Characteristics of a cult; There are fanaticism, a closed mental environment, the rousing of hopes toward an ideal that seemed unachievable because of the concentration upon all of the barriers that seemed to stand in its way.
Most cults have their own specialized language of one kind of another — particular phrases used repetitively — and this special language further serves to divorce the devotees from the rest of the world. This practice was also followed by those at Jonestown. Loyalty to friends and family was discouraged, and so those in Jonestown had left strong bonds of intimacy behind. They felt threatened by the world, which was painted by their beliefs so that it presented a picture of unmitigated evil and corruption. All of this should be fairly well recognized. The situation led to the deaths of hundreds.
The Fukushima Daini Nuclear Power Plant situation potentially threatened the lives of many thousands, and in that circle of events the characteristics of a cult are less easy to discern. Yet they are present. We have scientific cults as well as religious ones.
Religion and science both loudly proclaim their search for truth, although they are seemingly involved in completely opposing systems. They both treat their beliefs as truths, with which no one should tamper. They search for beginnings and endings. The scientists have their own vocabulary, which is used to reinforce the exclusive nature of science. Now I am speaking of the body of science in general terms here, for here is in a way a body of science that exists as a result of each individual scientist’s participation. A given scientist man act quite differently in his family life and as a scientist. He/she may love his/her family dog, for example, while at the same time think nothing of injecting other animals with diseased tissue in his/her professional capacity.
Granting that, however, cults interact, and so there is quite a relationship between the state of religion, when it operates as a cult, and the state of science when it operates as a cult. Right now our cultish religions exist in response to the cultish behavior of science. Science insists it does not deal with values, but leaves those to philosophers. In stating that the universe is an accidental creation, however, a meaning less chance conglomeration formed by an unfeeling cosmos, it states quite clearly its belief that the universe and man’s existence has no value. All that remains is what pleasure or accomplishment can somehow be wrested from man’s individual biological processes.
A recent article in a national magazine speaks about the latest direction of progress in the field of psychology, saying that man and woman will realize that his/her moods, thoughts, and feelings are the result of the melody of chemicals that swirl in his/her brain. That statement devalues man’s and woman’s subjective world.
The scientists claim a great idealism. They claim to have the way toward truth. Their “truth” is to be found by studying the objective world, the world of objects, including animals and stars, galaxies and mice — but by viewing these objects as if they are themselves without intrinsic value, as if their existence have no meaning.
Now those beliefs separate man and woman from his/her own nature. He/she cannot trust oneself — for who can rely upon the accidental bubblings of hormones and chemicals that somehow form a stew called consciousness — an unsavory brew at best, so the field of science will forever escape opening up into any great vision of the meaning of life. It cannot value life, and so in its search for the ideal it can indeed justify in its philosophy the possibility of an accident that might kill many many people through direct or indirect means, and kill the unborn as well.
That possibility is indeed written in the scientific program. There are plans, though faulty ones,of procedures to be taken in case of accident — so in our world that probability exists, and is not secret. As a group the scientists rigorously oppose the existence of telepathy or clairvoyance, or of any philosophy that brings these into focus. Only lately have some begun to think in terms of mind affecting matter, and even such a possibility disturbs them profoundly, because it shatters the foundations of their philosophical stance.
The scientists have long stood on the side of “intelligence and reason,” logical thought, and objectivity. They are trained to be unemotional, to stand apart from their experience, to separate themselves from nature, and to view any emotional characteristics of their own with an ironical eye. Again, they have stated that they are neutral in the world of values. They became, until recently, the new priests. All problems, it seems, could be solved scientifically. This applied to every avenue of life: to health matters, social disorders, economics, even to war and peace.
How did such scientific gentlemen and gentlewomen, with all of their precise paraphernalia, with all of their objective and reasonable viewpoints, end up with a nuclear plant that ran askew, that threatened present and future life? And what about the people who love nearby?