I have extended family who are into this stuff big-time… they are convinced that these ideas are valid and that they actually work. As a result, my wife and I are exposed to these ideas on a regular basis, and we own a copy of Robin Byrne's book called "The Secret" and have read it. (My wife, God bless her, recorded a number of quite blatant contradictions in the book… perhaps at a later date I'll post those here.) In addition to that, about a year ago I had the dubious pleasure of sitting through an 8-hour seminar on the "Law of Attraction" led by Paul Martinelli and so I have a fairly good understanding of what is taught.
The over-arching doctrine in the "Law of Attraction" can be expressed this way:
Every circumstance in your life is a product of your thoughts.
And the purveyors of this doctrine are emphatic about that first part. Every circumstance. This is how they phrase it.
Unfortunately, some Christians are inclined to accept this teaching, not recognizing that what they're accepting is completely incompatible with Christianity. Here are three reasons why "The Secret" is incompatible with Christianity:
One reason is that the teachers of "The Secret" define success entirely by how wealthy you are. In the seminar I attended, Paul Martinelli declared proudly that "I love money." Martinelli scoffed at the idea that "money is the root of all evil." Of course, this misrepresents 1 Timothy 6:10 which does not say that money is the root of all evil, but rather that "the love of money is the root of all evil." Big difference. In a Christian world view, our success is not measured by how much money we accumulate. Jesus and the apostles were anything but wealthy and yet they were successful. We are told in Proverbs 23:4 "Do not weary yourself to gain wealth, cease from your consideration of it." Now this doesn't mean there's anything wrong with becoming wealthy… it merely means that wealth itself should not be your priority. But Paul Martinelli believes that the end game in life is to get rich and get rich quickly.
Just for reference, here's 1 Timothy 6:10:
For the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil, and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.
During the seminar, Mr. Martinelli said these words:
"Do not ask whether something is right or wrong. Just ask whether it will help you achieve your goals."
Another reason these ideas are incompatible with Christianity is that the God described in the Bible is denied. Rather, "God" is presented as the universe itself, pantheism, and is pictured as an impersonal 'force" that will give you the goods in the life if you just learn to tap into it. This is not God, this is god with a lower-case g. And, according to Mr. Martinelli, it doesn't matter what you think "god" is or what you call it. You can call it "The Source" or whatever. To Martinelli, god is whatever you want him to be and there is no objective truth concerning who or what God actually is. This is a pagan idea and is completely contrary to Christianity.
A third reason is that, well, Christianity has its roots in reality. Properly understood, Christianity makes sense and is logically consistent. The Law of Attraction has no roots in reality, its followers are divorced from reality, and it is logically inconsistent.
Let's examine the basic claim of "The Secret" and see what conclusions we might draw from it:
"Every circumstance of your life is a product of your thoughts."
Every circumstance, huh? Really? Okay… let's go with that. Eight-and-a-half years ago my first child was born, and 18 days later he died. Conner had Trisomy 13, an extra copy of the 13th chromosome. He was a circumstance of my life. And he was a circumstance of my wife's life. This tragic ordeal, then, was all a product of our thoughts. We caused it, you see. We killed our son. That's their view. Sound good to you?
Now the idea that I hear constantly from our extended family is that you can't think negatively about things because thinking negatively will bring about negative circumstances. Even Paul Martinelli expressed this view when he explained that he canceled an insurance policy on the basis that, well, having the policy was a manifestation of having negative thoughts about what might happen, and that if he just ditched the insurance and thought positively, everything would be hunky-dory. This is what these folks teach. I was there.
So… it appears that any thought you have about something which is negative, maybe some occurrence against which you could purchase an insurance policy, might actually cause whatever it is you were thinking about to actually become reality. This is what they teach.
Now… pay attention 'cuz this is gonna get confusing: What if the thought that I'm having is that some negative circumstance might manifest in my life if I think thoughts which are negative? Isn't that thought negative? And if it is, then doesn't that mean that I'm doomed to have the negative thoughts anyway, and that if I'm going to have the negative thoughts anyway, then am I not doomed to experience whatever negative circumstances that result? And, by the way, isn't my thought that I should avoid negative thoughts also a circumstance of my life? What negative thought produced that circumstance?
Instead, why shouldn't I think that my negative thoughts will produce positive circumstances in my life? Why be so negative in thinking that negative thoughts always produce negative circumstances? If your thoughts are where the "power" is, then why do I have to live with the idea that negative thoughts always produce negative circumstances?
If it's so important to avoid negative thoughts, then wouldn't this thought be much better to have:(?)
"I know that my negative thoughts will never bring about any negative circumstance in my life, and so I'm free to think what I want when I want without worrying that my negative thoughts might bring upon me negative circumstances"
Isn't that a much more positive, liberating and empowering way to think? Why live in fear all the time about having negative thoughts about things? Isn't that negative?
What we see here is that the Law of Attraction is self-refuting. It is not merely logically inconsistent, but it is logically incoherent. And yet, people are getting sucked into it by the millions.
Thanks a lot, Oprah.