The vigor with which some people defend their beliefs online – refusing to do basic research, offering completely unpersuasive off-the-cuff arguments, and denigrating their opponents – has long puzzled me.
Losing your faith (or, if you are an atheist, losing your lack of faith) can seem like a terrifying prospect, to be avoided at all costs.
But what most people are defending isn’t their “faith.” It is the details of their worldview, their belief system. And the fact that examining the details is considered tantamount to discarding the whole shows how closely people feel their beliefs are monitored by their community and inseparable one from another.
But if your faith as a Christian, or your identity as an atheist, means rigid adherence to a belief system, where any questioning must be avoided at all costs, then your “faith” and/or “skepticism” are really nothing of the sort. They are a culture to which you have a tribal loyalty.
And if you have substituted tribal identity for devotion, and/or a dogmatic system for genuine skepticism, then you have already fallen for a cheap imitation of something authentic and meaningful.
If so, then clinging to what you currently have is worse than the prospect of losing your faith – or if you are an atheist, of finding faith.
What you have is a “vaccination” that will keep you from ever “contracting” genuine faith, or “coming down with” genuine skepticism.