Author Topic: Do YOU wish people would just give up religion?  (Read 1759 times)

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Online screwtape

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Re: Do YOU wish people would just give up religion?
« Reply #29 on: October 22, 2012, 08:03:48 AM »
To the topic title - do I wish people would just give up religion - I answer, "absofuckinglutely".  But religion is not the root of the problem, I think.  Religion is a symptom of a bigger problem - faith based belief.  And I'm not talking about the kind of faith people have in their spouses, or in technology ("you have faith airplanes will fly"), or in your favorite sports team.  All those kinds of faith - if you even want to call them that - are justifiable. 

You have faith in your spouse because you have spent time with him or her and have observed a pattern of behavior that gives you reason to trust them.  You have faith that airplanes will still fly because in 2000 or so years of various levels of observation, the laws of physics have not changed.  And having faith in your sports team is more about loyalty than blindly and irrationally believing they are the best.

The faith I am talking about is the blind faith so many religious people deny they have, yet describe their faith as exactly that.  Believing things without good reason or in the face of contradictory evidence.  This is not exclusive to religion.  You see it all over the place.  Most politics is rooted in faith based beliefs.  By extension, a lot of people's economic views are entirely faith based. 

Sometimes the justice system works by faith.  There was a prosecutor in NJ in the last year and a half or so who wanted to procedd with murder charges against a man because he once owned a car that fit the desription of one that was involved in a drive-by murder.  The man had a receipt from a junkyard that showed he junked the car months before the shooting and the police had used cell towers to triangulate the man's cell position to be 90 miles away from the shooting at the time it happened.  Nevertheless, the DA was sure this was the guy and promised to carry the prosecution forward.  How?  Faith.[1]

Faith based beliefs are inherently resistant to correction.  They tend to stand in the face of contradictory evidence.  As such, they are denials of reality and enemy of the truth.  And this is why I take issue with them.  So, at the root of it, I wish people could evolve beyond all faith based beliefs.  If they do that, religion will go with it.


However, we cannot evolve beyond faith based beliefs.  There is nothing selecting for reason and against faith.  There is no mechanism making people who believe ridiculous things for no good reasons produce fewer children.  In fact, in this country, that sort of thing is encouraged.   So, the other questions come in to play...

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How far would you go to SUPPORT their right to peaceably worship as they see fit? 

It depends how they see fit.  If they want to say some prayers to Lord Ummagumma in the privacy of their home, have at it.  If they want to encode their stupid beliefs into the law in any way, then I say rebuild the Collesium and feed the sonsabitches to crocodiles.

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Would you lift a finger to help if their rights were being denied? 


It depends how their rights were being denied.  If someone was trying to punish them for praying to Lord Ummagumma in the privacy of their homes, then yes, I would want to help them.  Or if some jackhole was trying to make the Ummagummites pray to a different god, not of their chosing, in school, then yes again.  Atheists and religious minorities actually have a history of cooperating on keeping the government secular, issues like prayer in school.

However, if the religious were being fed to crocodiles in a new Collesium because the religious were trying to take over the legislative system, then no, I would not help them.  I believe I would buy front row seats at the Collesium.

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Do you see this as a civil rights issue at all?
 

I'm not sure what you mean.   

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How much legal and ethical ground will you concede, in good faith, to the believers so they are truly free to live as they choose, even while you assert that they're doing it all wrong?

If we are talking about reality and not a fantasy world where I am some kind of magic weilding king who can bring physics to its knees and bend the minds of men to my will, then I think lots.  By "lots" I mean we have to cede as much ground to all religious kooks as possible as long as it does not intrude on the rights of anyone else.  If they are against praying on sundays, then they shouldn't have to pray on sundays.  But we also should not stop anyone else from praying on sundays. [2] 

I think this is the way we currently handle it and it has its obvious problems.  For one, some segment of the religious population is completely uninterested in that agenda.  They want to make the state into their tool for enforcing orthodoxy.  For two, faith based thinking degrades all discussion and gets in the way of making good decisions. 

But I don't know how to fix those problems.  I would like to say if you cannot at least compartmentalize your faith thinking, you don't get to vote or occupy any position in government in any way.  But that sets up a precedent for the other side to do the same to anyone who disagrees with them. Which means we would likely be on the other end of the stick.

This is not actually a matter of principle to me.  It is utilitarian.  Until we can be sure the religious majority will not use their power against us, we have to grant that everyone has the right to believe the things they want.  Goose and gander.  But once you make me your magic weilding king, all bets are off. 



 1. Sorry, cannot find a link.  Read it in the Star Ledger.
 2. I was going to say if they are against contraception, they should not be forced to use contraception, but I kind of think they should be forced to use contraception.  If you want fewer irrational people, fewer babies from the kooks is the only way to make that happen. 
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Offline Nam

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Re: Do YOU wish people would just give up religion?
« Reply #30 on: October 22, 2012, 09:59:50 AM »
Faith: The absense of evidence.

Blind Faith: The abysmal catacomb of one's mind.

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« Last Edit: October 22, 2012, 10:01:27 AM by Nam »
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Offline Pounamu

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Re: Do YOU wish people would just give up religion?
« Reply #31 on: October 23, 2012, 01:21:22 AM »
But religion is not the root of the problem, I think.  Religion is a symptom of a bigger problem - faith based belief. 
Interesting theory, Screwtape. As far as I understand, you believe that we, humans, are genetically predisposed to making decisions based on blind faith (that is faith in spite of the evidence) . How would you explain this predisposition from an evolutionary point of view?
« Last Edit: October 23, 2012, 03:18:03 AM by Cadillac »
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Offline Onesimus

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Re: Do YOU wish people would just give up religion?
« Reply #32 on: October 23, 2012, 08:14:58 AM »
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Do you see this as a civil rights issue at all?
 

I'm not sure what you mean.   


I'm seeing this as one of those "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness" things. 

Since I'm an artist and not a scientist, I would have no career at all if my life was dictated only by demonstrable facts and evidence; I live and operate in the world of feelings, intuition, and sometimes pure whim.  This is likely why it took me so many decades to divest myself of faith; my modus operandi does not require me to do a lot of fact-checking on a daily basis.  Even the fact that I chose an artist's life... clearly, I did so, but I still express that "it chose me", an assertion that explains most of the questions while being, at least on a factual level, an absurd and unfounded belief.  Doesn't make it the slightest bit less true to me.

The very best argument for "why would you believe ridiculous things and base your life around those beliefs?", as far as I'm concerned, is "It's a free country and I have my rights and I'll do as I damn well please!"  While I'm assuming that anyone reading this actually does live in a free country, I really don't see that there's much of an argument against simply asserting your right to believe, just because.  The irony is, of course, that life gets a little less "free" all the time, and the government is always stepping in to curtail us from bringing various disasters upon ourselves.  Should we ever get to the point where we are not allowed to express ourselves unless we can demonstrate "rationality", that would indeed be the end of freedom by any meaningful definition.


Online screwtape

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Re: Do YOU wish people would just give up religion?
« Reply #33 on: October 23, 2012, 08:39:11 AM »
Interesting theory, Screwtape. As far as I understand, you believe that we, humans, are genetically predisposed to making decisions based on blind faith (that is faith in spite of the evidence) . How would you explain this predisposition from an evolutionary point of view?

To get a little more nuanced, I think we are genetically predisposed to make decisions quickly with scant evidence and heavily influenced by emotion.  We are also genetically predisposed to not change our minds or to do so with great difficulty.  I think the first part is fairly easily explained by evolution. 

Thinking about primitive or proto-human environments, there were plenty of natural dangers - bears, sabretooth tigers, other primitive men, orcs, etc.  So it behooved them to make decisions quickly.  The guy who wanted to reserve judgment as to whether that 600 lb cat was friendly didn't survive long enough to have many kids.  So making fast decisions and skipping empirical experimenting was a survival mechanism. 

We make decisions using emotions, built in (and over-active) pattern detection, and hunches. Early man had to use intuition, because using reason and rationality was a detriment. 

In addition, the brain makes shortcuts all the time because it uses less energy.  That is important because it uses as much as 20% of the total enegery produced by the body.[1]  Some of the short cuts are born of repetition, others are built in.  I talked about it a little bit here in the section on consistency.   For example, if you call yourself a "conservative", because you agree with a couple of conservative ideas, then you might end up buying the whole magilla because applying the "conservative" label saves you from having to thinkg through each and every topic and determining a position.  You believe what conservatives believe because you are a conservative. I'm not picking on conservatives.  It can apply to any label, be it political, philosophical, religious, whatever. 

The second, not changing our minds, I'm not sure how that is explained.  But it seems obviously true to me.  Studies have been done showing how difficult it is and I have spent[2] 7 years on this forum changing no one's mind about anything.  Anyway, following are some links about it that might be interesting.

http://www.minnpost.com/second-opinion/2010/10/why-people-dont-change-their-minds-even-when-faced-facts
http://www.peerreviewedbymyneurons.com/2011/09/23/why-changing-your-mind-is-hard/
http://www.boston.com/bostonglobe/ideas/articles/2010/07/11/how_facts_backfire/   <-- really good
http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2011/03/denial-science-chris-mooney?page=1


edit - the last link I gave talks about a alien cult.  It was mentioned in the cialdini book I discuss in the How to Hax xians thread under the idea of social proof.
 1. http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=why-does-the-brain-need-s
 2. wasted?
« Last Edit: October 23, 2012, 09:10:44 AM by screwtape »
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Online screwtape

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Re: Do YOU wish people would just give up religion?
« Reply #34 on: October 23, 2012, 08:57:24 AM »
I'm seeing this as one of those "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness" things. 

I think I see what you mean.  I'd say, it depends on your beliefs.  I would rate your idea as "mostly harmless" to me and the republic.  You apply it to you and you only and even if you were to be evangelical about your artistic life chosing you (and not the other way around), it would have no impact on anything.

But when people are running around insisting women not have access to medical treatment because one of their ridiculous beliefs is that a microscopic glob of cells has a "soul" and is as important - or even moreso - than an actual walking, talking person, I kind of think they don't have a right to that.

That's the problem.  People cannot just believe ridiculous things and STFU.  They have to try to make everyone else believe those ridiculous things too.  They want reality to be made over in their image.  You are against abortion?  That's fine with me.  Don't have one.  But the minute you start to open your yap and try to stop other people from it, well, that crosses a line in my mind. 

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Offline Pounamu

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Re: Do YOU wish people would just give up religion?
« Reply #35 on: October 23, 2012, 09:42:50 AM »
I have spent[1] 7 years on this forum changing no one's mind about anything.
 1. wasted?
This is not really true. You were an important part of my deconversion ;)
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Re: Do YOU wish people would just give up religion?
« Reply #36 on: October 23, 2012, 10:24:42 AM »
This is not really true. You were an important part of my deconversion ;)

wow.  well, thanks for that.  But still, all in all, terrible track record.
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Re: Do YOU wish people would just give up religion?
« Reply #37 on: October 23, 2012, 10:40:33 AM »
screwtape,

I tried to smite you for degrading yourself but it kept saying "page not available". I blame you.

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Offline Hatter23

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Re: Do YOU wish people would just give up religion?
« Reply #38 on: October 23, 2012, 11:10:47 AM »
This is not really true. You were an important part of my deconversion ;)

wow.  well, thanks for that.  But still, all in all, terrible track record.

I think I have 2 for my 2 1/2 years here.
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Offline Jag

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Re: Do YOU wish people would just give up religion?
« Reply #39 on: October 23, 2012, 11:46:03 AM »
Great questions and a great discussion!

Going to the original post: I was recently ambushed at home (evangelicals door knocking during elections, those sneaky folks!), and mentioned this during our … discussion.

I fully support the separation of church and state, and am very vocal on this topic. My wish is that people would open both eyes and mind to science, and think critically about what they believe. In the absence of a means to make this the case, I will continue with my current position - keeping religion out of government and government out of religion. Remove the tax exception for any church that can't STFU about candidates.

Yes, I am somewhat driven nuts by the worshippy, faith-based things done by theists in the name of their god(s), not because I find it offensive, but because I feel somewhat sorry for them. This is on my "feeling generous toward my fellow humans" days. Other days, I find myself unbelievably frustrated by their refusal to grow up - thankfully this is not every day.

No matter which way I'm feeling on any given day, I do my best to stay on the "correct"side of the line I've drawn for myself - they have the right to believe as they choose. I come roaring out of my happy place to act against any intrusion into anyone else's life, regardless of whether they are theists or not.

I was in my early teens when my best friend's mother came out. As I was quite close to the family, I knew about Kat's announcement very quickly. Once past my initial surprise (Kat was married at the time, but it wasn't a happy marriage), I gave it some thought. It took very little time for me to conclude that Kat was still Kat, the same kind-hearted sweetie she had been the day before, so it really made no difference to me. Essentially: she's gay, and I have blue eyes, neither of which matters much at all. That moment proved to be a pivotal one for me, as it marked the first time I clearly recall making a value judgment about a person that was entirely within my own moral code. I didn't ask anyone's opinion, I didn't discuss it with anyone, I just decided independent of my family and friends that this was fine by me.

I've more or less used that same process to guide me ever since (ie: does anyone suffer for this?). I do believe that the world would be better in the absence of religion, without kidding myself that everything becomes sunshine and roses the day that occurs. I would prefer a world where people reason out solutions, rather than turning to "faith" for answers to social problems. I also understand that many people would be lost without their faith, regardless of my opinion. They've been conditioned to think of themselves as weak and flawed, and in need of a god. The pressure religion puts on people to see themselves as helpless and dependent pisses me off, and is among the most infuriating of the damage inflicted by religion. That said, I do and will continue to defend people's right to believe. I absolutely see it as a civil rights issue. But this is all theoretical anyway - we aren't likely to see religion die off anytime soon.

Theists are welcome to do it all wrong, as long as they limit their activity to their own private lives and keep it out of the public sphere. Believe what you want, but respect other right to believe differently, whatever that may mean, and however distasteful you may find it.
« Last Edit: October 23, 2012, 11:49:51 AM by Jag »
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Offline Jag

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Re: Do YOU wish people would just give up religion?
« Reply #40 on: October 23, 2012, 11:51:12 AM »
Totally off topic - yay me! As of the last post, I'm now a student instead of a freshman!
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