Not Brainwashed? Really Now?

A Mormon negatively commented on the skeptical book, Joseph Smith and the Origins of the Book of Mormon. If this comment does not show the marks of a brainwashed person, then what does?
You know, I could probably spend a few years of my life trying to find dirt on the author of this book and likely, I would find some. The question is: why would I? It seems to me a pretty sad way to spend my life. It also seems to me that if I wanted to learn about someone, I should ask someone who loves them... if I went to someone who hates you and asked them, "what's this person like?" what kind of an answer would I get? Yes it's very easy to find dirt on someone if that's what you are looking for because the bottom line is: people believe what they want to believe. If you want to KNOW something, why not ask the only one who truly knows... God? That was Joseph Smith's message. That was the message of the Book of Mormon. It was also the message of our Savior who said: "Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you:" (Matt. 7:7). Or you can refer to the scripture quoted by the prophet himself: "If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. (I would like to continue on through the next couple of verses-) "But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord." (James 1:5-7).

I know Joseph Smith was a prophet of God. Not because some person told me, and not because some man showed me a book full of evidence (there is much evidence for those who want to find it). I know, because like Joseph Smith, I got down on my knees, in faith, and asked my Heavenly Father if it was true. You cannot know anything, but by God. What do you have to lose? I'm not giving you my opinions. I only invite those who wish to know the truth, and who are not trying to simply reinforce their budding hatred for a man that they simply do not know. If you want to know, ask God, I promise you that He will answer if you honestly seek only the truth. Link
Why is this person not a candidate for deprogramming, just as parents have sought for with regard to their children when they go off into several different cults? This Mormon claims people who don't believe don't want to believe. He's not offering his opinions. He knows because he has the inner witness of God in his heart. Does any of this sound familiar Christian? ;-) Why is this any different for Christians? The parallel is striking and could be repeated for any number of different religious claims. No one can be this sure about much of anything, much less of the God hypothesis.

So let me quote from the Apostle Paul in a different context here: "Have I now become your enemy because I am telling you the truth?" (Galatians 4:16). Listen up. Brainwashed people do not know that they are brainwashed. This term best fits the description. And it is the truth. Now you may want to use a different, benign, term like "socialization" to describe such a person, and this would be accurate as well, even though brainwashing takes place by means of socialization too. But in my opinion if the goal is to change minds then using a shocking term like this to describe the truth of the matter will cause believers to think twice about their faith. No, they will not like it. So what? It best describes the believer, or at least most all of them anyway.

That's why we must demand hard empirical evidence for what we believe, and that's why we should never go beyond what the evidence calls upon us to accept. We are all too easily swayed by emotional factors. We are all too easily led to accept that which we prefer to believe. The human condition forces us to become agnostics, all of us, when there isn't hard empirical evidence for accepting something. That's why science is so important. It tests hypotheses rigorously and repeatedly. And agnosticism leads us directly into atheism. It's a very small step.

I posted this before right here where you can read earlier comments about it.

22 comments:

Leah Elliott Hauge said...

Oh, boy. I was raised Mormon, so, yes, this all very familiar. And unpleasantly discouraging, I might add. I got the same "What do you have to lose?" dare to give the Church one last try. I heard many times that anyone who disagreed with the Church's official history couldn't be trusted, because their only possible motivation was that they hated the Church, and the only reason to hate the Church would be Satan's influence.

I absolutely agree with the "brainwashing" diagnosis. So much of Mormon culture is very cult-like: the insistence that we're the only ones who are right, that the only evidence you need is a witness from the Spirit, that you'll be miserable the rest of your life if you leave. I don't think, however, that Mormonism is more cultish than other religions, and I've written about this. It's just much younger than most other religions, so a lot of the WTF hasn't had time to fade into the mists yet. ;-)

Ken Pulliam, Ph.D. said...

This guy is no different than William Craig. Craig says he "knows" Christianity is true because of the inner witness of the Holy Spirit. How does that differ from the Mormon saying that he has a "burning in the bosom" that the Book of Mormon is true? It doesn't. See my post on this subject: http://formerfundy.blogspot.com/2009/11/witness-of-spirit-and-burning-in-bosom.html

ZDENNY said...

The Mormon is correct in saying that a person can believe what they want to believe; however, is the belief justified?

Christianity is rationally justified on the basis of the evidence. The evidence is overwhelming.

The experience of the Spirit in the life of a believer is not based on feelings (which the Mormon is claiming); rather, it is based on the work of the Spirit in the life of a believer. The Bible says that the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness and self-control. These are not feelings; rather, they are based on the work of the Spirit in the life of a believer.

Criag's witness of the Holy Spirit is very different from the subjective feelings that are confirming the Mormons beliefs. I believe anyone can have a good feeling about something; however, feelings do not justify a belief system and never will.

God Bless..

wes said...

Seriously John, are you ever going to address the concerns brought up by people who were there to see the debate or are you going to continue to nitpick one point until everyone tires of it? You post all these entries asking for constructive criticism and when people give it to you, you disappear. You have yet to directly address it yourself aside from some copy and paste from others that on the surface would seem to support your statements. It's time to do your own talking.

John W. Loftus said...

wes, the utter disrespect shown to me as a person from the young skeptics in attendance is simply appalling. Wait for the debate to go online. Until then give it a rest.

wes said...

So am I to understand that you expect to be able to continue arguing the point while everyone just shuts up? That's what it sounds like. You continue to post in an effort to back up your statements and run away when challenged. I have posted in three different blog posts. Students have posted in the same ones after having been asked by you to give their criticism And you have yet to address any of them.
As far as disrespect goes the only disrespect I have seen has come from you. You need to set aside your pride and man up.
I am getting to the point where I think I may have been wrong about you. Maybe you should give up. Maybe you should stick to writing books so you don't have to defend against criticism. You are showing the same tendency to run when cornered that you showed the night of the debate.
I think I have had about enough. Good luck with your blog.

Eldnar said...

That's why we must demand hard empirical evidence for what we believe, and that's why we should never go beyond what the evidence calls upon us to accept.
Just curious. What's the hard "empirical" evidence for mathematical pricipals? Also please provide the "empirical" evidence for the laws of logic? Or the "empirical" evidence for thoughts? Or do you just "know" that your have thoughts? Is it a "burning the the skull"? Since you're espousing the position of an empiricist you should have good answers to these. Or were you brainwashed into believing this?

We are all too easily swayed by emotional factors. We are all too easily led to accept that which we prefer to believe.
You were a the poster boy for this point in the debate with Dinesh.

The human condition forces us to become agnostics, all of us, when there isn't hard empirical evidence for accepting something.
Really? Then why is agnosticism a minority position?

That's why science is so important. It tests hypotheses rigorously and repeatedly.
Can you show me the scientific laboratory tests for the speed of light travelling at the same speed as it does here, on the other side of the universe? Do you "have faith" that it does? If so, using the logic you advocated above you are brainwashed. If not, then science does not always test hypotheses rigorously and repeatedly as you claimed. Which is it?

And we all know, "Brainwashed people do not know that they are brainwashed." =)

@WES You're exactly right. John doesn't want criticism, he wants people to pat him on the back (and gets his feelings hurt if they don't). Further, if you disagree with John, he then says "you couldn't truly understand the weight of my arguments". I almost choked on my drink laughing when he wrote that. I CAN'T WAIT for the debate to go online so everybody can see what I saw.

John W. Loftus said...

wes, I think you prove my point that skeptics do not have a corner on rationality. You need a critical thinking class. I'm only suggesting we wait and see, you see. If you wish to comment on the substance of this post then do so. Why must you continually talk about the debate before it's online? You're asking me to "man up" before I can objectively look at it for myself. There is nothing I can say about it until I see it for myself. And I never said I won the debate.

Sheesh. What is it with you anyway? Why don't YOU man up and admit that you're asking of me something I cannot speak about before seeing the debate online and apologize for having asked of me what I cannot say right now?

With critical thinking skills like you've just displayed I have no reason to trust your judgment on the debate. I must see it for myself.

wes said...

Hahaha! That is great! You have been posting on little else since the night of the debate. You continue to post things that you think will justify only one minor reason you lost. You asked for the criticisms and yet you run when they are posted.

John W. Loftus said...

wes, what am I running from? Please tell me. The issue of brainwashing is the only fair minded criticism I have heard. The other ones have to do with my not responding to an argument because I wasn't given a chance. What do you want from me?

Cole said...

"Christianity is rationally justified on the basis of the evidence. The evidence is overwhelming."

The evidence for Christianity isn't overwhelming. Any God that requires blood in order to forgive someone is crazy. My God doesn't require blood in order to forgive me. When I pray I just ask for God's forgiveness and move on. There's no need for a blood sacrifice.

There is some evidence for a God but it's not overwhelming. I think the reasonableness of believing in God's existence can be established through a cumulative case. But the main reason why I believe in a good God is because I have experienced such a God. I am humbled in believing there's a God and I'm not like Her in every way. I think the evidence along with my experience is sufficient for me to be justified in believing in God. My God is the standard of goodness and it's by this standard that I judge the god of the bible to be immoral.

John W. Loftus said...

wes, don't run from me now, okay? Answer me. What do you want from me?

John W. Loftus said...

wes?

Eldnar said...

There is nothing I can say about it until I see it for myself.
Ridiculous statement. You were there right? YOU made the rebuttals right? YOU posed and answered questions right? What do you mean you can't comment on anything? You can't remember a single thing about the debate even though YOU were the participant? That's irrational.

That's part of Wes's point.

John W. Loftus said...

What I mean Eldnar is that I can't comment on the debate as a whole just yet. Perhaps you've never participated in such an event where you were thinking on your feet in the midst of a debate. It's hard to remember what actually happened and in what order. I'll comment, but later. Why do you demand that I do so now? That to me is ridiculous.

Jim said...

ZDENNY,

The Bible says that the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness and self-control.

love is death (Noahs flood, Passover, etc.)

peace is war (God's orders to annihilate people by the sword).

gentleness is outrage (Jesus turning over the money changer's tables)

and on and on . . .

Thanks once again for Debunking Christianity!

Jim said...

I worked with at least one Mormon that wasn't brainwashed (in my opinion).

He spent most of his life as a mainstream Christian, but found late in life that Mormonism answered more of his questions--so he became Mormon.

I had to roll my eyes, but I'll at least give him the benefit of the doubt on the brainwashing claim.

Breckmin said...

"The issue of brainwashing is the only fair minded criticism I have heard."

Perhaps the born-again Christian has realized that their own brain needed washing?

Only Jesus can wash your brain clean from sin and eternal death.

Question everything..

but when you question - pray for protection.

Jim said...

I wonder if another indication of being brainwashed would be "anger" upon moving away from the "brainwashed position."

In other words, I felt very angry for awhile at my parents and society for what I deemed to be the lies, deception, manipulation, and child abuse I experienced when I was ostensibly "Christian."

Does anyone get angry at atheism if they leave atheism to take on belief in Christianity, Judaism, Islam, etc.? If people do not get "angry at the lies of atheism", this could mean atheism is not a brainwashed position.

I don't think people get angry when switching political positions, as a counterexample of a "non-brainwashed" belief system. People just tend to drift around trying to figure out which one is right or the best for them.

But religion and cults seem to generate anger in the atheist once he/she is free from the grip of religious dogma. This could be indicative that religion *could* be a brainwashing system.

Breckmin said...

"Does anyone get angry at atheism if they leave atheism to take on belief in Christianity, Judaism, Islam, etc.? If people do not get "angry at the lies of atheism", this could mean atheism is not a brainwashed position."

There ARE Christians who are "angry" at the driving force of deception behind atheism. I have a friend who was Catholic who became an atheist before he became a born-again Christian. If you look at guys like Lee Strobel and others...they hate the error and the spiritual driving forces behind such deception but they do NOT hate the atheist. They love and pray for the atheist.

Emotions...however...should NEVER be a means to truth. Emotions are the product of truth...NOT a means to it.

Breckmin said...

"This could be indicative that religion *could* be a brainwashing system."


Seriously.

"Brainwashing" is general and doesn't deal with anything specific. It is as useless as "gerrymandering" when it comes to addressing specific points or objections.

Jim said...

Breckmin,

There certainly is no "driving deception" in weak atheism (lack of belief in gods).

The only thing that can come close to your concept of "driving deception" would be forcible indoctrination of children or vulnerable individuals into the positive belief stance that "there are no gods."

Lee Strobel went to church because his girlfriend made him go. It's a hunch, but I think he started buying into it because it made his girlfriend happy enough to marry him and "give him some." I might be wrong--but I know plenty of guys that "found Jesus" just in time to get a woman they were chasing.

Brainwashing is very specific. It deals with "brainwashing." Seriously, look it up.

Emotions...however...should NEVER be a means to truth.

Wow, Breckmin finally made a correct, coherent sentence! Give that man a prize!

Emotions are the product of truth...NOT a means to it.

Aw damn, then he went and blew it one sentence later--back to "Being Breckmin."

FYI, emotions are the result of chemical reactions in the brain, not the "product of truth." They are caused by sensed or imagined events.