The Bubble

The Evangelical Outpost, a major Christian blog, last week published a positive review of Nancy Pearcey‘s book Total Truth: Liberating Christianity from its Cultural Captivity. In it, Pearcey argues that true Christians must purge their thinking of evolution and all other secular ideas and philosophies:

Most Christians are more secular then they realize, and this must change if the Church is to have any sort of significant cultural impact… Christians must counter the affects [sic] of secularism by developing a comprehensive biblical worldview.

It’s no surprise that Pearcey, a young-earth creationist, believes it is vital for Christians to reject evolution. But her goals, and the goals of the movement to which she belongs, are broader than this. The modern religious right’s plan is not to defend their various beliefs in piecemeal fashion. Instead, they seek to create a self-contained world within the real world, one where all the channels of information present only the views they approve, and believers are never exposed to dissenting opinions.

Slacktivist, a far better kind of Christian, has an insightful article on this phenomenon, discussing the many “Christian worldview” groups. This phrase, as he explains, is code for the fundamentalist enclaves like Bob Jones University that seek to instill a rigid and all-encompassing dogma into their followers’ minds. The intent is to create believers who automatically distrust any information that does not come from “safe”, approved sources of religious indoctrination, but who will unquestioningly obey the leaders of the fundamentalist movement.

If we freethinkers believe in the marketplace of ideas, a thriving realm of debate where different viewpoints can freely clash and mingle, the dominionist right has a different vision. They do not want to be just another participant in the marketplace; they want to withdraw from that broader sphere and create their own marketplace, one where only their voices are heard. Like a memetic analogue of “bubble boy” syndrome, they want to enclose their followers in a protective bubble of sterilized information, allowing nothing that might disturb their preconceptions to pass through. (A commenter on the Evangelical Outpost clearly conveys this when he expresses desire for “a return to filtering our thoughts and conclusions about reality through God’s word”).

When fundamentalists wave the banner of “liberating Christianity from its cultural captivity”, what they really mean is that they want to “liberate” Christianity from the burdensome constraints of objective reality. They want to limit and restrict their followers’ thoughts, to the point where they create a legion of faithful believers who are perfectly immune to contrary evidence and argument. And once that is achieved, then the final stage of their plan:

Evangelicals, explains Pearcey, have traditionally thought of salvation only in terms of individual souls. The idea that we are to have a redeeming influence in every area of culture is new to many… People need to learn how to move beyond a merely privatized faith and apply biblical principles to areas like work, business, and politics.

Like most of the religious right today, Pearcey and her ideological comrades are not satisfied to see Christians having the freedom to practice their own faith. They want to dominate society and impose that faith on others who do not share it. The wish for Christians to have “a redeeming influence on every area of culture” is just a thinly disguised wish to eliminate all ideas that do not conform to their narrow and dogma-blinded vision.

How, then, can freethinkers overcome this strategy? How can we pierce the bubble of dogma and persuade believers to give us a fair hearing? An upcoming post will address that question.

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About Adam Lee

Adam Lee is an atheist writer and speaker living in New York City. His new novel, Arc of Fire, is available in paperback and e-book. Read his full bio, or follow him on Twitter.