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How Can People Who Are So Smart Believe Something So Stupid?


lostman42
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How can otherwise brilliant people be stupid enough to believe all the stupid shit the bible says? I know some people who are far, far, far more intelligent than me. One person I know who is a strict fundamentalist recently graduated as class valedictorian with a 4.0 every year. I get C's and D's yet I realize how ridiculous religion is.

 

Does anyone on here have any theories on how some of the brightest people out their fall into religion so easily?

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How can otherwise brilliant people be stupid enough to believe all the stupid shit the bible says? I know some people who are far, far, far more intelligent than me. One person I know who is a strict fundamentalist recently graduated as class valedictorian with a 4.0 every year. I get C's and D's yet I realize how ridiculous religion is.

 

Does anyone on here have any theories on how some of the brightest people out their fall into religion so easily?

 

Lostman, I am reading the most wonderful book written by a Vincent Bugliosi, called ''The Divinity of Doubt - the God Question'' Vincent Bugliosi, whom many view as the nation’s foremost prosecutor, has successfully taken on, in court or on the pages of his books, the most notorious murderers of the last half century—Charles Manson, O.J. Simpson, and Lee Harvey Oswald.

 

I just read the section today where he states that the most intelligent people in the world believe this nonsense about 'Scriptures' (without questioning) because it has been handed down to us over the centuries and we have just believed it to be true. Shows you what the brain is like. I would recommend this book to anyone. His writing style is so easy to read. I am looking forward to everything he has to say.

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One person I know who is a strict fundamentalist recently graduated as class valedictorian with a 4.0 every year. I get C's and D's yet I realize how ridiculous religion is.

 

Well, she or he may just be a great high school student without being a great thinker; the two possibilities are not synonymous nor necessarily linked to the other.

 

But, that aside, I don't have any theories nor any testable hypotheses, but I guess that the presence or absence of religious belief is not necessarily a matter of one's logical/rational ability. Otherwise intelligent persons can create a sort of 'box' in their minds where they put religion (I experienced doing the same), making it impervious to critical examination. I think this especially happens when persons don't think about why tradition becomes "tradition".

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This was briefly discussed in another thread, but I couldn't find where. Here's a book that was mentioned, and here's an article:

Why clever people believe in silly things

 

I didn't read the article yet, but in my experience I see people with prejudices, compartmentalizing their silly beliefs, and following their emotions rather than thinking through what they blindly accept. I believed "stupid shit" myself (not that I am brilliant, though!) because:

 

A. Everyone around me believed it and I didn't think well enough of myself, or trust my own thoughts and gut feelings that something was amiss.

 

B. Group cohesion is powerful and hard to go against. I wanted to belong.

 

C. Stupid shit is floating in the air in the USA, and everyone is brought up to accept what the news, churches, and authorities throw at us.

 

D. Education in the USA doesn't teach us to use critical thinking in all areas except what we need to study to get that job and money we have to live on. We don't apply that to anything else it seems. After I began to use these skills myself, I was told many times I was "being negative" when being skeptical of outrageous claims other people believed.

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The fear factor has something to do with it too. Xians have had the fear of god put in them week after week, probably since they were too young to fend for themselves. Questioning isn't an option for many/most.

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I think that in some ways, when you're "smart" it can be harder to go against the establishment than if you're normal.

 

I was valedictorian at my Christian school, and despite the fact that I didn't have the best attitude, was cocky and sarcastic, and wasn't involved in as many extra Christian activities (Bible study, prayer meeting, etc), I was treated with more respect than many of my classmates who were more sincere and involved Christians but were mediocre students and to be honest and immodest, truly of mediocre intelligence. I noticed later that this was a pattern - although many valedictorians and good students in the classes above and behind me actually were devout Christians, they were the students who had been groomed since elementary school to be the spiritual leaders as well. Every prayer request they gave in class was fawned over by adoring teachers, while the struggling student was all but ignored.

 

I think that people who do well in school often recognize their place in the establishment and how they got there and what they need to do to rise. They're invested in the hierarchy. Once I'd achieved that kind of status at school, I couldn't bring myself to jeopardize it by renouncing Christianity. I'm sure that smart people in churches also rise to leadership positions and are reluctant to give that up. The only other students from my school who now are non-religious are those who were never recognized as being good students (some are of high intelligence and some aren't at all). Among the other academic overachievers over several years, every single one but me has moved on to be a leader in the church or extremely outwardly devout.

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I had a teacher in high school who would oscillate between discussing quantum physics, and warning the class about the the impending takeover of the U.S government by the New World Order.

 

It's baffling, but I think in the end it's painful for most Christians to relinquish the passive faith they have, and the comfort it brings them

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I've struggled to understand that too. Best resource I've found by far to answer that question:

 

Why Smart People Believe Weird Things by Michael Shermer.

 

Summary statement:

"Smart people believe weird things because they are skilled at defending beliefs they arrived at for non-smart reasons."

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How can otherwise brilliant people be stupid enough to believe all the stupid shit the bible says? I know some people who are far, far, far more intelligent than me. One person I know who is a strict fundamentalist recently graduated as class valedictorian with a 4.0 every year. I get C's and D's yet I realize how ridiculous religion is.

 

Does anyone on here have any theories on how some of the brightest people out their fall into religion so easily?

It doesn't really have to do with intelligence, it has more to do with common sense. You can have dumb, non-religious people as well. The intelligent fundamentalists I've known didn't have common sense.

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in church as i have observed you have smart people in stupid belifes becuase it is nearly imposible for them to think agianst the faith becuase if they do their "doubting" and if they do that theyll lose the sense of security in their religion. i rember when i thought that i had lost connection with god a year before i became a atheist i paniced.

 

its the same with them, i see it as a subconcious fear mechanism.

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My dad was very smart (lawyer, judge, doctorate, etc) and yet he was a conservative Christian. And I ended up an atheist.

 

We discussed many times why we had such differing beliefs, and when he discussed his Christianity he would swear he had personal "proofs" that substantiated his beliefs. Although he did eventually admit that at the end of the day he couldn't really know with absolute certainty what he believed was true, but it just "worked" for him so he believed. He also completely accepted my atheism and understood why I thought the way I do - without some sort of personal proof he could see why there was no rational reason for me to believe.

 

I think possibly what he was doing was attributing unexplained personal experiences to "religion" rather than just calling them unexplained personal experiences and leaving it at that. In his case, those experiences were attributed to Christianity.

 

At the end of the day, even smart people like to feel comforted by something and I suppose in his case religion provided that comfort. To each his own, I guess....

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  • 2 weeks later...

I figured I was pretty "smart" throughout my life. Have always excelled academically, been usually been top of my class whether at high school or University. Always read a lot, always liked thinking a lot. And yet I was a Christian for 14 years. Why oh why, I have been wondering ever since. I had fairly moderate, even liberal, parents, I was not closeted in religious schooling, and I went to a very good University. And yet I managed to maintain these crazy beliefs throughout all that time.

 

I think I actually stayed in it so long because I kind of knew that there were serious problems with the whole thing, and that thought scared me. So I guess I unconsciously steered away from the "real" doubts and managed to compartmentalise my thinking entirely.

 

Boy, do I feel stupid now.

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Smart people believe stupid things.

 

It's just part of human nature, unfortunately. It doesn't only apply to religion.

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