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BibleAmerican Evangelical Christianity

Lorin Friesen, July 2013.

This is the second part of an essay on the Traits of God as described by Bill Bright in his 1999 book God: Discover His Character.

I have also posted an essay on Bill Gothard.

We have analyzed fundamental character traits of the Christian God from a cognitive viewpoint, and we have seen that all of them emerge naturally when a mental concept of God is based in a universal Teacher theory. However, we have also seen that proclaiming these same divine traits through blind faith in the Bible will cause the traits to become distorted in major ways. We will now turn our attention to the second main theme of this essay, which is American evangelical Christianity.

I suggest that Bright describes the factors that are largely responsible for shaping American evangelical Christianity. Near the end of his book he says, “That is why the Bible has remained relevant throughout the ages and to all civilizations. What God says is always pertinent. It never becomes obsolete. His timeless truth is the surest foundation for anything we attempt. Almost to a man, the founding fathers of our nation sought to serve and glorify Jesus Christ with their lives. One study found that of 15,000 writings by the founding fathers included in newspaper articles, pamphlets, books, monographs, and other documents, 94 percent of all quotes either directly or indirectly cited the Bible. Fifty-two of the 55 framers of the Constitution were avowed Biblical Christians. They were inspired by God to dedicate this new republic for His honor and glory. Even the curriculum of the institutions of higher learning used the Bible as a textbook. The efforts of our founding fathers produced miraculous results. The United States Constitution is currently the oldest operating document of any government in the world. Every other nation on earth has instituted a new form of government since our founding documents were written. The U.S. Constitution is unlike any other political instrument because the liberties it guarantees are greater than the liberties granted to the citizens of any other nation. And all this resulted in God’s unchanging principles, which provided the timeless truths for our governing documents” (p.287).

We see here three fundamental assumptions. First, Bright assumes that belief in the Bible is the same as practicing Christianity. Second, he assumes that the United States is a Christian country. Third, he assumes that both Christianity and the United States are governed by a set of revealed doctrines that are believed to be unique and special: Christianity is ruled by the revealed truth of the Bible, while the United States is ruled by the revealed truth of the U.S. Constitution.

Notice that we are dealing here with attitude and not content. The Bible is a unique book because of its unique content, and the American Constitution is also a well-designed framework of government. But, what matters is the attitude of approaching both the Bible and the Constitution from the viewpoint of revealed truth as well as the attitude of regarding the United States as a Christian country.

Pragmatism

I suggest that these two factors will create a pragmatic approach to life and religion, similar to the mindset of the technician. The technician lacks the general understanding of the engineer or the scientist. Instead, he follows manuals that tell him what he should and should not do. The technician then uses his manual-based knowledge to guide his actions. For instance, here is the electrical codebook for Canada. The Canadian electrician follows this codebook when wiring buildings. Notice that a technician has two requirements. First, there must be a codebook to follow. Second, there must be a country, in this case Canada, within which the codebook is applied. Similarly, pragmatic Christianity requires a Bible to follow and a country within which the Bible is applied. Looking at this more generally, pragmatism itself is an American philosophy that was first developed in the 1870s—precisely the time when consumer technology first made its appearance.

The technician may lack theoretical understanding but he does have common sense. That is because a codebook is consistent with principles of natural cause-and-effect. Each rule in the electrical codebook is there for a reason, such as avoiding electrical fires, or corrosion through contact of dissimilar metals. Therefore, the technician has a practical understanding of cause-and-effect, but he does not know the theoretical underpinning for these practical rules.

In God, Theology & Cognitive Modules, I suggest that the Christian path of salvation is composed of three stages. The first stage uses personal honesty to construct a mental concept of God, the second stage applies this understanding through action leading to righteousness, and the third stage goes through ‘dying to self’ in order to replace childish identity with the new identity that has been formed by applying understanding. Western society has gone through these three stages with natural law, with the first stage corresponding to the scientific revolution, the second stage to the industrial revolution, and the third stage to the consumer revolution which began in the late 19th century. In the same way that dying to self transforms the experiences of personal identity, so the consumer devices which started to emerge in the late 19th century transformed the experiences of daily life. [1]

This essay does not discuss Contributor thought and the role played by incarnation. Summarizing very briefly, Contributor thought can function in one of two ways, which are referred to as practical Contributor thought and intellectual Contributor thought. Practical Contributor thought works with cause-and-effect, whereas intellectual Contributor thought builds general theories. When these two halves of Contributor thought become integrated, the result is a God-man who helps to build general theories in abstract thought and helps to improve personal identity in concrete thought. Integrating these two halves is not a simple process and is described in detail in God, Theology & Cognitive Modules.

When practical Contributor thought works by itself, the result is an attitude of ‘works’, exemplified by manual labor. For instance, think of the ditch digger who uses a shovel to dig holes. Practical Contributor thought by itself will try to dig holes in the most efficient manner possible, but it will still think in terms of shovels and manual labor. The Christian path of salvation takes a detour through intellectual Contributor thought and Teacher theory. Instead of heading straight to the ditch with a shovel, the worker goes to school to gain an understanding of natural law and then uses this understanding to change the way that one approaches the digging of ditches. This intellectual detour eventually makes it possible to dig ditches with mechanical shovels rather than manual labor.

The technician skips the intermediate stage of understanding. He starts by learning some theory, described using the practical language of cause-and-effect. He then jumps to the final stage by applying his limited understanding to real life. Using the example of the ditch digger, the technician starts by taking a course on operating machines and then he buys a mechanical shovel and starts digging. The technician recognizes the existence of intellectual Contributor thought but he himself remains within practical Contributor thought, while accepting information that was discovered by others and using machines that were designed and built by others.

Time magazine describes Bright’s pragmatic approach to Christianity. “He had a gimmick. All evangelists are essentially marketers, but there is an ebullient post-war nerviness to Bright’s Four Spiritual Laws, which boil the Gospel down to 45 words. (‘God loves you and offers a wonderful plan for your life./Man is sinful and separated from God, thus cannot know and experience God’s love and plan./Jesus Christ is God’s only provision for man’s sin./We must individually receive Jesus as Savior and Lord.’) Armed with this ‘spiritual pitch,’ CCC recruits could not only consolidate their faith but purvey it one-on-one like Amway. Once converted, more subtle souls often moved past the Laws. But, explains Tommy Oaks, an itinerant evangelist who has observed CCC on dozens of campuses, ‘Bright’s like the guy who invented the crescent wrench. People were probably using something else before that, but he gave ’em a neat and nifty tool.’”

Let us look briefly at these 45 words which have been distributed 2.5 billion times. The phrase ‘a wonderful plan for your life’ is classic practical Contributor talk, because that is what practical Contributor thought does—come up with wonderful plans for people’s lives. And, this plan has been boiled down to four simple practical steps.

I suggest that we can understand these four steps by translating them into the language of mental symmetry. The first step says that Teacher understanding can transform personal identity. The second step says that childish Mercy identity is incapable of grasping general Teacher understanding. The third step states that Teacher understanding and Mercy identity need to be connected through an incarnation that combines practical Contributor thought with intellectual Contributor thought. The fourth step says that childish identity will only be transformed if it submits to the Contributor plan of incarnation.

This may sound somewhat esoteric, so let us illustrate it using the language of the ditch digger. In the natural world, general Teacher understanding expresses itself as the laws of nature and Contributor incarnation is found in the combination of science and technology. Stated in the language of the ditch digger, Bright’s four spiritual laws are: Science provides a much more pleasant way of digging ditches. The ditch digger cannot experience this pleasant way because he is locked into the mindset of manual labor. The only way to escape manual labor is through technology. Technology can only help you if you buy a mechanical shovel and use it.

These four principles are an accurate depiction of the benefits of science—viewed from the pragmatic mindset of the ditch digger. Similarly, I suggest that Bright’s Four Spiritual Laws are an accurate summary of the Christian message—if one adopts a pragmatic viewpoint.

Time magazine continues, “Not everyone approves of Bright’s reductivism, which historian Mark Noll once said led to an evangelical environment that is ‘naive, inept or tendentious.’ Columbia University religion professor Randall Balmer contends that the Laws ‘flatten the Gospel,’ while CCC’s culture cramps ‘faith into a dualism between saved and damned, right and wrong, moral and immoral.’ Immoral often meant liberal: Bright helped lay the groundwork for the religious right. Of his stylistic critics, he notes ‘Jesus had to be simple so the masses would hear him gladly.’” In other words, the technician who follows a codebook has a flat, simplistic understanding of science and naturally approaches situations from the viewpoint of right and wrong—following the codebook or disobeying it.

A technician begins by learning some theory and then jumps to using technology. Similarly, Appendix A of Bright’s book contains the Four Spiritual Laws which are used to guide people into becoming Christians, whereas Appendix B describes ‘how to be filled with the Holy Spirit’ which begins by saying that “Every day can be an exciting adventure for the Christian who knows the reality of being filled with the Holy Spirit and who lives constantly, moment by moment, under His gracious direction” (p.319).

I suggest that Bright’s comments about ‘being filled with the Spirit’ make cognitive sense. However, what is missing is the intermediate stage between appendix A and appendix B. In order to ‘be filled with the Spirit’ one must first construct a mental concept of God and then allow the resulting Platonic forms to create a mental concept of the Holy Spirit.

Bright admits that a gap exists between these two stages. “The degree to which these traits are manifested in the life depends on the extent to which the Christian trusts the Lord with every detail of his life, and on his maturity in Christ. One who is only beginning to understand the ministry of the Holy Spirit should not be discouraged if he is not as fruitful as more mature Christians who have known and experienced this truth for a longer period” (p.320). But admitting that a gap exists is not the same as filling in this gap with content.

Bright adds elsewhere that “The secret to changing bad habits like cursing is to turn the problem over to God. By faith, admit that you are helpless to change your bad habit. By faith ask His Spirit to give you righteous language to replace the filthy language. As you walk in the Spirit moment by moment, your heart is prepared to act righteously the next time someone angers you” (p.181). Bright is talking here about the personal transformation that occurs when one chooses to follow mental networks that are based in the Holy Spirit rather than mental networks that are based in childish identity. This is an accurate description, but again what is missing is the intermediate step of constructing the mental networks that are based in the Holy Spirit.

Saying this more clearly, the concept of the Holy Spirit is based in Platonic forms. Platonic forms emerge indirectly as a result of general Teacher understanding. Thus, in order to gain an accurate view of the Holy Spirit, one must first construct a mental concept of God. Again, I am not suggesting that this only occurs cognitively within the mind. However, as we saw earlier when looking at omnipotence and Ephesians 3, it does appear that the influence of any real God is limited by a person’s mental concept of God.

A pragmatic approach can continue to exist as long as it is being guided by understanding from somewhere else. For instance, the industrial revolution with its machines was preceded by the scientific revolution with its understanding. Similarly, pure science provides the theoretical background for applied science and technology. However, when we examine Christianity then we come up with a strange observation. There has never been a Christian ‘scientific revolution’. (I am hoping that the approach taken by mental symmetry will trigger one.) Instead, the process started with the codebook of the Bible, a book which is far more clever than anything else written in its time. After all, how could writers from the Roman era accurately describe traits of God that emerge when a person has a universal theory of personal identity at a time when no one had a universal theory of anything, especially when an inadequate understanding will naturally cause these divine traits to emerge in twisted form.

Thus, it appears that we really are dealing with a situation in which a codebook magically fell from the sky. And, the United States can legitimately be regarded as an unusually Christian nation because of the extent to which it has tried to apply the codebook of the Bible. However, as we have seen from our analysis of the traits of God, the attitude of approaching the Bible as a divinely revealed codebook will naturally warp the expression of Christianity. One can tell that the Bible is still being treated as a revealed codebook because most theologians will tell you that core Christian doctrines are mysteries that cannot be understood by humans and that defined truth is characterized by paradox. Even though substantial progress has been made in understanding this codebook, the highest level of current Christian apologetics uses rational thought to explain part of the Christian message in order to convince the believer to place blind faith in the rest of the message.

A Crisis of Faith

As the typical teenager illustrates, it is possible for people and societies to emerge from blind faith. This transition occurred in the United States in the 1960s and 70s, when youth rebelled from societal authority en masse, and the existence of absolute truth was called into question by major segments of American society. The Vietnam War played a large role in driving this change in attitude. Looking back at this transition from the 21st century we do not realize how different Western society once was. For instance, I just heard a talk by a newspaper editor (Ted Byfield) who began working in newspapers in 1946. He said that when he started work everyone in US and Canada believed that there were principles worth dying for, and it was simply accepted that a person would be willing to die for his country. That describes a general atmosphere of blind faith (or duty) in revealed truth (to one’s country) accompanied by self-denial (being willing to die).

This may sound like an extreme statement, but examine these World War Irecruitment posters. According to this BBC article, World War I was “fought at a high point of patriotism and belief in the existing social hierarchy; beliefs that the war itself helped destroy, and that the modern world finds very hard to understand.” As the description of this book states, “During the Great War, many boys went straight from the classroom to the most dangerous job in the world - that of junior officer on the Western Front. Although desperately aware of how many of their predecessors had fallen before them, nearly all stepped forward, unflinchingly, to do their duty. The average life expectancy of a subaltern in the trenches was a mere six weeks.”

America missed the first two-thirds of World War I as well as the first third of World War II. Neither of these two World Wars was fought on American soil, and America emerged from both wars more prosperous than before. Therefore, America did not experience the existential crisis that Europe went through as a result of these two wars. That is why the main American transition from blind faith occurred much later during the 1960s and 70s.

Imagine what would happen if the electrical codebook was no longer accepted as a standard and if people stopped following the codebook when wiring their houses—and if no theory of electricity existed to support the electrical codebook. Electricians would know enough about electricity to realize that ignoring the codebook would cause many people to die in electrical fires, but they would not know enough to replace the codebook with a general understanding of electricity.

This describes the attitude of American Christian evangelicals in the 1970s. Bill Bright convened a series of meetings with Christian leaders in 1974. “Billy Graham said, ‘I believe God has shown me that unless we have a change in America, we have a thousand days as a free nation . . . three years.’ Bill Bright said, ‘I know. . . . I do not believe we’ll survive more than three years as a free nation. It’s that serious.’ And Pat Robertson said, ‘I believe the same thing.’ Charles Stanley was standing there and I can just remember so well, he put his hand down on the table with resolve and said, ‘I’ll give my life to stop this. I’ll give everything I’ve got to turn this country.’ And I said, ‘Me too. I’ll die to turn this country. Whatever it takes. We can’t lose the country.’ And each man around the room said, ‘we’re going to get involved.’ Except Rex Humbard. He said, ‘I’m uncomfortable politically. I really am very uncomfortable.’ And Dr. Graham said, ‘I cannot publicly be involved. I can only pray. I’ve been burned so badly with the public relationships I’ve had. I can’t afford it, but I care so much.’” ( Martin, p.206)

Cognitively speaking, blind faith in the Bible had caused a mental concept of God to form, leading to the emergence of a strong mental network, and this mental network of ‘Christian faith’ had acted as a guide for both American religious belief and American secular life. This core mental network was now crumbling. It was as if an entire city had been built upon permafrost and this permafrost was now melting.

What should the technician do in such a situation? Study the science of electricity. What will the technician probably do in such a situation? Tell others to continue believing and following the codebook. Similarly, to some extent American evangelicals, such as Francis Schaeffer and Josh McDowell, a staff member of Campus Crusade, have responded to this existential crisis by attempting to build a rational framework for Christianity. However, the brunt of the response has been to re-emphasize the inerrancy of the Bible and to try to restore the standards of the Bible to secular society.

In 1975, Bright, together with Loren Cunningham and Francis Schaeffer, started a movement known as the seven mountains of influence in order to reclaim for Christianity the seven ‘cultural mountains’ of arts and entertainment, business, education, family, government, media, and religion.

A similar combination of biblical inerrancy and applying the Bible to secular society can be seen in the Coalition on Revival, which was started in 1984 by a follower of Francis Schaeffer together with 112 Christian leaders.

The director of this coalition says that “At this period of church history, the Body of Christ worldwide is again engaged in a deadly, collision course with the forces of evil. It is becoming increasingly clear that each nation on this planet is being presented with an ‘either-or’ choice wherein there is no neutral middle-ground, no ‘demilitarized zone’ and no ‘fence-sitting.’ In each nation, one side or the other must win and become the dominant force in society. We in the COR orbit believe that the overriding issue underlying all present battles in politics, law, economics, education, communications, ethics, religion and family life is this foundational question: ‘Which law-base will govern the nations of the world—a biblical one, or an anti-biblical one?’ Those are our only two options, and those Christian leaders and followers who hope against hope that there is some neutral ground between those two options where it is philosophically and politically safe to hide, are living in a naive, fairy-tale world of wishful thinking. Such leaders cannot offer solutions to our present problems or guidance to a Church which has generally lost its way.” And, if one examines their manifesto, one sees the two pillars of blind faith in the Bible and applying biblical standards to society.

Notice the existential crisis being portrayed here and the stark division being made between those who submit to the Christian codebook and those who do not. Again, I suggest that the problem is not with the content of the Bible, but rather with the attitude of approaching the Bible blindly as a technician’s codebook, and the us-versus-them confrontationalism that this engenders.

In contrast, I have discovered that secular research contains a lot of truth. The secular mind may avoid analyzing core issues, but most of the research that is done by secular academia is far more rigorous than the thinking of Christian evangelicals. For instance, I have recently used the theory of mental symmetry to analyze the various aspects of the TESOL field, which includes a broad range of linguistics and culture, and I co-delivered a paper (with Angelina Van Dyke) at the Canadian national TESOL conference. While preparing this paper, I realized that most of the elements of Christianity have been described and analyzed in substantial detail by recognized secular researchers. What is missing is a universal theory to tie these various elements together, and this universal theory corresponds to Christian doctrine—if one understands Christian doctrine and stops proclaiming it blindly as a codebook. In theological language, it appears that the God of Christianity really is omnipresent, omniscient, omnipotent, immutable, etc. But, in order to believe in such a God and not just proclaim these divine traits, one must construct a general understanding of personal behavior, which means transcending the pragmatism of the technician.

American liberal websites, such as dailykos, portray Campus Crusade and the Religious Right in alarmist terms. However I suggest that this response also lacks understanding. We have seen that Christian doctrine about God emerges naturally when the mind is ruled by a universal, rational Teacher understanding, and American liberal thinkers claim that their goal is to be governed by rational understanding. Similarly, I suggest in God, Theology & Cognitive Modules that Christian doctrine describes the cognitive path for reaching mental wholeness, and American liberal thinkers claim that their goal is to escape ‘narrowmindedness’. Thus, I suggest that it is appropriate to apply the Christian message to all of human existence, as the seven mountains of influence is attempting to do. What is inappropriate, I suggest, is the method that American evangelicals are using to spread the Christian message.

Before we continue, I should mention that the situation in Canada is slightly different. Unlike Americans, most Canadians have never regarded their country as a Christian nation. As a result, Canadian evangelicals did not go through the deep existential crisis that American evangelicals experienced in the 1970s. And, because Canada is considered to be a multicultural nation, no religion is permitted to impose its holy book upon the rest of society. Therefore, Christians are forced to translate biblical morality into common sense and then back up their statements with empirical findings. This makes it more difficult for Canadian Evangelicals to get ‘Christian legislation’ passed, but it also ensures that morality is stated in more universal language—consistent with the concept of a Teacher-based God. Unfortunately, the current Canadian Conservative government, which began by advocating honesty and transparency, is now suppressing scientific research and starting to apply American-style scare tactics.

We have already examined many of the ways in which blind faith in the Bible warps the message of the Bible. However, I suggest that there is a deeper, more fatal, weakness in the plan of the American evangelical. Evangelical Christianity is attempting to convert the rest of society while evangelical Christianity itself is experiencing an existential crisis of faith. This will have two results. First, just as the behavior of a drug junkie is driven purely by his need to satisfy this habit, so the person whose core mental networks are falling apart will be driven purely by his emotional need to satisfy these mental networks. Putting this into plain English, there will be a lot more preaching, condemning, and judging, than listening, understanding, or thinking. Second, when a person who is unsure attempts to convert others, then there is a strong probability that the audience will end up converting the preacher. Frank Schaeffer, the liberal ex-evangelical son of Francis Schaeffer, is a well-known example. Thus, instead of American Christianity transforming the seven mountains of culture, the tendency has been for the seven mountains of culture to impose their structure upon American Christianity. The overall result is that evangelical Christianity has become more like the world rather than the world becoming more Christian. Obviously there are exceptions to this general trend, but so far these exceptions have been insufficient to change the overall direction of American evangelicalism. [2]

Seven Mountains of Culture

We will now examine these seven mountains of culture in more detail. In each case, I suggest that evangelical Christianity suffers from a major flaw in that makes it vulnerable to being influenced.

Arts and Entertainment : As I have mentioned elsewhere, when Teacher understanding is lacking, then Mercy emotion can be used to make up for the absence of Teacher emotion. For instance, if I say ‘God is omnipotent’ with fervor in a colorful religious ceremony filled with uplifting songs, then Teacher thought will sense the Mercy emotions and interpret them from the Teacher perspective of generality. I will then feel that God is omnipotent even though there was no demonstration of generality. Saying this more simply, most religious worship uses Mercy emotions to inflate the significance of Teacher words. Because blind faith in a holy book uses Mercy status to support the words of a book, blind faith will naturally use Mercy feelings to inflate Teacher words in religious worship.

Because an image of God involves an interaction between Teacher understanding and personal identity, worship is a natural expression of belief in God. However, when an image of God is based in Teacher understanding, then the goal of worship will be to present illustrations that embody the order-within-complexity of Teacher theory. Thus, the focus will be upon allegory, analogy, illustration, and example rather than fervor and excitement.

Now consider the typical movie. The goal is to produce maximum emotional impact through visual ambience, special effects, surprise, shock, and other cinematographic techniques. Similarly, the typical rock concert is an extravaganza of sounds, lights, and laser shows. Thus, entertainment also uses Mercy emotions to inflate a verbal message.

What has been the result of American evangelical Christianity meeting Hollywood and Nashville? While the occasional TV show or movie has a ‘Christian approved’ morally uplifting message, the primary effect has been to turn the typical evangelical church service into a rock concert, and for churches to attempt to gain converts by putting on dramatic productions that are second-rate clones of Hollywood. In other words, Hollywood has converted the church far more than the church has converted Hollywood. That is because Hollywood and Nashville are better at putting on dramatic productions than evangelical Christianity. For instance, the magazine Christianity Today recently did a cover article on ‘Why the gospel needs hip-hop’. The title itself demonstrates what is doing the converting and what is being converted.

Business : Business is an expression of practical Contributor thought and the Contributor person is a natural businessman. The goal of business is to pursue a plan that will improve some bottom line, which is typically money. Business is a legitimate aspect of human activity. The problem arises when everything and everyone are made subservient to the pragmatic thinking of business. But we have seen that such a pragmatic focus describes American evangelical Christianity with its technician’s approach to Christianity.

What happens when American evangelical Christianity encounters business? Campus Crusade itself provides an illustration. The tendency is to reduce Christianity itself to a 45 word plan driven by the bottom line of gaining converts. Looking at this more generally, the typical American company has not adopted higher moral standards. Instead, recent economic scandals have shown that today’s American multinational corporations often consider themselves to be above the rule of law and try to get the law changed in order to improve their bottom line. And the typical evangelical church has become far more like a business, adopting business techniques, formulating business plans, and watering down the message of Christian personal development in order to pursue the pragmatic bottom line of attracting more people in order to have more programs and construct larger church buildings.

Thus, instead of evangelical Christianity converting business, the tendency has been for business to convert evangelical Christianity. Again, the problem is not with business or with using businesslike tactics in the church. Instead, the error lies in reducing the concept of a universal God to a business plan. In terms of our digging illustration, this is like reducing science to a mechanical shovel. The mechanical shovel illustrates scientific principles and is a practical benefit of scientific thought, but science is far more than the mere acquisition of technological gadgets.

Education : The article on education on the seven mountains website describes how the Bible used to form a core element of American education. “The New England Primer was first published between 1688 and 1690 by English printer Benjamin Harris, who had come to Boston in Massachusetts in 1686 to escape the brief Catholic ascendancy under James II. Based largely upon his earlier The Protestant Tutor, The New-England Primer was the first reading primer designed for the American Colonies. It became the most successful educational textbook published in the colonial and early days of United States history. It was used in what would be our 1st grade for 200 years. While the selections in the New England Primer varied somewhat across time, there was standard content for beginning reading instruction. Each lesson had questions about the Bible and the Ten Commandments. In fact, most of the entire book taught Bible verses at the same time it taught students how to read.”

The Bible used to play a major role in American education. But, that leads us to pose a deeper question. How can a person teach something which he himself only partially understands? How can a technician teach theory when he only knows common sense and the codebook? This is why American evangelical Christianity, with its technician’s approach to Christian faith, is inadequate in the realm of education.

In contrast, secular education does understand what it teaches, and science is held together by rational universal theories of natural law. Thus, when evangelical Christianity tries to convert education, the tendency is for education to convert Christianity—and this is occurring even in Christian universities. American education may have begun with the Bible and American universities may have started as Christian institutions, but this is no longer the case. Instead, American higher education has become secular and in most educated circles belief in God is now academically suspect.

The solution is to realize that education begins with blind faith in holy books and textbooks, but then uses critical thinking to retroactively examine these sources of truth. As Thomas Kuhn says, it is only possible to evaluate a paradigm by first accepting this paradigm. Thus, I suggest that it is appropriate for the Bible to play a major role during primary education with its focus upon rote learning—because the content of Christianity is compatible with mental wholeness. But this blind faith then needs to be retroactively turned into a rational understanding. And this second step can only be taken if Christian doctrine can be translated into a universal meta-theory that ties everything together, which is what I have been tempting to do using the theory of mental symmetry. Notice that this goes beyond Christian apologetics. The goal of apologetics is to use rational thought to support blind faith in the Bible. In contrast, my goal is to construct a mental concept of a universal God and to pursue the path of mental wholeness, and the Bible plays a central role in this quest because it appears to contain supernaturally accurate information.

Thus, I suggest that atheists such as Richard Dawkins are mistaken in claiming that teaching religion to children is like child abuse . Blind faith is needed to jumpstart the mind and we have seen that Christian statements about God will naturally emerge as a byproduct of universal Teacher understanding—and universal Teacher understanding is the stated goal of scientific research and secular education. A Christianity that is based in blind faith in the Bible is capable of performing the first step of rote learning, but it is not capable of performing the second step of retroactive critical analysis. It is understandable for rational thinkers to rebel against blind faith based Christianity. As one Christian apologist puts it, the typical atheist believes that, ‘There is no God and I hate Him!’ However, approaching God from a Teacher perspective will naturally drive a person to go beyond blind faith to universal understanding.

Family : Evangelical Christian organizations such as Focus on the Family place a great emphasis upon the family. And almost every evangelical church has a youth program that tries to make the Christian message relevant for a younger audience. But it is not working. In the United States, there is a 43% drop in Christian church attendance between the teen and early adult years, and in Canada only one in three young adults who attended church as a child still do, and half of those who stopped attending church no longer identify themselves as Christians. This has not always been the case, because youth only started leaving the church in large numbers in the 1960s.

When accepted mental networks of society start to break down, then younger people will always have weaker mental networks than older people, because older people acquired their core mental networks at a time when the decaying mental networks were stronger. For instance, as was mentioned earlier, postwar North Americans assumed that people would be willing to die for their beliefs, which signifies the presence of very strong mental networks, whereas by the time of the Vietnam War, mental networks of patriotism to a national cause were no longer strong enough to motivate people. Likewise, mental networks that used to hold marriages together and inhibit sex outside of marriage also lost their emotional force. A similar process has occurred in many other areas. In each case, the cultural mental networks that were acquired as a child have become continually weaker. Christianity that is based in blind faith in the Bible is incapable of solving such a problem, because the method of blind faith uses potent Mercy mental networks to mesmerize Perceiver thought, and when these Mercy mental networks start decaying, then blind faith will lose its certainty.

Of course, secular society has also been experiencing this same decay. Even among non-Christians, Biblical knowledge used to be much higher. In the words of Barna research, “When it comes to questions of biblical literacy, the broader culture seems to be losing its collective understanding of Christian teachings. In other words, Christianity is no longer ‘autopilot’ for the nation’s youngest citizens.”

However, the world has something to offer the youth which the evangelical church does not have, which is technology and the consumer society. Thus, since the 1950s each generation has been rebelling from the conservatism of the previous generation and finding its excitement in the consumer society with its continual flow of new and improved gadgets, guided by the mantras of discovering yourself and having fun. The personal discovery comes from replacing fading mental networks that demand self-sacrifice with new mental networks that are centered upon personal identity, while the fun comes from the Exhorter excitement of driving the latest car, using the latest phone, watching the latest movie, or adopting the latest fad. Fun may be a shallow answer, but as long as technology can produce a continual flow of new toys, novelty can substitute for emotional depth and provide sufficient Exhorter excitement to attract people’s attention.

In order to hold onto its youth, the evangelical church has taken two main approaches. The first is to present the Christian message using the fun and personal discovery of secular society. Thus, almost every Christian church has a youth group that addresses current topics using fun activities and exciting music, while the ‘old fogies’ meet in the main sanctuary to sing slow hymns and study the Bible. The second approach is to use personal authority to buttress the mental networks of Christian beliefs. However, doing this means adopting a conservative, insulated lifestyle based upon submission to authority. In order to stop mental networks from forming in impressionable minds, children must not be exposed to the fun, excitement, and hedonism of the external world. But, the experiences of the world are almost impossible to keep out, therefore walls of prohibition must be erected to prevent undesirable mental networks from being triggered, and strong parental pressure must be used to override any undesirable mental networks that are triggered.

Unfortunately, when secular society is rebelling en masse from blind faith in Christian content, then any attempt to reach the youth by embracing popular culture will end up watering down or denying the message of Christianity. Thus, the approach of most churches to their youth has been a balancing act between conservatism and permissiveness, but the overall result is a youth that is largely biblically illiterate, tends to act like the world, and is still leaving the church.

The alternate method is to dig in one’s heels and adopt an approach of full-blown conservatism and submission to authority. This may work in the short term but the long-term effects can be quite damaging, causing children to become embittered and leave. For instance, Bill Gothard was a popular American evangelical speaker who at the height of his popularity in the 1970s was filling stadiums with crowds of 10,000 or more for his one-week seminars on ‘basic youth conflicts’. A large part of his message focuses upon living a conservative, formula-driven lifestyle, avoiding worldly temptation, and submitting to authority, and this material has grown over the years to become a comprehensive homeschooling and training system. Some of this material is valid. [3] For instance, his advanced seminar popularized the system of cognitive styles that is used by mental symmetry, which he refers to as ‘motivational gifts’.[4] However, as this website describes, Gothard’s approach of blocking off the world and submitting to authority is not emotionally healthy.

Barna has conducted a research project that attempted to discover why youth are leaving the evangelical church and their points echo what is being stated here. According to Barna, youth feel that churches are overprotective and that churches are trying to block off popular culture. Youth struggle with the ‘exclusive nature’ of Christianity and feel that churches are unfriendly to those who doubt. One sees here that the younger generation is being attracted by secular mental networks and is doubting the mental networks that were assumed by the older generation. Many teens feel that their experience of Christianity is shallow, indicating the watering down of the Christian message that occurs in the typical youth group. Churches are viewed as being anti-science, indicating the struggle between blind faith and rational thought. Finally, “One of the significant tensions for many young believers is how to live up to the church’s expectations of chastity and sexual purity in this culture, especially as the age of first marriage is now commonly delayed to the late twenties. Research indicates that most young Christians are as sexually active as their non-Christian peers, even though they are more conservative in their attitudes about sexuality.” I suggest that the struggle between religious self-denial and self-discovery will be especially strong in the area of sex, because self-denial blocks off sexual desire while self-discovery embraces it.

As we have seen, the underlying problem is blind faith in the Bible. Youth are rejecting Christianity because it is presented as blind faith, while Christians are protecting blind faith by rejecting youthful culture. Fixing this problem is not trivial because the Christian message has never been adequately understood. It began existence as a codebook ‘dropped from the sky’, its message has only been partially analyzed, and most Christians insist that its core elements cannot be analyzed. Thus, it appears that using mental symmetry to analyze Christian doctrine is both new and necessary.

Media : The claim is often made in evangelical Christian circles that the media has a secular, anti-Christian bias and that the media uses its position of authority to impose its view of truth upon society. When society in general is rebelling from blind faith in the Bible, then I suggest that these are valid complaints. However, all revealed truth uses a position of authority to impose its view of truth upon society and suppress competing views. Thus, we are really dealing with a struggle for dominance, and the church is complaining because its role as the proclaimer of truth has been taken over by the media.

However, mass media differs from the church in two main ways. First, it is less troubled than the church is by antiquated notions of truth and morality. Thus, when the church uses mass media it will find itself encountering the same problems involved in reaching the youth—but on a wider scale. On the one hand, if the church broadcasts a conservative message, then very few will listen. On the other hand, if the church panders to its audience, then it will no longer remain true to its message.

Second, mass media by its very nature lends universality to a message. I mentioned earlier that worship uses Mercy emotions to give Teacher words the feeling of generality. Mass media gives actual Teacher generality to words by broadcasting these words to many listeners. If one million viewers hear someone say that ‘God is omnipresent’, then these words will feel true, not because omnipresence has been demonstrated, but rather because the words themselves are present within one million households. Saying this another way, there is a tendency for mass media to make its own news, because the very fact that something is being broadcast widely makes it newsworthy. Therefore, when evangelical Christianity tries to convert media, there will be a natural tendency for Christianity to become corrupted by the very structure of mass media. The preacher who began by proclaiming the word of God on television will end up feeling that his proclamations are the word of God merely because these words are being broadcast to countless households. The typical televangelist provides a vivid example.

Notice that the problem is not using media to deliver the Christian message. This has been done ever since the invention of the printing press. Instead, I suggest that the problem occurs when mass media is combined with fading blind faith in Christianity, because then the tendency will be for the message to change from ‘God says in the Bible that...therefore you need to obey the Bible’ to ‘God told me to tell you that... therefore you need to support my ministry’. In contrast, if Perceiver facts are used to construct a universal Teacher understanding, then the focus will be upon helping the audience to form a mental concept of God as well as informing the audience about what is happening elsewhere as people are following the path of personal growth.

Religion : the main focus of the religion page on the seven mountains website is audience share: Which are the most influential churches in America? Who are the most influential Christians? What do Americans think of Christianity? This, I suggest, describes the attitude of someone who is on the outside looking in. But how can an omnipresent God ever be on the outside?

As was mentioned earlier, a similar situation exists with the theory of mental symmetry. It is not currently widely known, thus from an audience share perspective it has very little to do with universality and it does not make sense to associate mental symmetry with a concept of God. However, mental symmetry is able to explain many core aspects of human existence. Therefore, from a theoretical perspective it lies at the center bringing integration to many diverse areas. This leads us to pose again the question that was first mentioned when looking at sovereignty. What accurately portrays the Christian God, a message that everyone proclaims and acknowledges or an understanding that explains everything? Similarly, what actually conveys the Christian message, preaching Christian doctrine while declaring that it cannot be understood, or explaining Christian doctrine? Finally, what demonstrates the Christian message? The personal status of those who believe the message or the personal benefits of applying the message?

When a religious message is based in blind faith in a holy book, then the natural tendency will be to associate God with a message that everyone proclaims and acknowledges. First, blind faith uses Mercy status to impose truth upon Perceiver thought. If this Mercy status fades, then Perceiver thought will lose its certainty in absolute truth. Second, because it is a book that is holy, God will be associated with proclaiming a message. Therefore, believers will be concerned about how they are viewed by outsiders, they will feel that it is their duty to manipulate conversations in order to bring up the Christian message, and they will feel vindicated when famous people acknowledge the Christian message.

When God is viewed from a Teacher perspective, then a different attitude emerges. Instead of merely preaching the Christian message at others, one will also learn from others in order to expand understanding and construct a more adequate mental concept of God. And the primary goal will not be to talk about Christianity in order to have more people believe the message, but rather to apply the message in order to experience the personal benefits of mental wholeness. This does not mean that one stops talking, but the emotional focus will be upon understanding and applying the message, this emotional focus will attract the attention of others, and speech will then emerge spontaneously as a byproduct of this primary focus.

One can see this attitude in the following biblical passage. “The one who desires life, to love and see good days, must keep his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking deceit. He must turn away from evil and do good; he must seek peace and pursue it. For the eyes of the Lord are toward the righteous, and His ears attend to their prayer, but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil. Who is there to harm you if you prove zealous for what is good? But even if you should suffer for the sake of righteousness, you are blessed. And do not fear their intimidation, and do not be troubled, but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence; and keep a good conscience so that in the thing in which you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ will be put to shame” (I Peter 3). Notice that the goal is to ‘see good days’, the focus is upon acting righteously in a way that is consistent with the character of God, and instead of multiplying words one is careful what one says. Words have the secondary purpose of explaining personal motivation and the message is applied despite the attitude of outsiders. And instead of seeking Mercy status, the goal is to pursue and preserve mental wholeness.

Using the analogy of science and technology, the average individual is not interested in learning scientific theory. But, applying science leads to technology, and people really like technology. Therefore, if people are not willing to study science, then the best approach is not to proclaim science but rather to apply science and have the resulting technology attract people to the message of science.

Consistent with this, the main page of the seven mountains website says that “Influence is a result of our love, humility and obedience to God, not a goal to be achieved. It is the fruit of our obedience.” Quotes such as these illustrate that evangelical Christianity does apply the Christian message to some extent and does not just proclaim the words. However, this personal application usually occurs within a general context of verbal proclamation. Using religious language, the typical evangelical Christian does not want his personal life to be a ‘stumbling block’ that prevents others from accepting the Christian message. Thus the, the primary focus is still upon preaching the message, and personal application is seen as something that either facilitates or hinders this verbal message.

The juxtaposition between proclaiming truth and building understanding can be seen in the Coalition on Revival document on psychology and counseling. The writers recognize that absolute truth can be observed in many situations. And, they also recognize that revelation is required to jumpstart rational thought. “We affirm that all truth is God’s truth; that all truth is thoroughly consistently with Biblical revelation in its presuppositions, categories, methodology, conclusions, and application, all of which are related as a unified system; that all error derives from Satan; and that attempts to establish truth at the level of methodology, application, and conclusions without a direct correlation with underlying Biblical presuppositions are doomed to error.”

They also understand that there is a natural tendency to rationalize based upon childish identity. “We affirm that counseling is unavoidably dependent on the theory of man (anthropology) believed by the psychologist or counselor, and that the light of Biblical revelation is incompatible with the darkness of human knowledge without revelation. We deny, therefore, that psychology and counseling should be eclectic.”

However, this rational thought occurs within a context of blind faith in the Bible. “We affirm that the integration (as it denotes the merging and agreement of equals) of secular psychology with Biblical revelation violates the doctrines of the inerrancy, infallibility, and sufficiency of the Bible. We deny that attempting such an integration is consistent with the authority of God’s revelation.” In contrast, we have seen repeatedly in this essay that the only way to remain consistent with the content of ‘God’s revelation’ is by integrating secular psychology with biblical revelation. However, we saw when examining the traits of God that if biblical inerrancy becomes the defining dogma, then cognitive mechanisms ensure that the message of the Bible will become twisted.

And with blind faith in the Bible comes an attitude of religious self-denial. “We affirm that Jesus used self-love as a standard of intensity by which we are to love others, not as a command to love ourselves, and that the Bible teaches that a preoccupation with love for others is the means to self-fulfillment. We deny that self-love is a Biblical goal other than in those duties that promote sanctification, such as Bible study, prayer, church attendance, and activities that promote physical health.”

Compare this with the words of Jesus. “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it. For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world, and forfeit his soul? For what will a man give in exchange for his soul? For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will also be ashamed of him when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels” (Mark 8). These words are often used to support an attitude of religious self-denial, however the bottom line in this passage is personal salvation—which is first internal and then becomes externalized through some sort of apocalypse or revelation. Jesus is saying that internal transformation is more valuable than physical wealth, and he is emphasizing that the path of personal salvation requires holding on to Teacher understanding and letting go of childish Mercy identity. Notice that there is no inherent virtue in self-denial. Instead, what saves a person is self-denial for the right reason.

Government : One of the articles about Christian government on the seven mountains website mentions theocracy . “The definition of corruption is ‘the impairment of integrity, virtue, or morality.’ This is what presently rules in politics and government. All governments suffer from corruption, a built-in sabotage that guarantees their eventual implosion. The only government that will never have any corruption is the theocratic Kingdom of God. Here on earth, there will always be something less than a perfect government. We can (and should), however, insist on high ideals, principles, and individual character people who can help manifest a form of government that is a blessing to a nation. We cannot instill a theocracy in a human government because theocracy is transcendent to humanity. The Kingdom of God can be superimposed on people through influence, but only God Himself can be ‘theo.’ Therefore, any attempt to establish a physical theocracy is ill-conceived unless it is reinterpreted as something other than what it actually means. (-cracy government, theo of God). A government can potentially function as a virtual theocracy, but only as the individuals in power allow themselves to be puppets (i.e. servants) of the theocracy (God’s rule and reign). The goal is to bring the influence of heaven to bear on whatever political machinery that exists.”

If we examine this quote from a cognitive perspective, then almost everything that is being said makes sense. We have seen the Christian concept of God emerges naturally when a universal Teacher theory applies to personal identity, and we have also seen that a universal theory will turn into a Teacher mental network, which will use emotional pressure to impose its structure upon the rest of the mind. This is, by definition, a theocracy. The alternative is to be mentally ruled by Mercy mental networks and that leads to tribalism and power struggles, which is not desirable. It is also true that government leads to corruption, because those who make the law will tend to think that they are above the law. And a Teacher mental network has a different source than a Mercy mental network, therefore ‘theocracy is transcendent to humanity’.

Blind faith believes that absolute truth comes from some other emotional source which is more important than personal identity, whereas the politician himself is a source of truth. This combination is not cognitively stable because the more rules I make, the less I will believe that rules are made by someone else. Thus, I suggest that the attitude of blind faith itself makes the Christian evangelical vulnerable to being corrupted by political power. Stating this more generally, the reason the politician feels that he is above the law is because, mentally speaking, he is. Blind faith bases its Perceiver truth in the emotional status of some Mercy source. This Perceiver truth is then applied to the normal citizen who lacks emotional status. When a person becomes a lawmaker then he will naturally regard himself as belonging to the group of individuals with emotional status who are the source of Perceiver truth.

Blind faith in the Bible is generally associated with a theocracy, but I suggest that blind faith is actually incapable of producing a true theocracy, because proclaiming the word of God is quite different than submitting to the rule of God. In order to have a theocracy, or rule of God, there must be the concept of a universal being and that being must rule. Biblical terms such as omniscience and omnipresence may talk about a universal God but in order to comprehend these terms adequately one must go beyond quoting the Bible to understanding the Bible. And obeying God means submitting to the Teacher mental network of a general theory and not to the Mercy mental network of some source of truth.

For instance, the Guardian has recently been printing a series of leaks from Edward Snowden that outline the extent to which the United States, Britain—and probably most other major countries—are spying on the Internet and other forms of electronic communication. As a child, I remember being told that ‘God watches everything that you do or say’, and I suggest that this statement can help a person view God from a Teacher perspective. However, compare ‘God is watching everything you do and say ’ with ‘the government is watching everything you do and say’. The statement regarding God is backed up by a Mercy mental network of emotional status, while the statement about government is supported by a worldwide communications network that provides much of our communication, entertainment, and business enforced by the might of the most powerful army that has ever existed. For the average individual, ‘government is watching’ will have far more impact than ‘God is watching’. And because being a lawmaker naturally corrupts blind faith, the evangelical Christian who enters politics will naturally find his belief in an all-seeing God to whom he submits being replaced by a belief in all-seeing government of which he is a part.

And, all-seeing government is no longer conjecture. According to one Guardian article, “One internal document quotes the head of the NSA, Lieutenant General Keith Alexander, on a visit to Menwith Hill in June 2008, asking: ‘Why can’t we collect all the signals all the time? Sounds like a good summer project for Menwith.’”

The article continues. “Britain’s technical capacity to tap into the cables that carry the world’s communications – referred to in the documents as special source exploitation – has made GCHQ an intelligence superpower. By 2010, two years after the project was first trialled, it was able to boast it had the ‘biggest internet access’ of any member of the Five Eyes electronic eavesdropping alliance, comprising the US, UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. UK officials could also claim GCHQ ‘produces larger amounts of metadata than the NSA’. (Metadata describes basic information on who has been contacting whom, without detailing the content.) By May last year 300 analysts from GCHQ, and 250 from the NSA, had been assigned to sift through the flood of data. The Americans were given guidelines for its use, but were told in legal briefings by GCHQ lawyers: ‘We have a light oversight regime compared with the US’.” Notice incidentally the cognitive trait of divine faithfulness, because the goal is to conduct more surveillance for the purpose of conducting more surveillance.

Summarizing, the Bible-believing Christian is not capable of producing a true theocracy because he has a limited understanding of what it means to submit to the rule of God. But he may attempt to impose Biblical rules upon the general population and claim that this is a theocracy, and he is vulnerable to being seduced by the power of the state with its imitation of a theocracy. I am not suggesting that all Christian politicians have ‘sold their soul’. However, I am suggesting that most of them view government as their primary authority and their Christian beliefs occasionally intrude with the voice of conscience to prevent them from obeying the more egregious demands of government. In contrast, a true theocracy would regard a mental concept of God as the primary authority and government as the secondary authority.

I should point out that reintroducing the rule of the Bible is quite different than living in a culture that assumes the rule of the Bible. When the Bible was assumed to be true, as was the case in most Western society, then the Mercy mental networks that imposed Biblical truth upon peoples’ minds were acquired in childhood together with other cultural mental networks. Therefore, those who preached the Bible were able to base their message in mental networks that already existed in the minds of the audience. Even if listeners did not obey the Bible, they still had emotional respect for it, and were familiar with its message. When these mental networks fade, as they have been doing since the 1960s, then the only way to re-instill blind faith in the Bible is by imposing new mental networks upon people, which means experiencing societal trauma or being submitted to the rule of dictatorship.

One can see why the American liberal views Christian theocracy as something to be avoided at all costs. For instance, Huffington Post just published an article entitled ‘Breaking News: 34% of Your Fellow Citizens Want a Theocracy.’ The article states, “For over a decade, polls have consistently reported that 30-40% of our fellow citizens self-describe themselves as ‘born again’ or ‘evangelical’ and believe that Biblical prophecies accurately predict a detailed sequence of end-times events. Their leaders control both the vast Christian broadcasting movement and great swaths of the Republican Party at the precinct and state level. The Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life estimates that groups representing these citizens spend about $390 million each year to lobby the Federal government to impose their religion-based agenda on the rest of us. This demographic also has the highest voting record around -- 85% of their eligible voters turn out for elections. They are not disappearing and, despite the recent successes of the marriage equality movement, they continue to win victories in the culture war they have fought for 30 years. At the heart of their political agenda is a deep antipathy to the idea of the separation of church and state.” Notice the key points: Evangelicals believe in the Bible, they control much of the media and they are trying ‘to impose their religion-based agenda on the rest of us’. And they do not believe in ‘the separation of church and state’.

Thus, the liberal does not want truth to be imposed upon him by them, but like the evangelical Christian he too believes that truth is imposed by emotional sources. Therefore, he talks about the separation of church and state, which to him means keeping religious belief private so that the religious believer cannot impose his rules upon the rest of society.

When a concept of God is based in Teacher understanding, then I suggest that there will be a meaningful separation between church and state. The church will tell people how to think, and it will back up its words with Teacher understanding, a mental concept of God, and the internal voice of conscience.[5] The state will tell people what to do, and it will back up its instructions with legislation, the rule of law, and physical force. The church should not use physical force to tell its followers what to do, while the state should not use propaganda to tell its citizens what to think. A state church combines these two, because the state enforces the pronouncements of the church and the church backs up the edicts of the state. One of the prime purposes of the American separation between church and state was to avoid the state churches that existed in Europe at the time. Similarly, universal government Internet are surveillance makes it possible for government to judge citizens based upon their thought patterns, again equating state with church.

I suggest that these principles are illustrated by the relationship between science and the state. Science conducts research to come up with understanding and it shares this understanding with others. Science does not impose its findings upon the population, but government legislation is heavily influenced by scientific research. Government should not tell scientists what to think and scientists should not tell government what to do. Thus, when a government attempts to suppress scientific research or subject scientific research to its own criteria, then I suggest that this violates the separation between ‘church and state’.

A similar relationship exists between media and the state. Media influences the thinking of people by reporting the facts, whereas government affects the actions of people by passing legislation. Media has a responsibility to report the facts, and media should be independent of government and not become an arm of the government.

One prominent battle between evangelical Christians and secular liberals has been over posting or legislating the Ten Commandments. Very little of this debate focuses upon evaluating the content of the Ten Commandments—again indicating that truth is being proclaimed rather than understood. When examined from a cognitive viewpoint, I suggest that these Commandments make eminent sense. Looking at them very briefly, ‘There is one God’ states that it is possible to find a universal Teacher theory that applies to personal identity. ‘Worship and serve only God’ means to submit to the resulting Teacher mental network. ‘God is above all other gods’ indicates that the general Teacher theory behind a concept of God is more universal than other general Teacher theories—which relates to domain and not status. ‘Do not make any idols’ indicates that one should not use Mercy emotions and Mercy mental networks to fool Teacher thought into feelings of generality. ‘Honor your father and your mother’ indicates that core Mercy mental networks should not be suppressed or belittled. ‘Keep the Sabbath’ says that people should refrain from using only concrete thought, but should periodically use abstract thought to construct a concept of God. ‘Do not kill’ indicates that mental networks that represent people should not be suppressed or destroyed. ‘Do not commit adultery’ prevents emotionally identifying with mental networks that represent people that have no long-term connection with personal identity, whereas ‘do not steal’ extends this prohibition to mental networks that represent objects. ‘Do not bear false witness’ says that Mercy mental networks should not be used to twist Teacher words or Perceiver facts. Finally, The last commandment of ‘do not covet’ enforces goal-oriented behavior; get your own things and do not lust after what your neighbor has.

In summary, I suggest that the evangelical church is incorrect in its method of attempting to impose the Ten Commandments on the rest of society. Instead, it should be educating the rest of society about the validity and importance of the Ten Commandments. However, I also suggest that the secular liberal rejection of the Ten Commandments is hypocritical, because the liberal claims to be guided by rational understanding, but is not using rational understanding to evaluate the Ten Commandments. Instead he is focusing upon the messenger, which he accuses the evangelical Christian of doing, rather than focusing upon the message.

We have looked at the seven mountains of culture and have seen that in each case the evangelical church has a fundamental flaw which makes it vulnerable to being converted by secular culture rather than bring the Christian message to secular culture.

Mountain of Culture

Evangelical Weakness

Result

Arts and Entertainment

Use Mercy emotions to inflate verbal message

Use contemporary music to worship God

Business

Follow the pragmatism of the technician

Build churches and win converts

Education

Teach without understanding what is being taught

Secular education pervades Christian learning

Family

Cling blindly to a fading message

Lose the youth

Media

Proclaim universality rather than construct it

The medium becomes the message

Religion

Proclaim message rather than apply it

Lose audience share to science and technology

Government

Believe emotional status determines truth

Become corrupted by emotional status

We began our examination of American evangelical Christianity by mentioning three fundamental assumptions made by American evangelicals: The foundation for belief is blind faith in the Bible; the United States is a Christian country; Christianity is guided by the revealed truth of the Bible and the United States is ruled by the revealed truth of the Constitution. This combination made it possible for Americans to apply Christianity using the mindset of the technician.

When the blind faith in the Bible that used to guide American society began crumbling in the 1970s, many American evangelical leaders responded by re-emphasizing biblical inerrancy and attempting to reach secular culture with the Christian message, which we have just examined in our look at the seven mountains of culture.

The re-emphasis on biblical inerrancy is brought out by the following quote from the Coalition on Revival. “We see the International Council on Biblical Inerrancy (ICBI) Statement on Inerrancy as being a landmark church document, which was created in 1978 by the then largest, broadest, group of evangelical protestant scholars that ever came together to create a common, theological document in the 20th century. It is probably the first systematically comprehensive, broadly based, scholarly, creed-like statement on the inspiration and authority of Scripture in the history of the church...Up until the 20th century, all branches of Christianity worldwide accepted the basic inerrancy view of inspiration except for the secular philosophers and the liberal theologians, so a full-scale debate was unnecessary until then. But, at the end of the liberal-fundamentalist doctrinal battles of the 20s and 30s, large portions of the previously sound major denominations were infected with a liberal view of the Bible...In 1976, Dr. Harold Lindsell came out with his bombshell book, The Battle for the Bible, which exposed the massive infiltration of liberalism and neo-orthodoxy into nearly every denomination and seminary that considered itself evangelical...At that time, few leaders beside Dr. Lindsell, Francis Schaeffer, and Bill Gothard were attempting to make the inerrancy of the Bible an issue, though many were still faithfully teaching inerrancy...With the united front of the ICBI behind them, adherents of inerrancy came out of the ‘closet’ and more often than not saw that they were in the majority. Thus, the tide of accommodation to neo-orthodox views of scripture, which had seemed unstoppable in the 1960s and 1970s, was turned back at many evangelical colleges and seminaries.”

Note how Western society originally assumed that the Bible was the word of God, but in the 1970s evangelical Christians had to explicitly proclaim inerrancy. Unfortunately, what was ultimately proclaimed was not an understanding of biblical content but rather blind faith in the Bible. As we have seen, this led to the religious conservative, who attempts to hold on to biblical content and block off worldly temptation, and the religious right, which tries to influence secular culture. Both of these approaches have largely failed. The youth are leaving the church despite the best efforts of Christian conservatism to hold them, and the religious right is being influenced by the very secular culture that it is trying to convert.

God and Country

We have just seen that the American connection between God and country made it possible for Americans to apply biblical principles to normal life using the mindset of the technician. We also saw earlier that belief in a holy book leads to missionary activity and that an attitude of blind faith in the Bible is compatible with war. This combination of missionary zeal and military expansion has driven American society for much of its history through a doctrine known as manifest destiny.

The historian William E. Weeks says that manifest destiny contains three primary themes: The virtue of the American people and their institutions; the mission to spread these institutions, thereby redeeming and remaking the world in the image of the United States; the destiny under God to do this work.

Compare Weeks’ three points with the statement of Bright that was quoted earlier. “Fifty-two of the 55 framers of the Constitution were avowed Biblical Christians. They were inspired by God to dedicate this new republic for His honor and glory...The efforts of our founding fathers produced miraculous results...The U.S. Constitution is unlike any other political instrument because the liberties it guarantees are greater than the liberties granted to the citizens of any other nation. And all this resulted in God’s unchanging principles, which provided the timeless truths for our governing documents” (p.287).

If the United States possesses a Bible and a constitution that has been inspired by a higher source, then it makes sense that the United States will regard itself as a higher source that reveals the truth of God to the rest of the world. And because God and country are being combined, the methods of God and country will also be combined. Thus, missionary activity with its proclamation of truth will be combined with military expansionism. On the one hand, the United States sends out more missionaries than any other country, while on the other hand the United States has a long history of military involvement and has the world’s most powerful armed forces. Of course, the United States is not the only country to combine preaching with shooting. The British Empire in its heyday also sent out many Christian missionaries, and over the course of its history has invaded 90% of the world’s countries . And if one wants to look at other religions, one finds these same factors in Islam as well.

Government uses force to control the population. In crude terms, force is a lesser form of warfare because both use Server actions to impose painful Mercy experiences upon others. Force functions externally because one person physically threatens another with force. Revealed truth, in contrast, uses the internal voice of conscience to guide behavior. The power of conscience comes from mental networks. For instance, ‘do not steal’ is one of the whole Ten Commandments. If I believe that the Bible was written by some very important person, then the Bible will be associated in my mind with a potent mental network, and the rules of the Bible, such as the Ten Commandments, will be enforced by this mental network.

These two combine in the rule of law. Like blind faith, law is revealed to the average person by political leaders who have great emotional status. And like a holy book, once law has been passed then it is written down in a permanent record. The content of law is then internally enforced by the emotional status of government. In other words, government law turns into the voice of conscience in the mind of the average citizen. Government force then becomes the backup mechanism which imposes law upon those who fail to listen to this voice of conscience. For instance, drivers obey rules of traffic even when policemen are not present to hand out tickets. That is because these rules are internally backed up by mental networks. When a driver does violate a rule of traffic, then he will often be reminded by other drivers in order to trigger the mental network that was violated. “You went through the intersection without yielding. Don’t you know that the person on the right has precedence?”

The rule of law has two key components. First, the law must not change. This stability makes it possible for Perceiver thought to function, because Perceiver thought looks for facts which do not change. Second, the law must be public, because obviously a law which is not known cannot be obeyed. These two factors are present when law is published in written form. Words are solid and do not change, and words that are published can be read by everyone.

Mental networks must be triggered in order to function. For instance, drivers automatically slow down when they see that a policeman is near. Mercy mental networks that represent people will only be triggered when those people are either present or come to mind. For instance, if mother is not around to observe what is happening, then her instructions may be ignored, especially if other mental networks with their own standards are being activated. That is why teens tend to rebel as a group; they are using mental networks that represent friends to overrule the mental networks that represent parents. Christianity teaches that God is omnipresent, omniscient, and omnipotent. If a person really believes these words rather than merely proclaiming them, then the mental network that represents God will be triggered all of the time in all circumstances and will guide thought and private activity as well as public behavior. Thus, I suggest that what a Christian does in private during the week is a better indicator of his belief in God than what he does in church on Sunday.

Pragmatism and Secrecy

We have seen that America is a pragmatic country, driven by practical Contributor thought. We have also seen that abstract Contributor thought can use understanding to transform practical Contributor thought, as illustrated by the difference between using shovels to dig ditches and using machines. World War II was the first armed conflict in which science and technology played a defining role, and the war was ended by the dropping of the atomic bomb on Japan. The atomic bomb was as different from a normal bomb as a mechanical digger is from a shovel. Near the end of the war, bombing raids on Japanese cities involved up to 1000 B-29 bombers at a time. A single B-29 with an atomic bomb had ten times this destructive power. This weapon of mass destruction was developed by the Manhattan Project, a top secret program that cost $2 billion (the equivalent of $26 billion today) and ultimately involved 170,000 people.

Superior weapons make it easier to win a war. When science and technology are used to transform weapons, then knowledge becomes power, because the side with the most knowledge can develop the best weapons. The advantage that superior technology gives was probably most evident during the first Gulf War of 1991 when 20,000 Iraqis were killed in 100 hours at the cost of 247 allied deaths. (Notice how technology is being used to kill more efficiently and that a ‘successful’ war kills the most of ‘them’ and the least of ‘us’ in the shortest time possible.)

When practical Contributor thought discovers the ‘magic’ of intellectual Contributor thought, then knowledge becomes a highly prized commodity that is hoarded and protected. The practical Contributor person has a tendency to be very sparse with information, because whatever he knows that others do not gives him control over others. In a similar vein, a 1945 Life article estimated that only a few dozen men in the entire United States knew the full purpose of the Manhattan Project while 100,000 workers carried out tedious duties without having any idea of the overall purpose of their activity. In the words of one manager, “No one knew what was being made in Oak Ridge, not even me, and a lot of the people thought they were wasting their time here...I almost went crazy myself trying to figure out what was going on.”

This restriction of information has become formalized by the policy known as compartmentalization or need to know. In simple terms, each individual is only told the part of the story that he himself ‘needs to know’, and only a few individuals are told the whole story. Not only is information restricted, but it is also falsified through disinformation. Need to know prevents people from gaining a Teacher understanding, while disinformation causes a false Teacher understanding to form.

Compartmentalization may be good for winning wars but it plays havoc with both constructing and obeying a mental concept of God. If a concept of God is based in a general Teacher theory, then learning about God means searching for Perceiver facts and tying these facts together in an integrated manner. In order to compare facts from one situation with facts from another situation, it must be possible to learn facts about many situations. Compartmentalization uses government force to prevent this from happening.

Obeying a concept of God has emotional benefits. When Server actions are consistent with a general Teacher theory (in religious terms, being righteous), then Teacher emotion gives a person the motivation to continue performing these actions. ‘Need to know’ removes this motivation. As this history of World War II nuclear secrecy at Oak Ridge relates, “Not seeing or understanding the results of their often tedious duties—or even typical side effects of factory work such as smoke from smokestacks—and the war in Europe ending without the use of their work, caused serious morale problems among workers and caused many rumors to spread.” When a Teacher mental network is not present to motivate behavior, then Mercy mental networks must take up the slack. “Due to the secrecy surrounding the nature of the Project, [the worker] never saw the results of this labor. There was nothing in which he could take pride. Thus, one of the common incentives for work was not present. No sense of satisfaction could be realized in a job well done. Naturally, this created quite a problem of morale not commonly experienced. In seeking to cope with this condition, it was recognized that it was imperative that an extensive program of leisure-time activities be planned that would reach all possible interests.” This ‘extensive leisure program’ included ten softball leagues with 81 teams.

For instance, one laundry worker’s entire job was checking for radiation. This is an important task, but at the time she had no idea of what she was doing. “It just didn’t make any sense at all. I worked in the laundry at the Monsanto Chemical Company, and counted uniforms. I’ll tell you exactly what I did. The uniforms were first washed, then ironed, all new buttons sewed on and passed to me. I’d hold the uniform up to a special instrument and if I heard a clicking noise — I’d throw it back in to be done all over again. That’s all I did — all day long.” Because individual workers were not told the meaning of their jobs, it was impossible for anyone determine whether their actions were righteous or not.

This same lack of connection between specific task and general understanding was evident in the German weapon of mass destruction—the Nazi extermination camps. At its peak, Auschwitz, the largest camp, was able to kill 12,000 people a day—about 1/10 of the toll of one atomic bomb. During the Nuremberg trials, the primary defense used by Germans was ‘need to know’. “Many of the defendants claimed to know nothing of the existence of concentration camps or midnight killings. Typical was Joachim von Ribbentrop. Asked on cross-examination, ‘Are you saying that you did not know that concentration camps were being carried out on an enormous scale?’, Ribbentrop replied, ‘I knew nothing about that.’... Other defendants used their testimony to emphasize that they were merely following orders—although the IMT disallowed defense of superior orders, the issue was raised anyway in the hope that it might affect sentencing.”

The standard for the Nuremberg trials was universal law. Robert Jackson was the American supreme justice appointed to head the trials. “Every nation had its own criminal statutes and its own views as to how the trials should proceed. Jackson devoting [sic] considerable time to explaining why the criminal statutes relating to wars of aggression and crimes against humanity that he proposed drafting would not be ex post facto laws. Jackson told negotiators from the other nations, ‘What we propose is to punish acts which have been regarded as criminal since the time of Cain and have been so written in every civilized code.’” Notice that the standard used was not the laws of any particular country or laws specifically made up for this trial, but rather ‘acts which have been regarded as criminal since the time of Cain and have been so written in every civilized code’. If a concept of God forms when a general understanding applies to personal identity, then we are looking here at a standard of law based in a concept of God.

Now let us fast forward to a story that is currently breaking in the news, which is Edward Snowden’s leaks regarding the NSA and government surveillance. It is still not known exactly how far this surveillance extends, but it is already clear that many Western governments have been secretly spying upon their citizens to an extent that is unprecedented. When Edward Snowden was asked why he chose to be a whistleblower, he responded that “The NSA has built an infrastructure that allows it to intercept almost everything. With this capability, the vast majority of human communications are automatically ingested without targeting. If I wanted to see your emails or your wife’s phone, all I have to do is use intercepts. I can get your emails, passwords, phone records, credit cards. I don’t want to live in a society that does these sort of things…I do not want to live in a world where everything I do and say is recorded. That is not something I am willing to support or live under.”

Notice the universal language in Snowden’s statement. As an IT specialist for classified computers, Snowden was able to gain a general understanding of the overall nature of government surveillance. In addition, Snowden was motivated by a general understanding of the society in which he wanted to live. If a mental concept of God emerges when a general theory applies to personal identity, then we are dealing here with a mental concept of God—whether Snowden used religious language or not. In contrast, many American government lawmakers have accused Snowden of treason for disobeying orders and violating secrecy. Thus, we have the Nuremberg trials in reverse. The government is condemning Snowden for disobeying orders, while Snowden is appealing to universal law. In the same way that the Allies did not want to live in a world that practices Holocaust, so Snowden—and many others—do not want to live in a world of universal government surveillance. And in the same way that the Nazis focused upon obeying orders and ignored the magnitude of their crime, so many American government officials are focusing upon obeying orders and ignoring the magnitude of their crime. Obviously, universal surveillance is not the same as mass murder, but history shows that one enables the other. In World War II, IBM computer technology provided the record-keeping that made it possible for Nazis to identify and exterminate Jews.

Blind faith in the Bible is not bothered by following orders without a general understanding because blind faith in the Bible follows orders from God without a general understanding: ‘The Bible says it, I believe it, and that settles it.’ And blind faith has no problem with compartmentalization because blind faith has a compartmentalized view of truth; blind faith organizes and evaluates truth according to its Mercy source—it looks at the name on the envelope without opening the envelope itself. For instance, if it comes from Fox News, then it must be correct; if it comes from Huffington Post, then it must be wrong. Obviously, this is a caricature, and few evangelical Christians practice pure blind faith. However, if the ultimate foundation is blind faith, then I suggest that the ultimate bottom line will be following orders and compartmentalizing truth.

In contrast, the Bible associates God with openness and instructs individuals to pursue openness despite the threat of force. “There is nothing covered up that will not be revealed, and hidden that will not be known. Accordingly, whatever you have said in the dark will be heard in the light, and what you have whispered in the inner rooms will be proclaimed upon the housetops. I say to you, My friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that have no more that they can do. But I will warn you whom to fear: fear the One who, after He has killed, has authority to cast into hell; yes, I tell you, fear Him! Are not five sparrows sold for two cents? Yet not one of them is forgotten before God. Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not fear; you are more valuable than many sparrows.” (Luke 12).

Every Christian knows John 3:16, but it is interesting to read the succeeding verses. “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. This is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil. For everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does not come to the Light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. But he who practices the truth comes to the Light, so that his deeds may be manifested as having been wrought in God” (John 3). Notice how Mercy categories of good and evil are being defined in terms of the Teacher contrast between light and darkness. Light requires openness and understanding; compartmentalization and ‘need to know’ keeps everyone ‘in the dark’. Notice also that light is the means by which God judges the world. In crude terms, when the light comes on then the cockroaches scurry and hide.

In fact, Jesus says that truth, openness, and general understanding are actually characteristics of the Trinitarian God. “I have many more things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come. He will glorify Me, for He will take of Mine and will disclose it to you. All things that the Father has are Mine; therefore I said that He takes of Mine and will disclose it to you.” (John 16)

And Jesus also says that murder and lying are fundamental characteristics of Satan. In one exchange with religious leaders, he says that “You are of your father the devil, and you want to do the desires of your father. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth because there is no truth in him. Whenever he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies. But because I speak the truth, you do not believe Me. Which one of you convicts Me of sin? If I speak truth, why do you not believe Me? He who is of God hears the words of God; for this reason you do not hear them, because you are not of God.” (John 8)

The Failure of Conscience

Returning to American history, what has happened between Nuremberg and now? I suggest that conscience has failed. Even at Nuremberg, Allied conscience was functioning imperfectly. The Nazis committed genocide, but the Allies alsocommitted atrocities. The ground rule during the Nuremberg trials was that “The indictments against the defendants would prohibit defenses based on superior orders, as well as tu quoque (the ‘so-did-you’ defense). Delegates were determined not to let the defendants and their German lawyers turn the trial into one that would expose questionable war conduct by Allied forces.”

We have already seen that most people no longer believe in the Bible, which means that the biblical standard of conscience is no longer accepted. This is the loss of conscience that is bemoaned by Christian evangelicals, and I suggest that it is a valid complaint. But it is not the whole story.

We have also seen that an attitude of blind faith makes the politician vulnerable to corruption. Reviewing briefly, blind faith believes that truth has its source in emotional status. When a politician acquires emotional status and becomes a source of truth, then he will feel that truth applies to normal citizens and not to him.

Throughout history what has primarily limited the activity of humans is not conscience but rather physical capability. If I cannot do something, then obviously I will not do it. When something becomes doable, then chances are that someone will eventually do it, no matter how heinous the activity. For instance, when computer technology made it possible to identify and isolate an entire race, then the Nazis eventually used this ability to exterminate the Jews. That is why the ability to conduct global surveillance is scary. Even if governments are currently not using this capability to conduct wholesale spying, they now can—for the first time in history. And when governments conduct wholesale spying, it then becomes physically possible to set up a worldwide police state.

I suggest that growing technology naturally increases political corruption. Suppose that something that was previously impossible becomes doable due to new technology. First, this will directly increase government power by making it possible for government to do new things. Second, this will indirectly increase government power by requiring the introduction of new legislation to govern this new capability. After all, that is the general pattern. Whenever technology comes up with a new development, then government steps in to regulate this development. But remember that the more that politicians pass laws the more they will think that they are above the law and not subject to the law. Therefore, new technology will naturally increase government power, increase government regulation, and increase government corruption.

What will then regulate human behavior? Bible-based conscience has faded away, technology has made the impossible possible, and government is being pulled in the direction of increasing corruption and lawlessness. What remains is conscience based in a general Teacher understanding, or in religious terms, conscience based in a valid concept of God. But in order to build a general Teacher understanding, it must be possible to compare one situation with another, which secrecy makes impossible. That is why government secrecy is such a problem. It prevents the development of the only force that can limit the power and corruption of government. When senior government officials themselves are kept in the dark about what government is doing through plausible deniability, then it becomes almost impossible to limit government corruption.

Unfortunately, American government secrecy continues to grow and the United States now spends twice as much on secrecy as it did a decade ago. 1.4 million Americans currently hold top-secret security clearance—and over the past ten years only about 20 of those have leaked top-secret information. In addition, secrecy is spreading to areas of government that have nothing to do with national security, such as the Department of Agriculture. Even trade negotiations, which are about increasing international openness, are nowheld in secret, and one of the main discussion points isrestrictions on the spread of information. And Canada is one of themost secretive partners in these secretive negotiations. [6]

Secrecy is now being applied to the rule of law itself. In order to have the rule of law, laws must be written down and publicly posted. However, the only thing that currently restricts government surveillance issecret law, a contradiction in terms. Similarly, national security letters are now used to keep government investigations secret. If an individual who receives such a letter tells anyone—including family members—that he is under government investigation, then he will be sent to prison. Between 2003 and 2006, almost 200,000 national security letters were issued.

We have seen that secrecy makes it difficult to construct or follow a mental concept of God. Universal surveillance fills this mental vacuum with an imitation concept of God. Instead of God seeing and judging everything that I do, government sees and judges everything that I do. What is left to control a government that does not respect the Bible, thinks it is above the law, and creates a mental concept of God in its citizens? As far as I can tell, nothing.

Moving Beyond Secrecy

The argument is often made that secrecy is necessary for national security. However, I suggest that history indicates that a better way is possible. For instance, medieval European commerce was under the control of guilds. Artisans such as carpenters, glass makers, and carvers each protected the secrets of their craft from outsiders, and a person could only become a member of a guild by going through a lengthy apprenticeship. Eventually, though, the guild system was replaced by the free market. One of the most outspoken critics of guilds was Adam Smith, who wrote The Wealth of Nations, the book that laid the foundation for modern capitalism.

Similarly, between the 16th and 18th centuries, mercantilism guided relations between Western nations. The primary characteristic of mercantilism was compartmentalization. Each European country tried to establish a network of colonies that would only be allowed to trade with the mother country. Foreign ships were forbidden to carry domestic cargo, imports were minimized, and domestic manufacturing was encouraged. The main assumption of mercantilism was that international trade is zero sum, which means that the only way that one country can win is for another country to lose. Quoting from Wikipedia, “Mercantilism was economic warfare and was well suited to an era of military warfare. Since the level of world trade was viewed as fixed, it followed that the only way to increase a nation’s trade was to take it from another. A number of wars, most notably the Anglo-Dutch Wars and the Franco-Dutch Wars, can be linked directly to mercantilist theories. Most wars had other causes but they reinforced mercantilism by clearly defining the enemy, and justified damage to the enemy’s economy.” Mercantilism eventually gave way to free trade because it was realized that international trade can actually be positive sum—both sides can benefit.

Finally, science itself is based upon the open exchange of information and the primary goal of science is to increase the general body of knowledge. According to this paper, the growth of intellectual property could lead to the demise of science. “To pursue that policy path toward the vision of perfected ‘Intellectual Capitalism’ could perversely lead the global enterprise of scientific research (and all that depends upon its sustained vigor) backwards, towards the truly darker past from which western European societies rather fortuitously managed to escape in the seventeenth century” (p.2).

Now let us step back and examine the big picture. The typical Third World citizen envies the wealth of America and wants to live The American Dream. Similarly, I know from personal experience that the goal of most international students is to study in American universities. In other words, most people in the world find the open aspects of American society attractive. In contrast, those who hate the United States are usually reacting in anger to American military intervention, a response that is known as blowback. For instance, the current Muslim government of Iran is vitriolically anti-American. However, the CIA overthrew the democratically elected Iranian government in 1953 and this was followed by 26 years of US backed dictatorship under the Shah. Given this background, it was only natural that the Muslim government that overthrew the Shah in 1978 was violently anti-American.

Thus, I suggest that openness and understanding actually enhance the national security of America, while secrecy and military intervention usually end up harming national security. In simple terms, openness creates friends while military intervention creates enemies. Does this mean that war should never be fought and that there should be no armed forces? Ultimately, yes. However, remember that the mercy of God is a step by step process that leads gradually to higher ways of functioning. Therefore, it may not be possible to eliminate war at this current stage of civilization, but it is possible to make war the final alternative rather than the first alternative. When war becomes the primary strategy—and when Christian leaders such as Bright write letters encouraging military intervention, then this tells us that the relationship between God and country has become inverted with country ruling over God. War is not normal and should never be considered normal. As the TV series M*A*S*H sought to convey, war kills, maims, and drives people insane. When that happens, evangelical Christians can step in, tell traumatized and wounded soldiers about God, and give counseling to overcome posttraumatic stress. But why not try to eliminate the problem altogether by serving God and conscience rather than country and war?

It is interesting that geeks—studiers of science and users of technology—have become the main voice for openness and against secrecy. These protesters are often anti-God because they equate a belief in God with blind faith in the Bible. However, if an image of God emerges when a general understanding applies to personal identity, then it is the geeks who understand the nature of God because they are applying the general understanding of science to their personal identity. Unfortunately, because science is objective the understanding of geeks lacks a moral component. I am trying to fill this gap by translating the message of Christianity into the language of the geek and by separating the content of the Bible from blind faith in the Bible.

This leads again to the posing of a fundamental question. Who knows more about the Christian God, the evangelical Christian who proclaims the attributes of God but is continually driven by blind faith to deny these attributes, or the geek who verbally attacks Christian belief but comprehends the attributes of God?

One final note on openness. I am not suggesting that everything should be made public. Instead, I suggest that openness should be guided by the principles that were discussed earlier when looking at the sovereignty of God. Just as the sovereignty of God applies to general concepts while leaving room for personal freedom in the details, so I suggest that general principles should be made public while personal details should remain private. Thus, it is appropriate for government to gather statistical data about citizens but it is not appropriate for government to conduct wholesale surveillance upon its population.

I also suggests that ‘need to know’ should apply to specifics and not generalities. If an individual is personally involved in a situation, then it is appropriate for that person to know the details of that situation. Similarly, if an individual is violating a specific law, then further investigation is warranted. But neither governments nor individuals—nor clergy—need to know the details about everything and everyone.

In addition, openness is a process. It is not possible to dump a pile of Perceiver facts upon a person. Instead, facts must be delivered in a measured stream, based upon a person’s ability to digest information. A primary student is not taught calculus, because he is unable to comprehend it. But he is taught elementary math, he will eventually be able to learn calculus, and it is possible to explain to him the essential nature of calculus based upon what he does know. “You know how to calculate the area of a square. How would you calculate the area if the sides of the square were not straight lines? Calculus allows you to do that.” In other words, a person may not be able to handle all of the light, but he should be given as much light as he can handle. One sees this process of progressive revelation illustrated in the Old Testament. And, one also sees that individuals who wanted to know more and were capable of handling more were given more.

Finally, I want to emphasize that it is good to want to live in a nice country and that there is nothing wrong with loving one’s country, region, or hometown. However, I am suggesting that love of home needs to be intelligent, which means gaining an understanding of personal identity, or in other words constructing a mental concept of God. Just as digging ditches is far more effective if one takes the indirect path of building machines rather than the direct route of using shovels, so I suggest that love of home is far more effective if it takes the indirect path of first building an intelligent understanding rather than heading in some obvious but poorly thought-out direction.

9/11

We have seen that the typical evangelical American Christian views both God and country with the attitude of blind faith in revealed truth. As we have discussed, blind faith in the Bible started fading in the 1970s. When core mental networks fall apart, then behavior becomes driven by a need to maintain these mental networks at any cost. As we saw, evangelical Christian leaders responded to this crisis of belief with a re-emphasis upon biblical inerrancy. However, we have also seen that this response was largely ineffectual and that Christian American culture has become more and more like secular American culture. Saying this another way, before the 1970s, American society was based upon the two primary ‘legs’ of God and country. When belief in the Bible faded, then American society was held up by the single leg of country. The American Dream and The American Way were no longer viewed as expressions of belief in the Bible. Instead, all that existed was The Consumer Society, a secularized version of The American Way.

The 9/11 attack on the twin towers shattered the second ‘leg’ of country. When the twin towers collapsed, what crumbled with them was the core mental networks that gave stability to secular American society. These secular mental networks had been held together by mental networks of blind faith in the Bible, but since the Bible was no longer universally respected, these secular networks were being given stability by nothing. The result was an existential attack, not so much upon specific Americans, but rather upon The American Way. And most evangelical Christians were equally affected because they too had become converted to The American Way in their attempt to convert secular society.

9/11 caused all of America to experience the existential crisis that evangelical Christian Americans experienced in the 1970s. As I have mentioned, when core mental networks are threatened, then preserving the integrity of these mental networks will become the main priority and will overrule all other concerns. Therefore, since 9/11, fighting terrorism and preserving national security have become the main criteria for American government policy, and anyone who questions what is being done in the name of national security is accused of being unpatriotic. One can tell that one is dealing with a mental existential crisis because it does not make a logical sense for the nation with the largest army in history to be scared of a few terrorists operating out of some caves.

A lot has been written about America’s current obsession with national security. Rather than repeat what can be found all over the Internet, I would like to look at some cognitive factors. First, I suggest that the American response cannot succeed because it is using the wrong cognitive module. The obsessive person who continually checks the door to see if it is locked is using Server thought to try to solve a Perceiver crisis. He is suffering from the Perceiver problem of not knowing that the doors locked, but he is responding to his Perceiver uncertainty by doing the Server action of checking the door. Similarly, post 9/11 America is experiencing a crisis in Perceiver thought, because the facts and truth which used to guide society are no longer certain. However, America is primarily responding to this Perceiver crisis with Server actions such as ‘sending in the Army’. But that is how a technician typically responds: He assumes Perceiver facts and performs Server actions. Even though the United States currently spends as much on its military as the rest of the world combined, America still feels insecure. That is because Server actions can never solve a Perceiver problem.

Second, what America is experiencing is more like a panic attack than a phobia. A phobia has a specific cause, such as a fear of spiders or a fear of heights. A panic attack, in contrast, is not triggered by any specific incident but rather reflects an overall inability to handle reality. Saying this another way, a phobia is driven by the mental network of some threatening item or experience, whereas a panic attack occurs when mental networks fall apart without being explicitly threatened. 9/11 may have been triggered by a specific incident but it has resulted in a general sense of uneasiness with no specific target. Everyday life has not changed for the average American and terrorists are not running through the streets of America. But, Americans feel as if everything has changed and they feel as if they are under attack by some faceless, nameless enemy. That is the sign of a panic attack.

Third, Americans want security theater. When Server actions are being used to counter a vague existential threat, then people will think that something must be done, whether this something has any real affect or not. The classic example of security theater is airport security. Could a terrorist use a two-inch Swiss knife and a small bottle of water to hijack an airplane? Of course not. But by confiscating articles such as these, people are given the feeling that something is being done to protect national security. When a mental network falls apart, then protecting the integrity of that mental network takes precedence over normal discomfort. Therefore, travelers may complain about the intrusions of airport security, but at a deeper level the average American finds security theater comforting.

Fourth, because general mental networks of American society are fragmenting, the focus is upon supporting general mental networks no matter how this affects more specific mental networks. This was made clear during the 2008 financial crisis. Trillions of dollars were used to support major banks which were deemed to be too big to fail, while over a million Americans lost their homes in 2008. Similarly, the top 1% of earners enjoyed 121% of the economic recovery from 2009 to 2011. Again, I suggest that there is a difference between normal discomfort and preserving core mental networks. Americans may be complaining about the wealth of the 1%, but most Americans are not doing anything about this.

Fifth, government surveillance provides a false concept of God. Remember that the technician applies rules but lacks a general understanding of these rules. In religious language, he needs a concept of God. As we have seen, if the government sees everything that everyone does, then this will create a mental concept of God—which will fill in this mental hole. Thus, the typical American will actually feel comforted that government is aware of everything, because he will think that government surveillance provides a general understanding of personal identity. But it is impossible for a government to be aware of everything, because a government is composed of finite humans who must pick and choose what they will focus upon in this massive stream of data. For instance, the NSA can currently store 1 billion cell phone conversations a day. But the 40,000 employees of the NSA can only examine a tiny portion of these conversations. Therefore, what the government actually spies upon will be determined by corruptible, finite humans with specific agendas, triggered by flawed computer algorithms that focus upon specific keywords, and controlled by lawmakers who think that they are above the law.

Returning to the Original

Turning from secular to religious, it appears that evangelical Christians are still trying to continue using the same pragmatic combination of blind faith in revealed truth and obeying instructions, but many of them are no longer looking to the Bible for truth or obeying instructions from the Bible.

When a source of absolute truth loses emotional status, then the natural tendency is to look for the original source that lies behind the source that was being followed. Thus, many evangelical Christians are converting from evangelicalism with its blind faith in the Bible to Catholicism or Orthodox Christianity with its faith in the Bible plus tradition. Protestant Christianity broke off from Catholicism during the Reformation. By returning to the Catholic or Orthodox Church, ex-evangelicals feel that they are experiencing the genuine, original version of Christianity rather than the ‘new and improved’ perversion of Protestantism.

Normally it makes sense to seek clarity in an earlier source. For instance, if a passage in an English Bible is uncertain, then one can always examine the text in the original Greek or Hebrew. Unfortunately, this method will not work with Christianity because the Bible appears to be a codebook that was ‘dropped from the sky’. Therefore, returning to earlier versions of the church will not end up with a more genuine Christianity but rather a more confused Christianity. This conclusion is strongly backed up by cognitive analysis. As far as I can tell, the Bible itself is highly consistent with the path of reaching mental maturity. However, we have seen in this essay how blind faith in the Bible warps the message of the Bible, even if this message is being accurately proclaimed. Going further, both Orthodox Christianity and Catholic Christianity appear to be based upon the even deeper flaw of equating physical symbols with Platonic forms which causes them to warp the biblical message in a different direction.[7] In other words, while evangelical Christianity is to some extent examining the content of the codebook, Orthodox Christianity—and to a lesser extent Catholic Christianity—both appear to be mesmerized by the defining experience of having a codebook drop from heaven. [8]

This return to earlier sources is also being expressed as a return to earlier versions of American life, in essence attempting to re-create a bygone era when American secular society really was guided by blind faith in the Bible. For instance, the typical American Christian bookstore contains a lot of Americana, objects that bring to mind pre-1970 secular American society. What is primarily being restored is not Christianity but rather an America that believed in the Bible. In simple terms, these Christians are trying to go back in time.

Christian American pragmatism is also expressing itself as a return to liturgy and sacrament, which I suggest is an aspect of a larger postmodern trend. As I have mentioned elsewhere, gaining Perceiver confidence requires a world to observe, whereas building Server confidence only requires a body that can act. Therefore, when mental content falls apart then what remains is the way I act, or the way that we act. What then becomes emphasized is procedure and methodology. This provides an additional motivation for evangelicals to return to Catholic or Orthodox Christianity, for not only are these earlier versions of Christianity, but they also place a strong emphasis upon the Server actions of liturgy and sacrament. This focus upon liturgy can also be seen in the emergent church, which also is searching for a more hands-on version of Christianity. (I am currently editing an essay on American Catholicism and I hope to look at Orthodox Christianity after that.)

The military also combines blind faith with obedience. In the military, those who have higher rank reveal truth to those with lower rank and give them orders to follow. Some evangelical Christians are attempting to find truth in military structure. For instance, Bill Gothard has recently set up an emergency training program which is distinctly paramilitary. And, if one wishes to enter strange paramilitary territory, then google ‘Joel’s Army’, the movement apparently started by Todd Bentley—the heavily tattooed, bombastic, ‘Christian’ leader from my hometown.

Conclusion

From a logical perspective, the conclusion appears to be clear. Blind faith in the Bible and God-and-country have reached the end of their useful lifetime. American evangelical Christianity needs to analyze the message that it is preaching and it needs to stop thinking that America is a special country chosen by God. I suggest that mental symmetry provides a possible solution because it analyzes Christian doctrine and it uses cognitive science to bridge religious concepts with secular thought. Saying this another way, the technician jumps directly from partial understanding to application. The theory of mental symmetry fills in this gap.

But people are driven primarily by mental networks and not by logic, and blind faith and God-and-country form potent mental networks within the minds of the average American. I remember having a conversation with one American evangelical when suddenly he responded, “If what you are telling me is true, then that means that my country is doing terrible things and is deceiving its own people. I cannot live with that conclusion.” And that was the end of the conversation.

The United States has the world’s largest economy, it has the largest army, it speaks the international language, it provides the international currency, it has the best universities, it developed the Internet, it put a man on the moon, and it has been a center of freedom and democracy. When one grows up in such a successful country, it is natural for these successes to form mental networks and to build one’s mind upon these mental networks. However, when American identity is based upon the premise that ‘America is #1’ and America stops being the best country on earth, then the natural tendency will be to shut one’s eyes, cover one’s ears, and continue shouting ‘America is #1’. Blind faith and God-and-country then become mental defense mechanisms that are used to deflect reality and protect core mental networks of national superiority.

The Bible says that God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble. I suggest that these are not empty words.



[1] I am not saying that the consumer revolution transformed personal identity. In contrast, the consumer society tends to pander to childish personal identity. However, the consumer revolution did result in a number of labor-saving devices which made everyday life much easier. What was transformed was the physical experiences of daily life and not personal identity itself. And this physical transformation makes it possible to imagine what would happen if a similar process were applied to the core of personal identity.

[2] Evangelical Christians are having an effect upon secular thought in the area of philosophy.

[3] Bill Gothard talks about ‘living under the umbrella of someone’s authority’, indicating that he understands the concept of Teacher domain. His error, I suggest, lies in thinking that this means submitting to the authority of people, rather than submitting to the authority of a general Teacher understanding. This type of error is consistent with an attitude of blind faith, which uses Mercy status to enforce its message. This does not mean that one does not submit to people. Instead, it means that submission to people is secondary to submission to understanding. In religious language, one must obey God rather than men.

[4] Because of this, we interacted briefly with him in the 1980s but this interaction was broken off when he decided that the research we were doing into historical biographies was too secular. I personally have never interacted with Bill Gothard.

[5] In simple terms, conscience is a mental rule of cause-and-effect backed up by some mental network.

[6] The Canadian Minister of Trade responsible for these negotiations is Ed Fast, a Mennonite whom I have met personally. Fast is a nice person with personal integrity who appears to be focusing on the benefits of free trade , but I do not think that he realizes the inherent contradiction between secrecy and a Christian concept of God.

[7] Because the warping goes in a different direction, in some areas the Orthodox or Catholic version of Christianity is less warped than the evangelical version.

[8] I am currently editing an essay on American Catholicism.