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?

Teacher: No.

Student: And you do not know anyone who has seen or been to Japan?

Teacher: No.

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.

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'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)


The claims of religion are claims about the very nature of reality and the physical world. This makes religion a hypothesis. We can test this hypothesis and validate it or falsify it. So far, every shred of evidence put foward for religion that I have heard has been debunked. If something is taught in a school or university it has evidence behind it. Do you want to see Newtonian second law in action? We can show you it and give you equations and the reasoning behind that. That is evidence.

Religion skips the evidence part of the educational system and installs itself in a position of power. As you cannot possible learn all the evidence behind everything as fields of study become ever more specialised, you have to stand on the shoulders of giants (those that have established hypothesises as theroies and recorded facts) to surpass them. We do test the theroies of those that have come before and revise where needed. That is a real education system. Religion gives you information that cannot be supported by rational inquiry or by using the scientific method. it is a parasite/virus in this sense because it hjacks the machinery of the education system to reproduce itself and survive. It is a line of memes that should have died out a long time ago.

Above you say you are a Christian existentialist and a few lines later you consider yourself an Agnostic Christian hoping to one day prove that Gnostic Christianity makes the most sense. Existentialism does indeed have its paradoxes.

Maybe Adam it is all a lot simpler.

Also an Agnostic does not positively assert a belief in god. What does that make them? There is no middle ground and you cannot keep jumping ships. You either profess a belief in a god or you don’t.

'Okay, but is Texas really a good example of how anyone should do anything?  Barbecue maybe.'

Interesting. Now let's picture a similar conversation with Texas swapped with a different example.


Let's say someone points out how religious schooling is quite popular in Nigeria and a study found that Nigeria is the world's happiest country (this is all true, by the way).


'Okay, but is Nigeria really a good example of how anyone should do anything?'


How many people in this venue would not find that question inappropriate, perhaps even hateful and bigoted? On several other atheist boards just about everyone called me a racist for asking a similar question.


Moreover, although Texas is indeed backwards by many indicia relative to many other U.S. states, it consistently comes in ahead of any Latin American country, Arab country, and dramatically far ahead relative to any sub-Saharan African country. I mean it's not even close. Yet somehow it is those dumb bigoted hateful rednecks who are the very essence of backwardness and incompetence, right?!


Double standards are interesting.

Eh, just a joke I would think. No one here would say because a person lives in TX they must be less of a person.


I should hope not!

One can compare a state to another state.

One cannot compare a state in the USA to a country in Africa, it's as nonsensical as comparing apples to carrots.

As  for religion, well, it is if you consider the inherent threat used to indoctrinate, hell, which is typical of brainwashing...
Using a fork does not change my attitude toward food. Have you read about evolutionary psychology? At least you could improve the aim of your big barrel definition cannon.
To you brainwashing and learning is the same, and this is false. Because your definition of brainwashing is wrong. Brainwashing is when a person implements an idea into victims mind without victim noticing, so that the victim thinks he came up with the idea all by his/herself. Now try to find such things in your life and you will realise that what you have is mostly knowledge that you are starting to have problems with, questioning it.
p.s. What I meant to say is that religion is not brainwashing but god old learning. If someone explains to me how the sun works using logical and credible evidence I will learn this knowledge even though I can't prove this myself, that doesn't mean this teacher brainwashed me into believing how to sun works. (I have problem with editing my own post so I have to comment my own posts :()
Still I don't see how brainwashed parents brainwash children, isn't this disillusionment? It just isn't brainwashing, I don't want some religious nuts to make fun of atheist because we blame them for supposed brainwashing. It's false knowledge or disillusionment not brainwashing.

It's less in line with brainwashing... More so in line with classical conditioning in a way.. but then again we could even compare it with a very light version of Stockholm Syndrome..

I was thinking about just that recently. On CBC radio in Canada (5 parts available online), where the show IDEAS has spent the week studying the French/USA philosopher René Girard who puts a similar spin on the birth and propagation of religion. He is one of the initiators of the scapegoat theory. He states (in opposition to a great deal of recently "good obsessed" atheist converts) that pain and happiness are inextricably entwined in the creation of religion, the pain and the happiness both are results of scapegoating and peoples uniting having staved off common hardship. (just as it's oft theorised that the one thing that would unite all of humanity would be an alien invasion, common scapegoat). Victimology/SS/scapegoating, they are all entwined IMO. I do consider Girard to be spot on when describing how violence and happiness can not be dissociated as so many recent atheist converts state: "I left religion because no god could be so contradictory" when in fact there is no contradiction, without pain and violence, there is no way to define happiness. This is the fallacy secular humanism is based on.


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