My thoughts run free here...

Saturday, February 17, 2007

The gullibility of children

It has been a long time since I've posted. Most of the time, I was busy and even when I had the time, I was not in the mood to blog. Not to mention not having any topic at hand to discuss. But now I have.

I have always been wondering why so many scientists in our labs and other labs believe in their religions. Being so educated and having seen the scientific explanation of life in our universe, how is it possible that they can still believe (have blind faith with no irrefutable evidence) in their religion, be it christianity, islam, or hindu?

One of my colleagues is a post-doc. She is now working on a paper. I went home with her on one of the days and we talked about hindu temples. She seems to have gone to a lot of temples in the southern part of India. She also seems to be religious. She told me that she grew up in a street where there was a 'powerful' temple, to which she used to go to a lot. And then I understand why she is so religious despite being a scientist.

Richard Dawkins, in The God Delusion, explains it clearly in his hypothesis, 'gullibility of the child mind':

"Natural selection builds child brains with a tendency to believe whatever their parents and tribal elders tell them. Such trusting obedience is valuable for survival... But the flip side of trusting obedience is slavish gullibility. The inevitable by-product is vulnerability to infection by mind viruses."

He refers to religious beliefs as viruses. So therefore, a child's mind is like a sponge that absorbs anything and everything that they see or hear. That might have been the reason why I was so religious just until last year or so. That is the reason why so many of them today, well-educated people, are religious and have blind faith in their beliefs. My colleague falls under the same category. She was brought in a community where such religious beliefs were abundant. No wonder she is still commited to the beliefs of her religion.

Moreover, nobody wants to denounce their beliefs and later feel that they have no purpose to live, other than worshipping and praising someone. All along we have been believing in something. And now that we know that it is false, we have nowhere to lean onto. But I say why not lean onto science? Science has not totally disproved god, but if offers a better explanation than the theory of 'intelligent design'. The explanation for how life came about in our earth. Though not everything is yet known, it will soon be.

Here's a youtube video of Richard Dawkins, my favourite author:

[related article]


Unknown said...

hi priya...
now that u have declared yourself an atheist... i m not going to evn try to convince you, which obviously s too foolish.. infact, i myself am a confused soul at best... but only thing i can say is religion s a very very personal journey...
u might have heard this repeated so often.. anyway... osho (probably the only philosopher i have ever read n i found no need to look beyond) used to say - th difference is religion of heart and religion of mind... in what we call now as "hiduism" we had paths for almost evry possible mindset... this s a question that have been and will be asked as long as man exists...

Anonymous said...

Priya, I agree that you have a pretty good arguement.

But you see, my mother is Catholic and my father is Hindhu. I was brought up in neither religion. I have even been to numerous Buddhist temples.

I've spent the most time convincing myself that God doesn't exists that understanding that he does.

But I became Christian at the end of it all.

How do you explain that?

Also, I'm not the only one. I know of too many people similar to me.

Priya said...

@ Logi

I have already replied to this part of your comment in the "An Educational Scandal" post. But I'll say it here too anyway. Just because you have eventually become a christian, doesn't make God exist! Just because a lot of them have converted to christianism to seek eternal joy or whatever BS, doesn't make it true that God really exists. It all looks good and peaceful on the surface isn't it? The chapel service, singing of songs and all that! But refer to Deuteronomy 13:7-11. Look at how vigorously the God of Abraham wants heresy expunged!

Like you, I have also heard about people who have shunned their religions and are happy to open up their minds to atheism. Imagine the plight of the women in Palestine, or other similar Islamic countries. I'm sure they would love to shun their religion, if they were not so brainwashed by it.

Priya said...

@ sk

Okay, try me. You have to present to me your side of the arguments. It seems that you are of the impression that I'm close-minded. Which I'm not. I try to read as much as possible about the things that confuse me. That is how I ended up reading Richard Dawkins's and Sam Harris's books. And I'm yet to read more to know for sure and come to my own decision whether God really exists or not.

For now, it seems really really improbable to me that God would have created this universe with its 250,000 species of beetles and a lot more! In Sam Harris's words, "How is it that, in this one area of our lives, we have convinced ourselves that our beliefs about the world can float entirely free of reason and evidence?"

If I tell a devout Christian that his wife is cheating on him, or that time travel is possible, he will require as much evidence as anyone else, and to be persuaded only to the extent that I give it. Tell him that the book he keeps by his bed was written by an invisible deity who will punish him with fire for eternity if he fails to accept its every incredible claim about the universe, and he seems to require no evidence whatsoever. Just the 'word of God' will do.

In Richard Dawkins's words, "We are all atheists, when it comes to other faiths. We (referring to atheists) just go one God further."

Don't sit on the fence and remain a 'confused soul'. Try to clarify your mind of the doubt. I agree with Osho. But I have not read his works to comment about him. So I'll refrain from that part of your comment for now:)

Unknown said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Unknown said...

well, first things first, i dont think you have a close mind. And for me being a confused soul, just chk out this post of mine at

If that clarifies my stand, then you will understand that all i am concerned is the psychological effect that your beliefs have. just like a placebo... if it works, good enough. I really dont care about who created the world? that is irrelevant for me. All i worry about is whether faith helps people to cope with life? Does it make life any easier/better for them?

You might argue that it certainly has made it worse for them with evidence along the lines of religious fundamentalism. But i think economics has much more to do with it than religion as such.

so the argument continues...

Priya said...

Hi sk,

I kind of agree with you. I mean, I don't have to put forth my arguments and justify myself and my beliefs. I really did feel better after my realisation that the probability of the existence of God is very low. And I still do. I can now live my life to the fullest 'cause I no longer believe in an after-life. But I don't want to people to have wrong impressions of me. Like people usually do about atheists or non-believers.


Unknown said...

You said u dont want to have wrong impressions about you. You jus dont have to worry about what others think. Sorry if i made it sound like a big-bro advice to a teenager.
and ofcrs if had read my post "Matrix unloaded", you would see my take on determinism/creationism.
As long as you can be at peace with yourself, anything is good.

theyuha said...

Im reading your blog and it seems to be reasonable to me. I grew up Catholic and stayed catholic for a long time. i was shocked to find out that what Catholicism and Christianity teach about Hinduism is not reflected in how it is actually practiced. The hindus would have to be total fools to practice the way Christians describe them. finally after over 1000 years of downright slander against Hinduism they are backing off a little but they still attack Hinduism in India. I found out how Hindus actually practice by having friends who are Hindu and going to their events. i am very scandalized by the Church and how they treat other faiths-- I left Catholicism and embraced Hinduism and I wrote a blog against the lies at and
Anyone who has God in their midst can not treat other people like this.Keep up the good work and translate the blog to south Indian so those Hindus there who are being vigorously proselytized by missionaries can get some truth on the subject. Dan

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