How can one see and still be so blind?

There is a photo I saw on Facebook, and it said "When I see this 'Consider the implications of this fact: when the word became flesh, God was an embryo.' I read this 'If you have four pencils and I have seven apples, how many pancakes will fit on the roof? Purple, because aliens don't wear hats."

I think that this truly captures the laughable absurdity of religion, and shows to anyone willing to think just how silly religion is. But unfortunately, I remembered that most theists who see that WON'T think about how that applies to religion. And of course, me being me, I got to thinking.

Why can't theists look at religion rationally? If I get one of my christian friends to explain to me what the islamic faith is so silly, and why they don't believe it, why can't they extend that thinking to their own religion?

It seems to me almost that they can't think properly. That may sound mean, and in a way, it isn't true, because several of my christian classmates are very smart, and they think very well, just not about religion. But the classmate whom I spent a week teaching how to factor polynomials, then a month later was insisting that she never learned it (I literally smacked her upside the head for that), I wonder about. She studies hard for quizzes, but a month later when we do a chapter test, she insists that "I never learned this. This is stupid, I'm not doing this."

I'm sure that not all christians are like her (she is a teenage girl, after all) but how different are they from her? Do they all say one thing, then say the complete opposite the next moment? Do they all accept material presented to them, obsess over it, then totally reject it soon after?

And what about other theists? Are they like that as well? Can they learn about how absolutely minute, miniscule and microscopic a proton is, and how many hundreds of trillions make up just one everyday object, and still believe that a supernatural being created everything around us in six days (which makes no sense because there wasn't such a thing as days and nights for first while)?

How can theists see so much, and still be so blind? How can they be aware and yet so oblivious? How do they believe it all? How can they think that praying actually works? And they pray for stupid stuff as well, like getting good grades, or getting over colds faster, instead of children dying all over the world, or the pointless wars that are being fought just because two people with power don't like each other.

It astounds me that many and most theists are very intelligent, but they just seem so...... stupid. I suppose that, being raised agnostic/atheist, I don't have the same take on this that many of you do, so share how you see this! I really want to understand how others think and see things, so help me out!

I could go on asking questions like the ones above for pages, even after I run out of ways to phrase them, but I think I've started to rant again so I'll stop :)

Thanks for you're input! It is very much appreciated and welcome! But no hating! If you want to get your panties in a twist because I said that theists are stupid, then 1) you need to learn how to read because I said that they SEEM stupid, and 2) you probably don't want anyone to rip you to pieces, so run along before I do.

Thanks again :)

Views: 325

Comment by kris feenstra on July 17, 2012 at 3:29pm

In most cases, it is probably a natural reaction to defend one's way of life.  Even for religious folk who don't live consistently with the laws of their religion, the idea of gods provides them with some comfort or benefit, and removing that from them is probably unnerving.  Some of our psychology seems hard wired for confirmation bias, selective memory, and altogether dodgy reasoning.  We are also raised in a culture where being wrong is treated like defeat, which makes it much harder to simply realize our mistakes and move on.

The God embryo thing is weird, I'll admit, but there was probably some bizarre process of internal logic building up that statement.  The individual saying it probably thought the supporting logic was self-evident where you or I might see that same 'logic' as... crazy.  From my perspective, it looks like the product of cognitive dissonance -- it looks like someone trying to reconcile reality with a belief they just can't bear to let go of.

This sort of irrational defensiveness is much more apparent with religion, but it's a surefire bet that you and I do it as well with different aspects of life.  There is at least one thing we defend less because we are convinced we are right, and more because we cannot face the implications of being wrong.  We may not be anywhere near as extreme as, let's say, biblical literalists, but I think you can answer your questions in this blog by turning inward.  You can probably find something in your own life about which you are afraid to be wrong.  If you find something like that, don't focus on whether or not you are right or wrong about the issue; simply ask yourself a few questions:

  • Are all of my reasons for believing I am correct strictly rational, or are some of my reasons tainted with bias and emotion? 
  • What evidence would be required for me to admit I am wrong?
  • Have I ignored any evidence against my position not because I have rationally dismissed it, but rather because it was inconvenient to weigh and consider?

Again, the point isn't to change your overall stance on the issue in question; you just need to look for some irrational belief to which you cling.  If you can find that (and I'm going to just say it outright: it is definitely there somewhere), you should be able to understand on some level why religious people cling to their irrational beliefs as well.

Just for reference, I was also raised nonreligious.

Comment by Milly on July 17, 2012 at 3:38pm

I'm not really afraid of being wrong, I see it as an opportunity to learn, and I don't make a big fuss about it, or stubbornly insist that I'm right. I admit that I don't know everything, and I'm not right about everything.

Comment by Denise W on July 17, 2012 at 4:12pm

There is a really terrific book that gets into this topic from a different angle, but definitely digs into cognitive dissonance by theists with respect to their own religions. Sex & God: How Religion Distorts Reality ~ I've been recommending it regularly. :-)

Comment by kris feenstra on July 17, 2012 at 5:42pm

Decided to reword.  

I'm not really afraid of being wrong,

While that may the case in principle and in general practice, what I am asking you to look for are the exceptions.  I find it extremely unlikely that you are a unique case with no exceptions unless you are a robot, have no emotional attachment to any of your beliefs, ideologies or any elements of your way of life, or are some sort of gifted savant who has surpassed human limits and holds no unexamined beliefs.

Perhaps using the word 'afraid' was misleading.  The point was not about fear itself, but rather any emotional or personal attachments that affect our desire for something to be true or false.

Comment by Milly on July 17, 2012 at 6:08pm

Ok, I don't mind being wrong, if some one can point out my mistake and show me how it is wrong, then show me what is right and how it is right, then I was wrong, and I learned something. I'm always open to people pointing out my flaws, and if they show me how I am flawed, I'll keep it in mind and look for it as I go about my life. If I see it, then I've got a flaw, if I don't then I don't. I know I have flaws, I've got tons of them: I'm not open enough with my family and friends, my temper is way to quick, I'm lazy, I'm offensive, I'm stubborn, I stand up for myself to the point of arguing with teachers, I rant and ramble, my point is, I'm open to being wrong. I know I'll be wrong a lot, and I like it when people point out that I'm wrong, so I can see it and learn from it.

Comment by Milly on July 17, 2012 at 6:10pm

I don't protect my feelings by bull-headedly insisting that I'm right.

Comment by kris feenstra on July 17, 2012 at 8:28pm

Your response doesn't fit with what I wrote.  It's possible that I am not being sufficiently clear.  I'll have to see if I can think of a better way to reframe the concept, but if I can't, I guess it just is what it is.

Comment by SteveInCO on July 17, 2012 at 9:37pm

Many religious people are perfectly capable of being rational about other people's religion.

Comment by Tim on July 17, 2012 at 10:36pm

I was raised in a YEC Southern Baptist church. I stopped attending there in the early 70's. A few years later, I moved 400 miles away. I lost track of most of my church friends. But recently, I've re-connected with some of them on Facebook.

One lady and her husband have spent the last 35 years in Brazil translating the Bible into native languages. Another guy has spent a similar amount of time in Australia translating the Bible. Another friend is in a missionary in Africa. And another friend travels all over Central America training local ministers and setting up "seed churches".

Whenever I talk to any of them, I always fell like grabbing them by the shoulders, shaking them, and saying, "Don't You Know What You Are Doing is BULLSHIT?"

But they are all so brainwashed that I know my words will have absolutely no effect.

It's frustrating.

Comment by James Cox on July 17, 2012 at 11:02pm

In a word, 'Learned Myopia'. Oh that was two words!

If I was in Africa, I would get lost looking at the wonderful different bugs, plants and wild life. The bible would never come up, unless I needed a door stop, or maybe help someone learn to read, in a pinch.

Helping others 'get over' their romancing of 'x', might be very hard. For geeks/nerds, 'getting over' their romance with the world and ideas might kill them. Your friends with the bible, or doing missionary work, might cause a major mental event, or atleast change their rose colored glasses. Ever see people play out their lives, never looking up? For some of us, the horizon is retreating further and further away.

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