Neuroscience has proved that the brain is malleable. Evangelicals raised on magical fact-free myths are trained from birth to believe lies. Put it this way, if you believe Noah was real you’ll be more likely to believe Ted Cruise is a truth teller too.
Brains change because of the environments they’re grown in. Playing a musical instrument grows a brain differently than the brain growth of non-musicians. Vets’ brains are different after the stress of combat. These changes show up on scans. They are physical and real. The also change the way a brain makes decisions.
Fundamentalist belief grows brains incapable of dealing with the world as it actually is. From tribesmen in Borneo, eating the heart of an enemy and believing that they will thereby gain his strength, to Tea Party evangelical Republicans believing that what they need to do now, post-shutdown, is be even crazier in order to win — say by nominating a far right Christian radio host to primary a moderate candidate — the bad result of believing myths is amply demonstrated. It keeps tribesmen in Borneo in the Stone Age, and evangelicals feeling like they’re martyrs whenever they encounter sane people who question their religious or political “facts.”
Being raised in a home where you’re taught from birth – as I was as the son of evangelical missionaries — that the evidence of your eyes and ears is wrong, that, for instance, unseen forces are fighting over the destiny of your soul, that whatever science the local newspaper or your teacher says to the contrary, the earth is young, changes your brain. Delusion leads to more delusion, unless something helps you snap out of it. I describe my “snapping out” process in my new book And God Said, “Billy!” There I explore the roots of American religious delusion, and offer another way to approach true spirituality and God.
Religious delusion takes smart young brains and makes them unable to relate to the actual world. It makes them ready to believe anyone standing “against the establishment,” since the fact-based community has always been portrayed by evangelicals as the enemy of their myth-based godly community of the self-isolated embattled I-believe-everything-in-the-Bible faithful.
Thus the “world’s way” is always suspect. So 2 plus 2 can’t equal 4 because the New York Times says it does so that’s “worldly wisdom” i.e., a math-based rather than godly fact. And worldly facts are bad. They contradict scripture. So down the rabbit hole we all go!
So the fact that most Americans think the evangelical-Tea Party is too extreme to govern simply proves to the paranoid delusional evangelical-Tea Party that they must be even more extreme. Time to take a stand not just against Democrats but against even moderate Republicans the cry goes up.
This evangelical-Tea Party broken-brain conditioning is the only way to explain what the New York Times describes here:
After the budget standoff ended in crushing defeat last week and the political damage reports began to pile up for Republicans, one longtime party leader after another stepped forward to chastise their less seasoned, Tea Party-inspired colleagues who drove the losing strategy… [Yet] in Mississippi, a 42-year-old Republican state senator, Chris McDaniel, was announcing his bid to take the seat held by one of those “adults” — Senator Thad Cochran, 75, a six-term incumbent and the very picture of the Republican old guard, whose vote to end the standoff Mr. McDaniel called “more of a surrender than a compromise.” Insurgent conservative groups like the Senate Conservatives Fund, the Madison Project and the Club for Growth immediately announced their support for Mr. McDaniel, the chairman of the Mississippi State Senate’s Conservative Coalition and a former Christian-radio host, providing an early glimpse of what the next three years are likely to hold for the Republican Party.
“This was an inflection point because the gap between what people believe in their hearts and what they see in Washington is getting wider and wider,” said Jim DeMint, the Heritage Foundation president, who, as a founder of the Senate Conservatives Fund, is helping lead the evangelical-Tea Party insurgency. DeMint, a guru of flake dysfunction to the Republican bat-crazy rabid right, said of his dysfunctional evangelical-Tea Party followers: “They represent the voices of a lot of Americans who really think it’s time to draw a line in the sand to stop this reckless spending and the growth of the federal government.”
Following the disastrous $24 billion tab meaningless gesture, that gained only bad approval poll numbers, evangelical-Tea Party House Republicans learned nothing. “Republicans have an opportunity to reset the debate over the next few months. As the nation’s attention turns from Washington politics to the Obamacare disaster, Democrats will have no choice but to reconsider our fair and reasonable proposals to delay the law,” Georgia evangelical-Tea Party Republican Rep. Tom Graves said. Rep. Mick Mulvaney, a leader in the House conservative said that the defeat came about because conservative weren’t able to “drive home” the argument.
The legion of home schooled, Christian school graduates, Christian college graduates and others raised in the gated Never, Never Land of evangelical myth have launched themselves into the political process. They are the Tea Party faithful. The very fact that the political facts point in the opposite direction than they want to go is proof to them they are right. They are standing up for Jesus (and white southern men too) against the world. The world is never right about anything from science to gays to global warming, from what “happened” in the Garden of Eden, to what actual health care reform is, even to claims that president Obama is a real American.
Appeals to rational thought, facts or evidence gain no traction in brains conditioned to think that reality itself is a threat. What began in a million Sunday schools just produced a 24 billion fiasco to no purpose, diminished America’s standing in the world, and hurt countless Americans. Send the bill to the evangelicals. Without their fictions the Tea Party would not have fond so many willing dupes. It takes a lifetime of Bible studies to destroy a human brain as completely as is necessary to make an otherwise intelligent person trust a flake as obviously perverse as Ted Cruz.
Frank Schaeffer is a writer. His latest book — And God Said, “Billy!“exploring the roots of American religious delusion, and offering another way to approach true spirituality, is #1 on Amazon Kindle in the Political Humor category. On Kindle, iBook and NOOK for $3.99 and in paperback.