Zombies Ate My Brain  

Monday, July 14, 2008

A few evenings ago I was drifting in and out of sleep on the couch, trying to forget I had a headache when I overheard part of the conversation between Matt and his sister on the telephone. Here's a little of how the conversation went.

Matt: You aren't telling me that you believe in zombies?

Sister-in-law: Well, I wasn't sure before but now there's the idea of government conspiracies and viruses that can make people go crazy.

Matt: Crazy living people are different than zombies. Maybe there could be a virus that spreads that makes people go crazy, but that's not being a zombie. Zombies are physical beings somehow animated by magic. You understand that it's impossible for zombies to move around, especially fast zombies. If their muscles and tendons have atrophied how do they get around? It's physically impossible. Even if they could animate a dead body, how does it become superhuman? You're not thinking this through.

SIL: I know that, but I can't help it. I'm still afraid one will jump out and eat my dogs.

Matt: That's ridiculous. How can you be afraid of some fictional thing made up for movies? I can understand being creeped out by the movie, but you're actually afraid you're going to be attacked by a zombie?

SIL: Well, I feel a little better after *insert a friend's name here* told me that zombies don't attack dogs. You know, like in that scene from Dawn of the Dead?

Matt: That's a movie. You're afraid of a made-up thing in a movie and you're basing your logic on something that's made up from a movie. You know you're talking crazy, right?

SIL: I know they're just movies, but that doesn't mean it couldn't happen.

At this point, I decide to chime in. I wonder if I'm dreaming, but I'm pretty sure I'm awake.

Me: Tell her about it being physically impossible again.

But the fact is, I can't be too critical of my sister-in-law. It wasn't too long ago that I believed in demon possession, spiritual warfare, ghosts and angels, and other crazier things that I can't even begin to explain without you thinking that I should be locked up.

But growing up in a non-traditional, Pentecostal household these were things that my family bought into willingly. Not only was it a perfect form of control - don't think about X, where X could be evolution or secularism or something else antithetical to the religious dogma, because those concepts have been created by Satan to draw you away from God - but it was also a gateway into magical thinking. If we accepted these concepts, it was much easier to accept other strange or outright crazy ideas as being real.

In my own experience even after I no longer believed in a supreme being, I still found it difficult to escape the spiritual mindset and embraced belief in fate and energy manipulation. It took years of further thought into why these beliefs aren't rational before I gave them up. It was only then that I was willing to call myself an atheist.

My husband tried to let me off the hook when I explained my own evolution of belief by telling me that supernatural entities, while they may be as improbable aren't testable in the natural world. But I can't let myself off that easily. For a supernatural entity to be perceived it must enter the natural world. That is why my belief in the supernatural eventually crumbled. Most "evidence" of the supernatural is anecdotal, poorly researched, or fraudulent. A half-serious look into the evidence presented cannot lead to supernatural belief for any rational person.

It's only the people who don't learn to think rationally or apply critical thinking that fall into the trap of believing in the supernatural, magic, zombies, and religion. For a person without a rational mindset arguments for rationality will fall on deaf ears.

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10 comments: to “ Zombies Ate My Brain

  • Sean the Blogonaut F.C.D.
    Monday, July 14, 2008 at 6:48:00 AM CDT  

    My wife's receptionist has a sister that speaks to dead people. Lots of people still believe in ghosts, so I guess zombies aren't too much of a stretch.

  • John Evo
    Monday, July 14, 2008 at 1:35:00 PM CDT  

    The most important lesson of this post - Matt is a pretty clear thinking guy. You don't talk all that much about him (I assume, based on what you have said, that's to his liking). Anyway, I have new-found respect for your mate.

  • Venjanz
    Monday, July 14, 2008 at 6:01:00 PM CDT  

    I think zombies are real. I can prove it too. There will be thousands of them in Denver, CO on August 25 of this year.

  • John Evo
    Tuesday, July 15, 2008 at 4:08:00 PM CDT  

    Venjanz - I thought those were Obamabots. I believe you'll find the zombies in MN.

    Or pretty much all over America as far as I can tell.

  • Anonymous
    Tuesday, July 15, 2008 at 6:45:00 PM CDT  

    "It's only the people who don't learn to think rationally or apply critical thinking that fall into the trap of believing in the supernatural, magic, zombies, and religion."

    Having spent 7 years on the faculty of a Bible college, I have to disagree with this claim. Several of my fellow faculty members were far more intelligent than I am, yet they believed wholeheartedly in the religion they taught (as I did at the time). Moreover, they effectively applied rational, critical thought processes to many areas of their lives apart from their religious creeds.

    Those who specialized in biblical and theological studies even applied critical methods to those disciplines. But - when it came to certain aspects of biblical, theological and creedal content, they generally started with, and never seriously departed from, the pre-supposition of God's existence. At most, in the course of teaching theology or philosophy, the temporarily suspended their pre-suppositions and seemingly considered arguments against God's existence. The key is, however, the suspension of belief was not real, it was just a technique, a hypothetical stance.

    My point is, these were not stupid people who were easily duped. They were highly intelligent people who were locked into a mindset that did not allow them to seriously apply critical methods of thought to their cherished creeds. Religious indoctrination erects powerful defenses against such examination. Many intelligent people are religious. Sometimes, great intelligence allows one to construct potent boundaries around one's creeds and, ironically, makes it harder to break down the barriers to free, completely critical examination of those beliefs. Intelligence may be, in cases like these, a double-edged sword: simultaneously the means of destroying, or the means of protecting, convoluted ideas.

  • Anonymous
    Tuesday, July 15, 2008 at 6:50:00 PM CDT  

    Aw, shit; maybe I need to go to a Bible college and learn to proofread!

    The phrase that says, "the temporarily suspended their pre-suppositions" should say, "they temporarily suspended...

    Sorry. :(

  • Venjanz
    Tuesday, July 15, 2008 at 9:50:00 PM CDT  

    I prefer "Obamatons" personally.

  • Ordinary Girl
    Monday, July 21, 2008 at 3:54:00 AM CDT  

    Sean: I agree, although that makes them no more real. :)

    Evo: Glad he has your approval. ;)

    Venjanz: You'll need to document that proof before I can believe it. But trust me, there will be thousands in Atlanta in late August and I will be there to taunt them.

    Chappy: You're right, there's more than one type of person and I generalized pretty heavily in my post. But as you said, even for theologians in Bible college though there has to be some trading away of reality in order to embrace supernatural thinking. It's just less so than the majority.

  • Anonymous
    Monday, July 28, 2008 at 7:32:00 PM CDT  

    Critical Thinking is the key, and unfortunately this isn't taught very well at school. So children are easily fooled into believing all sorts of things. Once that belief is there it's very hard to shake, as the chaplain so well points out.

  • EnoNomi
    Friday, August 15, 2008 at 10:42:00 AM CDT  

    I can't believe I missed out on a zombie post! As detailed in World War Z, zombies in fact DO go after dogs, but they favor human prey. Dogs are just more capable of detecting and avoiding zombies and were used in the zombie wars to help clear safe zones. While zombies don’t move quickly their danger comes from popping up in surprising locations and then alerting other zombies with their moans to swarm and overpower their victim. I recommend getting your sister the Zombie Survival Guide by Max Brooks. *evil cackle*


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