First of all, let me take the opportunity to say that I have become increasingly convinced that virtually any statement (positive, negative, or neutral) that anyone makes about religion as such—“Religion is this” or “Religion does that”—is, at best, a half-truth. Religion is such a large and multi-faceted thing that it’s hard to say anything that is true about all of it.
Well, for one thing I try not to lump them/you all together. For instance, I think there are indeed some atheists who have made a deliberate choice not to believe; but there are also some who would like to believe but find themselves unable to; and there are some who haven’t (yet?) encountered a religion or an idea of God that’s worth believing in.
I do not “choose” to not believe. For much of my life, I really wanted to believe and tried hard to. For a little bit, I kinda halfway did. But it didn’t stick. The only thing I chose to do is stop lying to myself. And I chose to stop going through the motions of praying and going to church.
I think a lot of so-called believers are really no different from me, except that they either don’t know they are lying to themselves or they think that faking it wil eventually accomplish something.
This applies for me as well. I am generally well disposed with folks who are agnostic or atheist, except for those who basically treat it as some sort of game to disparage my beliefs or play 20 questions on various religious trivia. Aside from that, I have no issues at all with atheists or agnostics. Heck, I was an atheist for 10 years.
A religious mindset is something you either have or you haven’t. I think it of it as something like an ear for music. If you have it, it matters more to you than you think, and it becomes part of your life. If you don’t, it doesn’t and you don’t miss it. I don’t see any more point in arguing about itin terms of right and wrong than I would in trying to persuade someone to change their mind about their mother.
The only area of debate, for me, is over the extent to which religion or non-religion should influence general social life. The fact that you or I believe something, or not, doesn’t of itself mean it should govern anyone else’s life - that has to be determined by a broader test of common public benefit.
For average people it’s cultural inertia and sense of community. If everyone around you is X, there’s a lot of pressure to fit in. Even if you don’t believe or have doubts you can go to church, network, be seen as an upstanding member of the community, sing some songs, feel connected to a tradition much older than you are (and which will outlast you), hit on that girl two pews over, have something to talk about with a stranger you’d otherwise have nothing in common with, etc. This is especially valuable in today’s society, where most forms of community have been smashed and people are more atomized than ever.
Don’t forget the tribalism and childhood indoctrination.
Most people want to be optimists and feel like the world is just or is ordered for them or poetic in some way, so nihilist philosophies will always be minorities. Even if you scratch a lot of atheists you find someone who’s “spiritual,” or they latch onto religious replacements like conspiracy theories or fantasy fiction or various flavors of woo. I’m a stone cold atheist but I love reading about mythologies from all over the world, cults, etc.
A lot of married guys I know go to church for the sake of the family. They don’t really believe, but the wife does, and she wants the kids to grow up with religion.
In my own case, I was about 14 when I realized I didn’t believe in God. But I still went to Mass every Sunday with my family, and I’d even take communion. It was just a ritual thing I had been doing since I was a kid. It’s like you compartmentalize and don’t think going to Church = believe in God. When I was 17 and went away to college, it never once occurred to me to go the Mass, since I wasn’t living with my family anymore. It wasn’t a conscious decision-- it was just something that I didn’t do anymore.
I think for a lot of people it’s just something you do without thinking about it too much. Why do you cheer for the home team instead of the team you think is the best?
I was brought up in a religious family and was, I guess, “indoctrinated” in the sense that my mother in particular was a believer. I never believed any of it for one moment. I didn’t say that to my family when I was young because I didn’t want to hurt their feelings, mostly. When I got to college I just stopped participating in any religious things. No one ever pressured me to fit in. Never. Not my family, not my friends who were religious, not anyone. Maybe I am just too blind to see when I’m being pressured, but I don’t feel like anyone has ever tried to get me to change my mind or anything. I guess some people may feel pressured but I have not seen it.
ETA sorry I realize this is not what the OP was asking about. Forgive the hijack.
Indeed it is. Religion consists of a vast number of people believing in a vast number of different gods to be worshiped in a vast number of ways, with a vast number of moral and ethical guidelines.
And religious people often take this as evidence that they are right.
I believe what they feel like there accomplishing is security because in life there is a lot of uncertainties like death and so in this very confusing situation, they tried to provide it with an answer, and that is religion. For me I felt that the answer to the issue of death didn’t seem to be good enough. For instance, humanity has been praying for a very long time throughout history for this so called God to return and help guide humanity in the right direction because as you can see now with how bad things are these days with global warming & the threat of World War three looming over humanity etc. we can all say we could use a guide like God to help us but sadly I seen some pretty terrible things happen in my life like 9/11 and i didnt see a God anywhere. Strangely despite all the neglect God is obviously giving humanity there is still people praying to him and are still infatuated to the idea of God that is looking over us. They also define him differently depending on the religion there in. It’s also weird to say that in each of those different religions they also explain what is sin differently. Also I’ve thought about If I was born in a world of one religion it would be more convincing but I’m not, there are several! This shows to me humanity in itself is confused about death and what happens. So if it’s true that we’re all confused why should I go with an explanation that is built on a lot of lack of proof like religion. If its just to make me feel better screw that noise I’d rather go through life and think for myself and enjoy the experience of life with a free and curious mind that isn’t looking to use the happy pill of lying to my self to make up a new reality
Community is really the biggest thing about it. My father was a seminarian, whose big hard-on, as it were, was converting Hebrews to see the right-ness of jesus. Thus, I was raised steeped in it, and we were infused with a sense that those people who did not believe like us (or at least believe in jesus) were messed up, or defective, just not capable of being good.
I got sent on a weekend retreat to the beach, and I still cannot quite grasp why it was so uplifting. I remember feeling really good, incredibly happy and energized, and I am not quite sure why. But that is one of the big things about religion, it can make you feel very good. At times. Between the acres upon acres of guilt and anxiety.
My best friend in school was raised atheist, and he was a better person than me (still is, save for his Packers insanity). That was one of the things that pulled me out of it. Then, my father started using bible study classes to emotionally abuse my mother, I think in an effort to drive her away so that he could get together with a woman at work. That pushed her out of religion, which was another major factor in freeing me. Finally, my brother became a Scientologist: if that is not enough to scare one away from all religion, I have no idea what is.
Having seen it from the inside and the outside, at present I simply lack the capacity to believe. Maybe a serious head injury or a really high fever could cause me to become religious, but the view I have of what is in there (religion) is not pretty. Just believing that those people are fucked up because they are not like us is a terrible, terrible place to be. Most believers would probably not articulate that, but if they believe, there has to be at least an underlying sense of that.
The good news is that this is something you can change.
The most important thing you can do to change people’s minds is to talk to them, point out their errors, and explain that it is really simple if only they try to comprehend. Talk to everyone you meet about atheism, argue them out of their preconceptions about atheists, such as they are a dismal bunch of obsessives who don’t believe in a creator or an afterlife, but have a strong moralistic streak. Don’t be hostile: try humour to laugh them out of their deluded ideas. Allow that you can understand why they believe stupid stuff, because you were like them once, but now you’re a grown-up. Be unrelenting, and push this idea to everyone, night and day, non-stop until no-one you know any longer believes there is a God.
When religion is a personal thing – like preferences in flavors, or preferred kinds of music – it can be perfectly fine. People should have the right to believe what they want, even things that some of us find uncomfortable.
We all need to be careful not to enact restrictive laws on the basis of such faith, but the faith itself must be protected.
Many people who claim to be atheists or agnostics do have a religious mindset though. New Agers, communists, humanists(at least those humanists who believe man can conquer his base nature), tend to have a religious mindset as strong as any monotheist.
2 great books that are companion books in my opinion though they were never intended to be:
The Demon Haunted World: Science as a candle in the dark. Carl Sagan
What Makes Your Brain Happy and Why You Should Do the Opposite. David DiSalvo
These books explain a lot about the power of religion, but in different ways. Sagan explores the history of superstition and delusion, from the witch hunts of Europe to modern day abduction stories. DiSalvo researches modern neuroscience and experiments into how the brain functions and its flaws; memory, pattern seeking, delusions, why people see and believe what they want to see and believe, etc.
As a former Christian turned atheist I highly recommend looking on Youtube for Bart Ehrman and Dan Barker.
Bart Ehrman attended Moody Bible College, and once he started studying and learning Hebrew and Greek, he started learning what the oldest manuscripts actually said, and thus became agnostic. He discusses many contradictions in the Bible, but more importantly he goes into great length the history of “Christianity” and the deification of Jesus.
Dan Barker was a fundamentalist preacher turned atheist.
To answer the original query is not a short discussion. As we and our brains evolve there are things carried over from by gone ages that no longer serve us. Better put would be to say most people don’t know about these functions or think about how they think. Marketers do and rely on it. (Read DiSalvos book to learn more on that)
There is part of our brain that is very happy when part of something larger than ourselves. Couple that with the emotion of religion and it’s very difficult to change someone’s mind. It takes a deliberate act of will, as well as replacing the belief system with another one. The more an outside influence tries to change someone’s mind who is firm in their belief, the more obstinate and entrenched they will become.
No amount of logic, reason, or evidence can trump the power of pretend.
Tricky. Some communists held a kind of supernatural view about the “force of history,” but most communists weren’t really religious, as their view had no appeal to the supernatural.
Same with humanists. Of course we can overcome our base nature: I’m not hitting you with a club, am I? We’re having a polite disagreement, using a medium of incredibly high technology. This isn’t “religious,” but observed fact. We’ve built a global civilization. If that isn’t “conquering our base nature,” I’d love to know what you think the phrase means.
Some New Agers are religious, but not all. A lot are kind of “in between,” holding “mystical” views, but views that mimic scientific modes and models. The ones who cite “quantum fields” in their views are attempting to be rational, even if they’re a million miles from being right.
Most people act atheist about 95% of the time, but if questioned they are certainly Christian. It finally occurred to me one day that most people don’t really believe the Bible. It also occurred to me that prayer is just talking to yourself. lol
A discussion at work once turned to similar topic and a coworker mentioned people he knows that drink, cuss, are ignorant to people, but are in church every Sunday.
You know what that is? Fire insurance. It’s ingrained just enough for some people to do a little something to make themselves feel better
Thanks for the recommendation I shall check out those things on YouTube. I have been an agnostic throughout my life, I’ve become increasingly convinced that I could never be religious nor can I be a hardcore atheist either. Its hard for me to believe the way religions moderately today define God in ways that seem extreme to me. For instance, they say if you commit a sin then God will judge you on judgement day for everything that you did that was considered a sin and ultimately send you to hell. I really done some soul searching and I can’t believe the idea of “judgement day” for easy reasons such as. 1. We are all just merely fleshy and boney creatures aka (evolved monkeys) who are actually struggling to understand reality and so if God compared us monkeys to who are subjected to disabilitys and death while spirits, angels & him are not, I would say it would be really unfair to judge us monkeys for acting out our nature and instincts that each of us are individually born with, i’m simply saying we are not perfect and we never will be. 2. I know what I’m seeing, feeling and experiencing is merely just a small fragment of the universe when you compare the size of Earth to the vast reaches of space, so literally we look like tiny microorganisms on a well formed planet that life can exist on. 3. I do believe that there is other life out there besides us which would question the idea of there being a God that watches over just us humans, i mean what about them? 4. If God is such a powerful being I can’t imagine him wanting to exhibit negative emotions or having the ability to have negative emotions in the first place such as judgment or anger that’s like comparing him to us monkeys because we do deal with anger and judgement but if anything im sure he would want to be nothing but a humble spirit built on love and compassion for things that are lesser than him, like living creatures such as us. So that’s what makes me agnostic is I’m not saying there is no God, I just don’t believe in the modern idea of a God that passes judgement on us tiny living creatures, it makes no sense to me. So in the end I can say personally I am hopeful that there is a God who is out there that does loves and cares about living us fragile, fleshy and boney creatures in this vast dark universe. But right now I don’t believe in any organized religion or even God because there has been no sign of him even despite all the praying throughout history we’ve done for him to return and I’d lived for 30 years and not once have I seen anything convincing enough to believe that there’s a God that watches over us. All I am going to choose to do is merely only understand what is it I am experiencing around me now. All I know from experience that I am an evolved monkey, I can see trees off in the distance from the city and I try to imagine what everything around me originally look like. It must of had no buildings, no cars, no concrete, no citys & no houses everything I’m surrounded by was invented by other generations before I was born. This is why I believe in evolution because before everything we lived in forest and learned to survive in it. So It would seem as we continue to live in a materialistic world people are becoming less aware of who we truly are, also becoming less kind to each other, our selfs and of course the environment. For me It’s kinda strange to be born in these times considering we’ve been around for a very very long time but personally I’m glad I decided to take the time to just focus on everything around me instead of taking the ideas from any religion. To me it is just an excuse not to actually think for myself. Reality in itself is hard enough to comprehend the last thing I need to do is try and believe something that doesn’t have a lot of proof towards it and that build towards a delusion of giving credit to a God if good things happen to me cause for me I just called that luck
Welcome to the board. A suggestion for you as a newcomer: it’s very difficult to read a wall of text like you posted. People are more likely to read your thoughts and respond if you break things up into readable paragraphs.