I have never liked the comparison that a person who has religious belief is infected with some sort of “virus.” I understand the logic and the eloquent explanation of those who hold this view. I don’t even like the explanation that it is a delusion even though this concept can be substantiated if you manipulate the definition of delusion to conform to the idea that religious practices are oppressive, insulting, and completely irrational, not to mention, man-made, therefore untrue.

I have found myself at times stating that religious beliefs are delusional, only to find that I am at odds with myself. I pushed these feelings aside for some time simply to conform to what many atheists believe. I think many atheists believe this simply because of the “God Delusion” by Dawkins. I think he coined the phrase in a masterful way to give a wake-up call to the absurdity of the belief systems of religious and the harm it can cause humanity. I am not arguing with the concepts that Dawkins wrote about, or even saying that he is wrong.

I do however believe profoundly differently. I take a sociological approach to religion. I think Max Weber got it right in his profound work, “The Sociology of Religion.” His historical analysis begins with a simple…very simple premise: People pursue their interests. Weber is an idealist like myself, (why I like him so much…) His approach to say that ideas are the major influence human action is spot on. Ann Swidler writes: “He does not argue that ideas always or necessarily influence action. He does try to understand variation in the influence of ideas on action.” From these building blocks, “he builds a powerful theory to explain why some kinds of cultural systems have much more influence on economic and political action than others do. He analyzes the critical historical contingencies that determine whether and how ideas guide action.” Furthermore, “Weber argues that once a religion is sufficiently “rationalized” – systematized and unified – its core religious ideas come to have a logic of their own.”

His Verstehen approach (interpretive) allows for a more empathetic, and participatory approach, (notice I did not say condoning approach) towards the understanding, of religion in general.

My own feelings towards the matter: I do not believe religion is a phenomenon we should be hostile towards. Religion is nothing more than a sociological concept. I do believe we should separate the phenomenon itself from the ideas and actions of the individuals who perpetuate, teach, and try to implement, or force into our society. The difference being that we can ultimately evaluate and see religion on an empathic basis rather, than a force to be eliminated.

Religion has evolved with us and through us and has formed much of what we see in culture today. The ideas and actions are what can be poisonous if used (or misused) to have power and control over another person(s), or entity. Just as we would take an approach to rid our society of an imbalance of power and control, (we already do this with other sociological problems such as domestic violence) we can also make a more positive impact politically and interpersonally. I believe the key to being heard and having a TRUE lasting impact, is to take a sociological approach to understanding, and to use this knowledge to rationalize and demonstrate why the atheist position is the more mature approach for humanity. It would seem to me that we might actually see a change in public (religious) opinion, persona, stereotype, and awareness of what atheist actually stand for.

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Maybe now, Barry, you can begin to understand why we bang our heads against walls and computer screens as often as we do - here's your badge, attach it to your banging point of choice --

BAHAHAHA!!!  Thanks, Arch.

Just think of it as, 'hands across the chasm' --

Can we just put them on an island and see what happens? Oh wait, I already know how that ends.

Somehow, I've always associated all of those stone faces, gazing out to sea, with Beckett's play, "Waiting for Godot."

I know the xian hell doesn't exist.

It's another kind of hell to realize how much wealth I'm denying myself when I decide against taking economic advantage of such people.

Books have been published.

http://galileowaswrong.com/

^^

i don't see religious people as an enemy neither do i see any other individual or group of people are, i am only concerned about people who are unwilling to accept change and think for themselves

Religion is not the enemy, fundamentalism is.  To be tied to any religious doctrine as being factual or necessary is not only what holds many people back but is an excuse for holding others back.

One does not need to believe in a god to be religious but belief in a god as an actual tangible entity is a sign of denial and a non acceptance of reality.

I think most people would agree that it is fun to believe in ghosts and I am sure most would still agree that to ACTUALLY believe in ghosts is delusional.

I am not, nor do I think most people are, hostile towards religion, the hostility is towards the effects of strong religious conviction to hold religious doctrine as some kind of ultimate truth while at the same time subverting it to fit their own purposes.  I am hostile towards anyone who says I or anyone is going to hell because that is an outright LIE weather they actually believe it or not because ANYONE who is rational and based wholly in reality knows that HELL is an tool to subvert the innocent and easily swayed.

I believe in Christmas but I don't believe in a god or it's relationship to a Jesus.  Religion is not the enemy but those who say there is a war on religion ARE looking for a fight and THEY ARE the enemy.

nice talk there

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