Sunday, September 5, 2010

L 4.5

“Psychiatrist Valerie Tarico describes the process of defending unintelligent beliefs by smart people”. (p. 70)

This assessment of Christians rests on an idea called compartmentalization. Acknowledging that there are brilliant people who are Christian despite incredibly persuasive arguments against Christianity, non-theists let the imagination run riot by asserting that these people in question turn their brilliant minds off when their lives intersect the realm of religion. They can work in scientific disciplines and operate with objectivity. Yet, they somehow flip the smart switch in their brains to the off position the rest of the time which enables them to remain religious. In this way, they compartmentalize their religious beliefs into a space that doesn’t require intelligence.

The most acute problem of this charge is that there is absolutely no way to prove it. What test could be devised to show that intelligent Christians are turning their brains off? It’s possible that the non-theist could claim that religious compartmentalization is the equivalent of genetic disposition; the so-called “God gene”. If there were a gene that predisposed someone to religious belief, they could function with normal rationality except in the area of a higher power. Aside from the fact that there is no such thing as a God gene, genes don’t affect our behavior in that way. The latest research on the alleged “gay gene” is interesting. The gene that has recently been linked with obesity does not dictate that people who have it are obese. It just means they have a proclivity for more caloric intake. If the person does not regulate intake vs expenditure, they will get obese. However, that is true of any person. What this does illustrate is how complex human behavior is.

This nontheist line of reasoning definitely constitutes sawing the branch they’re perched on because the statement can be turned around and used on non-theists. It could easily be said that nontheists turn off the smart switch in their brains when it comes to dealing with metaphysical issues that theists are well aware of like origin, purpose, destiny, etc.

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