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To me (or for that matter, to any rational minds), religion is another form of superstition which people believe in due to their inferior rational abilities. Then, why do many brilliant minds believe in religion or revert to it at the later stage of their life? Is it mere pretension, or due to certain hallucinatory transformation they experience or go through when they foresee their imminent end?

bdfreethinker 4 July 10

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Religious belief is not caused by "inferior rational abilities" although they certainly can be helpful. Indeed -- there are many varieties of religious belief, some exponentially more irrational than others. So as an unqualified statement, I can't agree with you.

I don't know how many brilliant people regress to religious ideation or whether they tend to do so more late in life. I haven't seen any indication of that personally. What have you seen? Do you have any citations?

Intelligence is just potential, it says nothing about whether the potential to think effectively is actually realized, or isn't counteracted by other things. I have a fairly high IQ but used to be an evangelical Christian. I don't think my intellectual capacity spared me my childhood religion, or was the main impetus to get out of it. It probably was mildly helpful in the process of getting out, I suppose, but I think that would have happened anyway. In point of fact I would say that my intellect has been a lot less helpful in most areas of life than people tend to think it would be.

Think of intelligence like a fast CPU. Think of smart religious people as people with fast CPUs running crappy software.

Thanks for such an insightful reply. If a PhD or similar academic credentials are any indications of intellectual prowess or brilliance, I know scores of PhDs in different fields, including scientific and medical fields, who are devout Muslims or Hindus who not only practice religion but also fervently preach and promote their religions. A secular Indian poet, Kamala Das, converted to Islam in her late life although her brilliant poems once were devoted to exposing the communal disharmony spread by religions in India.


Maybe your picture of religion is a caricature?
There are many varieties of religion and some of them are quite compatible with rationality.

Matias Level 8 July 11, 2018

I do not subscribe to your views on religion. Religious belief is inherently irrational and derives its legitimacy from the existence of the divine which defies any objective or rational explanation. However, if you think there exists a religion whose existence can be proved rationally or objectively, please show me. If you are referring to Creationism or Scientology, I am already skeptical about their pseudoscientific interpretation of religion.

@bdfreethinker I think you confuse "empirical" or "natural" with "rational".
Religious belief and thinking is inherently "super-empirical" or supernatural, but not irrational.
"Rational" basically means logically coherent and consistent. It all depends on your premises which provide the framework of what can logically follow.
If your premise is that our empirical reality is all there is in an absolute (!) sense, then it would be irrational to come up with thoughts or beliefs about supernatural beings.
If your premise it that the epistemic range of our cognition is limited and that the ultimate reality is spiritual, religious thoughts are completely rational.


I think it is the fear of oblivion that makes people want to hope in an afterlife.

When I was 20 I recall having a conversation with my 40 something boss. He asked about my beliefs and I was straight with him. He asked if I feared death. I did not, I was twenty, death was the furthest thing from my mind. I asked why he wanted to know. His reply was that if I didn't believe in an after-life did the thought of ceasing to exist scare me? It's nothing, why is that scary? Furthermore, if I'm right, I won't know. I explained that the nothingness of before I was born wasn't scary so why should the nothingness of after I'm gone scare me?

I'm now older and don't like the fact that my knowledge will be lost. That everything I've learned over the years is seemingly for nothing if indeed there is nothing after this. I can certainly understand why the human condition, upon nearing death, is comforted by the idea of a heaven.


Rationality is good of course, but only as good as the accuracy and completeness of the data you apply it to. It can take a long time to accumulate enough knowledge to understand that “religion” is not just “another form of superstition” for all adherents, even if it is for most.

skado Level 8 July 10, 2018

I have a good friend who was never religious. Now he has cancer and goes to church everyday. I keep telling him he is wasting his time at church but now he he calls me a f**king goddless Atheist.

He was clearly an areligious theist all along, or if not ... his position wasn't a very considered one. Once he was faced with his mortality, he regressed or fell into religion as a coping mechanism. Now he appears to have taken Pascal's Wager on top of it.

It happens.

He is in bad shape physically and mentally.@mordant

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