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Does faith damage one’s ability to reason in other areas?

Hemant Mehta makes a great point in this post about pseudo-historian David Barton:

Barton lied. He just made something up and paraded it as fact, much like he did with his discredited Thomas Jefferson book. It doesn’t make me happy to say it, but God has been all over his proclamations.

So back to the topic at hand: Why do Barton’s followers let things like this slide? Why can’t they admit he’s a liar when the truth is right there? It’s not even like evolution where they can’t see it happening right in front of their eyes. All it took was a simple Google search!

As Mantyla writes:

… one key to [Barton’s] success is the fact that his audiences blindly accept everything he says without question, never bothering to actually verify anything he says.

That’s the problem with faith right there. When you’re taught to just obey and have faith, your critical thinking skills damn near disappear, even when proof of your ignorance is staring you right in the face.

I think Hemant is onto something.

Although faulty reasoning is by no means limited to people of faith, I see it more and to a more severe degree in people like Barton — evangelical fundamentalists — than in other groups. I have always thought that evangelical Christians are particularly gullible and subject to believing all manner of bullshit when it fits their world view. And it makes perfect sense, as he points out. When you are trained to accept what a spiritual authority says without question, it’s not a stretch to apply that to other perceived authorities.

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