A mini-series on misconceptions of people of faith (but especially Christians), because the ABC shared an article about an Orthodox Jewish girl, a Vietnamese Australian Catholic and an Australian Muslim woman looking for love and the comments on it drove me insane.
Misconception One: All Christians are Morons.
This was certainly a dominant concern in the early 2000s onwards, as the rise of a flavour of atheism claiming all intellectual high ground for itself became popularised. As that popularity has continued among a fair few people, facebook conversations about religion are dominated by uneducated twits sharing their “hot take” that “sky fairies” are just a ridiculous psychological crutch.
Yep, thanks for sharing your great wisdom dude. Do you have a PhD in Philosophy then? Is that how you came to this deep conclusion?
Are you honestly sure that some of the greatest minds of the 20th century, who’ve advanced the causes of maths and science further than you could have imagined, and yet who believe in God, are total idiots?
I mean, thanks for your opinion and all. I guess, you’re right that I only have a post-graduate degree in theology rather than, what was it, one dog-eared copy of a Richard Dawkins book? I’m clearly the moron here.
One of the biggest problems these hot-takers don’t even realise they have is their embarrassing level of ignorance. One populist philosopher claimed that of course the monotheisms of the Middle East developed harsh gods, the people who invented them lived in a harsh terrain. A GEOGRAPHER can set you right on that one, let alone a theology or biblical studies grad. It’s called The Fertile Crescent for a reason! Not all of these ideas developed in literal deserts (which btw have plenty of ecosystem going on), and if you’ve ever drunk Shiraz, enjoyed a pomegranate or chowed down on Iranian dish, you would literally be eating your words.
I’ve had so many conversations with people who clearly don’t actually know the first things about my faith and yet completely dismiss the idea that being a person of faith could involve any intellectual rigour. Meanwhile, they don’t understand half the literature they’ve read because despite being familiar with the English canon, they haven’t read the key sourcebook for the English canon, ie, the Bible in English, so there are whole layers of meaning they’re blind to. Now, that’s mostly because I’m a humanities nerd, but this kind of ignorance pervades many spheres of life. Can you understand gothic architecture without any reference to the dominant conversations in the church at that time that led directly to a new architectural horizon? Can you understand the colonial mind without contemplating the (to me, erroneous) theological standpoint that led to the conviction that whites should occupy and “improve” the world? I’m not saying you have to believe and agree with the things I believe, but to dismiss all religion out of hand as the domain of idiots, and therefore not to consider it at all, impoverishes you intellectually far more than it impoverishes me.
Here’s the real secret: there are morons everywhere. I spent 7 years in higher education, and 6 years hanging out with university students, and I’ve worked various jobs in small and large businesses, and I can tell you, morons are everywhere. Some of them have PhDs. Some of them can’t even make a coffee correctly.
I’ve met some very intelligent people who don’t understand simple life tasks, and I’ve met some highly intelligent people who think all religious people are idiots and who have literally frozen when I’ve told them that I am, in fact, one of those idiots.
It doesn’t take believing in a noumenal realm to be a moron. And believing in a god doesn’t automatically make you one either. And if you want to see a real intellectual take down a pseudo intellectual, just look on youtube for debates between Richard Dawkins and John Lennox.
And then stop watching it because it’s also not about that either. Have some intellectual humility. We are all miniscule blips in the history of the human race, bound by our own limited experience and physical form. Is it not possible that others have thought bigger and more profound thoughts than you? And that maybe you, like every single other human being, depends on external revelation for depth of knowledge? Ie, you wouldn’t know your own mother to any depth at all if she didn’t reveal something of her personality to you through speech and action. Stop approaching the universe, especially in facebook conversations, as though you are the intellectual gatekeeper of the all, separating the sheep from the goats so you can only let the best of the best into your personal inner circle of “intelligent people”. And maybe consider finding out the difference between a sheep and a goat (hint, it’s not to do with horns, length of coat, shape of hoof or colouring).
NB: I’m not saying all agnostics and/or atheists think of all people of faith as morons. But you’ve gotta admit, a lot do.