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The Thinking Hasn’t Already Been Done For You

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Whenever I encounter an online discussion about a big, contentious issue — especially Christianity vs. atheism or creationism vs. evolutionism — there are certain things I know I will see. Specifically, I know what kinds of things will be said by those taking the anti-Christian side.

They will make a lot of statements that are flippant, mocking, shallow and smug. They will ask the standard “tough” questions that have no doubt been answered for them countless times already. They will make the usual lazily parroted claims that there is “no evidence whatsoever” to support this or that Christian position (often right after evidence has been clearly presented to them). They will challenge their opponents to “prove it to me” or “show me the evidence,” even as they make it clear that they wouldn’t take any such proof or evidence seriously at all.

All of this shows a lack of interest in thinking about the questions honestly. More than that, though, it shows an implied belief that there is no thinking that needs to be done about them.

People tend to remember and believe whatever they’ve heard first, especially if they’re exposed to it as children. Whatever makes it into their brains first will be nearly impossible to remove and replace with something else. This is why the Bible admonishes parents to teach their children the truth from their earliest childhood. This is also why anyone who’s determined to get people to believe certain things will try to reach those people when they’re as young as possible.

Children are taught all manner of things in school. They are taught basic, fundamental things like reading, writing, math, and geography. They are also taught things about history and science that are not necessarily true. Generally, children won’t have any way of telling which things they’re taught are foundational knowledge and which are outright falsehoods. The material is presented to them as if it’s all foundational knowledge. The children naturally assume that everything they’re taught is simply what others before them have learned and are now passing on to them. They will assume that they don’t need to question it or examine it. They will assume, in effect, that whatever thinking needs to be done about it has already been done for them — by the scientists, the experts, the professors, or whoever else would know what is and isn’t true.

It doesn’t occur to them that any of what they’ve been told might be untrue. It doesn’t occur to them that any of it might just be what some people want them to believe — people who are not necessarily looking out for their best interests.

And as the children grow up, falsehoods they were taught in school are reinforced, and added to, by biased and inaccurate portrayals in TV and movies, by slanted and misleading news coverage, and so on.

So when someone, as an adult, hears claims that go against what they were taught in school about “science” or “religion,” they’re not likely to give those claims any serious consideration. In their minds, they may as well be hearing someone claim that 2 + 2 = 5 or that the capital of the United States is Rio de Janeiro. It doesn’t line up with what they were taught, so they’re sure it can’t be true. They may be shown devastating evidence that what they were taught was wrong; but they will inevitably find ways to dismiss and disregard this, so that no doubts will be raised in their minds about what they’re already convinced is true.

It’s really tough to unlearn things that you’ve grown up believing were hard, indisputable facts. But it’s crucial in a world where there is so much dishonesty and deception among the self-appointed gatekeepers of knowledge.

Looking back, I can recognize quite a few lies that I picked up in my youth from school, the media, and society. These were not little harmless lies, but toxic and destructive ones. Some of them I was able to recognize while I was still young; others took me most of my life to get out of my head, long after they did their damage. In rejecting each one, though, I’ve had to go directly against what the world around me says I’m “supposed” to think.

You might as well face it: you have been lied to, and lied to heavily. In the most crucial areas, you have been told what others wanted you to think, rather than what you needed to know.

The thinking has not been done for you; you are responsible for doing your own thinking. And when you truly do that, you’re going to reach vastly different conclusions than those who wanted to do your thinking for you.

This article originally appeared at American Clarion.



 

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