On people who start their own religion

On people who start their own religion

When I was in high school I was a wise guy - a smart alec. I have improved slightly over the years, but I still have weisenheimer areas in my noggin.

So I have felt intrigued by the development of certain new religions. One is the Satanic Temple, a US group that argues for the right to distribute satanic pamphlets in public schools whenever Christian groups distribute written religious materials.

Members, who like to remain anonymous, believe not in the biblical Satan but in the literary one. They use Satan as a symbol of rebellion against social norms. This religion has spread to Canada and the UK.

Another new religion was created in the US by Bobby Henderson more than a decade ago - the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, aka Pastafarianism.

The main goal of this church is to oppose the teaching of creationism and intelligent design in public schools.

The church demands time in schools to teach about the Flying Spaghetti Monster to match time spent on intelligent design.

There is a new documentary out about the church: I, Pastafar. I want to catch that.

Then there is the Satanic Church, started in the 1960s by Anton LeVay in San Francisco. It follows the Satanic Bible, which takes the position that might makes right. The church, which says that it promotes autonomy and rebellion, operates in Australia, as well as the US.

You might think it is a group of hell raisers, but the Aussie branch's Facebook page looks calm.

I am not sure how serious the relatively few members of these religions are, but there is no need for me to judge that. The members all have their own agendas.

If the leaders of these religions want to attract the masses, they must offer members everlasting life or something else of great appeal. Promoting science, independent thought and rebellion can do only so much to attract new members.

I like people who create their own religion. They make me think of synthetic biologists. These are scientists who, among other things, try to create life from scratch. I have never even made a cake from scratch.

These scientists have shown some progress, but they still have work to do before they experience the thrill of shouting: "It's alive!"

It seems as if everyone is playing god these days. Except for me. Am I too humble? Nah. Too simple-minded? You are getting closer there.

John Malouff is an Associate Professor at the School of Psychology, University of New England.