Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Another Example of Subtle Anti-Theist Brainwashing: Civilization V


I don't know about others, but as I go about my daily life I regularly run into little things people write or do which contains an obvious bit of anti-Christian or anti-God bias. (Actually, to be accurate, if a bias is to be anti-something it really would be more accurate to call it a prejudice, but I am not trying to create that connotation so I will stick with my chosen description.) In most cases, I don't believe that this anti-Christian bias is intentional -- the individual who created whatever I happen to be reading, watching or doing, didn't set out to create a negative image of Christians or Christian belief. It is just something that she does because either she believes Christians are stupid, bigoted or evil, or because she simply applied thinking that she unconsciously adopted in her life through her own studies (often using material that was anti-Christian in the first place). When this small bit of anti-Christian bias is put into material that is seen primarily by children or teens, it becomes a bit of anti-Christian brainwashing.

An example was recently presented to me by my children. A long time ago, I used to play Sid Meier's Civilization II. It was a great game. The goal was to start with a single nomadic group of people, build a city, research new technologies and ultimately create a civilization which controls the world. It was fun to play and see how advanced you could push your civilization.

Recently, my 20 year old was playing a new version of the same game, Sid Meier's Civilization V, on his computer. Since I hadn't played Civilization in years and was unfamiliar with all of the changes that had taken place in the game, I watched him for awhile. The game still incorporated the same basic idea and structure, but it now had many more things that a player could do to win the game. (And, of course, the graphics had become much better, too.) He offered to let me play, and I decided to give it a go.

Now, one new feature in the update is the idea of adopting social policies for your civilization. These policies include such things as Honor, Piety, Liberty and Patronage. As you progress through each social policy, you can adopt what can be called sub-policies. For example, if a player adopts the social policy of Honor, some of the sub-policies include Warrior Code, Discipline and Military Tradition. Each of these social policies give you advantages that are helpful to win the game.

Overall, I have no problem with this new aspect of the game. In fact, these social policies help create new avenues by which to win the game. A person can now win the game by becoming a culture that is socially dominant. I found this new addition to the game to be a net-positive to the game.

But then I noticed the subtle anti-Christian bias.

One of the easiest ways to win the game is to become scientifically dominant. To do so, you have to adopt the social policy of rationalism. Now, that alone makes me nervous because those among us who are activists in the atheist community like to falsely claim that they alone have rationality. In fact, one of the reasons (note, rationality is involved when someone gives reasons) that the subtitle of this blog is "A Rational Look at Christianity" is to counter this old canard. But, of course, I agree that rationality is necessary to lead to the truth, so the idea of adopting rationality as a social policy to advance science is certainly an appropriate step.

But that's when I started opening the sub-policies. The first two sub-policies you have to adopt to become scientifically dominant are secularism and humanism. Really? Does one really need to be a secularist or a humanist to be a scientist? I think that many of the world's greatest scientific thinkers who were also theists would be surprised to learn that they needed those traits to advance scientific discovery. The next level of sub-policies that need to be adopted includes free thought. Free thought? While I agree that free thought in the sense that being able to think outside the box is actually a necessary component to identifying new solutions to vexing problems, the term free thought or freethinker has been stolen by atheists as an alternative name for themselves. (As I have pointed out previously, my experience is that atheists are often among the most lock-step thinkers I have ever encountered, so in addition to changing a positive thing, i.e. being able to think freely, into a negative thing, the adoption of that term by some atheists is actually inaccurate.) So, the use of that phrase as something that is needed to advance in science is sending an inaccurate message.

It is possible that I am over-reacting, but it seems to me that applying these loaded terms to a game like Civilization V which is primarily played by teenagers or very young adults creates an association that advancement in science requires a commitment to atheism. It is very much akin to brainwashing.  I personally doubt that's what Sid Meier intended given that it appears that he is a "devout Lutheran." However, I have no idea how much oversight Sid Meier has had of his computer software projects since he created the original Civilization. Alternatively, it may be that he has accepted as truth the idea that one has to leave God out of the picture to advance in science -- many Christians wrongly hold this position.

I am not one of those parents who want to ban things from my kids with which I disagree. I never thought to ban Harry Potter, for example. Still, I did let my kids know that the impression presented is inaccurate. I am hoping that other parents who have taken the time to read this and who have children who may play Civilization V might do the same. It is the subtle impressions left unchallenged that create the seeds of doubt that might come back to hurt them in the future.

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