The Virtue of Blind Belief?

 Posted by on 13 February 2013 at 10:00 am  Epistemology, Religion, Sports
Feb 132013

I just ran across this passage in an otherwise merely annoying sports column on athletes and steroid use:

This past Christmas Eve, my son and daughter made Santa cookies, wrote him a letter, even left four carrots for his reindeer. As we were putting them to bed, I remember thinking, Man, I wish they could always stay like this. And by “this,” I really meant, I wish they could always just blindly believe in things being true despite mounting evidence against them.

Oy vey! The “blind belief” of faith is not a virtue — neither in adults not in children. It’s the rejection of reason’s requirements of empirical evidence and logical argument. To the extent that a person lives by faith rather than reason is the extent to which he imperils his life and his happiness. (For more on what’s wrong with faith — including why faith and reason cannot be reconciled — I strongly recommend George H. Smith’s Atheism: The Case Against God.)

Interestingly, the sports writer indulges in fairly arbitrary doubts about athletes and steroid use in the rest of the column. Given that kind of irrationality, it’s hardly surprising that he longs to enjoy the comforts of the opposite kind of error.

  • William H. Stoddard

    Belief without evidence or critical thinking, by simple faith, is less immediately harmful to children (who also have less of the knowledge and fewer of the skills that make critical thinking possible)—because they have parents to take care of their survival. I suspect one of the undertones of this sort of wish is the wish that adults, too, could have parents to take care of them, so that they never needed to assume responsibility for their own survival. That seems to be one of the subtexts of a lot of religious imagery, at any rate.

  • Tjitze de Boer

    Is the kid really believing blindly or just overestimating the honesty of her parents?

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