America’s Addiction to Belief and Rejection of Rationale

9/14/2010 2:40:02 PM

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.



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Post a comment below.

 

Occum
10/21/2010 9:15:15 AM
Is anyone familiar with the term cogntive dissonance? I find it difficult to reconcile that long ago God not only condoned murder but ordered it and now it is a sin. If evolution is not the major part of the equation that truly allowed our species to establish the principles to proliferate and thrive then where does Creationism fit in? A book or some stones gave us the rules? Then we return to the same question. How did God (according to the book) support murder at one time and then condemn it later? I find the article interesting from the same standpoint as watching Bill O'Reilly. Their job is to "shake the tree" and get people watching, blogging, talking and buying the products they or their advertisers sell.

Sue_6
9/18/2010 11:00:29 AM
Brian Trent's original article is brilliant. That it is necessary makes me fear quite seriously for American democracy. I was taught the difference between good sources (probably) and bad sources (almost certainly), in public school no less. I am only 45; I should not be seeing the passing of this essential practice. It is also very even-handed. Trent is quite correct not to toss all spiritual beliefs in the basket with beliefs that are unsupportable and unmaintainable, if one has any grasp of what "evidence" is. So, mzee, you are wrong. The author is right. Where there can be no evidence that would stand in court or before peer review, evidence is irrelevant -- that is the only time it is so. But such cases do exist. In fact I am quite sure you have moral beliefs and values you are sure are true, though they are unprovable. It is not provably wrong to murder without provocation; how could it be? 'Wrong' is a value judgment. A useful one, I would say.

Brianz
9/17/2010 4:55:53 PM
Hence the existance of the Tea Party and other partisan activities based on a fundamentalist belief system of "lies, dam lies and statistics" to paraphrase Mark Twain.

JWT Meakin
9/17/2010 4:51:48 AM
rodeen: I think you missed the point.

rodeen
9/16/2010 10:33:53 AM
mzee I would love for you to expand on this profound insight. Obvious myth. If you could please go into some factual detail for this arguement I would appreciate it. As I am one of the unenlightned ones who has yet to discover the secret so many of you must know about our existence.

JWT Meakin
9/16/2010 1:27:32 AM
"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 [is another that] warrants a phone call to the police." No; they are the same thing. It is not a sign of rationality to believe an obvious myth just because it was recorded a long time ago.



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