Positives that religion provides and making a case for a different approach to promote atheism

While I am what most people would describe as an atheist, I normally call myself an agnostic, not so much because of any belief in a creator, but more because I would be open to accepting there was one if I had any proof. Dawkins has said about the same thing, but unlike him, I am not sure that the world would be a better place without religion. Yes, many bad things have been done because of religion, but there is a huge bias working in what we hear and see. Most religious people that have moderate views are silent and get much from their faith. Many if not most believe in science, evolution and such, but simply add the comforting belief that there a loving god and afterlife. I see this coming from several basic human needs.

  • First, the more miserable a life someone has, the more need there is to seek some sort of comfort. A belief that they suffer for a reason, that there will be something better is a powerful balm.
  • Second, people often are tempted to do things that they morally know are bad, like stealing, lying, etc. Religious belief sets up within people a sort of self governance.
  • Third, people suffer when they lose someone they love, A belief in an afterlife removes much of the pain.

There is also a big difference in peoples reality due to IQ differences. Most of us here have a higher than average IQ. My IQ is higher than 99.99 percent of the people around me. The world seems much different to someone with an IQ of even average range. I got a hint of what it would be like to be less logical when an illness affected my cognitive abilities. I had to learn new coping skills and it made me see how someone who just does not have the mental abilities to really understand things like deep time would simply come to the conclusions they have. Nature is really rather miraculous looking.

I have come to the conclusion that humanity will not ever be free of superstitious thinking and it is understandable. With that in mind, insulting religion does not seem to me a good way of fighting against it. Maybe we would be better off trying to influence religious beliefs instead to promote them being a more positive influence while insuring that as much science education as possible while trying to minimize parental indoctrination.

I am not at all sure that Dawkins is a positive force for atheism. I understand why we tend to have a chip on our shoulder. I am so tired to having people try to indoctrinate me, flipping through the religious shows on tv, etc. Before the Internet, I had not even met another person who would admit being an atheist. We have a lot of pent up frustration. But now, we have the Internet and people who are interested in atheistic ideas will find us. We should work towards ways of being seen positively.

Be Well,

HoP

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So basically, religion is true, it's just confused. 

These ideas are all based on real-life experience, mine and other people's.  Because, after all, what is philosophy but an analysis of real life? 

I admit to feeling a little swamped by this project, by now.  I'm unsure of a strategy.  I think I need to concentrate on coming up with material, and then to organize it nicely.  After that, I need to pass it on to others so that they can expand it.  I'm finding that it goes over everyone's heads when they first see it.  Christians, however, tend to turn white - which suggests to me that this theory is religious in nature. 

I'm in favour of these pithy sayings, because people need something snappy which they can apply in seconds.  Also, as in mathematics, moral behaviour follows simple rules. 

HoPpeR:

"I find the topic of religion difficult."  I think even religious people find it difficult.  What I've got there is a clean, efficient, stripped-down version.  I found it hard work to get to that stage, because the ideas are so profound and all-encompassing.  Now, I find it very easy to understand.  Adding new ideas however is still hard work. 

I've never used heavy equipment, but I used to be a squatter and I love derelict buildings and situations.  Something about the teeming history of the place. 

1- there are other things that comfort other than religion.

2-people should do what they know is right because they want to do right not because some god says their going to hell for it.

3-i am happy with the fact that once i die i will be no more.  people shouldnt invent something thats not there, lie to everybody, and raise hell because nobody else believes in their imaginary friend.

My imaginary friends better than yours!

While it may not do any good to fight it, im tired of taking bullshit from so called christians. im not takin it anymore. im standing up for myself. they need to fuck off. they try to convert us, why cant we try to convert them?

and yes hope, while it may make enemies im not just sitting back anymore and taking their crap. im standing up for myself. if they can say their opinions and beliefs, so can i.

i've heard it once said opinions are like assholes, everybody has one. according to christians, their the only ones that can say theirs.

i have the right to state my beliefs, as do they. they insult me, i can insult them back. they shouldnt even be insulting/judging to start with.

we have been goin at it for years and they have a part in it too. im not sitting back anymore and getting run over by christians, ive did it long enough. im standing up for myself. if nobody likes it, i dont need them in my life. the only person i have to proove myself too is my boyfriend. everybody else can kiss my butt. i know i sound pissed or whatever, im just sick and tired of it all.

well said nate!

im glad you can relate to me. im just tired of taking bullcrap from christians. they can say their opinions i can too. yes people here are idiots. im originally from mississippi. bible belt. holy rollers. damn retards.

 

and nate i completely agree with you. 100%

Hey Hopper,

We just had a long thread on this about anger management. I think you and Nate are both right. imo, We have to be pragmatic while at the same time not surrender the indignation that drives social change.

- kk

Back soon, HoPpeR, I'll answer you then. 

"Positives that religion provides"

Religion does not necessarily provide "positives," but it does provide beliefs.  The positives, presumably kindness, etc., are behaviors which are not dependent on religion. But the beliefs are.

I find the Humanist Manifesto far more appealing than any "core beliefs" of any religion (Buddhism is close, though, if we include it as a "religion"). We don't need religion for "positive" behaviors.  But we do need it for injustice.

"The biological and spiritual drive towards survival, health and wholeness"

Some biological events are not so good for survival.

"From the molecular level upwards, all living things have evolved to stay alive"

Living things evolve simply because they can - the chemical properties of DNA are such that evolution via changes in DNA is inevitable.  Life is a by product of DNA, not the other way around.  And, there are "bad" mutations leading to harm as well as death (including cancer, non-viable pregnancies, etc.). 

"The Golden Rule has been hard-wired into the human brain by evolution"

Granted, over time treating others well, on average, seems to be more advantageous.  But there are many examples of societies that survived and thrived without a universal "golden rule"- unless of course you restrict the rule to the members of a specific society.  "Outsiders" in many societies, including today, often did/do not get the benefit of a universal golden rule.

First, the more miserable a life someone has, the more need there is to seek some sort of comfort - Certainly, and that is how any religion starts, then the superstitious myth was built on top, and Voila, religions of many persuasions were born, and thse new religons just keep on breeding. I personally have great regard for people in Third world countries and their religious beliefs, what sticks in my craw, is how these people are controlled and frightened. These are the people the catholic church are now targeting, and insisting they not use condoms, having children they can't feed. But, I shouldn't be angry.

Religious belief sets up within people a sort of self governance - If that were the case, I would not be bothered, in the scheme of things I don't care what people believe or not believe, it is when it intrudes on my life, seeping into politics. Then, there are the charlatans, who are ripping off people, making millions. Then the Americans have the likes of Mitt Romney, who could have been president of the world, who would have turned the world upside down, as Bush did, both believers. The evangelicals, we have them in Australia too, making millions, and I know the only thing they believe in is the god of money. 

But, I shouldn't be angry.

Then all religions hate gays - with the stupid, absurd, hateful statements that it is a choice. The bashings and suicide continues of young gays, both male and female, and made to feel like third class citizens, not quite the same as the rest of us.

But, I shouldn't get angry.

The gentle well meaning xians, I don't have a problem with at all - it is the ones who hide behind cloth and cross - the religions that castrate girls - who keep women at home. Just read about what the powers that be are doing in Saudi Arabia at the moment. A country that both our countries support. But I shouldn't get angry.

There is also a big difference in peoples reality due to IQ differences - There is a difference in uneducated, as in third world countries and IQ. No education, indoctrination and brainwashing from adults they trust, from the time they are born, is a hard one to get out of.

With that in mind, insulting religion does not seem to me a good way of fighting against it - Certainly pick one's battles, I discuss things when people come to my door, I don't get angry, but I don't back down.

I am so tired of having people trying to indoctrinate me, flipping through the religious shows on TV - These are the arseholes who know full well there is no god, they just want sad, frightened peoples money.

I had not even met another person who would admit being an Atheist - I don't have pent up frustration because I didn't know other Atheists, I am angry because of the likes of Westboro, of Hillsong, of Danny Hins, of Ted Haggard, of Jim Bakker. I want the pope and his cohorts all around the world, who protected pedophiles, and ruined the lives of thousands of children, to be jailed.  But I shouldn't get angry.

How about the xians stand up against the cancerous aspects in their own religion, how about catholics say clean out these festerous old men, how about xians say, how about we treat all gays with dignity and respect - how about they themselves do something about it, instead of waiting for secular people to show them the way - Then I wouldn't be angry.

@Ron V. I find the Humanist Manifesto far more appealing than any 'core beliefs of any religion -  exactly Humanist ideals and Philosophy, nothing to hide behind there.

Hey Hopper,

This seems to be in line with a growing opinion here at TA, so I'll speak up.

While I am what most people would describe as an atheist, I normally call myself an agnostic, not so much because of any belief in a creator, but more because I would be open to accepting there was one if I had any proof. Dawkins has said about the same thing, but unlike him, I am not sure that the world would be a better place without religion. Yes, many bad things have been done because of religion, but there is a huge bias working in what we hear and see. Most religious people that have moderate views are silent and get much from their faith.

Right, but I don't think they are the ones - by themselves - creating the problems. Its the core, underlying belief systems of religion used by so many millions around the world to behave irrationally that causes the biggest problems. What happens when that same "quiet" majority, for example, goes to the polls and votes to make abortion illegal in any and all cases because god doesn't like it? Or for a new law to criminalize homosexuality because god doesn't like it? This "quiet" majority will move with one voice, I promise you. And if this is too ideological to be fair, there are any number of examples we could come up with like this that have nothing at all to do with politics. This is the weak argument that I must throw in as the obligatory introduction.

But let's point out what I think Dawkins might be far more concerned about. Suppose a group of religious fanatics desperately wants attention and decides to fly airplanes into buildings in NYC. Now, just suppose the United States happens to have the highest religiosity of any industrialized nation on Earth (which it does), but mostly in a religion inconsistent with the religion of the attackers. Now, suppose the United States has the world's largest, most sophisticated, accurate and deadly nuclear weapons arsenal. How close is a hypothetical Sarah Palin or her kind to the nuclear button if she were President (I only use Palin as an example because of her own professed dedication and adherence to Christianity - the "norm" in this country)? Now, switch lenses. What if a "madman" or "lunatic" out to "get attention" manages to get their hands on nuclear weapons because gee, the technological infrastructure just keeps getting more and more sophisticated and it keeps getting easier and cheaper to build this kind of stuff? This is what scares me about religion and that is where the true danger lies:

1. The technological sophistication of humanity has dramatically magnified the potential catastrophic impact of religious zeal to a point that the two are fundamentally incompatible.

2. We have a choice. We can choose civilization and the perpetuation of humanity or religion and destruction of the technological infrastructure to reduce us back to barbarity.

I think its crystal clear. I'm not selling sheep and this is not a game we're playing. I wish people would listen to people like Stephen Hawking and the very few alive today that understand this. Religion must go.

Of course,  I will qualify this as my own wicked, heterodox little opinion ;-) But my point follows your next paragraph:

Many if not most believe in science, evolution and such, but simply add the comforting belief that there a loving god and afterlife. I see this coming from several basic human needs.

  • First, the more miserable a life someone has, the more need there is to seek some sort of comfort. A belief that they suffer for a reason, that there will be something better is a powerful balm.
  • Second, people often are tempted to do things that they morally know are bad, like stealing, lying, etc. Religious belief sets up within people a sort of self governance.
  • Third, people suffer when they lose someone they love, A belief in an afterlife removes much of the pain.

Surely there are smarter ways we can help people cope than to use something like religion, a 1000 plus year old corpus of sayings of mostly wise old men? Prozac? I don't mean that facetiously, I'm serious. Science can help here. We don't need to rely on religion for this, nor should we. It's the essense of backward, imo.

There is also a big difference in peoples reality due to IQ differences. Most of us here have a higher than average IQ. My IQ is higher than 99.99 percent of the people around me. The world seems much different to someone with an IQ of even average range. I got a hint of what it would be like to be less logical when an illness affected my cognitive abilities. I had to learn new coping skills and it made me see how someone who just does not have the mental abilities to really understand things like deep time would simply come to the conclusions they have. Nature is really rather miraculous looking.

I don't think IQ has anything to do with this. My extended family over the last 70 years has consisted of a lot of people, all atheists, and not one of them is a Stephen Hawking, or even a soft scientist for that matter. It isn't smarts; its horse sense.

I have come to the conclusion that humanity will not ever be free of superstitious thinking and it is understandable. With that in mind, insulting religion does not seem to me a good way of fighting against it. Maybe we would be better off trying to influence religious beliefs instead to promote them being a more positive influence while insuring that as much science education as possible while trying to minimize parental indoctrination.

We agree here. But I do think that superstition can be reduced to a small minority. There will always be eccentric people. And I agree that insulting religion doesn't help. As I've said over and over, all atheists should take deconversion very seriously. The clock is ticking. If that sounds alarmist, its 12 O'clock and the time is nigh.

I am not at all sure that Dawkins is a positive force for atheism. I understand why we tend to have a chip on our shoulder. I am so tired to having people try to indoctrinate me, flipping through the religious shows on tv, etc. Before the Internet, I had not even met another person who would admit being an atheist. We have a lot of pent up frustration. But now, we have the Internet and people who are interested in atheistic ideas will find us. We should work towards ways of being seen positively.

Very strongly agree with you there. We need to learn how to manage our anger better. It's okay to be angry. Its necessary, in fact, for social change, but imo we should focus it constructively.

Great Post, thanks

- kk

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