Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Do you consider organized religon to be a type of Brainwashing?

  1. Very Much So

  2. To a good extent

  3. Somewhat

  4. Just a little

    0 vote(s)
  5. Not at all

  1. Dec 26, 2004 #1
    I have relatives who are mormon... which drives me insane. I am atheist... but am generally accepting of other people's beliefs, although always ready to argue with someone if they want to. However my cousin is sent away to some sort of religous facilitiy for one year where she is complelty cut off from regular society... she is only allowed to contact her parents once a year... on christmas the people who sent them there. She is learning how to make converts.... I hate this idea and think that this religon is ruining the life of a smart person who could have done well if not for being lead down this path.
  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 26, 2004 #2
    Everything about the church reminds me of stuff I read about crazy clans where people did odd things. I went to a christmas service and the lighting of the candels down the rows with the choir singing... seemed oh so cultish. They are just trying to pursuade people to a form of thinking, although with a reductionist mindset I supose everything could be considered brainwashing.
  4. Dec 26, 2004 #3
    lol it all depends actually, organized religion encompasses an extremely broad framework and while some is "cultish" others may be more in line with social norms. Organized religion can be said to be a form of socialization, to socialize its followers into a particular creed or code of conduct. If we're talking about brainwashing per se, there is really no such thing as totally objective formulation of a belief or identity.

    If brainwashing is socialization, it happens all the time. Aren't young girls brainwashed into having a certain figure? And such social and cultural indoctrination happens everywhere as long as you are in a certain community. So in a sense, all of us are brainwashed regardless of our religion or beliefs.

    I think that it is very much like the relativity (even though in this case it is better called relativism), every reference frame makes an equally valid statement. Mainstream society may be the "regular" one while the religious guys are the wierdos and vice versa, depending on which argument you take.
  5. Dec 26, 2004 #4
    Well I think there is a distinct difference. Girls competing each other for being attractive are supposed to have the best odds for a social desirable rank in the society. This is a more or less free choice to make. Compete, but suffer and gain status or not compete, not gain status and suffer (Law of maintaining misery). Brainwashing or building in Pavlov like conditional reflexes destroys free will. The girl has not the option anymore to refuse whatever the sekt or clan or cult is ordering.
  6. Dec 26, 2004 #5
    If girls competing for attractiveness is about conforming to the current social norms at that time. What makes us think that conforming to certain religious norms in order to gain a higher social status in that particular (religious) community is any different?

    In a sense, society builds into us certain reflexes within us but it is not so apparent because in society at large, there exists a great many sub-cultures so it somehow perhaps give the illusion of "free will" but the underlying mechanism of socialization is somewhat still at work. We don't see a homogeneous culture coming up, like in North Korea, but that doesn't mean that socialization is any less real here (in developed countries) than it is there.

    If you are talking about a sect or cult, it could be because that either, force is used to coax followers into submission, and so, resistance is futile, as well as the other fked up things which cults do. As for cults, I agree that they practice a form of brainwashing. BUT to drag the whole of organized religion into it is stretching it a little too far.
  7. Dec 26, 2004 #6
    For many the liklyhood of being forced into one of those extreme cults is small... however a ton of people are forced to go to organized religon every day by their parents when they are young. From being a baby to when they would actually be able to decide on religon themselves... many are forced to go to church and listen to one paritcular belief. You don't see a mom taking her kid to sunday service one week and then to the muslim mosuk the next friday to let the kid decide what religon they want. And what do you think sunday school is... it is trying to convince kids of the correctness of their religon. If you think about what some commmon organized religons make you do it would seem extemely "fked" up if you were from the outside. Why can't you do stuff on sundays. Why do you have to give up something in lent? Why do you have to fast every once in awhile? Why can't you say Jesus Christ? Even holidays would seem odd. Think about if someone celebrated the 23 of october because a virgin gave birth to someone who was going to die for you.... seems like a clan story. I think people are just more adapted to many of the common organized religon, because many are exposed to their propaganda every day.
  8. Dec 26, 2004 #7


    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    I have to agree that organized religion is indeed a form of brainwashing. You are told what to believe, what is right and what is wrong, you are taught that other religions are wrong, and as Tom pointed out, this occurs from birth. The main difference I see between what is deemed a "cult" and "organized religion" is that mainstream religions do not threaten you with physical violence if you manage to break free. The fear of being ostracized from the religious community you were once part of is to some more frightening than threats of physical violence.
  9. Dec 26, 2004 #8

    aren't we too indoctrinated by social norms since we are young? That's my point actually. Doesn't society teaches us "right from wrong" as well? Doesn't laws which prosecute murderers send the signal that killing someone is "bad"? So, even outside of religion, we are subjected to the socialization process which tells us appropriate behaviour and belief, even. Its not just religion in which the process takes place, it happens everywhere imo.

    We have men and women magazines which espouse certain patriarchal beliefs and have ads plastered all over town which send similar messages. Everybody's reading them and looking at them that it seems so common, isn't that "brainwashing" as well? As well as reinforcing existing social norms which serve to remind ordinary people of the "correctness" of that belief?

    And regarding gender relations, don't parents buy skirts and dolls for their daughters and do the opposite for the boys? I don't think you'd see a parent asking their kid, "ok, choose, do you want boys clothes or girls clothes?" They automatically expose them to certain objects which serve to strengthen the gender identity which society has already imposed on them. You get sunday school once a week, this happens everyday.

    Every society and community seeks to mould its followers into a certain code of conduct and belief. It happens everywhere, isn't it?
    Last edited: Dec 26, 2004
  10. Dec 26, 2004 #9
    Very True as i mentioned in the second post.... However that doesn't mean everything is the same in the way that they do it. People try to get people to act in a certain way or to buy certain things. Religon trys to convince you of doing certain laws which if you don't you shall burn forever in hell. Religon trys to change your opinions since you were little... all religon does it. I guess the question after this thread meets its completion is ... is brainswashing acceptable.
  11. Dec 27, 2004 #10
    Actually, that's just sexual competition: the girl with a better figure will get the better looking and higher socio-economic status guy, and the girls know that. This is actually somewhat genetic: in european-derrived peoples, men prefer good looks over intelligence, while women place more value on a man's intelligence than just looks, on average, because a smarter man can be better provider for the offspring: natural selection at work.
  12. Dec 27, 2004 #11
    Everything in the world is brainwashing (indoctrination). The key is to differentiate between indoctrination that is based on facts and those that are based on fiction. I would argue that religious indoctrination is based on fiction.
  13. Dec 27, 2004 #12
  14. Dec 27, 2004 #13
    I don't know if people are genetically predisposed for patriarchy. But in this case, the labels attached of females having better bodies and the men similarly to take on the role as hunter-gatherer, is there certain disadvantage to the human race if roles are redefined and even switched?

    So, is patriarchy a result of natural selection as you were saying?
  15. Dec 27, 2004 #14
    Fiction, does morality happen to fall into the ground on fiction? Turn the other cheek, love thy neighbour as yourself and stuff like that. Of course if religion happen to cross the line and do the six day creation crap then it is fiction.
  16. Jan 4, 2005 #15


    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    There are some religions that are not merely brainwashing machinery to the extent that Christianity or Islam are. Buddhism and Hinduism, for instance, do not insist that all other religions are wrong, nor do they condemn you to Hell if you are not a believer. Neither believes in conversion either, and both preach religious tolerance.

    I'm sure there are several other religions that are not as control crazy as Christianity or Islam.
  17. Jan 6, 2005 #16


    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Gold Member

    There may not be a disadvantage at this point to switching roles, but there would have been in the environment in which the predisposition evolved. Such predispositions cannot simply unevolve over a span of several decades when enlightened people decide they are not ethical because evolution does not work that way.
Know someone interested in this topic? Share this thread via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook

Have something to add?

Similar Discussions: Do you consider organized religon to be a type of Brainwashing?