It is a disservice to expect people not to ask questions, to think critically, or to challenge the status quo of the popular thought of their group. It is wrong because it deprives them of real intellectual development and spiritual growth.
I think what usually happens to these people when they are confronted with a convincing truth that challenges their present way of thinking is that they revert to a childish coping mechanism of regressing into a more secure but less mature belief system. It worked before, it will work again. But it doesn’t.
The Copernican Revolution in the 16th century began peacefully enough, hardly making a ripple. But when it was realized that his theory disputed Aristotle and the church’s authoritative position then the opposition started. Even Luther scoffed Copernicus and said he’d rather believe the scriptures than “that fellow”. The scientific community, for the most part, accepted Copernicus’ theory, but the church took a long time to come around. Even Galileo with his scientific support of the theory met serious opposition. It wasn’t until Isaac Newton, who died in the 18th century, that the theory was generally accepted as true. Other theorists tried to augment and tweak Copernicus’ theory, but finally the old system of belief had to go. All of it! The house of cards, as delicate as it was, stood its ground for almost two centuries before it crashed.
I like this from Žižek:
“When a discipline is in crisis, attempts are made to change or supplement its thesis within the terms of its basic framework – a procedure one might call ‘Ptolemization’ (since when data poured in which clashed with Ptolemy’s earth-centered astronomy, his partisans introduced additional complications to account for the anomalies). But the true ‘Copernican’ takes place when, instead of adding complications and changing minor premises, the basic framework itself undergoes a transformation. So, when we are dealing with a self-professed ‘scientific revolution’, the question to ask is always: is this truly a Copernican revolution, or merely a Ptolemization of the old paradigm?” (The Sublime Object of Ideology)
I admit to you that I have lived in a house of cards of sorts. I live in them for as long as I possibly can, hanging on to any shred of belief I can muster. Finally, when it is completely obvious that it is no longer standing, then sorrowfully I come to my senses and let it go. These are traumatic times. But I don’t have two centuries to do this.
I wasn’t prepared by my earliest teachers for this. I was taught and commanded to not trust my intellect, to not lean on my own understanding, and to not ask questions that the Bible didn’t concern itself with. I was taught to neglect my intelligence. For the past several years I have been playing catch-up.
Do any of you know what I’m talking about?
(***I invite you to join The Lasting Supper, an online community I moderate where we explore and exercise these kinds of things in a non-confrontational setting.)