Deeper Down the Rabbit Hole

alice_in_wonderland_rabbit_hole_postcard-p239566519971622318z8iat_400Farther and farther down the rabbit hole you go.  Many of you may wonder why it is so hard to talk to a fundamentalist Christian, why it is they are so out of touch with reality, and why it is that, even in the face of credible and damning evidence to their faith, they will not budge.  They can’t even concede a point.

It’s downright frustrating.  And they seem like complete imbeciles.  They are in fact.  But calling them that won’t help.  Telling them how moronic they are being will not help them to face the reality that they are, in fact, being moronic.

Let’s review: Indoctrination, inoculation, and insulation all begin at a very early age.  According to research from the Barna Group evangelism is most effective among children; young children under the age of 13.  Their study done in 2004 revealed that in America 43% of people who become “born-again” believers do so before the age of 13 and 64% of people who become “born-again” do so before the age of 18.  Thirteen percent of “born-again” believers are converted between the ages of 18 and 21.  Only 23% of American adults make a profession of faith after the age of 21.[1]

I could not find a more recent study from the Barna Group but my guess would be that that number either hasn’t changed that much or that the percentage of children becoming “born-again” has increased while the percentage of adults has probably decreased.  I make that conjecture based on the fact that churches(including the one I attended) use this research data to create programs designed to convert the largest number possible.  Therefore, since children are ripe for the picking, churches have created all sorts of children’s programs designed to draw children in and indoctrinate them.

My previous points have been that this indoctrination psychologically stunts these children and many of them, especially if they don’t attend secular universities, never question the doctrines that were fed to them when they were children. These adults who are designing these programs for children fully believe what they are teaching these children as truth. No one is lying; but no one is telling the truth.

By the time these children have reached adulthood it is nearly impossible to convince them of anything other than what they’ve been taught thus far.  Furthermore, when someone – even a progressive/liberal Christian – tries to penetrate their psyches with new information it is met with utter resistance.  Even when they say they don’t mind their faith being challenged, they don’t actually believe that their faith will be challenged.  You start to speak and before you’ve finished your point they already know their rebuttal.  Very few will bother to investigate your claims. The Bible is all the proof or evidence they need. Like Ken Ham, they start with the presumption that YHWH is, that Jesus is his son, and anything that goes against the literal interpretation of their beloved Bible is a contradiction in their minds. Nothing can possibly be true if it contradicts their sacred text.

Because of this when an attempt to challenge those assumptions is made it is perceived as an attack.  Questions are the enemy. When they present their evidence[I'm using that term loosely] they do so with authority and expect acceptance of it as if it is beyond critique. And while they may seem injured, as if you are infringing somehow on their religious freedoms, deep down they are really pleased with themselves.  They’ve passed the test. 

“But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven.” Matt. 10:33

When frustration sets in and insults fly that’s even better.

“Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake.”  Matt. 5:11 

and

“If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. Remember what I told you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’b If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also. They will treat you this way because of my name, for they do not know the one who sent me. If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not be guilty of sin; but now they have no excuse for their sin. Whoever hates me hates my Father as well. If I had not done among them the works no one else did, they would not be guilty of sin. As it is, they have seen, and yet they have hated both me and my Father. But this is to fulfill what is written in their Law: ‘They hated me without reason.’  John 15: 18-25

You see, now they’ve identified with their Christ.  This persecution that they suffer only reinforces their beliefs and they fall even farther down the rabbit hole.

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26 thoughts on “Deeper Down the Rabbit Hole

  1. There’s a hell of a lot of truth to what you’re saying.

    But I have seen people very, very, very slowly change their minds if they befriend someone outside of their Christian bubble.

    The really hard part is getting that relationship to form in the first place. Most of the time it doesn’t happen because of how indoctrinated they are against trusting people who are gay/atheist/liberal etc.

    • “But I have seen people very, very, very slowly change their minds if they befriend someone outside of their Christian bubble. “

      I am living proof of this. There are a few of us floating around out here.

  2. As I said in one of your previous posts, I was one of those “Fundamentalists” since birth . :-)

    Watching what used to be called “History International” (one of my fav channels) started my mind questioning deeper about 9 years ago. (I always had questions that people in church couldn’t answer.)

    The program was about the Nag Hammadi Library. Later I watched a program “Banned from the Bible” I had no clue there were scriptures eliminated from the Bible based on a conference of Bishops who actually voted on what should and should not be part of the Bible.

    This really got the ball rolling . :-)

    • I used to love “History International”. I don’t know what on earth they’ve done to the “History Channel”. I don’t know what you call a lot of that drivel, but it ain’t history, ugh!

      I’ve had a few chinks in my armor along the way, too. Somehow I always managed to re-tool it. When I started studying the various interpretations of the divorce scriptures I came across all kinds of things that had been kept “hidden” during my fundamentalist years, not the least of which is exactly what you’re mentioning – the scriptures that were eliminated from the Bible at the First Council of Nicea.

      There are others, of course, but reading some (not all) of the ancient texts that have been eliminated was a considerable blow.

    • Thanks for reading and commenting, derb!

      Yes, I do read over there, but thanks for the suggestion. He’s such an engaging writer. I find I have quite a bit in common with the author.

      I really need to update my blogroll. It’s been sorely neglected as I’ve added quite a few interesting reads to my list. I just get so busy reading and writing I forget to take care of that little detail.

  3. Oh, I love those ever decreasing circles of Bible quotes you give that bind people to their religion. I can feel the pincers in action just reading them. I’m beginning to think that maybe a higher power was involved in putting that rambling book of rubbish together – it works on so many levels! It really makes me want to study religion in general, and see the parallels in other religions, and exactly where ideas were taken from. The martyr for your cause, hated by all others, is such a winning card for binding people in.

  4. I’m beginning to think that maybe a higher power was involved in putting that rambling book of rubbish together – it works on so many levels!

    Oh, I do hope this was some of your delightfully beautiful sarcasm. :)

    The martyr for your cause, hated by all others, is such a winning card for binding people in.

    Yes, and binding one into some of the most nefarious abuses and intellectual paralyzation possible.

  5. I was one that converted after the age of 20, so I can’t imagine how horribly hard it must be to be indoctrinated as a child. At the church we last attended, they were certainly going after the children big time. It always bothered me to see a four year old making a profession of faith in front of the congregation. I know that they and the parents are sincere, but the motivation to me always seemed to be to get these kids to accept Jesus before it was “too late” and they would be sent to hell….by the loving God they are told will have no other choice if they don’t recognize their “need” for his help. Man, it sounds so crazy when you write it out.

    • If you don’t mind my asking, what was the catalyst for your conversion?

      I remember the first time I “accepted Christ”, I was around ten years old, my dad kind of freaked out. He refused to attend my baptism and he was fairly angry about it. I never knew if he was angry because he didn’t want me indoctrinated in that way or because he knew I didn’t fully understand what it meant to do “accept Christ”.

      I remember him asking me, in a rather animated way why I was getting baptized. When I told him, “Because I believe in Jesus,” I remember very vividly him sitting at the dining room table saying, rather loudly, “I believe in that wall right there, too, but it’s not gonna get me to heaven.”

      It is, indeed, crazy. Nobody who is part of a cult thinks they’re part of a cult while they’re part of the cult.

      • My conversion I believe was brought on by a fear of death combined with just getting married and being so deeply in love that I couldn’t imagine not ever being without my husband and years of bad choices that I wanted to erase. I wanted a clean start. I had the proverbial “god shaped hole” I guess and was reaching out for some answers.

        Your dad, is/was he a believer?

  6. Ruth, a very sound piece. “Confirmation bias” doesn’t begin to approximate the problems with fundamentalism, as you have well outlined. I call these trap doors “barriers to exit” that reinforce the belief set precisely where the belief set should be weakened. Faith claims really are a virus for the mind, and they have just oodles of quite effective self-defense mechanisms to keep themselves from being eradicated, don’t they?

    • “I call these trap doors “barriers to exit” that reinforce the belief set precisely where the belief set should be weakened.”

      Exactly. Right where a red flag should pop up and alarm bells should be ringing is where a psychological road block has been previously installed to discourage any thought of independent thinking. One is discouraged from looking outside of the Bible for the answer to their question. It just perpetuates the cycle.

  7. Ah…as I said to John Z, is there really any point calling them out?

    No wonder smug SOB’s like unklee can never see the cowpats even when he is up to ankles in them.

    The well has already been poisoned, so I guess it is simply a matter of time ( and one hopes, commonsense ) that such people will come to their senses, as it seems the atheist is merely piddling in the wind as far as educating these folk goes and all my acid tipped barbs are for nothing.
    Sigh….
    What is a poor atheist like me going to blog about now, for god’s sake? ;)

    Maybe the key is to work out what caused the average deconvertee to ”jump ship” and focus on these things?

    How were you ”officially” deprogrammed?

    • Welcome to the mind of the literal-translation Bible believer.

      You have a wealth of information and knowledge on a plethora of subjects that is helpful when a person is questioning their position, whether that be religious or a-religious. I’d encourage you to make that knowledge readily available. I’d also encourage you to continue sharing it, even when it isn’t “welcome”.

      I do think they key is exactly that. Many of us had some question or questions regarding our blind allegiance to things that made no apparent sense. The answer to what causes the average deconvertee to “jump ship” will be numerous, but at the base of it I think we’d find that eventually the questions just became too many and the proverbial “curiosity that killed the cat” also caused our faith to meet it’s demise. There’s just that one single moment when a believer says, “hey wait a minute, what was that?” And they dare to dip their toe in the world of secular knowledge. Some recoil at the temperature of the water and slowly submerge themselves and others take a “might as well jump in” approach.

      I slowly dipped my toe in and once I got up to my knees decided to dive the rest of the way.

      Like I said to Ken, I went through a divorce, which I instigated. In my brand of fundamental Christianity that was a big “no, no” for any reason short of adultery. The story is long and posted here. The reader’s digest version is that I was researching my particular situation and there were so many different interpretations that I decided they couldn’t all be right. That gave voice to all my other questions which I had somehow been able to stifle over the years. I befriended google and found all these other skeptics that I had no idea existed. Some of these skeptics encouraged me greatly and had a lot of information to aid me.

      Damn, this is turning into a post. I’m planning a follow-up series to this – “Chinks in the Armor”.

  8. Because of this when an attempt to challenge those assumptions is made it is perceived as an attack. Questions are the enemy.

    In Christian Science, questions are to be seen as an ouppertunity to share the TRUTH of Ms. Eddy’s Divine Revelation. The other person is not the enemy, they’re just wrong. You have to help them see the Light.

    *shudders*

    • “In Christian Science, questions are to be seen as an ouppertunity to share the TRUTH of Ms. Eddy’s Divine Revelation.”

      It’s the same in Southern Baptist/fundamentalist Christianity. The questions that are the enemy are ones in your own mind; any doubt whatsoever. Questions from others are definitely seen as opportunities to educate the questioner on why they are wrong and illuminate their minds with the mind-blowing truth of God’s Word as found in the B-I-B-L-E.

  9. I was de-converting while I was still teaching Sunday School. For about a year I was able to plant some “Question Seeds” . I had a class made up of 70 people ages 35-65. Some of the things I did was mention the numerous missing scriptures in many of our current day bibles like , Mt 17:21, Mt 18:11 and 14 others. When they would try and look them up in their NIV or NLT they were astonished those numbers were actually missing.

    I would also do movie reviews as the Da vinci Code had just come out. We discussed the historical accuracy of the movie which opened up the Council of Nicea and how much of Church Doctrine was voted on by a bunch of Bishops. This too raised the eyebrows. :-)

  10. It actually caused 3 of them to dig deeper to the point we actually had private discussions . While they admitted this only added to the questions they already had, to my knowledge , they never de-converted.

    To answer your point, most had dismissed the questions probably before class was even over. I would suspect this would be the case in many SS Classes.

  11. I think there are a lot more people who claim to be Christians who know the things they’ve been taught in Church don’t add up. For me, it was a big decision to finally “face the facts” and denounce what I used to believe even though I had know this for years.

    I actually attend Church about once every other month in order to see old friends. They don’t ask why I’m not a “regular” nor do I tell them.

    It’s no different than addressing other religions who have fringe groups (if this is actually the case) who promote violence . You are not going to de-convert the adults in great numbers. It has to begin with the children before they get indoctrinated.

    • I agree with your assessment. There were a lot of things that didn’t add up for me, but it was so ingrained in me to “trust” the word of God, that I dismissed my questions and doubts as the work of the devil. Studying outside references was highly discouraged. All we needed was the Bible, and if we were going to use outside sources they needed to be from Southern Baptist sources. One never knew whether anything outside of that was sound in it’s doctrine. Wesley, C.S. Lewis, and a few others were referenced on occasion but not wholly endorsed.

      I actually began questioning some of that while I was taking some Beth Moore Bible study courses. She refers to The Maccabees quite a bit in her prophetical studies and that made me quite curious so I did look those up. I remember wondering why they weren’t part of the canon of scripture, but like so many other things just dismissed that thought. I trusted Beth Moore. I wanted to be Beth Moore.

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