Random Quote #46 topic: atheism, Wayne Aiken's atheism cookie file
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"Transactional psychologists have verified what most of us have known
intuitively all along: that the stronger are a person's motives for certain
interpretations of the data confronting him, the more likely are the chances
that those will be the interpretations he will come up with, even though they
be radically wrong. Said Andre Gide in 'Pretexts,' "Most often people seek in
life occasions for persisting in their opinions rather than for educating
themselves.... It seems as if the mind enjoys nothing more than sinking
deeper into error." The person with the self-sealing system that Oppenheimer
describes (section 18) cannot be convinced at all. He has become uncannily
proficient at transmuting all experiential verification to conform to that
which he wants to believe. He now has adequate defenses against countervailing
evidence to discount almost anything that would prove detrimental to his
cherished beliefs, to revamp information that threatens long-established
convictions. Religious faith (which is just such a closed system), if strong
enough, will protect a person from the arguments appearing in a book such as
this, just as the faith of people who want to believe that their destinies
lie in the stars is enough to protect them from the declarations of 186 noted
scientists who feel it important to convince them that they are wrong.
Bertrand Russell was talking about this kind of "religious" faith when, in
'Human Society in Ethics and Politics', he tells us that he believes that all
faiths do harm. He defines faith as the belief in anything for which no
evidence exists. If there is evidence, faith is not required. We do not need
faith to believe that vinegar is bitter or that water is wet. We use the term
faith only when emotion dominates reason. Faith, for Mencken, was a kind of
clearing house for all the various conspiracies religionists contrive in order
to deny or distort the facts that our senses present to us to make up what we
call our existence. Faith, he was sure, is the force that foments the
concerted attacks against what can be called a rational moral philosophy."
[Chester Dolan, "Holy Daze: Coming to Grips with "Religion," the Holy
Daze of Humanity", "Faith" section, pp.130-135, MOPAH Publications]



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