...But we certainly will keep trying! It's one of those things that many people are so frustrated with: the sheer intransigence of the far-right and the religious right. There is a lot of overlap with these folks, but one is not always the same as the other.
Now, there may be evidence that there may actually be a physiological reason for their beliefs.
Hop over the cheese-doodle to see what's on the other side!
...And it may entirely prevent any of us from getting through to folks who are so resistant to change, facts, and science.
I'm an atheist, occasionally rather arrogant about it (sorry), and I often find it difficult not to open my loud mouth and say something potentially objectionable. What's worse, I seem to have this need that amounts to a full-on compulsion to "educate" these poor souls, since it's "obvious" to me that they only lack the information to make their own decisions because they've been lied to for so long.
HA! I'm the naive and uneducated one, apparently. At least, that's how I feel when I encounter interesting knowledge like what's discussed in that study I linked to above.
See what I mean about my arrogance? Sheesh. Don't worry, I'm working to delete that particular carbuncle on the posterior of my beliefs (sorry, I had to edit out a wrong word usage).
Such a big wrinkle to unfold, to get at the basic reasons for why so many Conservatives seem completely immune to reason. Add in another study that apparently has discovered a correlation between intelligence and religion.
Great, just f#@%$ing wonderful. So, this brick wall we've been talking to is based on possible differences in our brains? Wait. What?
But, I read further because the articles were interesting reads and the data they were presenting was intriguing to me. I mean, it's all fine and good (I suppose) to make claims that the Far-Right, the Teahadists and the Christian version of Sharia Law believers are well, frankly, idiots, or mentally ill when we're being "kind" (note the quotes--we aren't being kind). But, to actually have science to possibly back you up? Wow. And here I just thought we were calling names like school-yard bullies at "obviously" deluded people who are really only missing the facts we keep trying to give them.
Actually, it's hard for me to believe that the Far-Right has not, in some time-frame, at some point, come into contact with at least a few real facts while they've been so routinely lied to in order to keep them voting for planet-raping, Civil-Rights denying, privacy-invading, job-destroying, poor-bashing, let's blame it on the brown people distractions and keeping the super-rich as their lords and masters. It's just that they've been convinced that we're the ones actually doing the lying.
I read more and learned something I had believed since I was a child: so much of what we do is based upon what we're afraid of. It's fear. Fear is at the base of virtually all of the things these articles were discussing.
The need for control, for certainty, for distinct boundaries (what is mine, what is yours, what is right, what is wrong, etc), security/safety, and a desire for over-arching authority to protect them, whether government or God, seemed to be a strong part of the belief-structures of the people in the studies. And so much of it was based on what they perceived as a threat to the needs mentioned above.
For me, the logic sort of breaks down here: We all have things we perceive as threats. It's part of being alive and wanting to stay that way. Conservatives might not actually be pre-disposed toward being part of ugly little groups like the Tea-Party or the Far Religious Right, if their fears hadn't been tampered with. What if it were us Progressives, with our needs for certainty, security, control, distinct boundaries and our fears of things like a compromised environment, worries about Climate Change, etc, who had gotten to those Proto-Conservatives first? What might they be like? If the leaders of our political groups--and I mean you guys on both sides of the aisle--hadn't been such social vultures, preying on those very fears these people hold, would we be having more rational discussions?
Logic is hard, even for folks who are good at it and enjoy using it (unlike me--I try, but it's not my forte), and I know there are flaws in my conclusions, but I was always a hopeful individual, and I will continue to be hopeful that people, Conservative or not, will eventually listen to reason, if we learn not to insult their closest-held beliefs: their fears. Don't appeal to their fears, but don't deride them, either. It's counter-productive in the long run. When we attack what they fear, they tend to push back even harder and close ranks, as it were, trying to defend the indefensible. We become the embodiment of those fears and they will do their best to chase us off.
We all do that. It's in our nature to protect what we most deeply believe, whether faced with facts countering it or not.
So work with them, learn what the Conservative you're talking to needs and offer them that. So far, we've too often attacked their beliefs instead of searching for commonalities that we share. We've torn things down when we've been trying to portray ourselves as the builders of good things and that makes us look like hypocrites. We've become the fear they hold, and they will resist us.
Let's become their security, instead.
Stubbornness is a good survival-trait, and the possibility that the fears these people are leaning on might be a hold-over from our days in the Pleistocene when we were trying to survive against a hostile environment is interesting to think about. How many other hold-overs do we harbour in our psyches and physiology? Where will our evolution take us, and how can we use those traits to our advantage as a species? Can we use those survival-traits to better ends than running into our caves and hiding from the sabre-tooth? How can we keep them from undermining our efforts to survive when we keep unknowingly using them to distract and fight with each other? A proactive use of our survival-traits, from a base of full knowledge of what we are and who we are, could be an interesting place to go...
I've noticed the increase of atheism and a decrease in religious-adherence (at least, in the West), despite all the noise the Evangelicals are making, and it seems to be pushing the fear-button on the more rabid groups. People leaving religion scare them because it seems inconceivable to them that they're going anywhere good--they must be going to the "Enemy", whoever or whatever that may be.
But, it was interesting to note that the study on intelligence vs religion wasn't slagging religion, far from it: it showed that people relied on religion for mental/emotional security, companionship and as comfort when hurt. These are all aspects of Community that we all share. The so-called "intelligent" people and the atheists made their own situations that offered comfort in times of pain, built their own relationships instead of relying on faith to be the glue that binds people together and found ways to feel secure in their emotional lives without making wishes for a better life in the form of prayers.
One group was self-reliant, and the other was "other"-reliant.
Here's a quote from an Animé I rather like that seems oddly appropriate here:
"God is a crutch for those with nothing else to hold onto..."Humanity is still changing, and we have a long way to go before fear-based ideologies are left behind, religious or otherwise. But then, we might need to keep that fear-based part of our brains in the changing world we've created through our over-use of fossil-fuels and other damages we've committed over the the last two or three centuries (did you think our environmental impact is only from the late 1800's?).
Lastly, people forget that scientific studies discover possibilities, not necessarily a pure, unadulterated fact, and we have to use what we find to learn more. Simply being complacent in our conclusions is a bad way to order our lives.
From the ArsTechnica article:
There are some complications to the explanations too. For example, the non-conformist theory of atheism cannot apply to societies where the majority are atheists, such as Scandinavian countries. The possible explanations are also currently just that—possible. They need to be empirically studied.Learn who you are and maybe you can more strongly influence your conversations/arguments with the next Conservative spouting Faux News talking points who wanders into your path. They are you, with many of the same fears and many of the same needs, only expressed in different ways. <3
Finally, not all studies reviewed are of equal quality, and some of them have been criticized by other researchers. But that is exactly why meta-analyses are performed. They help overcome limitations of sample size, poor data, and questionable analyses of individual studies.
As always, the word “correlation” is important. It hasn’t been shown that higher intelligence causes someone to be less religious. So, it wouldn’t be right to call someone a dimwit just because of their religious beliefs. Unless, of course, you are an ancient playwright looking to provoke your audience (a reference to the beginning of the article that described Euripides, calling believers "fools").