In Brief—Fear, Ignorance and Brainwashing are the reasons why humans believe in supernatural beings. This updated piece points out that it is past time for humankind to cast aside limiting beliefs that are unsupported by credible evidence.
Fear is Destructive…Almost Always—
As I said in The FIB Theory, being a freethinker, I have studied the subject of religion in order to understand why it has such a grip on humankind. Though I grew up in a Christian family, I know too little about Judaism and still less about Islam than I do about Christianity. Unlike Christianity since the Enlightenment, Islam is dangerously self-protective as many including Salman Rushdie and Ayaan Kirsi Ali can attest. However, if you want to know more about Islam and its mythology, read Ibn Warraq’s Why I Am Not a Muslim.
It should not be surprising that the general population is often more negative about non-believers than it is about any other minority group in America. Though the American constitution contains no mention of God and states that religion or lack thereof must not be a bar to holding public office, the blinkered view of former president George H.W. Bush is commonly accepted. When asked by a journalist about American atheists, Bush reportedly answered, “No, I don’t know that atheists should be regarded as citizens, nor should they be regarded as patriotic. This is one nation under God.” Shockingly, at least eight states still require a belief in a supreme being in order to hold public office.
It’s revealing that a fully qualified person who honestly states that s/he does not believe in a supreme being will be considered by the majority to be unfit for holding public office. It appears that other qualifications being equal, honesty regarding one’s skepticism about a supreme being fails to suggest to the average voter that a non-believer is more likely to be a good choice for trust.
That might be changing for the better. Recent reports reveal that a number of former Christian ministers have left the church and embraced agnosticism or atheism. It seems logical that those most familiar with the Bible would have noticed that it is full of inconsistencies. There comes a point for thinking individuals when they realize that what they have believed is the divine word of God is in fact the product of fallible and uneducated men. It is said that knowledge of the Bible is the best argument for agnosticism and atheism.
Why did these ministers and others not in the pulpit believe in the first place? I have developed a theory as to why otherwise intelligent humans believe in the existence of a supernatural being referred to as “God.” I call this the FIB Theory.
Fear, Ignorance and Brainwashing (FIB) Explained—
As I see it, these factors explain why humans believe in God and other supernatural beings although many of them are intelligent individuals who have a blind spot when it comes to belief in a supernatural being who is said to be omniscient, omnipotent and good. This supernatural being is a bit like Santa Claus: “…he knows when you’ve been bad or good, so be good for goodness sake.”
- Fear—This includes several types of fear: fear of the unknown, primarily death; fear of stepping away from the group to which s/he has belonged; fear of being rejected by friends and loved ones, in short, the fear of being alone; fear induced by pain or changed circumstances. There is even terror arising out of imagining one’s non-existence.
- Ignorance— This means lack of knowledge, not stupidity. Examples include lack of knowledge about the history of the Bible; lack of knowledge of religious beliefs before the Bible was written and of the inconsistencies found throughout the Bible; lack of knowledge about science and the origins of the universe and all within it; lack of knowledge about oneself and other human beings, our foibles and failings as well as our strengths.
- Brainwashing—We are told from almost the day we are born that there is a God, that heaven exists as a reward for right living and Hell waits below as punishment for serious misdeeds that just happen to include disbelief in God. People and organizations we trust such as parents, teachers, preachers and the government tell us that there is no doubt that God exists. Evidence to the contrary is rare.
Beyond this piece, I suggest reading my posting dated September 1, 2013, titled Religious Faith and Logic. It can be found in the September 2013 Archives on the right side of the Home Page. In that piece, I ask several questions designed to reveal whether the reader’s beliefs are logical or not. If you’ve not read the piece and are willing to answer the questions posed, by all means do so.
Further, I recommend that you review the research that can be found in abundance on the Internet. You will find that there is a high degree of correlation between religious belief and Authoritarianism (obedience to authority and tradition) and Conservatism (clinging to the past).
I recommend that you think about what you believe and why.