Uneducated people at church led to my crisis of faith


#1

Greetings,

I’m a biologist living in a small country, with a B.Sc., M.Sc. and PhD degrees. I started to believe in God about several years ago, after I got involved in apologetics. But recently my faith began shaking.

Why? Because of stupid people in the church.

I recently found out that a long-time friend of me and my wife has become a Flat Earther. We had a long argument about that and the result is that we rarely talk and even greet each others. Later I found out that he’s not the only one!!! A lot of people have started watching those stupid Youtube videos and are accepting the Flat Earth idiocy.

I can’t tolerate pseudoscience, but I try to accept people regardles, even if they’re antivaxxers, climate deniers, moon hoaxers, chemtrailsers… but flat earth is too much for me.

And this is my crisis of faith:1. how in the name of everything that’s holy, could I trust their testimonies about miracles, belief in God, spiritual experience, if they’re so stupid and can’t understand how the world works??

  1. How could a stupid person have any worth in the eyes of God? Does God really tolerate stupidity, does he accept people regardless of that?

  2. Why are people created with different IQ? Why do some have IQ above 140, while others below 75? What’s the good thing about this?


(Mervin Bitikofer) #2

Hello, RoundEarth.

I sometimes toss around words like “stupid” or “idiot” a bit too casually, even if just in my own mind – though sometimes I have spoken in the same harsh terms to which you give voice. It really sobers me, though, to recollect all-too-easily a lot of cringe-worthy episodes of my own life where my own stupidity in this or that was on full display. That is one big restraint for me that helps me summon up some grace – knowing that I am probably looking in a mirror when I judge others.

But you aren’t just tossing around these terms casually – you mention IQ. And the while the term “stupid” might not be clinically defined, words like “idiot” or “retarded” have been, I believe. While I don’t know your friend like you do, I wonder if your characterization really applies. Is he gainfully employed? Is he married? Does he have a family? Hobbies? Skills? Can he balance a checkbook? Not that any one such thing would enable a professional to rule out or advance a diagnosis I suppose - but my general point is: if your friend really were just generally stupid, he would probably struggle in many areas of life and not just over a cosmological understanding, and if he musters up arguments to have with you about this, I doubt he truly lacks in intelligence. I personally have met people I would describe as habitual contrarians (maybe some here?) You could announce that the sky is blue and they would find a way to argue with you about it. Their mode of interaction is to pick up the other end of whatever rope you’ve got and put some tension on it. That’s just how they dance.

I don’t know of any flat-earthers personally (that have “outed” themselves to me anyway), so maybe you will educate me on the subject. That said, I would be more interested in what caused them to attach to that? Did they have some deeply impactful experience that makes them shun mainstream understandings of things? Might they have good warrant to be extremely mistrustful of all experts or large-scale consensus? Perhaps they are unable to brush aside experiences that you would easily brush-off as anomalies (or some expert that was just having a bad day). And as a result their trust of such things gets derailed, whereas you just dismiss a similar experience as “one of those things”. I don’t know the specifics of your case, but I’m a skeptic that people who adhere to extremely marginalized views are generally going to be low-IQ in a clinical sense. Remember; there are those polemicists who would with equal confidence decry as stupid any and all who hold to the hope of resurrected life in Christ.

So if your question is: why can’t people accept obvious evidence like I do, then I suggest your question isn’t really about intelligence, but about world view.

But if you are actually asking why are there stupid people (meaning those who do struggle in a clinical sense with mental impairment), then that does remain a good question for all of us as Christians to ponder in the most caring ways we can. I’ve heard it said that you can assess the health of a society by watching how they treat their feeblest members. The horrific anti-example of this would be situations like Nazi Germany where old, enfeebled, or otherwise “non-optimal” or undesirable members were done away with in the name of pursuing a so-called optimum society. We saw first-hand where that kind of Satanic evil leads. For positive examples, we have inspirations like Henri Nouwen or Mother Teresa following Christ’s leading in how we should treat the perceived “lowest” among us.

Knowing that we are talking here about Christ himself when we think of those we deem “lower” than us should catch us up. Those rascally enough to be contrarian may be in a different category perhaps; but not above (or below) the reach of Christ. If they truly are mentally impaired, then it becomes especially important that we see Christ staring back at us in their eyes. A pastor recently in this forum somewhere posted about his struggle with those who make other “normal” folks feel uncomfortable in church. That should be the struggle we all share in, knowing that there really is no “us” and “them” in all this. I am that person.


(David Heddle) #3

The basis for your fellowship should be a shared acceptance of the Gospel (I am assuming you are Christian) and an understanding that we are to assemble to worship and glorify God. We all have have friends that we disagree with on non-essentials, including science, politics, and more esoteric doctrines. It may be wise, for a season, to avoid certain discussions with certain people, but you must remember that we are all made in the image of God. Salvation is by grace, not by knowledge.


(Jon) #4

When you use language like “stupid” you’ll find a lot of people instantly have more sympathy with the people who caused your crisis is faith, than with you. Causing someone to lose their faith is widely considered far less of a crime than calling people stupid out of frustration that they’ve damaged you spiritually and emotionally. Bullies often get more sympathy than their victims.


(Jon) #5

You can’t, and you shouldn’t. They are unreliable witnesses to anything of such significance. You’ll need to find alternative sources of information which are more reliable. Anything they say on these subjects is suspect. As Jesus said, if they can’t be trusted in small things, how can they be trusted in more serious matters?


(Phil) #6

As a moderator, I considered deleting this topic, as it certainly is offensive to many when terms like stupid, low IQ etc is used. I also thought that it may well be a troll, as it is somewhat over the top, and appears to be “baiting” by a misguided soul. Perhaps it still needs removal, but I will defer that at the present. The comments have been great, however, and are worth reading.
I admit that I too have had some of these feelings of anger and disgust when faced with people who should know better yet cling to whatever strange ideas they have, and it is not pretty when I look in the mirror and see the ugliness there. We have probably all been hurt in some way or another by people in the church, perhaps not on the subject of evolution, but by other misdeeds, and have suffered or own crisis of faith, or rejection from community. But we are a body. When a portion of the body is hurting, we need to help heal, not amputate.


#7

I am sorry you thought I’m a troll, appearing to be baiting by a misguided soul. This is a risk I was willing to take. Of course, I could throw my credentials here, post link to my articles, etc… but I prefer not doing that. Thinking certain people are stupid is not something I can easily change, but I could keep trying.

I grew up with reading science fiction, and I’m also a space enthusiast. I enjoy spending my time at night, watching the Moon or Saturn with my telescope, or just looking at meteor showers. I see the planets for what they are, and I dream of going there, seeing the distant worlds billions of kilometers away!!!

That’s why it’s so hard to accept there are people who insist that our Universe is small, that the stars are just tiny dots projected on the firm dome, and that NASA is an evil agency trying to break the firmament.

In my view it’s deeply offensive: not just to me, who’s amazed by how big and awesome is our Universe, but also to God.

It’s like putting God into a box, trying to make him look smaller.

But now I ought to give some answers. Someone asked whether those people who I refer to are really low IQ, in the sense of mentally retarded. No, it’s not like that. They’re married, they have jobs and in certain areas in my life are even better than me (for example, they can speak English better than me and translate spoken words in real time, which I can’t do - I saw that last Sunday when they had to translate the sermon of a foreign pastor).

Which is even more frustrating!!! How could people show such disinterest or even disrespect to science? How could they dare think that science is a rebellion against God? How could they embrace Biblical literalism in the worst form?

This goes beyond my comprehension. I don’t understand.

I just don’t get it…


(Christy Hemphill) #8

I thought there was something in the water in the U.S. that made people susceptible to the crazy conspiracy theories you mentioned, you mean to tell me this is an international epidemic?

I don’t think of it as stupidity so much as willful denial of reality. I think it is usually based in fear of some kind, whether it is fear of a hostile government, or uncontrollable circumstances (like autism or cancer), or fear of insignificance and loss of human exceptionalism, or fear of questions that have no answers. I personally don’t understand how grasping at theories about how juice boxes can change your sexual orientation or other such nonsense helps people feel more in control of their lives and destinies, but I think that is what it does. So I don’t think there is any point in trying to address the actual facts of the situation. It won’t change their minds, because their belief is fundamentally irrational and driven by psychological not intellectual motivations.


(Jon) #9

Seriously. sometimes people just need a safe place to vent.


(Phil) #10

Sorry to have doubted your intentions. It is just that I am a skeptical sort with some of the internet craziness. My apologies, and as I stated, I am understanding of the anger and frustration that goes on ( in my real world in medicine, it is usually directed more at the anti-vaxxers and essential oil crowd).
Sometimes you just have to take a deep breath and move on. Have a blessed day.


#11

Unfortunately, it’s widespread. There’s a growing anti-vaxxing community here…

And my father-in-law died of cancer, after he refused conventional treatment and then adoped “alternative therapy” prescribed by a whacko who taught him cancer is a fungus and could be treated with baking soda.

Although, there was a reason behind this - he was scared by conventional medicine. It was a facial tumor and a surgery was about to give him severe disfigurement. So I guess, he badly needed something different…


#12

My wife had an uncle who was mentally challenged. He demonstrated Christ-like love better than many people who were more intelligent than he was.

There are people who are very smart and others who are not so smart. Some very smart people oversaw the Holocaust. Is intelligence really the highest value? Is it really what God looks for? If God truly exists, isn’t his intelligence so far above ours that any claim to intelligence (over someone else’s) is really ridiculous?


#13

On a completely different note, once you go down the conspiracy road (and I think to be a YECer, you don’t have much of a choice), conspiracies become more compelling. And conspiracies lend themselves to confirmation bias.


(Phil) #14

It really does cause conflict in me, in that most of these sort of things are essentially faith based, and have more in common with religion than reason and science, making people of faith perhaps more susceptible to falling for them. That makes for a bit of quandary, as I consider myself a person of faith, in a community of faith.


#15

Oh yes, on this point I agree.

This flat-earth fellow is quite loving in caring, he was ready to go one night to fix the car for me when it broke down… These are very important qualities.

I feel bad that I judged him all on his flat-earth theory, but on the other side, he shows disrespect even to my job and says it’s worthless


(David Heddle) #16

I have a similar situation with an autistic son. He plays violin in the worship team and by all accounts everyone in the church regards him as an amazing blessing. He can not articulate the gospel, and yet he is way more Christ-like than, well, his father.


#17

True. But there are critical thinking questions that can shed light. We were visiting family yesterday and they wanted to know what we thought of their friend who has become a little infatuated with Illuminati conspiracy theories–most notably that celebrities are being caught making secret Illuminati hand signs. My questions:

  1. What are they supposed to be accomplishing by displaying these symbols?

  2. Even if it were true, and all these celebrities were part of the Illuminati…uh…so what? In what ways does that affect the way I live as a follower of Jesus?

Critical thinking questions can penetrate to the core of conspiracy enthusiasm.


#18

Oh, this leads to one more thing I’d like to ask… About what “newly-born” could mean.

We’ve discussed a lot with other people form the church about why our friend is a Flat Earther. Then we found out the following.

This guy was a conspiracy believer even before turning to Christ!!!

But the same could be said about me, too! I was interested in science, in science-fiction, in literature even before becoming a Christian!

Could we say that people are really “born again”, if many things from their characters remain unchanged?


(Phil) #19

One thing that reminds me of is Saul-Paul. Paul really did not change in personality, but his focus changed and God used that stubborn forceful person to his purpose.


#20

That’s quite inspiring!

Maybe we’ll see the good fruit in our flat earther friend too…

I do admit that being close to science is like walking a razor edge. Sometimes I find it hard to believe, and yes, it’s because the Universe is waaaay too big, there are huge planets (super Jupiters, super Earths, brown dwarfs, even lone worlds) that it seems like a wasted space for a creator…