“Come now, let us reason together.”
Are there any “Friends” fans out there? I think that I have seen every episode a minimum of four times each. My husband and I still watch the whole series every year. If you are as diehard a fan as I, you will remember the first scene of the very first episode; newly divorced Ross, forlornly speaks his thoughts and says,
“I don’t want to be single, I just want to be married again.”
Before the words can even finish leaving his mouth, the beautiful Rachel Green bursts through the doors in a wedding dress.
And in his usual, snarky bemusement, Chandler exclaims,
“And I just want a million dollars!”
If you are wondering what “The Law of Attraction” is, you have it right there. It is the belief that thoughts become things. So, if you think positive thoughts like abundance and success, that is what you will receive. If you think negative thoughts like sickness or poverty, then that is what you will draw to yourself. There’s a Rachel Green or a million dollars for whoever “manifests” it.
A more popular example that you may be familiar with would be with the bestselling book and 2006 documentary film by Rhonda Byrne, The Secret.
These publications were popularized by Oprah Winfrey, Ellen DeGeneres, and Larry King. The film includes interviews with “Secret Teachers” who include professionals in the fields of quantum physics, psychology, metaphysics, and personal development.
The Secret and the Law of Attraction have come out of the “New Thought” movement that developed in the 19th century in America. Various religious denominations, philosophers, and individuals share the New Thought core beliefs;
- “God” or “Infinite Intelligence” is supreme, universal, and everlasting.
- Humans are inherently divine.
- “the highest spiritual principle is loving one another unconditionally…and teaching and healing one another.”
- “our mental states are carried forward into manifestation and become our experience in daily living.”
Doesn’t sound too sinister, right?
Let’s first look at where these teachings originated:
The first person who coined the term “The Law of Attraction” was Russian Occultist and medium, Helena Blavatsky. She was the first to put it in print, in her 1877 book, “Isis Unveiled”; in which she gathered a number of themes central to the occult tradition. Some of the doctrines in this work were later significantly altered, confusing her readers by the seeming contradictions. Blavatsky was also accused of plagiarizing Isis Unveiled from earlier occult works. If you don’t already know her, you can learn more about her in last month’s blog.
Although Rhonda Byrne popularized this concept through The Secret in the early 2000’s,
the credit should really be paid due to Esther Hicks, whom was edited out of the film version.
Esther has written several books and hosted many workshops on the law of attraction. How did she become such an expert? According to her, she has tapped into an infinite intelligence and translated it from a self-proclaimed “group consciousness from a non-physical dimension” that refers to itself as “Abraham.” These non-physical entities teach that people create their own reality through their attention and focus.
I’m trying to think here for a minute, where else have we heard about a group of non-physical entities speaking? Oh ya, in Mark 5:7-10 when Jesus cast the demons out of the man!
“And crying out with a loud voice, he said, “What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I adjure you by God, do not torment me.” For He was saying to him, “Come out of the man, you unclean spirit!” And Jesus asked him, “What is your name?” He replied, “My name is Legion, for we are many.”“
So, what is the foundational worldview behind the Law of Attraction?
Pantheism. According to Webster’s dictionary, it is a “doctrine that equates God with the forces and laws of the universe.” Essentially, God is just another word for the laws of nature and the material world. The wind is God, the trees are God, you are God, and I am God. There is no personal deity outside of time and space; God is the innermost essence of every individual thing in the universe. You will know someone is a Pantheist when they say, “All is God”. To a Pantheist, all things in the universe can be reduced to a single substance, known as consciousness. Consciousness is not just simply being awake, but it is what the universe itself is made of. Since all is God, then man is inherently divine; and it is man’s task to attain enlightenment or to awaken to the state of consciousness that remembers its divinity.
This worldview may not be a problem for most, but for anyone who claims to be a follower of Jesus, it is completely contradictory to core doctrine. Man is not divine, he is sinful. Made in the image of God? Yes. Divine? Not so much. (If you want to watch a great video that explains being made in the image of God, click here.)
Steven Bancarz observes that,
“Pantheism is not just a false theology, it’s a symptom of moral rebellion against a holy God.”
We see in Romans chapter one that God has given mankind a general revelation of Himself through creation, but man suppresses this knowledge through unrighteousness.
“…For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For His invisible attributes, namely, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.” vs. 19-20
We are shown this in Psalm 19,
“The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims His handiwork.”
The Bible begins with a distinct Creator, who existed before all things and spoke all things into existence, holding all things together.
We cannot claim to be followers of Jesus and at the same time subscribe to Pantheism.
So what about the science behind the law of attraction?
Proponents of the law of attraction often use “evidence” like quantum physics or the quantum field theory to support their beliefs in a collective unconscious. They suggest that we communicate with these fields through our intentions and our minds. But if we are to be more precise, our bodies are actually made of these quantum field(s) on a subatomic level. Since we are made of particles and a particle is a fluctuation in a quantum field, you could say that our bodies are made of fluctuations in quantum fields. This implies nothing supernatural.
“The minute you look at a scientific discovery as supporting New Age theology, you have went from the realm of scientific to the realm of religion. It’s not that science can’t make discoveries with theologically rich implications, it’s that we need to know when the implications are warranted and when they aren’t, and the difference between observation and interpretation.”
These implications are presented by religiously biased “experts” who use metaphysical pseudoscience to support what they suggest. In what once was my favorite movie on the law of attraction, “What The Bleep Do We Know” theoretical physicist and P.H.D Fred Alan Wolf was featured for his scientific expertise.
Although presented as unbiased, Dr. Wolf’s field of specialty is in how science intersects with spirituality. He attributes his moment of spiritual awakening to a time when he was in a Buddhist monastery, and a fly landed on his foot. He claims that he and the fly had a shared moment of consciousness, where each of their consciousnesses became one consciousness.
He also believes that through yoga, one can move forward and backward through time. When asked about religion, he says that people who practice it “don’t get out of it what it is supposed to do for them”. (Because apparently God is a genie?) When inquired of if he prays, he said he doesn’t, except for “in times of stress” like when his dad was dying. So God only exists when we’re absolutely desperate?
Although the law of attraction is supposed to be a law of the universe, it sounds an awful lot like what Aleister Crowley defines as “magick”;
“the Science and Art of causing Change to occur in conformity with Will…it is theoretically possible to cause in any object any change of which that object is capable by nature.”
Some scientific claims of the law of attraction are:
- Electrons have positive charges
- In physics “Like always attracts like.” (So, forget about magnets then??)
- Thinking burns up brain matter
- Higher altitudes have more oxygen, and thus better air for breathing. (So, forget about Mt. Everest??)
- “The Universe” only hears nouns, not adjectives or qualifiers, and only sees pictures of your thoughts.
You would think something responsible for making something as complex as the human brain could understand adjectives and qualifiers?
Rhonda Byrne uses law of attraction logic in her health advice;
“If you see people who are overweight, do not observe them…If you think or talk about diseases, you will become sick. What you think or surround yourself with-good or bad, is what you will bring upon yourself.”
Even as I write this, I am painfully reminded of how I once subscribed to this level of reasoning. My son pulled a coin jar off of a book shelf in my room and I as I put it away, I cringed as I read what I had written on it years ago. On one side, I used a quote from a branch off of the law of attraction tree called “money magnetism” and put a Bible verse on the other side. I have had this jar for three years and this is how full it got. Guess I should have used different nouns?
Needless to say, the coins were transferred to a different jar and this one was thrown away.
I’m sure there are those out there with “evidence” that this actually works; but people often publish successes rather than failures. There is a psychological phenomenon, “Apophenia” where people believe that there is meaning behind random data. In other words, we may focus on a coincidence more than on how many times we did not experience a coincidence. I thought about many people today, and many of them did not call me. Of the 2000 people I thought of, 2 of them called. That is a percentage of 0.1 %. By using this rationale, I could think to myself, “Wow, I thought of Suzy and she called me- that’s 100%!”
You know where I think we first really see the principles behind the law of attraction presented though? We see them in the seductive words of the serpent in Genesis chapter 3;
“Did God actually say that…?”
“If you…you will be like God…”
From the very beginning, mankind has been influenced to question God’s wisdom and goodness. We have swallowed the tasty trifle of a lie that we could create and enjoy a world apart from him and be like gods, ourselves. In the garden of Eden, we lived in such a way that Heaven and Earth shared the same space; we were able to walk alongside our Creator. But that apparently wasn’t enough…so we got ourselves expelled from paradise. The result? Hell on earth. Literally. Sorrow, sickness, and death. That is was people manifest. We did that.
God, the person, not the universal force in His mercy and kindness has provided ways for us to dwell in His presence once again. He first bridged that gap through the building of the first temple and the offerings and sacrifices of Moses’ day. Then eventually, for all time, through Jesus. Our Father who desires a personal relationship with us has thoughts, has a will, feels, loves, and suffers just like any one of us does. If we are in need of being consciousness of anything, it is of Him and His presence.
“The world is perishing for lack of the knowledge of God and the Church is famishing for want of His presence.”
-A.W. Tozer, The Pursuit of God
Do science and religion intersect? Absolutely!
“Science observes how the power of God operates, discovers a regular pattern somewhere and fixes it as a “law”. The uniformity of God’s activities in His creation enables the scientist to predict the course of natural phenomena. The trustworthiness of God’s behavior in this world is the foundation of all scientific truth…
…Religion, on the other hand, goes back of nature to God. It is concerned not with the footprints of God along the paths of creation, but with the One who treads those paths. Religion is interested primarily in the One who is the source of all things, the master of every phenomenon.”
-A.W. Tozer, Knowledge of the Holy
Church, let’s for one moment consider that there is indeed a universal law that allows us to manifest our reality. If we choose to follow this logic (and not Jesus), then we can no longer address poverty or illness or someone in need. How then can we love our neighbor? When Jesus talked about clothing the naked, visiting the sick or imprisoned, and feeding the hungry, did He finish His parable with the King saying, “unless you don’t want to become poor too, though. If not, don’t worry about it and make sure not to look at them.” No! He replied,
“Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to Me.“
The law of attraction encourages us to turn a blind eye to the “least of these”.
Do I believe we should think positively? Absolutely! I understand on a personal level how dangerous negative thinking can be to a person’s well-being. I know that the enemy of our souls loves nothing more than to feed us destructive thoughts. If you have been a Christian for any length of time, you probably know the “think” verse in Philippians 4. It begins with a beautiful promise of how God will exchange our anxieties for peace and then goes on to list what thoughts we should replace those anxieties with. Let’s take it a step further and replace the word “whatever” with the word “God”;
“Finally brothers…God is true, God is honorable, God is just, God is pure, God is lovely, God is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anyone worthy of praise, think about Him.”
I don’t know if there could be a more positive thought than of the One who gifted us our minds.
“Only to sit and think of God,
Oh what a joy it is!
To think the thought, to breathe the Name
Earth has no higher bliss.”
-Frederick W. Faber
We don’t need to make vision boards or be careful with our adjectives when through prayer, we have a direct line to the true Creator of the Universe. He is the Creator, not a genie who is awaiting to deliver us our every earthly desire;
Dr. David Burns observes in his book “Feeling Good” a phenomenon in which he calls “entitlement syndrome”. When life throws certain people its inevitable obstacles, they go into a frenzied state of panic and rage. I know I have been afflicted by this at times.
“You feel and act as if you were entitled to success, love, approval, perfect health, happiness, etc.”
Just because we are followers of Jesus, we are not promised an easy life. In fact, we can expect to experience hardship and suffering because we are followers of Him.
A.W. Tozer observes that when God divided the land of Canaan among the tribes of Israel, Levi didn’t receive any share of the land; “God said to him simply, ‘I am thy part and thine inheritance.‘ and by those words made him richer than all his brethren, richer than all the kings and rajas who have ever lived in the world…The man who has God for his treasure has all things in One.“
There is so much more that I could say on this topic, but if you receive nothing else I say except for this one thing, let it be this; there is no reason that a follower of Jesus should or want to employ the law of attraction; for,
“…everything comes from Him, and exists by His power and is intended for His glory. All glory to Him forever! Amen.”