The Christian Mindfuck
The Subconscious Protects the Conscious Self
I’m not a Mental health professional and I don’t claim to have any of their qualifications to speak as an authority. But I don’t need to. This is common sense, so let’s apply a little. You don’t have to shove your head in a bucket of horseshit to know it will stink, and you don’t have to be a licensed psychologist to diagnose sheer and obvious lunacy. Remember the Heavens Gate nutbags? You really need qualifications to come to the unwavering conclusion that these people were detached from reality? No. No such qualifications are necessary.
Motive drives everything we do, no matter how mundane or innocuous – and more often than not there are multiple motivating factors. So much of what we say and do is triggered by our subconscious mind. On some level, every theist has doubts about their faith whether it’s in their forethought or somewhere deeper in the mind. And you can remove theists (and religion) from this argument. That is to say, that we all have doubts about the things we say and do. The degree to which we doubt varies, and so do our compensating acts that are the direct result of that doubt. For example, if you just invested a boatload of money in a risky business endeavor or cheated on your spouse you might toss and turn all night and have a hard time falling asleep. This is the kind of thing we can all relate to. It’s part of the human experience from which no one is immune.
There are few sure things in life. Virtually everything is a crap shoot on some level or to some degree. Stock market speculation, marriage, a new career choice, or the eternal question at hand. There’s always some doubt, some uncertainty, and some risk no matter how miniscule it may appear to be.
Everyone’s a Little Gun Shy
My best friend in high school was a particularly bright, straight “A” college-bound type. Paul went to a prestigious medical school and he’s now a successful surgeon. But back then he was always pushing the envelope to test the limits of peoples convictions.
One night, at our standing Saturday night poker game (yeah, we couldn’t get dates back then), I witnessed a rather disturbing experiment. Paul got one of his father’s revolvers (unloaded, of course) and handed it to a fellow named Marc and dared him to point the gun at his head and pull the trigger. Marc was invited to first examine the gun to verify that it wasn’t loaded. Paul encouraged him to point the gun at the floor and pull the trigger as many times as necessary to prove that it was empty and thoroughly harmless (unless you were bashed on the head with it).
Was Marc’s faith in his own ability to verify that the gun was truly harmless great enough to risk the consequences of being wrong? He quickly handed the gun back to Paul and told him to go perform a certain sexual act with himself.
There’s always doubt. Always.
Just for the record, I certainly don’t encourage this kind of crazy behavior, but I doubt you’d pull that trigger either. I sure as hell wouldn’t.
When it comes down to the big serious stuff, the kind of stuff you can’t undo, it’s always safest to play it safe and hedge your bets, right? Such is the case with the question of your place in eternity and those embrace and promote the flaccid and profoundly flawed bet-hedging notion called Pascal’s Wager. If the name is unfamiliar to you, the tactic certainly isn’t. It’s the goading last-ditch mainstay of desperate Christians who have no other weapons left in their arsenal. (We’ll get back to Pascal in just a bit.)
Deep Down Inside
Our brain works 24/7. It’s powerful and control the body in ways we can’t truly comprehend. The power of positive thought can effect our health in positive ways in the same manner that negative thoughts can worry us sick.
Our subconscious is the autopilot part of our mind. You know when you’re driving down the freeway and you zone-out for a mile or two? Then you regain your focus, but you don’t recall exiting the freeway or passing the mall. The conscious mind detached itself from the body. Your body did the mechanical stuff (accelerated, braked, shifted, turned), some part of your subconscious mind did the navigating, and some other part did the fanaticizing about [insert object of desire here]. The bottom line is that we often do things that our subconscious mind controls.
Here’s an extreme example that’s well-established: Ask any psychologist to profile a hooker or porn actress, and 100-to-1 you’ll likely hear about someone who was molested as a child.
There’s no conscious thought that says, “I was molested by my father when I was a kid, so I think I’ll become a hooker or do porn.” There’s a deeply rooted psychological cause-and-effect at work. Ask the hooker why she hooks and you won’t likely hear mention of her molestation. You’ll get a myriad of excuses as to why she does what she does, but the real reason will remain safely tucked away in her subconscious mind. Granted this is an extreme example, but it illustrates my point.
I don’t expect any theist to admit that they’re fearful of standing alone in their faith and that’s why they try to convert others to their belief system. In fact, I’m asserting that they aren’t even aware that they’re doing this. In the spirit of fairness I’ll concede that it works the other way too. You could fairly argue that someone like myself, an atheist, might do the same. The difference is that I have no desire to convert anyone. I don’t want anyone to abandon their religious beliefs. As I’ve already mentioned, I just object to all the crusading.
Many Christians use the built-in excuse that they’re instructed by god (through the bible) to be dutiful Christians to spread the word and glorify his name, but this is nothing more than just that: a very convenient excuse. Okay, I can’t help but chuckle at the utterly insane thought of comparing a theist to a hooker either, but an excuse is an excuse.
The subconscious mind is at work in all of us, hookers and Christians alike.
Help Thy Neighbor
There’s a common driving practice that involves flashing one’s headlights to warn oncoming drivers of police looking to catch speeders. (Unbelievably, this practice is avoided in certain parts of the country due to silly urban legends about a gang initiation rite that involves shooting at a driver who flashes his lights.)
The big question is, why do people engage in this practice?
At first thought the obvious answer is to save some poor slob from getting a speeding ticket. And then there are many who are motivated solely by the joy of foiling police in their attempt to cite someone (and generate yet more money for the city). But regardless of the prime justification, I believe there is a fundamental motivator which can be found at the subconscious level.
Think about it for a moment. Ask yourself if there’s another, deeper reason for why we do this.
Personally, I think we flash our headlights to help ourselves. Let’s try to extrapolate the act.
When you flash your lights you’re helping someone you probably don’t know and (most likely) someone you’ll never even meet face to face. Hell, you might not even like this person. This could very well be someone that you’d be justified in hating, yet you help then out anyway. Why is that?
I know that I do it not just to help out the other guy, but also in the hope that if we all work together someday someone will do the same for me in an act of reciprocity .
This is truth. When we help others we also help ourselves. I wash your back, you wash mine.
This principle applies to many aspects of life.
Birds of a Feather
In order to protect ourselves, we have to act publicly. In this example, we have to flash our lights for all to see. That’s how we learn. If I do it, others see, they will eventually catch on, they will eventually follow suit, and we all benefit. That’s how we protect one another. If it’s not a public display, then the whole thing is for naught. If you don’t flash your lights, the guy will get a ticket. We’ll all get a ticket. Again, this logic applies to many aspects of life.
People who believe in god often do this. Religious fanatics constantly do this. They have to. This is how they protect themselves. This is how they keep themselves from looking and feeling foolish, again, at the subconscious level.
No one would likely feel foolish believing in improbable if everyone else did. So religious people flash their theistic headlights in a public display of faith in order to protect each other and therefore help themselves. They flash their fish and dove logos on the backs of their cars. Their bumper stickers proclaim…
Real Men Love Jesus
My Boss is a Jewish Carpenter
No Jesus, No Peace. Know Jesus, Know Peace.
God said it, I believe it, that settles it!
That settles it? Well alrighty then. (And I’m the philosophically arrogant one. Right.)
I find it amusing that so many of their symbols are displayed so prominently on their cars. Sort of a virtual flashing of their headlights, don’t you think? They flash their crucifix necklaces and dashboard statues. They distribute their prayer cards in our parks, their bibles in our hotels. They spray their graffiti upon our currency (“In God We Trust”) and soothe each sneeze with a courteous “god bless you.” This is a patently public display of faith. This is the secret handshake of delusion. This is how they flash their virtual headlights. This is how they protect themselves. For some, it’s their subconscious intellect-saving instinct at work but regardless, for most theists the ultimate intent and modus operandi remains the same.
When confronted with this argument, Christians will often start vomiting forth specific bible verses that allude to their responsibility to spread god’s word. I appreciate their passion for defending their faith and intellect, but again, this is nothing more that a nicely wrapped excuse. Their words and actions serve but one true and ultimate purpose: they are the manifestation of a desperate, subconscious proclivity to ensure the theistic safety that membership in the club provides.
Hey man, I’m not deluded. No, not me. They believe it too!