So I recently received a message from someone telling me their perspective on fictional literature and movies. They asked me to give them my opinion on the subject. Basically, the point they were trying to make was that fiction can’t have an impact on anyone. During the debate I started thinking about what a drastic impact things like the media and celebrities can have on our belief systems.
The point I wish to discuss is how this world is being influenced. Today with mass media, pretty much anyone can have their opinions widely heard, and followed. It’s always personally bothered me that musicians have the impact on the world that they do. I mean, just because you can play the guitar, and have a unique voice, does not mean that your philosophical views are true, or even somewhat intelligent. I look at bands like Slayer (and many others like them) and I see them voicing their opinions in their songs, and then kids who listen to them, and idolize them, start to follow Slayer’s opinions. Meanwhile, people who are actually educated on the subject are ignored because they don’t have popular music accompanying their words.
Also, look at Oprah. Here’s a woman who has a very interesting personality, and does well on camera. She gets some good guests on her show, develops a fan base, and gets to the point that everyone in the world watches her. It’s no over exaggeration to say she’s one of the most influential people of our time. She has an impact on the minds, and worldviews, of literally millions of people. This is a woman who is going purely off of her own personal opinion, and not off any actual research, evidence, or even intelligent observations. The main thing that I refer to with her is when she was talking with someone about the Bible, and the other person was treating the Bible as truth, and Oprah said to her something along the lines of, “how can we believe a book that’s thousands of years old”. This statement of hers commits the genetic fallacy, and yet that one statement was heard by millions, and helped shift the mindset of our culture further into disbelief. It doesn’t matter if it’s just some television show, and it helps people feel good. Considering things like this to be inconsequential is a mistake.
Look at movies like Religulous, and Zeitgeist. I think it’s fair to say that those movies did massive damage to our culture’s mindset about Biblical authority. With Religulous, here’s a movie that has almost no factual evidence, scrutiny, or intelligent observations. All Bill Maher does is make a bunch of jokes about religions. Even though no real, solid, factual reasons are given, people will watch this, and in the future they’ll be more insulting towards people of faith. With Zeitgeist, here’s a movie that presents what appears to be a great deal of evidence, but when you do even surface level research into the subject, you realize it’s a complete fraud. The idea in the film (that Jesus Christ never existed) are all based upon the writings of a man (Gerald Massey) about 100-150 years ago. During his time, his writings were completely discredited and proven false. Even before his time, people had always believed Jesus Christ was a legitimate historical figure. Now today, someone reads his books, ignores the history (or doesn’t look into it at all), then regurgitates everything in a fancy media presentation, and all of a sudden people start doubting that Jesus Christ ever lived.
I guess the main thing I wanted to do here is just address the issue with everyone in this group of how easily people’s minds are manipulated. When talking with someone, you need to realize that they come from a culture that has indoctrinated them with false beliefs. If someone presents an argument to you, or tells you what they believe, ask them why. Why do you believe the Bible is not historically accurate? Is it because you’ve looked into specific biblical claims and found that there is evidence showing them false? Or is it because Bill Maher made a funny joke, and you believed a comedian’s personal opinion over actually developing your own thoughts?
If you’re interested in a book to help you in how to converse with people in these types of discussions, you should check out “Tactics”, by Gregory Koukl. It’s not so much about giving you answers, as it is helping you engage in these types of conversations.