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

Organized religion

  1. Jan 20, 2005 #1
    I recently saw the results of the pole, Do you consider organized religon to be a type of Brainwashing? and I was simply astounded by the amount of people who thought it was. I would like someone, just one person to explain to me how organized religion is brainwashing. To me I cannot even think of any good reason to think so, so I would like it if anyone could explain this to me.
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 20, 2005 #2
    Please note the definition of brainwashing as quoted from a dictionary:

    " 1. Intensive indoctrination, usually political or religious, aimed at destroying a person's basic convictions and attitudes and replacing them with an alternative set of fixed beliefs.
    2. The application of a concentrated means of persuasion, such as an advertising campaign or repeated suggestion, in order to develop a specific belief or motivation."

    Organized religion involves the repeated suggestion of a fixed series of beliefs aimed at displacing any prior beliefs a person may hold (eg evangelism). This fits the above definition of brainwashing. This can often be quite forceful and difficult to avoid when a person finds themselves in a family or social setting surrounded by highly religious people.
  4. Jan 20, 2005 #3
    I'd say that the only time organized "religion" would be brainwashing is in a cult-like situation, where the leader of the cult forces (indoctrinates, if you will) his/her members into following him/her and the rules of the cult.

    In terms of religion, we have the freedom to choose whether or not we want to follow the beliefs of said religion. If we do not like the system of beliefs, we can a) drop religion altogether; or b) convert to another, more preferable system of beliefs.

    People "brainwashed" by religion are called extremists, or fanatics, and do extreme things with regard to their beliefs. However, back to the freedom comment, they have the freedom to take their religion to the absurd extreme, or to follow and interpret their system of beliefs to live a good and happy life.

    So, this means that while cult members could be brainwashed into following their leader, members of religions are free to interpret their system of beliefs to lead a fulfilled life. The members of the cult absolutely do have the freedom to choose whether or not this cult is suitable for them, but once they are part of it, there is often no turning back.
  5. Jan 20, 2005 #4
    Thanks guys, I think I was taking 'brainwashing' to a slightly extreme degree. Taking it by its techinical defination then yes, it would be brainwashing. This would also say that any kind of teaching would be brainwashing, even that of mathematics. Also the poll was organized religions and this defination would take ANY religion, organized or not.
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook