On Dogmatic Thinking

Speaking with dogmatic believers leaves me with just one feeling: whatever is on the other side of the fence isn’t coming out and I’m not going to get inside. I wonder if it is simply a way to create isolation from the quandary of thinking, from the responsibility of having to figure things out. The Christian bible should have a picture of a barbed wire fence on it or a bloody great wall. So many use it like a fence or wall.

They won’t come out for education but feel free to shout about their perceived persecution from behind the fence. The problem is not that nobody can share the education with them. The problem is that they won’t come out to be educated.

Oh, I know. There are plenty of educated believers. Some of them are really intelligent. What then is the measure of education? If the evidence is presented, reviewed, checked many times, and found to be credible how can one remain behind the fence and claim that the evidence is not valid? What kind of thinking is required to do this? What kind of perspective and experience does it take to ignore the evidence and obvious on the other side of the fence? What syndrome would cause you to remain cloistered behind the fence awaiting death?

I don’t have an answer. Obviously I looked outside the fence and cut myself a hole.

Does anyone know or have an idea what keeps them behind the fence?

Is it pride? Fear of being wrong? Fear that life means nothing without their magic book? What keeps them behind the fence?



  1. It’s partly due to the herd instinct. Fear of the unknown instills the desire for safety in numbers. Power brokers have known and exploited this phenomenon since the dawn of man.

    • True, but when the grass looks better over yonder, sheep wander off. I suppose they are not yet hungry enough?

      Thanks for commenting

  2. If I knew, I would have helped some believers I know see the world through a different lens. It ain’t happening though!

    • The whole dogma fence is perplexing. The unwillingness to learn, the dogmatic defence of the indefensible? It makes no sense.

      • How people remain unaffected by contrary evidence is difficult to understand

  3. Educated but religious people live in cognitive dissonance. Different world views for different situations. In fact it is a very successful survival strategy.

  4. I don’t see the effort of encountering and responding to dogmatism as one of conversion according to my timetable. I recognize that such a lofty goal will not be reached quickly and easily because the person probably isn’t ready to face what it means to be wrong about empowering this dogmatism and be willing to shoulder all that means.

    I see the effort as one of planting seeds of reasonable doubt – not to elevate one’s self or put down the dogmatic believer but to present a position that respects what’s true independent of our beliefs about it and express why that matters. Sure, it will be rejected… for now and throughout the exchange. But it will work over time to loosen the bonds of trust and confidence the person says he or she has in the dogmatic position… whether admitted or not. That’s why so many of these folk really do see themselves as ‘defenders’; they understand that what they believe requires a garrison mentality of holding fast and strong, keeping whatever challenges the beliefs somewhere out there beyond the walls of certitude erected out of necessity to maintain the dogmatic belief. They tell themselves that there is far too much danger out there beyond the safety of the walls – a place of wilderness and wildness and wantonness – and that those who choose to live out there must be creatures who endorse these central aspects of it. It’s fictitious, of course, but so too is the dogma itself and the confidence that supports it. Undermine the confidence with compelling reasons and let reality bring the rest of the rotten belief structure down.

    Courage is required to face the world as it is without the comfort of being behind these walls, and many believers aren’t up to the challenge… yet. They’ll come out only when they’re ready… and probably only to themselves… a likelihood improved if they have some help. And that’s what we do: offer help to get beyond the wall and live with eyes wide open to start to see the world as it really is. The only requirement is to leave the armor of dogma behind and many are still unable to do this… for now. And that’s okay even if disappointing.

    • That’s a really good take on it. I was feeling discouraged when I wrote that, feeling like it makes no sense to engage them. Your comment reminds me that it does make sense no matter how frustrating it can be. Thanks for the comment.

  5. For me, I started becoming skeptical when I began studying philosophy and science, but I was too good at justifying and knew that these things could not definitively disprove faith. However, it was when I studied history as far back as one can go that I discovered the repetitive patterns of religion, as well as the borrowing of dogmas from one another as groups conquered other groups. One must look at the world through a holistic lens before they may judge it, that’s what a philosopher would do. There is every philosophy under the sun. Jesus was not the first to love his neighbor and forgive the least of these. One may have and keep his or her faith, but radical fundamentalism is what must be put to death. I, for one, hope that God does exist in some way, but I know that the religions of earth have not fully defined any God that might live, and in that way I am atheistic after many years of meditating on this very subject.

    • Thanks for commenting. I know people that feel as you do whom I talk with regularly. I think that talking about history with them helps them the most or rather their realization that history is not what we are taught helps them. Seeing one lie they more easily discover the next.

  6. The “promise” is all they’re interested in. This, of course, is not a reason to believe, but its the principle thing in establishing their stubbornness.

  7. I feel you. As an ex-believer and in a fundie Christian family, I have long hair-pulling conversations all the time.

    It’s a head scratching question. Most believers will not dig deep enough to answer truthfully why they believe. The majority, I have found, is hung up on fear of death. Which is sad. My littler brother, for instance, was haunted by dreams of Hell and Armageddon growing up. The poor boy has Aspergers’s Syndrome, and is brilliant, but at the core of his faith hides that fear that was introduced to him at a young age. He will not let it go, no matter how much him and I talk (which isn’t at all anymore, as he grew older, he became the judgemental fundie type).

    And… yeah honestly, I have to tell you that is it. It was my reason for the longest time – fear of hell.

    Although, you beg the question so I must answer it – what about the intellectual types? The Ph.D, scientific, philosophical…. is there any logical, rational reason for believing in God?

    There is, and that is personal experience. It can not be denied, and I refuse to take it from anyone who claims to have had one. These types do not go to the Bible, “facts,” or answers in Genesis -esque nonsense. They believe because they have experienced something that they feel is undeniable. They don’t throw it in your or my face because it is personal, and they’re actually very lovely people to meet. I know a few… very few.

    I love these people because it keeps me searching. I do, let me be clear, severely doubt their experience. Especially the NDE’s… too much scientific facts can explain these away (people having NDEs and seeing Allah, for example, instead of YHWH/God). I will, at times, argue with them concerning the validity of their experience IF they question me, otherwise, I let them be and we get along quite well.

    I, also, used to think I had this “personal” God relationship. I went through both stages in my Christian walk. But – I came to a place of reason and exploration where they started to fall away as not holding enough water.

    So… well yeah. I could go on because it’s a fascinating, head-scratching topic of discussion. But I must digress and simply thank you for this thought-process and post. I always seem to love them when you make them!

    • Thank you for your kind words. I am still befuddled at the refusal to investigate the opportunity for new knowledge.

  8. There are plenty of educated and intelligent Believers, I actually won’t dispute that. Their problem is the source of their “evidence” and “facts”. They have their own historians, scientists and theologians with advanced degrees who “teach” them and will tout things like Creationism as completely plausible. Whenever believers are confronted with the fallacies of what they believe they can simply take refuge behind their “expert witness Ph.D.’s” stamp of of approval. Once they go through seminary what they “know” becomes bedrock foundation. It *becomes* fact.

    Unfortunately, the only way to really discredit a Ph.D.’s assertions is with another Ph.D. Most of us don’t speak the language.

    • No, the commonly accepted way to discredit a Ph.D.’s assertions is with another one. I don’t see that the Hitch had a Ph.D. and he certainly had the balls and intelligence to discredit Ph.D.’s

      My own opinion is enough for me, and I claim the right to have it defended against any consensus, any majority, anywhere, anyplace, anytime. And anyone who disagrees with this can pick a number, get in line and kiss my ass.
      – Christopher Hitchens[60]

    • Argus
    • April 17th, 2014

    Think about it. All you can offer is statements qualified by ‘science’; and science changes every week, month, year.

    They, on the other hand, have their eternal God, their ‘Good Book’ and all the promises … and don’t forget that any failings are on their part (for not being strong enough in Jesus). No?

    For myself:
    why bother? Why not leave them to it, so long as they don’t hurt anybody?
    But the trouble is … they DO hurt anybody.
    Whether they be Christian, Jew, Buddhist, or (eeeek!) merciful Allah-ists, they hurt people. In droves.

    That I cannot forgive …

    • Those science qualified statements help keep them alive. Denying science makes zero sense… sigh

        • Argus
        • April 18th, 2014


    • flogginfloozie
    • April 19th, 2014

    They train circus elephants as they are tied to a chain they can’t break free from…. After a year the chains come off, the weight is gone but the elephant will not run, they are still mentally attached….

    • Now that is a really interesting perspective. I think I actually have an argument to support that… might be a follow up post now

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