Suppose you got two hours with the pope in a one on one. US Presidents don't get that, but this is imagine.

You are brilliantly devastating and absolutely convince him that his church is the biggest fraud ever perpetrated on earth, ever!

Now what? Does he resign? and walk away? Does he instruct the down command to dismantle everything, sell all the good stuff and turn the proceeds over to science, research, and distribution of food and medicine to the needy?

Or does he go out on his balcony and wave at the adoring crowds, have you thrown out and proceed as though nothing happened? He is a man after all. The world kisses his ass and anything else he wants kissed, you could hardly have a better job, especially if you are queer. Think about about the cool drag you get to wear, not to mention all the gilded rococo shit and statues of naked guys everywhere. Even Elton John has got to be a little envious of that gig.

Same thing goes for any church.

The god part is the hook. Heaven and hell keep you in line, sort of, but the pay off for the schmucks in the masses in the sense of belonging. Somewhere to go something to do. Bingo on Wednesday night, Picnics in the summer, get together's on Sunday, really cool buildings to hang out in ( sometimes) . A chance to sing and dance in front of an audience, blah blah blah.
Atheists want everyone to admit there is no god. ( I think a lot of the faithful already think this, but just like homos used to and still do, they go along to get along, and the perks seem worth while).

What have atheist got to offer? A meeting hall? A summer camp for the kids? A cool bus to go an a pilgrimage someplace? Virgins? Everlasting bliss?

Kind of a no brainer, they stick with what they know, because everyone they know does the same.

You can substitute football or hockey for a while for some of them, but the season always ends, and then their lives are empty again, and they have nothing to talk about. Quoting the rule books to each other just isn't the same kind of fun.

So if you do imagine no religion, what do you imagine will take its place?

Where do people go for comfort consolation and community? What organization will be readily at hand to bring you cake and blankets when your house burns down, or cry for your dead kid, or promise you that no matter how bad your life sucks, it will be better when you are dead and go to heaven, ( IF YOU BEHAVE)

Mormons may be dicks, but they come through when you need help. Catholics rape and kill, but they build hospitals and schools. Jews are very big on education science and the arts. What do atheist have to offer to compete with that?

Views: 29

Comment by Wassabi on September 18, 2009 at 10:48am
Mormons may be dicks, but they come through when you need help. Catholics rape and kill, but they build hospitals and schools. Jews are very big on education science and the arts. What do atheist have to offer to compete with that?

people don't need god in order to be good to each other. orgenizations like greenpeace have nothing to do with religion, community centers don't have to revolve around religion, and not everybody will turn to football.

the "emptyness of our lives" is something that is up for each of us to fill. and filling it with religion is no more or less noble than filling it with painting, hikes or anything else.

civilization will not end, humanity will not lose its morals, people will not stop communicating. you're connecting things that have nothing to do with each other.
Comment by Joe g on September 18, 2009 at 11:25am
True enough. And that works fine if you are strong and independent enough to do for yourself.

You failed to answer what atheists have to offer people in lieu of their community meeting places.

I have never seen a community greenpeace hall. And I was pretty specific about football not meeting those basic human needs for comfort and companionship.

I did not connect goodness morals nor communication with either religion or the lack there of.

What I hoped to illustrate is why religion is and has been so successful.

It offers reward and punishment, a sense of justice that transcends human authority, and a glue that holds communities together.

If these things are not important why are there so many churches everywhere?

Why do people sacrifice so much to create such impressive structures?

If you are successful at removing the prime motivator, belief in god, what to you propose to replace it with?

You and I and many others may feel strong and independent enough to do for ourselves without god, and yet here we are in a cyber community, giving each other a kind of comfort in recognition of what we share.

You can join the Kiwanis club, the Rotary club, a country club, a classic car club, the gay men's chorus and a thousand other splinter groups, but none of them do for the masses what churches do.

Remember please that we are not talking about the well educated, thoughtful or successful. What makes religions enduring is the support of the hoi palloi, the bottom of the pyramid, the people for whom there really is nowhere else to turn for support.
Greenpeace just does not offer that.

So i ask again, what do atheists have to offer to fill that void?

It is a serious question. What comfort does atheism bring to the wretched, the distraught, the desperate, and those who are just unable to make sense of the world in which they live. Those are the people who reject the rational, and it is because the alternative to their faith is pretty simply, beyond their ability to cope.

Religion is not about god, it is about community. God is a flag, a banner and a symbol around which you can manipulate people into some form of behavior.

What is the rallying cry of atheism?
Comment by Prazzie on September 18, 2009 at 2:18pm
Atheism is simply a lack of belief in gods. There is no unifying screed, no rallying cry, no ideology.

The gap that lack of religion would leave could be filled by any number of alternative beliefs and lifestyles, such as humanism or simply the ethic of reciprocity (Golden Rule).

Atheists or atheism don't have to offer squat to fill any voids. We simply cannot saddle a lack of belief with such responsibility.

"Atheists want everyone to admit there is no god."
Nonsense. You must not have received the Evil Atheist Handbook yet.
Comment by Prazzie on September 18, 2009 at 2:20pm
And by the way, the Pope knows.
Comment by Joe g on September 18, 2009 at 2:57pm
"Atheists want everyone to admit there is no god."
You are right of course. A slip of the binary tongues so to speak.

And of course no on has to offer anyone diddly.

If your answer to the question is 'nothing'. That is an answer.

No one can know what the pope knows, we can only know the pope's nose. Sorry couldn't resist.

My question is meant to provoke some serious thought about what compels people to buy into theism.

Atheists, (some anyway) do spend a fair amount of time and energy deconstructing the premises of theism. Cool!
Still, believers believe in spite of overwhelming evidence to the contrary. Why is that? What are they clinging to? What is so powerful to keep otherwise sane and reasonable people, as well as the nut jobs, believing?

When I embraced atheism 40 years ago, I made myself a pariah. I voluntarily disconnected myself from my entire community. It cost me. My sense of self, my internal morality etc etc, have kept me going. It is to high a price to pay for many, and they would prefer to persecute atheists, and to take comfort in our place in hell rather than face the alternative nihilism.

That's why I ask.

And by the way, I think you meant creed, although to be sure some creeds are akin to screeds.
Comment by Prazzie on September 18, 2009 at 3:27pm
My answer is not quite nothing. Atheism offers intellectual honesty, the relief of a freed mind no longer bound to believing impossible things, more time to appreciate the real world, more money to spend on worthwhile endeavours and I'm sure others can add more perks to non-belief.

Of course whole books have been written on why people buy into theism, but personally, I think it comes down to childhood indoctrination compounded by the evolutionary advantage of believing everything our parents tell us and the fact the religions have been booby-trapped so damned well over the ages. "Believe this nonsense, expect that one day, people will ask you to deny belief in this nonsense, DO NOT DENY THIS NONSENSE!" And finally, religion doesn't really affect the lives of religious people much. Going to church once a week, praying to God when things aren't going so well - it's not exactly a big interference.

Another aspect of the booby-trapped religion is that believers are warned to avoid material about "the other". Therefore, in spite of the overwhelming evidence to the contrary of their beliefs, they never get to see it. They're not allowed to read contradicting books, because it's "from the devil".

I meant screed, as in a 'long discourse or essay' - the atheist version of holy texts, and used ideology in the place of creed :)
Comment by Joe g on September 18, 2009 at 4:52pm
Ah good, the screed I usually think of is " a leveling device drawn over freshly poured concrete", which in a twisted way could work.

I am cynical enough to believe that most have no interest in intellectual honesty. Nor do I believe they spend much time analyzing their belief system. I think what really goes on is social inclusion. See and be seen. Pick a nice church/synagogue in a good part of town, get to know the right people, find a mate, network. show off your hat, that sort of thing. Find affirmation , validation and the all elusive security.

To be confronted with losing the we vs. them battle is I am guessing, as provocative to believers as a predator attacking a cub might be to a bear.

I think in particular, the captains of religion see it exactly this way. if you have millions or billions of people bringing you tax free money and food, you have a lot of motivation to defend that turf, and you are unlikely to be satisfied with merely driving the perceived aggressor off, you will see it ( the aggressor) as having to be utterly destroyed.

No wonder then that the apple of knowledge is such a threat to the manufactured god.

So then, the manufactured god offers up all the other good shit in eden, (shorthand for social perks) but stay the fuck away from the damned apple.

As a good evolving talking thinking reptile then, how does one keep the faithful from slamming you in the head with a shovel, and instead disguise the apple and inspire the Jerry Springer crowd to chose enlightenment?
Comment by chiz on September 18, 2009 at 7:33pm
I agree that the alternative to theism is not as rewarding, but we are working on that.

As atheism grows in some stronger communities, the benefits will grow. There are already organizations, clubs, events, shows, etc. put on by prominent atheist groups and individuals.

As of yet, it can not compare to the level of entertainment(among other things) provided by the church, but hopefully, that will change.

I consider sites like to be an example of growth in the agnostic/atheist community.

More will come, but as you said, we will never compete with a rewarding afterlife.
Comment by Reggie on September 18, 2009 at 8:54pm
You failed to answer what atheists have to offer people in lieu of their community meeting places.

What is the rallying cry of atheism?


But not everything that is alluring about religion hinged on community and the other examples you provide. Another bind that ties is people want things in their life and in their environment to make sense. We seek patterns naturally and religion caters to those who seek such but don't care to exert much effort. Here is where I see education as the key, which is a task easier said than implemented. Through science and education, patterns can be seen and they will make much more sense due to the veracity of their nature.

What if we could change the culture, make education as socially relevant as those football games and pop stars? There is no reason why it can not compete other than as a society we do not place emphasis and value on them. It certainly is easier to not think than it is to think, but that is the only advantage to religion and it is not insurmountable, in my opinion.

We have a whole universe of wonder to offer people who huddle in fear and ignorance. I think that it is more than a sufficient offering. No, it is ridiculously generous! We are still a young species and modern science is much younger still. It won't be a quick change of tides, it will be fraught with ups and downs, but I have a certain amount of faith that we are moving inexorably in the right direction. We may not be the benefactors of the labor we put forth, but our lasting legacy should be to push humanity up another notch on our rise of enlightenment so that the next generation will be closer to reaching the pinnacle.

I know this won't appeal to Billy Bob and his Alabaman brood, but this is the hard part that we all have to try to change no matter how impossible the task may be.
Comment by Joe g on September 18, 2009 at 11:40pm
Thank you Jen. I think you addressed it nicely, as have others and hopefully as will others.

Community building does take time and effort, and physical infrastructure is expensive.

Knowledge and information are probably the best antidotes for religion, and are also among the most comforting salves beyond direct human contact.

It makes me wonder then, what it would take to set up a charter school. Why could that not be done via the net? There are plenty of educational opportunities available over the web, why not evolve a curriculum for atheist students?

Would funding an endowment for scholarships to be awarded to atheist students be of interest?

Is that a seed that could germinate into something?


You need to be a member of Think Atheist to add comments!

Join Think Atheist

© 2020   Created by Rebel.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service