Magical thinking is the attribution of causal or synchronistic relationships between actions and events which seemingly cannot be justified by reason and observation. (Source: Wikipedia)
But, beliefs in what we can’t prove aren’t inherently dangerous, are they? I, for example, believe that alien life probably exists. I believe that enough that you could probably get me to bet that way for money. I accept that that is very likely true. But, if you presented me with evidence that my belief was wrong, I would get the hell over it in about 10 seconds. That’s because that belief isn’t the core of who I am.
I also believe in the value of hard work. It would suck to be presented with evidence that hard work doesn’t pay off. But, I already know that it doesn’t ALWAYS pay off. I am willing to accept that it is not an “ultimate truth.” Those ultimate truths… those are the ones we have to be careful with…
The dangerous thing is when you believe something so strongly that you will employ illogical and magical thinking in order to maintain your own “safety.” It’s a psychological mechanism and not something that I think most religious people even recognize is happening.
When we humans have become married to an idea (any idea, really), it can become next to impossible to shake it. It colors the entire human experience. Now, beliefs aren’t dangerous, in my opinion. Believing in something doesn’t inherently marry you to that idea. You can believe in something and also know that it is NOT who YOU are.
You are not your beliefs. Your beliefs are a part of you. They are a function of your own personality and way of life and they are a result of a great deal of observation on your part, as well as influence from others. But, they are not who you are.
If you are religious, you are reading this and thinking that this is nonsense. Because, you and your God are one. You and your faith are intertwined at your very root. And, you feel that doubt is sinful. And, therefore, you feel unable to question anything, ever.
That’s not to say that all religious people are incapable of questioning their faith. As a matter of fact, I think most do. However, the doubting of one’s faith is a bit like slapping one’s own grandmother in the face. It’s not a bragging point for most theists. And, I get that.
But, when no one is willing to address uncomfortable facts because they may in some way stand in opposition to a belief, there is a total breakdown of reasoning. There is nothing logical or useful that can come from a group of people who are unwilling to question themselves and their world.
If something happens that makes you question your faith, do not take that as a sign of your weak faith, but of your strong mind. And, any loving God would have to be proud of that, right?
Check out this woman here. She has obviously invested a great deal of time into investigating in which ways Monster Energy Drinks are satanic:
But, if you presented her with actual scientific evidence that Satan did not exist, she would dismiss you before you could finish one sentence. Or, she would tell you why you were going to Hell… She is so invested in this belief system that she is willing to protect it at any cost.
Humans are inclined to magical thinking, however…
So, it’s no shock that this happens. It’s actually likely a part of our makeup. I am just hopeful that we can find a way past it.