April 19, 2020

Ignorant and Proud

Christian ignorance

I recently found myself stopped in traffic behind a car with the gem pictured here on the back. I had to laugh as I wondered whether the owner realized the irony involved with this magnet. I would not be at all surprised to learn that the driver thinks his religion counts as "truth" simply because he believes it. It probably doesn't even strike him as noteworthy that his primary reason he believes it is almost certainly that he learned it from his parents. It probably never occurred to him that he'd believe a very different "truth" if he had been born in another part of the world and to parents of a different faith.

How much arrogance is required to equate one's personal religious beliefs with truth? Never mind that there is an overwhelming consensus in the scientific community supporting Darwin's theory of evolution. One can easily imagine the driver of this car saying something like, "Who are these scientists to tell me that I'm wrong?" I wonder if he could even articulate the basics of the theory he mocks here.

One does not have to be an evangelical fundamentalist Christian to put a Jesus fish on one's car. Some of those who do so are fundamentalists, but others would better be described as moderate Christians. And yet, they share at least something with the fundamentalists - some degree of pride in their faith (i.e., their belief in something for which there is insufficient evidence to support their belief). It is not enough for these individuals to believe; they want others to know about it. They want to advertise their ignorance.

I found it very easy to maintain by Christian faith before I was willing to examine it critically. Prior to the point when I started to question some of what I had been taught, it was easy. I was ignorant but certainly not proud of it. I was too ignorant of my ignorance to recognize it. I am sure there are exceptions, but I prefer to think that people who put things like this on their vehicles may be at a similar place. They believe what they believe because it is what they were taught and they've never questioned it. Someday, some of them will begin to question it. They aren't lost causes; they just haven't gone through the process of critically examining their beliefs. If they do, we may see that pride replaced with something else.

An early version of this post appeared on Atheist Revolution in 2007. It was revised and expanded in 2020.