What is the Greatest Obstacle to Faith?

The Ottawa Citizen runs a feature each week called “Ask the Religion Experts” in which representatives from religious backgrounds are invited to comment on general religion-related questions. They also ask an atheist to join in so that there’s at least one rational answer in the mix.

Last week’s question was an interesting one: What is the greatest obstacle to faith?

The religious answers include: Our own egos prevent us from knowing God, we’re selfish, we have too much faith in science, we’re weak, and we’re scared.

So it’s good to have the Centre for Inquiry’s Kevin Smith to set everyone straight. The problem isn’t knowing too little, he says. It’s knowing too much:

The greatest obstacle to faith is knowledge and that’s something religionists understand. They commit the primordial sin against freethinking by banning books that question corporate dogma, as the Vatican has done.

… [The world-wide-web] is weaving a net where it’s said religion comes to die. For those who experience doubt, there are megabytes of information to feed their curiosity. Hitchens, Harris and Dawkins have replaced Matthew, Luke and John as disciples of the new age of reason.

Strong words at the end — maybe too strong — but Smith nails it with the bit that knowledge is the greatest obstacle to faith.

Just think about all the Religious Right tries to do — prevent kids from taking comprehensive sex education classes in school, prevent gay marriage before the country finds out it’s not a big deal, prevent kids from reading certain books before they learn new ideas, pulling kids out of their schools when other students are expressing their free speech, “teach the controversy” before you learn too much about evolution…

They’re all for miseducating you before you learn too many facts and realize they’ve been lying to you this whole time.

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.


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