Blinding Belief and Skepticism

Blinding Belief and Skepticism May 21, 2014

IO9 had an article about the way prior assumptions and beliefs affect our perception. If you are prone to believe that the world is filled with miracles, you may believe you have experienced them. But conversely, if you are persuaded in advance that there is no such thing as the supernatural, that too can distort your perception – in ways that can be scientifically studied!

In theory, many people – whether Christians, atheists, or something else – try to remain open to changing their mind in light of new evidence.  In practice, it doesn’t always work out that way. And sometimes people will advocate or attack underlying assumptions precisely because that can either bring the entire house of cards crumbling down, or keep one from looking at it too closely because of confidence in the foundation upon which it is constructed.

All of this to say that our views and our perceptions are a tangled mess, and not things that give us undistorted access to reality.

I’ll close by linking to a post of Jerry Coyne’s from a while back. It included the chart below, which puts Darwin’s theory of evolution (in terms of percentage of people who “believe in” it) right between ghosts and the virgin birth. Make of that what you will.


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  • D Rizdek

    The conservative Christian might call it the “slippery slope” that leads to sin, misery and [shudder] atheism. It’s kind of hard and perhaps scary for a teacher to “encourage” her young teen Sunday School class to seriously question the Bible, the Christian doctrine and God in general and follow where your research and reason leads you. They want to protect them until they are mature enough…whenever that is.

    I took my good sweet time to fully embrace and be comfortable (no longer scared or irritated about) my realizing I no longer thought there was a god. But it has lasted more than 30 years.

    But I am continually intrigued how various people, intelligent, well educated people, can see almost exactly the same things, read the same material and understand the same words…and come to completely different conclusions. I full appreciate the incredible intelligence of someone like…WLCraig. He has read far more than me and understands things I never will. He presents arguments I certainly don’t have answers for and very few of his opponents fair well in debates with him. But, in the depths of my mind, for some reason I remain unconvinced and reserve the serious doubt there are is any god. And believe me, it’s not to protect a given life style that Christianity prohibits. It’s just that I see no solutions to the key conundrums of life in the positing of a god.