Mysterious Mysteries: Belief in the Unknown

"You can't solve a mystery with another mystery." - Matt Dillahunty, The Atheist Experience


I see it time and time again, when theists get backed into a corner, they often resort to a 'Mysterious Ways' argument, or they appeal to 'The Unknown' to account for their unreasonable beliefs.  It's weak, but they use it anyway.

This is, of course, not acceptable in the slightest.  If mankind has no actual knowledge about something, why choose to believe the most plausible-sounding lie?

For starters, many people are indoctrinated from a very young age to accept authority for authority's sake; but I think that the problem is much deeper than this.  It seems like we want to find answers, but for some reason many of us don't care whether or not those answers are correct.  When you watch or listen to a few debates/arguments between theists and atheists, you find very quickly that 'I don't know' is an unacceptable answer to most theists.  These same theists often claim that science 'thinks it knows everything', when the reality is that an 'I don't know' answer is the launching point of all of Science.  We don't know everything, but we wish to learn as much as we possibly can, and accepting an answer without justification is a hindrance to this process.

Furthermore, this kind of thinking tends to lead to a 'God of the Gaps' mindset where you essentially train yourself to stick your God (or whatever superstitious belief you may hold) wherever we have a 'gap' in our knowledge - for instance:  "We don't know what happened before The Big Bang, therefore God did it".  Of course, the obvious problem with this kind of nonsense is that you can just do this:  "We don't know what happened before The Big Bang, therefore Hercules did it."  Some people even take it further in order to attack science:  "Science can't explain love, therefore God did it", which suffers from the same problem as before (as well as a new one - science actually does a great job at explaining love, but that's another issue).  Oddly enough, these attacks on science are usually given in response to the question "What reason do you have to believe that God exists?" which makes the whole thing a complete non sequitur.

What do you think?  Why do we worship mystery so much?  What mechanism can we use to shift people's mindset to seeking truth instead?

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