Why do individuals who believe the nonsense of religion resist information which contradicts their beliefs, perhaps even destroys the very basis of their beliefs?
A possible explanation is the euphoria that is produced by belief. It is my contention that the brain produces the “happy” endorphin in response to religious belief. This state can be said to be addictive as it is a desirable state wherein one is happy.
How else can it be explained why otherwise rational adults believe the bizarre unbelievable information inherent in religion? It is addictive! A sort of “high” is produced by holding on to a perspective such as that produced by religious belief.
Karl Marx said:
Religious distress is at the same time the expression of real distress and the protest against real distress. Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, just as it is the spirit of a spiritless situation. It is the opium of the people. The abolition of religion as the illusory happiness of the people is required for their real happiness. The demand to give up the illusion about its condition is the demand to give up a condition which needs illusions.
Karl Marx, Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy of Right
An opium of the people? This would explain much as to why despite over-whelming information which contradicts their belief systems people continue to resist, continue to accept the reasoning of ancient ignorant peoples as their life stance. Even when someone is able to use a measure of reason to abandon some of those concepts of religion that they once held, frequently that individual will create new ways to believe, to reach that “high” to which they are addicted. In fact, they seem to become desperate to create such ways. Numerous variations of the original belief system arise which allows the individual to retain the ability to cause the brain to release the “ happy” hormone. In this way, despite the new variations, religion is self-propagating. People do not want to lose the euphoria state, as they prefer the illusion of happiness created by the religious experience, and will resist tooth and nail to cling to it. This is not unlike the phrenetic behavior of the drug addict, anxious to obtain his/her next fix. It would also help explain some of the behavior associated with the resistance displayed by those adherents to religion who have committed heinous acts to preserve their beliefs in the face of those who offer contradiction to them. From witch burnings to crusades, to abortion clinic blasts, anyone that offers a contradiction which resists belief becomes a target. It is truly a wonder that there isn’t even more violence associated with belief, and is probably because in many cases reason may restraint an individual. The consequences of such behavior may be realized which produces resistance to actually manifesting the desire to commit violence in an effort to protect the faith.
Many times violence may be avoided, and instead the believer will create images of those who offer contradictions which are dark and evil. Atheists have been so vilified by believers over many centuries. Those of other “unacceptable” or “false” beliefs have also been so tainted. No matter what reason or logic these groups of undesirables may offer as to their non-belief it is dismissed as coming from an evil source. Every manner of illogic and non-reason will be used to maintain the delusion. All… so the addiction may continue.
It has been found that the brain will produce the “happy” hormone if only an individual will smile. Alternatively the endorphins produced by belief will also cause a person to smile. This could explain why people experiencing the delusion seem so happy. Is it possible that all this sordid business of religion could have been avoided with a smile?