Senate Atheism 4.0 - Now Discussing: Religiosity and intelligence

Discussion in 'Community' started by Lowbacca_1977, May 18, 2010.

  1. Fire_Ice_Death Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Feb 15, 2001
    star 7
    I think religious ideas exist because they're propagated in youth, mostly, and then carry over from there depending on how strict of a parent and religious upbringing that person has. I'm sure some people find them accurate, but when pressed for the 'why' they invariably make stuff up. This is not to say Atheists don't do the same thing as I've met a few who do the same thing--that's just a human thing. The trouble, as I've gotten older, is that it's really difficult to justify things with language and to describe why I feel the way I feel. You're trying to put words to thoughts and feelings which are not actually all that rational sometimes.

    So when pressed for reasons and such it's less of an emotive gut reaction and when people think about these things, their best reasoning often makes no sense because the feelings they're trying to express with words is inadequate to describe that feeling. I tend to disagree that the purpose of a religion isn't to sustain itself and there's plenty of examples with the 'Go forth and multiply' command and the quiverful movement. Now, these things aren't that widespread but the idea is to generally have kids, raise those kids in that faith, and the cycle repeats. Therefore on the whole the 'good book' is about the nice morals and the being good to everyone, but I tend to view that as window dressing to get followers to feel secure in their faith and less about actually doing those things.

    I do seriously question if these people believe that religion is an 'accurate explanation for the way the world works' or if they're just following repeated patterns that they've grown accustomed to from their youth and it's just....a philosophical inertia.
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  2. VadersLaMent Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Apr 3, 2002
    star 9
    More Millennials leaving religion

    This is much like what mormon leaders were complaining about recently(or perhaps just admitting to).

    "Christians can no longer hide in a bubble, sheltered from opposing perspectives, and church leaders can't protect young people from finding information that contradicts traditional beliefs."
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  3. anakinfansince1983 Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Mar 4, 2011
    star 7
    If the survival of one's religion is dependent upon adherents never being exposed to contradictory beliefs--is it really any wonder?

    I'd say if Christianity (and other religions) want to survive, they need to find a way to ensure that their core beliefs mesh with science.

    I think the "Christian Left"/Christian progressive movement types, which focus on Jesus of Nazareth's commands to "feed the hungry" and aren't so concerned the Pharisee legalism, have the best chance of surviving.


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  4. Jabbadabbado Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Mar 19, 1999
    star 7
    Christianity and Islam both depend on poverty and lack of opportunity to spread their faiths. Christianity is dying out in the industrialized world. Wherever there's wealth and high levels of literacy and education, religion eventually fails. Upward mobility has killed off the mainline protestant faiths in the U.S., so Christianity has backfilled with dumbed down doctrine that apeals to ignorant rubes in rural America and urban immigrant populations.
    Last edited by Jabbadabbado, Jul 31, 2013
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  5. Jabba-wocky Chosen One

    Member Since:
    May 4, 2003
    star 8
    I don't really see how that statement stands up to scrutiny at all. Take the US as an example. The two major scientific challenges (evolution and the early history of the universe) were already well known in scientific circles by the 1930s, and were part of public education by the 1960s. We've yet to see any impending collapse in religiosity.

    Indeed, major new religious movements continue apace, often coming from the more developed and industrialized regions. Again, even looking at the United States internally, the focus on the "Bible Belt" of the deep south neglects that much of the evangelical movement's leaders and theology hailed from the industrial Midwest.

    What you've said can't really account for any of this.
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  6. Jabbadabbado Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Mar 19, 1999
    star 7
    It's a slow process, but visible, with the United States being one of the places where it is least pronounced, as opposed to the rest of the developed world, where religiosity is collapsing among the educated and literate. Religion had such a strong foothold on western civilization that it will take many centuries to undo its influence.

    http://news.uchicago.edu/sites/all/files/attachments/Belief About God Across Time and Countries.pdf

    The tables show some of the trends over just a few decades.

    But even in the United States, only 35% of the population in 2008 was "certain God exists, always believed in God and strongly believe there is a personal God". Hard to imagine that being the case 100 years ago.

    It takes generations for societies to overcome thousands of years of lifetime indoctrination into religious belief. Also people are stuck with the hardwired flaws in human cognition that help make religious belief possible, so weeding religion out of a society is an extremely slow process.
    Last edited by Jabbadabbado, Jul 31, 2013
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  7. Jabba-wocky Chosen One

    Member Since:
    May 4, 2003
    star 8
    That still doesn't account for industrialized areas being the launchpad for new religious innovations. The evidence you are pointing to certainly demonstrates a re-alignment in the importance of religion. However, it's bold to the point of unwarranted to assume that the decline will only stop at 0%. What suggests this, exactly?

    I instead see the situation as much more analogous to the geopolitical trajectory of the post-war United States. Mostly by merit of being the only country left untouched by a massive wave of global devastation, it was for a time an overwhelming superpower. In subsequent decades, we've left that extraordinary circumstance, and drifted more towards the multi-polar world that was the prior status quo. Likewise, religion was for a long time yolked together with the state. This gave it incredible advantages both in terms of propagating its own message and vetoing contrary ones. Having choked out most of the space for discussions of alternative metaphysics, religion saw incredibly high acceptance rates. However, as it has become disentangled from the major organs of civil society, religiosity is drifting back towards the considerably smaller, but very much sustainable rate it would have had otherwise.
  8. Jabbadabbado Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Mar 19, 1999
    star 7
    I don't think it's a rapid process by any means, but rather the measured, lumbering trajectory from the enlightenment and age of reason into the industrial age and the modern world. Taking out the underpinnings of mandatory participation has been another important step along the way. Even without a state-sponsored religion, participation in a community church was a vital part of social life as recently as mid 20th century. Except in the south, that's no longer as true. I think even in the industrial midwest there's an income and education gap that helps drive people into the arms of religion. As a result, a century from now, being Christian will have even more of a class connotation than it is already starting to have now. In the U.S., the poor and uneducated will be Christian, just as increasingly in places like France, the poor and less educated are Muslim. There are always going to be poor, ignorant people to perpetuate supernatural belief systems.
    Last edited by Jabbadabbado, Jul 31, 2013
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  9. LostOnHoth Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Feb 15, 2000
    star 5
    There will always be smart, entrepreneurial people who will perpetuate supernatural belief systems to poor people which will ensure their continued poverty but will apparently secure their place in heaven after the Rapture.
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  10. drg4 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jul 30, 2005
    star 4
    Kinda ironic: A society that adheres to a Christian ethos ultimately undermines the dominance of Christianity itself.

    For some reason, I imagine the Jesus of the Gospels would take this with gentle humor. "I never said the way to the Truth is through universal health care, but it's nice to hear that you folks are finally taking care of each other."
  11. LostOnHoth Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Feb 15, 2000
    star 5
    I disagree that religious ideas exist because people find them to be accurate explanations of the way the world works. Finding out how the world works is really the realm of science. Religious ideas exist because human beings have very complex brains and we seek meaning and purpose to our very existence. Why are we here? What is the purpose of life? What happens when we die? As beings with a very highly developed sense of 'self', religious ideas provide answers to those questions in such a way as to also provide the answers that we actually seek, that is, that we are not alone in this world, that there is a higher authority ruled by a creator deity who can grant answers to our prayers, perform miracles and promise everlasting life. The first words of enquiry which are spoken by infants is inevitably "but why?". That really never stops. Religious ideas exist to give life meaning and purpose and nothing else.
    Last edited by LostOnHoth, Aug 9, 2013
  12. Jabbadabbado Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Mar 19, 1999
    star 7
    Cognition abhors a vacuum. There are questions that have no answer that can be divined from observation and return only silence. But from the earliest times people filled that silence with stories that provided comfort, particularly around the mental pain of death and grieving, which must be as old as cognition itself.
  13. timmoishere Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jun 2, 2007
    star 6
    See, I think it's better to have harsh truths than comfortable lies.
  14. drg4 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jul 30, 2005
    star 4
    I respect that, and in any other facet of life, it is a stance I take myself.

    I've never shied away from learning about the dark history of my country, about the Native genocide and the slave system and the imperialist wars. I've always listened to accounts of the skeletons that certain relatives (living or dead) have had in their respective closets.

    Despite this, I wish I could be a Christian spiritualist again. To believe that we are loved, that we're eternal, that in the end, the light will dispel all darkness. Understand, I know it ain't so, but the delusion is greatly preferable to the cold, meaningless reality.
  15. wannasee Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jan 24, 2007
    star 4
    Comfortable lies are beneficial physically, emotionally, and psychologically. Harsh truths are good for... not much.
  16. timmoishere Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jun 2, 2007
    star 6
    They're good for the truth. Reality is always preferable to delusion.
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  17. LostOnHoth Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Feb 15, 2000
    star 5
    But why does the reality have to harsh, cold or meaningless? The truth is we don't know what happens to us after we die but during our lifetime we do plenty of stuff which is meaningful, good and worthy of praise and remembrance. We don't need God to make our lives meaningful.
  18. timmoishere Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jun 2, 2007
    star 6
    I would argue that an atheist's life is more meaningful than a Christian's, because we recognize that this is the only life we get, so all of our experiences are that much more precious to us. It seems to me that a Christian's life is all a preparation for death, and so they don't enjoy life as much.

    Going back to what I said earlier, about the harshness of reality versus the comforts of delusion, think about Sansa's character arc in the ASOIAF series. She grows up thinking everything is a magical fairy tale, with all the knights and splendor and glory and how wonderful everything is. But turn she gets a harsh dose of reality once
    Show Spoiler
    Ned gets killed in front of her.
    As the Hound told her, "Life isn't a song, little bird."
    Last edited by timmoishere, Aug 10, 2013
  19. drg4 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jul 30, 2005
    star 4
    Reflect, for a moment, that every 2.3 - 5 seconds, (estimates vary) a child starves to death. From what I've read, it's an absolutely excruciating way to die. Just as absurd, sentimentalist religious platitudes fail to mitigate this, so does the insignificant stoicism of atheism. When all is said and done, the children in question lived short lives of unfathomable agony, and then returned to dust.

    As I wrote weeks ago, I understand why some people need to believe in an afterlife. Even if it's nonsense, it sure beats slashing one's wrists in despair.
  20. Arawn_Fenn Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Jul 2, 2004
    star 7
    Beneficial to the people telling the lie? Perhaps.

    Beneficial to those forced into poverty, disenfranchised from voting, barred from access to health care, barred from marriage, bullied, beaten, or killed by the people telling the lie?

    Not so much.

    Lying is not a virtue, and liars are not virtuous.
    Last edited by Arawn_Fenn, Aug 11, 2013
  21. ShaneP Ex-Mod Officio

    Member Since:
    Mar 26, 2001
    star 6
    I agree with you. However, does it have to be meaningless? Even when I was religious, I never bought into the preordained/destiny stuff. That was way too much involvement from a creator. That melted away from my mind as soon as I was 9 or 10.

    I think we can give reality meaning by living in it and taking part in it. Frankly, the idea of a all-knowing, all-seeing god who also likes to punish us often through famines, natural disasters, and disease, isn't a god I would want to be a part of.

    Better the reality that, sad as it can be, we can work to improve upon and progress as a species.

    It's scary because it's up to us. We have to be the adults now.

    It's just been in the last year or so that I've realized I'm a practicing atheist for lack of a better term. I'm not going to march. I'm not going to complain about nativity scenes at the local courthouse. I'm just going to live how I always have but with the realization that we, as of this moment, is all there is. We are our best hope for salvation. No one else.
    Last edited by ShaneP, Aug 12, 2013
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  22. LostOnHoth Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Feb 15, 2000
    star 5
    Life is not meaningless. Yes, there is suffering in the world but that should actually charge us into action rather than want to make us slash our wrists in despair. I agree 100% with @ShaneP that the only 'stark reality' is that we are on our own and there is no mystical/magical force guiding us and managing our personal destinies together with the destinies of billions of others in the world. For me that is not cold or empty or meaningless, it is actually a revelation.
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  23. drg4 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jul 30, 2005
    star 4
    I understand what you're all saying, but it's still a source of great pain that some people never had a chance, and never will; consequently, a godless cosmos is a reality I merely accept, but hardly cause for celebration.
  24. LostOnHoth Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Feb 15, 2000
    star 5
    Yes it is a source of great pain but that is part of what makes life meaningful. Such pain and suffering in others makes you appreciate your life and triggers that sense of empathy which drives you to help those who are worse off, regardless of our differences. In this regard, the fact that the cosmos is most likely godless is not a cause for celebration per se but it does help to remind us that we should treat others with empathy, decency and respect simply because that is how we would like to be treated ourselves as human beings and not because some magical creator god inspired some mortals to commit certain laws to writing a coupole of thousand years ago (and who has remained quiet ever since). It is much easier to reach out to a fellow human on this basis than with the clunky baggage of religion which invariably leads to exclusion because of some human trait which is perceived to be in conflict with the magical laws. The comfort that religion gives is simply the belief that those that suffer in this world will live forever in happiness and peace in another life beyond this one. While this may well be true, we can all do something about alleviating that suffering now, in this life, without reference to a god. God is irrelevent.

    That was my earlier point, some religious people just seem to waive away the ills of the world with empty platitudes about how better off everyone is in the next life with Jesus, rather than focusing on fixing things up in this lifetime or extending empathy to those who don't share their moral worldview. The most infuriating was that psycho chrsitian moron who declared how lucky the Sandy Hooks victims were because they got to visit with Jesus early.
    Last edited by LostOnHoth, Aug 12, 2013
  25. drg4 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jul 30, 2005
    star 4
    LostonHoth: You write beautifully, but I speak as one who simultaneously works, in my own way, to improve the lives of others while harboring a deep, abiding despair for those who are victimized and destroyed. Suffering does not engender feelings of gratitude or insight or awe, only outrage and sorrow.

    No matter how many people are saved, there will always be those who are lost. And what can be said for their lives? In lieu of a cosmic order, their stories end with the Crucifixion, with not even a glimmer of a hope for Resurrection. It's bloody and ugly and, yes, thoroughly, utterly meaningless.