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Brainwashed!

Life in a world of illusion and deceit

By

Published: 24 February 2015 (GMT+10)
Updated 4 October 2016

Wikipedia.org

James-Hutton

James Hutton ‘the founder of modern geology’ by Sir Henry Raeburn

Many of us feel we are clear about what we believe and why. Perhaps you think you have a cohesive, logical and well-thought-through worldview. But what if you are more the product of your culture, your society and your peers, than you realise?

Secular psychologist Philip Zimbardo certainly thinks that we can be easily influenced to think or behave in certain ways. In 1971, he ran the Stanford Prison Experiment, whereby he took healthy and apparently well-disposed male American college students, and randomly assigned them roles of prisoners and guards. Zimbardo’s experiment became so real, and the cruelty that those playing the guards were willing to inflict so extreme, that many suffered mental breakdowns. Zimbardo had to call the experiment off.1 It seems that a very intense role-play was enough to turn those nice college guys bad.

The new paradigms impugned God, making Him appear responsible for the suffering in the world.

You might argue that the situation was in a closed environment, and that it would not take place out in the real world. However, in a more gradual and subtle way, new values and perceptions become ‘normalised’ in society. After we hear these ideas repeatedly, particularly when we are young, and everyone else seems to believe them, they become our beliefs, sometimes subconsciously. So what are the lies we’ve been sold?

Lie number one: God didn’t create the world, at least not in the way the Bible describes

It was only with the widespread printing of the Bible in common languages like English from the 1500s that regular people could read and understand the Bible themselves. For a time the dominant social paradigm2 became one of believing the Bible to be true, including its account of creation (as did founders of modern science such as Sir Isaac Newton).

However around this time, men of influence in society began to undermine biblical truth.3 Too proud to accept these humbling truths, the rich, the powerful, and academia preferred to create new paradigms (see tables below) that hit at the foundations of the Gospel by, for example, undermining Genesis history. That history contrasts God’s miraculous creation and loving nature with mankind’s free choice to sin, and explains the resultant curse upon this world. The new paradigms impugned God, making Him appear responsible for the suffering in the world, or detached, or simply non-existent.

Table 1. Creating a social paradigm—God didn’t create the world

NameEraMain sphere of influenceThe paradigm shift they helped bring about
James Hutton 1700s Geology The earth is extremely old, not 6,000 years or so as determined from the Bible by many Christians, of whom Archbishop James Ussher was just one.
Voltaire 1700s Philosophy There may be a Creator, but there is no special revelation in the Bible and no miracles.4
Charles Darwin 1800s Natural history Rather than God creating man and woman in His image mankind descended from ape-like ancestors.
Francis Galton 1800s Eugenics, psychology, anthropology People do not all have equal worth.
Friedrich Nietzsche 1800s Philosophy “God is dead.”5
James George Frazer 1800s and 1900s Anthropology Human belief evolves from magic, to religion, to science.6

Lie number two: The Bible is not inerrant.

The church wasn’t ready to throw out the Bible altogether, but it was willing to stop taking God’s Word at its straightforward meaning, so as to fit in better with the dominant social paradigms. This kicked off in earnest when the church accepted the myth that science was not within the realm of religion. Christians should stick to ‘spiritual things’ and leave the study of nature to secular authorities.

The problem was that, in accepting Galileo’s philosophy that the Bible was about heavenly things and had no relevance to the natural world7 Christians could start believing that the creation account in Genesis contained gaps or was only symbolic. Of course Galileo’s response to the rejection of his discoveries is quite understandable, but the whole affair had the unfortunate consequence of encouraging people to dissociate the Bible from science, whereas the real disconnect was between the Establishment (and its mostly Aristotelian beliefs) and Galileo’s science.

Once the creation account was called into question, doubts over the global Flood and the Tower of Babel swiftly followed. Further to the work of Darwin in explaining the literal biblical account away in the name of science, anthropologists such as James George Frazer explained away substantial archaeological and anthropological evidence from around the world. I say ‘explained away’ because in reality the archaeological record largely confirms these three major ancient events. In time biblical scholars began to theorise about the authorship of the Bible, to the extent of disputing that Moses wrote the Pentateuch. For those who take such paradigms on board, eventually the entirety of Scripture is in doubt and, for those who cannot live with the cognitive dissonance, faith is either weakened or washed away altogether.

Table 2. Creating a social paradigm—the Bible is not inerrant

NameEraMain sphere of influenceThe paradigm shift they helped bring about
The Galileo controversy 1500–1600s Science and Philosophy It is best to keep science and the principles of the Bible completely separate.
Wellhausen 1800s Biblical scholarship Moses did not write the Pentateuch (just one example of many attacks on the authorship of the Bible).
Peter Enns 2000s Biblical scholarship The written Scriptures are more human than inspired.8

Lie number three: Morality and ethics are relative—they can and do evolve.

We have now a ‘new morality’. This means, for example, that the rights of a woman can be used to justify killing an unborn child. This insidious process—the killing of the most vulnerable human beings—has been normalised in our society. We use euphemisms (like ‘termination’ of the ‘fetus’) to deny the reality of what is actually occurring. And so atheists such as Richard Dawkins and Peter Singer advocate animal rights, yet consider human fetuses to be disposable—with Singer and others going further and supporting infanticide after birth as well as before it.9

This leads us to a delusion particularly common in Westerners—that we are basically all nice people living in a nice world. We live in the cotton-wool illusion of relative comfort, often ignorant of the sin that dwells in our own hearts, because once we take on these deceptive paradigms, our perception is distorted.

Table 3. Creating a social paradigm—evolving morals

NameEraMain sphere of influenceThe paradigm shift they helped bring about
Peter Singer 2000s Philosophy It is not necessarily wrong to kill an innocent human being—i.e. it is okay to kill a disabled infant—if it is not deemed desirable (by the parents) for it to live.10
Steven Pinker 2000s Evolutionary psychology Mankind is not sinful—we are becoming less violent and we are evolving into better creatures.11
Richard Dawkins 2000s Evolutionary biology “There probably is no God. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life.”12

Lie number four: Biblical Christianity is extreme, and harmful to our society

This lie involves turning truth on its head and rewriting history. An example of such propaganda is that, rather than blaming the Holocaust on the inherently sinful evil of mankind and the influence of Darwinism, some are twisting the facts to suggest Christianity brought about the Holocaust. They must ignore the strong evolutionary roots of Nazi racial and eugenicist practices,13 and their intent to exterminate Christianity.

Public domain

francis-galton

Francis Galton

The new atheists use social media to influence young people (rather than educate them), conveniently lumping all religions together so that they can link biblical Christianity in people’s minds with violent, dangerous forms of religion such as radical Islam.

Have you noticed that a coherent world history is not taught in the government schools? The implication is that there is too much history to contemplate teaching it, and so long as children know how to find information, they will be sufficiently well educated. I suggest however that no child who self-researches world history on, for example, the Internet is likely to gain an adequate overview. This means that many Westerners born after WWII have little real exposure to the worst modern examples about the nature of mankind, coupled with insufficient education about those truths.

Similarly, modern Christians often don’t like to grapple with the combative historical events in the Old Testament—and if they believe in the evolution package then they hold to something that is contrary to Genesis as history. This means that a coherent biblical world history and a consistently logical biblical framework are not necessarily taught even in the church. Thus, youth lack full understanding of the Bible as the lens of truth through which to interpret the world. Instead, they feel increasingly embarrassed to uphold the Bible amongst their peers.

We are also witnessing a refusal by academia and popular media to allow challenges to establishment thinking. And there is an associated tendency to humiliate those who dare challenge it—especially concerning issues like the age of the earth. Popular physicist Brian Cox can now comment virtually unchallenged, “So it’s OK to say that if you believe the world was created 6,000 years ago, as the Creationists do, then you are an idiot. There is nothing wrong in saying that because you are an idiot.”14 The film Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed explains why scientists who believe in creation are frequently forced to keep quiet or risk being denied tenure or harming their career.

Table 4. Creating a social paradigm—biblical Christianity is dangerous

NameEraMain sphere of influenceThe paradigm shift they helped bring about
Richard Dawkins 2000s Evolutionary biology Religion is the source of our problems.15
Sam Harris 2000s Philosophy “Christians have abused, oppressed, enslaved, insulted, tormented, tortured, and killed people in the name of God for centuries, on the basis of a theologically defensible reading of the Bible.”16
Steven Pinker 2000s Evolutionary psychology The death of Christ on the cross was a sadistic act, which is inappropriately embraced by those who believe in it.17

Countering the critics of Christianity

So, living in a society that has been soaking up lies for the past 300 years or so, how do we respond?

First, if the reality of this world can be illusory, and there is a real truth that is not so easily seen—we need to find and recognise that truth, and judge ourselves by it. Paradoxically, the journey to truth is both simple and challenging.

This insidious process—the killing of the most vulnerable human beings—has been normalised in our society.

It is simple in the sense that it is God who provides true wisdom—“If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him” (James 1:5). We need to be humble enough to give God a chance to reveal His truth to us. This requires talking to God (prayer) and reading the Bible, God’s inspired Word to us, with open hearts/minds. It is all about our approach to God so that He can do the rest.

The process of looking Scripture ‘full in the face’ can be as painful as it was for Jacob wrestling with the angel of the Lord (Genesis 32:24–32). We may come across ideas we don’t really like, and if we are committed to finding truth we then have to work out whether it may be our thinking that is wrong. It helps as part of that process to understand where our pre-existing beliefs come from—as they may well come from the world, or from our own sinful mind.

There is only one Person—the God-Man, Jesus Christ, whose perception of truth was perfect, because His mind was not shackled by sin or influenced by the world. He made a promise to those who believe in Him, “And you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free” (John 8:32).

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References and notes

  1. Zimbardo, P., The Psychology of Evil, ted.com, February 2008. Return to text.
  2. A paradigm is the framework of thought, or organising principle, within which things are viewed, interpreted and understood. Return to text.
  3. Social paradigm changes do not necessarily progress in a chronological, sequential manner. Often influential thinkers, such as Freud, propose things that are shocking at the time. Society as a whole may then step back from the paradigm, and may even reject it. But nonetheless the seed has been sown, and some of it sticks, to be progressed by someone else in a modified form. For example, the evolution-spawned idea of eugenics was eventually seen to be cruel and immoral, yet it is rearing its head again in the selective abortion of disabled infants. Return to text.
  4. Butel, C, The history of the rise of materialism in Western society. Journal of Creation 14(3):16–23 December 2000; creation.com/materialism. Return to text.
  5. Friedrich Nietzsche, Thus Spoke Zarathustra, Project Gutenberg EBook, Release date 2008, Zarathustra’s prologue, paragraph 2. Retrieved from www.gutenberg.org/files/1998/1998-h/1998-h.htm Return to text.
  6. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_George_Frazer. Accessed on 11/08/14. Notably Frazer attempted to explain away the incredible corroborative anthropological evidence around the world of three biblical events: Creation, the global Flood, and the Tower of Babel incident. See Cooper, B., The Authenticity of the Book of Genesis, pp. 196–201, 2011). Return to text.
  7. Mortenson, T, Philosophical naturalism and the age of the earth: are they related?, The Master’s Seminary Journal 15(1):71–92, Spring 2004; Return to text.
  8. Cosner, L., The Bible Tells Me So by Peter Enns: a review, 23 December 2014. Return to text.
  9. Cosner, L. Richard Dawkins: Dolphins worth more than babies with Down Syndrome?, 24 August 2014. Return to text.
  10. Cosner, L., Blurring the line between abortion and infanticide? 2 July 2008; Return to text.
  11. Singer, P., Is Violence History? (review of Steven Pinker’s Better Angels of Our Nature), New York Times, 6 Oct 2011; nytimes.com. Return to text.
  12. Robinson, P., Probably no God? Atheists bury their heads in the sand. 7 April 2009. Return to text.
  13. Weikart, R., The role of Darwinism in Nazi racial thought, German Studies Review 36(3):537–556, 2013. Return to text.
  14. Farndale, N., Brian Cox: ‘I’m not anti-religion. I’m anti-maniac’, Telegraph, 21 February 2011; telegraph.co.uk. See also Grigg, R., Doom and gloom from the BBC, 2 August 2011. Return to text.
  15. Regrettably, the new atheists seem unable or unwilling to recognise the ‘religious’/fundamentalist nature of their own beliefs—and therefore don’t apply the relevant concept of separating ‘church’ and state. It seems they wish to enforce their new fundamentalist beliefs on society. Return to text.
  16. Harris, S., Letter to a Christian Nation, p. 9, 2006. See refutation, Wilson, D., Letter from a Christian Citizen. Return to text.
  17. Steven Pinker, The Better Angels of our Nature—Why Violence has Declined, Viking, p.25, 2011; Retrieved from ge.tt/1gnq3JX/v/7 Return to text.

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Readers’ comments
Barry D., France, 26 February 2015

Calling sincerely held conclusions drawn from evidence "lies" is scurrilous. Scientists may get things wrong, but for the most part, and certainly including Galileo, Hutton and Darwin, they amassed their evidence honestly with intellectual integrity, and also formed their conclusions honestly, in a sincere effort to arrive at the truth.

You do your religion no service by sinking to such tactics. All you do is to demonstrate that you have no valid scientific case, and lack the integrity that the above-mentioned scientists possessed.

I doubt that you have the integrity to post this comment in full.

Tas Walker responds

First your beliefs are wrong because we have published your article in full.

Second, your statement about the lie is wrong. The dictionary defines a lie as, "an inaccurate or false statement; a falsehood." It defines a falsehood as, "something false; an untrue idea, belief, etc." The article is dealing with the ideas, not the person.

If you believe a lie and pass it on, what you pass on is still a lie. When people believe a lie it has bad consequences for their life, and for the people they pass that untrue idea onto, if they believe it too.

Third, don't let your wrong ideas cause you to reject the important message of the article.

Dean Y., South Africa, 25 February 2015

Pinker's statement that "the death of Christ on the cross was a sadistic act, which is inappropriately embraced by those who believe in it," is only fractionally correct. It was a sadistic act by the principalities and powers of the time and we embrace it not because of its horror, but because Jesus forgave his tormentors from the cross and then resurrected to defeat the power of sin and death. We embrace his victory over the sin, not the brute act of crucifixion or the people who perpetrated it. Embracing God's victory over Satanic evil is completely appropriate. Mr Pinker has missed the simple truth.

Joel L., United States, 24 February 2015

In response to Peter H.

We-elll -- I certainly prefer confronting today's rising China to yesterday's Stalin's USSR; Facing the naked but backwards, scattered and undeveloped brutality of ISIS to the glorified, industrial fascism of the second world war; An overzealous political correctness that sometimes dehumanizes in the breech to the naked dehumanization of post-colonial slavery, and a world of stolen credit cards where mass shootings provoke shock and outrage( because they are _unusual_ ) to the upheaval of, say, the ninth century....

Yes, there are statics that over the long term have for centuries trended consistantly downward, such as as direct and indirrect fatallaties as anpercentage of population due to armed conflict( including and holding for the two world wars ). And while this site has raised legitimate caveats about that analysis( in addition to a few of my own ), I'll still side with a general trend of progress throughout the last two millennia.

Now as to the the source and right reading and context of said progress - well, that's the rub, ain' it? :-)

Joel

Peter H., Canada, 24 February 2015

(1) Thank you for the well-reasoned and well-organised article. I appreciated the tables at the end of each section with its quick summary.

(2) re: Table 3 -Steven Pinker quote - "Mankind is not sinful - we are becoming less violent . . ." Is this man living under a rock someplace? Doesn't he ever read a newspaper (or the equivalent)? Or is it just that his sense of reality is considerably askew?

Colin N., United Kingdom, 24 February 2015

Yes, absolutely spot on. We can't return the way society acts back to Christian values unless we first change the way society thinks back to Christian values. I think one important step is to refuse to use the language of political correctness, but instead seek to critique from the Bible the concepts that it advances. E.g. racism is wrong not because it offends against equality but because it offends against justice - a subtle difference, but Man can determine equality whilst it takes God to determine justice.

Brian W., United States, 24 February 2015

This article makes many excellent points. Among them, "The new paradigms impugned God, making Him appear responsible for the suffering in the world, or detached, or simply non-existent."

In a fallen world, unfortunately, it is far too easy to be deceived into thinking that God is detached from human suffering, but the reality is, not only is He not detached from human suffering, He entered into human suffering, and endured the worst of it as He bear our sins in His own body on the tree.

Keep fighting the good fight of faith!

R. D., United Kingdom, 24 February 2015

An intriguing article - especially the closing comment "The process of looking Scripture ‘full in the face’ can be as painful... We may come across ideas we don’t really like, and if we are committed to finding truth we then have to work out whether it may be our thinking that is wrong." 33 months or so ago, as I was becoming a Christian (principally through CMI's materials), I had to wrestle with the fact that I had discovered things which, at that point, didn't particularly sit well with me.

And I guess you could say that I'd accepted, without ever remotely critically analysing the issue or devoting more than an occasional few moments' thought to it, the five central lies which are discussed in this piece, as well as others. I had a definite belief in a God of some kind, which rarely influenced the way I lived my life, but that was it. The moment you hit these ideas with hard reason, they collapse, but too few people have had the opportunity to do that in recent decades (and centuries). Make no mistake, though, the internet has helped enormously in that respect. Those who have a commitment to logic and reason are now enormously better-placed to discover the truth than was the case even 10, never mind 20, years ago. There's no helping those with the herd mentality, but then, there never was. If people don't want to think for themselves, you can't help them.

One small thing I might add to this article - EB Tylor predated JG Frazer in his ideas about the origin of monotheism by a couple of decades. Both of their ideas were thoroughly blown to pieces by Wilhelm Schmidt (who is discussed briefly on CMI) a few decades later, but many people today still believe this nonsense.

Derek K., South Africa, 24 February 2015

We use the term brainwashed to mean opposite to what it means. When my dirty brain has been washed by the "Washing of the Watering of the [Truth] of the Word of God, by Brain Dirtied brain can be washed. I'd rather be 'brain-washed' than brain-dirtied.

Thanks Blessings DrK

Andrew B., Australia, 23 February 2015

A fantastic article...

What about the normalisation of the sin nature?

Darwin - All living things have one goal: to survive

Sigmund Freud - survival underlies all motives (primitive unconscious). There can be no right or wrong, just various ways of meeting survival needs. Narcissism, rape, murder, etc are not wrongdoing they're just social disorders.

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