This was a question posed on Twitter to @RichardDawkins by @seonf. Quite a few answers were given. I’ll pick out some of those that I could identify with and then elaborate. I will be separating this into more than one post, as there is a lot that goes into all of this.
- “they have invested so much of their identities into their beliefs.”
- “cognitive dissonance”
- “Because when your scam relies on complete faith, any doubt-mongering IS an attack.”
- “It’s easier to not have to think about it, so most just push it away.”
- “coz we were taught not to question our religions”
- “They’re just playing the victim card, and expecting tolerance of their intolerance”
- “because their afraid where the conclusion leads to?”
- “For same reason they unfriend someone on Facebook who reveals that they’re an atheist. That’s how religion survives.”
“They have invested so much of their identities into their beliefs.” The Christian is taught that he is to be “God’s/Jesus’ ambassador here on Earth. Let the old you fall away, and adopt the new you that Christ makes you into.” That’s just a basic Christian idea. As a person becomes more Fundy, he starts believing such things as,”Take every thought captive to Christ. God should take priority in EVERYTHING you do.” A fundy can be completely swallowed up by a desire to not be seen as disobedient to god, and therefore to pledge their service to him in everything they think, say and do. Every day. All the time. They try to be as Jesus-Christ-like as they possibly can. It can really start to resemble a disorder. There are varying degrees to this, of course, but the person’s identity can become so dominated by this that any critique of Christ or Christianity is seen as a critique of the person.
“Because when your scam relies on complete faith, any doubt-mongering IS an attack.” Whether you think it’s a scam or not, faith takes a front seat in Christianity. Feelings are often presented as actual evidence that the object of the Christian’s faith in a particular area is true or factual (if “not all Christians are like that” then I’m obviously not talking about “all Christians”). Feelings and faith are also often believed to be given by the “Holy Spirit,” (god). Any arguments against their faith is an argument against something that they believe is personally given to them by god. This is also a challenge, not only to the actual topic, but to the validity of the Christian’s connection with god. Challenging a Christian on his beliefs or feelings could be seen as taking aim at a personal connection the believer feels he has with his god. A Christian can sometimes take this as a personal attack, and may even come back with statements like,”are you saying that I’m lying about what I feel? I know what I feel, and it’s from God.” You can be seen as questioning the person’s sanity, since you’re questioning the legitimacy of a significant piece of their reality.
Baffled unbelievers often scratch their head over believers’ heated reaction over simple challenges or expressions of doubt. For a religious person, a challenge can feel like a lot more than “just” a challenge to a religion. I’m attempting to explain what can go on internally, based on the years I spent as a Fundamental Baptist evangelist (and wife of an evangelist).