One of my favorite people of all time is Cornel West. Two of his most well known books are Race Matters and Democracy Matters where his views on society are for the most part, incredibly on the mark. I've heard him live a couple of times and he is wonderful to listen to. He is also a frequent quest on Real Time with Bill Maher where he rails against the right yet at the same time has been known to call out Obama. Anyway as I was listening to him the other day, I started to think, how could a man of such intelligence, hold onto something as unintelligent as religion? He is a man of deep faith. Expanding on this idea, why is it that many people of incredible intelligence are people of religion? What is it about what they get from religion that allows them all to suspend reason on one day a week and give themselves to the land of the make-believe? One of the main doctors who is treating Hitchens is a man of faith. This is a guy who has studied science in depth and has seen cells divide. He knows there is no scientific basis for his beliefs. Yet he believes. Is it because all these people need to religion to deal with death? Is because it is what is expected in our society and to be otherwise is too difficult? I just don't understand.
From the NYTimes today--excellent: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/06/15/arts/people-argue-just-to-win-sch...
I first saw Cornel West on a documentary called "Examined Life" and found him an interesting character. I've looked up many of his lectures and decided I'm not a fan. While he may be considered "an intellectual," he often just throws out overly complicated poetic phrases and philosophical trivia which I find a waste of time to listen to. He's like an evangelical philosopher, and he repeats the same meaningless phrases over and over. It's not unlike the metaphysical wordplay used by Christian apologists. Like many American Christians (though far too few still) he sees the danger of dogmatism but manages to hold on to his faith by creating his own brand of Christianity which rejects everything in the bible except the whole "love thy neighbor" and "do unto others" because he can't break through his indoctrination. It is particularly amusing when he starts talks about truth-seeking, critical thinking, and how we are a nation of sleepwalkers steeped in dogma but doesn't see how it applies to his own religious beliefs.
He has his foot out the door of religious dogma but has fallen into the trap of metaphysics, thinking it's a way to truth. This is the common trend among intellectuals of faith.
Smart people believe weird things because they are skilled at defending beliefs they arrived at for non-smart reasons.-Michael Shermer
That sums it up for me. As you know we all think what other people believe is "weird" or "dumb" but for them it makes perfect sense. Our politics may be completely insane to each other, while we share disbelief in deities. Common ground on that is not going to make us agree on other beliefs.
As Atheists we believe in evolution. As I write you will see that I'm not intelligent, but I feel that common sense pushes me to believe in those things that have been proven through logical processes such as math and science. These tools are in their early stages of development, not positive, but I believe we used mythical reasoning(story telling) to ease our minds as we evolved. And apparently those who could fabricate the best stories carried on their genes. I know you ladies are enticed by the "center of attention", in whatever social gathering it may be. Hence, we've evolved using language, arts, and such, which I'm sure preceded the use of fire, tools, instruments that have been developed over time that began developing other portions of our minds. Basically is what I'm saying, The answer is Evolution, and intelligence is a broad brush to paint with. I just tell my kids that Jesus is as real as Bugs Bunny.
I'm pretty sure I seen his rabbit hole one day when I was trippin on mushrooms in the Black Hills. I bet you would like to hear the rest of that story.
I truly believe that most theists feel somewhat comfortable with not questioning their religious tenets although, again, most of them have registered doubts in their minds at one time or another. But, and it's a big 'but', to expend the mental enery to actually dig into those tenets takes too much mental energy and focusing with their frontal lobes.
What they fail to recognize is that their short life here on this planet might, just might, be far better enriched by questioning and then denying those false premises and free their psyche to the point that it a much greater happiness awaits them. Once I matured and spent that mental energy, the eight-ton gorilla was lifted from my shoulders and I then knew life was what I....I made of it, and that I wasn't born a sinful criminal as view from some higher plane.
Bottom line, it's the tendency of one's mind to forego motion...to remain still.