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Main Discussion Zone => Religion & Society => Topic started by: Onesimus on October 18, 2012, 09:56:23 PM

Title: Do YOU wish people would just give up religion?
Post by: Onesimus on October 18, 2012, 09:56:23 PM
Most of the people reading this might answer a very emphatic "Yes!"... and if so, you're just who I'm looking for.  I have a bigger question for you.  And if your answer to the first question was "no", you are still invited to answer the question, in reverse.

In the interest of semi-full disclosure, I have my reasons for asking the following question.  I do promise not to parrot your words, nor take credit from them.  I may very well paraphrase and rework, for a project I'm doing at the moment (and more to come on all that.) 

I find, in general, very little empathy in these discussions.  No one on either side wants to spend much time trying to understand the other side, but each wants to be better understood and recognized for being correct themselves.  It's far more convenient to simply assert that the other side is simply wrong and that there is little there to "understand" in the first place.  There also doesn't seem to be much emphasis in tolerance in general; both sides are pretty annoyed that the other side exists, and each would like nothing more than to convert each and every individual away from a deleterious ideology and have done with it.

The world doesn't work that way, of course, so the conflict rages on with no end in sight.  No surprise there.

So here's the question.  Atheists... those you oppose, the faithful theists, do indeed have government-supported freedom of religion.  They have inalienable rights to do all kinds of worshippy, faith-based things that drive you nuts just thinking about it.  Sooooo... How far would you go to SUPPORT their right to peaceably worship as they see fit?  Would you lift a finger to help if their rights were being denied?  Do you see this as a civil rights issue at all?  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?

And yes, you believers can also weigh in on how much you will concede to non-believers.

Go.   ;D
Title: Re: Do YOU wish people would just give up religion?
Post by: Nam on October 18, 2012, 10:02:08 PM
I am not a "yes" or"no". I am a "I don't care". But, even though I don't care, I still would defend anyone the right to believe what they want to, and say what they want to even if I knew they wouldn't do the same for me.

-Nam
Title: Re: Do YOU wish people would just give up religion?
Post by: Onesimus on October 18, 2012, 10:17:15 PM
I am a "I don't care".

My point, or one of a select few of them.  It's just human nature to not care whether people have the right to do things you don't have any interest in doing.  But would society be better off if we took a more active role?  I'm really not sure... hence, the question.
Title: Re: Do YOU wish people would just give up religion?
Post by: Nam on October 18, 2012, 10:24:46 PM
I asked a question here a few years ago: would the world really be a better place if everyone was atheist? I believe every atheist responded with "anything is better than religion". This doesn't mean that wars would cease, crime, or any of that it just means religion wouldn't be the one contributing to it. It'd be the individual person, not some religion or unknown deity.

-Nam
Title: Re: Do YOU wish people would just give up religion?
Post by: collcat on October 18, 2012, 10:36:01 PM
I don't support other delusions why would I support theirs.  Christians don't support anyone else who doesn't think like them.
Title: Re: Do YOU wish people would just give up religion?
Post by: Garja on October 18, 2012, 10:36:33 PM
I think my answer to the OP would be Yes I think the world would be a much better place without religion, however I fully support someone right to believe stupid bullshit.  However when that belief infringes on someone else No.  That would  be my philosophy on pretty much everything - Do, think, say, believe anything you want up to the point where it has a directly negative effect on someone else.
Title: Re: Do YOU wish people would just give up religion?
Post by: Onesimus on October 18, 2012, 10:43:31 PM
I don't support other delusions why would I support theirs. 

Because it's a Constitutional issue in most modern countries.
Title: Re: Do YOU wish people would just give up religion?
Post by: Onesimus on October 18, 2012, 10:46:31 PM
I think my answer to the OP would be Yes I think the world would be a much better place without religion, however I fully support someone right to believe stupid bullshit.  However when that belief infringes on someone else No.  That would  be my philosophy on pretty much everything - Do, think, say, believe anything you want up to the point where it has a directly negative effect on someone else.

So if, say, the government started seizing church buildings and taking them away from the congregations, would you at least vote to make this illegal (which it pretty much is, but maybe it will not always be so)?
Title: Re: Do YOU wish people would just give up religion?
Post by: Onesimus on October 18, 2012, 10:47:39 PM
I asked a question here a few years ago: would the world really be a better place if everyone was atheist? I believe every atheist responded with "anything is better than religion". This doesn't mean that wars would cease, crime, or any of that it just means religion wouldn't be the one contributing to it. It'd be the individual person, not some religion or unknown deity.

-Nam

I agree that there would still be crime, wars, and unresolvable conflict.  It's possible that there would be less of it, but that remains to be seen.
Title: Re: Do YOU wish people would just give up religion?
Post by: Garja on October 18, 2012, 10:48:58 PM

So if, say, the government started seizing church buildings and taking them away from the congregations, would you at least vote to make this illegal (which it pretty much is, but maybe it will not always be so)?

Absolutely.

Im not going to like.... stand in front of a bulldozer or anything, but freedom of religion is a constitutional right.  As is freedom of non religion.
Title: Re: Do YOU wish people would just give up religion?
Post by: mrbiscoop on October 18, 2012, 10:57:59 PM
   I just wish that the human race (i.e. ALL people) would go away. That would take part of the religious part also.
Title: Re: Do YOU wish people would just give up religion?
Post by: Nam on October 18, 2012, 11:06:05 PM
Onesimus,

If we go by the perception of atheism solely as an Ideology, one is left with individual concept of living, right? So, by this perception, what would be the ruling factor based on, oh say, a type of government? Communism, I feel, will have expanded (not like/unlike USSR tried to do decades ago) and perhaps a type of secular Socialism. Would Capitalism still exist? Would Democracy? If so, wouldn't these just be replacements for religion? People believing they know how other people should live? That's basically what religion is, no?

-Nam
Title: Re: Do YOU wish people would just give up religion?
Post by: Pounamu on October 19, 2012, 04:30:09 AM
I don't mind if kids believe in a Santa whom they have to write a letter every year in order to receive a nice present from him, on the condition that they were good kids: to be good kids they have to listen to their mom and dad.

But I do mind if kids believe in a genetically modified Santa whom they have to write letters every day to be eligible to win various presents, on the condition that they were good kids: to be good kids they have to read Santa's special book of ancient stories, but as most stories in this book seem to be too weird, complex, and contradictory, they better listen to professional interpreters. If they don't obey those interpreters or if they don't write enough letters to Santa, they might suffer a cruel eternal punishment.

However, I don't think that because of the genetically modified Santas, all Santas should disappear. Some Santas could be fun, even though from the most pragmatical point of view they are totally useless.

Simply, the genetically modified Santas should dwindle to fun Santas.



Title: Re: Do YOU wish people would just give up religion?
Post by: hickdive on October 19, 2012, 04:50:56 AM
"I do not agree with what you have to say, but I'll defend to the death your right to say it."

Voltaire.

I do not agree with what many people believe in but, if it came to it, I would fight to defend their right to believe those things. But with their right also comes, to my mind, a responsibility not to inflict their beliefs on others.

For example: by all means you may believe that marriage is a sacred institution between a man and a woman however you have absolutely no right to say that, because of your beliefs, no same-sex marriage can ever be countenanced even amongst those who do not share your beliefs let alone your religion.

In long, if only people of the religious persuasion could be convinced that their beliefs are just that, their beliefs and that being dearly held beliefs does not mean that they should be the law of the land and that all non-believers should be subject to that law. But religious people will not be convinced, they will not stop demanding special rights for themselves, they will not stop insisting that others must be punished or oppressed for not believing as they do. This is a crucial difference between atheist (or at least how I see atheists in general) and theist; you will rarely find a christian who would defend the right of a sikh to the peaceful enjoyment of their religion and you will never find a muslim who would extend the same right to a bhuddist.

In short, I do wish people would just give up on religion because that is a short-cut to them stopping inflicting their beliefs on others.
Title: Re: Do YOU wish people would just give up religion?
Post by: 3sigma on October 19, 2012, 06:07:18 AM
I think most people believe in gods because they are insecure and gullible. I think they are fearful and anxious enough to want the comforting promises of religions to be true and gullible enough to believe them. I think they use their religious beliefs as a shield against the harshness of reality. I imagine there will always be insecure and gullible people in the world so I don’t begrudge them their comforting beliefs, though I do wish they would learn to overcome their childish fears and learn to think critically.

However, I do wish they would keep their beliefs to themselves and not try to force them on others by attempting to have creationism taught in public school science classes and by opposing same-sex marriages. I wish religious believers would stop killing each other over who has the better imaginary friend. I wish religious believers would stop thinking they have the right to imprison or kill people for insulting that imaginary friend. When I read the news each day and see all the intolerance, misery, violence and death caused by people acting on or motivated by their childish religious beliefs, I really do wish they would just grow up.
Title: Re: Do YOU wish people would just give up religion?
Post by: naemhni on October 19, 2012, 08:03:11 AM
Sooooo... How far would you go to SUPPORT their right to peaceably worship as they see fit?

For those of us who live in the United States, at least, this is kind of like asking a white man living in the Bible Belt in 1952 how far he would go to oppose racial discrimination by blacks.

Of all the rights guaranteed by our Constitution, the right to practice the religion of your choice is probably the one that is in the least jeopardy right now.  Far from it, those of us with no religion are the ones who face constant infringement on our rights.  If the situation is ever reversed, if our society ever has "atheist privilege" instead of "Christian privilege", I'll give the matter some thought then.  However, I don't expect that to happen during my lifetime.
Title: Re: Do YOU wish people would just give up religion?
Post by: screwtape on October 19, 2012, 08:15:16 AM
bm
Title: Re: Do YOU wish people would just give up religion?
Post by: Lectus on October 19, 2012, 09:11:20 AM
I wish every human in the world would receive proper education, food and have a good life.

I also wish religion would be completely destroyed. What would remain would be rational decisions and sincere regards for all human beings, animals, plants and environment.

I wish everyone would understand what's wrong and what's right based on proper education and not some mystical bullshit.

I think when we achieve that level of development, other life forms from other planets would actually want to contact us. Imagine if some alien contacts us and humans decide to kill him screaming "This is the devil! Kill him.". Seriously? What kind of childish bullshit is that?

(http://files.sharenator.com/picard_WTF_is_this_shit-s300x266-70964-580.jpg)


We're still barbarians with no sense of sustainable civilization. We're still having war, believing in mystical spirits and gods. How can we expect any form of extraterrestrial civilization to trust us?
Title: Re: Do YOU wish people would just give up religion?
Post by: shnozzola on October 19, 2012, 09:35:54 AM
   If the church of the flying spaghetti monster (in this case, I picture dead heads) dances around the outside of their church waving tie dyed clothes and bandanas, and every once in a while has a bake sale to raise money for people in the community who need help with high medical bills, that is the social aspect of religion (and government) that the religious, the non religious, republicans, and democrats usually get behind. I have no problem if their beliefs lead to good deeds.

   If, while buying something at the bake sale to help the community, a FSM believer tells me I'm doomed if I do not believe as he or she, that is where I draw the line.  Sorry, FSM church - you turned me off.

 If the FSM church gets bigger and bigger, driving fancier cars and building fancier churches, while never helping the community - BUT - never asking anyone outside their church for anything, or never condemning anyone for anything,...hmmm......do I care about that?.................what if they refuse to invite me?

No - a religion like that would be like a rock - as long as it was not a bother, I do not believe I would have a problem with it.
Title: Re: Do YOU wish people would just give up religion?
Post by: Hatter23 on October 19, 2012, 11:42:54 AM

as to the title question

If Atheism ruled the world, I make no pretensions that it would be a utopia. However one thing that drives men to kill each other that is completely imaginary, would be eliminated. One completely imaginary thing that gives men the bullheaded courage that their way is the only way, that those the oppose them are irredeemable. One imaginary thing that puts shackles on the ankles of progress, and allows people to sanctify there indifference to the plight of others would be gone.

In essence, the world wouldn't be a perfect place, but it would be a better place.
Title: Re: Do YOU wish people would just give up religion?
Post by: Hatter23 on October 19, 2012, 11:44:30 AM

So if, say, the government started seizing church buildings and taking them away from the congregations, would you at least vote to make this illegal (which it pretty much is, but maybe it will not always be so)?

Absolutely.

Im not going to like.... stand in front of a bulldozer or anything,

I think I would, or at least I hope I would have the courage to do so.
Title: Re: Do YOU wish people would just give up religion?
Post by: Nam on October 19, 2012, 11:54:28 AM
hickdive,

Voltaire didn't write that. Hall wrote that in culmination of something Voltaire wrote. But Voltaire didn't write it.

-Nam
Title: Re: Do YOU wish people would just give up religion?
Post by: Willie on October 21, 2012, 11:49:25 AM
My point, or one of a select few of them.  It's just human nature to not care whether people have the right to do things you don't have any interest in doing.  But would society be better off if we took a more active role?  I'm really not sure... hence, the question.
I think that there is an altruistic element to my advocacy for religious freedom. But the case can be made adequately from self interest alone.

I have an interest in thinking for myself. That necessarily includes an interest in being free to change my mind. Therefore limiting people's right to do things that I have no interest in doing, DOES infringe my own self interest. I have no desire to convert back to Christianity, or to take up Islam or Wicca or Homeopathy or Creationism any other cockamamie faith-based thing. But I want it to be MY choice.

I think that intellectual freedom is a much bigger and more important idea than religious freedom. This includes both the freedom to think and the freedom to express. To this end, religious freedom is necessary, but not sufficient.
Title: Re: Do YOU wish people would just give up religion?
Post by: Brakeman on October 21, 2012, 12:19:58 PM
There is nothing special about religion as compared with any other delusion or con game.
It's silly to oppose someone else for having a misconception, as we all do in some form or other. The issue is should be we support a special dispensation for religion? I say yes as applied to religion x vs religion y, but no when the religions fade away.
I wish people would give up ignorant misconceptions globally, and no country should coddle any misconception. In the same vein, no country should punish general stupidity, but should only punish con games, and fraud.
Title: Re: Do YOU wish people would just give up religion?
Post by: Nam on October 21, 2012, 12:28:02 PM
Brakeman,

I disagree religion is special in the guise it's able to con mass amounts of people for their entire lives.

-Nam
Title: Re: Do YOU wish people would just give up religion?
Post by: Willie on October 21, 2012, 12:38:03 PM
To the question that Onesimus asked in the thread title, which is really very different from the one he asked in his post, I would say that yes, I do wish that people would just give up religion. But I have to qualify that by saying that it does matter what it is replaced with.

I think that how people think is much more important than what people think. What I would very much wish for is an outbreak of reason. Critical thinking, free thought, skepticism, whatever you want to call it. An age of enlightenment. In an environment like that, religion would lose its power naturally. No force or civil rights violation needed.

If you remove religion by force, it WILL be replaced by something. And that something is likely to be as bad or worse, and will still leave a population that is vulnerable to credulity. We've seen this. In the USSR, and even more so in North Korea, the religion hole was filled with political ideology that was held with the same kind of irrationality and faith as the religions that it replaced. And in the wake of the fall of the USSR, we've seen a massive influx of every kind of mystical nonsense on a population unaccustomed to thinking for themselves in an environment of competing ideas. I can't help thinking that an influx of religion into N. Korea might actually be a good thing, because it would diffuse the power of the state and give them some experience with competing ideas, even if they are mostly bad ideas.

Forcible removal of religion will never accomplish anything good. The only way to make the religion problem better is to displace it with reason, or at least with less harmful religious beliefs.

Edit: Clarified who I am addressing.
Title: Re: Do YOU wish people would just give up religion?
Post by: Nam on October 21, 2012, 12:51:59 PM
One can't get rid of religion in its totality. It'll still be there creeping out its head like a turtle; plus, not all religion is relatively bad; just the ones that are overtly controling.

-Nam
Title: Re: Do YOU wish people would just give up religion?
Post by: wright on October 21, 2012, 12:56:51 PM
So here's the question.  Atheists... those you oppose, the faithful theists, do indeed have government-supported freedom of religion.  They have inalienable rights to do all kinds of worshippy, faith-based things that drive you nuts just thinking about it.  Sooooo... How far would you go to SUPPORT their right to peaceably worship as they see fit?  Would you lift a finger to help if their rights were being denied?  Do you see this as a civil rights issue at all?  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?

And yes, you believers can also weigh in on how much you will concede to non-believers.

Go.   ;D

Theists have, in the US, the right to practice their beliefs. That I fully support, so long as they don't seek to impose those beliefs on others. For instance, Christians are free to teach their own children, in their homes, private schools and churches, that they'll be tortured forever if they don't accept Christ. They most certainly don't have the right to come into my nephew's public school and tell him the same thing.

I would certainly see active suppression of religion as a civil-rights issue and work against it. A government attacking such a fundamental right of my society would be headed in a very wrong direction. That said, the recent questioning of the largely unspoken privilege that Christianity enjoys in the US is far from oppression.

To the question that Onesimus asked in the thread title, which is really very different from the one he asked in his post, I would say that yes, I do wish that people would just give up religion. But I have to qualify that by saying that it does matter what it is replaced with.

I think that how people think is much more important than what people think. What I would very much wish for is an outbreak of reason. Critical thinking, free thought, skepticism, whatever you want to call it. An age of enlightenment. In an environment like that, religion would lose its power naturally. No force or civil rights violation needed.

^^^This.
Title: Re: Do YOU wish people would just give up religion?
Post by: jetson on October 21, 2012, 03:42:19 PM
I watched the very young and courageous Jessica Ahlquist speak at the Austin Texas State Capitol yesterday.  I went up to her afterwards, shook her hand, and expressed how proud I was for the actions she took.  She did what I can feel I am afraid to do.  she literally put everything out there in ana effort to uphold our very Constitution.  If you were not aware, her life was threatened during her efforts to get a christian prayer removed from her public school.

while we cannot all be like that, it is very moving to see it up close and personal.

I videotaped her speech.

Here's a link to a local news story about the event.

http://austin.ynn.com/content/top_stories/288907/atheists-rally-for-inclusion-at-texas-freethought-convention (http://austin.ynn.com/content/top_stories/288907/atheists-rally-for-inclusion-at-texas-freethought-convention)
Title: Re: Do YOU wish people would just give up religion?
Post by: screwtape 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...

Quote
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.

Quote
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.

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

I'm not sure what you mean.   

Quote
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. 
Title: Re: Do YOU wish people would just give up religion?
Post by: Nam on October 22, 2012, 09:59:50 AM
Faith: The absense of evidence.

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

-Nam
Title: Re: Do YOU wish people would just give up religion?
Post by: Pounamu 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?
Title: Re: Do YOU wish people would just give up religion?
Post by: Onesimus on October 23, 2012, 08:14:58 AM
Quote
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.

Title: Re: Do YOU wish people would just give up religion?
Post by: screwtape 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 (http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/forums/index.php/topic,22184.msg497664.html#msg497664) 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 (http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=why-does-the-brain-need-s)
 2. wasted?
Title: Re: Do YOU wish people would just give up religion?
Post by: screwtape 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. 

Title: Re: Do YOU wish people would just give up religion?
Post by: Pounamu 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 ;)
Title: Re: Do YOU wish people would just give up religion?
Post by: screwtape 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.
Title: Re: Do YOU wish people would just give up religion?
Post by: Nam 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.

-Nam
Title: Re: Do YOU wish people would just give up religion?
Post by: Hatter23 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.
Title: Re: Do YOU wish people would just give up religion?
Post by: Jag 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.
Title: Re: Do YOU wish people would just give up religion?
Post by: Jag 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!