Is it really that easy to change our minds? Is it really that easy once we have bought into a training of thought whether scientific (educational), social-political, or spiritual?
Is there such a thing as a study, position, or dogma that you “must” believe? The answer is “no” and that we can always question the methods, findings, or find an alternative interpretation of the data or what is being promoted. And if all else fails, we can call into question the honesty (integrity) and ideologies of the promoters. As I stated in the Word press article Mind Games to Mind Melt: “Since we have computers and search engines hanging from our hips – we can simply Google a team of supporting scientists, theorists and authorities 24 hours a day for almost any conclusion to support whatever reasoning you choose to believe.” Our white knuckle beliefs range from global warming to whether a fetus is a baby to political views on marriage to evolution versus creation. Again, just Google your belief and you will find supporting evidence to justify your immovable stance. Could it be that this new dynamic in our modern and highly informational world has created a double edged sword of blind polarization which lacks intelligent and rational debate on its back-swing? I believe the answer is “yes” and humanity will pay the ultimate price in its rationalized, self-delusional and prideful state. Shades of gray will continue to spread over the earth and the aspects of genuine truth and blatant falsehood will blend into a lukewarm tonic that will poison the collective soul of cultures and societies. Even the body of Christ will require an anti-venom to counter the poison of the graying of absolute truth. The embracing of “everyone is a winner” and “everyone is right” will manifest as mass losers and mass deceived on a corporate scale.
Will humanity continue to believe almost anything that will support “Our Team?”
Many political scientists and gurus have assumed and taught that people vote selfishly or to serve their own interests. Thus, they vote for the candidate that will benefit them the most. However, decades of research in regard to public opinion have led to the conclusion that self-interest is a very weak predictor of policy preferences. For instance, parents of children in public schools are not any more supportive of government aid to schools than other citizens. Young men who are subject to the military draft are not more opposed to military escalation than men too old to be drafted. People who lack health care insurance are not more likely to support government issued health care insurance than people covered by insurance. Rather, people care about their groups or subcultures whether those be racial, regional, religious or social-political.
In matters of public opinion and in my opinion, citizens ranging from the elite to the poor seem to be asking themselves, “not what’s in it for me” but rather, “what’s in it for my group?” Political opinions, religious dogmas and various behaviors function as badges of social membership. They are like the array of bumper stickers that people put on their cars showing political causes, universities, sports teams and even habits they support. Simply put, our politics, religion, and behavior is groupish and not necessarily selfish. So, may I ask what do “you” really believe is true and serves the betterment of humanity? Do you even know what is true? Or maybe, we are simply believing what is expected of us by the subculture we have embraced?
If people can see what they want to see and believe what they want to believe – just imagine how much propensity there is for political partisans and religious zealots to see different, tainted and obscured facts in the reality of the social world. This “attitude polarization effect” occurs when you give a single bit of information to people with differing partisan leanings. For example, liberals and conservatives actually move further apart when the research clearly defines whether the death penalty deters crime or when they rate the quality of the arguments made by candidates in a presidential debate or when they evaluative arguments or results about welfare, affirmative action and gun control. I may be loosing some readers (especially religious or spiritual) at this time who have convinced themselves that they are “not of this world” and have mistakenly taken these scriptural words as literal which denies social or institutional accountability rather than spiritually which defines a believer’s eternal position. The denial of participation in social-political interests by Christians is both dangerous and delusional. I hope you will stay with me because without political institutions – you would not have a road worthy to drive on to work let alone to be safe from crime and the quality of life you experience today. As I have stated before, “How would a simple pot hole get filled to save your tires from blowing and axles from breaking after a winter thaw if not for basic and participatory political institutions?” The crux of this message is coming to terms with our composite social belief systems and why we believe them. The corporate beliefs of a nation and society will ultimately define its blessing or curse as the days unfold.
Is the worship of reasoning about being reasonable?
All human and animal brains are designed with a major reward center and create flashes of pleasure when the subject does something important for its survival and small pulses of the neural transmitter dopamine in the brain is where these good feelings are manufactured. Heroin and cocaine are addictive because they artificially trigger this dopamine response in the brain. Rats who can press a button to deliver an electrical stimulation to their reward centers will continue pressing until they collapse from starvation. The catch is that when we find avenues to escape the handcuffs of “truth” to justify the survival of our beliefs – we get a little hit of dopamine. If what I am stating is true, then it would explain why extreme belief systems and its zealous partisans are so stubborn, close-minded and committed to beliefs that are bizarre and even paranoid. Like rats that cannot stop pressing a button, partisans may simply be unable to stop believing weird things. Simply put, the partisan brain has been reenforced so many times for performing mental contortions that free it from unwanted beliefs, although these unwanted beliefs may be genuinely true. Extreme partisanship and polarization may be literally addictive. I clearly see this in much of the Christian prophetic and hell-fire camps in it’s continued proclamations of doom and destruction rather than the love of God. These expressions of beliefs are also active within many other religious expressions of conquest (e.g. Islam) and military justification under the guise of national security.
Have we been brainwashed and deluded by the delusional?
Websters Dictionary defines delusion as “a false conception and persistent belief unconquerable by reason in something that has no existence in fact.”
Maybe the worship of “reason” is itself an illustration of one of the most long lived delusions in western culture? I will coin this the “rationalists delusion.” Many know and understand the story and event of Adam and Eve. Likewise, many believe that Eve was tempted, deceived and fell when she partook of the forbidden fruit. This couldn’t be farther from the “truth.” Eve was approached by the serpent and told that if she partook of the fruit – she would essentially see and be like God. On the other hand, God had previously told her, “not to partake of the fruit from the tree in the midst of the garden lest she die.” Before we hypocritically judge Eve too harshly; we must ask ourselves if Eve had ever been lied to before? Did Eve even know what a lie was or have a frame of reference? The answer is no and we can only conclude that Eve had “two perceived truths” at this time in history. The ultimate sin did not happen when the fruit showed the imprints of Adam’s and Eve’s teeth. The fall and sin occurred well before when Eve rationalized God’s absolute truth against a possible option that preyed upon the glory of self. A good analogy would be if I stepped off the 2nd story roof of my house. I immediately “fall” when I step off the roof (rationalization). I experience the impact or pain of the fall when I hit the ground (result of the rationalization).
Has the world been invaded by the Political Intelligentsia, Academic Elitists and Religious Zealots?
The problem with truth is that most western thought hinges upon the idea that reasoning is our most noble human attribute and is thus worshiped as such. As Plato stated in regard to reasoning: “It makes us like the gods” in our truth diluted state. Sadly, this line of thought and reasoning will ultimately take us beyond the belief in God as the harbinger of truth as we deceivingly become gods unto ourselves. Such was the tragedy of Eve. This probably wouldn’t have happened had Adam exercised his dominion over all creation. Rather, he let the serpent and a serpentine delusion infiltrate his domain, social and spiritual order. The rationalists delusion is not just a reflection of human nature, it’s also a claim that most people in positions of influence will be granted more and more power and it usually comes along with a utopian program or agenda for raising more “rational children.” I speak more directly to this prophetic development in the article: The U.S. Invasion of the Political Intelligentsia. Many rationalist have asserted that the ability to reason well about ethical issues causes good behavior which they see or interpret as universal truth. They believe that reasoning is the highway to moral truth and they believe that people who reason well are more likely to act morally. But if this were the case, then moral philosophers who reason about ethical principles all day long should be more virtuous than other people. Or are they?
I have found on-line (Google!) which provided several reputable research studies to address or attempt to answer this question. Moral philosophers and educators were measured on how often they give to charity, vote, call their mothers, donate blood, donate organs, clean up after themselves at philosophy based conferences and respond to emails supposedly from students. The results were stark and in none of these criteria are moral philosophers better than other philosophers or professors in other fields. The researchers even dug up missing books from dozens of college libraries that specialize in moral philosophy and found that academic books on ethics which are presumably and mostly borrowed by ethicists are more likely to be stolen or never returned than books in other areas of academia. In other words, expertise in moral reasoning does not seem to improve moral behavior and it’s belief systems. Likewise, it does not prove the morally educated to be more moral than anybody else in all social classes.
The love of truth or the worship of reason?
Anyone who loves truth should cease from worshiping “reason”. We all need to take a cold hard look at the evidence and see “reasoning” and “rationalization” for what it is and how they have defined history. When combined, they are the elixir of mankind which casts us under the spell of antichrist. Divine truth will always confound the wise of the world for a variety of obvious “reasons”. Most of the bizarre and research findings that justify ungodly behavior make sense once you realize that human reasoning has evolved not to help us find truth but to help us engage in argument, persuasion and manipulation in the context of discussions with other people. In other words, skilled arguers are not after the truth, but after arguments supporting their views.
Humanity will ultimately believe and defend the positions of its groups and subcultures. Truth will always be looked upon by the world body as individually personal rather than eternally divine. All of us must come to this conclusion as mankind’s track record has proven. We simply have very little success in changing another person’s belief system and positions – especially when backed into a corner to prove their error. This is compounded when aspects of spiritual truth which are not seen by natural eyes are taken into account. A wild animal that falls prey to a trap will mangle itself and even attempt to chew its own leg off rather than submitting to the truth of its situation. We can argue that this is simply in the animals nature. This is exactly my point. It is indeed a part of our fallen nature and prayer is the only power on earth that can change a person’s conscience, beliefs and behavior through the working of the Holy Spirit.