Undoing Brainwashing

Question from Scott:
A bit about myself first.
I’ve been an atheist for a short time now, about a year now, to be honest i don’t even really call myself an atheist, as i am not really worried about belonging to a “group” or religion, it’s just Christians ask me If you don’t belong to a group you must lead an empty existence. So just to keep them quiet i just answer atheist, as it’s the closest group l would belong to.

I used to be Christian, but i also think very scientifically, but for some reason l never really questioned that religion, even though l always had a gut feeling something was very wrong, but l never questioned it. Until one day i took a step back and realized i was just part of a brainwashed group of people, so l left that religion, started asking questions, i didn’t get any answers, only riddles and only more questions.

My question is, since religion has been around a very long time and has been drilled into our brains since birth, even though i’ve left the religion, the religion has yet to leave me, how do we undo all those years of brain washing and lies?? I still find myself thinking like a Christian, don’t get me wrong, i’m still a nice person, very friendly, i wouldn’t hurt a fly (and that’s not because of Christianity, it was that’s how l was brought up) i just find my Christian brain washing is still holding me back from being a better person.

Sorry for the long email.

Answer by Andrea:
Hi Scott,
Thank you for your email. It’s an important question, since one of the basic instincts of human nature is the tendency to form groups.

I was brought up in a Mennonite type of sect, and it took me quite a long time to overcome the Christian brainwashing I was subjected to even after I decided I was an atheist (high school). My advice is to question everything that automatically pops into your mind in that Christian vein since much of thinking is habitual, which means it may be a knee-jerk reaction rather than reality. This particularly applies to Christianity, since there is no evidence of a Jesus, 12 disciples or most of the stories of the stories found in the Bible. What the evidence does show is that the Christian mythology was “plagiarized” from earlier religions, Horus (the Krst), Buddha, Krishna (Christ-na), Prometheus… many comparative mythologists and historical scholars say these “saviors” of the history found in the Middle East and Europe have hundreds of similarities in common with that of the Christ story, one of the later religions. Most of them had 12 disciples as well, and walked on water, healed the sick including lepers, preached “the truth,” came from above to “save” mankind, featured a talking serpent, were born of a virgin on Dec. 25, dying in April only to be resurrected three days later.

One reason religions are so successful is not that they hold “the truth,” which each of them hold claim to, but the feeling of community that they provide. Fortunately, there are at least 20 different groups of atheists, and all you have to do is choose one that best fits your needs or views. Try running an internet search on each of the following secular groups and take a look at their mission statements (many will have such groups in your area):

atheists, agnostics, brights, empiricists, freethinkers, materialists, naturalists, objectivists, rationalists, secular humanists, scientific humanists, skeptics and Zen Buddhists.

You didn’t say where you live, but Meetup.com also has a plethora of different secular groups that may hold meet-ups in your area.

You sound like a very caring, intellectual person. There are so many ways you can help. You may also want to check out my website, PresentsForThePlanet.org. I don’t accept cash, but do furnish information on helping to fix this planet, which seems to be messed up in so many ways.

Best to you and thank you again for your email.