Willful Ignorance - The Key To Insanity?

Hey everyone. I got into a really heated debate today with my sister, a theist, who sends $300 dollars a month to Joyce Meyers and claims that she's anointed by God. When I found out that my sister was sending money to that ministry I told her that she's no different than Benny Hinn (whom she says is terrible and a fraud) and that she's been investigated before for several things related to money. I offered to show her the info and my sister flat out refused, got angry and started shouting repeatedly "I don't care what anyone says God's working through her to do great things for people". My sister then stated that it doesn't matter what I show her because she trusts what God's told her about Joyce Meyers. After I politely tried to explain a few facts to her she yelled "whatever, I don't want to talk about it, whatever, whatever" and walked out of my house.

I've been an atheist activist for several years and an atheist for about 23 years. In probably 95% of my discussions with theists willful ignorance like the type my sister put on display today rears it's ugly and irritating head. So it goes without saying that I'm no stranger to it but I'm curious, how many of you guys deal with this, what's you're favorite way of dealing with it, and how often do you all have to deal with it? My god, there's nothing worse that willful ignorance!

Views: 109

Comment by Ezra T. Klatt on May 26, 2011 at 7:01pm

Too old cliche's come to mind:

"A fool and his (her) money are soon parted." and PT Barnum's axiom - "There's a sucker born every minute."


 My experience is that people don't want to hear the truth if it threatens their worldview. I speculate that if your sister seriously looked at the facts you presented she wouldn't be able to handle what she might undoubtly see as betrayal. She would probably try to find away to exonerate Meyers and blame it on Satan. She might even blame on the nefarious efforts of atheists and homosexuals (to be somewhat tongue in cheek).


I find that it is best to avoid such discussions with theists, even family. Their truth is more important than the facts.

Comment by Choscura on May 26, 2011 at 7:51pm

My opinion on this is that anybody who changes their mind wants to.  There are those among us who would rather be comfortable than know the truth: there are those among us who would rather know the truth than be comfortable.  You can generalize and say that this is what makes us atheists and them theists, but I don't think this is true, I think there are a lot of atheists who dislike the idea of god and so hope is not true on that ground, rather than simply not believe in god, and I base this on observations, such as the observation that even on this site, under the profile sections, the 'reason you became an atheist' lists numerous reasons for disliking the idea of a god or a religious ideal and seeking truth outside a religion based on that, but only one or two options to choose from for anybody who simply could not believe that there is/was a supernatural being responsible for all of this.


People like to believe what they like.  There are very few people among us who genuinely enjoy being proven wrong, much less done so in front of others.  the process of changing your religion (or changing to no religion) is mentally and morally degrading: it strips you of your entire self-image and of all of your dignity.  It is a complete and utter paradigm shift, and a deeply personal one.  The biggest analogy in biology I can think of would be defecating, and there is a very good reason we close the door to the bathroom when we do so: so that other people neither see nor have to deal with our shit.

Comment by Derek on May 26, 2011 at 9:48pm

Sounds like a case of pure cognitive dissonance.


It seems like your sister knows deepdown that it's BS. The delusion is so comforting that it would be quite uncomfortable for her to actually exercise critical thought.


Comment by Heather Spoonheim on May 26, 2011 at 10:15pm
I agree with Derek.  I run into this with almost every theist, or anyone who is really on a buzz about some big conspiracy theory, or even gambler's who are pushing the last of their chips onto the table.  The harder the truth is pushed back, the more they struggle, and at a certain point the cognition switches off and an animal comes out to fight.
Comment by jared huffman on May 27, 2011 at 1:53am
what's up man I am actually a christian and I agree that your sister's money is going down the drain to. I encounter christian people that give in to stuff like that all the time, there's nothing really you can do about it except hopefully they will really giving their money away is accomplishing nothing but making them broke, Especially to someone like joyce meyers.
Comment by Albert Bakker on May 27, 2011 at 2:41am


Joyce Meyer says God has made her rich.

Everything she has came from Him: the $10 million corporate jet, her husband’s $107,000 silver-gray Mercedes sedan, her $2 million home and houses worth another $2 million for her four children — all blessings, she says, straight from the hand of God.

God as holy cash cow. As an atheist of course I can't prove that it wasn't God that made her rich but people duped by her scam, but this does nothing to weaken the latter hypothesis. $300,- dollars a month. Holy cow! That is fucken criminal.

Does that count as charity too?

Comment by Shane Harris on May 27, 2011 at 4:32am

Had a conversation with a regular church goer on this topic just the other day.  She was going on that those that sent money to these TV peachers were mad and throwing their money away to crooks.

I agreed with her, but asked had she gone to church last week.


She replied yes of course


I then asked her if during the service did her church come round asking for money and did she donate.


She of course had given to the collection and when asked what was the difference ?  went rather quiet


Small victory, but I hope it still counts as a 1 in the win column

Comment by Heather Spoonheim on May 27, 2011 at 7:42am
Well the part that is most concerning is that people like Joyce Meyers can control the way their cult votes - and that actually gives them dibs on a candidates ear.  In the end it's the same for pretty much all Christians and their Svengalis.
Comment by scottjarvis123 on May 27, 2011 at 11:19am
Thanks for the reply's guys. I agree that it's cognitive dissonance at work with my sister and I would argue with the majority of people who go that route.
Comment by Derek on May 28, 2011 at 12:13am

@Nadia Gomos


I love "Smile or Die", it demolishes the idea that we can smile away sickness. It is absolutely ludicrous  --  bordering on schizophrenia (just my opinion) to think that we can cure an illness by thinking happy thoughts. Show me so much as a papercut cured by smiling. It is total and utter bullshit! Wow.


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