It’s difficult for a non-religious person to follow the arguments made in favor of religion because they all arise from the same fundamental premise: that there is an underlying phenomenon. The real difference between science and magical thinking is that the former is based on empirical measurements whereas the latter is based on a solipsistic assertion.

To put it another way, if one did not begin with an assumption about the existence of one or more invisible magical creatures, one would never arrive at such a hypothesis based on any observation or set of causal factors. Positing an invisible magical creature as an “explanation” for real-world phenomenon is possible only from a position of ignorance, which is precisely the position that pertained for our species until the scientific revolution of recent centuries. But anachronistic mindsets are no excuse for present-day confusion, any more than anachronistic beliefs about flat Earths are an excuse for present-day nonsense.

Unfortunately, the mind of the religious person is fundamentally different from the mind of the non-religious person. The religious mind appears unable to follow a rational argument to its conclusion, preferring to veer off into unfounded assertions about the primacy of beliefs and “feelings” as a way to avoid unwanted conclusions. But merely because the religious mind cannot encompass a rational argument in no way invalidates the argument, any more than the fact that because someone can’t grasp calculus it does not mean that calculus is invalidated.

Everything we’ve learned about the universe on one hand and about human psychology on the other hand clearly show that the phenomenon of superstition and consequent religious belief can be explained simply by referring to hard evidence. The believer, on the other hand, rarely is aware of such knowledge and in the event they have some acquaintance with some portion of the corpus, discounts it in favor of vague assertion and a retreat into the meaningless statement that “science doesn’t know everything” or the even more meaningless non-statement that “science can’t prove my god/goblin/ghoul doesn’t exist and therefore it must!”

In the end, there seems little hope of any meaningful discourse between the religious and the non-religious because the solipsistic outlook of the latter precludes the capacity to step back and consider the much larger but entirely non-anthropocentric reality.

As Truzzi pointed out, “extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence” and there is, and has never been, any evidence whatsoever for any of the various gods and goblins and ghouls conjured up by human imagination over the span of recorded history. Hence there is no phenomenon to be investigated, because it doesn’t exist. And wasting time on non-existent propositions is pointless, because there is an infinite number of such things possible. Hence we pay attention to reality and learn about it, not squander precious time muttering nonsense about non-existent imaginings.

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Anyone who enjoys my articles here on Medium may be interested in my books Why Democracy Failed and The Praying Ape, both available from Amazon.

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