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Does Faith Make You Stupid?

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Given current national examples, one wonders.

I want to say “No.”

As a person of faith, I want to think that trust in God does not make a person stupid. My own experience is that faith in God opens a world of possibility for thoughtful responses to life. Faith can be a platform for reading and testing and trying and understanding. Though more often faith is portrayed as a ridiculous intellectual straight-jacket; that half-truth is not the whole truth. I’m no historian, but I think I could find examples through history of people motivated by faith who moved us forward.

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I get that lots of Christian churches don’t make a place for questions. I get that lots of people of faith don’t want to apply logic and reason to their scriptures and their faith, though logic and reason remain our primary tools for dealing with life on this planet.

I am also comfortable with the leaps of faith that defy logic—especially when we recognize when we are leaping. Still. Our leaps of faith must be informed by and grappling with and in tension with logic and reason. It cannot be otherwise and we cannot turn off one part of our brains and still expect to move forward. Knee-jerk, automatic responses, especially those that cater to our national fears, they simply don’t have a place in a thoughtful life. Automatic responses don’t help with seeking truth. Maybe it is the automatic responses and pat answers that make people of faith look stupid.

I resonate with Lynnell Mickelsen’s recent commentary about rigid, calcified thinking that stands as a barrier to forward movement. Mickelsen wrote of her fundamentalist upbringing and brought her experience to bear on current education hurdles. She was able to note that progress halts when we hold to a party line rather than continue to seek truth.

But…does faith make you stupid? Again: No. Some of the smartest people I know have a deep faith commitment. Accomplished people: physicians and professors and philosophers and writers and engineers and builders and mechanics and teachers and makers and organizers—all sorts of people. Smart, aware people. People who seek truth and have their listening-antennae raised quite high indeed.

Does faith make you stupid?

Not necessarily: but don’t look to the media (and especially the presidential race) for counter-examples.

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Image credit: Kirk Livingston

Written by kirkistan

October 27, 2015 at 10:20 am

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