further concerns, and if none, see that the disputed POV notice be removed. Thanks! --LeFlyman 28 June 2005 19:26 (UTC)


I would dispute that this article shows a Neutral Point of View to the topic it is about. The following are a summary of points I think read as biased:

"The Judeo-Christian side of the story mostly comes from Enochian literature which can also be described as Pre-Adamic myth." - Saying that it can be described as myth implies it is myth, I would suggest "is also described by some as" to be less biased.

"the Catholic Church had the audacity to start delegating what the people were and weren't allowed to read." - The word audacity suggests that this was a bad thing. I'm not trying to say it was a good thing, but I still think it's biased.

"the times were so screwed up" - This is quite blatantly not the most encylopaedic of phrases, and again represents an opinion.

"they actually thought that a coin for your sins would actually fly with the people?" - Rhetorical questions? I don't feel these are suitable for an encyclopedia, which is meant to exhibit facts.

I really can't be bothered to go on, and hope someone who actually knows something about Pseudoreligion could make this page into something informative about history rather than about the opinion of some random user.

JiMternet 15:19, 24 May 2005 (UTC)

I've editted the page to remove much of the anti-Catholic sentiment, however I am still not satisfied that I have made it unbiased enough to warrant removal of the NPOV tag. In addition my lack of knowledge on the subject means that I cannot verify the accuracy of any of the statements I have editted.

JiMternet 07:14, 9 Jun 2005 (UTC)

I'm made a major effort to reboot this article by excising all of the original precepts and offering a more NPOV perspective. The previous writing, which follows, can be re-tooled within this framework:

Pseudoreligion is a term for the combination of Judeo-Christian mythology, and literature that was formerly accepted by the Catholic Church.

The Judeo-Christian side of the story mostly comes from Enochian literature which has also been described as Pre-Adamic myth. The literature side is described by the several different titles including the Jewish Pseudopigrapha and the Gnostic Literature, which is from the texts not used in the New Testament.

During the Middle Ages the Catholic Church began a campaign to rid the world of 'non-canonical' teaching. This led to certain frictions between the people and the church. The Church is said to have beleieved that certain texts revealed too much about God's heavenly kingdom, claiming that it shoud be His secret, and that we shouldn't have any glimpse into His magnificience. An alternate opinion is that they believed that their truth was the only one and that all other writings were heretical. A number of practices began around this time which were later interpreted to make no sense in religious terms. One example would be the buying and selling of indulgences, which was the idea that one could make a monetary gift in return for forgiveness of sin. This was liked by the people of the time, as it removed a lot of the restrictions placed on their lives by the Church. It was in protest against these 'unbiblical' practices that Martin Luther nailed 95 theses to the door of a Catholic Church. He believed that the Catholic Church was contradicting itself.

The mythology behind the first book of the Bible and even in the time period before it, was also suppressed by the Catholic Church. Enochian Literature, for example, was originally accepted by the Church because it contained numerous vivid descriptions. It was because of this vividness that the church later deemed it heresy. It was because of the concept of heresy that the church started to classify what was and wasn't right for the people.

The Church also classified things as being wrong when it was something that did not agree with their accepted theology. The word occult is a word which in the latinate means "hidden", yet the Christians of they day used the word occult to denounce anything that seemed too dangerous, or that risked the noble sanctity of Christian Literature. Esoteric Literature was also considered heresy, and that included such writings as the Testament of Solomon, and the Lemegeton, the Lesser Key of Solomon. This is classified as magik literature as well, but it originally stems from the Solomon story and how he created his Temple. All this stems from history, however the Church deemed this also heresy and considerably so since the majority of the stories had demons as the primary characters.

The history of Pseudo Religion starts with the Pagan religions of old. The Greeks and their Pantheon of Olympian gods, along with Roman, Mesopotamian, and Egyptian mythologies. Each of these civilisations needed a god to represent each aspect of their daily lives. This is polytheism, yet it crossed with monotheism since certain civilisations had the king, or primary deity, such as Ra or Re' in the Egyptian religion. Most of these primaries were sun gods. Yet, true Paganism revolves around nature like the Druid Celts. At some point they did adopt a Pantheon of gods, which was in direct relation to the Normans, or Germanic religions.

--LeFlyman 02:58, 15 Jun 2005 (UTC)

Loose definition[edit]

It is unclear whether this article is claiming this term is applied to religions which are not generally accepted, or to so-called "joke" religions which either make no claim to be serious or make it clear without doubt that they are not intended to be taken as such, or to both.

If the first suggestion is true, then the main body should make this explicit and all reference to clearly defined non-serious religions should be seperated and confined to a "compare with" style section/link.

If the second suggestion is true, then again the article should make this clear and all reference to religions which have a following of people who have a "working belief" in the teachings of that religion should be confined to a section in which it is made clear that this context is a misuse of the word and means only to devalue a religion they don't like (or just as likely don't like the sound of).

If both then the initial wording should clearly define these possible uses and any other relevant clarification on usage aswell as making it clear which religion is reffered to in which context.

(If neither then this article either needs to be seriously clarified to represent the true meaning/usage or be deleted.)

This all leads to the difficulty of coming to a consensus on which religions fall into which category, one which might be overcome by having seperate section containing brief analyses of the less easily categorisable religions.

I'm keen to hear other peoples views on this, as i am confused as to exactly what the term means, what is it used to mean and how people think it should be represented here. Personally i think that the article as it stands shouldn't be here at all (i think it is in danger of exemplifying usage of the term in both suggested senses (ambiguously) rather than suggesting a definition.) If noone is willing to either help improve it (i dont think it should be a one-mind job) or convince me that i'm barking up the wrong tree i will consider another vfd. Spooky Donkey 20:52, 14 September 2005(UTC)


The definition, as I wrote it, is "loose" because the term is applied to numerous religious-like (hence, "pseudo") groups, outside the mainstream, which include both cult-like oganizations such as, for example, Scientology, which claims to be a legitimate "religion", as well as sub-cultural groups like Church of the SubGenius (or Discordianism), which may be tongue-in-cheek, but definitely have a following. Both are pseudoreligious, because (as per the article) they have:
  1. A founder (real or imagined): for Scientology, it's L. Ron Hubbard; for SubGeniuses (or SubGenii), it's J. R. "Bob" Dobbs
  2. A principal text-- for Scientology, it was originally "Dianetics" and later the writings/lectures of Hubbard; for SubGenius, it's The Book of the SubGenius
  3. A liturgy-- Scientologist study Hubbard's writings and practice various forms of hypnosis/galvanic measurement using an e-meter; SubGeniuses practice "Slack", produce entertaining written and performance pieces, and have a weekly radio program called Hour of Slack
  4. Faith-based beliefs-- Scientologists believe that Hubbard's word was revelatory, and that following his prescriptions will lead to super-powers. (John Travolta believes that Hubbard was responsible for his movie career, while Tom Cruise believes that Scientology cured his dyslexia); According to Pamphlet #1, SubGenii hold that "The True SubGenius accepts into his heart, as his own personal savior, anyone or anything with which he happens to be impressed at the moment. " [1]
The same parallels can be drawn among other such groups.
As for suggesting a VfD... why? A Google search clearly reveals that it is a well-used concept:
LeFlyman 01:07, 15 September 2005 (UTC)


Can you verify this? I can't find any definition anywhere. Spooky Donkey 01:25, 5 October 2005 (UTC)
If nobody has any objections, I'd like to redirect this page to Approaches to distinguishing religion from non-religion. Spooky Donkey 16:37, 9 October 2005 (UTC)
I strongly object, as I've already stated it is a notable and distinct term-- as are pseudoscience and pseudophilosophy. There are over 800 Google entries for "Pseudoreligion" and over 35,000 for "pseudo-religion"
Is your particular distaste for the term due to Discordianism (which you've extensive edited) being referred to as a pseudoreligion? (Yes, it is.) LeFlyman 22:44, 9 October 2005 (UTC)
I respect your opinion on the subject, however wikipedia has a policy of verifiability. You have yet to cite a single source for the definition you propose, which is my reason for suggesting such action.
I have done a lot of work on discordianism, as its representation on wp is not fully within policy, and as a person who respects its teachings i wish for it to be justly represented.
Numbers of hits for a search term have nothing to do with the fact that the definition you propose is unsupported by references. Spooky Donkey 23:25, 9 October 2005 (UTC)
- LeFlyman 01:47, 10 October 2005 (UTC)
Thanks for your response to my request. I am however unsure of the suitability of these sources. The title of the web page you linked is "Science in Christian Perspective". I am sure you are aware of wikipedia's neutral perspective policy.
The available article you cite is prefaced with the sentence "I state as my own definite presupposition that authentic theology is to be identified in terms of the Christian faith as defined by the Biblical revelation." Clearly not the mark of a neutral writing.
As the other source you cite is by the same author, I think it is safe to assume that it is written from the same perspective. If you can find any reliable sources, i'd be happy to evaluate them. Thank you again for your co-operation. Spooky Donkey 03:01, 10 October 2005 (UTC)

(de-indented for readability)

You asked for a source that fulfills the statements in the article. I provided you with such, from a publication and organization that has been in existence 60 years. The Journal of the American Scientific Affiliation is subscribed to by hundreds of universities, both religious and secular, around the world, including Harvard, Princeton, Northwestern, University of Illinois-Urbana, UC-Davis. The "Christian Perspective" of the author -- Stanford emeritus professor Richard H. Bube-- does not alter the legitimate evaluation on the terminological usage of pseudoreligion as defined in the article: "Pseudoreligion is a generally pejorative term applied to a non-mainstream belief system or philosophy which is functionally similar to a religious practice..."

Perhaps you have a misunderstanding of what the policy of Neutral Point of View actually means. It does not imply, contrary to the contention, that all source material must be somehow judged "neutral" -- rather it says the article themselves must be written from a neutral point of view. This article is. I would suggest you review the sections of NPOV policy on Pseudoscience and Religion. -- LeFlyman 18:42, 10 October 2005 (UTC)

It is my judgement that the article you cite is written from an american christian perspective, and as such anything taken from it should be presented explicitly as an american christian view (or however the body of people who accept this is best described). This idea should be juxtaposed with a more general evaluation of the usage of the term in question, and until such a thing is found (or written as the case may be), this page should not be here according to my interpretation of Wikipedia:Verifiability#Obscure topics
If we are still not in agreement, i think we are approaching the point at which a third party needs to be called upon as part of the next step in the resolution of this dispute. Spooky Donkey 02:06, 11 October 2005 (UTC)
And it is my judgement you are failing to see the forest for the trees. You have no legitimate reason to call for removal of this article, other than it may be contrary to your personal belief-system (whatever that might be.) Good luck on requesting dispute resolution. I'd suggest you attempt to work out what it is that you disagree with first, perhaps provide some alternative or extended information. Seeing as how it is a particularly short and general article, there's always room for improvement and expansion. However, if you are intent on arguing for its non-existence, you are welcome to offer it up for Vote for Deletion again to see where that gets you. LeFlyman 09:35, 11 October 2005 (UTC)
I suggest that the definition you propose specifically attempts to defame belief systems contrary to the writers own. It may be true that a lot of american usage of the term adheres to the ideas presented within the current article, however I believe that the term is mostly used to mean "a religion not like my idea of religion" or "a religion not like my religion" and as such the specific connotations of the term will change depending on the author, and on the definition of religion being used. One group having used the term with a similar set of assumptions a lot does not mean that all use of the term agrees with those assumptions. Approaches to distinguishing religion from non-religion highlights the difficulty in defining even the most fundamental ideas of what religion is. This undermines any definition of a term that is dependent on a static definition of religion.
An article here should represent an idea such as "differing in a significant manner from the definition of religion the writer is refering to" before any specific common connotations.
On another note, could you please try to avoid Ad hominem arguments. A little respect goes a long way. Thanks. Spooky Donkey 01:38, 12 October 2005 (UTC)
And likewise, I would suggest you're claiming something that simply isn't there, perhaps because you dislike Discordianism being grouped in the same boat as all those other pseudo-religions. Believe what you want, but there are such a things as "mainstream" religious beliefs and "fringe" beliefs -- and Discordianism is definitely in the extreme fringe. Wikipedia has no requirement to present it as anything but that. In fact, the NPOV Policy makes this point: "Please be clear on one thing: the Wikipedia neutrality policy certainly does not state, or imply, that we must "give equal validity" to minority views." As much as it may pain you, yours is a minority view. Again, you are welcome to appeal to whichever higher authority you think may listen, and I wish you well in your endeavors. As for your claim of ad hominem... again, you can make whatever claim you desire, even if it gets you nowhere. LeFlyman 06:23, 12 October 2005 (UTC)

Third opinion on definition[edit]

There was an entry from 2005-Oct-12 on Wikipedia:Third_opinion pointing out the "Dispute over basic definition". In response, I'm adding my opinion here.

User:Spooky Donkey's original question above was

It is unclear whether this article is claiming this term is applied to religions which are not generally accepted, or to so-called "joke" religions which either make no claim to be serious or make it clear without doubt that they are not intended to be taken as such, or to both.

From my research on the use of this word, I believe its definition leans toward the former -- actual religions. When someone starts a joke religion (like Flying Spaghetti Monsterism), calling it a pseudo-religion would only elevate its status. Pseudo-religion is primarily a pejorative term used for religions whose members consider them legitimate.

When I first read this article, I was confused by seeing Scientology and Flying Spaghetti Monsterism in the same list. I think FSMism should be moved out of the list (along with any others that are clearly jokes). They may be described separately in this article as "intentional pseudoreligions", or some other such term.

I don't think I'm quite up to the task of determining how to implement these changes. For now, I just wanted to offer a third opinion. (JeremyStein 15:34, 13 December 2005 (UTC))

  • Agreed. Someone inserted the "Flying Spaghetti Monster" addition, perhaps as a way to add legitimacy to that parody of Intelligent Design—after all, being called a "pseudoreligion" might be a step up from just being a joke. As such, I've removed it for now. At some point, it could be re-added in a separate section, with other such made-up groups, as suggested above. —LeFlyman 22:03, 13 December 2005 (UTC)
  • On second thought, I did go ahead and move it, along with the Church of Sub Genius to its own sentence. Now that there's an entry for parody religion it seems appropriate to distinguish the categorisation. Perhaps a list of significant pseudoreligions is in order? —LeFlyman 22:19, 13 December 2005 (UTC)

confusing[edit]

The article confuses postmodernist religions and cults. At the extreme, maybe it should just be turnned into a disambiguation page? JeffBurdges 21:30, 3 April 2006 (UTC)

  • I don't see that it confuses "postmodernist religions and cults". I would ask that your usage of "postmodernist" be clarified. Perhaps you're referring to what has been termed New Age? In that case, the article delineates those which are merely satirical/parodies and those which are outside-the-mainstream "new" religions/cults (ala "Raelism). I see that you've come up against the discussion that the Flying Spaghetti Monster is to be treated as an "authentic" religion (on the Talk page). I'd suggest that once such a claim is made, it steps beyond the pale of merely being a "satire" into the realm of pseudoreligion. —LeflymanTalk 21:55, 3 April 2006 (UTC)

I've got no objection to Pseudoreligion including parody religions, but definitions of cult frequently include such things as exploitation, intentional communities, etc. Parody religions exhibit none of these features. The simple fact is that these are not closed groups, some like FSM may not be "groups" at all, so they are not cults by any normal metric.

Only the Christian countercult movement's "maintaining fervent commitment to heresy" definition would include parody religions. And I don't think anyone seriously claims that this is a neutral enough definition to take such a primary position in a wikipedia article.

Anyway, I'm wrong about it being just a disambiguation page, so I've categorized things, which ought to solve the POV problems. JeffBurdges 00:11, 4 April 2006 (UTC)

Ayn Rand?[edit]

I eliminated Ayn Rand's Objectivism from the article. It is not "functionally similar to a religious practice." It has no liturgy or principal text and expliclity denies faith. It has a founder, but then, so do all intellectual movements. LaszloWalrus 10:07, 23 May 2006 (UTC)

Actually, Randianism/Objectivism has numerous references as a cult/religion/pseudoreligion. A quick Google search reveals:

Albert Ellis contends that Objectivism is a religion because it is a "dogmatic, fanatical, absolutist, anti-empirical, people-condemning creed" which is based on the assumption that "some higher power or order of the universe demands that their views are right and that all serious dissenters to their views are for all time wrong.
There is this battle between two "Objectivisms"—a battle between a cult and the legitimate development and application of the philosophy.
"The more I have conversed with Objectivists, the more it is clear to me that Objectivism is strikingly similar in function to many of the organized religions that Objectivists claim to abhor..."
and,
"Objectivism is a cult. A secular cult built by people who need a religion to give their lives meaning without calling this religion a “religion"..."
This does not mean that groups of people cannot pretend to be Objectivists and establish an intolerent organisation, or demand belief in irrational concepts. The Ayn Rand Institute (the biggest pseudo-cult, which has spurred Shermer to write about it in "Why People Believe Weird Things") and the Neo-Tech Zonpower cult are such examples.
[I]f you leave the "religious" component out of the definition, thus broadening the word's usage, it becomes clear that Objectivism was (and is) a cult...

Thus, I have reverted the change, as there are substantial verifiable sources for the claim. Remember, Wikipedia entries are about "verifiability, not truth" -- articles are intended to reflect not our own opinions, but those published elsewhere.—LeflymanTalk 20:38, 23 May 2006 (UTC)

My objection is not that many view it as a religion, but that it does not strive to be a religion (as Scientology, Kabbalah, etc. do) and it has none of the characteristics (other than a founder) that characterizes a religion. See here: [2] LaszloWalrus 21:27, 23 May 2006 (UTC)

  • Personal objections are not appropriate basis for deletions on Wikipedia. As you rightly note, articles do include many views-- but they must all be based on the verifiability of information. You are welcome to ask for citations-- which I have provided-- and include information that discusses an opposing view. But do not remove material from articles solely because you disagree with them. That Objectivism "does not strive to be a religion" does not refute that it is viewed as such by others, and has many of the characteristics of a pseudo-religion. Please see the NPOV policy on religion, which notes:
"Many adherents of a religion will object to a critical historical treatment of their own faith, claiming that this somehow discriminates against their religious beliefs. They would prefer that the articles describe their faith as they see it, which is often from a non-historical perspective (e.g. the way things are is the way things have always been; any differences are from heretical sects that don't represent the real religion.)" —LeflymanTalk 21:49, 23 May 2006 (UTC)

Okay, this is not a personal objection. Objectivism does not have the characteristics that characterize a religion; stating otherwise, as fact, not as opinion violated NPOV. LaszloWalrus 00:24, 24 May 2006 (UTC)

I have to disagree. Al 05:00, 24 May 2006 (UTC)
Again, the Randists don't believe that NPOV applies to them. If it's sourced, then it works in the article. -- LGagnon 21:00, 2 June 2006 (UTC)
Of course Alienus would disagree because of his irrational hatred of Objectivists and of Objectivism in general. Objectivism isn't a religion because it lacks the following, worship of a "higher power", preordained rituals, clergy, and places of "worship", what do you think Objectivists do, worship piles of money while reading out passages from Atlas Shrugged? I have met a few Objectivists in the last few months and let me tell you something, they are not brainwashed cult members, they were very nice people who just happen to think that reality is Objective and that reason is the tool that we should use to understand Reality, does this sound like a cult to you? The Fading Light 14:16, 16 June 2006 (UTC)

A bit confused[edit]

Belief systems such as Theosophy, corporate Kabbalism, Scientology and Objectivism, have all been referred to as pseudoreligions, as have various New Age religions. While the more serious-minded participants in these groups may prefer to consider themselves part of a proper religion, the mainstream ascribes to them fringe status.
Satirical, unserious, or parody religions, such as Discordianism, Church of the SubGenius, or the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, have been viewed as pseudoreligions, particularly when members claim that their group is as real and/or as valid as other more widely accepted belief systems.

Wouldn't religions that actually call themselves religions just be cults, then? I would think that the term of pseudoreligion would be reserved for those philosophies and practices that make the claim that they aren't a religion, yet are functionally similar to one. Discordianism, whether you think it's "serious" or "real" or not, makes the claim of being a religion, as, I'm sure, do many New Age religions, and I would argue against them being classified here as pseudoreligions.—Preceding unsigned comment added by Voretus (talkcontribs) 11:29, 31 May 2006

  • I'd suggest that not all such groups that call themselves religions are "cults" (AKA the politically correct "new religious movements"); nor are all "cults" actually religions -- although it's more likely that such groups will have the qualities of a pseudoreligion, even while denying a supernatural power. Thus, Scientology-- which at its core appears to be anti-religious, teaching that Xenu implanted false memories/history of religion to subvert those darned thetans-- is a pseudoreligion in veneration of a dead "prophet" L. Ron Hubbard. Discordianism, while generally considered to be satirical, has "followers" who actually consider it to be serious, aiming to legitimise it as such, particularly in references on Wikipedia. The FSM group seems to straddle the line, being obviously tongue-in-cheek, while evangelising for their cause, and having a "Gospel" published. See [3] I would contend, as a simile, that pseudoreligion is to mainstream religion as pseudoscience is to mainstream science, and pseudophilosophy is to... well, you get the gist. There are always going to be arguments about which classifications certain beliefs should fall into. --LeflymanTalk 19:27, 4 June 2006 (UTC)

Things like SubGenius, of course, I would argue about, since they're a bunch of heretics really a parody religion. Voretus the Benevolent 17:29, 31 May 2006 (UTC)

This page should just redirect to Science[edit]

--Greasysteve13 03:46, 27 June 2006 (UTC)

We generally don't redirect non-matching topics. --LeflymanTalk 04:18, 27 June 2006 (UTC)

But doesn't religion assert claims that cannot be verified, or falsified in the event they are incorrect, inaccurate, or irrelevant? Doesn't religion assert claims that are vague rather than precise, and that lack specific measurements as a basis? Doesn't religion assert claims that a theory predicts something that it has not been shown to predict? Doesn't relgion assert that claims which have not been proven false must necessarily be true, and vice versa? Doesn't Science fail to make these assertions?--Greasysteve13 09:06, 27 June 2006 (UTC)
  • I'm afraid that Wikipedia isn't the place to expound on epistemological questions such as these. If you're aiming to make a case that religions aren't as "valid" as science, consider submitting an article to the Skeptical Inquirer.--LeflymanTalk 09:27, 27 June 2006 (UTC)
  • Fair enough. This article seems a little silly to me. Any religion can be considered a cult or pseudoreligion in the eyes of another. And where do we draw the line for what is and what isn't mainstream? Furthermore science could be considered a pseudoreligion by those who see it as blasphemous or by those who consider religion to be a pseudoscience. We could be able to note this from aources found on other pages in Wikipedia.--Greasysteve13 09:57, 27 June 2006 (UTC)

Objectivism[edit]

The reference to Objectivism as a pseudoreligion is unfounded; an internet search turns up not a single non-Wikipedia based page that includes the terms "Objectivism" and "Pseudoreligion." Likewise, the Rothbard article calls Objectivism a cult, not a pseudoreligion (I would dispute the cult accusation, though that is not relevant to the discussion at hand). The Parrotti citation is invalid, as self-published articles don't count. The book The Ayn Rand Cult does not call Objectivism a pseudoreligion either. Nor does Objectivism have a liturgy, principal text, or an explicilty (if at all) faith based belief. Nor does it even claim to be a religion. LaszloWalrus 09:36, 9 July 2006 (UTC)

  • Please stop edit-warring. Plenty of citations have been provided. See (again) above, at Talk:Pseudoreligion#Ayn Rand. Continual removal will likely lead to yet another block against your account.--LeflymanTalk 16:56, 9 July 2006 (UTC)

Please no personal attacks. First of all, blogs are invalid. Second, I did not argue that it was not a cult, I argued that it was not a pseudoreligion. The two are not the same. Please address my arguments. Your accusations of bad faith are spurious. LaszloWalrus 04:29, 10 July 2006 (UTC)

I concur with LaszloWalrus, unlike Scientology, Objectivism has never claimed to be a religion and all organizations under it's umbrella deny being religious groups. I think that Leflyman should be reported for engaging in personal attacks and issuing threats against members of the wiki. The Fading Light 04:42, 10 July 2006 (UTC)

Again, I removed Objectivism; calling it a pseudoreligion when it does not even claim to be a religion, and doing so as if it the "pseudoreligion" status of Objectivism is uncontested and uncontroversial violated NPOV. LaszloWalrus 14:52, 26 August 2006 (UTC)

Examples of Pseudoreligions--extremely POV the way info is presented now[edit]

The "philiosophical pseudoreligion" part is especially egregious. Marxism is a "pseudoreligion" because one guy said so in a text? No real attempt is made to distinguish commentators' positions on these movements from Wikipedia's position (which should be neutral) on them. Personally, I'd like to see this section deleted or changed so that it states clearly that these religions or philosphical movements have been described as pseudoreligions and why. By its nature, "pseudoreligion" is a very POV term, and we need to be careful not to use it ourselves, but rather to describe how it's been used.--Birdmessenger 21:27, 2 September 2006 (UTC)

Alright, I made changes as per above. Please note, however, that I'm not the one who removed references to Objectivism. If it were up to me, I'd keep those in, with the qualification that Objectivism does not bill itself as a religion, pseudo or otherwise (and as further illustration of the way in which the term has inexact and perjorative uses).--Birdmessenger 14:21, 5 September 2006 (UTC)

"Examples of this include the various sects of Gnosticism." Maybe a few Gnostic sects, though if you examine history of how it was determined what was canon (one instance, for example, was one debate party showing up first and finalizing before the other party arrived, who, IIRC, was thereafter attacked) even this may not be the case, especially from a viewpoint including the rest of Orthodoxy besides Catholicism. Some (even many or most) Gnostics were Nazir-Essene/Nasoraean/Nazarene/Nazoraean (many spellings exist) Judaist, as well as Greek Philosophers. There is evidence (not on Wikipedia yet, I think) Nazareans existed since the time of Exodus (at least true of Nazirs, which has a different original meaning but most of the same definitions,) and Greek Gnostics lived several centuries BC. Pharisees on the other hand, who are not considered psuedoreligious, are a relatively recent (about 500 BC) sect. The statement I quoted seems very conventional, i.e. exoteric monotheist biased, especially to Phariseeism and Catholicism. It may be their doctrine to call pagans and Protestants heretical, besides Nazareans--not everyone would do that. The amount of people in a sect, or the fact that one was eliminated (and that fewer people nowadays condone it) does not determine whether it is pseudoreligious.

Motivation[edit]

Surely a key aspect of pseudoreligion is motivation. If the desire is to truly understand and follow the will of God, then, regardless of whether it is right or wrong, it is a religion. If the desire is self serving, "empowerment", and essentially the elevation of self to the central focus, or the manipulation of God, then it is pseudoreligion. In that regard, it shares the distinction of true science from pseudoscience. You can get genuine science which is bad, perhaps contains a flawed methodology, but remains "true science", but the minute the language and semiotics of science are contorted to fulfil ulterior and non-scientific goals, it becomes pseudoscience? Is that not the definition of pseudo-anything? Ros Power 20:11, 17 September 2006 (UTC)

Not all autotheists would agree with you, nor would people in religions that do excessive (or any) blood sacrifice. Yet, those are called religions.--Dchmelik (talk) 10:08, 5 June 2008 (UTC)

regarding the "test" of pseudoreligions[edit]

Just because material is sourced does not mean it is suitable for Wikipedia. One concern that I have about using the Carmine article as a source is that he is appears to be using this "test" toward the end of defining feminism and "PCism" as "bad religions" (and on a site called intellectualconservative.com no less). Our article fails to contextualize this bias in any real way. It makes a fine example of how the term "pseudoreligion" is absolutely devoid of analytical value, but I somehow doubt that that was what the source is intended to illustrate. Personally, I think this entire article should be deleted altogether for the reasons listed the first time around. But I suppose I'll settle for some better sources...--Media anthro 21:00, 27 December 2006 (UTC)

  • By definition, material that is sourced is suitable for Wikipedia. WP articles aren't about "contextualizing" bias -- they are about presenting information which is verifiable and sourceable. You might argue, in the alternative, that Professor Carmine's writings aren't reliable; however, as the head of a philosophy department, even at a private Catholic liberal arts college, his words tend to carry more weight than what you or I might think. Find a contrasting source which provides an alternative "test", but do not remove material from an article simply because you do not agree with it, or do not like the person who is cited. You might also make a legitimate argument that this be merged with Approaches to distinguishing religion from non-religion, although that article likewise suffers from poor sourcing. --LeflymanTalk 03:07, 28 December 2006 (UTC)
I hope that pointing this out doesn't make it more difficult for us to work this out, but referring to another editor's reversions in the summary box as "edit warring" is really bad form when you are the only other person reverting.
It is not on the basis of like or dislike or politics that I have proposed removing the source. Is our article desribing accurately what the source is saying? Mostly, the Carmine article seems to be about forms of thought that many people would not consider pseudoreligion (feminism is pseudoreligion?). Thus, the Wikipedia article does not provide the reader a reliable source on pseudoreligions but rather a conservative polemic on secular life (among other things).
The fact that the test is placed at the end of the article and cited at relatively greater length than other sources is problematic.If it is to be kept on the basis that we should include a variety of things that have been said about pseudoreligion, I would hope we could agree on some text that makes clearer the perspectives and conclusions of Carmine's article. It does not have to be the text that I have reinstated, but perhaps something indicating that the term psuedoreligion does not enjoy standard usage, nor does this "test" represent some sort of standard or mainstream philosophical view. --Media anthro 12:26, 28 December 2006 (UTC)
A detailed account would be inappropriate. If there is a section that covers the full use of the term we could metion these. But this would be like the war article also including a list of everything that can metaphorically be referred to as a war (love, etc.). savid@n 15:12, 28 December 2006 (UTC)
Again, if you disagree with the source, the appropriate way to provide balance is to find a contrasting source for citation. However, your addition of "The origins and types of so-called pseudoreligions are varied, and the term itself is often used by some groups to describe others as illegitimate, making it difficult to produce a consensus on what constitutes a pseudoreligion. " is itself an unsourced "weasel worded" assertion, which should not be included. Finally my usage of edit warring refers to the deletion of legitimate content from an article, due to disagreement with that content, and subsequent repeated removal. My reverts to the stable form of the article would not consitute an "edit war".--LeflymanTalk 16:06, 28 December 2006 (UTC)
Okay, I'm definitely open to changing that text that I reinstated, though I'm very opposed to just leaving the Carmine ref unprefaced. What about something like this:
It is difficult to find any consensus on what constitututes a pseudoreligion. James Carmine, chair of Carlow University's philosophy department, proposes a three-pronged test to distinguish "authentic" religions from pseudoreligions [1]:
1. Any religion lacking a guiding coherent theology is a pseudo-religion.
2. Any religion entirely self referential is a pseudo-religion.
3. Any religion whose only fruit is adherence to itself is a pseudo-religion.
Perhaps this eventually could be turned into a section on definitions of pseudoreligion, if we could find additional sources (I'm not getting a lot of hits in the academic databases though, which I think might say something about the notability of the topic).
I also think the possibility of a merge with Approaches to distinguishing religion from non-religion is worth considering. That article gives the whole problem of "what is/isn't a religion" a more holistic treatment. Not to mention I can probably contribute a boatload of anthropological sources to that article.--Media anthro 16:25, 28 December 2006 (UTC)

Those pseudoreligion guidlines render most religions psuedoreligions:[edit]

This article has one of someones guidlines as: "Any religion entirely self referential is a pseudo-religion." This renders most religions as psuedoreligions.

For example.

Q. How do people know the Bible is true?
A. It is the word of God.
Q. How do people know it is the word of God?
A. It tells them in the Bible.
Q, How would...

Etcetera. See also: Circular logic.--Steven X 05:44, 12 January 2007 (UTC)

That's correct. Even those that have been historically proven are not neccessarily true -in terms of religious truth.--Orthologist 17:00, 14 March 2007 (UTC)

OK, but that reflects the flaws of that definition of "pseudoreligion", since such circularities needn't exist in a pseudoreligion, and are easily replaceable with a straight-lined reasoning based on "well chosen" Equivocations. If there should be a concept such as pseudoreligion, it should be based on that it alleges to convey advantages that religions do convey, but that the pseudoreligion doesn't. Fallacies are fallacies and a pseudoreligion would probably not restrict itself to use just one of them. Rursus dixit. (mbork3!) 20:39, 30 April 2010 (UTC)
Meaning that the second criterion is lacking. Rursus dixit. (mbork3!) 20:46, 30 April 2010 (UTC)
Reading the source, I don't think that James D. Carmine by "Any religion entirely self referential is a pseudo-religion" meant to refer to circular logic. Instead I get the impression that Carmine meant "entirely self referential" to mean "unable to respond to objections from outside", which by my studies is equivalent to a philosophical isolation of a cultic mindset system. Rursus dixit. (mbork3!) 21:01, 30 April 2010 (UTC)

No term[edit]

Only the source of James Carmine does actually try to make a term definition of "pseudoreligion", the other sources mention "pseudoreligion" not as defined terms, but as an alias for "fake religion". Why don't we have articles for "fake clowns" or for "fake houses"? Because they're not terms. The term pseudoreligion has one source, the other sources uses "pseudo-" as a linguistically universal alias for "fake". IMHO Carmine defines "pseudoreligion" very much like "cult", only not describing any totalitarian tendency so typical for what I consider "hard-line cults". Rursus dixit. (mbork3!) 21:26, 30 April 2010 (UTC)

I mean: the article is WP:OR:ish doing WP:SYNTH. Rursus dixit. (mbork3!) 21:27, 30 April 2010 (UTC)
Here's another try to define a term pseudoreligion Religion and pseudo-religion: an elusive boundary by Sami Pihlström. This link provides a term, like Carmine does. The other links used in this article uses "pseudoreligion" as an alias for "fake religion", and should be cleaned away, because they don't adher to any definition. Rursus dixit. (mbork3!) 06:56, 1 May 2010 (UTC)