Your Own Beliefs, Or Submitting to Authority?

How religious authority is a catalyst against your natural kindness

For a long period of my life I submitted to authority—Religious authority. A well known study (Milgram Shock Experiment) had participants administer shocks to a learning participant. 61% of subjects were willing to eventually administer lethal shocks to a stranger, solely because the authority figure had directed it. The shocks were fake, but the participants were unaware of that fact.

One subject wrote a letter to the study’s founder during the Vietnam war. He said, “While I was a subject in 1964, though I believed that I was hurting someone, I was totally unaware of why I was doing so. Few people ever realize when they are acting according to their own beliefs and when they are meekly submitting to authority … To permit myself to be drafted with the understanding that I am submitting to authority’s demand to do something very wrong would make me frightened of myself … I am fully prepared to go to jail if I am not granted conscientious objector status. Indeed, it is the only course I could take to be faithful to what I believe. My only hope is that members of my board act equally according to their conscience ...

The religious are ripely submitting to authority. I do not believe for a moment that discrimination against gays, immigrants, women, transgenders, or any other focus of hate today is rooted in the minds of the people. It is rooted in the foundations of faith, which purported hate is the result of pulpits—and the authority we allow is a preacher behind a bible.

Eric Hoffer, one of my favorites writes, “Whenever we find a dispensation enduring beyond its span of competence, there is either an entire absence of an educated class, or an intimate relationship between those in power and the men of words (the preachers).

I’d say we have both. If you want to see what your own natural beliefs are before the preachers get to you, watch 2 young children play together before indoctrination.

Author: jim-

One minute info blogs breaking the faith trap.

89 thoughts on “Your Own Beliefs, Or Submitting to Authority?”

  1. Well the theist one is all-seeing , all-knowing and all- powerful so you have no chance , but Orwell’s one was very scary. Human nature is very subtle some generally find a way of making life worth while.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I don’t see the behavior matching the doctrine. It makes me think they don’t really believe god is watching now does it? I’ve found those that profess openly and rigorously have the deepest closets. Their are many good Christians that go about their lives quietly, contributing, and doing the best they can. I have a hunch they’d be better off of do the same without religion.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. It’s in our nature’s to get away with something if we can. I worked for five years as a warehouse man for Marks and Spencer and the theft problem was rife within the shop amongst the workers . I used to unload the lorries at 5.30 am and we would always break a packet of biscuits for our early morning tea . To break a pack was an accident to steal a pack was punishable by dismissal.

        Liked by 2 people

  2. The religious make it seem that rebellion is always a bad thing. They demand that you obey authority, without regard for the rectitude or integrity of that authority. Regardless of what the “holy” books tell us, rebellion can be a good thing. Especially, when we are rebelling against an authority that isn’t worth following.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. The founders of nearly all mass movements, whether intensional or not (Jonathan Edwards accidentally found his scam/style, then it was copied) play on uneducated passions. Rebellion is always bad, unless it is theirs. Most religions are founded out of dissatisfaction of a charismatic then raised up by manipulating/promising the downtrodden more authority.
      Good to see you. Glad you stopped by.

      Liked by 2 people

        1. New religions are formed out of rebellion. Their (the new founders) rebellion. Then the new religion sets forth its new set of rules and demands fundamental obedience for membership. Martin Luther, Joseph Smith, and on and on, rebelled and founded the (more) correct imagination. But most all religions start with a cause and rebel against the establishment. Make sense?

          Liked by 1 person

            1. One of my favorite books is ‘The True Believer’ by Eric Hoffer. It’s from the fifties, and a great insight to mass movements and how we are manipulated.

              Liked by 1 person

    2. Yes but those who sign up accept the authority for life. Most of us keep an eye on authority and complain like hell when it injures us , but we tolerate it rather than face anarchy.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. Society shapes us if we are not very careful and we accept its bad values as well as its good ones. Having said that the picture that William Golding paints of children left on an island to their own devices is pretty grim , and makes me wonder what would happen in a free for all society.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. I am reminded of religious teaching: Why were we made by God. To know and love him. So God needs groupies or a posse to keep going? So he makes slaves to do this? Is that what religious authority is about? Circle thinking?

    Liked by 3 people

  5. Hear hear! I was somehow able as a child able to sense the whole devotion to authority thing, to the point of never questioning that authority, and it always felt out of place for me. I was never able to accept authority for authorities sake and the no questions allowed attitude of that institution.

    I guess some of us are just meant to be the stone in the creek, observing and questioning, and not the leaf rolling with the current.

    I’d have it no other way for me, my children, or my friends.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. My wife was that way too, from as early as she can remember. It’s a good thing a few of you are out there orvthe entire world would be in their control. It is the agenda. Then we’d be in eternal bliss, hugs and sloppy tears all the days long. Beautiful. Hehe. Good to see you Shelldigger!!

      Liked by 2 people

  6. Excellent post. I was anti-authoritarian from the get-go. (Just ask Mom.) Our educational system also demands this sort of rigid belief and compliance in many ways. Still a big problem.

    Liked by 3 people

      1. I sometimes wonder how different I would be if I hadn’t been forced to conform to so many societal strictures growing up. Creativity was stifled. Progress stunted. The world’s loss.

        Liked by 3 people

        1. Oh certainly. Growing up women were relegated to supporting roles. I have been looking at that a lot lately. How much better off we’d all be embracing completeness and full equality.

          Liked by 3 people

  7. I’ve never liked authority from my earliest years. Even as a child I could out-think any authority I met. At first that was just a childish game. But later it became very real. You cannot have respect for someone who doesn’t know you are making a fool of them. Christian authorities were the most fun, once I gave up on the fear of an angry god.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. The pre questionnaire submitted to psychologists was international. They were all way off in their assessments. 1-3% thought 1 person would administer the lethal shock. Compared to 61% who actually did!! Scary! Hoffers conclusions in True Believers follows that statistically. 35% need to believe, 30% will go along with whatever, and 30% will question the established culture. Interesting how many times I find correlation in society with his findings.

      Liked by 2 people

  8. Wow. Well this CERTAINLY redefines the relationship between puppets and the Puppeteer, doesn’t it!?

    Even if the Puppeteer is a complete fabrication and has been proven to be so and the puppets STILL keep trying to attach strings to themselves and everyone else, all reflects just how far “puppets” are willing to go in order to shun and deny accountability for their own words and actions… or lack of. 😞

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Yes! I think if we could affect one or two critical changes in our own lives to escape this behavior it could make all the difference. But who will make the effort when they already have the truth?

      Liked by 4 people

      1. No, no! I AM THE ONE WITH THE TRUTH!!! Not them!

        Sasquatch is real and the only truth. He’s been seen EVERYWHERE by hundreds of thousands of eye-witnesses. Sasquatchanity is the ONLY true religion and faith Jim! So don’t be going around spreading lies about other invisible gods and beliefs… you… you HEATHEN!

        😉 😛

        Liked by 4 people

        1. Though as you so correctly point out, Big Foot is, indeed, a real guy. The mistake most people make who believe in him is that he has big feet. The great irony is that he has really small feet. So, I’ve started the Church of Small Foot to counter the idiots who continue to preach that Big Foot has big feet. They’re wrong, and I know it because a very important person, I forget who exactly, told me so. BTW, you can send $$$ for Small Foot to me, the founder of The Small Foot Church, via my blog site. Thanks, and remember, just cause you’re feet are small doesn’t mean you can’t be tall. $Amen$

          Liked by 4 people

  9. Humans have managed to survive for a long time, despite being sensitive, weak, and vulnerable. What is now our nature has a basic, perhaps even a common source. I may have been fortunate that I was never indoctrinated in “discrimination against gays, immigrants, women, transgenders, or any other focus of hate today” through religion. If anything, the opposite. The vulnerability of the human mind is open to manipulation by men and woman ‘of god.’ But as the research you cited shows, unchallenged authority (power) will make sheep of us all. Ok, maybe not all.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Baaaa. Doesn’t feel a very likable trait, does it. I do think the Catholics have been better/neutral job lately than the evangelical/fundy. LDS JW SDA judge everyone to hell, but I love you.

      Liked by 3 people

          1. The Noble Savage, The Blank Slate, and The Robot Within (or some such) are all discussed by Steven Pinker in his book, the Blank Slate. I may go look at the post when I am less sober. Pinker basically presents that we are none of those. DNA and evolution matter. Religion has outlived its usefulness to humans.

            Liked by 3 people

            1. It’s a slow death. As we can see from Christian comments, they always evolve into non substantive gibberish without offering a solution to right the faith.
              It took 900 years for Christianity to supplant all of the Greek gods. We’re in this for the long haul. How long has Nietzsche been dead? We’ve got some Jesus left on our plate for a while yet…If we’re still a specie.

              Liked by 3 people

  10. Indeed. One reason the world is so screwed up is that most of us continue to think, believe, and do exactly what those in power… the preachers, politicians, and other snake oil salesmen… have trained us to think, believe, and do. Of course the true believers would never admit that fear of authority is THE reason for doing so. And this is why I am a strong advocate for teaching the basics findings of social psychology (https://frankjpeter.com/2018/09/05/a-meditation-on-civilization-psych-101/) starting in grammar school. Thanks and peace.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Yes Sir!! I remember that post Frank. Very concise and worth the quick reread. I have been talking to my little one about these quirks of human nature. I don’t think we can change every trait in this lifetime, but one or two could make all the difference. Good to see you back!!

      Liked by 3 people

  11. Your article reminded me of what happened here when my kids were little some, oh, 30 years or so ago now. The town was pretty much 100% white at the time, the only minorities were a small number of hispanic people working at the local farms. A black family moved into town, a single mom and her three kids. My eldest was in kindergarten at the time, five years old, and comparing the reaction of my son and his peers with those of the parents and other adults in town was fascinating and reinforced my belief that prejudice is a learned behavior and also reinforces your comments about ‘submitting to authority’.

    The kids literally didn’t give a damn what color the new kids were. They were just kids like them. They were curious about the difference in skin color at first, but once they got over that it didn’t bother them in the slightest. The adults were a different story. I couldn’t believe the attitude of a lot of the adults in town. It was downright horrifying. All the nasty old stereotypes came crawling out of the woodwork. It was very disturbing. This poor woman and her kids were watched like hawks, everything they did or said was examined with a microscope with the intent of finding something in it to use to their detriment. And meanwhile the five year olds were just being kids and didn’t care at all.

    I hired their 14 yr old daughter as a baby sitter for a few hours a day and as far as the neighbors were concerned I’d pretty much invited a budding criminal organization into the neighborhood. “Those people”, I was told, would steal me blind, sell drugs out of my house, get my kids addicted…

    I watched those kids who were pretty much entirely free of prejudice at the age of five turn into their parents over the years. The curiosity was replaced with fear, the acceptance replaced with suspicion. Most of those former kids are now, alas, just as prejudiced as their parents were. They blindly repeat the same racial slurs, same racial stereotypes as their parents as if reciting a litany. And it’s so very, very sad to have seen that happen.

    Liked by 7 people

    1. It is a learned behavior. I grew up in the same environment, and I undid it in one generation. Poof! That’s all it takes to go from Mississippi to a more genuine reality.

      Liked by 3 people

  12. My take on it is discrimination is indeed in human nature via evolution. The outsider in prehistory often was dangerous, a competetor for resources that were sparse. Humans who branded together found an advantage in being aggressive in guarding resources found. I think as religion is created by humans, it is a reflection of the human mind and human nature, same with the roots of cultural practices. The ugliness of religion and the blind submission to its authority is our own primitive instinct now unsuited in a land of plenty. Thing is, and another blog called The Memeing of Life gave this point to me, for 99% or so of human history, we were in the land of the few and brutal exclusion meant survival. We’ve really only been in the modern world for a very short time, the scientific revolution only a few generations ago compared to the thousands before! The author said our PTSD from living in prehistory for most of our history makes us follow our more detrimental traits. Those millennia have made it our instinct to be guarded with outsiders and listen blindly to authority rather than ones own morality. Groupthink saved lives in the stone age, we just happened to move on… I will say though, plenty of others live like that on lands still of few, like the 3rd world and only understand the dog eat dog exclusionary way… Therefore we must not be so open to those who would take everything from us but spit on our values of equality and democracy.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Because…of religious indoctrination. Prior to that foothold people are actually very accepting of others. Instead of “here we go”, Loy, why don’t you offer something better. Prove me wrong. Or, just add your useless comments. That’s all we’ve seen for quite a while.

      Liked by 4 people

        1. Prejudice is a learned behavior. Religions preach prejudice. Parishioners learn it. Whether or not the savages warred over food and women is different than warring over skin color and self ascribed morality of race and gender. Your article is interesting, and off topic. Other research is also showing that the pre Jewish, then pre Christian Era was extremely advanced cooperative and enlightened. Building unmatched cities and knowledge bases. It is a common trick to show your opponents as savages, and the wording of your reply and article is evidence of continued historically flawed propaganda. “Noble Savages”…my point proven.

          Liked by 4 people

          1. With the utmost respect, boss, on that last comment you’re deep into a completely unscientific and ahistorical fantasy land.

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            1. Ok. Thanks. Can you show me then that the Aztecs had fought the Tlaxcalans, Huaxtec, and the Purempecha, over skin color and sexual orientation? Of course not. But I’m ahistorical.

              Liked by 2 people

            2. Shifting blame doesn’t excuse Christianity for its current state of affairs. What are you going to do about the divisions caused by religion today? Is that so hard to answer? Your bandwagon argument doesn’t excuse Christianity which is supposed to be the ultimate example of higher laws and love, when in fact it produces the opposite.
              And how many times are you going to use the “China is worse fallacy?

              Liked by 3 people

            3. Christianity has not cured the problem of ethnic hatred and recently politics has tried to cure it but without success. The problem with Christianity is it claims to be a road to perfection a cure-all for the evil side of human nature. Many turn to religion in the hope of finding a better world , one less riven by conflict and run by brotherly love but after two thousand years where is the evidence . Of course some have claimed that technology has lifted us up from the bestial side of our nature but that is a debatable point. Mr Pinker presents much evidence to show how we are living in the most peaceful era of humanity but he adds it is because war does not pay.

              Liked by 2 people

        2. It’s no surprise that tribalism is nothing new. But what organized religion did was actually justify the oppression of one’s own people. Particularly women and poor people. The killing of heretics and apostates. This is something that didn’t happen in hunter-gatherer societies. There was no educating some, and keeping others uneducated. There was no hoarding of wealth and resources for some, and starving the rest. This you can thank organized religion for. And I don’t think Judeo-Christian religions have the stranglehold here on this type of oppression.

          https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/freedom-learn/201105/how-hunter-gatherers-maintained-their-egalitarian-ways

          But more to the point, you have entirely missed the point of this post. It has nothing to do with saying civilization sucks, it’s simply saying that behavior dictated from authority is harmful, and religious authority is special in this regard. Imagine getting scores of people to behave a certain way based on purely on what some concocted supernatural deity has to say. It takes some special rhetoric for that to happen.

          Liked by 4 people

          1. Warring neighbors is one thing. Religion has us warring amongst ourselves. Being inside the group for protection is one thing, dividing it from within? That is religion today.

            Liked by 2 people

    2. One of the things I notice whenever I come across your comments, is, like so many of the religious ilk, you generally personify every negative aspect of what the blog host writes about.

      To illustrate the point further: the indoctrination that you have been subject to, or allowed yourself to be subjected has inured you so completely you are unable to recognise this truth.

      Also, your answers are so predictable, almost pat in fact, that one could be forgiven for occasionally thinking you are a bot.

      Liked by 4 people

      1. Thanks for the interesting observation and constructive feedback. So perhaps you could surprise us with an unpredictable comment of your own that does not exemplify every negative aspect of atheist cranks?

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          1. One thing that would be quite productive is to acknowledge the faulty sides and offer solutions to make it better. Yet to see it, but I would welcome any productive, better thinking comment…even better than my own.

            Liked by 2 people

            1. I have never known a believer to jettison their belief on the say-so of a non-believer such as me.

              From my encounters with de-converts it is always their personal journey to reality, the realization that they have been conned, and the incredible relief upon realising that walking away from the lies really is simple as ABC.

              I consider the issue regarding answering to someone such as Loy is merely to demonstrate the fallacious nature of their position. Once the evidence has been laid out for them, and if they are still as intransigent as ever then
              as far as I am concerned the gloves come off and they are fair game.

              All one can hope is that there are other indoctrinated theists reading along who may see a glimmer of light through the cracks.

              Liked by 4 people

            2. The fact that he offers no solution to the contrary, or even just a rudimentary idea to think on, is becoming more evident each day. Loy is now slipping into Branyan/Melee Wild territory. Substance has been replaced with crank comments.

              Liked by 3 people

            3. One can almost predict the reply one will receive from him (them).
              In fact, one could probably compose a post then write the entire comment thread using Loy, Branyan and Mel characters and be reasonably assured that the comments you wrote in their stead would be a fairly accurate representation of the three of the them.
              Throw in a comment such as ”God has never lost an argument with an ant” and you have got Colorstorm covered as well!

              Liked by 3 people

            4. Indeed!
              I once read a post by someone – I forget who, but it was here in blogsville – who actually believed Jesus was watching her having sex. I kid you not!
              That is a ménage à trois where the phrase: Jesus, I’m coming, has some very weird, and decidedly uncomfortable connotations.

              Liked by 5 people

            5. There is nowhere to hide from the eye of God reminds me of ‘ big brother is watching you ‘ , some feel they are being observed on the internet but others say it’s the job of government to keep an eye on us reprobates. Now the bug can be as small as a pin head to keep an eye on those we don’t trust.

              Liked by 3 people

            6. Just a wild hare, but I wonder if it might be more productive if everybody actually learned something about religion rather than just whine and wail and kvetch about it from dawn till dusk? Crazy, I know.

              Like

            7. Well Loy, most of us here spent our lives in it. In my spare time I easily call out the fallacy and contradictions of the invention. The key to understanding the mystery is unbelief. Most of us would have stayed in it over one truth, but everything is bass akwards and objectively opposite of what were told it is. You’ve been here two months and have mostly argued the semantics of debate. We’d be happy if you actually offered something real, but you yourself have stated you can’t comprehend it. You’ve still offered no insight, even doctrine. My psychic abilities are sensing insincerity and an inability to connect the dots. And your name is not Loy. Do you have a true identity even of your own self?

              Liked by 3 people

    1. Why thank you Z. I thought so too. I remember when I lost/left faith how I suddenly felt about people. It was really incredible how all the prejudice disappeared. ”Tis Good to be human again”

      Liked by 2 people

      1. No, not soon.
        There are conflicts mainly between Muslims and Hindus on many religious issues.
        Sometimes, conflicts within the castes of Hinduism also takes place. The recent in our state was the protest of ‘JATS’ to be demoted to a lower caste! Because lower castes are given special provisions.

        Liked by 3 people

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