Recently i had an argument with my girlfriend in which she said that if atheists really don't believe that religion is true and that god doesn't exist, then why do we care so much about religion? Because if that were the case we should be apathetic about it, however we invest a lot of energy learning about religion, questioning religion and the religious. That it almost seems like we are searching for something, for some truth even though we consider that we found the truth [that god is not real, that religion is false], trying to fill something by studying it and converting others and sometimes is looks like the atheist are more concerned about religion than the religious themselves.

So what do you think? Are we too interested in religion? Besides the harm done by religious belief to humans and profession, Could there be any other reason as to why it seems that way?

PD: The discussion was started by my book wish list for the curious as to how this started.

I don't think there are that many religious oriented books.

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When a person knows something that can harm someone else, that person tries their hardest to stop it. For me, it feels like I'm letting people harm other people if I act "apathetic" about it. So I think atheists do show more interest because we care more about the well-being of others. =)

I'm an apatheist towards god(s), deities and other magical skybeings. However, I do care about politics, society, economics, history, psychology and philosophy all of which are influenced by religious people.

As the vast majority of people around the world are religious, knowledge about religion(s) is a very useful tool in understanding the world a bit better.

If 90% of the people in the world believed Scientology, even I would probably buy one of their books to know what's up.

actually i am apathetic towards religion and religious people .. i don't try to convert people to atheism and i never preach atheism.

i don't mind living with religious people in a religious society .. the only thing that i'm concerned with is the way religious people try to enforce their life style into others lives or try to limit others freedom in a way that sought their ideas and religious morals.

but that's just me :)

This is how I would break it down:

If we didn't live in a world inundated with religion, and with a consequently richly religious history that is unfortunately still continuing from the present onward, then I would say yes. However, most atheists came from some type of religious family setting (varying degrees from extreme, isolated religious cults and fundamentalists to Christian or other 'only in name') but even if this were not the case, religion is still a large element of history and a frighteningly mighty affector of the cultures, events and policies in most societies on earth.  It's often as much a matter of personal scrutiny of one's own life as well as a vital interest in the world we all live in.

Most atheists seem to be of the curious sort, so it only makes sense that they try to learn about the world they live in. And until religion is abandoned by the majority of their fellow humans, it would make just as much sense to be of voting age and to be wholly uninvolved in politics or to not be interested in the way the world works (science.) For meaning and moral pursuit, religion is not my primary or even secondary source. It does provide interesting study for some in a purely historic literary sense, others in the context of anthropological study. For understanding, first I go to science, as it is fact based, and thus a good place to start from to 'grok' the ways the world fundamentally works; starting from a scientifically literate view, it's possible to avoid many mistakes and human prejudices that have little to no relation with reality. As for morals, I got my start from my culture, which largely came from my mother to begin with, but writings of modern, scientifically literate philosophers (Sam Harris, AC Grayling et al) also contribute to my worldview, but that's all dependent upon my own personal contemplations, aligning statements with reality and my own extrapolations on what is truly the right thing to do.

Hope that helps!

I educate myself so that my ignorance cannot be used against me. If I am ignorant about the facets of religion, then I am opening myself up to being used or abused by it. Being misled by it. Education is the saving grace of Humanity.

I'd say as an addendum, that if more religionists tried to understand the rest of the world the way many atheists do, then it would be much easier to gain mutual understanding and be a much more harmonious world. Instead, most people tend to operate on their (largely unfounded and inaccurate) prejudices, which, consequently, is why they are religious to begin with. It's a universal problem of human reasoning that requires much effort to overcome.

I agree with someone who said that we are hard-wired to have religious feelings. I consider atheism to be a religious position in that atheists have a strong opinion regarding the [non]-existence of God. Where the religious have God, we have our atheism in its place. People who are neither atheist nor religious don't care very much about the issue. We on the other hand are intensely passionate about it. On TA we're always talking about the same kinds of issues that the religious do.

So I agree with your girlfriend.

i think that is a deffending statement from religious people ...........its like saying OK atheist believe in what you believe and i will believe what i believe the same time the religious people will continue to preach in public spaces and so forth ........if we must not talk about religion and its nonsense then people of faith must not talk about their beliefs ...........since that wont happen then that means we must talk against it ............and as the matter of fact we atheist know too much about religion than religious groups

The question reminds me of Greta Christina's speech.

   At one time, I was apathetic about religion; live and let live, I said.  But that was before religious extremists in the U.S. began being successful in forcing their religious claptrap into schools and taking science out.   Their aim is a theocracy, so we can no longer afford not to care. 

I think it has something to do with the fact that once we have personally accepted the fact that there is no god, based on overwhelming,undeniable scientific evidence,we are intregued by seemingly intelligent people who can't or won't accept the obvious, as we have done. From that time forward we seem to take an intrest in religions, just to be able to point out the obvious inconsistancies that point to the authorizeship of man in everything religious.

Ask your friend why rapists and murderers should be locked up if society doesn't like them anyway. Why shouldn't society just be apathetic towards rapists and murderers? Why isn't PETA apathetic towards people who cut down the rainforest and hunt animals? Why aren't the police apathetic about drug dealers? Why aren't parents apathetic about child predators? Why aren't atheists apathetic about religion?

Have her answer those questions.


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