I haven't created a topic for a while, but I have wanted to tackle this argument for such a long time. I do not really understand why many people on this forum are so hostile to religion; perhaps their emotions prevent them from being objective?
Does Religion brainwash people? I used to say 'Of course not!' but the difinition of brain washing is this: "forcible indoctrination into a new set of attitudes and beliefs" and I would say that religion does brainwash its believers, to a degree. We first have to ask the question 'is brain washing such a bad thing?'
Education brainwashes us to accept and believe things also, let me give you an example:
Teacher: In the Pacific we have a country called Japan, Tokyo, the capital city has over 20 million people.
Student: How do you know Japan exists?
Teacher: I have read about it and seen pictures
Student: So you have not seen Japan before?
Student: And you do not know anyone who has seen or been to Japan?
Student: Then why should we believe you?
(Now the student has dared to question the teacher's authority and the teacher will be quick to tell him that he is wrong and the teacher is always right).
Why does a student believe x? Because his teacher tells him so; not because he has any tangible evidence.
(You may argue that we have evidence for Japan's existence, but I am talking about a child who does not always understand the difference between empirical and metaphysical evidence).
So religion brainwashes kids, just like education does.
This sought of brainwashing can be challenged. For example, most of you come from a religious background, and if you were successfully brainwashed you would not of left your religion.
However, what does brainwash people is society; it brainwashes you to eat with a fork, instead of chopsticks. To think to be beautiful you have to whiter, instead of darker (which is ugly). It brainwashes you with saying 'thank you' after someone gives you a gift.
Dare I say, if my parents brainwashed me, it was definitely my manners and the way I spoke. Most children do not challenge the idea of a God, so parents do not invest a lot of time in telling them that God is real; God is real and that is an accepted fact. But manners are a tricky thing and may take a few wooden spoons to get the idea that saying 'please' is good idea.
I was never in trouble for my beliefs in God; I accepted what my parents thought!
I would like to show a list of my beliefs which I believed from 5-10 years of age:
1. 6 day creation was a fact
2. Homosexuals are going to 'hell' (Being a SDA we do not believe in a typical type of hell)
3. Non-Sabbath keepers are going to hell
4. SDA's had the full truth
5. The Catholic church is evil
6. I was going to be a prohpet (Yes, that is what I actually wanted to be, of course I kept that to myself, mostly)
7. That a devil existed (Now I am not too sure)
8. That it was a sin to do anything on the Sabbath, and one had to wear a suit
9. That it was a sin to eat pork
10. The Bible should be read literally
11. The Adventist's interpretation of Revelation and Daniel is correct
12. It is a sin to drink
All 12 beliefs I had, I no longer have anymore, most of these were central pillars in my belief system, and yet today I do not believe in them.
So yes religion does brainwash people, but just like education, and does not successfully brainwash people and certain ideas and beliefs can be readily challenged.
Does religion brainwash people?
Uhm, yes? I mean, some people really latch on to 'facts' they are told as children and teens. I know a teacher told me things that only 15 years later I realized were untrue.
Here is what I believed as a kid:
1. God is God. (I mostly picked this up from TV -- TV, you lied to me.)
2. Dead people, like Grama, go to heaven. (Although what happens if Grampa remarries?)
3. Church is boring.
Here's the thing: As an adult, I can think for my self. I can read any book I want. We all start from somewhere, but as grown-ups we choose where to go. I now realize that all gods are made up. Fiction. So in that regard, brainwashing only goes so far. Education is a power for good, unless it is purposely misled.
3. Church is boring.
Your teacher got one thing right!
Japan exists because there are Japanese people, the Japanese language, and airplanes heading there all the time.
All human beings go through a cultural brainwash. We are saturated with our contextual environment, and indoctrinated with societal norms and values. Religion is part of that process, so yea I agree religion is a very successful means to brainwash people
But I disagree with your statement that religion does not successfully brainwash people. sure, there are people that realize that their beliefs may ultimately be untrue, but there is a whole multitude of others who's "faith" is rather stubborn. Many religions are just too successful at telling people what they want to hear
Which leads to the term iconoclast. Yes many people repeat mantras, even non religious people. Economy is such an example. A long time ago, education was about religion, for the religious. The centuries rolled by and science and philosophy began to leave religion behind and exist in their own sphere of academia. Knowledge is power and power is money and control. Economy should never been a subject for university, because its tenets have barely better foundations than religion. Since there is practically no evidence behind the doctrine of economy, its teaching is basically brainwashing, as much as religion. Philosophy, one could say also has no evidence supporting it, however, philosophy is about exploring ideas/criticism, whereas economy is generally taught in very limited contexts and does not encourage criticism of its main doctrines. The power and knowledge that science conveys is envied by all other areas of research, its language is co-opted, and its titles, awards, and publications, are imitated. Just because something is taught at university, it does not automatically have credence.
"Iconoclasts", a term that has come to be applied figuratively to any person who challenges established dogma or conventions.
It is important to distinguish dogmas and conventions from evidence based science.
'Your comparison to education is fallacious. Education enhances a person's ability to assess probability based on the quality of evidence. Religion tends to be based on alleged ultimate truths. Education improves a person's certitudinal iq. Religion can and often does decreases it by promoting the notion that faith is a virtue.'
When we start education, the teacher brainwashes us into believing certain ideas, if student tries to question the teacher, the student is wrong and the student is right; its all about authority and thats why we hope our kids have good teachers.
What do you mean religion can ruin one's credibility?
I believe X, and I make a scientific theory called Y, does belief X make my theory invalid? (This is called Ad hominem)
'Religion has no evidence supporting it and takes the place of the education system.'
What do you mean?
'In this sense religion is a parasite of the education system.'
How so? Perhaps you should remember a lot of schools are run by the religious (I think the Catholic church has the largest number of schools compared to other institution)
'What bad things happened when you stopped believing those 12 things you listed above? Nothing I guess except that you had a sense of relief that you no longer had to believe them and maybe wondered why you believed them in the first place.'
Not so, the majority have only been in the last year and I nearly became an atheist because of my skepticsm, but spared me from the fires of hell (Just a joke).
'Get a pen and paper and write down what you still actually believe. Then ask yourself why you believe each point. Spend a little time doing this. If the answer is “because I have always believed it” or “because my whole family believe the same things” is it possible that you could be brainwashed?'
I understand there are inconsistencies in my belief system, that is why I am a Christian existentialist, I just accept that there are paradoxes in this universe I cannot explain them.
But no, I am not brainwashed, a belief in a God does not equal brainwashing.
'Remember it is brainwashing because it is indoctrination. Religion creates the fear it claims to free you from. It is not a persons’ fault that this happened because they were raised into it and had no choice in the matter. It is their fault if they never question it. Now you are starting to think critically. Be honest to yourself when you do and you will find plenty to rejoice in.'
I challenge my belief system nearly everyday. However, I intend to defend it. When I first began the evolution vs creation debate. I tried defending creation, which was an absolute fail, before I jumped ships. Theism is a lot easier to argue for then creation so I do not see any reason why critical thinking should make me a agnostic or atheistic.
Note: I do consider myself to be an Agnostic Christian, but I am hoping one day I can philosophically prove to myself that Gnostic Christianity makes the most sense.