When watching debates and interviews with atheists i always agree with them. However they tend to say that if you believe in god(s) you are stupid or that religion is "idiotic". Now i certainly agree that religion can be harmful, religious institutions are not always a force for good. But telling someone of faith so bluntly that they are wrong and in such a harsh way, surely that would only distance them from the idea of becoming non-religious or atheist. There are intelligent people who are theist and everyone has had moments in their life were an all knowing, kindly and loving god looks quite appeasing. Maybe instead of insulting them we should show that we understand where they are coming from and that we see their point, and slip in words like "however you must admit that..." or "the evidence is overwhelming..." so that it doesn't seem as though we see ourselves as being on some sort of higher ground. Then maybe they would be more comfortable and more open to new ways of thinking and ideas rather then being angry and constantly being on the defense or attacking.

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There is a concept called "brain pattering".  It's how people learn to do a task better by rote.  As a person does a task over and over, the brain gets patterned to process the task more efficiently.  And because of how the brain works, tasks that are related become better as well.  The problem is, it works in negative ways.  The more a person purposefully train your mind to ignore evidence, to only believe what you really want to be true, rather than look for truth through evidence and be open minded to knowledge, the less likely they are to be open minded in other tasks and thoughts.  Granted, this is a generalization, there are some people who can separate these things, but as a general rule, this is why religious people tend to be anti-intellectual and under-educated.  They have trained their minds to be that way.

what baffles me is how one can be "stupid" one day but not the next day, just because they've changed their opinion on god...

Well, once a person stops believing fairy tales, that person will likely become smarter simply because of the fact that they are starting to evaluate evidence instead of deciding what they want to believe and then only look for evidence that supports that belief and ignore all other facts and evidence.


So, in essence, yes.  A person who stops believing fairy tales immediately becomes smarter, based solely on that decision.

And, they often stop using bad logic--or, at least, a lot less of it.  Also resulting in a sudden net gain in intelligence.


I have always thought that one of the most harmful effects of religion is that it comes with a plethora of lessons in bad reasoning.

It rarely happens that quickly.  And, people often do, in fact, gain intelligence and wisdom with time.  That is why IQ tests scores have to take the person's age into account.  The same number of right answers by a 15 year old as a 30 year old on an identical test indicates that the 15 year old is much smarter than the 30 year old.
Just so you know, not everything that people say is meant to be taken literally word-for-word.  The phrase used is actually meant, not literally "one day to the next", but more of a generally swift change, rather than, as you point out, over years.  It would do you well in debates to actually learn the intricacies of normal communications before entering any real debate.
I know.  My point was that changing one's opinion about the existence of god is usually more than a simple change of opinion--it is a reflection of years of growing and learning.  So much so that the person as a whole has changed.  An overt manifestation of that change may seem sudden and therefore simple, but it is not.

Well, I agree with you that it CAN take years of growth.  However, it can also come in a "revelation", if you will excuse the pun.  If, for years a person has been railing against evidence because of their belief that it is invalid because of a religion, when that vale drops, that person can come to accept a LOT of information as true that the day before, so to speak, they denied the truth of.  People change in a lot of ways, it's not necessarily a long, slow gradual process.

That being said, yes, you are right.  For a lot of people, it tends to be a longer process.

I can only say that through being challenged by others and myself that the hypocrisy & guilt made me re think my spiritual beliefs.  The soft approach never worked for me as I just felt sorry for non believers, no-one had the guts to say and point out the dangers of spirituality as they did the whole open minded approach which just fed my beliefs.  Guilt and shame worked for me as it made want to move away from those feelings and I could only do that by letting go of my spiritual beliefs.

Welcome to the light!  :)

So, would you say it was more effective for people to just point out the "hypocrisy" (as you describe it) with your belief system rather than trying to play on your emotions, so to speak? 

I believe that, when trying to get a person to see reason, it is crucial to be as unemotional and concise as possible when having a conversation with them.  It seems that once a "personal attack" happens, the unreasoning person just shuts down and almost feels justified in their belief because they were able to fluster their debate partner.  Did you find this to be true or am I off the mark in my reasoning?

I think there's two sides to this. I've always said that there are 2 kinds of theists: ones who aren't able to grasp the concepts science provides, and those that choose not to. I would say the dumb ones are in the minority. The ones that choose not to accept scientific evidence are scared that it will prove everything they've ever believed in wrong, and their life would be devastated and they'd realize their life means nothing. That's real hard to accept. I try to make theists realize that they simply placed their faith in fantasy, and need to shift it to reality. Keep faith, just put it in something that can be counted on.


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