Monday, January 22, 2018

Problems with American Mindworm Religious Faiths

Faith. There is a problem with it. We hadn't seen the problem (though many actually did and at times were literally burned at the stake for it) for thousands of years. But with instant media it is becoming painfully clear. It has even led in part of late to an inability to discern what is and what is not self-evident.

I know I have made a run at this topic in the past, and I may well revisit it again in the future...until I get it right. Here goes....

In epistemology (theory of knowledge), a self-evident proposition is a proposition that is known to be true by understanding its meaning without proof, and/or by ordinary human reason. - Wikipedia

We have apparently lost the ability to see what was once simply self-evident. That has been destroyed on purpose by the American political  right wing. And religion has more than a little to do with it.

There is indeed a problem with religious "faith", with religion, certainly with American Republican thinking and, most assuredly with American conservatism, most especially with extreme conservatism.

On that last, I have always said conservatism is dangerous. To survive one must be progressive. Conservatism wishes to maintain the status quo. But to maintain a status quo counter intuitively requires progress, while attempting to remain the same. Everything around us, including time, moves on either with or without us. To stay the same, one must change. And to change, is to progress.

Faith in our more ancient and ignorant times, when we did not have science or rational explanations for much of reality, served a great purpose. It served a purpose in times of no recourse when facing pain and even death. Without much explanation available for most of what happened in life, it served a valuable purpose to humanity.

It allowed one to be able to continue in blind acceptance of what was believed to be true, of what had to be true. That brought along with it the hope that needs to be, very real for one going through extraordinary trials and tribulations.

If one had faith, if one simply believed something could be done against all odds, that one could be successful and survive to enjoy the benefits of those trials, well? What could be more powerful?

If however one simply looked at the same situation, without religious faith but rather with determination and a focus to achieve above and at all costs, that one could find a way to be successful without calling to a "higher power", that one could somehow be around to enjoy the benefits of those efforts through those trials, even if one had to give up all consideration of surviving in accepting one's potential demise, that one could be successful merely through one's own efforts, then that too would be a very powerful thing.

But that's not as pretty. Not as easy to do. It requires thought, intellect, effort, education, rather than simply ignorance and blind belief. We are at a point now in human evolution when we can achieve these things without beliefs in etheralism.

The argument is that the difference between the two is if you do hit that wall where you lose your faith or lose your desire to continue, to where things have become so difficult as to see no way out to success, religious faith, based on a god, on an afterlife, could conceivably give you that extra boost to continue even after most would have given up. Especially if you throw in things like burning in Hell for all eternity if you give up, especially if giving up could be considered suicide and that requires your damnation.

That is a big part of the whole faith issue. A warning of punishment even after death. Or a kind of capitalistic reward if one acts in the appropriate ways. Ways typically defined by one's religious leaders and not just one's religion.

In ancient times when there were few realistic explanations for so many things, faith was extremely important and powerful and, eminently useful. However nowadays we have a far better understanding of things, and of the universe. We do not need so much faith to carry us over and through fears of demons, of things larger than in life. That we might just continue on even as we might once have perceived our end into the very pits of Hell for our God and our beliefs.

That's all fine and good, but the problem with all this is exactly the kind of things we're seeing today.

It has all been abused. Warped toward self interests and agendas, much as it actually always has been all through time, since the original incorporation of religion. When those who ruled first discovered the power therein and how they could control (and abuse) followers and believers.

This is something I've been saying this for years. Religion, is itself a mind, or a brain "worm".

As a mindworm originally referred to a song or melody that gets stuck in your mind and you cannot stop hearing it. As a song with a certain format can easily lend itself to that condition (think, advertising "jingle" for instance), in being the fruit of a concept that is essentially a mindworm. It is merely something to achieve in the industries of marketing or song writing. To force people to remember a product or the song itself so hopefully consumers will buy it.

As it is also in politics and today in the business of religion, to burn concepts into an electorate's or religious follower's minds, to achieve and maintain power and position for the leaders.

Religion, is itself one of those mindworms and can be used to sway and control. Just as it can be in politics. Just as we're seeing today in the conservative right in politics, which also lends itself to that condition in part because they have been conditioned through centuries of religion to accept concepts they would or should never accept. But because of their conditioning through religion, because of religion's place in humanity, they can find themselves in some very odd conundrums.

Like supporting someone like Donald J. Trump to become president, even to the point of supporting his most insane, ridiculous and damaging behaviors. It is the reason that conservatism, the Republican party and the far political right are so very dysfunctional today as seen by the median of American culture.

In conditioning and having used and abused American Christian Evangelical techniques, conservative politicos have brainwashed their electorate over time to the point that they no longer relate to or recognize reality. It doesn't help, as theists attend churches, that they also attend Fox News in some very similar ways. It has even seeped into the minds of those who would vehemently claim atheist orientations.

They can be some of the worst, because they more so than the other, have a great difficulty in seeing how they got to where they are since they now refuse to admit any religious conditioning at all. Since they are (now) atheists.

Along with conservative politicians diluting facts to the point of having no meaning, calling anyone or thing that disagrees with them as "fake news", always pointing the finger at others for their own behaviors, even having the support of a foreign power (Russian through Putin), we have now today's Republican party and their defective Trump administration. And they can't even see this.

Because of all this, America is no long a democracy but an oligarchy, just as the BBC article details.

This is not, or this should not be how one achieves and maintains power.

Though actually it is a very functional way. Even if morality and ethics dictate that it should never be done. However in a universe now where one believes it is necessary to win at any and all costs, where the ends always justifies the means, where the individuals is more important than all citizens against just one side's electorate, regardless how much damage it creates, it is a very viable tool. It is and always has been an effective authoritarian tool, a primary fascist tool. A tool of the despot, of the dictator, of the elite over the masses who lack any actual control. Except for themselves as a whole.

Therefore they need to be separated and pigeonholed to dilute their power. When that happens it is one of the greatest travesties of democracy and such that all who oppose it (Russia for instance, Putin most especially), cherish it greatly. Because, it works.

And we're seeing this in America, now. Most prominently, by the current Pres. Trump.

A direct line can be traced through religion to conservatism and Evangelism, to American Republicanism, to an American (as well as Russian, through their interventions) Oligarchy.

But let's return to two terms in particular and define "mindworm" in this context and, American evangelicalism.

In Christianity, Evangelism is the commitment to or act of publicly preaching of the Christian Gospel with the intention of spreading the message and teachings of Jesus Christ. - Wikipedia

The issue therein is with modern methodology as developed over time in America. The differences between Education and indoctrination (or brain washing as in cults) can be enigmatic. Education relies heavily upon actual facts, reality, while indoctrination can easily rely mostly on the ends justifying the means, regardless what is being proposed.

It in part depends upon the child evangelism movement, a Christian evangelism movement that originated in the 20th century. It focused on the 4/14 Window which centered on evangelizing children between the ages of 4 and 14 years old. (Wikipedia, referred here to Luis Bush). The Christian music industry has also played a significant role in modern evangelism, as well as of late, their growing film industry. There are sure to be others to follow as one succeeds and supplies money to other newer endeavors.

This necessarily needs us to refer to "Deprogramming  which refers to measures that claim to assist a person who holds a controversial belief system in changing those beliefs and abandon their allegiance to the religious, political, economic, or social group associated with the belief system. - Wikipedia

We do not have deprogramming in politics. But we need to.

Though there is no realistic way to treat the disaffected individuals and groups. To rectify it requires education (also to inoculate them in the first place). Education is something the conservative right and Republicans in general have continually defunded and attempted to support instead, "charter schools" and "home schooling" to allow their mindworm beliefs to be perpetuated untampered with by reality or more rational and reasonable outside forces (such as the Federal government). This has led to our current somewhat to completely bizarre politics and beliefs, as well as the rise of entities such as Fox News, today as we know them.

The bible proclaims:

"You are the salt of the earth...the light of the world...Go therefore and make disciples of all nations." Matthew 5:13-14; 28:19

In "A Social Psychology of Evangelism" by David G. Meyers and Charles W. Green, they begin by referring to the Principle Three: attitudes follow behavior. Also, "attitude inoculation" which basically is a method to inoculate their beliefs against all rational onslaughts.

That is, to be able to withstand all reality and rationality against one's own personal or group's or tribe's beliefs, regardless how ridiculous they are or how contrary they are to reality in general or even specifically.

Along with those are the others:
Principle Four: credible and attractive communicators have more impact.
Principle Five: personal persuasion is more effective than media persuasion.
Principle Six: ineffective appeals can be worse than none at all.
Principle Seven: vivid, concerte examples are more potent than abstract information.
Principle Eight: messages that relate to what people know or have experienced are better remembered.
Principle Nine: spaced repetition aids memory.
Principle Ten: active processing boosts persuasion. 
Principle Eleven: group discussion generally strengthens shared convictions. 

"For evangelism this faith-follows-action principle implies the desirability of creating opportunities for people to enact their uncertain beliefs, thereby confirming and strengthening their Christian identity. Bill Graham recognizes this when asking people to enact a public commitment of their newfunds faith: "Now I'm going to ask you to get up out of your seat." From the paper by Meyers and Green.

William Strunk and E.B. White asserted in their classic: The Elements of Style, "If those who have studied the art of writing are in accord on any one point, it is on this: the surest way to arouse and hold the attention of the reader is by being specific, definite, and concrete." 

The problem in attempting to counter this behavior by the disingenuous, is in maintaining an adherence to the truth. To be honest and forthright, one cannot know everything, or enough far too much of the time. The evangelical politico (at times even the religious version) will be specific, definite, concrete and self-assured, regardless.

Because it is imperative to win. To win at all costs. Reality and logic dictate that much of the time (certainly for most of us) we simply cannot know everything and in being honest about that, we can lose the battle against an evangelical type.

Which is something I learned decades ago. Beware anyone or group who seems to have all the answers. No one, has all the answers and if they seem to, something is wrong. Anyone may have all the answers for a short time, until knowledge runs out. But if it continues beyond a reasonable point, beware. In certain situations, even consider running for the door. Escape! 

It is the same old situation. Good is weaker in some ways because of rules and laws and honesty. Evil can do anything to win. We have seen this in America against the closed societies of the old Soviets and Communist Chinese. 

While America is open, published things openly, all the spying America's enemies had to do much of the time was to buy a magazine, a journal, or frequent a library. Or simply ask someone. While in their societies, merely asking the wrong question can get you in trouble. 

We see this kind of behavior with the Trump administration in being specific about things we know are fully unknown, while the counter is difficult except to admit ignorance and to point out that the President is obfuscating, conflating, and lying.

To return to the indoctrination of children. That is how the mindworm comes to be in Christianity, religion in general and American Evangelism. Get them young. Get and keep them ignorant. Steel them against reality. Follow, at all costs. Believe that "faith" is the end all be all to life. Never leave the "faith" for reality, or "earthly" beliefs (or pleasures, thus denying believers of much of what is wonderful about the human experience, not even in considering the extreme elements). Some organizations (not religion) like Scientology are very much like that. And scary, it is for they have ruined lives. Just as we have seen from the Republican party and their abuses of ethnic minorities and women's rights. 

This, is the reason religion is a mindworm. It is insidious to be able to remove it once it has wrapped its slimy body around a pristine mind. 

Through a history of religion, of following, of evangelical actions by conservative politicos, in using what the Soviets learned decades ago works very well on human beings to take control through these mindworm techniques, we see it also today in American Right Wing politics, in the conservative right of the Republican party, and in the alt-right movement of American fascism. But they don't see themselves in that light because after all, they are the "good people". 

Something they cannot see clearly as wrong because it all agrees with their more base inner desires. That of self-aggrandizement and selfish reward hidden within the guise of claims of helping others. 

It is also why someone like Donald Trump is so appealing to them. He makes it all look good and best for them and if for them in their delusional state, then of course it's for everyone. 

Oddly enough, Pres. Trump himself is a kind of mindworm. As seen in this depiction of the original science fiction story from 1950 by author, Cyril M. Kornbluth (from Wikipedia):

"The Mindworm" is a short story by science fiction author Cyril M. Kornbluth, first published in 1950. It combines the themes of mutant power, telepathy and ancient superstition.

The protagonist, the Mindworm of the title, is an orphan, the result of a liaison between a U.S. Navy lieutenant and a nurse aboard ship during viewing of early atomic tests. He is a mutant, as a result of the atomic fallout after the testing, and he can "hear" the thoughts of others around him.

Cast out into the world as a young adult, he is about to be gang raped by hoboes when he discovers an ability to feed off strong emotions, killing one of his assailants in the process. He uses this to eliminate the rest of his attackers. He moves from town to town, eavesdropping on the thoughts of people around him, and using his abilities to induce the intense emotion he craves, and to gain material wealth. The thoughts he hears often represent a brutal side of America, as he hears the large and small cruelties people inflict on each other, ranging from family quarrels to beatings carried out in dark alleyways.

He can hear thoughts in other languages, though he cannot understand them. As he moves into communities where new Eastern European immigrants have congregated, he starts hearing the term "wompyear". Just as he realizes that this is their pronunciation of the word "vampire" and they have recognized him, his neighbors burst in and kill him.

In conclusion, it is my contention in all this to be specific, definite and not rely on religious faith. Rely on reality. Rely on education. Rely on science and truth. Even and most especially if and when it disagrees with your beliefs. That doesn't mean blindly follow science. If it disagrees with you, review the facts. The actual facts. Research until you can clearly see what the truth is, and then, stick to it. Until a better version comes along. Don't stick to outdated and misguided beliefs. That sit he road to madness and harming humanity. 

Initially it is harder to do. I'll admit that. It takes practice and more mind\brain power. Whic is why so many avoid it. It's easier not to think things out, especially if you are uneducated, or do not have a clear and logical mind. But in the end we will all be much better off for it.

And just as important if not more so, we will all be able to agree on what reality actually is. 

There is an odd twisted parallel between certainly the christian religious and American conservative politics. Where God has been replaced by oligarchs and profit. Where following God is following financial and political (because of financial) leaders. Where what is good for us (really for them) is good at all costs. Where we believe through faith what our beliefs are regardless of all reality countering those beliefs.

It is easy for those of us on the outside of American conservative politics to see. One merely needs to point it out. It is after all, quite...self-evident. For those of us who still know what that means, anyway.

However it is nearly impossible for those inculcated into it, for it ever to change for them and therefore, for us all, because of them.

And that, is most definitely a problem. 

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