Being Irrational About Being Rational

I’ve seen this before, but it’s come up recently in a debate with a Muslim who is completely convinced that his beliefs are rational, yet cannot see that, as he describes them, they are anything but.  He tries to use things like the Cosmological Argument, but when I point out that, even if it was true, it only points to a very generic entity and he cannot make the logical leap from a generic being to his specific god without faith, he says he can, but he simply cannot, or will not, show how he got there.  But it’s all very rational, he assures me.

These people are idiots.

I mean, I get that people don’t like to think they are irrational in their beliefs, but you either are or you’re not.  Redefining terms to get around the failure in your beliefs is absurd.  I honestly don’t think these people know, or care, what these words mean in the first place.  It certainly isn’t the first time that I’ve been engaged in a religious debate with a theist where they assure me they’re being rational, only to turn around and behave totally irrationally.  I have a feeling that they equate rationality with “it makes sense to me” which is diametrically opposed to what rationality actually means.

See, the very word means “relating to, based on, or agreeable to reason”.  That means we have to look to reason, which means “a sufficient ground of explanation or of logical defense; especially :  something (such as a principle or law) that supports a conclusion or explains a fact“.  I also include objectivity in my requirements, which means “not influenced by personal feelings or opinions in considering and representing facts.”.  Hence, an objective and rational person is concerned with what is demonstrably factual, without regard to their personal feelings or beliefs.

And very few people want to do that.  In fact, what a lot of people who claim to be “rational” about their religious beliefs are doing is simply rationalizing their beliefs.  That means, again turning to the dictionary, “attempt to explain or justify (one’s own or another’s behavior or attitude) with logical, plausible reasons, even if these are not true or appropriate.”  Anyone ought to see why this kind of behavior is problematic if your goal is to get to the facts, as mine is.  But very few people actually care about the facts, they care about their feelings, they want to feel good about the world around them so they invent ad hoc explanations for how the world operates and then clench their eyes shut and stick their fingers in their ears so nobody can correct their misconceptions.

Is it any wonder I point out how stupid these people are?  Is it any surprise they refuse to change their mind?


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