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Thread: Are religious people somehow weaker than atheistic people?

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    Are religious people somehow weaker than atheistic people?



    I keep coming across atheists that somehow feel that religious people are weak. I don't get this perspective, as I feel that humans just can't deal with pure reality as pure reality, and all therefore have crutches to help them get through difficult times. To me, I see this particular atheistic perspective as arrogant, and somehow not true. I wish I could come up with something more solid, rather than just this vague feeling I have, at the moment what I want to say eludes me. Hope you can catch the gist of it.

    Other perspectives?
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    1 members found this post helpful.
    What do you mean by weak exactly ? If you mean unable to have principles or strict beliefs, or lacking self-control, then no. But if you mean lacking lacking independence of mind, being more influenceable or weaker at reasoning, then I would tend to agree on a general basis.
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    And that, my friend, is one twister of a question--as in hard to answer. It's a good one, and I found that I could not vote in any simple 'yes or no' fashion.

    I tend to see it as a matter of many factors playing upon each other or intersecting at points that make things such as brain-state (which includes active firing structures within it) upon which perhaps one could make a value judgement as to whether a particular brain were 'weak' or 'strong'.

    Of course I know that you had most likely been simply talking about a general and practical overall state of personality and how it is seen and shown in daily life, but I just can't help but feeling that we should be more thoughtful in such things.

    I hope I make sense....

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    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo
    What do you mean by weak exactly?
    A lot of atheists speak of God as a crutch to help theists get through difficult times. But as I read, faith in something goes some ways to raising one's happiness. An atheist might have some mantra of something that helps him/her get through difficult times, that being say, 'what doesn't kill you makes you stronger'. But for that to actually help an atheist, he must have some faith in that statement.

    I would agree with Karen Armstrong's statement that humans just aren't very good at dealing with reality in it's purity, and thus have faiths and other belief systems been born. In short, I think most everyone, regardless of belief system, has their crutches that help them get through difficult times.
    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo
    But if you mean.......or weaker at reasoning, then I would tend to agree on a general basis.
    I don't know that they are necessarily weaker at reasoning. It seems that some of them, in situations that don't involve challenging something that brings them a sense of comfort, are excellent at reasoning. I can certainly say I've met my share of atheists that don't seem terribly great at reasoning themselves, so where both sides stand in relation to powers of reasoning, I can't say.

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    I voted no, because I don't believe in using negative terms such as 'weak' or in labelling people in general. There are many different kinds of atheists and many different kinds of religious people who all have different strengths, talents and priorities.

    Why would an atheist want to call someone weak? That would suggest to me that their own interpersonal skills are underdeveloped, in that they don't anticipate the harm they may do in generalising about people in that way. That in itself could be considered a weakness.

    I think Revenant is absolutely right in pointing out that we all need coping strategies, irrespective of our beliefs. Whereas my Christian friends turn to god as a source of strength, I turn to science. The more I know about why things are the way they are, the better I feel - but the fact still remains that knowledge is no less a crutch for me than god is for a theist.

    I would add also that I believe we are all wired in a certain way, depending on our genes, the random ways in which our brain got wired during development, and the way our experiences have developed our characters. I think that wiring determines to a large extent the kind of experiences we are open to, and I don't think we are completely free to choose what we believe in. Logic and science will speak to some people, god will speak to others. I think most people are somewhere in between.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Revenant
    A lot of atheists speak of God as a crutch to help theists get through difficult times.
    So you mean emotionally weaker, because they need to believe in some kind of dreams to be happy ? I could agree with that to some extent.
    I would also think that a lot (not all) of religious people are "morally weak", and that is why they need other people (or their religion or holy book) to tell them what is right and what is wrong. That is maybe why some very religious people are also more influenceable and easier to manipulate (e.g. to turn them into terrorists, or to make them die fighting for their religion). In that sense they have a weaker "independence of mind".
    I can certainly say I've met my share of atheists that don't seem terribly great at reasoning themselves, so where both sides stand in relation to powers of reasoning, I can't say.
    I assumed that when you said Atheists, you meant "Strong Atheists" (people who are philosophically convinced of the non-existence of god or the non divine character of religions). "Weak Atheists" (those who just don't care about anything philosophic or spiritual) could be smaong those with the weakest reasoning skills (although again, not all).

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    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo
    So you mean emotionally weaker, because they need to believe in some kind of dreams to be happy ? I could agree with that to some extent.
    Is there a difference between finding coping strategies in ideas that lack scientific support and those that have a lot of scientific support?

    If religion is a lot like art, with ideas that move some, but not all, then we could compare it to a surreal painting that moves one, but does nothing to impress another who prefers more realistically painted art. In the end, it all comes down to our emotional lives, does it not? Can the person who is more deeply moved by realistic pictures say to the one who likes surreal that he is emotionally weaker?
    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo
    I would also think that a lot (not all) of religious people are "morally weak", and that is why they need other people (or their religion or holy book) to tell them what is right and what is wrong.
    Although looking at it from another perspective, perhaps they chose their beliefs because they could at least intellectually agree with the morals the belief system set forth.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Revenant
    Is there a difference between finding coping strategies in ideas that lack scientific support and those that have a lot of scientific support?
    I don't think that sciences brings any kind of emotional comfort regarding life after death or misery on earth. It takes guts to believe that once you die, that's it - there is no heaven, no eternal bliss, no trumpeting angels or horny virgins waiting for you.

    That is mostly the part that make me describe religious people as people deceiving themselves by living in dreams and lies. It brings them an artificial comfort unknown of people like me (no wonder I am so nervous and anxious, as I know I only have one life).

    If religion is a lot like art, with ideas that move some, but not all, then we could compare it to a surreal painting that moves one, but does nothing to impress another who prefers more realistically painted art.
    I don't think we are talking about the same aspects of religion. One doesn't need to be religious to be moved by even the most religious painting (e.g. Capella Sistina in the Vatican). Likewise, I can be moved by very irrational and nearly religious movies or books. But this is all for "personal enjoyment" -- that doesn't make it true. It's not because I enjoy watching a movie about the life of a saint, a priest or another religious figure that I believe in the metaphysics that they believe in. It's not because I enjoy watching irrational movies or anime that I believe in them. That's the same for religion. I can accept that people find comfort in joining religious communities to help each others, find a aim in their lives in following the teachings of a particular religion or religious leader, or even find solace in the "fairy tale" stories about heaven and all. But for me it's just another form of entertainment.

    It's like bedside stories we tell to children to make them sleep. They are comforting and pleaing for the imagination. But thatt doesn't make them true. It's fine to use them. But adults should at least know that they are not true. I just find it so sad that some people remain in a blissful childlike state during all their life, and really do believe that the prince charming or Santa Claus exist and will come (you understand that "prince charming or Santa Claus" are just metaphors for god or the divine providence).

    In the end, it all comes down to our emotional lives, does it not? Can the person who is more deeply moved by realistic pictures say to the one who likes surreal that he is emotionally weaker?
    I am a realist in matters of philosophy, because it concerns reality. In other words, "I am real when it comes to reality" (sounds strange to have to say it, though). But I can also enjoy a surrealist and even a deeply religious painting. Otherwise there would be no reason I could appreciate watching a so unrealistic Hollywood action movie, where people jump through window without getting a scatch, jump from a bridge onto a helicopter or miraculously survive an explosion. But I do. What;s the difference between an unrealistic action movie, and an unrealistic scene of heaven with a bearded god ? Why could I enjoy watching statues of Greco-Roman gods and not of a Christian figure ? What matters for me in art is esthetic beauty. The theme does not matter much, as long as the artistic talent is there.

    That's one of the cool things about not being religious - you can appreciate any form of religious art without thinking that you should care more (or only) about the one of your own religion. When I see Muslims destroying arts from other religions, it really make me sad. And it is not as much because of the material loss than feeling how superficial and nonsensical their religious convictions are. Of course Christians have been like that too. In history, we have seen that the invaders replaced the places of cults and statues of the losers' religion by the ones of their own religion. Roman temples were eventually destroyed or converted in Christian churches. When the Muslim invaded the Eastern Roman Empire and Spain, they destroyed or converted churches into mosques. When the Christians retook Spain, they did the same again. In Sicily, there are buildings which have served as Roman temple, church, mosque, then church again. All this because of the intolerance of (truly) religious people for the art forms of other religions.

    Although looking at it from another perspective, perhaps they chose their beliefs because they could at least intellectually agree with the morals the belief system set forth.
    This is why I say that they have a weak independence of mind or poor reasoning skills. They could very well set their own morals by thinking by themselves about what really matters for them. One could also freely learn about the various moral principles of all kinds of religions and people (famous ones, or just people you know), then compile their own moral rules, based on what one personally trust to be right. My observations have shown me that anyway if someone with a strong character who doesn't really believe that some moral rules will not follow them. And someone with a weak character, who cannot determine on their own what is right and what is wrong, will blindly follow what their moral or religious leader/advisor tell them (with potentially disastrous consequences).

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    I disagree that religious people are weaker than atheistic people.

    Quote Originally Posted by Revenant
    I don't know that they are necessarily weaker at reasoning. It seems that some of them, in situations that don't involve challenging something that brings them a sense of comfort, are excellent at reasoning.
    I don't agree with the suggestion that religious people by definition don't challenge or have never challenged 'something that brings them a sense of comfort' (i.e. their beliefs). On the contrary, many religious people go through times where they very much doubt their religion and question it a lot. Some religious people gave up the religion they'd been brought up to, lived for many years with no religion, and came to believe in a different religion later in their life. Other people never believed in anything but later on became to believe in a religion. You could hardly say that people who travelled these routes never questioned their belief because it was comfortable for them. On the contrary, I think that it's in human nature to be 'rebellious' and to challenge things that people try to force on us - one reason why a lot of people who were made to attend at a church as a child give up on this when they become older. I don't think it is in human nature to simply swallow what we're told. Human beings naturally have inquisitive minds. Of course, people have varying levels of intelligence and some people are bad at reasoning and not cut out for it. These people would be more likely just to 'believe' out of comfort or habit. But I doubt that they are in the great majority.

    Quote Originally Posted by Tsuyoiko
    I don't believe in using negative terms such as 'weak' or in labelling people in general. There are many different kinds of atheists and many different kinds of religious people who all have different strengths, talents and priorities.
    If you will excuse me for saying so, Tsuyoiko, when you are older than myself and a lot better at reasoning, that's a very sensible and mature point of view.

    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo
    I would also think that a lot (not all) of religious people are "morally weak", and that is why they need other people (or their religion or holy book) to tell them what is right and what is wrong.
    That thinking puzzles me. (I realise that you are not generalising, because you say 'not all' ^^) It looks from the viewpoint 'people believe what they are told by the holy book'. Evidently some people do. But is there not also a case for saying that people choose the 'holy book' and/or religion that they believe in because they find it in agreement with their own already thoughts and feelings? I'm not saying that this is always the case, of course; I'm just playing 'devil's advocate' if you like and saying that perhaps humanity en masse is less brainless and sheeplike than we're commonly given to believe...

    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo
    I don't think that sciences brings any kind of emotional comfort regarding life after death or misery on earth. It takes guts to believe that once you die, that's it - there is no heaven, no eternal bliss, no trumpeting angels or horny virgins waiting for you.

    That is mostly the part that make me describe religious people as people deceiving themselves by living in dreams and lies. It brings them an artificial comfort unknown of people like me.
    What makes you think there is any emotional comfort in the 'religious' idea of life after death? Personally, I would find it far more comforting to believe that there is nothing after we die. That way, I can get on with looking after number one and having a great time. Aren't there enough worries within life, without having to think about what happens after you die? It's hard enough to deal with responsibilities and consequences here and now. But to think that there isn't any escape from existance (in whatever form)... I find that quite disturbing.

    I suppose there are some people who think of death in terms of going to a place of eternal bliss and trumpeting angels and horny virgins. I can only say that that kind of naivety isn't the whole of religious belief. -_- It's not cool to mention 'hell' any more these days - because then you get accused of trying to scare people into following a religion - and I certainly wouldn't believe in a big pit of fire and brimstone waiting for us any more than I believe we sit on clouds playing harps. But who says it's all good after death? Anyone who does believe in some sort of existence after death but who doesn't think we have to deal with the consequences of our actions has to be naive in the extreme.

    Personally, I would be less nervous and anxious if I thought I had only one life. I have quite enough trouble coping with this one!

    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo
    It's like bedside stories we tell to children to make them sleep. They are comforting and pleasing for the imagination. But that doesn't make them true. It's fine to use them. But adults should at least know that they are not true. I just find it so sad that some people remain in a blissful childlike state during all their life.
    That is indeed the case for people who are prone to following like sheep, who have poor reasoning skills, and who never question their religion. But not all religious people fall into that category. I agree that it is very sad when people never move beyond the idea of 'God' that they were given as a child; some bearded man in the sky, and a heaven with white fluffy clouds and halos. But people do question their religion, people investigate various different religions, people spend time thinking on philosophy, going on journeys of self-discovery, even writing books about it. And when all is said and done, the crux point of what you are disagreeing about is simply (at its most basic level) the existence of an 'intelligence' that created the universe and sustains its existence. And that thing cannot be proved or disproved by reasoning alone, so atheists and non-atheists will always have to 'agree to disagree', and the belief in such an 'intelligence' does not preclude someone from being a rational and independent person.

    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo
    That's one of the cool things about not being religious - you can appreciate any form of religious art without thinking that you should care more (or only) about the one of your own religion.
    You are right, it is sad and narrow-minded to be unable to appreciate art forms outside of one's own religion. As an artist I cannot understand how people can do that, especially in destroying works of art and craft. Personally, as a Catholic, I cannot stand a lot of so-called 'art' works associated with my religion! (I don't mean great works of art, but rather, those horrible tacky pictures that seem to proliferate on prayer cards and Christian kitcsh. >_<)

    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo
    someone with a strong character who doesn't really believe that some moral rules will not follow them. And someone with a weak character, who cannot determine on their own what is right and what is wrong, will blindly follow what their moral or religious leader/advisor tell them
    That is the nub of the argument in the thread title, and it is quite true what you say there. That doesn't mean jack about 'religion'; it is about human nature. "A strong character who doesn't really believe that some moral rules will not follow them"... "Someone with a weak character, who cannot determine on their own what is right and what is wrong, will blindly follow what their moral or religious leader/advisor tell them". Sad but true.

    Oh s**t. I tried to be intelligent again... dangit.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo
    I don't think that sciences brings any kind of emotional comfort regarding life after death or misery on earth.
    I can tell you from personal experience that they do, for me at least! It brings me a lot of comfort to believe that whatever mistakes I make ultimately don't matter for me, as no matter who you are you will get the same fate after death. Science and rational thinking also bring me a lot of comfort in everyday life. If I am feeling anxious I know that it's not because I'm weak, but because my genes made me that way.
    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo
    That is mostly the part that make me describe religious people as people deceiving themselves by living in dreams and lies.
    That assumes that they could believe otherwise if they only tried. I don't think that's always true. IMO, religious people don't see reason as the answer to everything because their brains aren't wired that way. Try as I might, I can't get my husband to understand quantum theory because he doesn't have a logical mind - but his mind is far more creative and spontaneous than mine. I can't write poetry or defend someone in a disciplinary hearing. Which of us is weak?
    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo
    I can accept that people find comfort in joining religious communities to help each others, find a aim in their lives in following the teachings of a particular religion or religious leader, or even find solace in the "fairy tale" stories about heaven and all. But for me it's just another form of entertainment.
    Even if you're right, I don't think that makes them weak. It just means they have different priorities. Your priority (and mine) is to acquire knowledge that we can be sure applies to reality. A religious person's priority might be to believe in a worldview that makes sense of the world from their own personal perspective and helps them to be a stronger person.
    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo
    It's like bedside stories we tell to children to make them sleep. They are comforting and pleaing for the imagination. But thatt doesn't make them true. It's fine to use them. But adults should at least know that they are not true. I just find it so sad that some people remain in a blissful childlike state during all their life, and really do believe that the prince charming or Santa Claus exist and will come (you understand that "prince charming or Santa Claus" are just metaphors for god or the divine providence).
    The difference is that no-one sees any evidence for the existence of these characters. But they do see the evidence for the existence of god, even if we don't. Whether they are wrong in our opinion is irrelevant - they are basing that belief on the evidence of their own senses so it is not a true analogy to compare it to a fairytale. Perhaps you are aware of the findings of Robert Trivers on self-deception. It has been shown that often people just don't know when their perceptions don't tally with reality - that is human nature, not weakness.
    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo
    When I see Muslims destroying arts from other religions, it really make me sad. And it is not as much because of the material loss than feeling how superficial and nonsensical their religious convictions are.
    I'm sure most religious people feel sad too. Don't forget that fundamentalists are a minority.
    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo
    In history, we have seen that the invaders replaced the places of cults and statues of the losers' religion by the ones of their own religion. Roman temples were eventually destroyed or converted in Christian churches. When the Muslim invaded the Eastern Roman Empire and Spain, they destroyed or converted churches into mosques. When the Christians retook Spain, they did the same again. In Sicily, there are buildings which have served as Roman temple, church, mosque, then church again. All this because of the intolerance of (truly) religious people for the art forms of other religions.
    We all know that atheists have been responsible for some atrocities too
    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo
    This is why I say that they have a weak independence of mind or poor reasoning skills.
    Are independence of mind and reasoning skills precious? Does everyone need them to the same extent? I value kindness but I don't expect everyone to be a 'people person'.
    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo
    They could very well set their own morals by thinking by themselves about what really matters for them.
    Only if you assume that everyone has the ability or will to do that. Some people might prefer their morality 'off-the-peg', either because they don't have the skills to decide for themselves, or they have other priorities. I might wonder why someone buys jewellery when I can just make my own.
    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo
    My observations have shown me that anyway if someone with a strong character who doesn't really believe that some moral rules will not follow them. And someone with a weak character, who cannot determine on their own what is right and what is wrong, will blindly follow what their moral or religious leader/advisor tell them (with potentially disastrous consequences).
    I think even most religious people pick and choose to some extent. And for those who blindly follow, can we be sure that the consequences would have been any better had they decided for themselves? My sister-in-law makes her own moral decisions, but I wish she'd seek advice from the church!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tsuyoiko
    I can tell you from personal experience that they do, for me at least! It brings me a lot of comfort to believe that whatever mistakes I make ultimately don't matter for me, as no matter who you are you will get the same fate after death. Science and rational thinking also bring me a lot of comfort in everyday life. If I am feeling anxious I know that it's not because I'm weak, but because my genes made me that way.
    Sciences comfort you about your place in society and tells you more about you or the way human beings function (I include psychology in sciences of course). But it does not answer the same questions as religion or philosophy.

    Sciences does not comfort you about death. Its not because you know that everybody gets the same fate that it makes you less anxious about dying, does it ? To control this natural instinct to fear death, you need something else. In my case, it is my (rational, but not proven) assumption that the universe is eternal and that so we are, as we will have an infinity of chances in the future to live again (i.e. the matter that compose us will organise itself into other life beings again and again, forever). This is not science. It is philosophy. It's hard to live without both religion and philosophy. Irrational people choose the former, rational people the latter (even if you are not aware of it, you certainly have your own non-scientific convictions too).

    That assumes that they could believe otherwise if they only tried. I don't think that's always true. IMO, religious people don't see reason as the answer to everything because their brains aren't wired that way. Try as I might, I can't get my husband to understand quantum theory because he doesn't have a logical mind - but his mind is far more creative and spontaneous than mine. I can't write poetry or defend someone in a disciplinary hearing. Which of us is weak?
    It's fine that they brain is not wired that way. Not everybody has the mental capabilities to understand the truth about reality. In fact, we all do at different levels. I am just saying that deeply religious people have some kind of cognitive impairment that prevents them from understanding reality as much as others do. I am just observing, stating facts, not judging.

    Even if you're right, I don't think that makes them weak. It just means they have different priorities.
    "Weak" does not have a meaning of its own. Someone is weak at something. Another person at something else. I am just saying that they are weaker at logical reasoning. They might be stronger at other things.

    Your priority (and mine) is to acquire knowledge that we can be sure applies to reality. A religious person's priority might be to believe in a worldview that makes sense of the world from their own personal perspective and helps them to be a stronger person.
    Good for them. As you said, we have different priorities. What I dislike is when religious people claim that they "know the truth", when they are actually less able to distinguish reality.

    Perhaps you are aware of the findings of Robert Trivers on self-deception.
    Very interesting. Maybe we are all deceiving ourselves on different levels. After all, we are only humans, with limited cognitive skills and hampering emotions and physical needs.

    We all know that atheists have been responsible for some atrocities too
    I agree.

    Are independence of mind and reasoning skills precious? Does everyone need them to the same extent? I value kindness but I don't expect everyone to be a 'people person'.
    Agreed that they are precious to me. It's fine that some other people don't value them as much, but I don't want to tell me that I am wrong at stuff that require independence of mind and reasoning skills when they come up with irrational arguments. Concretely, I still do not accept that my religion teachers at school had to be right when their arguments were not logical or rational, and that they gave me bad marks just because I didn't believe in their religion. This is forcing a personal opinion onto somebody else, or discriminating against them regarding the marks. I became anti-Christian because Christian proselytisers forced me too.

    Only if you assume that everyone has the ability or will to do that. Some people might prefer their morality 'off-the-peg', either because they don't have the skills to decide for themselves, or they have other priorities. I might wonder why someone buys jewellery when I can just make my own.
    Jewellery is superficial and only pleases one's ego (like many other material goods). Well, pleasing one's ego is part and parcel of being human, but it's shouldn't be a priority. Morals is necessary on a daily basis for humans to live in society. Taking it 'off-the-peg' can be extremely dangerous. There would be no religious terrorists/criminals without 'off-the-peg' morals. Is that not an important enough reason ?

    I think even most religious people pick and choose to some extent.
    That is what I wanted to say. Religious people with a strong character eventuallu end up picking and choosing what morals suits them in their religion (so what's the purpose of religion for them ?). Religious people of weak character end up being manipulated by religious leaders. That's inevitable... in a world with religions.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Kinsao
    That thinking puzzles me. (I realise that you are not generalising, because you say 'not all' ^^)
    In fact, I am generalising because I am saying 'not all'. I would make it absolute if I said 'all'. A generality represents a trend (let's say 30 to 90%), not something that is true in all cases. But don't worry, I do not count the number of times that people have misused the word "generalising" on this forum or in real life. Just remember that "generally" does not mean "always".

    Quote Originally Posted by Kinsao
    I agree that it is very sad when people never move beyond the idea of 'God' that they were given as a child; some bearded man in the sky, and a heaven with white fluffy clouds and halos. But people do question their religion, people investigate various different religions, people spend time thinking on philosophy, going on journeys of self-discovery, even writing books about it. And when all is said and done, the crux point of what you are disagreeing about is simply (at its most basic level) the existence of an 'intelligence' that created the universe and sustains its existence.
    Once you have reached that point in your reflection, it is not a matter of atheism vs religiousity, but atheism vs deism. If you believe in an non-human-like god, you are already beyond Christianity, Islam, Hinduism or most of the traditional religions. If you believe that this god does not judge us in our daily lives because It doesn't really care about us petty humans (why would It judge humans and not animals, humans and not other intelligent beings somewhere else in the immensity of the universe), then your are a Deist (as opposed to a Theist, who believe that god(s) intervene in his/her life or judge him/her).

    If you believe that moral is relative, and that holy scriptures can be interpreted in many different (right) ways, you are also beyond one particular religion - you are a Universalist (= "all religions have some good points, from which anyone can take what they like").

    You can be both a Deist and a Universalist, btw. But most of them do not fall under my definition of "religious", because they follow their own beliefs, not an organised religion with clearly stamped out beliefs or rules.

    As I said earlier, everybody needs to believe in something to control their fear of death or give a meaning to their life. Even I. Some people choose the rational way (philosophy), others the irrational way (religion, myths). Those with an independent mind will make their own philosophy or religious beliefs, while others will choose the easy way (off-the-peg religions/philosophies). Universalists are in between, as they take elements from ready-made religions/philosophies, and combine what they like in each (so it's not their ideas, but it's their combination).

    In short :

    - Own philosophy => for rational and independent-minded people
    - Acquired philosophy => for rational but not independent-minded people (rare)
    - Own rational & irrational, philosophic and/or religious beliefs (Universalism) => for balanced people who need both rational and irrational beliefs and are quite independent-minded.
    - Own religious beliefs => for irrational but independent-minded people (fairly rare too)
    - 'Off-the-peg' religion (i.e. following exactly and without contestation an organised religion) => for irrational and not independent-minded people.

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    Kinsao, I made a generalization, and it is not entirely well-founded. I agree, some religious folk do evaluate their faith a lot. In part, what I wrote was in regards to, for example, creationists. Some people have walked creationists through the experiments, and explained carefully how it all works, and even after all that, does the creationist adhere strongly to a Young Earth. These same people do fine in other areas of reason, but that doesn't carry over into science that challenges their faith.
    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo
    I don't think that sciences brings any kind of emotional comfort regarding life after death or misery on earth. It takes guts to believe that once you die, that's it - there is no heaven, no eternal bliss, no trumpeting angels or horny virgins waiting for you.
    This sort of sounds the reverse of what some Christians feel, they feel it takes guts to live as a true Christian, giving up many things including in some circles social acceptance. It takes for some Christians a struggle to maintain some faith that there will be a heaven.

    As to the misery on earth, science brings absolutely no comfort as I see it. This is sort of where religion comes in for some. A Buddhist can believe that even their relatives are paying their karmic consequences, and Christian can believe that there will be justice later on.
    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo
    That is mostly the part that make me describe religious people as people deceiving themselves by living in dreams and lies. It brings them an artificial comfort unknown of people like me (no wonder I am so nervous and anxious, as I know I only have one life).
    Looking at history, or one theory of what went down in history, the current orthodox Christianity became more popular than the other versions, i.e. Gnostic Christianity for that very reason, that there is less reason to fear death, and that there will be hope for justice, and a happier existence.

    It is a paradigm that gives some people the courage to do as they feel is correct. Take the Christian woman who was eventually killed, she spent her time trying to keep the rainforests from being cut down, and the locals from being uprooted by ranchers. Standing up to ranchers in Brazil just isn't something that people who want to keep this life do, but brandishing Bible in hand, she faced down hired assassins.

    In some ways, if happiness is the end goal, and taking on beliefs that aren't supported by science help people deal with life, and feel that they are living for a larger cause than themselves, then religion fits the bill very well. Humans are driven by emotions, and it is towards pleasure that humans strive.
    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo
    I don't think we are talking about the same aspects of religion. One doesn't need to be religious to be moved by even the most religious painting (e.g. Capella Sistina in the Vatican). Likewise, I can be moved by very irrational and nearly religious movies or books. But this is all for "personal enjoyment" -- that doesn't make it true. It's not because I enjoy watching a movie about the life of a saint, a priest or another religious figure that I believe in the metaphysics that they believe in. It's not because I enjoy watching irrational movies or anime that I believe in them. That's the same for religion. I can accept that people find comfort in joining religious communities to help each others, find a aim in their lives in following the teachings of a particular religion or religious leader, or even find solace in the "fairy tale" stories about heaven and all. But for me it's just another form of entertainment.
    I was making a comparison between religion and art. Let's take a different example then. When I'm feeling down, or discouraged, listening to some Final Fantasy tracks will often help me get out of the funk. The same tune would do nothing for some, and it would even annoy others. I see religion as a lot like music, with beautiful and romantic ideas that deeply move some people, and sometimes a lot more deeply than just music or movies, cause there is a lot of actualy belief invested in them.

    It should be noted that at least I see religion as a step higher than music or movies, in that it is a system, that for those who take the time to carefully understand and follow their religion, includes a set of very admirable morals.
    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo
    It's like bedside stories we tell to children to make them sleep. They are comforting and pleasing to the imagination. But that doesn't make them true. It's fine to use them. But adults should at least know that they are not true. I just find it so sad that some people remain in a blissful childlike state during all their life, and really do believe that the prince charming or Santa Claus exist and will come (you understand that "prince charming or Santa Claus" are just metaphors for god or the divine providence).
    Apart from pointing out that we don't know for certain that their beliefs aren't true, and anyone making a claim then has the burden of proof (a theist claiming God exists must prove that, as an atheist claiming that a God doesn't exist must also povide proof), I hardly see what is wrong with bliss. If someone is happy and moral, even if their faith isn't supported by science, I give them that they found happiness, and that to me seems the goal of life, to find a happiness in purpose, meaning, and connection.
    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo
    This is why I say that they have a weak independence of mind or poor reasoning skills. They could very well set their own morals by thinking by themselves about what really matters for them. One could also freely learn about the various moral principles of all kinds of religions and people (famous ones, or just people you know), then compile their own moral rules, based on what one personally trust to be right.
    The cross section of people without independence of mind or poor reasoning skills includes both atheists and religious people. We discuss the religious people with poor reasoning skills quite a lot here, but there are a lot of secular folk who also don't carefully reason. They fall into all the popular opinions, etc, that abound. It is now 'popular' in some parts to dislike the white protestant Christian male. They are symbolic of the 'us vs them' struggle against fundamentalism in America.
    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo
    My observations have shown me that anyway if someone with a strong character who doesn't really believe that some moral rules will not follow them. And someone with a weak character, who cannot determine on their own what is right and what is wrong, will blindly follow what their moral or religious leader/advisor tell them (with potentially disastrous consequences).
    I agree.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Revenant
    This sort of sounds the reverse of what some Christians feel, they feel it takes guts to live as a true Christian, giving up many things including in some circles social acceptance. It takes for some Christians a struggle to maintain some faith that there will be a heaven.
    Maybe the situation is different in the USA where there are so many Christian denominations and one easily falls in the minority. But when I speak about Christianity, I usually mean the Catholic version, which is by far the most widespread on Earth (over a billion followers, officially), and the dominant and often only denomination in most of Europe, the Philippines and all Latin America.

    In such countries, being a Catholic is being in the mainstream, so do like everybody else (or follow family tradition). Few Catholics really believe in hell or eternal damnation nowadays (unlike 50 years ago). In fact, the present Catholic Church should be called Reformed Catholic Church, after they changed so many beliefs during the Second Vatican Council in 1962-5. Pachipro explained this quite well here.
    Quote Originally Posted by Revenant
    When I'm feeling down, or discouraged, listening to some Final Fantasy tracks will often help me get out of the funk. The same tune would do nothing for some, and it would even annoy others. I see religion as a lot like music, with beautiful and romantic ideas that deeply move some people, and sometimes a lot more deeply than just music or movies, cause there is a lot of actualy belief invested in them.
    I like your comparison of religion with music. However, keep in mind that human beings almost never kill each others over different tastes in music as they have done again and again with religion.

    Quote Originally Posted by Revevant
    Apart from pointing out that we don't know for certain that their beliefs aren't true, and anyone making a claim then has the burden of proof (a theist claiming God exists must prove that, as an atheist claiming that a God doesn't exist must also povide proof),
    Yes, that's right. However, I have never heard any solid argument that can prove the existence of a human-like god like the one described by the Bible or Koran. However, it is very easy to prove that such a god cannot exist (I explained that briefly [url=http://www.eupedia.com/forum/showpost.php?p=292750&postcount=3]here[/url).
    Quote Originally Posted by Revenant
    I hardly see what is wrong with bliss. If someone is happy and moral, even if their faith isn't supported by science, I give them that they found happiness, and that to me seems the goal of life, to find a happiness in purpose, meaning, and connection.
    Maybe because in French "bliss" has become a near synonym of "stupidity", if not "mental retardation". I agree that finding happiness is very important. But do you sincerely believe that a higher proportion of religious people are happy compared to non-religious people ? I see that people who live in misery, uncertainty and experience wars tend to be more religious, and those most educated, richest and with the most fulfilling life are often the least religious (that's why religion has lost a lot of grounds in the West after WWII, when ordinary people started getting more prospeous and better educated). So that seem to invertly correlate with happiness...

    Quote Originally Posted by Revenant
    The cross section of people without independence of mind or poor reasoning skills includes both atheists and religious people. We discuss the religious people with poor reasoning skills quite a lot here, but there are a lot of secular folk who also don't carefully reason. They fall into all the popular opinions, etc, that abound. It is now 'popular' in some parts to dislike the white protestant Christian male. They are symbolic of the 'us vs them' struggle against fundamentalism in America.
    The problem is again the dual meaning of Atheist (strong vs weak). Strong atheists are supposed to be able to justify the non-existence of god through logical reasoning. Those who don't care to do it or have never wondered about it are "Weak Atheists".
    Last edited by Maciamo; 16-05-06 at 22:04.

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    I thought the Belgians spoke French, perhaps I'm wrong. I just ask cause my handlename here is Revenant, and that according to the dictionary is french for one who returns from the dead. Anyhow.
    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo
    I like your comparison of religion with music. However, keep in mind that human beings almost never kill each others over different tastes in music as they have done again and again with religion.
    I would say that fears or arrogance in which the very religion spoke against were often the cause of the wars. Socioeconomics also often played a massive, if not larger role in wars and massacres. The Koran as I understand it is a violent inner struggle against disbelief, anger, greed, etc. Other religions also speak against these same traits.

    To me, some experiences are hard to put into words, like deep realizations. Let's take sex for example, how hard would it be to describe sex to one who has never had such an experience?

    How much harder would religious realizations be, such as a falling away of pride, or a deep respect and even fear at the delicate beauty of life? In various ways, have many religions attempted to formulate what works, although as I see it some of the actual teachings got lost in struggles for legitimacy or unification.
    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo
    [url=[quote=Revevant]]here[/url).
    Could you fix that link?
    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo
    Maybe because in French "bliss" has become a near synonym of "stupidity", if not "mental retardation". I agree that finding happiness is very important. But do you sincerely believe that a higher proportion of religious people are happy compared to non-religious people ? I see that people who live in misery, uncertainty and experience wars tend to be more religious, and those most educated, richest and with the most fulfilling life are often the least religious (that's why religion has lost a lot of grounds in the West after WWII, when ordinary people started getting more prospeous and better educated). So that seem to invertly correlate with happiness...
    That is a parallel that my father also drew. I don't know that people are actually happier, it would seem that a certain level of materialism is needed for happiness, but above that, it all becomes irrelevant to one's search for happiness.

    Educations can give one a lot of knowledge, but there can come a point when one simply has to stop sitting on the fence, and decide what one really believes. An education, with all of the learned skepticism that comes with it, can sometimes actually hamper effective action and even happiness. As some Thai Buddhist masters point out, American Buddhists play fast and furious with Buddha's comment that they are to take nothing on that doesn't make sense to them. A lot of effective action comes from associating great pain with an action one shouldn't do, and great pleasure with an action one should do. So a Buddhist who honestly believes that unless he meditates and pursues the Buddhist path with great sincerity, he will likely live the next life with more karmic suffering.

    Religions still provide paradigms for dealing with difficult times, and it's easier to think that the African who was born hungry, slept on the cold street, and died at the hands of an ethnic cleanser would find happiness or a better life later, than it was just 'tough luck' for him.
    Last edited by Revenant; 16-05-06 at 22:26.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rrevvanmt
    I thought the Belgians spoke French, prehaps I'm wrong. I just ask cause my handlename here is Revenant, and that according to the dictionary is french for one who returns from the dead. Anyhow.
    Mistyping can happen to anyone (especially to me - yeah, I definitely shouldn't watch TV while typing ). FYI, only about one third of the Belgians speak French as their mother tongue.

    Btw, I fixed the link.

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    It is doubtful to think, that " the believing person " and "atheist" strongly differ from each other - both that and another "trust"... One - in the God... Another - in the person, in itself...
    "Faithless" people are not present... Everyone trust in this or that...
    Unfortunately, so has developed, that the belief in the God became simply expectation of " certain instant or other Miracle " and it now is considered "Belief"...
    "Belief" is completely other... Already for a long time forgotten by people...
    And in the given question the question is only "motivation"...

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    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo
    Maybe the situation is different in the USA where there are so many Christian denominations and one easily falls in the minority. But when I speak about Christianity, I usually mean the Catholic version, which is by far the most widespread on Earth (over a billion followers, officially), and the dominant and often only denomination in most of Europe, the Philippines and all Latin America.

    In such countries, being a Catholic is being in the mainstream, so do like everybody else (or follow family tradition).
    This is slightly askance from the main topic, but I just wanted to point out that the situation is different in England, where Catholics are a minority group.

    Sorry for randomness; I just find that people often forget that. There is a lot of prejudice against Catholics in England, despite the genteel C of E veneer. :


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    Quote Originally Posted by Kinsao
    This is slightly askance from the main topic, but I just wanted to point out that the situation is different in England, where Catholics are a minority group.
    Sorry for randomness; I just find that people often forget that. There is a lot of prejudice against Catholics in England, despite the genteel C of E veneer. :
    The Church of England/Scotland and Catholicism (well, not the Roman variety) is basically the same from the point of view the dogma/beliefs, which is what we are discussing here.

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    Sorry to go a bit offtopic Revenant
    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo
    Sciences does not comfort you about death. Its not because you know that everybody gets the same fate that it makes you less anxious about dying, does it ?
    Yes, that's exactly what it does. What neuroscience tells me about consciousness means I don't have to be anxious about what will happen, as I 'know' that when my brain dies, I die. What I feel instead is a kind of annoyance that I won't have time to do everything I would like and a sadness that I will leave people behind. The anxiety I feel relates to the worry that I will not leave a legacy or that I will be in pain. But the biggest anxiety - the uncertainty about what will happen - it was science that dispelled that for me.
    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo
    To control this natural instinct to fear death, you need something else. In my case, it is my (rational, but not proven) assumption that the universe is eternal and that so we are, as we will have an infinity of chances in the future to live again (i.e. the matter that compose us will organise itself into other life beings again and again, forever).
    That might work for you but is useless for me. I know that the atoms composing me are only borrowed. They aren't the same ones I was born with and I won't keep them all my life. I am not the matter that composes me - I am the electrical and chemical activity in my brain, and that will stop when I die. My atoms might end up in some other creature someday, but that won't help me finish Russian literature, or visit Mars. Your deriving comfort from that is as incomprehensible to me as a Christian's belief in heaven

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    Quote Originally Posted by Revenant
    As to the misery on earth, science brings absolutely no comfort as I see it.
    Just as a couple of examples, how about the likelihood that scientists will find cures for many diseases or develop solutions to environmental threats?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tsuyoiko
    Yes, that's exactly what it does. What neuroscience tells me about consciousness means I don't have to be anxious about what will happen, as I 'know' that when my brain dies, I die. What I feel instead is a kind of annoyance that I won't have time to do everything I would like and a sadness that I will leave people behind. The anxiety I feel relates to the worry that I will not leave a legacy or that I will be in pain. But the biggest anxiety - the uncertainty about what will happen - it was science that dispelled that for me.
    Do you mean that you are never worried about or afraid of dying beyond the sadness of leaving people behind or your legacy ? Wouldn't you be afraid of having a gun stuck on your forehead, or a deadly spider walk on your hand ?
    That might work for you but is useless for me. I know that the atoms composing me are only borrowed. They aren't the same ones I was born with and I won't keep them all my life. I am not the matter that composes me - I am the electrical and chemical activity in my brain, and that will stop when I die.
    I think you are mistaken. We have the impression of continuity of the self (feeling oneself and not another) because our nervous system basically keeps the same cells, molecules and atoms from our birth to our death. Neurons do not regenerate themselves (or an tiny amount in some cases). That's why we are not immortal and our body ages. Our memory and mental faculties decline with the years because of that. I agree that the rest of our body cells are only borrowed atoms and energy though.

    My atoms might end up in some other creature someday, but that won't help me finish Russian literature, or visit Mars.
    Yes, but it comforts me to know that I will experience again that feeling of existence, of being me, again sometime in a probably very distant future. As I won't feel time passing between the death of my current nervous system and the development of the new one (almost certainly not as a homo sapiens, and maybe not on this earth though), there could still be some kind of feeling of continuity between lives. It's just that we have absolutely no memory of previous forms as life beings, and are almost never twice living as the same creature from one time to the next.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo
    Do you mean that you are never worried about or afraid of dying beyond the sadness of leaving people behind or your legacy ? Wouldn't you be afraid of having a gun stuck on your forehead, or a deadly spider walk on your hand ?
    I would be afraid in those situations because of my human nature - it would be an instinctual reaction. But my reasoned, rational response is not one of fear.
    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo
    I think you are mistaken. We have the impression of continuity of the self (feeling oneself and not another) because our nervous system basically keeps the same cells, molecules and atoms from our birth to our death. Neurons do not regenerate themselves (or an tiny amount in some cases).
    Oops, you're right - though of course much of the chemistry is transient. Still, I'm more than my atoms!
    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo
    Yes, but it comforts me to know that I will experience again that feeling of existence, of being me, again sometime in a probably very distant future.
    OK, I sort of get it. But since it's based entirely on (rational) speculation it's not for me. I need proof.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo
    Wouldn't you be afraid of having a gun stuck on your forehead, or a deadly spider walk on your hand ?
    I think most people are afraid of undergoing pain, regardless of their ideas about what might happen when they die. I know that I personally am more afraid of being in pain than of actually dying.

    Yes, but it comforts me to know that I will experience again that feeling of existence, of being me, again sometime in a probably very distant future. As I won't feel time passing between the death of my current nervous system and the development of the new one (almost certainly not as a homo sapiens, and maybe not on this earth though), there could still be some kind of feeling of continuity between lives. It's just that we have absolutely no memory of previous forms as life beings, and are almost never twice living as the same creature from one time to the next.
    Am I right in thinking that is a belief in reincarnation, of a sort? (That's not meant to be some sort of trick question; I'm just curious! )

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    Small "sketch"...
    Life expectancy of the person as it is told in the Bible, has been reduced... To speed up...
    Under one version - expiation of its fall...
    On another - search by the person of the perfect condition...
    (versions both for believers and for atheists)
    From the second version also follows - that "body" only "design" for comprehension by the Universe...
    Comprehension development of the given form...
    "Consciousness" - only information set of images and technologies of thinking (construction of ideas in logic chains...)
    Therefore - people and their consciousness only a set of images and chains of ideas typed in biologically
    Concerning an independent design - "body"...
    And their "emotions" is only images and chains of reflections...
    Differently - we only think, that we exist...
    In a reality - there are only " information sets ", "written down" in independent time forms(bodys)...
    .................................................. ............................................

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