This is the seventh installment in my review of The Christian Delusion which was originally published in 2010 at “The Christian Post.” In this installment I review Jason Long’s essay, “The Malleability of the Human Mind,” 65-80.
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All right my clear thinking little skeptics, gather close now. Today we are going to hear about those crazy religious people who are indoctrinated. You need to be careful of them my darling little skeptics!
“Tell us more teacher!”
Oh yes little Johnny, I will. As our trusted authority Jason Long observes, “religious followers have been inoculated from skeptical arguments because they have been forewarned that skeptics are not trustworthy people. This ‘poisoning of the well’ modifies individuals to be more resistant to attitude changes toward the position that they already believe to be fundamentally weak.” (69)
“Teacher,” sputtered little Suzy as hot tears began to roll down her cheeks, “That makes me so angry! Those religious people, they poison the attitudes of their children toward us skeptics by suggesting we’re not trustworthy.”
Yes little Suzy, that’s right.
“What about them teacher?” asked little Johnny. “Are they trustworthy?”
What do you think little Johnny? Mr. Long tells us that “Since most staunch Bible defenders have already declared that nothing is going to change their minds (and the solutions to presented biblical complications often reflect this disposition), we must be highly suspicious of the intellectual honesty put forth toward apologetic solutions.” And he adds, “The practice of religion clouds judgment; understanding of religion does not.” (76)
“Right teacher! We should be suspicious of them because they are not intellectually honest like we are.”
Excellent little children! That’s right! The apologists warrant suspicion and are of dubious honesty. But you can trust me, because I’d never lead you astray! Such independently minded free thinkers you all are! As Mr. Long says, “Skeptics have their positions but are willing to consider other viewpoints; the religious are indoctrinated not to seriously question their beliefs.”(77)
“Yes teacher!” the children squealed in ecstasy. “We consider the viewpoints of others. But the indoctrinated religious people, they don’t question their beliefs.”
Suddenly a confused look passed over little Johnny’s face and his hand went up in the air: “But teacher, I have a question.”
Yes little Johnny, what is it?
“Aren’t some religious people smart? My daddy’s colleague at work won a nobel prize and he’s religious.”
Well little Johnny, Mr. Long has an answer for that as well. He quotes Mr. Shermer who explains that “Smart people believe weird things because they are skilled at defending beliefs they arrived at for non-smart reasons.” (77)
“Yes!” giggled the children. “They only have non-smart reasons for their crazy beliefs. But we are skeptics! We are smart!”
Yes little children, you are smart. You think for yourselves just as Mr. Long says. You don’t let others tell you what to think. Religious people are intellectually dishonest and have stupid beliefs but you have intellectual integrity and smart beliefs. Now everybody, let’s sing!
And with that the children began to clap and sing with great vigor:
“The more we are skeptical, skeptical, skeptical,
The more we are skeptical the happier we’ll be!
Cause I’m smart and you’re smart and we’re not religious!
The more we are skeptical the happier we’ll be!”