Religion on the brain
Rahasya Poe’s new book, To Believe, or Not to Believe: The Neurological Consequences of Belief Systems, promises to challenge long-standing convictions of religious believers. Poe has worked as a psychiatric technician, drug and alcohol counselor, clinical hypnotherapist and a publisher and writer for the Lotus Guide. This is Poe’s second book, and it was influenced by interviews with many scientists and quantum psychiatrists. It took Poe three years to collect the interviews and two years to write the book, which is available at Lyon Books in downtown Chico.
What do you mean when you say, “I think we need to start looking for and finding the common denominator underlying world events and the decisions being made in every area of society?”
This line is based on a Voltaire quote: If you are made to believe in absurdity, then you will commit atrocities. If you go to almost any chaotic area in the world, you can see that their beliefs have become absurd. When people’s neuro-networking systems are trained to believe in something that is absurd, then they can be manipulated to do things they wouldn’t ever do. An example of this was the terrorists who conducted the 9/11 attacks.
In the preface you also state that writing this book “gave rise to a hidden anger.” Can you explain?
I originally got rid of the first transcript I wrote because after feedback from editors and reading it myself, I realized how cynical and sarcastic it was. Generally I am a peaceful person, but I was filled with so much contention and anger realizing how many wars have been fought over people’s beliefs. It changed the flavor of my writing, and changed me personally. Once I exposed that, I was able to deal with it.
Can you explain the concept of “denial of death”?
Denial of death causes us as societies to create an afterlife. All religions have an explanation of what the afterlife is and how to get there. Through living trusts and tombstones we try to mark our place in time because we don’t know what’s on the other side. I think we need to have the courage to admit we live in a mystery. We need to understand that it’s OK not to know what happens after we die and not think about it instead of making up stories.
What do you see as the future of religion?
I think we’re starting to head toward a more open approach, with scientists taking the lead. Even the Vatican has hired people to run observatories. Our destiny is not to sit idly; we’re finally coming of age where science will take the forefront into adventurous excursions into the unknown.