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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I absolutely agree! Were it not for the brainwashing of children I was willing to give religion a "pass" on the theory of different strokes for different folks.  But over the years I began to suspect there's something really wrong about this kind of brainwashing.  It creates a dilemma for a child to see the world and learn from their senses and then be told there's an invisible spirit out there who's the only one that knows the truth and you have to follow the spirit's teaching or you and everyone you know will suffer a fiery death.  And who's feeding them this nonsense - their parents!  I wonder at how the kind of inner turmoil this has to create manifests itself in later anti-social behavior. in the constant war between what you can really see and experience and what you are told you should be seeing in the context of the great spirit actually controlling your every move.  Human beings adapt - that's our core evolutionary advantage.  And so I think most people so indoctrinated manage to find a way to become contributing members of society despite this major handicap by just accepting the duality and becoming less than they could have been.  And in the end - believing in the fantasy of religion gives people something to belong to that gets them ready acceptance within their nominal peers.  And this social component is probably what keeps otherwise rational people perpetuating their participation in a mindless fantasy.  But at its core religion is a very destructive influence on the evolution of man, not because of the concept of a god or gods, but because it's core beliefs involve the special annointment its believers get that makes them better than the rest of us, that they are the chosen people and that everyone else needs to be "saved" or killed.  The reality is that religion is extremely divisive to a society as we can readily see in the world today.

The worst part of most religious training is that the motivations, even if morally legitimate, are quite different from those that gave rise to the original religious training of the ancient Jews or even Christians. The Jewish moral codes, for example, especially those pertaining to sex (which are still with us), are less about MORALITY (as most farm Christians mythologically assume) than about IMMORTALITY - procreation, even incestuous as in the case of Job's (?) daughters, was the most important use of sex, NOT pleasure or intimacy, as we think today (even many of the Christians among us concede this). The real reason homosexuals and onanists were persecuted and executed was that they used sex primarily for pleasure and not procreation, thus "jeopardizing" the Darwinian survival of civilization. Seen from an atheistic point of view, the Jewish religion was a very carefully designed system of survival - but the survival was not of the individual person primarily, but rather of Society (personified as Jehovah, for authority's sake). Today, we would not, with our post-Industrial-Age advancements, ever be able to relate to the desparation which inspired Judaism. As for Christianity, the many forms of it that surround us, most notably Catholicism, originate, not from within the New Testament, but rather history, specifically, Constantine. What had been a mystery cult that related Judaism to Platonic philosophy and was an itinerant but respectable, autonomous social EXPERIMENT, participation in which was VOLUNTARY albeit absolute and complete, became, through Constantine's decree an INVOLUNTARY statist means of joining Romans, and hence most of Europe, under devotion to the State (emperor). The motivation for the constantinist compromise was that the Jewish believers in Meshiach refused to acknowledge the Roman emperor as an incarnate god, like Egyptian Horus had been thought of, which was a crime, but tracking the Christians down effectively became politically disadvantageous to the emperor, so he apparently granted a pardon to the dissidents by making their religion the State religion. (Might this be an ancient foreshadowing of the outcome of the War on Terror?) While this description in fine detail may be very sketchy, and even somewhat innaccurate, it's enough to show that THE CHRISTIANITY WE ARE IMMERSED IN TODAY IS NOT THE SAME FAITH THAT THE ITINERANT DISSIDENT JEWISH CHRISTIANS BELIEVED AT THE TIME THAT THE EPISTLES WERE STILL BEING WRITTEN. Christainity never sought, in the hands of the Apostles, to become THE social contract, but rather A social experiment, funded only by the dues and fueled only by the devotion of its voluntary members. I am beginning to suspect that the Apostles, had they known what we know today about the true nature of the Origins of both Man and his Cosmos, they could have conceded their position for a rationalist one, since they saw their position as rational (by Greek standards) in the first place.


I woold recommend three books that would help shape a clearer view on these matters: Christianity Incorporated (Budde and Brimlow, 2001), The Myth of Male Power (Warren Farrell, Ph. D., 1993), and The Myth of American Religious Freedom (Sehat, 2010).  

Why does faith trump intelligence?


Because most people have very little to no intelligence!

With respect (I'm an absolute newbie here so I'll try to tread carefully...) but I'd beg to differ.  Partly because intelligence is difficult to define (psychology mates tell me there are at least 5 kinds of intelligence which it is useful to recognise, include emoitional, spatial, academic) and partly because otherwise very intelligent people suffer from this disease (I know some very bright folks who are deeply devout - and really have strong faith).


Having been there myself for 30 years, I believe that part of the answer to this (I am deeply ashamed of having allowed myself to be hoodwinked for so long) is the subtelty of the arguments and partly the guilt thing.


So those presenting religious arguments - particularly in the RCC (which was my particular brainwashing home) - do so in highly academic terms.  The whole concept of theology as a serious academic subject is evidence here if you like.  That people can devote their lives to the study of the non-existent is amazing: but the weight of the edifice makes it so much harder to realise that faith is nonsense.  And once a little faith has been adopted (and it is so easily done) then the usual powers of logic can kick in.  You can have seemingly rational debates for ever about theological subjects, which in fact are really quite silly because of the problems with an early and erasily skipped over premise.


And then there is the guilt and fear thing: I used to pray long and hard (ironically) that god would never let me become an atheist.  Funny that!  But I couldn't bear the thought...and I might even have recognised that I'd rather not know the truth if it were to turn out I was utterly and completely wrong in the basis of my world view...  Dreadful logic of course.


Cheers, Jim.

I agree whole-heartedly. I live in the US [aka Christian-central] and most of the theists [okay some of them ARE dumbasses] but most of them are average to high intelligence. The human brain is susceptible to so many wrong impressions and conclusions that it is amazing that we have a grip on reality at all. Even  the most intelligent human beings on earth are subject to biases, logical fallacies, illusory correlation, and the power of suggestion. [And, although you can learn how to recognize and prevent most of this through education in critical thinking, even those with doctorates are still subject to these "brain glitches" - or whatever you want to call them.]

- PS... If you said that you're not because you're "rational" or you "know better"... guess what! You just fell pray to one of the most destructive brain glitches of all! THE NOT-ME FALLACY!


So yeah, you're totally right.

Delusions have little to do with intelligence  They are impervious to reason and logic.  Anyone, no matter how intelligent can harbor a delusion about something.  They are fixed ideas that are "true, right, and accepted" without doubt.

as i see it, robert, the people promoting faith have control the education systems in countries around the world, including yours and mine and thus people grew up generally aware that faith was a superior way to live your life. as long as religion is pushed on society at every turn and in every corner of our lives, it will present itself as the better way to live. as has been mentioned many many times before, most people believe that without god, there can be NO morality and NO ethics by which to live. Atheists are by far the most hated and least trusted members of society and will be as long as the religious can continue to promote that idea, which is no less than hate speech, but we have no voice from which to speak at this point...


just a few thoughts..

Which is why I feel so strongly that the actions of groups like the Texas Board of Education aka Texass Board of Indoctrination, need to be fought against in every way. Those text books affect much more than the children of Texas.
it's is a given that they should be so narrow in their scope, they produced both bushes! they believe they have the right to violate the constitution because god told them too... your country needs to find a way to stop the lunacy!
If the current flock of presidential candidates is an indication, we have no chance of stopping it any time soon.

We're working on it James. *sigh* unfortunately it's an uphill battle. You have to be pretty f*#king brave on this side of the pond to be openly an atheist and confront religion in battle. It is a war... make no mistake. They realize that too. That's why they don't just hate us... they fear us. Life is hard as an atheist here, but I'm not leaving because my country depends on me to be a voice of reason. 

This question is a good one. I've had some ideas.


- Intelligent people don't usually go in for 100%. They acknowledge the world is big, we are small, and we don't know everything. So, just because faith in Invisible Man doesn't correlate with what we know now doesn't mean that it won't someday. (Rationalization at it's finest.)


- There are tons of people who spend their entire lives shoehorning gods into modern science. They make sure just a tiny bit of doubt remains in every single skeptical mind when it comes to the idea of God. They write well and stretch the evidence as much as possible. It's dishonest, but it also works. The more people doing it, the more plausible it can become.


- Being religious means you have a wider selection of mates to choose from. You also have a wider circle of friends. Life exists to mate, and as social creatures we are heavily influenced by those around us. Believing (or at least pretending) is currently a good reproduction strategy. You get the added bonus of community. 


- Traditions we get from our parents are deep things. Even the bad ones tend to keep their hold for decades. Religion is another family tradition that ends up engraved in our brains, like it or not. Respect often keeps us from questioning what we learned from our parents.  


Those seem to be the most major reasons to me. We are all selective with how we apply our minds to problems. This is just one of the most obvious areas to see it at work.


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