Sunk-Cost Fallacy—Moving Beyond Faith

What is one to do without god watching over them? That’s easy. You’ve been doing it all along.

Coming to the crossroads of unbelief eventually moved to ask the lord for help to believe based on the idea that maybe I had missed something. Show me the way, inspire me, hear my prayers—just one. His answer came as complete silence. No still, small voice. No thunder, enlightenment, or verse popped into my head. Nothing but quiet reflection. Literally every point of the gospel needed ad nauseum excuses and mental gymnastics. I couldn’t do it anymore. Turning to the house I looked back and knew I was alone. I had always been alone. Realizing that changed nothing for me. I found I was capable enough and needed no one to chart my path. So what was I to do?

Up till then I had thrown my hat in the ring of Christianity so many times I can’t remember them all. Acquiescing to “what if I’m wrong”, I never believed I could leave faith. I kept that premise as I no longer had faith in the religion that preoccupied so much of my time and more or less, I dissolved my relationship without a whimper. If there was a god, it certainly wasn’t interested in me.

There are ministers, priests, pastors, and other clergy all around the world who have invested a significant portion of their lives in theology, who can no longer manage to hold supernatural beliefs — who have moved beyond faith.  Hundreds of them recognize those sunk costs and are searching for the best way to move on, whereas many others cannot accept the loss of their religious investment, and continue to practice a profession inconsistent with their belief

When living contrary to your knowledge or disbelief, you are living the sunk-cost fallacy. Not willing to give up the time and energy invested in a failure, throwing in the towel on your life to live your status quo, biding in the atheistic closet for fear of losing friends, business, or family because the cost is too high to formally buck the system. Moving beyond faith—the facts are not for everyone. Hypocrisy is easy. What would one do without a god? That’s easy. You’ve already been doing it.

Author: jim-

One minute info blogs breaking the faith trap.

36 thoughts on “Sunk-Cost Fallacy—Moving Beyond Faith”

  1. I found about the lack of belief that some of the clergy have from friends at the UU church. Apparently, not just with the UUs but with some mainline Protestant churches, there are pastors who want to continue being pastors without believing in God. They want their churches to accept that and not ask them to leave.

    Very strange. I wonder what is going in mainline churches. The other thing that is going on is that they are becoming more and more political and less religious. I would think that people who like being political would want to form their own clubs. Why include their churches?

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    1. Maybe the leadership roles are addictive pedestals and they like the format, fame, and their little scheme is a Rush of accomplished charlaríanism

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Eighteen years ago (2000) I went all-in for the final time. Twelve years later I was standing before a room full of people as President of the Parish Council of a very large Catholic Church. As part of my last days in that job, I was answering questions from parishioners about volunteering for the Council.
    My mind and heart were headed toward my ‘convinced atheist’ conclusion. When they asked spiritual questions or questions about how Council membership had helped me spiritually, I answered “I am not the right person to answer that question.” That raised a lot of eyebrows.
    I simply no longer believed any of it. Looking back over my life, I never believed. I accepted what others seemed to believe. I tried. I wanted a strong faith. Now I know my acceptance of my own truth was such an unanticipated great day for me that I titled my deconversion blog “Free at Last.” I feel good about the whole thing.

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    1. That could’ve been awkward I suppose. I like your point. I trusted they knew what they were doing, saying, and convincingly preaching. When I looked at it all line by line and compared what we view in reality, without all the ad nauseum explanations, versus what was taught, I couldn’t believe it any more. It was like a switch flip. Everything changed in a moment.

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  3. I went through much the same as you describe in the first couple of paragraphs. Why wasn’t god giving me some kind of message? Where was this “voice of god” people kept telling me they heard? He certainly didn’t seem to have much to say. All I heard was my tinnitus (too many rock concerts in the 70s) when I asked god to talk to me, and I fear ringing in my ears wasn’t very enlightening.

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      1. Yep, I did see that. I worked with an organization many years ago that investigated alleged paranormal incidents, and the psychologist in the organization suspected that most of the so-called “alien abductions” was due to that kind of phenomena. I suspect many religious “visions” are due to the same thing. Monks, nuns and other religious persons often followed ridiculous schedules where they were constantly sleep deprived. That, along with things like ergot contaminated grain, would be far more likely the reason for these ‘visions’ than some kind of supernatural revelation. And as food sources became safer and less likely contaminated with things like ergot which could cause hallucinations and religious orders adopted more rational schedules, the number of such visions plummeted.

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          1. I didn’t do one on my experiences with the group, but I did do one on an informal experiment we ran on tarot card readings back in college in the early 1970s. I and some friends were curious about how people could so easily get wrapped up in things like tarot card readers, astrology, etc. so we ran an informal experiment in college to see if we could figure out why people could be so gullible. It’s at https://grouchyfarmer.com/2016/04/03/the-experiment-part-one-how-it-started/ and the second part is https://grouchyfarmer.com/2016/04/03/the-experiment-part-two-doing-it/ and finally part three at https://grouchyfarmer.com/2016/04/03/the-experiment-part-three-how-it-worked-and-conclusions/

            It wasn’t any kind of formal experiment by any stretch of the imagination. We were simply curious and one of our professors at the time talked us into trying it, hoping, I imagine, that it would give us a taste of how to conduct experiments and give him a base from which to begin to teach us how to set up more formal and correctly done experiments in the future.

            Despite the very informal atmosphere and lack of seriousness, we did learn a lot from it.

            People can be almost frighteningly gullible. Even the the most intelligent people can have their logical thought processes — oh, intercepted, so to speak, and guided into a desired pathway. Not everyone is subject to this, but a surprisingly large number of people can be manipulated rather easily.

            A lot of people want, almost desperately, for there to be, oh, something more to life than just what we see around us in the natural world. Whether it’s ego or fear or whatever motivation, they can’t accept the fact that outside of their own little circle of family and friends, they and their lives are completely insignificant. So they grasp at anything, no matter how illogical, that will somehow allow them to think that they do have some significance, that they are important somehow. They are looking for some kind of meaning when there is none.

            What really surprised us was that a significant number of the subjects/victims refused to accept that the whole thing had been an experiment. At a rough guess I’d say about 20% of them claimed that I really was a psychic and that we were lying about it being an experiment, or that I really was a psychic and just didn’t know it and was refusing to admit it.

            Finally, I can understand how the experimenter/con artist/minister/whatever who is doing this can themselves be fooled into thinking they actually have some kind of ‘special’ ability or connection to the spirit world or to some deity. If you aren’t really sure what you are doing and how you are doing it, i.e. watching for tells, know what cold reading is, etc. you could convince yourself that what you are doing is some kind of psychic gift or something.

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            1. Interesting. There are a fair number of people that will believe what they are told versus what they see with their own eyes. Reminds me of William lane Craig’s comment about the time machine. If he went back to the day of the resurrection and saw the stone rolled back, and there was no resurrection, he would still believe in jesus. And Mel Wild says that if it’s a hoax, (paraphrasing) it’s a hoax he can live with because it’s so fruitful for him. Reality is much more interesting to me. Thanks Grouchy for the links. I guess we already knew that outcome at his point, didn’t we?

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  4. I suspect millions of clergy are feeling quite stuck… just like anyone in mid-life crisis who realizes that their career is no longer food for their soul, but doesn’t know how to do anything else…. nothing to do with fear of coming our per se, but everything to do with the practical matter of how to pay the bills.

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  5. Sunk-cost, I like that. I see that with failing businesses. You want to tell the owners, shut it down, get out, but you know they’re thinking “It’s all about to turn around, just you wait…”

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        1. Ha! Funny you should mention that. Yesterday I took the Gallup strengths analysis exam. My number one out of 34 categories was the; Ideation SHARED THEME DESCRIPTION. People who are especially talented in the Ideation theme are fascinated by ideas. They are able to find connections between seemingly disparate phenomena.YOUR PERSONALIZED STRENGTHS INSIGHT is what makes you stand out. Chances are good that you traditionally figure out what you need to do better by evaluating data, evidence, or facts. Driven by your talents, you are highly sensitive to what others think of you. This sensitivity continually motivates you to do things better than you have in the past. By nature, you rely on reason to reduce things to their simplest parts. You closely examine each element to discover how it does or does not benefit the overall situation. Because of your strengths, you sometimes feel comfortable sharing your original ideas with groups. Perhaps they welcome your innovations. Maybe they realize you suggest novel ways of doing things they would never have considered. Instinctively, you regard yourself as logical and reasonable. You spontaneously reduce mechanisms, processes, proposals, ideas, or formulas to their basic parts. You figure out how the pieces interrelate. Your discoveries tell you why something does or does not function the way it should.
          My daughters company is giving this to there employees at a telecom. Sound like me? lol.

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  6. As I am sure many others who read this are thinking, I feel as if it’s my story. I can relate to this so much that it feels like I wrote it. Your writing style is much different than mine, but you know what I mean. It’s tough living a lie or having to continuously come up with excuses or ignore facts to continue in the faith. It becomes exhausting.

    Great post Jim. Also, I noticed today I was no longer following you. Not sure if it was a WP glitch or something I did but I’m following you again now.

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    1. You’re right, Ben, I was thinking the same thing. And it does become exhausting. You finally get to a point where you realize you’re not being honest with yourself, let alone anyone else.
      Jim, you were telling my story also, but much more eloquently than I could.
      I too came to that point where I woke up to the fact that no answer was my answer.

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      1. Funny after deconversion Z, I started to like people without judging them or thinking of an angle to convert them for the first time. I had my own thoughts about many things I thought were my own, but all I was was a parrot of someone else’s ideas. Ideas I was embarrassed to be a part of. Literally a 180 on virtually everything I thought I believed strongly went away. I mean it when I say the key to understanding the mysteries is unbelief. It’s also the key to love, tolerance, fairness, and happiness. We don’t have a people problem, we have a religion problem.

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    1. I know. I have quite a few that I know are just attending for family peace. Be interesting to have the numbers. After talking to an old friend about the fallacy of Catholicism, he agreed, then said ” what does that matter? He’s still in it. It’s the tradition in his family.

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      1. Well, growing up, I was a ”Christian” as were all my mates. But a proper Christian, C of E not a smelly Catholic!
        We never went to church other than when in the boy scouts for band parade or Midnight Mass just to have a sing song after the pubs closed at Christmas Eve.

        Our immediate neighbours back when we were kids, were Mr and Mrs Hulse and their kids who were Catholic. (Identified as such from the kids’ school uniforms, no less!) Although we tried to engage them when we first moved in – as good neighbours are supposed to, right? It was fruitless and in the twenty years we were neighbours ( ten while I lived at home) hardly any words were exchanged.
        Christians, eh? Gotta love ’em!

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