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Christianity Johnson on 16 Sep 2008 01:00 pm

The amazing compartmentalization of the Christian brain

Imagine that you are a Christian. In order to believe in an imaginary God, you need to perform remarkable feats of mental gymnastics. For example, you have to believe in a “God” for whom no evidence exists. You have to believe in “Prayer” even though every valid scientific study shows that prayer is a superstition. You have to support the “Bible” even though, in any common sense analysis, the Bible is repulsive. Et Cetera.

How do Christians manage to function with so much dissonance flowing through the brain? One way is through compartmentalization. Religious beliefs live in protected compartments in order to keep them from interacting with rational parts of the brain.

Here is a perfect example of how these compartments work. It is called the “God’s Plan” compartment. God’s Plan is well articulated by Christian mega-pastor Rick Warren in his bestselling book “The Purpose-Driven Life”. According to this page, Rick Warren says:

[God] planned the days of your life in advance, choosing the exact time of your birth and death. The Bible says, “You saw me before I was born and scheduled each day of my life before I began to breathe. Every day was recorded in your book!” [Psalm 139:16]

Rick also says:

God never does anything accidentally, and he never makes mistakes. He has a reason for everything he creates. Every plant and every animal was planned by God, and every person was designed with a purpose in mind.

In other words, God plans everything. If God plans the days of your life in advance, choosing the exact time of your birth and death, and if God designed you with a purpose in mind, this means that free will pretty much goes out the window. Just think about it. If God plans the exact time of your birth, that means that God had to arrange for you mother and father to meet, marry (or not) and conceive you on a precise time table. And if God designed you, that means he pre-determined your DNA, meaning he picked your mother and father ahead of time. So, who will you marry? God has planned it. How many kids will you have? God chooses. When will they be born? According to God’s preordained and perfect timetable. These are all necessary requirements of God’s Plan.

The reason why God’s Plan has to live in a protected compartment is because it is absurd. If Rick Warren were right, we are all God’s puppets. It would be impossible to think about God’s Plan and Free Will simultaneously without the Christians’ brain seizing up. So the “God’s Plan compartment” keeps this concept locked away most of the time.

Here’s a perfect example of something that would conflict with the “God’s Plan compartment”:

Christians learn the art of dating

The article says:

Now hundreds of Christians are attending courses designed to make them more successful in turning a first date into a long-term relationship.

Peter Spalton, known as the dating doctor, said that churchgoers tended to be more reserved and could benefit from tips on how to appear more attractive.

Lessons include how to greet someone, how to hold good eye contact and how to judge whether the other person wants to be kissed at the end of the evening.

Strangely, the article never mentions prayer for solving any of these problems. Christians need a course to learn how to date. Also strangely, the article never mentions God’s Plan.

Here’s the obvious question that any rational person would ask. If, according to Rick Warren (who really ought to know since he is a super-pastor), God has predetermined who we will marry, then why do we need to take a course to learn how to date? Why not sit back and let God’s Plan do its thing?

The answer is simple. “God’s Plan” lives in its little compartment. That compartment is isolated from the rest of the brain until it is needed. When signing up for the dating course, the “God’s Plan compartment” is de-activated. But then, once two Christians meet each other, the couple will coo on about how God MUST have planned for them to meet because they are so perfect for each other.

If you ask a Christian, “Why would you need to take a dating course if God has predetermined who you will marry?”, the Christian will say… Hmmm, who knows what a Christian would say? They probably activate another compartment. But let’s find out. If you are a Christian, what is your answer to this question?

If you are a Christian and you are tired of having all these strange, disjointed compartments in your brain, this web site can help you eliminate them:

- Whywontgodhealamputees.com


38 Responses to “The amazing compartmentalization of the Christian brain”

  1. on 16 Sep 2008 at 1:17 pm 1.SteveK said …

    “Why would you need to take a dating course if God has predetermined who you will marry?”

    Because I don’t necessarily agree with the Pastor is teaching here – if in fact that is what he is teaching. Differences of opinion among the members of the church – never seen that before. *gasp* The Pastor does say we have free will but I’m not exactly sure how that gets reconciled with the quote you provided.

  2. on 16 Sep 2008 at 1:37 pm 2.PSR said …

    “I’m not exactly sure how that gets reconciled with the quote you provided.”

    It can’t be reconciled. Either God has a plan and we follow it, or we have free will, which makes a plan impossible. That’s why you need compartments in your brain. A rational person understands that God and God’s plan are imaginary. Free will stands alone. This is reality.

  3. on 16 Sep 2008 at 1:45 pm 3.SteveK said …

    “Either God has a plan and we follow it, or we have free will, which makes a plan impossible.”

    You are forcing a false dilemma. Like I said, I don’t know how the Pastor reconciles his views, but God can plan that you must do X, Y and Z, but give you the freedom to choose how you live the other 90% (or whatever) of your life.

  4. on 16 Sep 2008 at 2:04 pm 4.PSR said …

    You are not thinking clearly. If God plans anything in your life, you do not have free will. Anything God plans would have a precursor, which would have a precursor, ad infinitum.

    As soon as you start thinking clearly, you will abandon religion. You will have no other choice.

  5. on 16 Sep 2008 at 2:30 pm 5.SteveK said …

    “You are not thinking clearly.”

    What part of *must* don’t you understand when I said….God can plan that you must do X, Y and Z, but give you the freedom to choose how you live the other 90% (or whatever) of your life.

    Geez!

  6. on 16 Sep 2008 at 6:14 pm 6.makarios said …

    Knowing in advance what free will choices you will make does nothing to change the end result of God’s plan.

    You’ll find that thinking before posting makes for much better results.

  7. on 16 Sep 2008 at 6:56 pm 7.SteveK said …

    I agree, makarios. Don’t know what illogical response we’ll get from the others though.

  8. on 16 Sep 2008 at 7:52 pm 8.OC said …

    SteveK,

    Myriad problems are evident in your logic. Choosing two of them for examination, first, we must presume that Pastor Warren is an expert in Biblical interpretation, while you possess no such credentials. In addition, Pastor Warren cites a Biblical verse to bolster his contention, while your explanation is lacking in this regard. Your explanation is, as they say, “pulled from thin air,” with no apparent support in the form of Biblical precedent. My experience is that this tendency pervades your thinking. Thus your religion is completely contrived to suit your whims.

    In which verse does the Bible support your beliefs concerning God’s Plan?

  9. on 16 Sep 2008 at 8:09 pm 9.SteveK said …

    Like I said, I know the Pastor also believes in free will so this quote must not encompass the full spectrum of his “expert in Biblical interpretation”, as you call it. Generally speaking, the Pastor and I are in agreement, but not so much when it comes to certain specifics. Such is the faith it seems.

  10. on 16 Sep 2008 at 8:29 pm 10.PSR said …

    SteveK,

    A Catholic priest rapes an 8 year old boy. Under your 90% rule, was it the priest’s free will or God’s plan that caused his actions?

  11. on 16 Sep 2008 at 9:25 pm 11.SteveK said …

    How do you make one of those eye-roll thingy’s?

    S)

    Doesn’t look like one but that’s what it means. Oh, and another thing, it’s my 90% (or whatever) rule.

  12. on 16 Sep 2008 at 10:03 pm 12.PSR said …

    Your eye rolling demonstrates the absurdity of your position. You are not thinking clearly. Either God plans things or he does not. If God plays any role in planning, then any possible human act could be done as part of your God’s plan, meaning that no person can be blamed for any of his actions.

    Answer the question. Is the priest fulfilling God’s plan with the rape or acting with free will?

  13. on 17 Sep 2008 at 1:26 pm 13.SteveK said …

    “Your eye rolling demonstrates the absurdity of your position.”

    I thought it demonstrates my ability to roll my virtual eyes.

    “Either God plans things or he does not.”

    That’s pretty obvious. Knowing when he does and when he doesn’t is the hard part.

    “If God plays any role in planning, then any possible human act could be done as part of your God’s plan, meaning that no person can be blamed for any of his actions.”

    This is muddled so let me clear up my position – again…to the extent that God *causes* a particular outcome at a particular moment in time, free will is eliminated at that moment *only*. To the extent that God doesn’t do this, free will is not eliminated.

    “Is the priest fulfilling God’s plan with the rape or acting with free will?”

    You’re setting up a hypothetical situation that isn’t real and then asking me if a *real* being caused the *hypothetical* situation to occur? That’s nonsense. If you reference a real situation I will likely say I don’t know because I’m not the person being referenced, but you can ask anyway.

  14. on 18 Sep 2008 at 9:24 am 14.Anointed said …

    You people are being silly. The fact that God has plans for our lives doesn’t necessarily mean he also plans abortions and mass murders. God has plans for our lives but we also have a choice in it. God in his word says “I set before you life and death. Choose life so that you may live!!!!”

    God can say that his original plan for you is to get married happily, have kids and live a long and wonderful life. You on the other hand can move out of his plan by having sex before marriage (even when God in his word says you should wait for marriage before having sex, in other words you are ignoring God’s plan here), contracting Aids and dying at a very early age. So how is that God’s plan when you ignored what he expects of you in the first place?

    God’s original plan for Adam and Eve was for them to live peacefully in the Garden of Eden and to communicate with him face to face everyday. This plan changed because Adam and Eve disobeyed and because of disobedience, sickness and death came into the world automatically. So God originally had good plans for this couple but they chose to disobey and it turned out ugly.

    Most abortions in the world today are caused by young people having sex outside the rings of marriage. But God’s original plan was to see these young people finish their college, get a job and get married.Again, they made a choice that they will have sex before marriage and ignore instructions in the Bible of waiting until marriage.

    People do not realize that the reason why the world is full of complications is because of sin, which wasn’t God’s original plan in the first place.The same with Adolf Hitler, do you think if he was a God-fearing man he would have turned out to become a murderer? The part in the Bible that says that he has plans for us only applies when we walk in his will and choose to obey him.

    It’s the same thing as a father making plans for his kid to go to college. But if that kid (out of his own will) turns out to be a drunken thief who drops out of school, will the father’s plans materialize?

  15. on 18 Sep 2008 at 11:46 am 15.PSR said …

    Anointed and SteveK,

    “God can say that his original plan for you is to get married happily, have kids and live a long and wonderful life. You on the other hand can move out of his plan by having sex before marriage (even when God in his word says you should wait for marriage before having sex, in other words you are ignoring God’s plan here), contracting Aids and dying at a very early age. So how is that God’s plan when you ignored what he expects of you in the first place?”

    How do you reconcile this with Rick Warren and the Bible:

    “[God] planned the days of your life in advance, choosing the exact time of your birth and death. The Bible says, “You saw me before I was born and scheduled each day of my life before I began to breathe. Every day was recorded in your book!” [Psalm 139:16]”

    God can’t plan the exact time of birth and death unless he controls who you mate with and when. That eliminates free will.

    SteveK, you have suggested that Warren believes in God’s plan AND free will. That would be a total contradiction, and proof of the compartmentalization described in the post.

  16. on 18 Sep 2008 at 3:24 pm 16.SteveK said …

    “SteveK, you have suggested that Warren believes in God’s plan AND free will. That would be a total contradiction, and proof of the compartmentalization described in the post. ”

    For the zillionth time, this is a false dilemma that even *you* can figure out. From my comment in #13…

    “to the extent that God *causes* a particular outcome at a particular moment in time, free will is eliminated at that moment *only*. To the extent that God doesn’t do this, free will is not eliminated.”

  17. on 19 Sep 2008 at 8:04 am 17.Anointed said …

    PSR,

    I beg to differ.My argument is simple and straightforward.

    If God does not give us free will then today you’de be sitting somewhere married to the worst spouse that ‘God had given you with no say in the matter’.

    Sometimes it is difficult to tell the difference between a God-driven will and one’s own choice because God’s will is usually in line with our own desires because he knows our hearts. The end result between these two events is what makes the difference because if it’s not God’s will, in other words if it was your own wrong choice it does not have good consequences in the end.

    You do have a ‘choice’ in whom you want to spend the rest of your life with because you do not feel any pressure from anyone telling you to do otherwise. I call that free will, what do you call it?

  18. on 19 Sep 2008 at 9:05 pm 18.lil tom said …

    anointed,

    >You do have a ‘choice’ in whom you want to spend the rest of your life with because you do not feel any pressure from anyone telling you to do otherwise. I call that free will, what do you call it?

    well, I for one certainly wouldn’t jump to the conclusion that just because it *seems* we have a ‘choice’, that we indeed have free will. that would be very unscientific indeed. that would be about the astronomical equivalent to looking up at the sky and saying “well, the sun is obviously moving around us, so it must mean that the earth is stationary. (and of therefore that it is GOD)”.

    with even a small amount of time spent looking into current research on the matter, one can find much reason to doubt that free will exists at all as anything other than an extension of our equally illusory sense of “self”.

  19. on 19 Sep 2008 at 10:42 pm 19.SteveK said …

    “with even a small amount of time spent looking into current research on the matter, one can find much reason to doubt that free will exists at all as anything other than an extension of our equally illusory sense of “self”.”

    If you manage to shake the persistent belief that you chose to write the words above, does that demonstrate free will? If not, what would do it?

  20. on 20 Sep 2008 at 4:49 am 20.lil tom said …

    steveK,

    >”If you manage to shake the persistent belief that you chose to write the words above, does that demonstrate free will? If not, what would do it? ”

    I’m admittedly a free will agnostic. I can’t say with certainty that free will doesn’t exist, but I do think it would be *extremely* foolish to assume it does. I think we should be well aware by now (as human beings) that things are rarely what they seem to be. intuitive thinking often leads to incorrect answers.

    it certainly *seems* as though I choose to think thoughts and that those thoughts directly lead to actions.
    but it also seems as though the water in the ocean is blue. it seems as though the earth is stationary. it seems that the sun is much larger than the stars in the sky, and so on and so forth.
    thankfully there are some people who were willing to think about these things in an unintuitive way to get to the real answers to these questions. as for free will, subjectively it seems like I am making choices, yet many experiments have shown that the brain acts before we actually make a choice.

    http://readingeagle.com/blog.aspx?bid=33&id=12101&t=The-Free-Will-Illusion

    the incoherence of free will:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=joanVUoXY0s

  21. on 20 Sep 2008 at 9:49 pm 21.VeridicusX said …

    @SteveK #3 #5 #7 #13 #16
    @makarios #6
    @Anointed #14

    The impossibility of “free will” and “God”.

    Reason and logic are expressions of the principle that reality is coherent – that is, that truth is self-consistent.
    It may be possible for square circles to physically exist in some reality but they are not possible in ours.

    In our reality if you have a priori knowledge of an action then, it is *impossible* for that action to be “free”.

    Enter Bob our protagonist. Bob recently happily married Alice, (a post-op transsexual). They both attend the Flying Spaghetti Monster Congregation in Grand Rapids because, as they put it, “There’s a helluva lot more proof for our beliefs than for those of the Christians”.

    “God” is eternal and omniscient. “God” knows that Bob is about to come to a decision point in his life, one where he will choose between two eternity rings for his wife.
    Bob arrives at the jewelers and is inspecting the rings, he has narrowed it down to two, ring A and ring B.

    “God” knows that Bob will now pick ring A. “God” has known this since “before the foundation of the world”. At the dawn of eternity “God” knew that Bob would pick ring A.
    If Bob picks ring B “God” does not exist, because “God” is omniscient and cannot be wrong! Therefore, *there is no possible world* in which Bob can pick ring B *and there never was*!

    Either Bob has “free will” OR “God” exists, both cannot be true.
    Of course there is *no evidence* of such a thing as “free will” or of “God” for that matter.

    The astute will also notice that if “God” *makes* Bob choose ring A at the decision point, (as part of his ~10%, “God’s Plan”), neither “God” nor Bob have “free will”.

  22. on 14 Nov 2008 at 5:55 pm 22.VeridicusX said …

    (This is something I posted here some while ago).

    The impossibility of “free will” and “God”.

    Reason and logic are expressions of the principle that reality is coherent – that is, that truth is self-consistent.
    It may be possible for square circles to physically exist in some reality but they are not possible in ours.

    In our reality if you have a priori knowledge of an action then, it is *impossible* for that action to be “free”.

    Enter Bob our protagonist. Bob recently happily married Alice, (a post-op transsexual). They both attend the Flying Spaghetti Monster Congregation in Grand Rapids because, as they put it, “There’s a helluva lot more proof for our beliefs than for those of the Christians.”

    “God” is eternal and omniscient. “God” knows that Bob is about to come to a decision point in his life, one where he will choose between two eternity rings for his wife.
    Bob arrives at the jewelers and is inspecting the rings, he has narrowed it down to two, ring A and ring B.

    “God” knows that Bob will now pick ring A. “God” has known this since “before the foundation of the world”. At the dawn of eternity “God” knew that Bob would pick ring A.
    If Bob picks ring B “God” does not exist, because “God” is omniscient and cannot be wrong! Therefore, *there is no possible world* in which Bob can pick ring B *and there never was*!

    Either Bob has “free will” OR “God” exists, both cannot be true.
    Of course there is *no evidence* of such a thing as “free will” or of “God” for that matter.

    The astute will also notice that if “God” *makes* Bob choose ring A at the decision point, neither “God” nor Bob have “free will”.

  23. on 14 Nov 2008 at 10:08 pm 23.SteveK said …

    In our reality if you have a priori knowledge of an action then, it is *impossible* for that action to be “free”.

    I know that I will die some time in the future – guaranteed. Can I choose to kill myself and thwart my ‘natural’ death?

    Or…I know that Johnson will come up with another irrational blog post in the future – guaranteed. Can he choose to be rational instead?

  24. on 15 Nov 2008 at 3:52 am 24.VeridicusX said …

    Whoops, posted to wrong article!

  25. on 15 Nov 2008 at 4:03 am 25.VeridicusX said …

    SteveK if you were not religiously retarded I would give you a respectful reply.
    As things stand your consistent idiocy is nothing short of awe inspiring.

    “Do not answer a fool according to his folly, Or you will also be like him.” The Biblical book of Proverbs

  26. on 15 Nov 2008 at 9:12 pm 26.SteveK said …

    Of course there is *no evidence* of such a thing as “free will” or of “God” for that matter.

    Of course there’s *no evidence* that a computer made from meat can reason and obtain *real* knowledge – yet you foolishly believe that your meat computer can reason and that it has actual knowledge of the world.

    I believe that I have both free will and actual knowledge of the world around me. It’s crazy talk, I know.

  27. on 16 Nov 2008 at 12:23 am 27.Hermes said …

    Faulty comparison.

  28. on 16 Nov 2008 at 12:38 am 28.SteveK said …

    He speaks.

  29. on 16 Nov 2008 at 10:45 am 29.VeridicusX said …

    SteveK,

    “… you foolishly believe that your meat computer can reason and that it has actual knowledge of the world.”

    “I believe that I have both free will and actual knowledge of the world around me. It’s crazy talk, I know.”

    The idea of “actual knowledge of the world around me.”, arises from experience that is independent of whatever I believe, that is, it can be tested. Likewise, “reason” is not something that we pulled out of your posterior, it is a set of thinking principles derived from the kind of sensory experience that is independent of beliefs.

    You believe that you have free will even though you believe in God and I have shown that free will is impossible if an omniscient god exists. You believe that you have free will even though there is no known event the is neither caused nor uncaused and (religious) free will must be neither caused nor uncaused.

    I believe that you have regular gay sex with Satan. I’ve used the same set of evidences that you have to reach the conclusion that you have “free will”.

    I leave believing to the gullible. If there is any reason why a modern adult human needs to believe things please let me know.

  30. on 16 Nov 2008 at 11:58 am 30.Red O'Brien said …

    Veridicus, quit using all this “reason” stuff and bow down to the Lord. Things like rationality, reason, and logic will do you no use in your search for God.

  31. on 16 Nov 2008 at 3:44 pm 31.VeridicusX said …

    Red O’Brien,

    I can’t thank you enough for your deep insight into these religious matters. (SteveK could have saved me a lot of trouble by explaining things as clearly as you have)!

    Now that I’ve abandoned rationality, common sense and honesty to become a Christian you can count me in with the whole carpooling thing, but you’re going to have to wait a while so that I can hire a baseball coach to help me improve my pitching skills.

  32. on 16 Nov 2008 at 4:15 pm 32.SteveK said …

    Likewise, “reason” is not something that we pulled out of your posterior, it is a set of thinking principles derived from the kind of sensory experience that is independent of beliefs.

    The irony is so great here that further comment will only serve to tarnish the magnificent luster of it all.

  33. on 21 Nov 2008 at 8:50 pm 33.sam said …

    Hi there. I am not offended in any way. I see what is believed and it of course makes sense. But I would like to share my beliefs. and I know its not onthe topic right now but i could not find a general board or anything. lol

    I am what you call a christian. and I do, of course, believe in God. You continually ask how can all of this be or how is this true when it makes no sense. One thing that I have learned about God is it will never make sense rationally. But I also know how real he is. God works through Humans, I know it sounds wierd, but he uses us to do his work. Like you say that there is no evidence for miracles anymore, yet at my youth group there was a girl who had tumors and had only a little bit left to live. so everyone laid hands on her and prayed. and the next day her tumors were gone and the doctor could not explain what happend. he did not know how they went away. But besides all this evidence of power, he calls us first to have the faith in him, to believe he is there and that he can do anything. yes he does care about those starving children in other countries who die everyday, more so then we will ever. but only when we have the faith will they be able to be saved. we have been ignoring them for too long, and just going on with our lives. we actually need to do something. And I dont believe we as christians are to be those religious folk who just believe what they believe and go to church. I believe tru christianity is not a religion and is following jesus and helping the widows and orphans. christians get so stuck up about well this is my god and what is right and u are wrong, which is not how we are to live, Christians are to live with Gods love and show it to everyone else.

  34. on 21 Nov 2008 at 9:36 pm 34.Gern Blansten said …

    Sam, you sound like a decent person, so I’m really sorry you’re living a life of delusion.

  35. on 21 Nov 2008 at 9:47 pm 35.kinggingerman said …

    Sam i would like to say this….
    You may say your not offended by this site but i am offended by your religion and how you can claim that your imaginary friend works through humans and that you need faith to help people…..
    Yesterday it had been reported that thousands of women are being raped in the congo. thousands!!! would ANY loving thing let that happen? A 3 year old baby was raped 2 days ago!! Where is your god there?! I guess you and your friends werent praying hard enough this week have you? I guess every christian hasnt been faithful enough because for any one or thing to have the power to stop it but insteads stand by and let terrible things like this happen they are a MONSTER both the people doing this and your god.

    I cannot believe how you can say that you know god is real because of your friend being healed with no evidence presented to us at all, have you considered the doctors got it wrong and if they havent does your case for god work 2 ways so for example there are people who are perfectly healthy one day but drop dead the next does this unprove god?

    I myself was religious once but it was this site that cured me of my illness and i am forever thankful for that. You may not be offended by this but I find your ideas completly offensive. You say that we need to do something. Why dont you get all your churches to give the money they have to end world poverty but oh wait they wont and you know why? Its because they to know religion is bullshit so they simply want to keep as much money for themselves as possible and infect the world with their mind controlling disease called religion.

    If you cant understand that your god is imaginary and you need to cast off this delusion then i fear for you and i fear for the future of the human race……. Thank you for reading

  36. on 21 Nov 2008 at 11:57 pm 36.Hermes said …

    Sam, if your deity works through people to do good, does it work though people to do bad as well — or does it only get credit for the good and not the bad?

    I direct you toward your own religious book;

    “7 I form the light and create darkness,
    I bring prosperity and create disaster;
    I, the LORD, do all these things.” – Isaiah 45:7

    “22 What if God, choosing to show his wrath and make his power known, bore with great patience the objects of his wrath—prepared for destruction?” – Romans 9:22

    As such, do you consider people to be puppets of your deity? If not, why not?

  37. on 22 Nov 2008 at 1:09 am 37.Gern Blansten said …

    Sam is long gone. Another hit and run.

  38. on 01 Sep 2014 at 2:03 pm 38.Jimmy said …

    This is a really old post but I’ll tell you how Christians rectify this apparent absurdity. They say “God has a plan but we have to choose to follow it” and every time we sin we “rebel against God” and turn our nose up to the fruits God has prepared for us. This, of course, leads to the consequence that many times religious people blame themselves for detrimental events that are outside of their control. (“Why do bad things happen to good people?”) But in John 9:1-3, Jesus reveals that bad things happen to good people for reasons other than punishment for sin.

    What Christians are left with is that God is a mystery, he can’t be understood, but he’s perfectly good so have faith in him.

    IMO, the grand Christian narrative is that we live in an an irrational world controlled by a God whose actions cannot be subjected to rational scrutiny.

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