by Edip Yuksel

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If you were born in India, most  likely    you  would  be  a
Hindu.  In  Saudi  Arabia, a Muslim. In Israel, a Jew. Since
you are in the USA, you're  most  likely  a  Christian.  The
dominant  religion  of  your family and your country is more
likely to be adopted by you. Why? What is  the  relationship
between religion and geography?
                                  Psychological relationship
Years  ago  I  did some psychological experiments to explore
certain common human behavior. The most interesting one  was
on  conformity  and compliance. I wanted to find out how we,
as individuals, behave under strong group pressure. How  was
a minority of one reacting against a unanimous majority? The
results were incredible.
                                              The Arrow Test
For the experiment, I gathered five persons in  a  room  and
put   them  in  a  line.  These  participants  would  be  my
confederates.  I  told  them  that  we  would   perform   an
experiment  on  the next person who would enter the room. He
would be the last in the line. In the beginning, I would ask
them  two  warm-up  questions,  and  they should give me the
correct answers. But, when I ask  them  the  third  question
(the  real  one), my confederates one by one, should give me
the wrong answer, loudly.
When the real participant entered the room, I announced that
we  would  have  a  test--as  if I had never talked about it
previously. I started with the two warm-up questions. I drew
simple  figures  on  the board and asked them one by one the
routine question: which one is similar to  this  one.  After
all  the five participants gave the correct answer, the real
participant also gave the correct  answer.  They  were  easy
Then, it came to the real question, the easiest one. I asked
the following question: which figure on the  right  side  is
similar to the figure on the left side?
(The tabel is omitted)
My confederates, one by one gave the obviously wrong answer.
The first person said "C." The second one also said "C." The
third  followed  with "C." All of them gave the same answer.
The real participant was in shock.  He  was  amazed  at  the
discrepancy  between what he saw and what he heard. When his
turn came, after hearing five straight "C"s, he agreed  with
the majority. The "C" was his answer. He had gone along with
the group.
                                  Results of the experiments
Later, I learned that I was not the first one who  conducted
this  experiment.  Between  1951-56,  S. E. Asch performed a
series of studies  on  compliance  and  conformity.  Let  me
summarize the results of his experiments:
Asch made his experiments with different length of lines. He
asked the participants to match the standard line  with  the
lines  on the left. Out of 123 participants, only 29 did not
ever conform with the group's decision. 61 participants went
along  with  their  groups on occasion. But, 33 conformed to
their groups numerous times.  They  agreed  on  the  obvious
wrong answer almost every time.
Some  participants  claimed  to actually have seen the wrong
line as a correct match. They privately accepted the  belief
of  the  majority  opinion.  About  half  of the rest of the
conformists claimed that they had seen the lines  correctly,
but  that  when they heard the majority choice, they decided
that they must have been wrong. They then  went  along  with
the  group.  The  remaining  conformists said that they knew
that the answer was not correct but that they had gone along
with  the  group  anyway  (See  Small  Group  Discussion:  a
theoretical approach, Charles Pavitt & Ellen Curtis, Gorsuch
Scarisbric, Scottsdale, AZ., p 160-165).
Conformity,  whether  in  the  form of compliance or private
acceptance, occurs in every group. If a gang member steals a
car  the  first time, most likely he will continue to do so.
He will probably  justify that stealing in order to maintain
his internal harmony.
                     Religion: the best nest for conformists
World  religions  give  hundreds  of different answers for a
single  question.  Dogmas  attract  the  highest   rate   of
conformists. Conformity, sooner or later, causes the private
acceptance or justification of the dogma. Some people become
fanatics,  dedicating  themselves  to  the  dogma.  The  old
conformists cause  the  newcomers  to  conform.  This  chain
attraction goes on.
Why  is  the  percentage  of religious conformists and their
private acceptance so high?  There are many reasons:
1.  We are exposed to dogmas from childhood. This  early
    exposure to the religion has a great impact on us.
    For a Hindu, thousands of human gods and holy cows make
    more sense than everything else. For a Christian, a God
    with three personalities sacrificing his innocent son
    for criminals provides the only answer for the purpose
    of life. For a Muslim Muhammad's name is the only
    password to heaven.
2.  Religious answers are not simple, they are mostly
    complex and vague. We can interpret any dogma and
    make it acceptable to us. The way is wide open for
    justification through endless speculations.
3.  Many answers do not have objective validity.
    Since we cannot verify them, we can easily accept them.
4.  Professionalized priesthoods survive on particular
    dogmas. So, there will always be some well-trained 
    holy sales people around. They are the most effective
    sales people ever seen in this world.
5.  The common religious norms such as "Have faith without
    reason." or "Don't question." can close all the circuits
    for any possible intellectual light.
6.  Religions do not nakedly expose their false dogmas and
    myths. They exploit the truth and craftily amalgamate it
    with myths. The truth such as "God's existence,"
    or "good moral values," attracts many. For the sake of
    some truth we may accept the mixture to be the whole
7.  In religious groups, peer pressure is very strong.
    The social and psychological punishment for not 
    complying with the religion of our family and friends
    is usually a deterrent factor. So, we may employ an
    intellectual censorship to avoid a possible
8.  Our enigmatic brains can reinforce our private
    acceptance by playing odd games: selective 
    cognition and logical fallacies can create
    spiritual experiences.
9.  The socio-economic benefits of a religion or cult may
    force us to rationalize and justify their dogma.
                                        Children's questions
Here is a bouquet of children's letters to God. They  are  a
selection  from Dear God: What Religion Were the Dinosaurs?,
David Heller, Bantam Books, New York, 1991.  They  are  from
relatively  free  and  innocent  minds. They contain serious
criticism blended with humor and satire. We hope that we can
learn something from our children.
Dear God,
What  does  the word begat mean in the Bible. They certainly
used it a heck of alot. Pardon my grammer, Dom (age 9)
Dear God,
I read how you partered the red ocean.  That  was  cool  and
unbelevable.  How come you don't do things spectakquler like
that any more. Hard to get up the energy? Dan B. (age 12)
Dear Lord.
Was the bible the first book? Or did the  cavesmen  made  up
stories too. Your friend, Kev (age 9)
Dear God,
I  think  you and Jesus are the best. I heard that Jesus was
your only begotten son. I cannot understand for the life  of
me  (like  my  dad  says) why you did not permit him to live
longer than age 33. Other than that I believe in you with no
questions asked. Alex (age 11)
What do you think of guys like Mohamud, Buuda and the others
like them? I do not understand their ideas.  But  maybe  you
do. Raymond (age 12)
Dear God,
You  should change the rule on priests and nuns. So they can
get married and have kids. Otherwise they get off scott free
and can get lonely and get into trouble. I know. My uncle is
a priest. Hallelujah, Bonnie (age 10)
Dear Saint Augustine,
I am writing to you because I thought it might take too long
to  reach God. I need some help soon. My teacher Sister Mary
has it in for  me.  I  didn't  do  anything  wrong.  Honest.
Anthony (age 9)
Dear God,
Are  preachers like ministers and priests? Are they close to
you or do they just talk loud.  I  say  put  them  in  their
places  and have them stop taking your name in their veings.
Francis (age 12)
Like I said in confession. I am sorry.  Please  forgive  me.
And  make  sure Father Ryan keeps quiet about it. Thank you,
Patric (age 11)
Attention: God
Please tell Rev. Johnson to stop calling you a  him    every
single  time  he  talks about you. Tell him youre a girl and
set him strait. Best wishes, Melissa Sue (age 10)
Dear God,
There should be a book about you. It would be a best seller.
They could have a big burning bush and a cross on the cover.
If that would not get the people, that would be on the  back
and  they  would put a lady all dolled up on the front. That
works every time. J.M. (age 10)
Dear Mr. God,
Do you get drunk on wine like the men in the Bible?  My  dad
drinks  too much too. So do not feel bad or sad. You are not
alone. Your buddy, Andrew My dad's name is Phil (age 9)
I hate the taste of wine. Why didn't you  have  them  dirink
fruit  punch  or  papaya juice in Israel. Love, Michael (age
Dear God,
If the last supper was in the morning, would  it  be  called
the  last  breakfast? I love Jesus very much and I wish that
he did not have to suffer for our sins. Love,  Kenneth  (age
I have a box where I keep all my valuabled things and stuff.
I want to let you know that I have my cross there.  You  did
not die for nothing. Joe (age 10)

Moslem Questions on Christianity Edip Yuksel P.O. Box 43476, Tucson, AZ 85733-3476 U.S.A. Tel/Fax: (520) 323-7636

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