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The Tenacity of Unreasonable BeliefsFundamentalism and the Fear of Truth$
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Solomon Schimmel

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780195188264

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2008

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195188264.001.0001

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 Acquiring and Protecting Unreasonable Beliefs

 Acquiring and Protecting Unreasonable Beliefs

(p.167) Chapter Six Acquiring and Protecting Unreasonable Beliefs
The Tenacity of Unreasonable Beliefs

Solomon Schimmel (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

This chapter examines how people acquire religious beliefs and protect them even when they are irrational. It integrates insights from psychology (Festinger on cognitive dissonance; Hinde on the persistence of religious beliefs), anthropology (Evans‐Pritchard on primitive religion; Boyer on evolution and religion), cultural history (Marsden on ‘creationism’), and social theory. It examines existential, social, and emotional functions served by religion, and how theology develops (unconvincing) bulwarks against challenges to religious beliefs. It analyzes defense mechanisms of believers, and eleven attitudes towards ‘truth’ of fundamentalists of the Abrahamic faiths, and notes similarities between theology and magical beliefs. The chapter debates a religious philosopher who is a critic of ‘evidentialism,’ and discusses the role that evidence and reason should play in making religious commitments about how to lead one's own and how to educate one's children. The chapter considers eighteen factors that can contribute to the loss of religious belief and faith.

Keywords:   psychology, cognitive dissonance, Hinde, Evans‐Pritchard, evolution and religion, creationism, functions of religion, theology and magic, truth, attitudes towards truth, defense mechanisms, evidentialism, religious commitments, loss of belief

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