You can’t convince a believer of anything; for their belief is not based on evidence, it’s based on a deep-seated need to believe. ― Carl Sagan
A belief system creates boundaries. Boundaries establish values and restrict thought. Cultural programming teaches people to protect these boundaries regardless of their validity. Can we overcome these boundaries?
The Need to Believe in a Higher Power
Let’s understand how the need to believe begins. Belief is an artificial construct. To believe is to accept something that exists without objective proof. So, this is the tool religion uses to tie mythology to values.
Belief starts with animism. This is the theory everything has consciousness. This leads to the categorization of things. Then we create associations between the things. Sometimes these associations are cause-and-effect relationships. Other times they find a basis in cultural superstition. In this way, belief gives us answers to complex things. The answers may not be correct, but they are still answers. For example, a black cat crosses your path. Some traditions tell us this a bad omen a portent of something bad happening. This is superstition.
The belief in a higher power works the same way as the black cat crossing the road. It’s a way of explaining away hard questions. The need to believe in a higher power is a substitute answer. It is an answer to the question of the unknown. For things we don’t understand, we simply insert the higher power as the reason.
The higher power becomes the answer to all the hard questions. This eliminates the need to seek other answers. Maintaining this level of denial requires considerable effort. Religion targets two main groups to build a group of believers.
The young are easy to indoctrinate. Unfortunately, this is a common practice. Young minds are easy to program especially by those they trust. Children trust their parents and adults who appear to have their best interests in mind. These people teach them not to touch fire and to be careful near places where they could fall. The adults they trust also immerse themselves in the doctrine and dogma of religion. They teach them the need to believe in a higher power.
Children born into families with deeply held religious beliefs typically become converts. They receive instruction from an early age. No freedom of choice. Children have no other frame of reference. Children are less likely to distinguish fact from fantasy. So, it is easy for them to mistake mythology as fact. The people they trust would certainly only tell them the truth, right? The need to believe becomes ingrained as part of individual identity. Believing their religion becomes a necessity, not a choice.
Some people believe that subjecting children to religious programming is child abuse. Richard Dawkins says many scientists like him share this opinion. Others believe that as long as there is no clear harm to the child, it is not child abuse, simply the coordinated teaching of established tradition.
People in Crisis
People become believers because when you are in a crisis, you are vulnerable and easier to brainwash. It doesn’t matter what kind of crisis. You come for support and they give you belief as a substitute. The crisis could be financial, emotional, or health. Religion is there with answers. It’s waiting to make converts because believers eventually make them paying customers. You pay with money and with conformity to religious stereotypes they provide. Once they reach the critical mass of the population, then they can program any agenda.
Why Belief Overcomes Reason
Belief is a powerful tool. It can help us overcome obstacles in our life. Or it can become tools to control us. Western organized religion is the developer of groupthink manipulation tactics. They can install beliefs to override our ability to use common sense and logic. It has been a tool to keep science and logic from exposing the truths of their mythologies.
In our modern world, you’d people would have sufficient exposure to the facts about religion. There is a lot of historical and archeological information available today. But, this information is not available to everyone, especially those who need it most. The power of groupthink manipulation trains people to reject anything that threatens their worldview. The need to believe is an insurmountable obstacle for reason and common sense. Some people will defend their beliefs with violent behavior.
Freethinkers from the 19th century thought the age of reason would overcome the belief in mythology. But, they underestimated the power of brainwashing. There simply isn’t any fact that would change the mind of someone entrenched and integrated deeply into a religious paradigm. Trying to argue with common sense from the standpoint of logic, science, or other archeological evidence is futile.
Once you buy into this idea, then you trap yourself into a dualistic mindset. This framework limits your ability to entertain the full spectrum of perception. This is how and why belief overcomes reason.
We need to find ways to break through the programming and overcome the fears that keep people locked into mythology. Above all, it’s about questioning the cultural narrative which requires belief in an imaginary friend. And, it’s about learning that belief is the wall separating you from true spiritual development.
Tactics to Enforce The Need to Believe
Belief in a Higher Power
The first and most critical tactic is to install the belief in an imaginary friend. Religious devotees learn there are three main concerns:
- Mandatory belief and allegiance to a Supreme Being
- Accepting justification for behavior and values to include genocide, religious, ethnic, and gender discrimination
- Required belief in an afterlife or life after death with either rewards or punishment
If can get someone to believe the mythology is a fact, then you can get them to believe anything you want. You can train them to attack anyone or anything that threatens this worldview. This is why belief overcomes reason.
Personal and Business Relationships
Many religions use tactics to integrate personal and business relationships. They seek to tie these relationships to their paradigm. If you believe something outside the boundaries, then you are not just excommunicated from the religious body. They ostracise and isolate people as a means of punishment, and to keep subversive ideas from spreading. And, they when possible restrict or deny people from conducting business. So, the fear of the loss of personal and financial security is a great tactic to keep people integrated.
Demonizing other Belief Systems
Another great tactic is the demonization of all other competing religious systems. This applies to other sects of the same religion. For example, the Christian paradigm is spawning an increasing number of sects. Each one believes they are the true and only interpretation of this mythology. The war between Catholic and Protestants sects is a historical example of this type of division. However, the concept of demonizing other belief system stretches back much further in history.
Demonizing Science and Reason
The other major adversaries of religious indoctrination are science and reason. So, Western Organized Religion has gone to great lengths to undermine the use of these resources. It uses pseudoscience in place of verifiable science. Creationism is only the latest installment. For eons, the Chuch insisted the Earth was flat, then that the Earth was the center of our universe.
We Only Perceive What We Expect
Intelligence is not a safeguard against religious programming. Everyone is susceptible to brainwashing tactics. The more exposure one has, the more likely they are to affect us. This is the premise on which they build all advertising. And, these tactics come from research done in the 1920s when people could quantify the effects of propaganda.
The effects of social indoctrination are so effective that they overcome common sense and logic. Since we can only perceive what we expect, religious indoctrination creates boundaries of perception and values on what we can see. This results in an inverse relationship between reason and religion.
Overcoming the Need to Believe
Recognizing the Effects of Cognitive Dissonance
Despite the massive effort to indoctrinate and maintain their membership, people find a way out. Most times, the effort to maintain the inconsistencies becomes too much. Doing this results in a psychological condition known as cognitive dissonance. This is where your mind tries to hold multiple conflicting ideas at the same time. It’s possible to free the mind from this dilemma. But, this takes courage. It can be very stressful especially when it involves facts that contradict beliefs. So, if there’s a break in the systematic indoctrination and the mind has time to be reconciling the differences there’s can be “Eureka” experience of awareness.
Questioning Faith Result in Eureka Experience
Challenging core beliefs can cause breakthrough awakening experiences. Many Sunday school teachers leave the church. They awaken after being confronted by probative questions of children. For example, questions like, why did God flood the entire world to punish a few bad people? If God is all-powerful and can see the future, why did he create Satan knowing he would cause evil? And, if God forgives, then why didn’t he forgive and convert Satan? After all, murders can be saved why not Satan?… And are all the people who lived before Jesus doomed to hell?
The Desire to Know the Facts
Another way it awakens people to the facts behind the mythology of religion is by conducting their research. Our innate desire to explore the unknown prompts journey of discovery. Western Organized Religion doesn’t want you to start questioning things. They don’t want you researching things with outside sources. They want you to come to meetings. They use groupthink manipulation to reinforce their worldview. They want to keep you busy and integrate their beliefs into your life. In this way, you are less likely to find challenging information or get curious about other points of view.
Do not discount the power of groupthink manipulation tactics. They can persuade otherwise intelligent people to accept mythology over facts. This is why belief overcomes reason. This type of brainwashing starts with the need to believe in a higher power.
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Joseph Campbell & Joseph Campbell’s book The Hero’s Journey, Wikipedia
Abrahamic Religions, Wikipedia
Richard Dawkins Forcing religion children child abuse, www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2312813
Carl Sagan, Wikipedia