How does Forced Faith become Real/Valid Faith?

Look around the world and notice the pressure put on people to just put faith into whatever the local belief system happens to be. This is especially true (currently) in Middle-East Muslim culture, so I'm most interested in hearing back from them, in particular.

It's not just Muslims who put peer pressure on their own society to practice faith, as almost all religions are a product of local peer pressure. So my question still applies (to various degrees) to every religion.

I know from personal experience, it takes courage to stand up to the popular pressures and think for one's self. Atheism was never, ever pressured upon me. I took my stand against pressure from Christians all around me to conform.

So, how much does the fear of punishment from society unfairly make people believe something is true?

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  • Dr. Bob

    Groups of all sorts exert pressure on their members, I don't think it's unique to religion by any means.  Nations encourage patriotism, societies put pressure on people to observe social norms with respect to language, clothing, behavior.  Middle school cliques exert all sorts of social pressure on their members.

    If as a man I feel a compunction to take off my hat when entering someone's home, I don't think it's out of fear.  It's just a social norm that I picked up from living in a particular society.   Same if I stand and place my hand over my heart for the National Anthem at a ballgame and try to carry a tune through "the rockets red glare" (or for that matter, stand and sing for the 7th inning stretch).

    It's not out of fear, it's out of a choice to be part of the fun, or part of the group.  My friends and colleagues would also want, quite naturally, for me to join in the fun and be part of the group.  You should see the college students around here who paint themselves up in the school colors and go off to be part of the group this Saturday!

  • Pope Beanie

    You should see the college students around here who paint themselves up in the school colors and go off to be part of the group this Saturday!

    Yes, lucky for us our peer pressure and groupism (and group competitions) produce healthy games and entertainment rather than shows of enforced dogma and persecution!

  • Dr. Bob

    @Pope, you don't think those "healthy games and entertainment" on occasion turn ugly?  Basketball riots, football/soccer stampedes, assaults on opposing fans? 

    Perhaps the question we should ask ourselves is what conditions cause generally healthy expressions of group solidarity or common togetherness to turn ugly, and how do we avoid those?  Whether it's for religion, or sports, or nationalism?