I always thought the people at UCLA had a lot in common when it came to beliefs. Last Sunday I started thinking about exactly how much they had in common. It turned out to be a lot.
A new religion has emerged. Like other religions, it has its priests, dogmas, sacraments, and practices. Unlike other religions however, it does not itself claim to be a religion; its adherents simply believe it is the right the Way.
The focus and center of the religion is the self. That is not to say that the practicioners of this religion are necessarily selfish or at least any more selfish than any other parishioner, but rather that the religion is centered on the self. In a sense, the self is holy or set apart. Christians base their religion on what the Bible says. These people base their religion on themselves; the opinions and beliefs within them are, to them, Truth.
The religion has very much in common with Deism and can even be thought of as a variant of it. Because of its similarity, and because of the focus on the self, I have decided to call the religion “Meism,” and its parishioners “meists.”
Meism holds firmly that “truth is relative.” This statement encompasses certain things (particularly morality and theology), but not other things (e.g. scientific truths). This tenet gives them the ability to “doublethink,” that is, to think two contradictory thoughts and hold both to be true.
Meism has a strict moral code “Thou shalt not offend another person in any way.” This certainly includes all forms of violence, but also includes things like insults or proselytizing, as these are thought to offend the psyche of a person. They firmly and sometimes militantly believe that any moral dictate placed on them beyond this is itself a violation of the code.
Meists believe explicitly they must define their own purpose in life. Nevertheless, in reality they believe that environmentalism, medicine, multiculturalism, and altruism are all part of the Good. Environmentalism and medicine are probably valued because of their eschatology. Multiculturalism serves as a kind of evangelism, and is consistent with their moral maxim. Altruism is valued, though there seems to be no motivation from other doctrines; perhaps it is an emotional inheritance from Christianity.
Meists are physicalists and believe that the only existing thing is matter. They disbelieve in souls, and so strongly reject Dualism. Some Meists bend this doctrine to give God a non-material nature.
Meists do not seriously believe in any supernatural place for themselves. Their hope for themselves is as close to eternal life as they can get with medicine. Many will also try to do something “to be remembered” and so live on through that. The destiny of the race is thus also material, making the preservation of the earth and her species of utmost importance.
Rewards and Punishments
There is no clear sense of cosmic reward or judgement in Meism. In many Meists may believe in what they call “karma,” a sense of good things happening to good people. In many there is also an ill-defined sense of altruism being good, though with no philosophical support or adequate rewards system, it is rarely practiced.
Essentially Deist, Meism holds that a transcendent creator caused the Big Bang but then has remained uninvolved in it. Modernist views of evolutionary development have proceeded.
Meism believes in a powerful, intelligent and transcendent Force as its Deity. It claims that knowledge of God more specific that is not just unknown, but unknowable (i.e. it cannot be known if God is personal, immanent, etc.). Meists do not accept or consider evidence or argument that suggests more could be known of God.
The two things that are holy to Meism are Science and Self. Meists believe science it is set apart and unassailable by profane things. The Self, and specifically beliefs about Meism, are considered Most Holy. They cannot be challenged, even by Science. Challenges to Meism are avoided; Meists will doublethink that the challenge is actually not a challenge (e.g. if someone were to challenge with “Jesus is God” a Meist would reply “That’s true for you”).
Meists treat scientists as priests; their words are held as truth. In non-scientific realms (e.g. environmental policy, abortion legality), their opinions are extremely important, if not all-important.
Meism holds that it is a non-entity, that is, Meism does not believe there is any such thing as Meism. Meists hold that their doctrine is the Truth, and those that disagree with it are ‘close-minded.’