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?
Well said, C Woods, well said!
Might I also recommend Twain's Letters From the Earth in which case Satan - not a bad guy, just a prankster who gets on god's nerves from time to time and gets banned from heaven for a millennium or so, writes back to his fellow Arch-Angels what ridiculous ideas Humans have come up with about religion. He says we all mistreat each other on Earth, but believe that somehow, when we all get to heaven, we're just going to "hug and hug and hug." He demonstrates that most people can't stand more than a couple of hours of church, and that only once a week, but we invent a heaven that 24-hour church forever!
I thjink you'd enjoy it.
Heather I so agree! And I am praying that the light comes on for the atheist community who have bought the dogma of such men as Dawkins and Harris etc. ;-)
What then, Trevor, do you pray for in my case? I became an Atheist while surrounded by religious people, and living in a religious community, because I read the bible. At the time, Hitchens hadn't published a book and no one had heard of Dawkins - Harris likely still had acne.
Who then, Trevor, has duped me?
Heather there is nothing like a good dose of second hand religion to put you off. I don't know who your influencers where, and I don't doubt that your own desires and motives played a large part in it either. May be your also a duper though, and other people have been duped by you. That would be sad to have that responsibility over you.
In the end, Trevor, my second hand religion was the bible; because, you see, Jesus (assuming he existed and was one man) never wrote a single word.
The real trouble starts in the old testament though; there is just no way that I can believe the earth is 6,000 years old. We know for a fact that almost every single star in the sky is older than the earth, that they weren't put there, after the earth, as an afterthought. It's just a bunch of Bronze Age mythology mixed in with some superstitious narrative and fabricated lineages.
Trevor - RE: "That would be sad to have that responsibility over you." - that's a message I wish you would take to all of the ministers and TV evangelists the world over, who dupe on a regular basis.
You know what, I really wish I could disagree with you on that one, but I cannot. There are a lot of nutters on the TV, most of the American I'm sorry to say. People who see religion as a way of making money. Shameful. I cannot and will not defend the indefensible.
Twain also said,
"Faith is believin' what you know ain't so."
Hi Trevor – I was wondering what you mean when you said earlier that you are “praying that the light comes on for the atheist community who have bought the dogma of such men as Dawkins and Harris etc”. Are you saying that you can talk directly to the entity you believe is the creator of the Universe? Do you really believe you can get such results or is it just wishful thinking? I do not believe in your gods’ existence so why do you find that to be incoherent. I don’t believe in Allah either – is that also not a coherent position?
Other that your subjective beliefs or statements that the existence of you god is necessarily self-evident do you have any evidence to offer so that I could believe it. I will stop being an Atheist as soon as you produce even the slightest scrap of evidence to warrant me changing my mind. Anything to help show me your god is the true one. Is that fair?
So actually the knowledge that there is punishment for sin is a deterant
@ Trevor - I believe that can be the case too, but what you need to do is weigh that against all the bad things religion causes, and look at the overall practicality and validity of religion.
An example would be a man who "finds God" and leaves his life of crime and drug use behind, but the reason he was into that life style in the first place was a result of he poverty he was born in, which was caused by his parents religious belief that a couple should have as many children as possible.
I understand where your coming from. But you also need to see that just because I beleive that there is a God doesn't mean that all religions are equally valid, or that man's actions are thereofore to be blamed on there being a God. Politics is something that the world would fall apart without, and yet there is so much corruption and evil done through politics. There is good politics and bad politics, good politicians and bad politiicians.