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Are Atheists Brainwashed?

Posted on 19 October 2010, 18:50

Based on all the articles I’ve seen in newspapers and on the Internet lately, as well as all the books promoting atheism, it appears that organized atheism has declared war on organized religion. The latest attack appeared in the October 11, 2010 issue of USA Today.  Authored by Jerry A. Coyne, a professor in the Department of Ecology and Evolution at The University of Chicago, it is titled “Science and religion aren’t friends.”   

“Evolution took a huge bite a while back, and recent work on the brain has shown no evidence for souls, spirits, or any part of our personality or behavior distinct from the lump of jelly in our head,” Coyne writes in championing the cause of atheism.  He goes on to say that “science is no more compatible with religion than with other superstitions, such as leprechauns.”

There is nothing in the article to indicate that Coyne, who says he is a “former believer,” is even remotely aware of all of the scientific research suggesting that consciousness survives death – research in near-death experiences, mediumship, past-life regression, deathbed visions, apparitions, astral travel, and other paranormal phenomena.  It was research carried out by a number of very distinguished scientists and scholars.  My guess is, however, that if confronted with the volumes of research attesting to survival, Coyne would, as with other atheists I have encountered, say he knows all about such research and that it is just so much bunk.  The scientists and scholars, as brilliant as they may have been, were simply duped by master magicians.

The atheists who call themselves “skeptics” sometimes have their own magicians show how the “trick” is performed.  I was thinking about this recently when hitting some lobbed baseballs over a 200-foot fence in a Little League ball park.  It occurred to me that my wife, if she were present, might think I am a good baseball player.  Since she knows very little about baseball, she likely would not immediately recognize the difference between hitting a lobbed ball over a 200-foot fence and a 90-mph fast ball over a 340-foot fence.  There is, of course, a world of a difference.  The point is that the atheist’s tricks are usually performed on what amounts to a Little League field and the people who buy into their tricks don’t know enough about the real phenomena to know the difference.

In his 2009 book, The End of Materialism, Dr. Charles Tart, a professor emeritus of psychology at the University of California at Davis, states that the conflict is not between science, per se, and spirituality, but between scientism and spirituality.  Scientism is, he says, a rigidified and dogmatic corruption of science.  In effect, scientism is scientific fundamentalism and is to science what religious fundamentalism is to religion.  While the religious fundamentalists are locked into the “letter” of whatever good book they adopt, the scientific fundamentalists are dogmatically locked into the scientific method. 

It is difficult to generalize, but it has been my observation that many atheists are former religious fundamentalists.  When their faith was tested and things didn’t work out in their favor, they blamed it on God and divorced “Him,” moving to the other extreme and vowing never again to be duped.  First Santa Claus, then God, such a person does not want a third strike.  But I have also encountered a number of atheists who had issues with their parents, who were fundamentalists.  Atheism was a way to rebel against their parents.  In effect, the move is often from religious fundamentalism to scientific fundamentalism without any real understanding of spirituality outside of religious fundamentalism. The smug atheists jump to the conclusion that religious fundamentalism is representative of all spiritual belief, and they end up not being able to see the forest for the trees.

Most of these scientific fundamentalists begin their ad hominem arguments by claiming that there is no scientific proof of God.  They are in that respect much like the religious fundamentalists as they believe that God must be identified and validated before one can accept the survival of consciousness.  If there is no “proof” of God, there must not be any “proof” of an afterlife seems to be the reasoning.  When the evidence for survival is pointed out to them, they immediately start flying the science banner and claiming that research into psychic and spiritual matters has not been scientific because the phenomena can’t be replicated.  They give their own narrow meaning to “science” and pretty much limit it to test tube science, ignorant of the fact that they are at the same time dismissing so many other areas that science has accepted. 

The basic issue is not whether God exists, but whether consciousness survives physical death.  If God, whatever He, She, or It happens to be, does exist, but survival does not, a belief in God doesn’t do much for us.  On the other hand, if there is evidence for survival, as there most certainly is, that is what God is all about in the first place.  Consider that Buddhists are able to accept survival in some form without a god.

Looking for God first is a deductive approach that leads nowhere.  Taking the inductive approach of looking at the evidence for survival first and letting God unfold from there seems like a much more logical and intelligent approach.
The atheist or scientific fundamentalist also often assumes that accepting God and survival means rejecting biological evolution. That may very well be the case with many religious fundamentalists, but those accepting the evidence for survival generally find no conflict in accepting both survival and evolution.  Certainly, Alfred Russel Wallace, co-originator with Charles Darwin of the natural selection theory of evolution, had no difficulty accepting both.  He was a dedicated Spiritualist and said that the evidence for Spiritualism was as good as the evidence in any other area of science.

The atheists are quick to point out how religion has resulted in so many wars and so much terror. They say that they are able to lead a very moral life without God and without the hope of an afterlife.  William James, the distinguished Harvard professor of psychology and philosophy, saw such an attitude as just so much bravado that melts away with age and approaching death.  Moreover, it is highly unlikely that the masses – the uneducated and the poorer classes that make up the bulk of the world’s population – would be so morally restrained without the belief in an afterlife.  Do the “enlightened” atheists really want to test the waters in this regard? 

In his recent book, Mind Programming, Dr. Eldon Taylor, president and director of Progressive Awareness Research, Inc., points out that artifacts discovered in ancient burial sites suggest that people have always believed in life after death.  Moreover, neuroscientists have demonstrated the existence of religious centers in the human brain. “In other words, we’re built to believe,” he offers. “It takes an act of society and an orchestrated effort by educators to produce an atheist.  In this sense, atheism is a product of brainwashing.” 

“Eyes are useless to a blind brain,” Camille Flammarion, the famous French astronomer, recalled an Arabian proverb.  “[There are too many] men incapable of being convinced, despite the most evident proofs; worthy men, moreover, from other points of view, learned, agreeable, philanthropic, but whose mental eyes are constructed in such a way that they do not see straight before them,” Flammarion continued. “Their eyes have a prism before the retina in place of the normal lens, and this prism distorts the rays by a few degrees, with refractions, which differ according to type.  This is not their fault.  It is not only that they do not wish to perceive the sun at high noon, but they cannot…To have too much intellect is sometimes a hindrance to the simple comprehension of things as they are.”

Sir Oliver Lodge, the esteemed British physicist and radio pioneer, saw the problem being that “the aim of science has been for the most part a study of mechanism, the mechanism whereby results are achieved, an investigation into the physical processes which go on, and which appear to be coextensive with nature. Any theory which seems to involve the action of Higher Beings, or of any unknown entity controlling and working the mechanism, is apt to be extruded or discountenanced as a relic of primitive superstition, coming down from times when such infantile explanations were prevalent.”

Unfortunately, much of today’s atheism appears to originate in academia.  In his   1999 book Passport to the Cosmos the late Dr. John Mack, a Pulitzer Prize winner and professor of psychiatry at Harvard, gives his thoughts on the materialistic “worldview” in which so many academicians are stuck.  “A worldview functions at both individual and institutional levels,” Mack writes.  “It is a source of security and a compass to guide us.  For an individual it holds the psyche together.  To destroy someone’s worldview is virtually to destroy that person.  A complex network of institutions, an edifice of power and money, supports a worldview and gives it legitimacy.”

Mack goes on to say that “the findings of parapsychology challenge the idea of a mechanistic universe operating by established causal principles, suggesting a world in which unseen connections work mysteriously according to principles we do not yet understand and certainly do not control.”  He admits that this was his own mindset – one devoid of consciousness and intelligence beyond the brain – until he began investigating the paranormal.  He came to look back upon his former view of a secular universe as “quite absurd.”

Michael Tymn is the author of The Afterlife Revealed: What Happens After We Die, Resurrecting Leonora Piper: How Science Discovered the Afterlife and Dead Men Talking: Afterlife Communication from World War I.


“In effect, the move is often from religious fundamentalism to scientific fundamentalism without any real understanding of spirituality outside of religious fundamentalism.”

A fundamentalist materialist I know was brought up in an extremely rigid religious cult.  She was quite traumatized as a child and rejected all forms of spirituality as she matured.  I think what you’ve said here is quite true for her.

Elene Gusch, Wed 1 Dec, 02:41

Excellent article, Mike, but alas no surprise. You mentioned Charles Tart’s excellent book (my review is on Amazon). Could I also recommend to your readers The Plastic Mind by Sharon Begley, and Mind before Matter edited by Pfeiffer and Mack, whom you also mention. These are two more books endorsing the idea that mind does not equal brain with supporting evidence from neurophysiologists. The book I’m currently writing, The World as Spirit, is on the same theme and emphasizes continuing discarnate existence.

Dr Howard A. Jones, Tue 16 Nov, 15:06

Received by e-mail from John Bockris, Professor, University of Pennsylvania (1953-1972) and Distinguised Professor, Texas A & M University (1978-1997) and reprinted here with is permission: 

Dear Michael:

In respect to your material on atheists and brainwashing, I spent most of my career in the department of chemistry in Universities and I can assure you that unless one carried a badge on his lapel making clear to everyone that you were an atheist, you probably would not get tenure.  I used to have to attend a church that was far away so I wouldn’t be seen by my colleagues.

In respect to the population who are atheists in general (about 9% in the U.S.), it rises because we are in a scientific culture.  I have published a book and it points out that science is the essence of our lives.  When in doubt, we try to go to a scientist to find the correct answer.  We believe in science.

Do you need anything else, including all the evidence of paranormal phenemona and etc.?  Yes and no.  There are degrees of belief.  I have been studying the paranormal since 1997.  Of course, my degree of belief depends on the subject within the paranormal phenomena.  Telepathy gets a 100% and so on.

Religion in the eyes of scientists who don’t think too widely and intently is a no good thing because it reports all sorts of phenomena which are impossible.  Therefore, the rest, simple descriptions of what is quite possible, is not to be believed, either. So the whole thing is pointless and should be shut out.

Michael Tymn, Mon 8 Nov, 14:23

Excellent piece—well thought out, presented and argued. Materialism is indeed a philosophy, not science. Let’s skip the philosophy and honor evidence over all.

Mike Schmicker, Fri 22 Oct, 04:53


You continue to hit “Home Runs” with your articles about the “afterlife”.  I very much agree that perhaps a good approach is a “step by step” approach - study, understand and accept the “afterlife”, then perhaps one will move on to, or include, an “Original Creator Source”, or “Supreme Creative Consciousness” as part of the understanding.  I understand that much of this is simply “words”, but perhaps words that will come to have meaning for each of us.

Keep up the good work - always look forwrd to your next article.


Richard Brannon, Fri 22 Oct, 02:38

Amen. These atheists and their religion, scientism, are zealots and fundamentalists. They wage jihad against things that point to a reality beyond their ability to manipulate and explain.

They have their conflicting creation myths, holy books, prophets and clergy. And now that they are considered among our cultural elite they have implemented an inquisition to destroy any vestige of free-thinking in our modern world. Torquemada would be pleased.

By hijacking science and perverting it into a blunt instrument, they make their bigotry manifest to any intelligent observer.

will, Thu 21 Oct, 04:02

Its just duality, different ends of the same pole. A lot more people are tending to follow the centre road. They use their intuition to discern what is true for them.

Kaz Williams, Thu 21 Oct, 00:49

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“Life After Death – The Communicator” by Paul Beard – If the telephone rings, naturally the caller is expected to identify himself. In post-mortem communication, necessitating something far more complex than a telephone, it is not enough to seek the speakers identity. One needs to estimate also as far as is possible his present status and stature. This involves a number of factors, overlapping and hard to keep separate, each bringing its own kind of difficulty. Four such factors can readily be named. Read here
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