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Why Belief Isn't That Different for Atheists or Religious People

We never know 100 percent about anything. There's always an information gap between ourselves and certainty.

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If God made the world in seven days, from the rock itself to humans, then the geological, fossil and historical records should reflect that.

If God created a flood that covered the whole world, then there should be physical evidence that reflects that.

If the sun stood still in the sky, then it must be moving around the earth.

This could go on for pages. And it’s true of other sacred texts as well. 

The point of all this is that we will drop perfectly obvious, commonsense ideas (the sun goes around the earth) in favor of truly weird ideas (the earth beneath us is spinning) when there are things they don’t account for (fails some if-then tests) and the new idea satisfies the if-then tests, but that we don’t do it with religious ideas.

If we are going to work on the assumption that God is a false belief, we still have to acknowledge that it has a special status in the world of false beliefs. It is not only broader and more profound, it is stronger and has a special hold on people.

Any theory of why we believe has to account for those qualities.  

This is part of a series on God, Religion, Faith and such. The next one will propose a theory of Why We Believe in God.

Larry Beinhart is the author of Wag the Dog , The Librarian and Fog Facts: Searching for Truth in the Land of Spin . His latest book is Salvation Boulevard . Responses can be sent to

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