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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If some people need religion to cope with life’s vicissitudes, so be it.

As for myself, I think my reliance on the manifest successes of reason and science rather than the caprices of a mythical, medieval overseer, however benevolent, provides me with infinitely more self-respect, self-confidence, and self-worth than is experienced by even the most devout religious person.  

Going back to the reasons we argue. Are we trying to persuade, justify or explain?

 You can't persuade if you are offending. You just sound like a maniac trying to justify something all the while insulting them. If you are explaining then the other persons take might be something like "He told me why He is atheist but he's also a jackass!" Trust me they will focus on the jackass part.

 Leaving there to be absolutely no point in having the conversation if nobody is listening.

 If we are simply out to offend people lets not do it in the name of atheism. This just promotes the stereotype that atheists have no morals.

 Now when I think about do people NEED religion. People get along with out all kinds of superstition everyday. The same religious people do too. Maybe actually knowing how old the earth is, where we come from, and that when we try real hard we can reason through things and we don't need a god to reveal things will give the needed self confidence that they need to survive and co-exist w/out a god/religion.

Sometimes there is no polite way to call out someone or to criticize a belief. If it's clearly nonsense then that's what it is. What am I supposed to call it if it's clearly batshit bonkers? Keep in mind, the nicey-softy approach has its limits and If I do speak my mind, what invariably happens is that believers tend to mix up a rational debate with their sensitive emotions. That's not my problem... it's theirs. 

Some skin is thin. But I'm not going to get a point across to my grandmother by saying  "That bitch" did this or that. again what is the purpose for the argument? To offend? Then that is not an argument. To persuade? You'll never get there like that.

There is no need to explain satire. I'm a huge fan of Pratchett and Douglas Adams.

Pissing off people is different then making them laugh at their religions absurdities. There is no guarantee that they will find it remotely funny. 

Just to be clear "shaming" isn't constructive. In fact it's kind of a religious thing.

 The grandmother thing was a poor example. Not sure if my point was taken correctly. but anyhow...

I once saw a shirt that said "I'm atheist. Debate me." I laughed. I know these people. These people wouldn't laugh. They would most likely try their hand at a debate over the shirt.

 Satire is great for open minded people and people that already agree with you.
 In the case of the religious there is not often a lot of open mindedness going on, especially on the extreme side.

 You'd be surprised how pissed certain people were when this was posted on a certain forum. I doubt they were extremist.

being a fan of satire, I don't think it should go away or that it is useless however I don't think its going shame anyone into changing their minds. I' mean they are not going to be like "I deserve being shamed for believing that."

 

Attachments:

Hey Gallup's Mirror,

What is your goal or intent in the "stare down" to which you refer? Is it to change minds? Alter belief? If I understand you correctly, you are saying that you can "influence" [teeming masses of] people in this way?

- kk


  • 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.

Human suffering being explained as a necessary circumstance in life to appease an invisible being is not that comforting to me. It actually just pisses me off.

  • 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.

It's called having a conscious. There is no rule book in life, contrary to popular religious opinion. The idea that I am good to placate an invisible being is a shitty reason to be moral. Morality was created, adapted, and advanced long before religion and supernatural myth had come into existence. 

  • Third, people suffer when they lose someone they love, A belief in an afterlife removes much of the pain.

What if they believe the person is going to Hell because they happened to not play by the rules of religion? Life is a finite proposition. Why the wringing of hands? 

"Religion is not fought against in the emotional arena which is what insulting religion does, they have that locked up. It is fought against in the part of the brain that values logic and knowledge. Not all people value that so their will always be religion until the basic human nature changes."

So the mystery for atheists who attempt to embark on transforming someone's "basic human nature" is how to gain access to a theist's logic without upsetting them emotionally. When you figure that out let me know. 

"All we can do is try and limit the damage that religion does and promote the good that it brings."

I don't believe the promotion of even the good aspects of religion is really necessary or even wise. I want to dismantle the institution, not prop it up.

And I'm actually a pretty laid back kind of dude (even a dudeist, if you will) who eschews being angry and obnoxious. Those traits are certainly apparent around here in the form of hell fire and brimstone fundamentalist Christians.

 

We must respect the other fellow's religion, but only in the sense and to the extent that we respect his theory that his wife is beautiful and his children smart
--H. L. Mencken

 

I like that 99.99% thing. Old Pappy used to say, "The best way to make yourself look good Is to hang out with a bunch of ugly people".

Your "benefits of religion" list seems to center around Marx's famous criticism: Religion is the opiate of the masses. 

Personally I think opiating the masses is a bad thing. And opiating myself is a bad thing. I would never numb myself against thinking about all the wonderful aspects of life (philosophy, scientific discovery, and yes, the bad things too, like pain, existentialist despair, etc). Something doesn't have to feel good to be a worthwhile life experience, and if you avoid everything that doesn't feel good, you're seriously missing out on life.

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