Monday, October 18, 2010

Religion as OCD

Religion as OCD

Recently, my wife has become obsessed with watching documentaries and reality TV shows about Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, or OCD. Okay, maybe she’s not really obsessed. She says she can stop anytime she wants.

I’ve seen a few episodes. One thing that struck me is the similarity I see when I discuss religion with believers. So often, I get the same responses from believers. You know the ones I mean. The first-cause argument, ontological argument, cosmological argument and my personal favorite, pascal’s wager. I get these ALL the time, and sometimes, I even get them multiple times from the same believer. I’ll refute one; they go to the next. That one is refuted, and they go to another. If they run out, they start over! If this isn’t a conditioned response, I don’t know what one is. And it is completely possible I don’t.

But what I find intriguing is that so many believers think these arguments are convincing. Have you ever asked a believer which of the multitude of arguments they toss out with verbatim accuracy convinced them that god is real? I guarantee NONE of these arguments convinced the believer. You don’t REASON your way into religion. You are coerced through fear, emotional appeal, indoctrination, and plain old-fashioned brainwashing.

I digress. My point here is that so often, I feel believers hear a religious statement, and then have a conditioned response. They MUST believe the statement is true whether they agree or not. If they do not, they repeat the statement over and over until they accept it as true.

There seems to be some partitioning going on here. A believer hears a god-claim, and perhaps without even realizing it, places it in a no-questioning zone in their brain. Like, this over here we can question, but this thing requires faith, and therefore cannot be examined in the same way.

Atheism is merely applying to religious claims the same critical thinking that most people are able to apply to everything else.

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