Re: Ridicule, Malice and What Matters about God
me: The paraphrased answer would be that people are prone to believing contradictory things depending on the context of their behavior at that moment, and that most of the time they transition between those contexts so fluidly that they rarely feel the need to reconcile them.
Mr P.: And this many of us classify as delusional behavior.
You can classify it however you want. Psychology shows this to be pretty typical behavior for just about everyone.And please explain "context of their behavior at that moment".
It's all about how you categorize what you're doing. We don't always articulate it, but most of us behave as though our actions were easily compartmentalized from one another. So a lawyer may behave one way in his home life, and in a contradictory way while practicing law, and will feel no particular need to reconcile the two unless the congnitive walls of those two compartments break down for some reason.
To give a more pertinent example, a practicing scientist can believe in God whenever that belief is operative -- at church, say, or on a hike -- but suspend that belief when it's unnecessary -- eg. when he's looking for natural causes to laboratory phenomenon.
George Steiner has pointed out ("In Bluebeard's Castle") that one of the most startling aspects of monotheism is the claim to absolute importance that it makes. He characterizes it as an impossible ideal, but one with an obvious attraction (obvious because, well, look how many monotheists there are). Paul Veyne's book would seem to suggest that that sort of absolutism is alien to the way humans usually handle their beliefs, and that seems to bear out in our observations of monotheists. Some of them are damn intent on not compartmentalizing their beliefs, but few, if any, actually attain that ideal.