I was thinking about this quote by Upton Sinclair earlier today:
It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his job depends on not understanding it.
— Upton Sinclair
I realised that one might paraphrase Mr. Sinclair’s saying and apply it to a different domain of life:
It is difficult to get a man to understand something when he believes his salvation depends on not understanding it.
I suppose that could – and perhaps should – be clarified by saying “It’s difficult, if not impossible, to get a man to understand something when he erroneously believes that his salvation and his immortal soul depends on him not understanding it”.
A bit arduous perhaps? Brevity does seem to add to the quote in my opinion.
The point stands and is underscored by every anti-evolution argument, every young earth argument and every anti-science argument raised by every creationists, ever. Arguing with a religious person is challenging if not futile since the religious have a vested interest in not understanding a point, seeing any proof or accepting that an argument against their dearly held beliefs might be correct.
A point well made by another quote:
You can’t reason someone out of a position they didn’t reason themselves into.
“Can’t” might be too strong a word but it does seem pretty unlikely that one would be able to reason a person out of a belief that they were not convinced of through reason, logic and evidence.
The bottom line? Convincing somebody of a fact using logic and reason when that person has a vested interest – not suffering terrible torture for eternity being a really good example of a vested interest – in not understanding that fact it futile. Or at least pretty freaking hard.