No Reason to Doubt

Not surprisingly, with all the faith-based whatnot everywhere, more than 30% of students in the UK believe in creationism or ‘intelligent design’. Wait, they can explain.

Chris Parker…believes God made the world…[U]ltimately, it is because: “As a Christian, I have believed in it for a long time and I have no reason to doubt it.”

Well, that of course depends on what you mean by ‘reason to doubt it.’ But that’s just it, isn’t it. ‘No reason to doubt it’ often means just no inclination to doubt it, no motivation to doubt it, no desire to doubt it, no intention of doubting it. In short, it doesn’t mean anything epistemic, it refers to desire and will and motivation, which is another matter. Faith-based people tend to think that desire and motivation trump epistemic issues, so that what one believes really has nothing to do with evidence; evidence is beside the point; evidence is supremely and thoroughly irrelevant; what is relevant is what one has believed for a long time and wants to go on believing. This is understandable on an emotional level, but it makes for crap thinking, and crap thinking, as we keep being reminded, is dangerous.

Kim Nicholas…agrees. “I have grown up in a family that goes to church and I have become a Christian,” she says…”If you have faith in God you can believe he has done it, whether there is evidence or not.”

Yes, you can. You shouldn’t (cognitively speaking), but you can.

Annie Nawaz…distinguishes between scientific and “natural” evidence written in stone in the holy books. “As a practising Muslim, the holy Qur’an – that’s our proper evidence,” she says. It does bother her when this conflicts with other kinds of evidence, but “it just comes down to the way you have been brought up and your beliefs and values and how strong they are”.

It comes down to whether or not your beliefs and values are strong enough to allow you to ignore the evidence that conflicts with your beliefs, and opt to believe blindly in a holy book. Some people consider that kind of strength a virtue and a gift; others consider it a vice and a plague.

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