Religious Wonder is Indoctrination

Religious Wonder is Indoctrination December 29, 2018

By Mark W. Gura, CW Brown,  Rosi Guastella

“Most People Are Drowning In Their Delusional Ignorance Without Knowing That Their Suffering Was Created By Themselves.” Jakusho Kwong Roshi.

And there I was, at a Christian rock concert, and my cynical-atheist self was feeling “God” (or what religion says God is). Tears were running down my cheeks, total euphoria. This was a psychological phenomenon, re-interpreted by religion to seem supernatural. In reality, I was feeling endorphins, brain chemicals were being ejected into my synapses. The music was so subconsciously hypnotic that it felt magical.

This is why churches use music and visuals and theatrics. This is why Jim Jones and David Koresh used music. Music excites people, hypnotizes people, puts them into a state of trance. Sermons do the same, but they are passé because they don’t work as well. Psychological holes need to be filled. Music, visuals, mass-hypnosis, does the trick. The words make people believe the claims that are floated into the air. People attending the service with an open mind are soon swayed. Even the cynical mind can be indoctrinated. Psychology is reinterpreted as God. Then the money flows into church coffers, and people are convinced that God is working in their lives. Christian rock, Christian shows, Christian theaters are mass indoctrination machines. They loosen you up, provide good feelings that you think you need to be happy, so you can get through the doldrums of each week.

Elvis’ “devil’s music” worked the same way, it hypnotized people, but it did not give them a dogma. Christianity had dogma to spare; it just needed a vehicle. Modern music did the trick. Add sensory overload, community mass-hysteria, comradeship, majestic visuals–voilà. The non-skeptic brain interprets all this as a meeting with God. Even if you are depressed, even if you are nobody, even if you are suffering from ethnic discrimination, or you’re an atheist–hypnosis and mass indoctrination work. It might just make you a believer. Be careful.

Think about how this worked thousands of years ago, sans the technology. Is there any wonder that people unfamiliar with science, long ago, thought that they met God or his representatives? Take European peasants from the Middle Ages, or Middle Eastern caravan drivers, or just good-hearted people that don’t know any better. Add the most awesome music you’ve ever heard possible, add theatrics, with lights, or psychological phenomenon designed to make the brain chemicals run. Thousands of years ago, and even now, people under the influence of profound subjective experiences swear that they are experiencing God, that God is touching them with beautiful rays of love and light. I felt it too. I stood there, the stage lit up, beautiful visuals of villages, decorated in Christmas fashion, synchronized with guitars, drums, angelic voices. The singer stared at me, tried to pierce me, assisted by music. It overwhelmed me. The people next to me were holding hands, connecting with the music. The musician with the long hair, lights cascading through and over him. He looked like Jesus. My conscious mind knew it was all mass-produced, a commercial illusion, but the primitive part of my brain was fooled. I now understand why people fall into cults. In reality, this was mass hypnosis. As I stood there, I looked around, the people around me were in the same state. We were hypnotizing one another.

Afterward, had I had a problem, had I had been lost, or vulnerable, these religious entrepreneurs would have used my technologically induced trance state, would have told me that God was responsible for uplifting my mood. Electro-wonder would have been pumped into my brain, over-hyped. If I believed it “He” would be there for me from then on, as long as I continued to get my dose from the show, daily, and forever. Then, they would promise me salvation, after death. I would be promised a post-dated check which is cashable after death.   

Fortunately for me, I feel inoculated against religious indoctrination. Been there and done that. I am an atheist. I became an atheist because I studied religion and found it to be a lie. I now know that there is no evidence to support the supernatural claims made by religion.

I experience happiness and wonder, but I know this does not come from gods, fairies, or unicorns. All healthy humans are able to be happy, by simply being, by learning to be happy with reality as it is. It’s a matter of training the brain to accept simple things, without needing to crave for extravagant things. No God is required. Religious claims that are foisted on the brain and believed without evidence are delusions. The danger in being faithful to delusions is that we become dependant on myths for our psychological sustenance. I would rather be happy with reality.

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  • Sastra

    It takes both mental discipline and a rare form of honesty to recognize that an overwhelming sense of “transcendence” is not a great insight, but a superficial interpretation. Kudos. The idea that atheists don’t believe because they haven’t had The Experience of Communing with God isn’t true — nor is the claim that such experiences are self-verifying. You can always try to look below the surface and understand.

  • Jim Jones

    I went to a full on, night time, Billy Graham revival when he was in his early 40’s and at full power.

    George Beverly Shea sang “How Great Thou Art”, there was a choir and music, and Billy gave a rip-roaring sermon ending with a come-to-Jesus call.

    Some walked forward. I did not, having heard nothing to change my mind.

    I did, however, contemplate to myself the meaning of the term “emotional manipulation”.

    (But good luck, door knockers).

  • I’m a product of the Church of Christ (“non-institutional” type), where it’s all acapella all the time. I used to be a “song leader” (the NI bunch don’t go in for the fancy term “worship leader”). Going to the annual singing at the Kleinwood Church of Christ where there were over 1000 in attendance, singing the 4-part harmony style of music you always find in the CoC, and singing some of the newer, more emotional songs up until the early 2000s was quite an experience.

    Then I went to the singing school in 2002 and took the sight-singing class. After a week in a college dorm where I didn’t sleep well, on the last day of class when the teacher walked in we all sang a song called “Make Me a Servant.” I couldn’t sing it for the tears rolling down my face.

    My wife and I left a day early because we were exhausted, and that was the beginning of the end for me when it came to the music. I felt manipulated! I never felt comfortable with having my heart-strings tugged, anyway, and this experience just really made me feel as if I had been used.

    I had been somewhat addicted to music before. Sometimes a song playing in my head would keep me awake at night. (After 9/11, when GM was playing REO Speedwagon’s “Roll With the Changes” in their ads several times during every show we watched, I was having a hard time sleeping. I loved that song, but it really caused me a problem.) Anyway, after the singing school I quit listening to music on the radio on the way to and from work. (I never listened to religious music because it was instrumental.) My mind is much more peaceful now. I’ll play an album on the weekend, maybe, but I don’t listen constantly any more.

    At that time I started trying to limit my song-leading duty. It wasn’t easy, because people expected it of me. I deconverted about 10 years later, but as a closet atheist I was still stuck leading singing. I finally managed to “retire” from it about 2 years ago.

    But you know, those songs that used to tug at or even overcome my emotions just don’t anymore! They’re finally meaningless to me. Such a relief!