Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Believers categorized

Having spent more time on this subject than is healthy, I think I can put down some of what I've learned about people.

Religious believers can be divided into four categories. The same applies to any other superstitious people as well, but to keep things simple, I'll talk about the religious. I think I can list them in order from the most common to the least common type. The categories are as follows:

1. The indifferent. For these people, religion is just a part of tradition. They probably rarely go to church, except for wedding, funerals, and the like. They do not care much about intellectual matters, and they don't care to think much about religious matters either. They are fine with what they've been taught as kids.

2. The dogmatic. These people do care about religion, a lot. I think much of their loud defending of the religion's most ridiculous dogma (creationism, the Shroud of Turin, biblical history, the Deluge...) is actually more about showing or proving that they are part of the flock, more than it is about the dogma itself. For this reason they are often apologists for their religion. They don't care much about the truth and have very little or no intellectual honesty in them. They will never discard their faith, so it's pointless to waste time debating with them. The worst of this kind will resort to terrorism.

3. The rational. These are the few who it is worth debating with, or to whom information should be given. They will quickly discard their false beliefs when they have learned enough. When they have discarded their religion, they often become angry because of the lies and propaganda that they now recognize, but with time and experience become more moderate.

4. The rational but reluctant. Strongly attached to their religion, but unable to indefinitely fool themselves, they go through a lenghty and often painful struggle that can last for decades. This process is caused when their intellectual honesty and reason attempt to overcome the non-epistemic causes of their faith and the power of the virus of the mind. One can and should help reason triumph, by offering help and support.

I'm sure many of the religious will object to this list. Some may be from the first category, in which case they object, because they don't want to face the subject - at least not with intellectual honesty and the research it requires. The most vocal will come from the second category, which is only to be expected. They will behave in typically irrational ways, showing extremely bad manners as well. Those from the third and fourth category will be more intrigued, and are directed toward the lists of literature and weblinks on my blog and website. For them, I wish courage and strenght in the endeavour.