Viruses of the Mind

Richard Dawkins

The premise of Zahavi's idea is that natural selection will favor skepticism among females (or among recipients of advertising messages generally). The only way for a male (or any advertiser) to authenticate his boast of strength (quality, or whatever is is) is to prove that it is true by shouldering a truly costly handicap --- a handicap that only a genuinely strong (high quality, etc.) male could bear. It may be called the principle of costly authentication. And now to the point. Is it possible that some religious doctrines are favored not in spite of being ridiculous but precisely because they are ridiculous? Any wimp in religion could believe that bread symbolically represents the body of Christ, but it takes a real, red-blooded Catholic to believe something as daft as the transubstantiation. If you believe that, you can believe anything, and (witness the story of Doubting Thomas) these people are trained to see that as a virtue.
The greater the faith, the prouder the boast of the faithful that they believe. Their faith saves them. Lucky God, to have such fervent believers...