Victoria NeuroNotes

Why Politicians and Religious Leaders Get In Bed With Your Limbic System

118 Comments

I watched GOP presidential front-runner, Donald Trump, live, on TV when he visited Mobile, Alabama, just an hour east of where I live. Not long into his pep talk he said to the huge, deep red crowd:

“What’s my favorite book? The Bible!”

He held the Bible up in the air and the Trumpeting Elephants reacted predictably. Like many charismatic politicians and evangelists, Trump is a performer and entertainer; and like many politicians and evangelists, Trump attracts people using apocalyptic redemption stories.

Yesterday, in Dallas, Texas, Trump drew a crowd of about 15,000 at the American Airline Center. Within the first five minutes of his performance, he boasted about leading with the evangelicals, and invited an evangelical pastor to the podium, then praised him.

Why do so many people fall for these characters? Because they know how to pluck the limbic strings by using emotionally-charged statements based on opinions, although they confidently present them as facts. William Gavin, a media adviser and speech writer for Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan, stated:

“Reason requires a high degree of discipline, of concentration; impression is easier. Reason pushes the viewer back, it assaults him, it demands that he agree or disagree; impression can envelop him, invite him in, without making an intellectual demand. The emotions are more easily roused, closer to the surface, more malleable.”

Politicians and the religious hierarchy know that a vast number of people are drawn to emotionally oriented information. Reason is pushed to the back seat, or put in the trunk. Paying excessive attention to emotionally dominant information is called attentional bias, a predisposition of our attention to process certain types of information before others. It can cause people to ignore important information, profoundly influencing the decision-making process.  

 

beliefs reason

 

We have two thinking  systems.  Daniel Kahneman, who won the Nobel Prize for his research on behavioral economics, and whose book, Thinking, Fast and Slow, was awarded best book in 2012 by the National Academy of Sciences, calls them System 1 and 2.  However, the two systems are also known as the Autopilot System and Intentional System.

System 1 – Autopilot Thinking

The autopilot system corresponds to our emotions and intuitions. Its cognitive processes take place mainly in the amygdala and other older parts of the brain that developed early in our evolution. The role of this system is to guide our daily habits. It helps us make snap decisions, and is responsible for reacting to dangerous life-and-death situations—freeze, fight-or-flight responses. Making snap decisions without giving much thought to it was necessary when our ancestors were contending with predators such as saber-toothed tigers, but not nearly as needed in modern times.

Still, this older part of the brain (autopilot) sees small stresses that are not life-threatening as though they were a tiger, producing unnecessarily stress hormones that can undermining our mental an physical well being, and may cause an increase of gray matter volume in the right amygdala (fear). These snap judgements coming from the emotional region of our brain tend to feel “true”, but can lead us wrong in systemic and predictable ways.

Limbic_lobe_animation

  • Fast, intuitive, emotional
  • Requires no effort
  • Automatic thinking, feeling, and behavior habits
  • Prone to some predictable and systematic errors

 

System 2 – Intentional Thinking

This system represents our rational thinking, and is centered around the prefrontal cortex, the newer part of the brain that evolved more recently. Research shows that the frontal lobes (the part of the brain that makes us most human), developed as homo sapiens started to live within larger social groups, affording the ability to handle more complex mental activities, e.g., logical reasons, learning new information, and probabilistic thinking.

With enough training, the intentional system can turn on in situations where the autopilot system is prone to make errors, especially costly ones. The Navy trains their Seal recruits to do just that—bypass the autopilot system and immediately assess potentially dangerous situation from the prefrontal cortex. I wrote about it here.

Frontal_lobe_animation

  • Conscious, reasoning, mindful
  • Takes intentional effort to turn on but can exhaust mental energy
  • Used mainly when we learn new information, and use reason and logic
  • Can be trained to turn on when it detects Autopilot System may be making error

 

It has been said that the autopilot system is like an elephant (no pun intended). It’s by far the more powerful and predominant of the two systems, so our emotions can overwhelm our rational thinking. The elephant part of the brain takes up a lot of real estate, is unwieldy, slow to turn and change, and can stampede if it feels threatened. The majority of our life is spent on autopilot, and that’s not a bad thing, per se. If we thought intentionally about every action and decision, it would be mentally exhausting.

However, not thinking intentionally in critical decision making and actions will leave people vulnerable to emotional manipulation by others, and prone to predictable and systematic errors. When people allow the elephant to lead the rider, or allow others to be the rider of their elephant, it will not only impact their personal lives, but can negatively impact communities and large chunks of society. Even the world at large.

We can train the elephant so that it doesn’t work against us. We are hardwired for emotional appeal, so it takes work to not fall back into default with the side-effect of attentional bias and critical errors. Become aware of how information gets to you; seek a clear, evidence-based understanding of the reality of any given situation, and the likelihood of future events.

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Author: NeuroNotes

Victoria predominately blogs about religion, and the brain's role in religious type experiences.

118 thoughts on “Why Politicians and Religious Leaders Get In Bed With Your Limbic System

  1. I wonder whether Donald Trump is familiar with the part of the Bible where Jesus says it is harder for a rich man to get into heaven than for a camel to get through the eye of a needle?

    Liked by 6 people

  2. Great post Victoria! As we’ve talked about before, understanding how the brain works is such an important part of understanding humanity that it should be taught in schools as a standard part of biology. It seems to me that one doesn’t have to get even too detailed to have a basic understanding of the different parts and systems of the brain and how they impact thinking and behavior.

    Also as you pointed what’s problematic is the over use of this emotional stimulation. Bernie Sanders can get me just as fired up but he follows his emotional appeal with facts, statistics, planning, etc. You can tell there is also deep thinking going on and so both parts of the brain you talk about here are activated. In Steven Pinker’s book “How the Mind Works” he says at one point that without emotions we would not have motivation to do anything. Even extreme hunger impacts our emotional state making us more and more aggressive and more likely to bypass certain moral principles in order to get food. So when change is in order and requires the people to support that change one must find away to motivate people, and on average that’s not just going to be done with a bunch of charts. But we can support that appeal to emotion with charts. Given what a greedy megalomaniac Trump is I have to think his “authenticity” is waning when he tries to appeal to evangelicals. That’s great that your favorite book is the Bible Donald, but it’s clearly pandering to your audience and trying to appeal to their emotions. It’s the equivalent of the rock star who yells “Go Cowboys” while in a concert in Dallas and then says “Go Cardinals!” while in Phoenix. It’s meaningless. Now Donald if you’d like to explain why certain parts of the bible are meaningful to you and how they might apply to current issues of today, that’s fine, but yelling “I love the bible!” is absolutely meaningless. There is a lot of outdated and psychopathic shit in the Bible so should I take it that you love slavery, or that certain rape is permissible? Should I take it to mean that you support stoning, making all food Kosher, or killing the children of our enemy? It’s easy for someone as vapid as Trump to seem authentic, because one really gets the sense that there is very little compassion to be found behind the veil.

    Liked by 6 people

    • On a silly random note- if he starts saying “go cowboys!” I will write Jerry Jones an email and tell him to ban The Donald from using that phrase as its trademarked for only REAL cool ass Cowboys fans- so Donald “you’re fired!!” Lol 😜
      PS- Bernie gets me fired up too because he’s the only political hope we have that makes sense- otherwise our country is shit going down the toilet 😳😔 you said it so well that Bernie appeals to emotion with logic- and that is someone we need to lead- balanced and level headed and real. ✌🏽️😎 great thoughts &comments to V’s post btw!

      Liked by 2 people

      • Linden, I wouldn’t be surprised if The Donald has said it. As you are probably aware, he’s friends with Jerry Jones and at the beginning of the Dallas rally yesterday, he gave praises to Jones. As far as telling Trump that he’s fired — haven’t you heard? He said nobody tells him what to do. 😉

        I agree with you about Bernie. Donald talks about feeding the War Machine. Bernie talks about feeding the children.

        Liked by 2 people

        • I had no idea- but it further cements my dislike of Jerry Jones despite my love of the Cowboys as a team lol
          He went to church at Prestonwood Baptist- aka the Baptidome 😂 wouldn’t surprise me if the Donald paid a visit there- also in attendance regularly is pat somemerall, Josh Hamilton, et al major sports players to feed their religious pocketbook which in turn feeds their political causes and boosts their ego (smh). Not that long ago my hubs attended a conference (when we were “religious”) where Tulian Tvjician (spelling?)a grandson of Billy Graham did a speech- and all the fundies just basically worshiped him because of who he was- then not that long ago Tulian was busted on an extramarital affair 😳 lol. Needless to say their undying support from before disappeared and they have ostracized him along with anyone else who goes against their “faith.” Lol. Oh the Christian love they show to one another- so catching isn’t it?
          How do I know this? I went to church there back in the day (gasp and very embarrassed at this admission) lol
          PS I signed a petition yesterday started by Bernie to break up the big bank monopolies. And I love on his campaign website it says “funded by Bernie Sanders, not the billionaires” 😎

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      • Thank you Linden! I have become less and less of a football fan over the years so I’ll leave up to you fight the good fight in Dallas. lol

        Liked by 1 person

    • Well said, Swarn. People shouldn’t be so proud to exclaim that the Bible is their favorite book, unless they actually get off on the things you pointed out. You wrote:

      “Bernie Sanders can get me just as fired up but he follows his emotional appeal with facts, statistics, planning, etc.”

      I agree, and I hope my post didn’t come across as indicating that emotions are a bad thing,. But as you pointed out, people can easily get manipulated by emotions and someone like Trump may say something that “feels” right, but is opinion based. When people go by what “feels” right but doesn’t do some fact checking, it makes them prone to critical errors.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Don’t get me wrong, there are some positive messages in the Bible (just as there are in the Hobbit, or many other books) and if one wants to cherry pick I guess they are free to do so…but just yelling I love the Bible doesn’t send any kind of clear signal about what we can expect from a policy standpoint, and that’s troubling if you are running for the highest office in this nation.

        No I don’t think your post came across as saying emotions are a bad thing, I just wanted to add a comment about how those two systems in the brain you highlight here can be used in conjunction with each other effectively. Your posts also get me riled up emotionally, but it;s only because I know the science orgasm is coming. 😉

        Liked by 1 person

        • I think we are talking past each other, but on the same page. It was so apparent why he said it. He knows his audience. Oh, and I’m quite familiar with science orgasms. 😉

          Liked by 1 person

          • I guess we are…sometimes things hit me while I’m writing and things become less coherent. Because I was thinking too about how everybody is off about how authentic he is, and I’m like…well let’s not jump the gun here. I guess his authenticity is in that he is unconventional compared to politicians so when he does pander he does it in a more Rock Star fashion, but it’s still pandering. lol

            Liked by 1 person

            • I think the problem on my end is that I tend to think that I don’t have to go into explanation with you because we’ve communicated extensively outside of WP, but I think it does benefit others reading our comments when we clarify.

              Trump is not the brightest crayon in the box, but what he lacks in intelligence he makes up for in confidence and theatrics. Last night, when I was listening to his speech (40 minutes of it being verbal masturbation), he was presenting the very same “solutions” that has gotten us in the mess we are in, but because he came across as “I’m taking charge” in an alpha male god-like fashion, he captivated his audience which he knows well. He’s pandering to many people who are at a neurological disadvantage (larger right amygdala).

              Liked by 1 person

              • I love you. Not only because you are very smart but because you have given me the perfect line of all time. Now when someone comes to my door and says:

                “I was wondering if you had some time to talk about Jesus?”

                And I can respond:

                “I do, as long you have some time to talk about your neurological disadvantage”.

                🙂

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                • Swarn, this made my day, and thank you!

                  You have a brilliant idea and I’m thinking about taking it to another level. Fundies knock at my door on a regular basis, and especially when they’ve had revivals or will be having a revival soon. They are usually Southern Baptist men. I don’t answer the door anymore, but they always leave tracks or a CD, usually of a sermon about Jesus’ immanent return, e.g.., Armageddon, and how I can be “saved”.

                  What I’m thinking about doing is making my own tracks with neurological quotes (including the sources from studies) showing folks like them having a significant likelihood of increased gray matter volume in the right amygdala (fear), and a few quotes from distinguished biblical archaeologists and scholars, such as the ones I put in this video which I gleaned from John Zande’s educational posts.

                  I’ll do what you suggested — I tell them I’ll listen to them if they’ll listen to me. I am liking this new project. Thanks for the inspiration. 😀

                  Liked by 1 person

                  • You’re very welcome!! I think it would be a very wonderful experiment to try, and I have a big grin across my face as you show them a diagram of the brain and point out which part of their brain has become enlarged and why it makes them believe so strongly in the things they do. lol

                    Liked by 1 person

  3. I noticed Hilary used the bible yesterday too. She needs to connect with the thumpers. I suppose trump already had them leaning his way so why the carnival? Great insight into thinking critically. It is becoming a list art.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. “He held the Bible in the air and trumpeting elephants acted predictably.”
    LMAO!! Ain’t it the truth, ain’t it the truth?! 😂😂
    Zombies- real life zombies- maybe this really is a damn apocalypse. 🙈
    Great and informative eye opening post as always 😎

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Reminds me of this preface, taken from a biology book for students at a Christian school:

    “Whatever the Bible says is so; whatever man says may or may not be so,” is the only [position] a Christian can take… If [scientific] conclusions contradict the Word of God, the conclusions are wrong, no matter how many scientific facts may appear to back them. Christians must disregard [scientific hypotheses or theories] that contradict the Bible.

    The book is written by William S. Pinkston and entitled “Biology For Christian Schools”. (Bob Jones University Press 1991)

    So, Victoria Neuronotes, one of your cartoons above conveys a way too optimistic message to your readers/followers. :o)

    But you are forgiven! 😉

    And always bear in mind, the Pearly Gates of Heaven are still open for you. The Lard up in Heaven loves you. Especially if you pay tithes to his ministers so that they can continue promulgating the Lard’s message of love, peace and understanding.

    Liked by 3 people

    • “Bob Jones University Press 1991”

      Why am I not surprised. I used to live about 45 minutes from Bob Jones University. *shivers* Looking further into it, I see there was a lawsuit involved. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Biology_for_Christian_Schools

      The ones who are addicted to controlling others and fleecing the flock don’t want them to think critically, or use the scientific method for obvious reasons.

      “And always bear in mind, the Pearly Gates of Heaven are still open for you.”

      Thank you kind sir for your forgiveness. I’ll see you in hell, and don’t forget to bring the music.

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    • God, I was homeschooled by those kinds of books. Still, I did eventually realize that dinosaurs and evolution were a legitimate actual thing, so there’s hope.

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  6. The race to the bottom… Because its easier 😦

    Liked by 2 people

    • Sigh, and the rest of us suffer the consequences, too.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Did you see Carson is a climate change denier? (More correctly, he is projecting himself as a climate denier either because he is, or he’s pandering to the dumb. Take your pick which one it is)

        Liked by 2 people

        • Carson is also a YEC. I heard one of his talks to a ‘home crowd’ of 7th Day Adventists. What was disconcerting was that he quoted Francis Collins and implied they agreed, thereby trying to gain the credibility of Collins. But what he failed to clarify was that Collins is not a YEC, rather he is champion of Intelligent Design. Indeed Collins says that Evolution is an undeniable fact, its just that Collins sees an invisible hand behind the process, giving it a nudge here and there at the crucial times.

          I also noted that Carson’s proof of a miracle was that he was able to successfully perform operations that people did not think would succeed (my reinterpretation of what he expressed somewhat differently).

          I did wonder whether these views were what Carson really thought (as he seemed an intelligent and considered person), or whether he was just playing to his market?

          Liked by 2 people

  7. Another superb post, my friend. Informative, well-researched, and enlightening. Here’s a quote from The Book of Revelation that fits Trump: “And there shall come one with hair made from the nest of a great eagle, and he shall act the fool whilst millions of unthinking idiots follow him to their own ends.” $Amen$

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Think I might need a bit of the Navy Seal training on my mind. I don’t like the way my mind seems to go when in autopilot. One bad emotional thought in regard to faith can seem to take a week of conscious logical thinking for the damage to be undone. Sigh!

    Liked by 2 people

    • I hear you, Peter. Deconversion is mentally exhausting. It requires a lot of awareness — recognizing how easy it can be to fall back into default mode. I don’t see you throwing in the towel, though. You have done your homework and then some. You are one of the most courageous people I’ve met on WP.

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      • Thanks Victoria. I thought it would get easier, but it seems to be getting harder. It is almost like I can understand how folk find it easier to believe, to just shut off their critical thinking and to enter into a little cocooned version of reality that provides psychological comfort.

        I wonder if you have ever seen the end of the movie Brazil, where the character enters his little fantasy land and is at peace there oblivious to the grim reality around him. Or maybe like in the Matrix, if I could, as I presently feel, I think I would take the pill to get back into the Matrix and avoid the reality of life outside.

        But the most telling thing is what Nate Owens observed part way through his de-conversion, he realised there was no going back even if he wanted to. He knew too much, even if he tried to regain faith, it could never be the kind of faith that trusted the Bible as inerrant like he had before the process started.

        Liked by 2 people

        • Peter, you remind me of myself in the first year of my deconversion. I read your comments on Sirius posts and I also read where Violet2 felt like she’s never going to get over a life-time of indoctrination, but it is common to feel that way. Most deconvertees who were devout had the same struggles, but broke through eventually. It takes time, and as you very well know, hard work. This is still fairly new to you both, less than a year. There is not a better feeling in the world, at least from my perspective, than to be free from that insidious belief system.

          Much of the social ills we see today are due to a lack of education and awareness about our own neurobiology, along with a propensity to flock like sheep.

          http://www.leeds.ac.uk/news/article/397/sheep_in_human_clothing__scientists_reveal_our_flock_mentality

          You’re right — you can’t undo what you’ve learned.

          Nothing wrong in escaping into fantasy, and there are many ways we can do this without trying to convince others that fantasy is reality just so they can keep the placebo effect effective. As you may already know, studies show that placebos are effective even when we are aware they are placebos.

          You’re in limbo, and that’s a sucky place to be. If you keep moving forward, it will get better. I can attest to that, and so can many others. Did you see the image John Zande posted on Sirius’ post yesterday? That’s how I feel. No religion, and especially authoritarian religions, i.e., Christianity, can produce that kind of aliveness. Hang in there, my friend, and never hesitate to reach out for support when you find yourself slipping into default mode.

          *hug*

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          • Thanks Victoria. i have had seven separate approaches from members of my former church just in the last week trying to re-engage with me. I just don’t want to talk with them as I don’t know what to say. These are all good and caring folk but I doubt any of them would understand where I am at.

            Liked by 1 person

            • That makes it so difficult for you because you not only have to deal with your own situation, but you also understand where they are coming from, where as, as you mentioned, they will most likely not understand where you’re at or coming from. This places an extra burden on you.

              I think it’s probably best not to talk with them right now if you don’t know what to say. I can understand their concern if you were once very involved and a part of the fellowship. Not long after I left the church I was very active in and denounced Christianity (though I still believed in God at the time), I moved out of state. I think that was beneficial for me, as not many people knew me in the new state I was living in. When people asked what church I was going to, and they like doing that here in the South with total strangers, I simply told them I wasn’t looking at the moment.

              I’m sorry you are having such a difficult time right now. Have you talked with your brother yet?

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        • Hey Peter,

          We all go through various issues in the deconversion process. We all have a way that we come out to others that’s best suited to our experiences and our surroundings. There is no wrong way or right way to deconvert. Deconversion is different for everyone. All I can say to you is be encouraged, the number of deconverts is growing. People are waking up to reality. I’m totally surrounded by every kind of Baptist and Pentecostal you can think of. I’m also stalked by Jehovah’s Witnesses and Seventh Day Adventists at times. I know this though, no can can have my brain ever again! My brain, my body and my will are mine! I don’t have to submit to an idea, philosophy or theology that makes me uncomfortable or makes me feel like I am a lowly person ever, ever again.

          Peter, you are doing really well. As Victoria has mentioned to me before, it’s okay to take breaks from talking about deconversion. As she also knows, it’s also okay to talk about it a great deal to work out what’s in your head. Deconverting is going through detox. It’s essential to get all the junk out of your head and to put good stuff in it.

          I know it’s difficult, but I think you’re doing a stellar job. You will get through this. I also want to let you know that it’s okay when things come up that you never knew were an issue until you deconverted. This happens to many of us once in a while. It’s often like stripping a piece of furniture or a hardwood floor. There are layers upon layers of paint, varnish and dirt. It will take some time to blast it all away, but there is beautiful woodwork underneath it all.

          Be encouraged, Peter. You are doing great!

          Charity

          Liked by 1 person

          • “Deconverting is going through detox. It’s essential to get all the junk out of your head and to put good stuff in it.”

            Charity, that’s an excellent analogy.

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          • Thanks Charity. But it is almost like it is easier to return to faith as a way to ease the pain, I suppose the analogy of an addict craving the drug to ease the pain probably fits well.

            When I woke up this morning I seriously asked myself the question, “could I return to faith and believe despite all the contrary evidence?”

            When I thought about the wonderful land of belief it was like all my tensions and pain left for a moment. All it would of taken at that point was one event that I saw as supernatural to drag my right back in. I know that emotion just totally overrides reason, but that does seem to make it any easier to follow reason.

            Liked by 1 person

            • If reasoning were easy, everyone would do it. What I mean is, if it were easy and natural then our development would have us utilize it all the time. But we don’t do this; we use all kinds of feelings as our primary guide and become adept at later rationalizations. That’s why when we lose belief, we can never regain it with the same misplaced confidence and assurance and be satisfied – you guessed it – with later rationalizations. So although this move away from faith-based belief may be somewhat a fearful state, the newly found self-awareness and independence that can now utilize good reasons becomes a ticket to a kind of maturity that is much more rewarding, much more meaningful, much more empowering and the look back at faith will be similar to a look back at a kind of intellectual childhood you had to go through in order to reach an intellectual adulthood.

              Liked by 2 people

              • Hi tildeb, I have been repeatedly in awe of those who have been prepared to back their intellect and reason over the course of history and have stood against the vested powers (such as the church) and been proven correct. But seeing such great people who have back their reason and been proven correct, just makes me all the more aware of what a pathetic specimen I am by comparison.

                The strange thing is that used to be no fool, when I was in my mid 20’s I would go into business meetings with people far more experienced and better credentialed than myself and have such confidence in my mental ability that I would conclude I was likely the smartest person in the room. Once I told the head of our company (which had 50,000 employees at that time) that the statement he had just made was an error, the General Manager who was sitting next to me almost went into apoplexy, but the company head did,reluctantly, admit I was correct.

                I say this as background because I puzzle about how far I have fallen from those days. Though as an aside, Sir Isaac Newton, a person of undisputed genius, observed that he was at his peak intellectually from the age of 20 to 22. that was when he made his real break throughs, when his mind was sharpest. It is almost as though, sometimes we know too much.

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                • Pathetic? Hardly… that you’re questioning your beliefs with any seriousness at all at all puts you in somewhat rarefied company. But once you do and realize the extent to which you have to shut down reasoning to continue to believe, you can never put the genie back in the bottle, so to speak. Those revealed problems cannot be fixed by pretending they aren’t glaringly there. And Newton wasted the majority of his brilliant life ‘studying’ alchemy. Now that’s a shame.

                  Liked by 1 person

                  • “once you do and realize the extent to which you have to shut down reasoning to continue to believe, you can never put the genie back in the bottle, so to speak”

                    Yes, Tildeb you are correct. I read recently on a web site of a Christian who was somewhat more open to reason than some, that the single biggest problem in the Bible is Noah’s Ark. This motivated me to start reading a book on the history of the interpretation of the Noah story in the western tradition. There is one constant theme that rings out in the book, when believers who are real scientists have sought to reconcile faith and science it has inevitably led to an ongoing reinterpretation always on the side of the Bible as pre-existing views have been proven wrong time after time after time.

                    In a bit of sad joke, our friend Bruce, God’s Man forever, recently emailed a you tube video that proved the Bible was divinely inspired. The argument went along the lines that the Bible showed scientific insight well ahead of its time. These indisputable proofs included texts such as “he hangs the earth on nothing” (Job 26:7). This text suggested as proof of the earth hanging in the vacuum of space.

                    The reasoning in the video annoyed me immensely. What it did was find 5 obscure verses that could possibly be seen as supporting science and used them as proof. It ignored the around 1,000 verses that if interpreted the same way would show the Bible had no idea about science. Such intellectual dishonesty was staggering, the audacity of it was breath-taking. These sorts of arguments push totally away from religion because they show its supporters to be people of questionable integrity.

                    Any objective student of the Bible and of science would know that scientific insights gleaned from the Bible have been shown over history to be invariably false. Let’s name just a few, the age of the earth, evolution, the shape of the earth, the nature of space (Bible thinks it is water), the shape of the solar system, the concept of germs, the development of languages, the nature of mental illness. The only way that the Bible can defend its approach to science (in my view) is to say it is not a science book and that its early stories of such of pious myths. But this approach won’t work because the Bible has a problem, Jesus and Paul are said to claim that Noah and Adam are real historical figures and Christian theology is based on the concept of original sin from a historic fall. So if it is admitted that the flood never happened then it implies that Jesus was mistaken, this creates quite a dilemma for the person faith who is an honest follower of science (I am ignoring YEC’s here).

                    Coming back to Newton he concluded from his study of the Bible that the Trinity was unbiblical, a development of the later church, but he decided not to publicise this view lest it affect his social standing.

                    When I still called myself a Christian I treated the science as correct and struggled over how to interpret the first 11 chapters of the Bible, in essence the three big problems for any serious student of science/history, Garden of Eden, Flood, and Tower of Babel. The best way I could raitionalise it was as some sort of divinely inspired fairy tale, that told a theological rather than necessarily a historical truth. Looking back that was a bit of a cop out.

                    Liked by 2 people

                    • I think the biggest problem is population genetics that puts to bed any need for a historical blood sacrifice to atone for the hypothetical sins of fictional characters. Because we know that we do not descend from a single couple (Y chromosome Adam and Mitochondrial Eve lived between 50,000 and 70,000 years apart evidenced within every human being’s DNA) we know the supposed ‘sin’ they committed is fictional. That means the ‘sin’ from the story cannot be anything other than metaphorical – and, at best, metaphorically inherited – in which case there is only the need for a metaphorical redemption, which eliminates any need for the whole Jesus ‘death and resurrection’ fiasco (fiasco in the sense of wasting so much time and effort figuring out the literal and historical bits from the noise of religious tinkering) from our considerations.

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            • Peter, what pain are you experiencing? Is it the lack of eternal security? Or no longer a part of a community? I recently read a study you might find interesting:

              http://www.psmag.com/health-and-behavior/link-between-religiosity-good-health-debunked

              Quote: “The results suggest any protective effect of religion is the result of fitting in comfortably with one’s surroundings—not the religious preference of those surroundings per se—and the reduced stress levels this alignment produces. For those who live in more secular societies, the impact of religion on health appears to be small to none.”

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              • Probably all the above. I think it is the uncertainty that is really getting to me. I can’t really accept religion, but I can’t quite let it go. I am tortured by the nagging thought, ‘what if I am wrong?’

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                • Peter, I think tildeb explained it so well. I wish I could get out such wise words in just one paragraph. He’s right, the self awareness is quite extraordinary and you cannot go back once you know what is real.

                  I suffered a lot in shame while I was a Christian. I constantly felt as though I was the wrong sex, had the wrong background and above all, just a wrong, rotten sinner all the way around. When I deconverted I felt so much shame for believing so much bull shit for the first four decades of my life. Even with all of my many doubts, disheartening interpretations of the Bible and unanswered prayers, I held onto belief thinking that I was the common denominator, so, I must be the problem. It was shame that kept me oppressed in religion and I finally realized that I had to pull myself out of that shame for not getting out of it sooner. Shame causes us to be dormant, to not explore a new way or new idea. Shame keeps us bound to this Jesus dude because he’s perfect and we’re just used up maxi pads. Shame keeps us from reaching out for help and being our true authentic selves.

                  Peter, you are now the one in the driver’s seat. You decide your fate, no one else can decide it for you.

                  With all the best,
                  Charity

                  Liked by 1 person

                  • Hi Charity, it is interesting how there has been a whole sort of theology developed to somehow rationalise that God is good, caring and interested in every little detail of our life with the uncomfortable reality of unanswered prayer.

                    I recall not so long ago, whilst I still called myself a Christian wondering why I was going through the prayers because they seemed to have no effect. But I concluded that this was just an attack by the Devil who was afterall scared of the prayers of Christians and sought to discourage them.

                    So lets see, when prayer is apparently unanswered it is either because, the time is not correct, God has something better in store, we had not yet prayed enough for the breakthrough, the prayer was not in line with God’s will, we are being tested, our faith is not strong enough or (my personal favourite) God works in mysterious ways.

                    But no matter what happens it is concluded God is always good, trustworthy and faithful.

                    There was an occasion in late 2013 when I was shaken. I was friends with the pastor at a local Pentecostal church. They had organised a Christmas carols by candlelight outreach to the local community. He asked me to join the group praying for the event. We prayed and prayed and I had great confidence leading up to the event. But it was an unmitigated disaster, the weather turned bad a the critical hour, despite being fine for days either side of the critical juncture, the pastors talk was dreadful (I was cringing) the music was too much of a performance and many of the young families left when there was too much of a gap between the carols they could sing. I could go on, net result that a simple person added to the church. I really could not understand how something that had so been so bathed in prayer could go so badly wrong.

                    I did post on a Christina website a few months back a comment that prayer clearly did not work, which was a direct contradiction of the Bible. The response I received was very angry suggesting I had taken the scriptures out of context. I had quoted around six New Testament scriptures in defense of my position. When I asked for the folk to explain which of the Scriptures I had taken out of context, I was told one should not put God to the test.

                    Liked by 1 person

                    • Oh Peter, I understand. I had spent most of my life expecting “even greater things” than what Christ saw while he walked the earth. Didn’t he promise such a thing through the power of Holy Spirit? I had a very radical expectation about me, even as a child. I had always believed in praying without ceasing. I prayer journaled for many years. I often spent meal and break times at work out for a walk or in my car so that I could pray, read the Bible and confess scripture. I soaked, prayed in tongues, fasted and worked in multiple capacities of ministry. Still, no arms were formed, no dead raised and countless human beings died in car accidents and at the hands of cancer. Christianity is the cruelest notion out there. It promises you hope only to bring you despair.

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • Cringe! I really should check my typing before posting. It was not simple but “not a single>” person was added to the church. I wonder what you thought when you read what I actually wrote. Sigh.

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                    • Thanks Charity, I tend to think that it is the periods of intense devotion either speeds a persons exit from the faith or shifts to a sort of pragmatic Christianity that in theory believes in an active God but in reality acts in a way that denies it.

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                • “I am tortured by the nagging thought, ‘what if I am wrong?’”

                  Peter,

                  It is impossible for me to know where you are coming from, having never believed in god myself. But I do understand that questioning your doubt can be an agonizing and very unpleasant process. The fear of being wrong about something that seems to be so important is very unnerving and frightening I’m sure. I don’t know if it will help, but I suggest that when your nagging thought of “what if I am wrong arises”, think about the multitude of different religions that exist today and then think of it in terms of mathematical odds. It sounds cold and impersonal but I think it helps get the point across. There have been, throughout human history, literally thousands of gods (3000+) that have risen and fallen in popularity as cultures and civilizations rise and fall. Only by virtue of you being born in the time and place that you were, do you believe (or used to believe I should say) in the Christian God. Had you been born in Saudi Arabia, you’d be wondering if you were wrong about a completely different god. If you’d been born in Scandinavia 1500 years ago, you would never have heard of Yahweh nor Allah and would be wondering about another set of gods. Mathematically, the odds that you’d chosen the correct god in the first place (the Christian one) is less than 1/10 of 1%. I’d wager you’d never questioned whether or not you were wrong about any of the other gods because you never spent a second of your day thinking about it. I know it write it as if it’s all so easy but hopefully it’ll make the process a little easier for you.

                  Liked by 2 people

                  • Hi Ashley, I agree with your logic. However fear is not logical., it is the bully that beats up reason.

                    I used to wonder whether those who had not heard the Gospel message would be given an opportunity to respond after death. Conservative Christians dismiss this, but many Christians secretly assume this is the case, because they can’t accept that someone could be cast into hell without ever having an opportunity .

                    Theologians get themselves into knots over children who die young. John Mac Arthur a conservative argues that young children that die before being old enough to decide go straight to heaven. But this is very problematic as if one believes in hell and that young children who die go to heaven then the loving response would be to kill your children before they reached the age of decision as that guaranteed heaven. So it just makes that thinking a nonsense.

                    The theology gets worse when one applies the scripture that it is God who selects those who will be saved before they were even born. The uncomfortable corollary of that is that God decides to damn the rest to eternal punishment before they were even born. Such a concept makes Christians very uncomfortable and they try to explain it away.

                    In essence what ever one looks at it an eternal hell is a very difficult concept. When I still called myself a Christian it used to torment me, my grandfather had died as a staunch atheist. I would plead with God to either make hell, destruction or not eternal. It never seemed fair to me that anyone, even Hitler, could be tortured for eternity. It seemed disproportionate punishment. We would call it cruel and unjust. I would then wonder how is it possible that I am more merciful than God?

                    So I suppose what I am saying Ashley is that the more deeply one thinks it through, the more logical flaws one finds in the thinking.

                    Liked by 1 person

                    • “the loving response would be to kill your children before they reached the age of decision as that guaranteed heaven. ”

                      Less than a month ago, I went to a conference (called the non-conference) for freethinkers and atheists, etc. One of the presentations given was from a former Muslim who talked openly about his suicide attempt and how it was driven purely from his religious faith. He had been taught that up until the age of 15, boys would not be able to go to hell no matter what wrong they did (girls was younger – age 9 or something like that). Since he hadn’t yet reached age 15 and he didn’t want to risk doing something after the age of 15 that would risk him being sent to hell, he decided to (attempt to) commit suicide to ensure his place in heaven. He wasn’t depressed or suicidal, he was just being logical. Why risk doing something in this earthly life when you can end it and spend the rest of eternity in paradise? It’s a perfectly logical way to think once you assume that what you’ve been told about eternity in paradise is true. And that’s where your last sentence comes in “So I suppose what I am saying Ashley is that the more deeply one thinks it through, the more logical flaws one finds in the thinking.”.
                      The whole premise of god and religion is flawed and illogical from the very beginning. Once you discover that the foundation of religion is built on a swampy, unstable quagmire, the whole house of cards comes crashing down.

                      Liked by 2 people

                • Peter, you wrote: “Probably all the above. I think it is the uncertainty that is really getting to me. I can’t really accept religion, but I can’t quite let it go. I am tortured by the nagging thought, ‘what if I am wrong?’”

                  I understand. What happens when we have been conditioned to believe in eternal sustainability is that it actually increases the pain of uncertainty when we begin to question. It exacerbates the fear of aloneness and finality, and we end up fighting fear with fear, pretty much dooming ourselves to war with ourselves. But when we embrace the pain, it fades with time and we can move forward. When we leave the comfort of illusion, we accept that we are less special, less powerful, less attentional.

                  It means we have to accept responsibility for our actions, and that our “trespassses” are not magically forgiven; that guilt is no longer transubstantiated into innocence. It means that when someone does an act of kindness, that was them doing an act of kindness, not some deity doing it through them, which negates the inhumane indoctrination that there is no good thing in us.

                  What’s been gleaned from death anxiety studies is that when people fully acknowledge indoctrination which promotes indefinite longevity, anxiety from death raises substantially when people are challenged with information that counters that indoctrination. This seems to be happening to you, but many of us have gone through the same thing.

                  Some of those studies are shown in this 2 part series on death, indoctrination, and Terror Management Theory.

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                  • Thanks Victoria, great videos:

                    For the phobic individual there is a sizable mismatch between the perceived and actual levels of threat associated with the phobic object or situation….Self preserving nature of fear it facilitates irrational fantasies and pseudo explanation that maintains the fear while simultaneously diminishing our capacities for the kind of rational processing that may break its hold.

                    Yep that sums up what seems to be going on in my mind.

                    The irony is that pretty much where-ever the Bible can be tested its claims don’t seem to hold up. So why oh why would anyone give any credence to the claims that are beyond verification?

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                    • Peter, thanks so much for watching the videos. I, too, thought that was an excellent analogy. I don’t know how it is in Tasmania as compared to the mainland of Australia, but I know that if you live in the Bible Belt, it’s exceptionally difficult to deal with the process of deconversion on top of being ostracized, losing jobs, relationships with loved ones, etc.

                      I was reading a website article from a person who’s from Australia. He said that a close examination of the Christian Right reveals a small network of prominent figures who use smoke and mirrors to create a narrative that suggests that they have widespread public support in Australia, meaning that Australia still embraces its secular values.

                      That is not the case where I live. No smoke and mirrors needed. It is widespread in my region of the country. Like Dewitt says in the video, it’s like being born / living in a compound.

                      I just came across this article and the 8 minute video is worth a watch.

                      http://www.nytimes.com/2015/09/22/opinion/southern-atheist.html

                      “In much of America, tolerance rules, but in some communities, especially in the Bible Belt, churches can still compel conformity in ways that make atheism a very costly choice. “

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                    • Victoria, the community in which I live is very pleasant and non judgmental. My problem is more to do with myself and my reluctance to hurt other people who cling to their faith. Perhaps I need to be less sensitive to others.

                      This week I had a phone message from a person in hospital who has been given 4 weeks to live. This person specifically wants to talk with me. But the problem is that this is a person who I had helped to overcome the concern that they were not a real Christian. His brother had been a Pentecostal Minister who had an absolute assurance type faith and this person felt he could not be a Christian if he lacked this assurance and was so aware of his personal shortcomings and he was petrified of going to Hell. I had assured him in the past and gave him comfort that he was in fact a real Christian.

                      So this sort of situation rips me to pieces. Whilst I might be able to persuade him there is no god and no hell, it might just be that I could confirm to him that he never was a real Christian and make his last few weeks on earth a living literal hell. I don’t want to hurt people like that. I don’t know what to do.

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                    • Peter, the deep fear you describe for many religious people during the time leading up to end of life is actually very common and flies in the face of the notion that religious belief can be assumed to bring peace and comfort to believers. My work in palliative care has revealed to me the error of this assumption. I see many hundreds of people every year suffer through this additional burden religious belief inserts into people’s lives as death approaches. And it’s not just those who are dying; family members are often subject to very complex grief as they face reality and the ‘spiritual’ suffering of loved ones who then die and leave them struggling to come to terms with the consequences of their religious beliefs and the uncertainty they now have to live with. For many, this is all too much and their lives – and the loving relationships they contain – are drastically affected.

                      So every time I hear someone state as if true that religious belief brings comfort to people facing a very real death, I grind my teeth at the extent of the damage done to so many people by the use of this flippant and often wrong assumption.

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                    • Peter, what a difficult place to be in. Since you’ve been out of contact with this person for a while, I’m guessing you’re not sure where this person is at in his thinking with regard to being a “true Christian”. The fact that he wants to see you suggests that he may be seeking reassurance that he’s “saved”. The first thing that popped in my mind was Zach’s post you shared on one of Violetwisp’s post.

                      The main reason I mention this is because of what I read yesterday. Using fMRI studies by researchers at Auburn University in Alabama showed that subjects who perceived supernatural agents at work in their daily lives tended to use brain pathways associated with fear when asked to contemplate their religious beliefs.

                      Another thing I’d like to mention is that there has been studies published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) showing that terminal patients who received the highest spiritual support from their communities tended to suffer the most in their last week of life, primarily because they were given false hope.

                      Those who reported high levels of spiritual support were over two and half times more likely to receive some form of aggressive and expensive end-of-life (EoL) service (like being put on a ventilator or pursuing additional chemotherapy), and five times more likely to die in a hospital ICU in their last week of life.

                      Furthermore, patients who self-reported the highest levels of “religious coping” during their final days were 11 times as likely to receive aggressive EoL treatments and 22 times more likely to die in the ICU compared to those with lower levels of religious coping.

                      As an aside, this is a bad time in your life to be put in this situation, and I hope you will keep your physical and mental heath in mind when deciding whether to visit or not.

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                    • Whilst the post from Zach might help, it might not be sufficient. My concern is that it might just feed his anxiety about not being a real Christian and fail to remove the fear of hell. I doubt he is going to be in a position to think things through in a critical manner. His brother died earlier in the year and had absolute assurance where he was going and that just increased the anxiety of my friend.

                      So if I go an see him and tell him I have lost my faith that will mean that any assurance I had given him that he was a true Christian will certainly be gone. Because his brother was a Pentecostal, they tended to focus on assurance being a sign of being saved. But whether I can at the same time remove the fear of hell is uncertain.

                      Therefore any visit by me has certainty of creating a problem (unless I lie, which I con’t do) and only a possibility of removing the problem.

                      This person had attended a Bible study I had been leading on the Book of Revelation. After we studied Revelation 14:14 -14:20 he could not handle it anymore and stopped attending those studies. This part of Revelation talks about great winepress of God’s wrath.

                      I am unravelling in any event and am withdrawing from the world as a result. I dread it when I come home and find a message on the phone. When I’m home I don’t pick up the phone I let go to messages. I have trouble even getting out of bed. It is all just too hard. Sigh.

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                    • Peter, I think you need an advocate, and some secular counseling. You shouldn’t be going through this alone, and again, I want to emphasis that you should consider your mental and physical health with regard to this request to visit a terminally ill Christian. I personally don’t think it’s a good idea for you to make that visit because of your current state of mind.

                      I’d also like to recommend you contacting Valeria Tarico via email. She’s a psychiatrist who specializes in religious trauma. She’s also an ex-evangelical. She may know of someone in your area who can help you through this very trying time, or perhaps offer to counsel with you via Skype.

                      http://valerietarico.com/contact/

                      My thoughts are with you, and please know that I’m here to lend any support I can. I’m a good listener. Never hesitate to reach out. Isolation will only exacerbate your situation. *hug*

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                    • Peter,

                      This isn’t the comment I wanted to reply to, but couldn’t see a reply button under your posts further down. It really breaks my heart to hear about what you are going through right now. Given where you are intellectually and more important emotionally I would concur with Victoria’s advice about really seeking some professional counseling or perhaps consider protecting yourself right now. That may seem like a terrible idea because this person is terminally ill and calling for help. Whether Christian or not though, you are still imperfect and finite and may not be the right help that your friend needs right now. Sometimes the best way to help someone is actually to not help them. Perhaps one possibility is that if you have Christian friend in your life, maybe they could come with you and do most of the talking, or send them in your stead. Tell your friend that you know someone who is extremely knowledgeable and experienced and would be great to talk to in this situation.

                      Your other option would be to lie, and make it a good one. At this stage in your friends life, you probably aren’t going to convince him to become secular and not fear his own death, so if you care about the man than lying for him isn’t the most horrible thing you could do to give comfort. I support taking whatever drug is necessary near the end of life to lesson pain, I support euthanasia, why wouldn’t I support emotional comfort even if it meant lying if this person is near the end. But you got to be convincing or else there is no point.

                      This person is close to the end they deserve to have it end peacefully. If you feel you cannot aid in that way, then don’t. It doesn’t make you a bad person, or any less of a friend. They might not understand, but the fact that you are struggling with what to do and are feeling such strong emotions over this shows the compassion you have. That’s really what it boils down to. How can you show the most compassion to this person right now? The correct answer may be to leave them alone. Maybe it’s just to visit them quickly and remind them that he is loved, a good person, and that when he leaves this world he will have peace. Because he will, even if there is no heaven.

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • Hi all thanks for your support.

                      In regard to the person in hospital, there is no way I am going to visit. I had sent him a card through the post on Monday where I chose my words very carefully. I sad it was unlikely that I would be able to visit, I explained that this was nothing to do with him, but rather to do with my situation. I then went on to say that I felt privileged to have known him, that he is a good person and that world was a better for him having been part of it. I totally avoided any religious reference.

                      When I consider my position, I think the quote from the video I referred to around a week ago really is the key:

                      For the phobic individual there is a sizable mismatch between the perceived and actual levels of threat associated with the phobic object or situation….Self preserving nature of fear it facilitates irrational fantasies and pseudo explanation that maintains the fear while simultaneously diminishing our capacities for the kind of rational processing that may break its hold.

                      I really think that it is my incapacity to totally bury the possibility that there just might be a God that is my main issue. This is despite all the objective evidence I see being consistent with the scenario of there being no God. Yet my lingering unease on this matter stops me from being prepared to make definitive statements on the matter to those around me.

                      The problem I face is my expectations are unrealistic. I somehow expect to be able to reach certainty on the matter of there being no God. But realistically I doubt that is ever possible. For some people 95% probably might provide comfort for others 99%, I think I am seeking 99.999999999999% and then some. I just need to accept that will never be the case. I need to develop realistic expectations.

                      Whilst this song does not perfectly reflect how I feel about my relationship with God, but it reflects the spirit of how I feel:

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • Peter, you wrote: “In regard to the person in hospital, there is no way I am going to visit. I had sent him a card through the post on Monday where I chose my words very carefully. “

                      I am relieved to read this. When you shared yesterday or the day before on not knowing what to do, I wasn’t aware at the time that you had already addressed the issue. I think you made the right move.

                      You wrote: “I really think that it is my incapacity to totally bury the possibility that there just might be a God that is my main issue. …. The problem I face is my expectations are unrealistic.”

                      I agree, and as I mentioned before I think you are being too hard on yourself. When I left Christianity, my belief in God was still well intact. About 5 years after I started my deconversion I became agnostic, and it wasn’t until about 2 years ago that I became an atheist — a secular humanist. Deconversion is a process and you should always go at your own pace — a pace that is comfortable for you. Anyway, being an atheist doesn’t mean you close your mind. It’s simply that right now, we have no evidence. I wasted way too many years of my life participating in the impossible game.

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • I might just add that I found this wonderful comment by Mr 500 Questions on his web site in regard to a post about Noah’s Ark (the clearest objective evidence the Bible cannot be literally true):

                      It’s easy to say, “Well, God probably doesn’t exist, so let’s just move on to more important issues,” but for people who grew up with religion, there’s often a part of you that continues to doubt and says… “What if I’m wrong? I could spend an ETERNITY in torment! I’d better make damn well sure I’m right about this!” It’s those lingering doubts that keep asking questions.

                      If it turns out that God and hell do NOT exist, then this unfounded fear is just one example of the kind of mental damage that religion does to people. I could be out there doing something useful for mankind, instead of fretting over this ancient, made-up, religious nonsense. Unless it’s not nonsense…

                      But back to Noah: As a practical matter, I have to wonder if drowning all those people was worth any point God was trying to make. We STILL have ungodly people today, so it’s not as if killing them all solved that problem, it just set God back a few centuries. Or perhaps this was God’s way of delivering a very important message to mankind: “I’ll spare those who believe in me… and the hell with everyone else.”

                      Liked by 2 people

  9. How certain Americans willingly get their arse reamed and have an MRI at the same time!
    Vote for Donald Trump.

    (I doubt that even Hambo, Billy Graham or WLC would acknowledge the bible is their favorite book)

    ‘S’cuse my French but these people are truly dumb Le Fucks

    Liked by 1 person

    • Look at Canada. Those people aren’t dumb yet the majority voted for an evangelical dominionist to be their PM. In other words, they voted against their own best interests. They may pay the price for years to come. What they didn’t do, apparently, was their homework, otherwise I doubt they would have voted for the guy.

      What makes the people in Alabama stand out was that they couldn’t see through Donald Trump’s BS. But, clearly it’s not just Alabama, since he’s leading in the GOP polls by a significant margin. Trump doesn’t seem to want a theocracy like several of the other GOP candidates want. He does, however, want a Trumpocracy.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Actually, Harper has never garnered a majority; it takes about 35-40% to form a majority government where the Prime Minister is very much empowered to be like a tolerant despot. Yes, Harper’s religious views do inform much of his disinterest in science but he’s very careful to make changes more to procedure than policy and we find incremental negative changes that do support implementing certain aspects of dominionism. Issues like pro-life are off the table because they are too disruptive. The Conservatives are the closest party to holding ‘Christian’ values but he did support the legal recognition of gay marriage and did pass certain equality guarantees so he’s a hard guy to label.

        I do not think he will win this election because Canadians are generally more tired of Harper than they are supportive of any other party. It’s always easier to get out the ‘No’ vote but Harper’s team is very good at spending public money to target specific supportive audiences so it will be at best a minority government of some other party. like anything, however, Canadians take the good with the bad and understand that all party leaders have elements they really don’t like and Harper’s religious beliefs play well to the Conservative base without offending the rest too badly.

        Liked by 2 people

        • Well the one thing we do have to look forward to, is Stephen Harper resigning if the conservatives lose by even 1 seat. That’s almost a certainty with the way the polls are looking now. I find myself strangely on the NDP side of the fence right now but the one thing that really bugs me about them is their refusal to deal with ISIS. They’ll be more accepting of the refugees from Syria, but don’t seem interested in taking part of any action that would curtail the production of the refugees (defeating ISIS). I am completely baffled at how someone looks at the barbarism and slaughter that’s going on in Iraq and Syria right now and says “No, we don’t want to get involved.”

          Liked by 1 person

        • I read an article a while back about how Harper has reshaped Canada in just the first two years he was PM, and may take years to undo. I have several friends from Canada. None of them like Harper.

          http://www.thestar.com/news/canada/2013/05/03/stephen_harper_has_reshaped_canada_in_two_years_tim_harper.html

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          • Yes, but every government in Canada – federal and provincial – is like that: they make changes. Even if one disagrees with the direction the ship of state is taking, we in Canada know who the captain is and we understand – even if we disagree – that he or she really does set a course that involves change over time.

            I say this to contrast the problems found in countries with a more balanced power structure (like the US) dealing with the frustration from a lack of change… gridlock, so to speak. But with every kind of government, there are good and bad points to it. To govern in Canada requires a centralist approach leaning left and further left. A right wing party like the Republican/Tea Party kind would gain exactly zero traction here and the overt inclusion of religion in political policy has proven to be a political death sentence. That’s why the kind of changes Harper has brought is by stealth through procedural changes that then affect longer term policy. And yes, the effects will be longer lasting than simply policy changes that can be overturned. The other parties are getting a hard lesson on how to do modern politics like this; Harper is very good at what he does but the electorate is getting pretty tired of politics for power’s sake.

            The response to the drowning death of Alan (the Syrian child drowned and washed up on the beach) reveals the basic lack of human empathy and compassion of the Conservative Party generally and Harper specifically. Under our system, the Prime Minister has the power to issue an order about immigration numbers to be implemented immediately by the Foreign Office (Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Immigration). Such orders have been issued by every preceding government in response to tragedies and war… to open the doors to 60,000 Vietnamese boat people, to 400+ ‘terrorists’ imprisoned in Honduras, to thousands of Bosnians, Kosovo-ians (sp?), displaced Serbians, thousands of Hungarians refugees, and so on. During the last invasion of Lebanon, for example, Canada organized the removal of some 45,000 ‘dual’ citizens and brought them to Canada in a matter of weeks, and so on. Because we have such a diverse population, we just so happen to have the sister of Alan’s Mom living and working in Vancouver expressing her frustration at the Canadian government refusing her repeated and multi-year attempt to get Alan’s family his family out of Syria and sponsor them here. But for all the power a sitting Prime Minister has, so too does he then bear full responsibility when the shit hits the fan.

            In just the last week, three previous Prime Ministers, two previous heads of the Armed Forces, several previous ambassadors to the UN as well as (now) Senator Romeo Dellaire (UN commander in Rwanda during the genocide) have all come out (all are very popular) and said that this government is mean-spirited and that we could easily accommodate 200,000 a year… the first 50K with near zero security risk (made up mostly of orphans and single moms with kids). It’s rather painful to watch this PM be remodeled and reprogrammed as if a real Human 2.0. I don’t think there’s enough time for him to successfully pull off this change.

            So for all the whispering about the Harper government’s hidden religious agenda, his government’s lack of empathy and humanity to this Syrian refugee crisis is directly linked to that famous picture. And if that’s what this dominionist approach yields, then multi-cultural Canada wants nothing to do with it.

            Liked by 1 person

            • Well said. Let’s hope he’s not reelected. I never thought I’d see the day that the Tea Party and their Southernomic strategies would put a strangle-hold on the U.S. They were sorely underestimated.

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              • I look at what’s going on in American politics, especially the Tea Party and it scares the living shit right out of me. What’s frightens me even more is that a bunch of those loonies are governors or senators or representatives – meaning they’ve ALREADY been elected (at least some of them) to office. I sit and think to myself “How can this be?!?!” Who in their right mind voted for Michelle Bachman or Scott Walker? These people are clinically insane! I would have thought they would get some votes yes, but not a majority! The majority of people think that these fanatics are the best choice to lead their state or represent them? What?!?!!
                Fox lite (The Sun news network) can’t even make a go of it in Canada because no one wants to watch partisan bullshit presented by hack “journalists”! How many whackjobs do you guys have in the US anyways? LOL

                Liked by 1 person

                • “How many whackjobs do you guys have in the US anyways? LOL”

                  A lot — I made myself watch most of the Republican debate, including the Happy Hour debate, and I was disgusted by the proliferation of falsehoods. Clearly they were politicking with a System 1 agenda. Some 24 million people watched this clusterfuck. After over 3 hours of this, I couldn’t stomach anymore.

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  10. HEY!!! I don’t want anybody in my Limp-dic System bed… Ooops, sorry!… Limbic System bedding, especially Donald Trump!!! Yuk! 😀

    I LOVE your title Victoria! I can’t get past it! Bwahahaha! Classic! 😛

    P.S. I’ll comment on a serious note a bit later Dear. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    • “HEY!!! I don’t want anybody in my Limp-dic System bed…”

      I’ve never met a dom who did. 😛

      “P.S. I’ll comment on a serious note a bit later Dear. “

      OK, Sugar Pie Honey Bun. 😀

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      • Victoria,

        As I read your William Gavin quote, I could not avoid thinking (feeling?) 😉 as if you and he were speaking about LOVE… romantic, irrational, hopelessly swept-off-your-feet, head-over-heels IN-LOVE, LOVE! The kind that gets you & your partner unplanned pregnant sort of “love”! 😮 HAH! 😛

        What I have also found in my many years intimately around (and involved with) Fundy-Evangelicals is that same intense emotion is often used as or identified as God-working-in-mysterious-ways… the stuff of “Born-again faith”! As many explained to me, “It’s the Holy Spirit filling your heart!

        Everyone can certainly relate to that dopamine-overdose, huh? LOL

        The two thinking systems: Auto-pilot and Intentional; are exceptional information Victoria! Thank you so much for sharing! Now my list — longer list — of To Read & Research has grown. But I need more than 24-hours in a day, 168-hours in a week. Can you PLEASE help me with that???

        P.S. “dom” is actually spelt with a capital “D” to represent the position and role (of course), but more critically the HUGE responsibility the Dom earns & owns up to for the sub’s, bottom’s, or Switch’s safety and well-being. FYI Sugar-cakes. 😉 ❤

        Liked by 2 people

        • “As I read your William Gavin quote, I could not avoid thinking (feeling?) 😉 as if you and he were speaking about LOVE… romantic, irrational, hopelessly swept-off-your-feet, head-over-heels IN-LOVE, LOVE!

          LOL — no, he was referring to how to appeal to System 1 through use of persuasion techniques in order to get them to vote a certain way. You wrote:

          “As many explained to me, “It’s the Holy Spirit filling your heart!”

          Indeed, and evangelists have become masters at getting people to produce opiates and then conditioned to think that those opiates are evidence of the “Holy Spirit”. Funny how I can create those same opiates, using non-drug related methods, and have the exact same sensation and euphoria. You wrote:

          “P.S. “dom” is actually spelt with a capital “D” to represent the position and role (of course), but more critically the HUGE responsibility the Dom earns & owns up to for the sub’s, bottom’s, or Switch’s safety and well-being. FYI Sugar-cakes.”

          FYI — dom, da dom dom. Yes, knowing when to stop inflicting pain and possible death is a HUGE responsibility for you doms with a capital D. 😛

          Liked by 1 person

  11. Superb post Victoria. Now I can tell why some people are too slow in thinking, their elephant in the head has taken over, literally

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Completely off topic, I know, but I thought I’d send this your way.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Trump is so “talented” with the way he presents himself that even my other half, who previously HATED the man, is now making comments that the man is making sense. *shaking head*

    But then he definitely falls into System 1 with only a sprinkling of System 2.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. It doesn’t take a genius to see that the best way to garner support for anything you’re doing – especially in a presidential campaign, is to flatter whatever crowd you’re in front of an tell them exactly what they want to hear. Has he ever even read the bible? I sincerely doubt it. Does he “love” it? – as a marketing tool to appeal to the uncritical, brain washed masses of mobile Alabama who actually believe he’s being sincere? Guaranteed.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. No wonder he doesn’t have much hair. Must be all the lies. 😆

    I cringe when I look at him. Seriously. Not a very attractive man and those hair!

    I know some people who permanently stays on autopilot. We do have a lot of them here. 😀

    Now I know what I will say if someone asks me again why I don’t believe in their ‘God’. I will tell them I am a ‘Critical Thinker’ who googles a lot. 😆

    Great post as always Victoria. It makes so much sense and I love the header. It’s so cool! ♥

    Liked by 1 person

    • “Now I know what I will say if someone asks me again why I don’t believe in their ‘God’. I will tell them I am a ‘Critical Thinker’ who googles a lot.”

      Hahaha — love it. Chances are they’ve never heard of the term “Critical Thinker”. 😀

      Do you know that a couple of years ago, the Republican tried to make it illegal to teach critical thinking skills in Texas public schools? Here’s what the Republican Party of Texas wrote into its 2012 platform as part of the section on education:

      ——————-

      “Knowledge-Based Education – We oppose the teaching of Higher Order Thinking Skills (HOTS) (values clarification), critical thinking skills and similar programs that are simply a relabeling of Outcome-Based Education (OBE) (mastery learning) which focus on behavior modification and have the purpose of challenging the student’s fixed beliefs and undermining parental authority.”

      https://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/post/texas-gop-rejects-critical-thinking-skills-really/2012/07/08/gJQAHNpFXW_blog.html

      Pathetic, isn’t it? Can they be anymore obvious?

      Liked by 2 people

  16. Missed this. No idea why. I blame WP. Full of men anyway 😉

    I like your critical/scientific analysis, but really, it still boils down to: does this make sense? Sadly a lot of people are unable to make that valued judgement of what makes sense. And that applies to so many issues. I’m reading a series of books atm which takes an interesting look at globalisation. Thought provoking in a gloomy sort of way.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sadly a lot of people are unable to make that valued judgement of what makes sense. And that applies to so many issues.”

      Kate, this showed up in my notification, so I’m assuming you were addressing me? I agree. Your comment reminded me of a church sign:

      Like

      • It really is a sad indictment of religion.

        It also explains why religions that think this way have only limited common ground with each other, which is what they are against.

        Like

  17. When I still called myself a Christian I had an earnest discussion with a Christian friend regarding whether elected officials should be Christians or whether atheists were OK.

    I said I had learnt from bitter experience that politicians who traded on the Christians brand were not necessarily either competent or principled. After that experience I had determined that it was better to vote on competence and sound policies.

    Anyway my friend, whilst acknowledging my argument, could not bring himself to vote for an atheist. I actually thought that in the New Testament Christians were commanded to respect non Christian secular leaders.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Hello, Its nice to discover you. I see my friend, bbnewsab, has been here. I love your cartoon on the devolution of the Republican Party with Lincoln at the pinnacle and now continual decline in National purpose. Will Follow you. http://therogerspost.com/

    Liked by 1 person

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