Culture also affects our brains in less obvious ways. Consider that we tend unconsciously to accept as “normal” that which our culture regards as normal.
Given the way our flexible brains tend to rewire themselves to adapt to our environment, it is easy for us to “catch” the assumptions of false worldviews without realizing we have done so, just as a child learning a language will pick up the right accent without even thinking about it. David Wells grasped this well when he wrote that “worldliness . . . is that set of practices in a society, its values and ways of looking at life, that make sin look normal and righteousness look strange.” The changes in our brains wrought by these societal influences often occur deep below the surface of our conscious awareness, leading us to hold pre-reflective assumptions that are, to quote Herbert Schlossberg. “More powerful than assertions, because they bypass the critical faculty and thereby create prejudice. . . . The simple act of listening to an argument is almost enough to engage it. . . . That bypassed assumption is the pocket of enemy soldiers that was ignored in an effort to engage the main body of the adversary, and it lies in wait to strike from the rear. The false assumption is additionally beguiling because it often appeals to one of the worst instincts—the desire to be fashionable or at least to avoid being associated with the unfashionable or unpopular.