Believing: the Inherited Weakness of the Human Mind

Jim - Lake Oswego, Oregon
Entered on February 1, 2008
Age Group: 65+

I have been around for 68 years and enjoyed just about every minute of them. Except one, a moment at the age of 27 when on a mountain top in the Italian Alps enjoying a rapturous honeymoon it suddenly kicked in, like a bolt out of the blue, that belief is a failing. Wow! Why? Because it disallows the opportunity for differing viewpoints to hatch in the mind and take their young place alongside that which is believed. Thus denied other viewpoints, the mind becomes blinkered to one fixed view and its reasoning abilities become impaired because faith—believing in a belief system that you have been told to believe in—does not tolerate inquiry. In this sense it is always an inherited human weakness.

Look around you. I doubt if there is a country in the world that has not had thousands, even millions, of its population killed in religious wars—the worst example of a belief system gone wild. But it could be a belief in my superiority over yours, the perceived brilliance of a political system, or the acquirement of someone else’s land, even the belief in the sanctity of slavery. And when the belief is rooted in the concept of a God, beware! Like grease-lightening it is passed on to others such that it has the uncanny ability to grow into a religion. Then, not only does the individual mind suffer the loss of free thought, via the paralysis of believing, so too does the growing religious community lose its ability to question even the most obvious anomalies. In this sense the religion itself is always failing. Worse still is the propagation of that failure to future generations. They come to know nothing but their parents’ religious beliefs as a paradigm—not unlike our first language—since it is now codified as written text.

Having the collected “wisdom of the faith” immersed in tangible content dramatically increases the imprinting of young minds with the acquired characteristics of the religion. Few throw off the shackles of their imprinting, so the belief perpetuates itself over the centuries. When the “mysteries” of the faith are passed on to other generally weaker societies by those imbued with the mission to do so, the society itself becomes immersed in the grip of unreason. (As George Bernard Shaw pointed out, “The conversion of savages to Christianity is the conversion of Christianity to savagery.”) The faith spreads like a virus and becomes bounded only when it meets head-on the tentacles of other religions doing the very same thing. And since opposing religions rarely sit well together—no two religious faiths are similar enough, strangely even those believing in the same god—conflict rears its ugly head and barbarism ensues.

Faith is a failing. Each and every religion knows only one and the same thing absolutely: their god rules. His (nearly always male) beliefs are sacrosanct and always beyond doubt!