If she does know how to think rationally, it's a matter of time before she sees the inconsistencies in religion anyhow.

Note that this presumes her to be approaching religion from a fact-based perspective: e.g. treating it as just a set of empirical beliefs. This is true for some people, but not for all. There are many people who approach religion from an emotion-based perspective, where they start from the emotion of faith which never goes away, even if they intellectually acknowledge that they have no real justification for it. And then there are people who are somewhere in between: they have an emotion of faith, but one which can be affected by factual knowledge.

It seems to me like a common failing of many atheists, including many LW posters, is that they've never experienced that emotion and therefore presume that all religious people treat their faith as merely a set of beliefs - which seems to me like an utter misunderstanding of the actual psychology of religion. It also disposes them to consider all religious people "stupid" for not seeing what they consider obvious, failing to consider the fact that religious people might see those things but in some cases elect to ignore them. Even if atheists do manage to see this, they call it "belief-in-belief" and say it's not actually real belief at all - which is still missing the point.

Is religious faith an emotion? That's not me being a smug empiricist, I'm actually curious. I've talked to enough theists and read enough apologia to understand that a lot of folks have a strong sense of the numinous that doesn't really go away, but I know very little about its actual phenomenology.

Open Thread, July 16-31, 2012

by OpenThreadGuy 1 min read16th Jul 2012142 comments


If it's worth saying, but not worth its own post, even in Discussion, it goes here.