So, mostly, I’ve grown accustomed to people making blanket statements about how Christians are basically stupid.
That is, if you are strong in your belief or faith you have automatically abandoned all ability to think logically, think critically, question authority, or have any objective opinion worth hearing.
My latest reminder of that is in a comment under the “Christian Sans” post at Deus Ex Malcontent, part of which comment goes:
I only think it is pathetically sad that religious people can only think in terms of right and wrong according to their God of choice, and not in terms of “Okay, how or why does this person do or think this?” Religion gets in the way of objective thought, period. There is no question in my mind that anyone who professes to me to be highly religious is also highly retarded and sheep-like in their morality and almost undoubtedly opinionated to the point of absolute frustration.
I know the commenter didn’t really call out Christians specifically, but really, that’s the group that mostly gets called out on stupidity via faith. Next up on the list to get slammed are the Muslims, but because of concerns about racial and ethnic slurs, liberal and progressive folk (I consider myself fairly liberal and progressive by the way, despite my total faith in God the Father and Jesus the Lord) don’t pick on them as much. I have yet to really hear anyone slam Jews for lacking the ability to think, except from time to time when truly conservative Jews or Israel’s policies come up. Scientologists get slammed too, but that isn’t really a religion…it’s a cultish L. Ron Hubbard fan club. And as yet, I have heard zero comment about lack of intelligence among Buddhists, Wiccans (or other Pagans), Hindus, etc.
Anyway, my point isn’t to rant about how this irritates me, partly because it irritates me less than it used to, if only because I’m developing thicker emotional calluses.
My point is that I think when people slam the intelligence of religious folks, they miss the point. Generally speaking, there are many intelligent and thoughtful people with strongly held religious beliefs. Yes, even Christians. The problem isn’t with people who put their faith in Jesus…or Allah…or Whomever. The problem is with people who blindly follow a religious leader or religious institution. It’s generally organizations and leaders who put wrongheaded thoughts into people’s heads in a way that makes them really stick.
You see, I don’t put my faith in an institution. Nor even a specific denomination. At various times in my life, I’ve been Catholic, Baptist, Congregational and totally non-denominational. That’s because I go to a church to get community and to get my soul feed through the hearing of the Word of God, not to join a damn club. It’s being around people with some common touchpoints and it’s about getting a little edification. When a pastor or institution makes me feel unwelcome, when it starts creating its own special dogma or rules for people to follow aside from God’s, or when it just gets boring or silly or rude, I leave. I find a new church home.
My loyalty isn’t to a pastor or a physical church. My loyalty is to The Church, with a capital “c.” The one that God wanted established through Jesus. Now, keeping my eye on what Jesus taught and told us to do, and filtering that through most of what the New Testament writers shared…well, I can do pretty damn well being accepting of all sorts of people and holding all sorts of opinions and even having many intelligent thoughts about the world.
I don’t base my politics on my religious beliefs. I don’t base my science on the Book of Genesis. I don’t pick and choose whom I will befriend based on whether they believe what I believe.
And I know that I’m not alone in this. It may be that many Christians allow themselves to be sheeple. But at the same time, so do many people in general. They blindly follow their political leaders or their nation without a care in the world. They follow shopping trends or rack up their debt or buy shit that Sarah Jessica Parker wears…because they are often sheeple.
People in general have an aversion to deep reflection and critical thinking. And objective thinking in its truest form is pretty fucking rare. Most people don’t want to lead or dance to their own drumbeat. They want to be led.
That, my friends, is the problem. Not religion. Because while there are many deep-thinking atheists and agnostics, there are also plenty of them who are just as slavishly stupid as Christians are made out to be. They just choose entirely different ways to express it.