@Fighteer- OK, here goes:
First off, IIUC, you are basically claiming that religion is uniquely harmful in terms of indoctrinating people to obey authority. Of course it is true that nearly every authoritarian regime before the mid-twentieth century justified itself by basing their claims on one religion or another. This is true across virtually all historical eras and across nearly all cultures. It's practically a universal human behavior pattern. It's also true, however, that across the same time periods and cultures, nearly every rebellion against authority also justified itself using some sort of religious claim. Religion has been used as a nearly universal indoctrination device, and
it has also been used as a nearly universal anti
-indoctrination device (and I'm not even including actual rebellions against a religion
, like the Reformation, or the Puritan exodus). If memetic indoctrination actually worked the way you describe, that couldn't happen.
Then there is the entire phenomena of 20th century secular authoritarianism, including Fascism and Communism, neither of which used religion to justify themselves. How did their
memes bypass our mental filters? Of course, many have claimed that both political movements "functioned like a religion", which makes a good analogy but a poor explanation- if anything can function "like a religion" then religion itself isn't at fault.
Of course, religion doesn't actually interact with the cognitive process the way you claim it does. "...we're more likely to believe something that a friend or family member tells us than a complete stranger..." (post 103)- yes, but this also applies to religious beliefs
I can use myself as an example. I'm a Christian. Now, I would love to be able to claim that this is because God has inspired me, a result of my own self-directed spiritual development, and etc., but truthfully, I originally became a Christian mostly because my parents were. I was socialized that way ("indoctrinated" if you like) by nearly everyone I came into contact with during my early childhood. I'm just one example, but I think if you look at the evidence, you will find that, to the extent that "mental filters" work the way you say they do (not
a given, but I'm willing to concede this for the sake of discussion), then religion functions in perfect alignment with these filters. The Church doesn't posses a magic "brainwashing button". It has stuck around for thousands of years (more like tens of thousands) and seems likely to last just as long, because faith satisfies a basic emotional need, not because it somehow automatically bypasses critical thinking.
So I am afraid I must conclude that the entire argument is historically unsupported, and is logically incoherent. Sorry Fighteer.
edited 8th Dec '11 8:00:27 AM by DeMarquis