The July 9 Jesus and Mo, one of my favorite web comics, aside from being witty and insightful as always, posted a link to a creationist forum that was astonishing in it’s erudition. I posted the following in the comment on the J&M site:
“And our absolute confidence is that there is no question Christians need fear. There are only questions we need to learn how to answer. ”
The mystery to me is that they might consider being afraid. Of what? Of changing their minds? Of letting go of obviously silly ideas? This man has read Dawkins et al. He’s read both sides of the debate. He knows the history of human intellectual progress. He’s not stupid. What is it that keeps him from joining the twenty-first century? What emotional reward do the fundies get that is worth such denial of common sense?
It’s easy to treat such people with ridicule and contempt. I’m more interested in learning what makes them so committed to stupidity.
Another J&M reader, code named Johnny Canuck, posted the following in response:
As Mohler points out, Christianity can be viewed as a house of cards. If Genesis is wrong about how life came to be, then it is wrong about there being an Adam and an Eve and thus there can have been no Original Sin. Without Original Sin, there would be no need for the Ultimate Sacrifice and Jesus becomes superfluous.
What powerful incentives are at risk for individuals if this edifice comes down? I think you may have been asking rhetorically, but even so I’ll have a try.
Immortality: Not only does the mind get to dodge a final end for itself, but also for loved ones. Gramma is only sleeping dear, she will be waiting for you and you will be together, always.
Ego: We were specially created out of love, by the most powerful entity in the Universe, a Universe which he created just for us. Of course, back in the day, the Universe wasn’t that big of a deal, just one planet with a sun and some lights shining from a dome. Also, I am not a monkey’s cousin!
Hope: If you are a slave or a persecuted minority, if you are poor or are suffering abuse and see no end to it, you are earning a place in Heaven if only you believe. Bonus, those who are hurting you now will be punished for Eternity. You can even watch them, as they get theirs.
Social Acceptance: Walk into most any church gathering, anywhere you go. When you are approached, use the password, “I am searching.” Barring any obvious triggers to their bigotry, like race or ethnicity, you will be tentatively accepted. Contribute a little sweat equity, some cash and accept whatever improbable dogma you are exposed to; and you are in. Instant community. Business contacts. Social gatherings. There are ‘Us’ and there are ‘Them’ and you are now an ‘Us’.
Templates for Living: Any time it is too much effort to gather evidence and come to a conclusion about important things for yourself, you can fall back on what church authorities have already decided for you to think.
Probably I’ve missed some, but that’s enough for now.
One thing is for sure, there are a lot of people putting a lot of effort into a lot of competing methods to prop up a house built on clay. Pity. So many useful things they could be doing instead.”
Okay, I can only agree with everything Johnny Canuck said. All I have to add is that for me, a person who believes in ghosts, superstitions, invisible beings that watch us and care about us, and all the other nonsense of religious hogwash, is simply avoiding growing up. Such a person wants mommy and daddy to watch over him or her, provide protection, provide comfort, and never ever leave the believer alone. It’s comforting to remain a child. To be an independent adult is terrifying.