How can educated, intelligent people believe in a god without proof of one?

Because they don’t limit themselves to an extraordinarily narrow, mechanistic or reductionist slice of acceptable “proof.” Almost all discussions of “proof” regarding any given POV (for, against, agnostic, etc.) are understandably restricted to the kinds of proof that are acceptable to the belief systems of those participating. This is a classic example of confirmation bias and it’s sibling exclusionary bias across all spectra of beliefs. It’s very human, but it’s inherently polarizing. There are people who don’t “believe” that human beings ever walked on the moon, or that anthropomorphic climate change is real, or that Donald Trump is an idiot, or that cigarettes cause lung cancer, or that eating lots of beef is unhealthy, or that extraterrestrial life is possible, or that fine art is culturally important, or that wealth doesn’t provide happiness, or that empathy is a critical component of human relationships. It doesn’t matter how much evidence we offer…they just won’t accept evidence contrary to their belief investment. In fact there is ample research to suggest that countervailing “proof” just amplifies cognitive dissonance and pushback. In other words, humans are pretty consistently irrational beings - and most especially when they “believe” they are being rational. So for one person, there are qualities of proof that allow them to accept a spiritual dimension of existence, whereas another person just doesn’t trust those flavors of proof at all. And since we tend to be aggressively self-justifying regarding our beliefs, of course we also “believe” that our particular standard of proof is superior to those who disagree with us. IMO this is really the heart of substantial disconnect between theists and non-theists. Beyond that, there is also a frequent inability to accept the other person’s position at all - not even in a speculative sense - so that opposition becomes that much more entrenched. It’s silly, really, because when one person says “my experience has shown me that trusting in, and relating to, the Divine is a worthwhile, self-justifying and intrinsically valuable practice,” that is not inherently contradictory to another person saying “my experience has shown me that trusting in and relating to the Divine is a fruitless superstition with no intrinsic value at all.” These are two separate experiential truths, and both are inarguably true from the perspective of the issuer. At this point, asserting that one position has intellectual voracity and ego superiority to the other is vainglorious masturbation…but that never stopped anyone from dismissing another’s belief as being “without proof.” Just as, in fact, this question has done.

My 2 cents.

From Quora post:


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