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Stupidity and Evil

This article about Bonhoeffer's writing on stupidity popped up in my feed. The controllers of the Internet must know me better than I know myself.



I have a sticky note with this quote on my computer: It very hard to argue with an intelligent person. It's damn near impossible to argue with an ignorant person. (attributed to that great thinker, Bill Murray.)


I have been thinking lately about gullibility, which might be a subset of stupid. Bonhoeffer is quoted in this article: Stupidity, though, has its dark side. For theologian and philosopher Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the stupid person is often more dangerous than the evil one.

“Neither protests nor the use of force accomplish anything here; reasons fall on deaf ears; facts that contradict one’s prejudgment simply need not be believed — in such moments the stupid person even becomes critical — and when facts are irrefutable, they are just pushed aside as inconsequential, as incidental. In all this the stupid person, in contrast to the malicious one, is utterly self-satisfied and, being easily irritated, becomes dangerous by going on the attack.”


I am concerned about the state of intelligence in the church. I fear the average church member just doesn't want to do the work of using their brains. We let others tell us what to think. This comes from stupidity (gullibility) but also apathy. I think Bonhoeffer would have been more appalled by our apathy than he was even of stupidity.

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