I've had thoughts on why many cling on to religion, even after constant debunking and debating. I think I may have a possible reason why some do not give them up.
Most religions all have some system of an afterlife. People practicing the religion believe that, if they follow their specific book and appease to their specific God, they get to go to a magical place where nothing bad happens and they get to live out their wishes and desires that were either impossible in their mortal life, or there life was too short to live it.
When someone suddenly suggests that such a concept does not exist, the believer becomes defensive. Death is a bitter result of life. We dread the day we where we breathe our last breath, or if our life was suddenly cut short. To us, the concept of an after-life is comforting, a God protecting us like a Dad telling his son everything is going to be alright, even though he knows the bitter end is near.
I think, while not the sole reason for many that hold on to their faith, a denial of a mortal death being a permanent death is what keeps them from swallowing the bitter pill of reality that life is not fair, and that shit happens and you may not get to do everything in life or you could drop dead the very next day.
I was born in Mississippi, and raised Baptist, although, my family was mostly lazy Christians who only went to church on around the Holidays. I had the hope as a small child to go to Heaven and be with Angels and no kids there would ever be mean to me again. The thought that I couldn't have any of that would probably have scared me back then.
I came to realize that it's for the best that there is no afterlife. Imagine what exactly you would be doing in an afterlife. As the eternity went on, you would grow tired of the same mundane things. Would you truly want to spend your mortal life appeasing some God, only so you can appease him the rest of your life? I can't think of anything else that would be so...well, boring.
In a way, I feel more confident in this life. It won't be okay if I skip out on opportunities, because I may not get the chance again. This is my one shot, and I don't want to blow it on wishful thinking.
How about you? If you were once religious and now Atheist, how did you overcome the hurdle of accepting there is no afterlife? Or, do you not believe in an afterlife, but in some way, wish/hope there is one? Has any of this changed your perspective on how you live your life than how you lived your life beforehand?
I only know what you wrote, not what you meant. I look at this statement:
Oh, so you know you've deconverted theists by offering scientific facts and syllogisms? I doubt it. No theory involved. In practice, theists as a rule don't give up religion because you showed them a fact or made a strong argument.
and you're not saying that what I think or theorize is wrong: you're saying that you doubt that I have done what I know I've done. You're not doubting my ideas or arguments, you're doubting the fact of my deconverting somebody, based on it not being the norm ("as a rule"). You need to acknowledge that you wrote what you wrote -- even if it's not what you intended. What you wrote is not a matter of opinion. What you intended might be but not what you wrote. And what you wrote, you wrote using English grammar and syntax. It means what it means separate from your intent or error.
Now, it may well be that this is not what you intended to say or that you made an error in editing that came out wrong.
As I said earlier, there's a thousand ways to say ANYTHING. You own your words whether you want to or not. I'm not a mind-reader.
Up to that point you hadn't actually said you had turned a theist into an atheist, so I couldn't possibly have accused you of lying. It was a sheerly speculative observation, not a declarative statement that Atheist Exile is a liar.
Is English your first language?
This discussion is starting to remind me of this masterpiece of modern American poetry:
I am not really disturbed by the afterlife question. I am more concerned about having a life that is meaningless and based upon self deceit. The constant masterbatory selling of religion seems wasteful of the 'gift' that life can be. A life planting flowers, discovering some deep insight, or bringing some measure of joy to the world would seem a better choice of vocation. If you can't be a decent person here, how is another life going to help you? If you are a free person, choose!
I was raised in a Catholic Cuban immigrant family- saint candles in every room, crucifixes worn at all times, a specific saint prayed to for every mishap. I was sent to Catholic school, but having been an extremely curious and independent child I had already begun questioning religion by age 7. By age 12 I openly described myself as an atheist, which led to a volatile relationship with my family, as it continues to do to this day.
The funny thing is, those 'virtues' which are usually valued within religion- charity, generosity, kindness- were things I cultivated far more than the 'believers' around me. Those that believe in an afterlife seem to be trying to do just enough in this world to gain admission into the next, whereas I approach life with an explosive 'I will never have this moment again so I ought to take full advantage of it' fervor.
As much as some may complain that their life is terrible and stressful or filled with needs and wants, it is terrifying to think that it will someday end. Religion provides the perfect safety net for those that don't have enough spine to accept their minuscule and mortal existence in only one world.
Alessandra - first, let me say that just because Cubans and Mexicans share the same language, I'm aware that the cultural differences are vastly different.
But I wanted to share with you something I learned about the Mexican culture - it is so mixed with Native American superstition, over which Catholicism is imposed, that they become inextricably enmeshed. My son married a Mexican-American girl, and her mother, born and raised in this country, yet in the 21st century, still rubs a fresh egg over a new-born baby, to extract the "evil," at which time, the egg is cracked and disposed of. (I've offered to eat it, but that only got me a cold stare.)
Are there any over-the-top oddities within the Cuban religious culture that we might find interesting? Not nosey, just curious --
Religion provides the perfect safety net for those that don't have enough spine to accept their minuscule and mortal existence in only one world.
@ Alessandra - That is so true but I think that many people, though they may not consciously think it, know deep down they would freak out without their faith. This would be caused by their being taught since birth to navigate through the world within the narrow confines of their belief system. It is all they know.
You're at it again, Unseen. Are you a racist idiot?
Apologise already, for crying out loud.
Oh, so I'm a racist now. More over the top thoughts from Simon Paynton. How did you come to thinking me racist? What race are we talking about?
Unseen, you keep asking Atheist Exile if he can understand proper English, when it's plain that his English is as good as yours and mine. That's offensive, and it sounds racist.
The things you say to people here (ie. me and A.E.) are often offensive, although said in a veiled way. You need to accept that if you say offensive things to people, then they will get upset, and it is your responsibility to smooth things over. The problem is not with the people who get offended. It is with your offensive behaviour.
If I led you astray by making that quote from Pulp Fiction ("English, mother... etc.") then I apologise. I often seem to make jokes that go wrong.
I'm prepared to accept that you don't know you're doing it. That's the nature of passive aggression. You are actually a very aggressive person. If Atheist Exile is an angry man, which he may or may not be, then he seems to be an angry man with a good heart, and straightforward, and not vindictive. I'm sorry to say that you appear to be the opposite of all those things.
It's not a crime to be angry. Sometimes it's appropriate.
Understanding English grammar isn't the same as understanding how to use and interpret English colloquially. Is the "race" you referred to the race of non-colloquial English speakers? I can only think there's a cultural difference behind his snippy fits. We're in a debate here. It's rough-and-tumble. If you can't stand the heat...(well, I'm sure YOU know the rest and what it means). At least I don't threaten to beat people up or use profanities. I'm not sure if I'm guilty of passive-aggressiveness, but one thing I'm sure of is that it's better than active aggression in many ways. Just ask the guy with the black eye and the missing teeth!