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jeff_gray2 comments on Avoiding Your Belief's Real Weak Points - Less Wrong

50 Post author: Eliezer_Yudkowsky 05 October 2007 01:59AM

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Comment author: jeff_gray2 05 October 2007 09:25:34AM 2 points [-]

People don't think about the real weak points of their beliefs for the same reason they don't touch an oven's red-hot burners; it's painful.

Eliezer, unless I missed the analogy, people gloss the weak points to avoid finding themselves in error and avoid the pain of getting 'burned' by woeful ignorance. Perhaps I give humanity too much credit, but I think this is not the primary disincentive for most religious people. Laziness & Apathy are the first stage, where most people drop any thoughts they had of re-evalutating 'their' beliefs.

I observed this tendency in 13 years of private christian school, and at many churches (and I still love my parents...) As soon as people started to think about big problems, like the problem of evil, it became clear that they weren't going to be able to solve it by dinner-time. Since New Testament theology is strewn with paradoxes, most people seemed to merely accept doctrine as a super-strength version of 'Belief as Attire.' For some reason, something didn't click in my brain, b/c though I belonged to the group, I enjoyed exploring heterodox interpretations and other non-sanctioned ideas which unsettled the 'conventional' others.

Anyway, to actually examine the weak points of a religion like christianity or judaism is a huge project for one inside their system. I thought that I would have to master philosophy, logic, ancient languages, theology, and become a lay expert on physics and evolutionary biology in order to square the sacred text with the Life.

Belonging to a religion allows a person to let others do their thinking and believing for them, and that is the real problem. If all christians were Kierkegaards it would be a different situation (and I suppose if all Jews were Spinoza).

I guess I agree w/ Eliezer, I just think most people lie down once they realize the effort it will take to reach the next stage where you 'face-the-pain'.

And the thing that I didn't think about, being indoctrinated from the beginning, was that perhaps the bible wasn't/couldn't be inerrant; the perfect word of god. (Scary to think that there could be such relevant doubts that didn't even register!)