Because I said so

“Because I said so.” I’ll bet most of us heard that more than once when we were kids. You whined, “But why do I have to eat my peas?” and your mom said, “Because I said so.” You asked, probably under your breath, “But why do I have to stand in the corner?” and your teacher answered, “Because I said so.” As you got older, you might have had occasion to grumble, “But officer, why am I getting a ticket?” and you just knew that, bottom line, it would all come down to because he said so. Same thing with your boss. Why do you have to work this weekend? Because he said so. Period.

It probably wasn’t long before you realized that “Because I said so” wasn’t an answer at all. It was not the explanation you wanted, not the information you needed in order to understand. It frustrates me, then, that it’s still the answer I seem to get when I ask, “How do you know there’s a God? Why do you believe that?” Because somebody else says so?

Even when I was a kid and totally trusted my parents, “Because I said so” was never an adequate answer.



Categories: atheist / agnostic / humanist, Religion

5 replies

  1. Great question. I’m sure it partially “Because someone said so.” but I would bet you it’s more of the fear of being wrong and going to hell, confronting the majority of people and government. Religion was and continues to be a great tool, in the control of societies, economies, politics and anything else deemed to need control over.

    Because of the Internet age, you are seeing more and more people wean themselves from Religion. It’s all about knowledge! Back in the day, the biblical age, before, and unfortunately current day, human beings have a tendency to #1 have the need for acceptance (when 85% of the US population is religious that is an easy group to fit into) #2 be lazy and just nod along, it’s pathetic.

    The great majority of religious people are not the brightest bulbs or the sharpest tools in the shed. The certainly could be if they would remove the blinders and research things from both ends. You can only come to one logical conclusion, especially in the technology age. You can see, that the Church(s) cannot control even certain things. Such as this, Man kind as a society has gone through AGES, the biblical age, modern age, technology age (and many more); you see, we evolve as a society and as knowledge is acquired we do away with the unnecessary in light of advancement.

  2. Bingo, Nick. Knowledge and education are the keys to everything. (I’ve always contended that education is the cure to all the world’s ills.)

    I didn’t decide to be a Christian; I didn’t decide to be an secularist. I did decide to take my education seriously. Beyond that, I just live my life, trying to be a decent, open-minded human being. Rather like being a giant funnel with life pouring in at the top and “me” emerging at the bottom. And in examining the current “me” that’s emerging, I find that I’m very secularist.

    I’ve thought at times it sure would be nice to be a Christian, to know that “someone” out (up?) there is looking out for me, or whatever. I could really use the help sometimes. I could choose to ACT like a Christian—go to church, pray, talk the talk, walk the walk, etc. But that wouldn’t make me a Christian; it would only make me an actor. Worse, if I didn’t really “believe,” it would make me a hypocrite.

    I can’t CHOOSE to believe; I don’t think you can compel belief, in yourself or in others. Belief is something that distills itself from your total life experience. You either believe something, or you don’t, based on everything that’s come through your personal funnel so far.

  3. I’ve briefly skimmed over the topic of “Because I said so” in a few of my blogs. In my opinion I think people that use, “Because I said so…” reasoning are exercising their need to bring order and control to things. The validity of the argument behind a, “Because I said so” seems to be irrelevant to the authoritarian figure. In their eyes it is the act of bringing order and control which is the primary goal – validity of the truth does not matter. In other words they don’t care if the argument is valid or not, it only matters that you do as you are told. The world in their eyes is unsafe and unpredictable unless they are guaranteed that people will do what they are told to do consistently. As these people mature they come to realize that people don’t always need to be told what to do to realize what is best for them. The opposite of “Because I said so” seems to be a form of responsible anarchy. A world with no laws and governments that works. The world works because people are responsible and know how to conduct themselves appropriately. People who like to use “Because I said so” have much to learn about trusting others. They are full of fear so they must create a truth (one which may not be true) just for the purpose of being able to relieve their insecurities about the world. “If everyone did as I said then there would be no evil…” seems to be their level of rationalization. They need to realize that

    1) They might be wrong in their beliefs; a lot of our elected leaders are supported by people who just do what they are told without questioning. Unfortunately a huge part of our world’s problems today are caused by the irresponsibility people harbor regarding their role in creating a better world for all.

    2) People have free will and have the right to do as they please (eventually this will become responsible free will instead of anarchy).

    Personally I HATE “Because I said so…” logic. I try to tell myself though that these people only say these things because they are full of fear themselves and need some sort of truth to ground themselves in. I think as people rise up to challenge their own personal fears and better themselves the notion of, “Because I said so…” will be replaced with rational reasoning. As Frank Herbert said in Dune, “Fear is the mind-killer.”

  4. One more thing I forgot to add – I agree with Nick that a big part of “Because I said so…” is the fear of being wrong. What these people don’t realize is that you have the right to be wrong. Being wrong is the quickest ticket to growth from my experience. What do you learn when you are always right – growth does not take place when you regurgitate things you already know as true.

    Being wrong is not the end of the world but these people fear so much that they’d say anything than admit to being wrong. For them being wrong would bring the whole world crashing down on them. They have so little truth in themselves that one little wrongness in their beliefs would threaten to contradict their entire existence. No one likes being wrong – it’s hard work admitting that you’re wrong and it’s even harder work having to fix your wrongness up. I think it would be a great growth experience for these people if they were just wrong. Continually and utterly wrong. Just as it’s hard stepping into cold water for the first time – admitting that you’re wrong seems almost an impossible step. With time though the water feels less chilly and they find that being wrong is not the end of the world – just the beginning of a new one.

  5. Even “The Fonz” had trouble admitting he was wrong. Admitting you’re wrong is scary. It’s humbling, maybe even embarrassing. It threatens your pride, your self-esteem. It could threaten your status, your authority, your position in the community.

    Wrong is a harsh word, so it might be easier to simply admit a willingness to allow or consider another view. That’s really all I ask… a little more open-mindedness, a little more tolerance.

"Opinion is the medium between knowledge and ignorance." ~ Plato

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