What is it about indoctrinating religion into a person that causes critical thinking to fossilized? Sometimes religion doesn't give the brain a chance to break in to get it running smoothly like one would do for a new engine. It seems for millions of people, religion puts a choke-hold on thinking and instead, pans out cookie cutting ideas and ethics that was handed down for thousands of years. I am not sure how I can explain this but by my own example.....sometimes I struggle critical thinking to the point that I get mental fatigue and frustrated. I can express things through using metaphors,  allegories , imagery and the likes quite easily. (These a great tools for being sarcastic without the other person being aware of it) However, were I  to write or think out the when, where, hows , why, and what  to write out a process about, say, racism or how to make a birdhouse I stumble through swamps of confusions ( see? I just did a imagery and metaphor).  Religion do use imaginations as a foothold on kids. I have all the mental pictures and ideas in my head, but putting it down on paper and make all the ideas connect smoothly is like car driving while  minding the back seat screaming kids while a cat is thumping under your car....oy vey!

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The reason is simple, Thomas: most religions deal in DOGMA and DOCTRINE, both of which are certified 100% god-inspired, sacred, and therefore not subject to examination, questioning, or [heaven forbid!] ridicule.  Further, the base beliefs these systems depend on are taught to children at an age when their intellectual and discriminatory skills are barely in evidence, making them easy targets for indoctrination to the point of brainwashing.  The real capper is when they add the ultimate carrot-and-stick of heaven for the good little believers and hell for those who don't.

The problem comes, of course, when differences in the real world impinge on those superimposed beliefs, sometimes creating cognitive dissonance and requiring compartmentalization to minimize the accompanying discomfort.  What happens then is a function of the individual and their willingness to look honestly at what is going on in the world around them and assess that against what they've been taught.

Believers are taught "WHAT to think" as opposed to "HOW to think," and if any single facet could cause thinking to "fossilize," as you put it, there you are.

Loren, powerful response!  I agree!

Oh, they're very aware. Critical thinking skills have been on their hit list for decades.

Okay, I'll try:

  1. Critical Thinking
  2. Free Thought
  3. Freedom of Speech
  4. Autonomy
    • From god
    • From priests, ministers, rabbis, etc.
  5. Freedom from guilt
  6. No fear of hell
  7. Responsibility for self, as opposed to dependence on a scapegoat
  8. Recognition that this is the only life we have
  9. Morals that come from US rather from some deity (and are far better!)
  10. A world without absolutes like "god's law"

A couple thoughts there.  If you can improve on 'em, please do!  I'd like to see your input, Thomas (and for that matter, everyone else!).

These are great list! I have nothing to add. Yet!

Thomas, I would add sexual identity freedom.
The preaching, thus brainwashing, that goes on in these church pulpits directed at a person's sexual preferences is malicious.

The operant business is Thinking For Yourself and coming to your own conclusions, as well as Bertold's observation about thinking critically and I would add skeptically.

Part of this comes up with bible study.  Do you suppose that anyone ever brought up Psalms 137:9 in a discussion?  Or perhaps Judges 19:22-30?  Or maybe get REALLY ripe and trot out Ezekiel 23:20?  Of course not.  The study leader makes what I suspect are rather strong suggestions and Reads The Bible TO Them!  Otherwise, someone might discover how much wanton murder goes on in the old testament and how immoral the books of the law are, never mind the vast numbers of contradictions the bible holds within its pages.

This is why you'll see the following quote all over Atheist Nexus:

Properly read, the Bible is the most potent force for atheism ever conceived.
-- Isaac Asimov

Psalms 137:9 King James Bible
Happy shall he be, that taketh and dasheth thy little ones against the stones.

Judges 19:22-30

Oh! This is too awful, disgusting, barbaric! How can anyone claim the bible as a source of knowledge?!

Ezekiel 23:20    GOD'S WORD® Translation

She lusted after her lovers, whose genitals were like those of donkeys and whose semen was like that of horses.

I think I have read enough for one day. These stories make me think of the scoundrel, Trump

Yes, metaphors,  allegories, and imagery provide valuable tools for explaining difficult ideas, or to make something rememberable. 

One of my favorites is an image Brian Greene gave years ago. String theory may not prove to exist, but at least we can visualize the concept. 

Making sense of string theory



One of my sisters brought up religion last week while I was visiting with my four siblings. They're all fundamentalist. She said she would rather worship God then take a chance on going to hell. I said "so you're hedging your bets ?". That shut her up immediately. On that issue :)
Then I asked her why she believed in God. Her answer was the bible, of course. So I asked why she believed in the bible. Answer "It's God's word". So I accused her of circular reasoning :)
After a few more of my questions she dropped the subject. WINNING ;)

Kathy, it is a struggle when loved ones put faith in a god that fails to reveal himself and believes superstitions. 

When I am with relatives and they bring up religion, I ask them the same kinds of questions as you. I also use the techniques of Peter Boghossian, A Manual for Creating Atheists. He uses Socratic questioning. I am not interested in changing their minds, I am interested in inviting them to think through the things they believe. It is true, whenever we are together, one of them brings up religion while the others roll their eyes and groan; some verbally object. I laugh because it is funny. But I hang in as long as someone wants to discuss religion.

I would have looked her square in the eye and said, "Pascal's Wager?  SERIOUSLY?!?"  I'd be pretty dubious that she would even know what PW was in the first place, but then of course, that's a jumping-off point for a whole separate discussion.  I mean:

  • Do you know you have the right god?
  • Can you MAKE yourself believe something ridiculous?  [I can't!]
  • Would you be able to fool an omniscient god by pretending to believe?

And the list goes on and on.


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