Persistent belief is a psychological phenomenon that has been known for many years. It is the propensity of humans to maintain beliefs in the face of clear evidence to the contrary.It is most frequently recognized in the arena of religion because religious beliefs concern supernatural, unnatural, un-material, “unreal” and irrational subjects. Not only do those holding on to such beliefs maintain them when confronted with fact, they often go to extraordinary measures to attempt to support those beliefs. I personally witnessed the hilarious results of this phenomenon at a recent dinner party. This atheist was seated next to a Christian minister, and after a few drinks, general political discussions quickly turned into a theological debate.
My usual objections to religious barbarity were countered with the usual responses that the new testament supersedes the old and that it is all about love. I then noted that Jesus said that Christians should hate their families.
The debate passed the usual out-of-context-hate-means-love excuses as the reverend held tightly to his irrational belief. Then, in a last ditch effort to support his weakening position, he began to adopt the words of Jesus.
In the end, he confessed that like Jesus, he also “hated” his mother. Because I knew that the preacher had fallen victim to the persistent belief phenomenon, I laughed.
No matter what we think we believe, want to believe, or actually manage to believe, in the final analysis, we are all human, and I choose to believe that is a good thing.