Friday, February 5, 2010

Why Religious Beliefs Are Irrational

Now I am not one of those people who says that modern science has disproven religion. If I said that, it would imply that two thousand years ago, there was not solid evidence against the claims that Jesus was born of a virgin and rose from the dead. But the counter-evidence has always been overwhelming. Everyone else is born of a non-virgin and stays dead. It is absurd to recognize an exception without overwhelming evidence, but all we have is the testimony of a few of his disciples. And yet not only do Christians believe these things; they often claim to know them with certainty, and get angry if you disagree. Christianity has always been irrational, and of course the same goes for Judaism, Islam, Greek mythology, Satanism, and belief in Santa Claus.


The gist of my theory is that people persistently hold wildly irrational religious beliefs because the material cost is usually very low. In terms of daily life, what difference does it make if the earth is 6000 years old or 6 billion? So it's not surprising how readily people shut their eyes to the geological evidence. In contrast, when the cost of irrationality is high, believers conveniently forget the teachings of their religion. Lots of religions promise paradise to martyrs, but adherents eager to die for their beliefs are one-in-a-million.

Why Religious Beliefs Are Irrational, and Why Economists Should Care


  1. The link is broken for some reason, but I was able to find a cached version through Google.

    I think this is perhaps the best brief statement/summary of why religion is silly that I've ever read. Do any theists have a response to this? I'd love to read a theist response, assuming they have one.

  2. I'm with Cork.
    This is a very good post.

  3. SE,

    Getting nowhere with the repaired link.



  4. Sorry, Bill. It appears to be the site. The link was working when I posted, then not working, then working again, and now, as I've just confirmed, NOT working.

    Try this cached version.

  5. I'd love to read a theist response

    I would make a distinction between mere theism and religions with holy books and doctrines. Perhaps God can be a subject for rational inquiry, but religion certainly looks absurd with its very specific claims about God.

  6. How would a theist respond?

    Well, this is where I BEGIN my response.

    Let me know what you think.


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