Why you can't reason with people of faith

published Oct 31, 2008, last modified Jun 26, 2013

Have you ever noticed why reason and evidence gets you nowhere with religionists?

The reason they believe in God is that they, as very young children, were repeatedly abused with the false dichotomy that either they believe (and, seeing no gods, their senses lie to them), or they disbelieve and everyone but them is insane. This abuse is coupled with:

  1. The explicit notion that if they disbelieve, they are perverse -- conversely, if they believe, they are good. No 2 year old child wants to be bad.
  2. The implicit or explicit threat of violence or abandonment. Clearly, if mommy and daddy think you're bad, you will starve.

So what's a child to do? Believe its own eyes and ears, or believe their parents' lies, under what must appear to the child as a sure penalty of death?

And so their parents' lunacy is irrevocably grafted in a child's unconscious, while at the same time severely damaging the natural rational machinery of the child. The child learns, in effect, that rationality and evidence is only to be used in certain circumstances, while it is to be explicitly discarded in other matters (like religiousity).

And that very same child, as parent, will repeat this treatment with their children. This is how the circle of perversion perpetuates itself.

In most individuals, this conditioning is so powerful that the individuals will feel genuinely tormented by anything that is at odds with the conditioning. Yes, even reality, since the child was taught that reality was not to be trusted in matters of religion.

So it's no wonder that logic and evidence are usually met with resistance, dissociation, projection, ex post facto rationalizations... and violence.

There's a longer version of this argument in podcast form, done by Stef Molyneaux.