September 15, 2017

Christian Closed Mindedness

breaking free from religion

Hemant Mehta (Friendly Atheist) had a great find, a Christian textbook explicitly urging students to "keep a closed mind." I suppose this could be filed in the "we knew it was happening but had few examples this blatant" category. The best part is that the "lesson aim" and "lesson summary" were so explicit in providing a rationale for the importance of a closed mind. Keeping one's mind closed makes it less likely that "unrighteous thoughts" will slip in and divert the student from "living a Christ-pleasing life."

It would be easy to dismiss the whole thing as a fringe form of Christian fundamentalism, and I would really like to do so. Unfortunately, I can't. My background in a mainstream Protestant denomination was anything but fundamentalist, but this notion of unacceptable thoughts still hits home. The idea that Christians must constantly be on guard against doubt and prepared to ward off bad thoughts that might lead them astray is not limited to fundamentalist strains of Christianity. The fundamentalists may indeed be more explicit about it and are probably more likely to refer to demons while discussing it, but these concerns seem broader.

When people characterize Christianity as anti-intellectual, opposed to reason, a barrier to critical thinking, and the like, I suspect that this sort of thing is at least part of why they do so. I believe that these criticisms are justified. After all, what we seem to have here is an elevation of religious narrative above reality and a series of mental gymnastics and assorted thought control tactics aimed at preserving the belief at all costs. Where the more traditional indoctrination ends, a sort of self-brainwashing takes over.

Whenever I hear an ex-Christian atheist talking about how he or she felt an exhilarating sense of freedom after walking away from Christianity, I suspect that this is what he or she is referring to. I've heard many Christians try to dismiss this as the sort of freedom that comes from abandoning morality, but we all know that is absurd. No, the freedom we experience has far more to do with finally being able to embrace the contents of our own minds. We are free to fully experience all our thoughts.