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The Secret is out; get ready for your “best life now.” Over five million copies of the book and close to a million DVDs have been sold of this current media sensation. Interviews and exposure on Oprah and Larry King Live have only helped to fan the flames. Author, speaker, and opportunist Rhonda Byrne claims to show you how you can have everything you have ever wanted in your life: cars, promotions, money, vacations—just name it and claim it. The world is your oyster and the universe is your genie. The “law of attraction” is the scientific-sounding way of giving this age-old, new-age teaching more credibility than it deserves. Christians are apparently being swept up in this craze as well; American Vision has been receiving questions about The Secret for a few months now, so we decided it was time for a closer look.
Sporting a Da Vinci Code look and feel, The Secret uses the conspiratorial, hidden information angle to its advantage. Claiming that many historical figures have known and applied “the secret” serves to further add to the mystique. As the back cover copy of the book states:
It has been passed down through the ages, highly coveted, hidden, lost, stolen, and bought for vast sums of money. This centuries-old Secret has been understood by some of the most prominent people in history: Plato, Galileo, Beethoven, Edison, Carnegie, Einstein—along with other inventors, theologians, scientists, and great thinkers. Now The Secret is being revealed to the world.
The problem with this assertion is that it is never shown. Never once inside the book is it ever attempted to show or even mentioned how any of these greats from history used, believed, or applied “the secret.” This is pure marketing hype, but it works. The design of the book and the DVD are cleverly made to look ancient and mysterious, but the contents themselves are purely modern. An occasional quote from a dead guy is thrown in now and again to give the impression of age, but the overwhelming majority of material from The Secret is given through modern teachers as varied as Jack Canfield, Bob Proctor, John Gray, and Neale Donald Walsch, just to name a few. But, the lineage between them and Plato and Einstein exists only in the advertising.
The first thing that needs to be understood about The Secret is that the central teaching of the book and DVD—the so-called law of attraction (LOA)—is nothing more than an idea and a hypothesis. The book states that: “the law can be found in ancient writings through all the centuries…The law began at the beginning of time. It has always been and will always be. It is the law that determines the complete order in the Universe, every moment of your life, and every single thing you experience in your life…You are the one who calls the law of attraction into action, and you do it through your thoughts.” Impressive stuff to be sure, but how do we know this is true? Has the LOA been put through the academic wringer of the scientific method? Has it been observed in a laboratory or a test tube? Has it been viewed in a microscope or a telescope? James Arthur Ray seems to think so. On a follow-up episode to the initial airing of the interview with Rhonda Byrne, Ray believes that
[T]here is scientific evidence to back up the spiritual practices and laws defined in The Secret. “Science tells us that everything is energy, and so your thoughts are energy. Your body, your cash, your car—everything you think is solid, if you put it under a high-powered microscope, it’s just a field of energy and a rate of vibration," he says. "And so are we. So if you think you’re this meat suit running around, you have to think again.”
Ray wants you and the gullible audience of Oprah to believe that science has actually found a way to observe “thoughts.” This is complete fiction. He knows how intellectually dishonest it is to call the LOA a “law,” so he is forced to give the impression to his listeners that the LOA has been examined and confirmed by the real authority of modern man: science. By giving his religious views a faux veneer of scientific credibility, Ray appears to be objective. Although Ray is quite correct in stating that humans are much more than “meat suits,” his acquiescence to “science” to prove his point is a bit odd. Appealing to an academic discipline that has repeatedly made “matter-only” its sole point of reference in order to prove that we are more than mere matter is an interesting turn of events to say the least.
In the coming weeks, we’ll look a bit more closely at the teachings of The Secret and how they compare and contrast with the teachings of Scripture.