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Are Religious Believers Stupid?

Are religious believers stupid? I get this question all the time ironically enough I get it the most from religious believers. My answer to this question is almost always the same. “Smart people can believe stupid things.” There is no doubt that the belief in the all-powerful god as described in the Torah/Bible/Koran based off of no valid evidence is stupid. It would be like me telling people that the Lorax or Voltemort are real based off of my reading of The Lorax and the Harry Potter books.

It is important to note that all of humankind’s technical advances were made off the shoulders of those who came before us. Charles Babbage couldn’t have invented the computer is Thomas Edison had not created the light bulb. But progress isn’t the only thing that advances of the shoulders of giants. Religious persuasion does too. Just as no person is smarter than the collective wisdom of humankind, no person is smarter than the collective system of religious manipulation.

Christianity is over 2000 years old and Judaism is almost three times as old. Over that time, these religious systems have been developed. They have evolved in such a way that they have become masters of indoctrination and manipulation. These systems start working on people almost immediately after they are born and they pervade our entire society and culture. It is very hard to reach the age of two without already believing in the unbelievable. Some people will surely slip throw the cracks and other will just not focus on that belief or not hold that belief in god strongly. But by the time a child is five years old, whether they believe in an imaginary god or not, they are at the very least aware that other smarter people than they do believe these things. Walk through any town in the country and you will find more churches than schools or libraries. Any curious child walking through town would surely ask what those fancy buildings are for.

Even after childhood, religious systems are not content with just indoctrination. No, these systems have evolved to deal with the possibility that people can slip through the cracks of indoctrination and so other systems of manipulation developed. The religious system has learned to attack people when they are most vulnerable. When emotions run high and people aren’t thinking rationally for a moment or two, religion takes advantage of the situation. Funerals, weddings, when people are down on their luck, after a devastating event or when someone narrowly escapes death, religion is right there ready to manipulate. The religious people who do the manipulations aren’t doing it out of malice either. They too have usually been manipulated into thinking that manipulating others is a good thing. They usually don’t even realize what they are doing and when they do, they see it as part of a greater good.

We are all human and we all are subject to these same systems of manipulation. Even smart people are not smarter than the collective system of manipulation of religious belief. It is only when we are faced with significant questions which religion can’t answer and when we start to focus on the holes in the religious system that we start to question. Sometimes, we start to see those holes on our own. Sometimes, we debate or discuss religion with non-believers and something they say quietly triggers us to think critically. But one thing is certain, how smart someone is has little to do with religious belief.

However, people who focus their time in the fields of science and philosophy tend to see the holes in religion much more because those holes are right in front of them. Those people are also trained to think critically and to question everything. Generally speaking, those in the fields of science and philosophy also tend to be academic minded and intelligent people. But it isn’t that we out-smart the system of religious manipulation, it is that these people and others embrace the system of critical thinking which often times makes short work of the system of religious manipulation.

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