Utne Blogs > Mind and Body

America’s Addiction to Belief and Rejection of Rationale

by Karen Garcia

Tags: Humanism, rationality, empiricism, philosophy, Spirituality, The Humanist, Karen Garcia,

America Addiction to BeliefBrian Trent is fed up with the moon landing conspiracy theorists, Obama birth certificate deniers, and natural selection naysayers. In his article appearing in the July issue of The Humanist, Trent laments how Americans “have come to be belief’s poster children. Reactionary, emotional, and almost blissfully willing to ignore facts if they contradict a cemented position.”

According to Trent, we have evolved (or devolved, I guess) into a “culture that thrives on the false principle that ‘all opinions are equal,’ even those without a shred of factual data, documentation, or reasoned methodology.”

The oftentimes scathing tone of the article exemplifies the frustration and astonishment many people experience when faced with certain demoralizing statistics, including that “20 percent of the American people believe NASA faked the Apollo moon landings” and “half of the population believes the world was made in six days.”

Lumping creationists in with members of the 9-11 “Truth Movement” is certainly a bold move, and one that some religious individuals would undoubtedly object to, but Trent tackles this thorny issue with dexterity:

There are many rational people who are highly religious; the two positions need not be in strict opposition. Only when religious sensibilities derail rational decision-making does it become the problem we’re outlining here. Believing that long ago God ordered a father to sacrifice his son is one thing. Believing that God is commanding you right now to kill your son warrants a phone call to the police.

Do I buy Trent’s diagnosis of our national “addiction”? I’m not really sure. When religion is brought into any argument, I am reluctant to touch it with a 50-foot pole, which is a concern that, according to this Utne blog post, I shouldn’t have. You’ll just have to read it and decide for yourself.

Source: The Humanist 

Photo Credit: Image courtesy of Lisa Zangerl.