In the West, the Renaissance was a period of transition from the Middle Ages to the Modern Age. Under the very foundations of this movement lay a revolt against all that was holy, belittling every thought, philosophy, and value, alongside the claim that a person could create his or her "self." Nourished by scientific and technological advancement, this approach at the end of the nineteenth century led to the belief that there remained no problem that physics could not solve and maintained that having surpassed the stages of religion and metaphysics, humanity would no longer need religion.
However, the twentieth century witnessed a comeback of the same, or similar movements, which nineteenth century positivism, a movement that ended with trends like materialism and atheism based on denial, had viewed as false beliefs or religions of "primitive ages" or "primitive man"; these religions had been seen as being part of a historical process that continuously progresses. Such movements had therefore been labeled as things of the past, yet these same movements were being promoted by globalism. To sum up, as the conjectures of science and philosophy proved to be false, one after the other, the trends triggered by the world they had created brought about a "socio-psychopathological" case. The psychiatrists Gökhan Karadaş and Bülent Acar comment on the issue that they have identified as socio-psychopathological:
"Human beings in their present state resemble stone age people who found themselves in an unknown jungle. Everything becomes increasingly obscure and inaccessible and the existence of the human being is endangered in the face of obscurity and inaccessibility."
Nevertheless, despite this reality, some psychiatrists still approach the issue from a positivist perspective.
The nineteenth century saw, on one hand, the zenith of the science-based positivist and materialist trends, and the promulgation of mystical movements or the resurrection of historical movements on the other. For example, Helena Petrovna Blatavasky, born in the Ukraine in 1831, established the Theosophical Society together with Colonel Henry Steel Olcott and William Quan Judge. Theosophy means the Wisdom of God and Divine Knowledge. The society had three purposes:
- To enable universal brotherhood;
- To study religion, philosophy, and science;
- To study the laws of nature and to develop the divine powers hidden in man.
One of the important esoteric movements that originated in the West was Hermeticism. Although Hermeticism first originated in ancient Egypt, it was resurrected in the West in the seventeenth century. Having developed alongside Masonry in the eighteenth century and acting as a guiding force in its symbolic rituals, Hermeticism made quite an impact on the formation of effective esoteric movements like Theosophy, the Golden Dawn Hermetic Order, Martinism, on the revival of occultism, and on twentieth century paganism. It is possible to detect the hermetic legacy in some of the works of C.G.Jung, one of the leading figures in psychiatry. Jung's ideas deal with topics like alchemic symbolism, god-like archetypes, and the hidden aspects of the psyche.
George Ivanonitch Gurdijeff (born in 1886 in Alexandropol, Armenia) claimed that there was a fourth path besides Hermeticism, Western esoterism based on alchemy, and Hindu esoterism based on Yoga, Vedanta, etc. Concepts like "awareness," "knowing oneself," and "studying into oneself" are brought to the fore in his system. To Gurdijeff, human beings are in a dreamlike state, and they have to perform certain activities in order to wake up. In order to change the course of the mind and to stimulate different states of consciousness, several special movements and dances were to be performed, as well as it being necessary to attend philosophical and psychological seminars.
Besides alchemy and Hermeticism in western occultism and esoterism, sorcery, works that contain magic spells, depictions of genies and devils, astrology, and especially the Cabbalism of the middle ages were primary elements. It is possible to see the influences of such in the works of occulists like Paraselsus and Agrippa, who preceded Blatavasky and Gurdijeff. For example, Eliphas Levi Zahed (b. 1810), the French occultist who was a contemporary of those mentioned above, was interested in astrology, magic, Hermeticism, and Cabbalism all at the same time.
It is hard to say that these modern mystical movements, all of which can be called occultism, whatever their claims are, conflict with the science that started progressing with the Renaissance, at least from the perspective of their goals. As mentioned above, the basis and aim of the Renaissance and the sciences that followed were to make human beings into gods in their own right and to gain for humans essential power. These new mystical movements also shared the goal that science had failed to realize; however, in order to achieve this goal, they offered some methods that dated back to ancient times. Everything else aside, at the very core of these movements lay the same materialism and repudiative humanism that isolates humans from their true spiritual side.
"Cult" is a title given to small groups that combine individualism and esoteric ideals and that share a religious identity. The greatest spreading of cults occurred after World War II.
Cults can be classified as either metaphysical or parapsychological. The Church of Scientology is an example of a metaphysical cult that tries to combine the concepts of ancient religions with recent scientific developments and thus explain metaphysical truths and experiences with science. Parapsychological groups that try to explain and prove their beliefs through parapsychology are interested, for the most part, in telepathy and mind control.
Among the most important cults in the USA are the Moon movement, established by a Korean monk; the Hare Khrishnas, whose holy book is the Bagavitas Gita and which was established by Prabhupada, a Hindu who was believed to have been seized by Vishnu, one of the Hindu gods; the Church of Scientology, which appears to be a combination of Christianity and Buddhism, while using science as frame of reference, and placing a great emphasis on education; and the New Age Movement which shelters conflicting beliefs. The New Age Movement is Far Eastern oriented and places special emphasis on several applications aimed at building a coordination of the body and mind, as well as emphasizing mystical thoughts, sorcery, alternative medicine and dieting methods, the fusion of parapsychology and science, and ecology consciousness.
Some principles in modern cults, especially in the New Age Movement, are monism, pantheism, panentheism (the teaching that God is composed of the whole universe), reincarnation, karma (the belief that good and bad actions shape our destiny), aura (the field of energy that emanates from the body), transformation (activation of the "divine" power in human beings through an internal transformation brought about by hypnosis, meditation, dreams and some types of medicine), ecology consciousness and universal religion.
The modern cults of the New Age Movement adopt a holistic approach to health, which aims at maintaining a coordination between mind-soul-body through different methods, such as getting in touch with the single soul (of the world), using crystals in treatment, melodic music for meditation, relaxation techniques, astrology, acupuncture, crystal treatment techniques, massage, meditation, yoga, medium treatment, and color and music therapy, where mental and emotional improvement exercises aimed at boosting individual success comprise the basic practices or rituals.
Cults are widespread, especially in the USA, where there are well over a thousand cults in existence. Any newborn cult can easily find supporters, thanks to the wide use of the Internet. There are several reasons for the rapid spread of cults and their supporters. First, people are not satisfied merely with technological advancements and material life. Modern science has failed to be fulfilling on its own and fails to bring solutions to the questions of life and existence. Parapsychology has advanced and mystical movements originating in the Far East have become popular in order to fill the void left by the failure of science. Wars, such as the Vietnam War, have been the cause of many psychological problems and have caused people to resort to these mystical movements, which are intentionally promoted by Globalism and the New World Order.
Ali Shariati, a sociologist, interprets the spread of Far East oriented and Buddhism influenced movements thus:
"Welfare makes life meaningless and useless. It sweeps away excitement, hopes, expectations, and the future. Turning to the inner world makes people revolt against the material life. Buddha mirrors such a person. He rebels against his life in the paradise of the palace. This is the place where the people in the West have arrived. They revolt against the order of welfare and interest that is wholly material and lacks spirituality. Their destiny is the destiny of those who want to turn their lives into a paradise according to only the material life and the superiority of consumption; the place at which they arrive at last is emptiness, revolt, and the destruction of the consumer lifestyle. This was Buddha's destiny, just as it is the destiny of the West today. It is for this reason that Buddha is popular in the West." (History of Religions)
In fact, modern man is searching for his divine origins, as have all human beings up to now. However, people do not wish to believe in a religion that will restrict, train, and discipline them, and therefore they cannot believe in a god that is superior to them. Instead, people are on a dual quest, both for a life that is free and unencumbered, and for relief; this is an unachievable task. The movements that claim to end this quest whisper that in the relativity of full-fledged postmodernism and history every individual belief and thought is correct, and promise relief through certain practices. Thus, people are comforted with the false belief that they will surpass their previous successes and become more powerful by bringing out the "divine" power within; something that to date science has failed to do. People are led to believe that this power is hidden inside them; that they will be able to achieve what the powers of science and technology could not achieve; that they will live both freely and be able to relax mentally and spiritually; and, according to the claim of Buddha, that they will be able to bring paradise down to earth. Thus, people become interested in techniques such as understanding oneself, the uncovering of the "secrets of the soul," which are thought to be accessible through reflection, extending the scope of the freedom this energy will earn us, succeeding in the rat race, and balance and harmony achieved through methods of yoga and meditation. The interest shown in these techniques and movements, especially by people who earn a good income, is a symptom of this search for unattained happiness, and a desire for something different, fantastic, and original.
Behind the popularity of these mystical cults, which is especially high in Hollywood circles, behind the numerous publications, behind the production of films that lead some innocent Muslims to believe that the West is turning to religion and spirituality, lie globalization and New World Order policies. Globalization, the two bases of which are postmodernism and historicity, and the New World Order not only reject a single religious reality, but also a superhuman religious reality, maintaining instead the subjectivity and relativity of religion and belief. These two systems set forth to bring out the carnal elements inherent in religion and religious belief under the guise of discovering the self and the allegedly hidden powers in the human psyche. In short, they base religion on the human being, as post-renaissance scientism did, but now it is the psyche that is in the foreground rather than pure materialism. This is why some radical Christian circles, especially in America, oppose both Globalism and the New World Order, in the name of Americanism, Christianity, the American family and its traditions. They rightly think that the "new world religion" that globalization is trying to establish attempts to combine all beliefs into a single union, with an emphasis and priority put on Buddhism and Hinduism, the religions which seem most suited to serve this purpose. The fact that the Maharishi movement has recently established a "world government" with 40 ministers seems to have similar motives.
Satanism is not, as is widely believed, the worshiping of Satan, but rather one of the cults mentioned above; its characteristic being that it is a movement where one excels even Satan by becoming a satan him or herself. It is a cult that has no restrictions. In the East, Satanism first took shape as Yezidism, one of the most ancient beliefs in Mesopotamia, where an angel-like Satan, called Malak Tawus (The Peacock Angel), was worshipped. Today, Yezidis live in Germany, Georgia, Armenia, northern Iraq and Syria, and eastern Turkey. They never mention the name of the Satan they worship. According to their belief, the sun, moon, and the stars are holy, which is an influence of Sabii and ancient Mesopotamian beliefs.
There are two books considered holy by the Yezidis: the Jelwa (the Book of Revelation) and the Meshaf Resh (the Black Book). In Yezidism it is a sin to read or write, or to domesticate animals, and there is no belief in the Hereafter. To take refuge behind God instead of Satan is punishable by death. A Yezidi who fails to follow these principles commits suicide and thus sacrifices himself for Malak Tawus.
It can be said that the foundations of modern Satanism were laid by Alaister Crowley. According to Crowley, who became infamous for his sorcery and bloody rituals in which animals were slaughtered and where there was extensive use of drugs, human beings should perform all actions without consideration of the consequences. This is the philosophy that lies behind Satanism. Crowley claimed that Satan made him write The Book of Law, a text which lays out the principles of Satanism. Crowley desired to besmirch everything holy, to elevate murder and rape, longing for absolute power without establishing any principles of right or wrong.
Later, in the 1960s, one Anton Szandor LaVey, who came on the scene in California, established the Church of Satan. First revolting against Christianity and then forming a group called the Magic Circle, LaVey went on to write the Satanic Bible, which includes nine satanic laws. For LaVey, the main principles of Satanism are to separate from all religions and to take pleasure from the physical and mental makeup of human beings. Satan represents the idea that human beings are no better than animals and that all religions are sinful. Thus, Satanism is based on the principle of opposing all that is religious and moral, and doing the opposite of these.
Satanists do not believe in God, they do not believe that anything is superior to human beings, nor do they believe in the existence of a dimension other than the one where their animality takes its pleasures. In other words, they do not believe in angels, Heaven or Hell, holy books, souls, or even Satan. Only the material and the actual matter to them. They view Satan as a symbol not only of hostility toward religion, but also of the idea of living freely, and the power that surfaces when people are stimulated. They do not accept that there is any authority to which they should be amenable and they never recognize any higher value. A belief in spirituality and higher authority, the need to train and discipline oneself accordingly, to desire and struggle to live by the moral principles of one's belief are considered as being an estrangement from oneself, a pacification and deception of the self. Satanists believe that humans should discover themselves and be aware of the fact that they are no more than animals, without lying to themselves and being hypocritical.
In the publications of the Church of Satan, human beings are described as "wild animals that live according to their libido." Satanists maintain that as humans are no more than animals, they should not be reluctant to enjoy their animality. Reluctance to do so is hypocritical.
It is possible to see clearly the reality of Satanism when we look at its fundamental principles, and examine what it considers sinful; i.e what it thinks to be opposable. Here are some of the twenty-one orders:
· Respect not pity or weakness, for they are a disease which makes sick the strong.
· Test always your strength, for therein lies success
· Seek happiness in victory - but never in peace
· Come as a reaper, for thus you shall sow
· Never love anything so much you cannot see it die
· Strive ever for more, for conquest is never done
· And die rather than submit
· Forge not works of art but swords of death, for therein lies great art
· Learn to raise yourself above yourself so can triumph over all
· The blood of the living makes good fertilizer for the seeds of the new
· He who stands atop the highest pyramid of skulls can see the furthest
· Discard not love but treat it as an imposter, but ever be just
· All that is great is built upon sorrow
· Strive not only forward, but upwards for greatness lies in the highest
· Come as a fresh strong wind that breaks yet also creates
· Reject all illusion and lies, for they hinder the strong
When we look closely at these orders, we see that first and foremost comes power, being powerful, success, indulgence, death and murder, the rejection of all human virtues, and revolt against all laws. In another text that describes the principles of Satanism in a different, philosophical manner, the following statements are made:
· Satanism offers indulgence instead of abstinence!
· Satanism offers vital existence instead of spiritual pipe dreams!
· Satan offers undefiled wisdom instead of hypocritical self-deceit!
· Satan offers vengeance instead of turning the other cheek!
· Satanism says: man is just another animal, sometimes better, more often worse than those that walk on all-fours, who, because of his "divine spiritual and intellectual development," has become the most vicious animal of all! (In other words, for man, who himself is an animal, to be better than animals he has to be wilder.)
· Satanism says all of the so-called sins lead to physical, mental, or emotional gratification!
· Satanism approves of everything you do for yourself and get pleasure from.
· Whoever knows and practices this is a Satanist.
Other religions place on humans some restrictions that people find immoral or repugnant; these are sins. In Satanism, it is a sin to observe such restrictions.
The statement of a young person on how and why he became Satanist is sufficient to explain the essence of Satanism:
"A friend of ours who always listened to heavy metal music used to claim that he was in touch with secret powers. When we went to his place, he would behave as if he was out of his mind. I witnessed in person what kind of perverted things he did to the pages of the Qur'an. We were all enemies of religion. We did unthinkable things to the pages of the Holy Qur'an, to the walls of mosques, and to the musallas (areas where funeral services are performed) in mosque courtyards, gratifying our needs. We were brainwashed into thinking that we were serving Satan in this way. We taunted Satan, saying 'I'm sure Satan gets jealous when he sees what we do.' We chatted with Satan on the Internet. We enjoyed doing this the most."
Humanity entered a new era at the time of the Renaissance. Although subsequent developments were given names like enlightenment, rationalism, or positivism, they were all based on the desire to discover the so-called "divine" power in humans that would allow them to be themselves, revolting against divinity, that is against God and the religion He had sent. This philosophy selected Prometheus as a model. In Greek mythology, Prometheus was a titan who stole the holy fire from heavens and gave it to mankind. Therefore, he was chained and tortured by Zeus. This philosophy from the very start rejects a belief in and understanding of a supernatural god (i.e. God), however, in so doing it idolizes everything that exists physically, and therefore, it naturally worships the human being. It is not for nothing that monism, pantheism, and panentheism were adopted and that in the philosophical systems developed after the Renaissance and in cults born in recent centuries, and more especially in the mystical cults of the present day, that it has been claimed that man possesses some divine powers. The perception and philosophy of humanity's role that were born with the Renaissance places humans at the center of existence. Humanity was seen as being solely composed of physical and psychic elements. It was thought that there is no power greater than a person, no power that can restrict them. Prior to the Renaissance, the idea of a greater power had been brought to the fore, enhanced by individual weakness and the desires of others, such as a fear of natural forces, loyalty to a patriarchal authority, or the idea that the interests of society should come first. But once people, with the help of science and technology, lost their fear of nature, and, with the onset of the Renaissance, discovered "themselves" and the power "within," they felt that they could now abandon God. As a result they began to think that it was the human race who had created God, not vice versa.
Modern man started out on this understanding. However, clearly perceiving that they were not the creator of God or themselves, people attributed creation to several other powers, like matter, coincidence, or nature itself, none of which have wisdom, will, or power. Although creation is more than merely ruling creatures and requires a wisdom, will, and power that recognize all creation, people attributed such abilities to nature, matter, or coincidences, monopolizing the order and management of their life. In short, the hypocrisy of humanity was revealed; the true intention of modern humanity and the founders and rulers of the modern world was to live in indulgence and remove all obstacles that stood before them. The desire was to rule the world and other people; therefore they wanted to abolish all religion and divine authority. However, this was done by hiding behind philosophies, concepts, and so-called assumptions. Theories like Darwinism, social Darwinism, and Freudianism played especially significant roles in this issue. Darwinism offered the so-called theory that man is descended from the apes. Social Darwinism, equated with Spencerism, rejected religious belief and its effects on life, favored power and the powerful and condemned the weak to poverty, paved the way to the birth and rise of fascism, and was the seedbed of the struggle between the races.
Despite all the claims, science and technology did not suffice to prove the claims of modern humanity, and its inadequacy is today as clear as day. Religion is showing signs of rebirth after having been attacked for centuries. People now want to believe again and to adhere to a religion. They have discovered that their very nature requires them to do so. The world that science and technology established did not satisfy humanity. In such circumstances people search for new quests. Globalization and the New World Order that have been produced as an ideology by some circles of power that are trying to rule the world, are aimed at leading these quests. These are the main causes for the spread of the mystical or esoteric cults we have briefly mentioned here, and especially that of Satanism, which represents the outer fringe.
In order to take a stand against Satanism, sincere action is required as a foremost step to take. It is insincere, naive, or to put it more strongly, ignorant to try to be positively scientific and rational, yet at the same time to oppose Satanism, to adopt the new life order and to reject Satanism, to be Darwinist, materialist, and anti-religious in education, worldview, and the management of one's life, while trying to prevent certain false mystical movements. If we are to deal with the matter effectively, first of all we need to analyze and understand the nature of these problems and their underlying reasons, otherwise it would be all too easy to continue to follow paths that lead in a false direction, away from one all-powerful God.Ali Ünal, a newspaper columnist and author of several Islamic books, looks into the background of such similar mystic movements that have recently become popular. He gives comprehensive information on Satanism, the evil extreme of some mystic quests.