Author Topic: A funny thing theists assume about atheists  (Read 5065 times)

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Offline Jag

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A funny thing theists assume about atheists
« on: April 01, 2012, 04:46:43 PM »
It often appears on this forum and many others that a lot of theists think some pretty foolish things about how to talk to an atheists. Off the top of my head, I can think of three easy divisions they tend to fall into:
   • I'm here to save you by my wit, I shall destroy your arguments with my brilliant defenses and WIN!!! I am righteous, hear me ROAR!!!
   • I'm here to save you by my earnestness, I shall just share the wonderful stories my religious leader or other person of influence has prepared me to say, with no capacity to defend them or myself, and I will fall apart at the first challenge. I might cry. I'll blame myself for my failure to save you, and I'll pray for your souls for the rest of my days.
   • I'm here to understand you, I feel such pity for you all for the bad things you've experienced that I'll never notice what an arrogant, presumptuous, condescending fill-in-the-blank I sound like. Please be kind to me, I only want to understand, but would prefer to not have my ideas about why you are this way brought to my attention. I don't like to ask or answer the hard questions.
   
I'm sure there are lots of way we could set the divisions, and it might be fun to do that some time…  At the moment, I have the third type I mind, and why in some ways they irritate me the most. To be fair, it doesn't seem that this particular brand of theist thinks we eat babies, but I'm giving them the benefit of the doubt on that. I have no evidence to support that position.

This always seems to be their baseline: We don't believe because we had a bad experience with, were harmed by, or in some way disappointed by, religion. This one only seems to come from Christians, but given their representation numbers here, other theist religions may think the same way. It's rather short-sighted in any case.

This isn't to say that those experiences aren't true for many of us. But I don't accept that those specific experiences are why we no longer believe. They may have been the catalyst, but they weren't the conclusion. That's not how belief works. Theists seem to think we could just, you know, get over ourselves and decide to believe.

Nothing I will say in the remainder of this post is meant to downplay or minimize the harm many of us have experienced at the urging of religion.  I'm only speaking to my thoughts about how much theists misunderstand what that means about our eventual conclusions.

They come with such a silly set of assumptions about who we are and why we take the position of atheism, we spend most of our engagement with them trying to get past their "wrong place to begin a conversation with self-professed non-believers about this topic" openings. If they just "make nice" enough, they'll get us all to see that Jesus is good, and some of his followers are good people too, nothing like the ones they assume "caused" our disbelief. And they always want to tell us that they love us, never thinking about how absolutely creepy-stalker-ish that is.

This also clearly overlooks the number of atheists who never believed in the first place; I don't think this type believes that "never believed it" atheists exist. They really think we can simply change our minds. That we can will belief into existence. The word is belief
 
Wise words from Inigo, with whom I'm half in love: You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

I wonder if they ever realize that it sounds as though they think we had a bad breakup. Seriously, when I still believed, I never thought of God as my boyfriend, and we most certainly did not break up. What did happen is that I came to realize that believing in god made no sense whatsoever, and the more I looked for a way to make it make sense, the more I had to accept that it was bullshit from beginning to end.

That bears a very slight resemblance to some real world break ups I've had, I admit it. In the real world, they happened a lot faster though. In fact, most of the steps outlined here were pretty much smooshed into a just a few short seconds on at least a couple of occasions… (Edit: Replace "believing in god" with "continuing to have a relationship with this person" and you'll see what I mean)

But not so much with God. The fact that religion is directly and indirectly responsible for a great deal of human suffering, both individually and on massive scales, is completely apart from the point. That fact does nothing to support or refute my lack of belief in god, it just reinforces my rather negative view of religion's impact on humanity. That's people I'm pissed at, not god. Or God. Nope, that's just good old humans, hiding behind their holy books, as an excuse to do shitty things to other humans that they can't find any compassion for. Real, but not relevant.

In the real world, if a relationship ends, I can choose to make adjustments in my life so as to avoid any interaction with the person with whom I no longer have a relationship. I can  avoid places I'd be likely to encounter them, I can not respond to messages, I can do any number of things to keep my life separate from this other person. (This does all presuppose that the other person is mentally and emotionally stable, just not a good fit for me. Stalkers are an obviously  exception.) None of this, however, leads me to stop believing that the other person exists. I don't see them, and no longer have evidence of their existence, but this doesn't lead me to the conclusion that they have conveniently just stopped being. I think this is largely because I'm not an idiot.

You simply can't force yourself to believe something.

You can willfully ignore the facts, or never bother to think about it, you can even avoid permitting yourself look at it objectively, but those are not the same thing. 

Is it really that inconceivable to them that we may have decided that it's nonsense, not that our feelings got hurt? Cause that's the way it sounds to me.
« Last Edit: April 01, 2012, 04:52:17 PM by Jag »
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Offline Poseidon

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Re: A funny thing theists assume about atheists
« Reply #1 on: April 01, 2012, 05:37:47 PM »
Yes, it is inconcievable to them that we have decided  that theism is nonsence.  More accurately, we have reasoned, not merely decided, that theism is nonsense. 

An interesting read is: The God Virus by Darrel W. Ray ed.D  A metaphor perhaps, but "it offers a unique and provocative framework that goes a long way toward understanding and ultimately combating the pernicious religious mania of the human species"......."He gets inside the American fundamentalist movement in ways which show that such entities have a collective life of their own, functioning as large scale organisms which their individual members may not themselves understand or be aware of"

(attributions; from the cover blurbs of Dan Barker and Earl Doherty)

Offline ParkingPlaces

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Re: A funny thing theists assume about atheists
« Reply #2 on: April 01, 2012, 05:38:56 PM »
You're pretty muchh spot on regarding some theists. They say over and over that we "hate" their god, and that's why we're atheists. By definition, if we hate a god we think exists, we are not atheists. And if we don't think that there is a god, there obviously is no deity for us to be upset about.

Having never been in a serious enough relation ship with the concept of god to have experienced a "breakup" with the dude, I can't speak for that aspect of your post. I just decided one day when I was 11 that there obviously wasn't really any god, and quit believing.

I love keeping things simple. That way I understand what happened. Theists of the type you describe (version 3) are indeed trying to figure out a way to get us to love their lord again, and see that as the only stumbling block between an atheist and an eternity in heaven. The only way I can explain such attitudes to myself is that their minds are voluntarily small so they don't have to give thought to anything other than serving jc and his pop.

We'll get more. We always do. We'll accomplish little because they'll piss us off in short order. Fur will fly. Barbs will be traded. Fun will be had by all. Or enough of us to make it worth our time. And then we'll sit back and wait for another one. Because people who can't learn and can't understand are not going to suddenly experience great insights while going face to face with twenty or thirty irritated atheists. Humans don't work that way.

So they aren't making any progress with us, and we seldom make progress with them. Yet it's fun. Go figure.



Not everyone is entitled to their own opinion. They're all entitled to mine though.

Offline Tero

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Re: A funny thing theists assume about atheists
« Reply #3 on: April 01, 2012, 06:08:14 PM »

But not so much with God. The fact that religion is directly and indirectly responsible for a great deal of human suffering, both individually and on massive scales, is completely apart from the point. That fact does nothing to support or refute my lack of belief in god, it just reinforces my rather negative view of religion's impact on humanity. That's people I'm pissed at, not god. Or God. Nope, that's just good old humans, hiding behind their holy books, as an excuse to do shitty things to other humans that they can't find any compassion for. Real, but not relevant.

Religion is responsible for much unnecessary guilt. But all those horrible acts would have been done anyway. Racism exists, cultures and languages exist. The leaders would have found ways to convince that  the enemy is out to "destroy our way of life."

Charity does not need religion. In fact poverty can be approached from some other direction. A state can do good to its less successful classes.

Offline nogodsforme

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Re: A funny thing theists assume about atheists
« Reply #4 on: April 01, 2012, 06:22:07 PM »
Again, the "you must hate god" line makes atheism similar to homosexuality. It is like men in bars or at parties who, when they hit on a woman and are rebuffed, call her a lesbian. Since she does not want him, she must hate all men. Or people who think gays just have not had sex with the right member (heh heh) of the opposite sex. Or that they have had bad a experience with men or women and are so angry, they have whirled around in a huff and flounced over to the same sex.

Like being gay or atheist is a temporary phase, like a goth teen who wears only black, but will grow out of it. There might be some gay people like that, just as there may be atheists who "just hate god". But I have not met any of either group. &)
Extraordinary claims of the bible don't even have ordinary evidence.

Kids aren't paying attention most of the time in science classes so it seems silly to get worked up over ID being taught in schools.

Offline Poseidon

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Re: A funny thing theists assume about atheists
« Reply #5 on: April 01, 2012, 06:29:42 PM »
NGFM, your avatar makes me hungry. 

Offline atheola

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Re: A funny thing theists assume about atheists
« Reply #6 on: April 01, 2012, 11:15:50 PM »
I hate to put it so blunt..well maybe I hate to, but what  most theist fail to realize about me (I can't speak for others although I doubt I'm alone in this) is I don't much give a rats ass what they think about me,you or anyone else if they keep their fairy tales to themselves or not.  :P
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Offline joebbowers

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Re: A funny thing theists assume about atheists
« Reply #7 on: April 01, 2012, 11:17:29 PM »
Religion is responsible for much unnecessary guilt. But all those horrible acts would have been done anyway.

This is such bullshit that I often hear repeated, without any evidence.

You think Andrea Yates would have drowned her kids without religion? You think Hitler would have tried to annihilate the Jews without religion? The Crusades? 9/11?
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Offline Anfauglir

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Re: A funny thing theists assume about atheists
« Reply #8 on: April 02, 2012, 04:32:09 AM »
Religion is responsible for much unnecessary guilt. But all those horrible acts would have been done anyway.

This is such bullshit that I often hear repeated, without any evidence.

You think Andrea Yates would have drowned her kids without religion? You think Hitler would have tried to annihilate the Jews without religion? The Crusades? 9/11?

Sadly, probably yes.....but it would have been a whole lot harder.

Andrea Yates had severe PPD.  If it hadn't been god telling her, maybe it would have been the fairies under the bed.

Hitler needed a group to scapegoat.  Without religion, its questionable if there would have been "Jews" to target, but certainly he targetted the disabled, the trade unions, the gypsies.....whatever groups he could name as being the ones responsible.  Religion would have played a very minor role in things.

And likewise the Crusades and 911.  Religion was certainly a factor, but do I think if you'd taken religion away there would be no problems?  Again, sadly not.  Both are just as much about "the other group that don't think/look/act like us" as about "....pray like us"....about territory, about control, about oppression.

I'll agree that religion gives another reason - a very good reason - for people to act poorly to others.  And I'll agree that in some cases, religion way have been the final factor that pushed people into taking that last final step.  But I think its a little simplistic - naive, maybe? - to say that without religion, everyone would always play nice and nobody would ever do anything terrible.

Heh - you've only got to look at some of the heated exchanges on here between atheists - untainted by the problems of religion  ;) - to give the lie to that!   ;D
Just because you've always done it that way doesn't mean it's not incredibly stupid.
Why is it so hard for believers to answer a direct question?

Offline kcrady

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Re: A funny thing theists assume about atheists
« Reply #9 on: April 02, 2012, 02:34:11 PM »
Jag, one reason your "type three" narrative might be so common is that it appears to be a fairly common experience among Christians.  Basically: sheltered Sunday School kid becomes a teenager/college student.--->Apron strings untied, they gallop off into alcohol, sex, drugs, etc. and make a mess of things.--->Hitting bottom, they go scurrying back to religion and church.--->There they find hard and fast rules that more or less "work," and a lot of group support in getting their lives back in order. 

Thus, the extremely common evangelistic narrative of "I was into Wicca and drugs and sex and all kinds of bad, wicked, naughty sin, until I Found Jesus, and now I'm a good little middle class citizen with two cars, 1.5 children, and a house in the suburbs."  Since their period of unbelief was a temporary break-up, they assume ours must be too.

Also, back to your list of types, it seems to me that the most common here is not on your list; the Sorcerer:  "I am going to convert you with incantatory magic, and the Bible is my grimoire!"  For this type, quoting scripture passages and always typing GOD in all-caps is supposed to be efficacious in changing our minds.  Favorite spells include John 3:16 and "The fool has said in his heart, 'there is no God.'"  Sorcerers usually don't last very long here because they can't practice their Dark Arts without repeatedly violating the Forum rule against "preaching" (unsubstantiated assertions and scripture-spam).  Nonetheless, there's almost always one or two of them running around the Forums.
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Offline nogodsforme

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Re: A funny thing theists assume about atheists
« Reply #10 on: April 02, 2012, 02:49:35 PM »
Religion is responsible for much unnecessary guilt. But all those horrible acts would have been done anyway.

This is such bullshit that I often hear repeated, without any evidence.

You think Andrea Yates would have drowned her kids without religion? You think Hitler would have tried to annihilate the Jews without religion? The Crusades? 9/11?
I agree that religions can give legitimacy to ideas and actions that would be seen as the crazy sh!t they are if not for the cover of acceptable supernaturalism.

But even in the Middle East, violent conflicts are not primarily religious. Religion is a way to identify your enemies, to encourage committment, and to rally your followers, but religious differences alone don't make people fight.

Example: The Israeli government diverts water resources away from the Palestinian territories, acting the same as any colonizing power. And the Palestinians (Muslims and Christians) fight back, like any colonized people. Remember, this is a desert region. Water is life and death. And it looks like Jews and Muslims and Christians just can't ever get along.

There have been long periods in M-E history when the different religions got along fine--no massacres or pogroms or discrimination against others. Under some medieval Arab rulers, religious dissidents from exiled Buddhists to heretical Christians flocked to live there and practice their faith in peace. And there have been lots of terrible massacres that don't have a thing to do with religion: the Mongol conquests are a good example.
Extraordinary claims of the bible don't even have ordinary evidence.

Kids aren't paying attention most of the time in science classes so it seems silly to get worked up over ID being taught in schools.

Offline jaimehlers

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Re: A funny thing theists assume about atheists
« Reply #11 on: April 02, 2012, 03:03:04 PM »
Andrea Yates would have drowned her kids regardless of religion.  Hitler wouldn't have had a convenient religious sub-group to target, but he could certainly have targeted racial sub-types.  The Crusades were basically a kind of imperialism; you'll note that the Crusaders lived like kings in the Holy Land during the time they did conquer it, suggesting that piety was not exactly high on their list of priorities.  And 9/11 is a textbook example of "asymmetrical warfare", which certainly doesn't need religion.

Offline velkyn

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Re: A funny thing theists assume about atheists
« Reply #12 on: April 02, 2012, 03:05:28 PM »
the burning and hangings of protestants by Catholics and catholics by protestants? 
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Offline nogodsforme

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Re: A funny thing theists assume about atheists
« Reply #13 on: April 02, 2012, 03:07:29 PM »
the burning and hangings of protestants by Catholics and catholics by protestants?

If you are talking about Ireland, that is a colonial struggle. I have to give you the Inquisition, though.
Extraordinary claims of the bible don't even have ordinary evidence.

Kids aren't paying attention most of the time in science classes so it seems silly to get worked up over ID being taught in schools.

Offline velkyn

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Re: A funny thing theists assume about atheists
« Reply #14 on: April 02, 2012, 03:22:25 PM »
the burning and hangings of protestants by Catholics and catholics by protestants?

If you are talking about Ireland, that is a colonial struggle. I have to give you the Inquisition, though.

Henry VIII and his daughter , Elizabeth 1 were doing this to catholics during their reigns, especially when Henry wanted his divorce.   

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marian_persecutions

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thirty_Years'_War  and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peace_of_Augsburg 

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Offline jaimehlers

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Re: A funny thing theists assume about atheists
« Reply #15 on: April 02, 2012, 04:00:23 PM »
Communist "enemies of the state" who were publicly executed, "disappeared", or thrown in gulags and worked to death.

My point is that whichever atrocity you pick, there's a way it (or something similar) could have happened without religious ideology.  That doesn't mean I think religion is an acceptable excuse for those atrocities, though.

Offline bertatberts

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Re: A funny thing theists assume about atheists
« Reply #16 on: April 03, 2012, 02:05:07 AM »
My point is that whichever atrocity you pick, there's a way it (or something similar) could have happened without religious ideology.  That doesn't mean I think religion is an acceptable excuse for those atrocities, though.
Nobody denies that other things cause atrocities, but religion being the most prominent, must be held accountable, and the majority of ways people have been killed is also a direct result of religion.  Religions hands are extremely dirty in this regard, to say that most killings would have been done anyway is quite honestly disingenuous.
Four fifths of the world is controlled by religion now, it used to be all the world. Religion cannot wash away it's guilt simply by saying it could have happened anyway, take away that incitement to violence and the evil isn't committed.
 
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Offline Anfauglir

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Re: A funny thing theists assume about atheists
« Reply #17 on: April 03, 2012, 03:33:22 AM »
Nobody denies that other things cause atrocities, but religion being the most prominent, must be held accountable, and the majority of ways people have been killed is also a direct result of religion.  Religions hands are extremely dirty in this regard, to say that most killings would have been done anyway is quite honestly disingenuous.

Oh, I'm not saying that religion should be absolved - I've never subscribed to the philosophy of "well, if I don't take advantage, someone else will".

Religion is the easiest and most convenient way of labelling an "enemy group".  You don't have to prove anything, and you've got gawd on your side - you don't wanna disagree with god, do ya?  Its why religion features so heavily in the field of atrocities: religion is the easiest way for the powerful to have their will done.

So I completely agree that if we hadn't had religion, it would have made things much. much harder for those atrocities to be committed, and that's a good enough reason to say religion is dangerous and should be gotten rid of.  I'm just not naive enough to say that if religion had never been, nothing bad would ever have happened.

I see it a lot like guns.  Guns make it much. much easier to kill someone.  If there were no guns, a lot of people would still have died, but it might be fewer, or have taken longer.  But "no guns" would not equal "no killing".
Just because you've always done it that way doesn't mean it's not incredibly stupid.
Why is it so hard for believers to answer a direct question?

Offline kcrady

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Re: A funny thing theists assume about atheists
« Reply #18 on: April 03, 2012, 12:33:07 PM »
I think what makes religion particularly dangerous isn't that it's the only ideology that can spark the commission of atrocities, but that it's the least accountable.  If some secular ideologue claims that forcing women to wear burkas and be slaves in their own homes will result in the creation of a wonderful Workers' Paradise, sooner or later people are going to start asking, "Hey, where's that Workers' Paradise you promised us?"  Once the contrast between the daily experience of reality and the ideologue's claims becomes too great, the ideology starts to come apart.  The Soviets lasted only 70 years, despite having every technologically possible instrumentality of totalitarianism at their disposal. 

If the ideologue makes the same demands, but in the name of an invisible Heavenly King, and locates the Paradise on the other side of death, the regime can continue for hundreds, even thousands of years.  Religion can get away with absurdities secular ideologies can't.  Without religion, would anybody saw at the genitals of their children?  Without religion, would any group of men get a free pass on child rape, especially when they have no armies under their control?  Without religion, would anyone get away with trying to deny women contraceptives, prevent the distribution of condoms to fight AIDS, or teach blatantly false stories as science in schools?
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Offline joebbowers

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Re: A funny thing theists assume about atheists
« Reply #19 on: April 03, 2012, 12:53:35 PM »
I don't get how you guys can repeatedly site the harms of religion in one thread and then turn around and claim it all would have happened anyway in another thread. It seems like you're just being contrary and it's infuriating.

Andrea Yates would have drowned her kids regardless of religion.

How the hell can you make a wild ass claim like that without any evidence or explanation? Perhaps the source of her mental instability was living in a world that didn't seem to follow the supernatural rules she had been force-fed her entire life. Without religion, she wouldn't have believed in demons or Satan.
"Do you see a problem with insisting that the normal ways in which you determine fact from fiction is something you have to turn off in order to maintain the belief in God?" - JeffPT

Offline nogodsforme

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Re: A funny thing theists assume about atheists
« Reply #20 on: April 03, 2012, 02:53:44 PM »
There are no violent, crazya$$ athiests? You don't need religious belief to do bad things....

I agree, however that a theocracy is the worst kind of dictatorship, because you can never question, defy or un-elect a supernatural being. You can't amend or get rid of stupid laws or rules because they come from the sacred text. And you can't change the government except for a complete revolution.
Extraordinary claims of the bible don't even have ordinary evidence.

Kids aren't paying attention most of the time in science classes so it seems silly to get worked up over ID being taught in schools.

Offline jaimehlers

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Re: A funny thing theists assume about atheists
« Reply #21 on: April 03, 2012, 04:08:49 PM »
I don't get how you guys can repeatedly site the harms of religion in one thread and then turn around and claim it all would have happened anyway in another thread. It seems like you're just being contrary and it's infuriating.
The problem is that you aren't thinking clearly about this.  The fact that religion can cause harm in no way suggests that religion is the only thing that can cause that kind of harm.  Religion is often a convenient excuse for that sort of thing, but it is wrong to conclude that without religion, that some other excuse couldn't have been found instead.

Quote from: joebbowers
How the hell can you make a wild ass claim like that without any evidence or explanation? Perhaps the source of her mental instability was living in a world that didn't seem to follow the supernatural rules she had been force-fed her entire life. Without religion, she wouldn't have believed in demons or Satan.
This is part of what I meant by saying that you aren't thinking clearly about this.  I'm quite sure there have been other mothers who have murdered their children without using religion (or demons, or Satan...) as an excuse.  All it takes is lack of empathy to allow that.  And even leaving that aside, you've already admitted that you don't actually know what caused her insanity.  You've suggested that it's related to her religion; what's your basis for this?  Unless you have hard evidence to support it, you're shooting in the dark.

Offline Ice Monkey

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Re: A funny thing theists assume about atheists
« Reply #22 on: April 03, 2012, 07:30:52 PM »


Quote from: joebbowers
I'm quite sure there have been other mothers who have murdered their children without using religion (or demons, or Satan...) as an excuse.  All it takes is lack of empathy to allow that.

Really?  That's all?
Religion. It's given people hope in a world torn apart by religion." -- Charlie Chaplin

Offline joebbowers

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Re: A funny thing theists assume about atheists
« Reply #23 on: April 04, 2012, 03:40:01 AM »
The fact that religion can cause harm in no way suggests that religion is the only thing that can cause that kind of harm.

I never said that religion is the only thing that can cause harm. If you had said that without religion bad things would still happen, I would agree with you, but you very specifically said that Andrea Yates, Hitler, the Crusades and 9/11 would all have happened anyway without religion.

Without religion we would still have war, but far fewer of them and they would be much smaller. It's hard convince people to leave their family and march to their possible death without being able to claim God is on your side, it's your destiny, and that you will be rewarded in the afterlife.

The same would be true for suicide bombers. Without Allah's blessing and the promise of 72 virgins and eternal paradise, you think people would still be just as eager to blow themselves up?

Without religion we would have far fewer crazy people killing their families. If people were not taught to believe in superstition, demons and hell and Satan, and were taught to understand hyper-active agent detection, nobody would believe their child to be possessed by the devil. Stop teaching people that a vicious bloodthirsty God is the epitome of good and nobody would believe God wanted them to kill their kids. There would still be crazy people, but far fewer of them, and their symptoms could be recognized much earlier.

Religion is often a convenient excuse for that sort of thing, but it is wrong to conclude that without religion, that some other excuse couldn't have been found instead.

I never said that another excuse couldn't have been found, but I believe in most cases an excuse would not have been needed. An excuse is just a rationalization for a desire. What if their religious belief is the source of the desire?

 The Phelps' kids are raised to believe that "God hates Fags", if one of them were to murder a homosexual, how can you possibly say with such certainty that they would have done it anyway had they not been raised with those beliefs? What are the odds of an atheist murdering a homosexual because he or she a homosexual? It's possible, but to say that it is a certainty without explanation is completely ridiculous.

This is part of what I meant by saying that you aren't thinking clearly about this.  I'm quite sure there have been other mothers who have murdered their children without using religion (or demons, or Satan...) as an excuse.  All it takes is lack of empathy to allow that. 

Like I said, it is possible that she would have killed her kids anyway, but if she didn't believe in demons, Satan, or God, and been surrounded by people in her life reinforcing her delusions, it is very likely that her mental health would have been much better.

And even leaving that aside, you've already admitted that you don't actually know what caused her insanity.  You've suggested that it's related to her religion; what's your basis for this?  Unless you have hard evidence to support it, you're shooting in the dark.

I know what caused her insanity. Her fucking religion.

Some information from her Wikipedia page: (Black is me filling in some gaps, blue is Wikipedia)

Following the birth of Luke, her fourth son, Andrea became depressed. Her condition may have been brought on by the extremist sermons of Michael Peter Woroniecki, the preacher who sold them their bus. Her family was concerned by the way that she was so captivated by the minister’s words.

[after the death of her father] She then stopped taking medication, mutilated herself, and read the Bible feverishly. She also stopped feeding her youngest child, Mary.

While in prison, Andrea stated she had considered killing the children for two years, adding that they thought she was not a good mother and claimed her sons were developing improperly. She told her jail psychiatrist: "It was the seventh deadly sin. My children weren't righteous. They stumbled because I was evil. The way I was raising them, they could never be saved. They were doomed to perish in the fires of hell." She also told her jail psychiatrist that Satan influenced her children and made them more disobedient.

Andrea suffered from postpartum depression. Each child caused her to sink deeper and deeper. Her doctor prescribed some anti-psychotic meds to deal with it, and she was doing very well on them. But she decided to stop taking them in order to get pregnant again.

Andrea's first psychiatrist, Dr. Eileen Starbranch, says she was shocked to disbelief when the Yateses expressed a desire to discontinue her medications so that she could become pregnant again during an office visit with them. She warned and counseled them against having more children, and noted in the medical record two days later, '"Apparently patient and husband plan to have as many babies as nature will allow! This will surely guarantee future psychotic depression."'

OK, so postpartum depression caused her to drown her kids after she stopped taking her meds. But why did she feel compelled to have more kids, against doctor's advice? Buh-dum-bum! Religion!

She revealed to her jail psychiatrist, Dr. Melissa Ferguson, that prior to their last child, "she had told Rusty that she did not want to have sex because Dr. Starbranch had said she might hurt her children." Rusty, she said, simply asserted his procreative religious beliefs, complimented her as a good mother, and persuaded her that she could handle more children.

The adherence of the Yates family to the principles of the Quiverfull lifestyle, which encourages couples to have many children, has been posited as a factor contributing to the mental and emotional stress that she experienced. Some sources have suggested the lack of community may have contributed to her isolation.


From the Wikipedia article on Quiverfull:

Quiverfull is a movement among some conservative evangelical Christian couples chiefly in the United States, but with some adherents in Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Britain and elsewhere. It promotes procreation, and sees children as a blessing from God, eschewing all forms of birth control, including natural family planning and sterilization.

Her religious beliefs told her to have more kids, despite her susceptibility to postpartum depression and against doctor's advice.

Andrea Yates would have drowned her kids regardless of religion.

Are you still so sure? If you are going to stick to this wild claim, I would really like to see your supporting evidence.
"Do you see a problem with insisting that the normal ways in which you determine fact from fiction is something you have to turn off in order to maintain the belief in God?" - JeffPT

Offline Anfauglir

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Re: A funny thing theists assume about atheists
« Reply #24 on: April 04, 2012, 05:45:08 AM »
.....you very specifically said that Andrea Yates, Hitler, the Crusades and 9/11 would all have happened anyway without religion.

Without religion we would still have war, but far fewer of them and they would be much smaller. It's hard convince people to leave their family and march to their possible death without being able to claim God is on your side, it's your destiny, and that you will be rewarded in the afterlife.

Absolutely agree with you.  But not impossible, otherwise atheists would never go to war, and there have been countless atheists, humanists, and whatnot prepared to lay down their lives for what they believed in.

I'm quite positive that Hitler would have happened anyway.  Like I said, his regime didn't just hit the Jews - they hit trade unionists, the disabled, gypsies, and many other minority groups, regardless of faith.  Jews were a convenient social group to target, and I'm sure were targetted as much for their race as for their religion.  Crusades similarly were as much about territory and foreigner-bashing as doing it for gawd, and 9/11 was as much about anti-Americanism and anti-Westerism as it was about anti-Christianity.

You've pretty much convinced me about Andrea though.  I don't doubt she'd still have had mental problems, but odds are that without the religious influence she woulnd't have taken that last step.  I'd like to see it proved though - imagine how overwhelming an argument against religion it would be if we could show that no atheist mother with PPD had EVER killed (or tried to kill) her children?
Just because you've always done it that way doesn't mean it's not incredibly stupid.
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Offline Tero

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Re: A funny thing theists assume about atheists
« Reply #25 on: April 04, 2012, 06:21:51 AM »
I was not saying that we would be exactly the same without religion, but pretty much. There are many ways to run a society. None is right or wrong, but some do lead to too much war. It is like evolution, the strongest survive. There is an explanation of hawks and doves in The Selfish Gene.

Offline joebbowers

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Re: A funny thing theists assume about atheists
« Reply #26 on: April 04, 2012, 08:20:25 AM »
.....you very specifically said that Andrea Yates, Hitler, the Crusades and 9/11 would all have happened anyway without religion.

Without religion we would still have war, but far fewer of them and they would be much smaller. It's hard convince people to leave their family and march to their possible death without being able to claim God is on your side, it's your destiny, and that you will be rewarded in the afterlife.

Absolutely agree with you.  But not impossible, otherwise atheists would never go to war, and there have been countless atheists, humanists, and whatnot prepared to lay down their lives for what they believed in.

First it was "those things would have happened anyway" now it's "not impossible". It's not impossible that under other circumstances Hitler would have been a gay burlesque dancer. My point is that to say that all of those events would have happened without religion is pretty far-fetched without some serious explanation which I have yet to see.

Quote
I'm quite positive that Hitler would have happened anyway.  Like I said, his regime didn't just hit the Jews - they hit trade unionists, the disabled, gypsies, and many other minority groups, regardless of faith.  Jews were a convenient social group to target, and I'm sure were targetted as much for their race as for their religion.

Why did he hate those groups?
Would he have been inspired to hate them without religion?
Would he have been motivated to destroy them without believing it was God's will?
Would he have been able to motivate others to destroy them without convincing them it was God's will?
Would he have been able to raise and command such a large force without the blessing of the Vatican?
Judaism is a religion, not a race.

RE:9/11

Why do they hate westerners?
Would they have been inspired to hate them without religion?
Would they have been motivated to destroy them without believing it was God's will?
Would they have been able to motivate others to destroy them without convincing them it was God's will?
Would they have been able to convince other to become suicide bombers without convincing them that it was God's will, and promising them virgins and an eternal afterlife in paradise?

If yes to any of the above questions... evidence?

Again, I'm not saying the world would be free of violence without religion, but there would certainly be less war and murder, and things like I mentioned would likely never happen. To boldly state that it would all have happened anyway makes me think you haven't put much thought into it.

You've pretty much convinced me about Andrea though.  I don't doubt she'd still have had mental problems, but odds are that without the religious influence she woulnd't have taken that last step.  I'd like to see it proved though - imagine how overwhelming an argument against religion it would be if we could show that no atheist mother with PPD had EVER killed (or tried to kill) her children?

She absolutely would not have killed her children without the religious influence. I'm sure atheist mothers have killed their kids, but not as a result of their atheism.

By the way, Andrea Yates' roommate in the mental asylum is another Christian who killed her child because God told her to.
"Do you see a problem with insisting that the normal ways in which you determine fact from fiction is something you have to turn off in order to maintain the belief in God?" - JeffPT

Offline kcrady

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Re: A funny thing theists assume about atheists
« Reply #27 on: April 04, 2012, 09:41:17 AM »
Andrea Yates would have drowned her kids regardless of religion.

Do you have a cite for this?  It's possible--I don't know enough about the specifics of her illness--but I think that religion is likely to have greased the skids.[1]  What if, instead of thinking that "God" wanted her to kill her children, Andrea believed that the voices in her head were aliens beaming their commands to her with an orbital mind-control laser?  She might have killed her children anyway.  But: there is a considerable body of literature and movies centered on the idea that humans can, and should fight evil extraterrestrial invaders.  Not only is standing up to enemy aliens right, we can also win, or so our society's stories on the subject assure us.  There is a chance, perhaps a small one, but still a chance, that she might have gone to somebody and said "Help me!  Aliens are trying to make me kill my children!"

However, since it was the voice of "God" telling her to kill her children, the situation was different.  It is a pervasive and socially-acceptable idea that "God" is: 1) invincible, and 2) owns the patent and trademark on all morality, so that whatever "He" says goes, because it's "Him" saying it.  Humans aren't supposed to fight "God," and any attempt to do so is inherently futile.  It's all packaged together as part of the big-G "God" concept, which is what makes this particular religious idea so dangerous.  And furthermore, killing children at "His" command is explicitly sanctioned, even regarded as heroic and noble, wherever the Abrahamic monotheistic religions are predominant.  The "Abrahamic" religions are those which trace their foundations to Abraham, who became the revered "father of faith" precisely because he was willing to kill his favorite son without hesitation when a voice in his head told him to. 

Since it's the voice of "God," rather than space aliens, fairies, demons, etc., it automatically receives a moral blank check from just about everyone in our society.  Most people would hem and haw and try to wriggle out of saying that they would kill their own child at the behest of a disembodied voice, but few would condemn Abraham for his deed.  Likewise, they would also try to make excuses for Jephthah, who, since the child he was called upon to kill was a mere girl, did not receive a "Haha, just kidding" happy ending like Abraham did.  In addition, "God" is the only entity that has eternal torment in his arsenal.  If drowning her children really was the only way to spare them from everlasting torture, then it arguably would have been a necessary act even if one does reject the moral authority of "God."

If Andrea had been an atheist, her delusion might have framed itself as aliens, the CIA, or some other force (or if it had come as "God" she would have had some degree of skepticism of its reality), and she might still have felt a powerful urge to obey.  But, she would also have retained some psychological defense and ability to resist.  There is only one entity in our civilization's entire conceptual vocabulary that is supposed to receive automatic, unquestioning obedience and against whom all conceivable resistance is futile: "God."  Had she received such malevolent instructions from anything else, the moral structures of society would have urged her to resist or seek help.  It is only in the case of "God" that ordinary people will argue with a straight face, that murdering one's children on command would actually be the right thing to do.

So, in the absence of religion, I think Andrea Yates would have been less likely to have murdered her children, and more likely to have sought help.
 1. Edit: the Wikipedia cites from Joebbowers' post above persuade me even more that religion is responsible for her act.
« Last Edit: April 04, 2012, 09:50:01 AM by kcrady »
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Offline Azdgari

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Re: A funny thing theists assume about atheists
« Reply #28 on: April 04, 2012, 10:31:13 AM »
It is only in the case of "God" that ordinary people will argue with a straight face, that murdering one's children on command would actually be the right thing to do.

As has been the case with multiple theists on this very forum.
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