Human mind is very powerful and even has from ancient times the ability to face death with ideas and beliefs about what comes after it.
No one should underestimate the tremendous power of religious belief. It would be totally irresponsible for a government of a state to claim in the name of liberty that "faith is everyone's private matter" and leave it alone. No government in the world does so and many laws control the way individuals are allowed to behave in religious groups. Religion and good citizenship goes hand in hand in such diversity of countries as Israel, Saudi Arabia, France, Argentina and Zimbabwe.
The reason to the social controls of religion are in the structure of religious communities. They are usually led by strong charismatic characters who inspire their followers in a way no political ideology or philosophical doctrine can do.
Menachem Mendel Schneerson, on the car tops of Chabad people suggesting that perhaps he is that promised anointed leader. He was a religious leader who had to be very careful with his words and suggestions as his followers are ready to do whatever he exhorted. Power with responsibility.
Simon called Peter and his brother Andrew, to be fishers of men.
Harry Anderson 1906-1996
Human race consists of shepherds and lambs, leaders and followers, and religion is the deepest possible way to tie them together. Jesus of Nazareth told to those fishermen "I will make you fishers of men". And He did.
But not all the shepherds are good and not all the fishermen are catching people to something nice and good. Religion can be a source of immense evil and most sick social orders one can imagine.
The men flying those kamikaze air planes were motivated by genuine religious fewer and violent religious ideas that are not accepted by all the Moslem people around the world. But they are accepted and admired by some very serious people Their leader had shaped the religion against the great Satan of America and anything goes in the name of God.
A very sad example of such no-good fishers of people is Marshall Applewhite (1931-1997). While recovering from a near-death experience Marshall became convinced that he and his nurse, Bonnie Nettles (1927-1985) are the Two Witnesses mentioned in a mighty passage of Revelation, the Second Woe:
And I will give power unto my two witnesses, and they shall prophesy a thousand two hundred and threescore days, clothed in sackcloth.
These are the two olive trees, and the two candlesticks standing before the God of the earth.
And if any man will hurt them, fire proceedeth out of their mouth, and devoureth their enemies: and if any man will hurt them, he must in this manner be killed.
These have power to shut heaven, that it rain not in the days of their prophecy: and have power over waters to turn them to blood, and to smite the earth with all plagues, as often as they will.
And when they shall have finished their testimony, the beast that ascendeth out of the bottomless pit shall make war against them, and shall overcome them, and kill them.
And their dead bodies shall lie in the street of the great city, which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, where also our Lord was crucified.
And they of the people and kindreds and tongues and nations shall see their dead bodies three days and an half, and shall not suffer their dead bodies to be put in graves.
And they that dwell upon the earth shall rejoice over them, and make merry, and shall send gifts one to another; because these two prophets tormented them that dwelt on the earth.
And after three days and an half the Spirit of life from God entered into them, and they stood upon their feet; and great fear fell upon them which saw them.
And they heard a great voice from heaven saying unto them, Come up hither. And they ascended up to heaven in a cloud; and their enemies beheld them.
And the same hour was there a great earthquake, and the tenth part of the city fell, and in the earthquake were slain of men seven thousand: and the remnant were affrighted, and gave glory to the God of heaven.
Revelation 11:3-13 KJVA
This is not a "small text" from the Bible. This is a massive life and death text that has truly apocalyptic dimensions.
Well. If religion is just a private matter these two would have the freedom to believe whatever they think. They want to be the Two Witnesses so let them be - who cares.
Unfortunately, religion does not work that way. It is catchy. It catches people like nets catch fish in the lake. Marshall and Bonnie developed their ideas together and reached a belief system whit quite fantastic cosmic dimensions. In the same way as George Lucas created his innocent adventures of Star Wars in his lovely childish mind these two people created their own fairytale. But this tale was a truly religious fantasy and there was nothing childish, lovely or innocent about it.
"It is also possible that part of our test of faith is our hating this world, even our flesh body, to the extent to be willing to leave it without any proof of the Next Level's existence".
Yes. It is possible.
Human mind is very powerful to the point of being able to be tested by death. Christian martyrs from the Roman period before Constantine the Great are a shining example of this power of mind over matter.
Heaven's Gate UFO cult the monastic society that Applewhite established was nurtured with a faith that was a mixture of hatred of life on earth and a most poisonous mixture of imaginary "truths" cooked up by the sick mind of a single human. And too many drank that poison created by Applewhite in their Final Exit on March 19, 1997.
Thirty eight people were found dead together with their leader Applewhite. He had fished men and women with his religious nonsense and had caught way too many with his lies.
In a great operation the Earth would be recycled, washed and cleaned from human trash rejuvenated expanding on the theme in the Book of Revelation. The only way to salvation to the Next Level would be to go through the gate of heavens. Somehow and suddenly Applewhite realized that the Gate is the Hale-Bobb comet designated C/1995 O1 that was fast approaching planet Earth from the space. There is always a danger that some asteroid or comet will hit our planet again and media had a field day playing with such ideas creating an atmosphere that was not healthy to all people.
An ice cold empty rock flying on its orbit through the vast emptiness of the space with a bright tail of dust illuminated by our sun. In Applewhite's imagination this was the vehicle and his mind crossed over all the rational arguments against it. Mind would take control and the human bodies would obey. They would leave the Earth at the last moment and ride this marvellous and scary comet to the New Level.
What nonsense you say.
Yes. But thirty nine people killed themselves because they firmly believed with Applewhite that he somehow knew the greatest truths about the fate of this planet. He and Bonnie, who had died already in 1985, were the Two Witnesses of the Bible and their brand of space theology was convincing enough to those poor souls.
makes one want to cry. Ready for the Next Level.
Power of mind. Power of religious faith.
But the story is also a chilling reminder that space is today one of the main sources of religious awe to humans, an exciting and challenging unknown, the ground for beautiful imaginary adventures in outer worlds - and also the source of great falsehoods and dangerous religious ideas that can kill people.
Religion and truth
If they do not go hand in hand religion can turn into something very dangerous.
Apostle Paul talks about the love of truth which God is ready to give as a present to those who ask for it. Love of truth is not an easy present. But it is a divine present:
Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him,
That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand.
Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition;
Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God.
Remember ye not, that, when I was yet with you, I told you these things?
And now ye know what withholdeth that he might be revealed in his time.
For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way.
And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming:
Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders,
And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved.
2 Thessalonian 2:1-10 KJVA
Love of truth does not mean knowing all the truth. It is well said that if you meet someone who thinks he or she knows all the truth run, Forrest, run!
It means that a Christian should love truth and never accept anything about the world, about religion, about himself or herself, that is not truthful.
Love of truth?
Easy - for He is the Truth. And there is nothing more loveable in this world or in the coming one than He, Jesus Christ.