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. 

What are your thoughts with this? Why does intelligence, reason, intelligent thoughts more often than not, lost out to religion? I would love to hear from of our friends of faith on here as well.

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Not when they're ALL green, Heather.
A sense of comfort and childhood familiarity.  Holding on to the last shreds of hope that there will be a final justice for people who are good and who are bad. That there is a father figure protection and punishments doled out and a warm family reunion waiting for us at the end of the line.

Missing the dead was what took me so long to admit I was and always had been an atheist.
I think that often it it's because they believe that all that they know and that they can find out is never enough, there always has to be some kind of higher unknown.

Faith doesn't trump intellect. Faith trumps reason. This is why smart people can be religious, their faith allows them to turn off the reasonable part of their brain long enough to believe in something they cannot see, hear, touch, or smell. However they can "feel" god's presence, or rather what they "perceive" to be god's presence through euphoria. As a former christian I've "experienced" the holy spirit before, but what I found out later was only that euphoric feeling that comes from a deep religious belief when you let go of everything, all fears, all worry and then throw in the social aspect of a revival atmosphere where hundreds of people are gathered together. It's much like a rock concert. Watch a video of any major rock band, the front rows are stacked with people in a purely euphoric state. I would imagine if you could test their brain activity at that peak moment of euphoria it would be near identical to the feeling that people have in church when they let go of themselves entirely and give themselves over to the moment.

Comfort is another reason. Life is scary. There are many many things to be scared of, to worry about, and to fear. How good it makes one feel to know in their hearts and minds that an all powerful supreme being which knows everything looks over and protects you. It makes one feel wonderful.  This is why faith is important, and why it seems to trump intellect. Doubt becomes the weapon of intellect and the enemy of faith. Anytime one's reasonable doubting intellectual mind starts to come to the surface, it's quashed again with faith.


It's because without faith, you can't feel like that. It's a drug, and an addiction and should be treated as such.

Eric, you are so right, that "faith", in the religious sense, is a drug, and addiction, and needs to be treated, just like any other addiction! Also, and this is very damaging too, I was led to "believe" by my fellow "born-again" christians, that money was NOT important in one's christian life. That "god" would always provide, in the time of need, and that "the kingdom of heaven" was all that I should be concerned with. Every so often, that "doubt" would rise up in me, and "reason" would try to teach me that money WAS important, especially in my old age, and that I should put a little away, regularly. I tried to do that, from time to time, but "faith" would override my reason, and I would end up spending my money on foolish things, and of course, "the tides and offerings". Today, at 64, I live only on my Social Security check, and only dream of the things I wish I could do, if I only had saved my money! Yet, the churches continue to get bigger and fancier. There is a church here in South Florida, that even has a fancy restaurant, with dimed lights, that you can pay for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, with one of your credit cards!

@ Eric - I agree with you, though I would like to suggest, this euphoric feeling that is induced by the manner in which you (imo) accurately describe, would be categorized a little differently than a drug addiction.


If a believer can take themselves "out of the moment" and transport mentally into a fantasy of what it would be like to be consistently euphoric in the after-life, and this ability gives them a mental high for a period of time, you are going to have a hard time classifying that as a drug addiction, especially if they are able to function, (hold down a job, etc).


When you consider this "high" helps them to cope with illnesses and struggles they have in their lives, it is a lot to ask them to give it up. I understand there can be negative repercussions for non-believers for indulging people of faith, in some circumstances; but we are talking about asking people to see that their life-line is not what they think it is.


Compare it to someone holding onto a life perserver ring because they have been indoctrinated to believe staying afloat without one is not possible. I can guarantee you, unless you can get them to accept that they can learn to swim, they will never let go of it.


You can compare the fact that people who have hope of surviving a life threatening situtation, do have a higher percentage of survival than those who give up all hope. It is the proverbial golden carrot on a stick concept.


This is not to say, that it would not be possible for society to develop a healthier method of developing and channeling the positive psycholgocial effects of hoping for something better, or  focusing on an idea that contains enough positivity to induce euphoria. It can be interesting to think about. One that would not require the expense of a good rock concert.  


I did once, experience a few moments of euphoria at a rock concert. It was Van Halen but the one with Sammy Hagar lol.

There's a book : "I'm fine with God....It's Christians I can't stand" by Bruce Bickel & Stan Jantz.
In the United States, more than any where else in the world, religion, mostly Christianity is shoved down our throats from the age of five or there abouts.  The people who are closest to us at that age are our role models,  the people we trust above all others and they are telling us that there is an invisible man up in the sky who demands that we worship him or he will see that we are punished in the most horrible was for all eternity after we die.  At the age of five or so it never occurs to us to ask any questions about how do you know what happens to people after death or how do you know there is an invisible man up in the sky, we just acccept it as being a fact.  Then when we are mature enough to have those questions invade our private thoughts, we are so conditioned to hiding the doubts that we simply go on with the pretense.  Losing the trust and respect of our friends and relatives who also are conditioned to believe is too frightening.  However, I think most people develope those doubts even if they continue to hide them.
This was a great question Robert. After reading most of the posts it is clear that this is a very complex issue. I know this may be stating the obvious however this question and the responses illustrates this complexity very well.

Why would someone who is in possession of an impressive intellect fall back on faith? It is not a simple answer and one answer does not fit all. The intellect is not perfect and it is not resistant to being fooled,no matter how high the IQ. Look at the man or woman who believes their spouse is faithful and true and is completely perplexed when they discover a deception. The signs were there, there were hints and subtle changes in the relationship, but they are completely surprised in the end. They have fooled themselves into believing the best of the situation and that is much more comfortable. For me, when I did try to believe in the fairy tale religion offered, I ignored the questions that kept coming up in my mind, I told myself that in the end the answers would come and that god would provide these answers. I was like that spurned spouse, who now has that hindsight. The signs were there, the inconsistencies and the lies I told myself would no longer hold.

I love this question.
We need to continue to come together like this, and support each other, and educate those that are willing to listen, so that they can understand how to live a genuine life, instead of a "make believe" one.
I think most people of faith are afraid to take responsibility for themselves and they are also afraid of dying.  It is easier to blame Satan for their lonely or unhappy lives than to do something to make it better.  I have noticed with my family that they are all lonely and when things go wrong they get more religious and more judgemental.


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