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Religious Joy: A Question for Atheists

rousseau

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A few days ago a co-worker of my wife friended me on Facebook. Usually I wouldn't bat an eyelid, but this woman and her husband are recent immigrants from Brazil, and devout Christians. From my perspective this is interesting because I don't see the devout side of things too often. Most people that I interact with on a day to day basis are either atheists, or don't outwardly discuss their religious beliefs at all.

My point-of-view vis-a-vis religion has always been one of live and let live. I get it, religion can dictate policy. But outside of this I'm usually happy to let others believe what they want to believe, if the belief system contributes to their having a more positive life.

Connecting with my wife's co-worker was interesting because after seeing her Facebook page it was pretty clear how much joy her beliefs gave her. She is obviously in love with her life, her perspective, and her family. Under those circumstances I can't even begin to imagine trying to convince her that what she believes is some kind of logical fallacy, and that she would be better off if she became an atheist. To me this makes no sense.

And then I navigated to IIDB, where we have many members who argue against religion.. almost religiously. When you look at our site from an outside perspective IIDB looks a bit like it's own religious cult. We've self identified as Infidels, we dwell on religion, much of our identity seems to revolve around our lack of religion, and we seem to be convinced that living a religious life is wrong, needing correction. Rather than an intrinsic part of human cultures.

My question is: how do you feel about the promotion of atheism, given how much joy believers get from their beliefs? What are your thoughts on trying to undo something so sacred in the lives of others? Do you give it any thought at all?
 

Keith&Co.

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My question is: how do you feel about the promotion of atheism, given how much joy believers get from their beliefs? What are your thoughts on trying to undo something so sacred in the lives of others? Do you give it any thought at all?
It's been a while since i knew any 'joy from their beliefs' Christains. The ones i know, esp. related to, seem more joyful from the confrontation. So, this might be shocking coming from me, i gift them confrontation.

But i generally don't seek it out. I used to, but am farly docile in public. The guy gave me shit about 'happy holidays' and the guy gave me shit about wearing a 'face diaper,' i tend to lump together.

I don't mock anyone's xmas decorations, whether store, office, yard. I detest Xmas songs, but only from spending so many holidays deployed.*
If they are Titus 3:10 Xians, live-and-let-burn, i got no reason to fuck with them. But that's not the sort of xian you typically run into in the fora, letters to the editor, DeviantArt comments, fanfic critiques...


*All attempts to bring xmas cheer to a tin can at 400 feet fall way short and just fucking blast out that we are not at home.
 

T.G.G. Moogly

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There's nothing wrong with having a friendly chat about religion with a devout person, but only do it if they initiate things. I've had a couple devout people try to convince me of things like "end times" or how I should do "bible study" or be concerned about "saving my soul."

90% of people are not self aware. They unknowingly run on emotion, instinct and prejudice. They are not reflective. They are not good observers. They may as well be on drugs, which they are actually. But I never know whether the person in front of me is one of the 90%, so I'm willing to try to connect with someone and dispassionately share my thoughts and experiences if invited. But if not, that's okay.
 

steve_bank

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What is the totality of who they arer?

The old question, what is happiness? It all depends on who you ask.

Ask Trump he would say money and power. Ask a nun and she might say service to people.

IMO what religion does is relieves stress and answer what can be troubling questions. I expect some cling to relgion out of desparation.

Atheist /theist, it all deends more on the person than the belief...IMO.

As I like to say, if it improves your quality of life, then good for you. It is not for me. I don't begrudge anyone a religious experience and it does not threaten me directly.
 
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My point-of-view vis-a-vis religion has always been one of live and let live. I get it, religion can dictate policy. But outside of this I'm usually happy to let others believe what they want to believe, if the belief system contributes to their having a more positive life.
I'm not sure what you mean by a "more positive life." I think the word "positive" is often equated with good, but there's often times in which negative is in order. Would you be positive about a person who abuses drugs, for instance?
Connecting with my wife's co-worker was interesting because after seeing her Facebook page it was pretty clear how much joy her beliefs gave her. She is obviously in love with her life, her perspective, and her family. Under those circumstances I can't even begin to imagine trying to convince her that what she believes is some kind of logical fallacy, and that she would be better off if she became an atheist. To me this makes no sense.
I think you're assuming that if religious people are living what appear to be happy lives, then their religion grants them that happiness. It's just as probable that their living happy lives has made them religious.
And then I navigated to IIDB, where we have many members who argue against religion..
If you wouldn't have "navigated to IIDB," then chances are you wouldn't see anybody arguing against religion.
...almost religiously.
If religion is good, then our arguing against religion "religiously" must be good.
When you look at our site from an outside perspective IIDB looks a bit like it's own religious cult.
When was the last time hundreds of the nonreligious committed ritual suicide or were raided by the ATF?
We've self identified as Infidels, we dwell on religion, much of our identity seems to revolve around our lack of religion...
I don't identify as an infidel, dwell on religion, or maintain an identity that revolves around my lack of religion.
...and we seem to be convinced that living a religious life is wrong, needing correction. Rather than an intrinsic part of human cultures.
You've posted here a false dichotomy. Much of what is intrinsic in cultures can be wrong and needs correction. The KKK and the Inquisition are but two examples of cultures needing correction.
My question is: how do you feel about the promotion of atheism, given how much joy believers get from their beliefs?
I think I'm allowed to feel joy too. When religion is exposed for what it is, then I feel great seeing hope that the attendant ills of religion will some day be a thing of the past.
What are your thoughts on trying to undo something so sacred in the lives of others? Do you give it any thought at all?
I should point out that many religions, Christianity included, go after unbelievers trying to convert them. I didn't originally go after Christians trying to disabuse them of their delusions; they came after me when I was very young to literally force their beliefs onto me. What I am doing now is a response to what they told me and what they did to me. If Christians don't want their beliefs subjected to tough scrutiny and found wanting, then they always have the option to "click out" of any forum in which people are free to tell the truth about their religion.
 

abaddon

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If I ever do anything that looks like "promotion of atheism" it's because I'm anti-theist. But I'm not anti-religion. A joyful religious life SHOULD be the goal for religiously inclined people. A joyful non-religious life should be the goal for those who aren't religiously inclined.

However if they come here arguing that EoG is true then they've invited criticism of their theism.
 
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As I like to say, if it improves your quality of life, then good for you. It is not for me. I don't begrudge anyone a religious experience and it does not threaten me directly.
Religion doesn't really work that way in practice. I see no evidence that it improves anybody's quality of life, nor do I think religion is nonthreatening. Religious believers, if they are sensitive to enduring having their beliefs criticized, always have the option to leave unbelievers alone. Yet it is most often they who go after others trying to convert them and who attack and ridicule the views of unbelievers. That kind of behavior is socially disruptive and harmful in other ways.

So I think this view of the happy-go-lucky religious believer who only mind their own business harming nobody yet enduring the cruelty of critics does not jibe with reality.
 

steve_bank

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If I ever do anything that looks like "promotion of atheism" it's because I'm anti-theist. But I'm not anti-religion. A joyful religious life SHOULD be the goal for religiously inclined people. A joyful non-religious life should be the goal for those who aren't religiously inclined.

However if they come here arguing that EoG is true then they've invited criticism of their theism.
Wee stuck with human language.

Religion is part of globl culture and is not going to go away anytime soon. I promote mutual tolerance, given that rellgion has and can still be rigid and oppressive.
 

steve_bank

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As I like to say, if it improves your quality of life, then good for you. It is not for me. I don't begrudge anyone a religious experience and it does not threaten me directly.
Religion doesn't really work that way in practice. I see no evidence that it improves anybody's quality of life, nor do I think religion is nonthreatening. Religious believers, if they are sensitive to enduring having their beliefs criticized, always have the option to leave unbelievers alone. Yet it is most often they who go after others trying to convert them and who attack and ridicule the views of unbelievers. That kind of behavior is socially disruptive and harmful in other ways.

So I think this view of the happy-go-lucky religious believer who only mind their own business harming nobody yet enduring the cruelty of critics does not jibe with reality.
Do you have evidence that art and music and poetry improve quality of life? The argument is more one of aesthetics in a sense. Des garedening or having a pet improve quaity of life?

From my experince I belive relgion is a source of comfort and happiness for many. The 'way' it works is irrelevant and is a function of our brains. Certainly for blacks it is a source of strength in the face of historical brutality.

As always say, there are postiives and negatives to region. To the OP I do not look at some0ne's religion, I look at how we ineract among oter things. If a thosyt is happy and shares that unconditionally with others it is some0en I can get along with relgious or otherwise.
 

Politesse

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I have no problem with evangelism, though I do worry about the manner of it; I think all forms of bigotry are playing with fire, dangerous to civil order and poisonous to the soul. As such, I genuinely like people with the motivation to honestly make a case for the views they think are true, but dislike those whose strategy for doing so primarily involves attacking their neighbors' beliefs or ways of life. Unfortunately this is disproportionately a common strategy in atheist circles. Frustrating to me, as I otherwise see atheists in public spaces as powerful voices in support of the sciences and religious freedom, both of which are causes dear to my heart. To encounter people pursuing the same goals as me in many ways, but through means I find abhorrent, is a serious test of my own capacity for patience and tolerance. I'm trying to learn to handle these things with a bit more grace.

I also (just as a matter of personality I think) loathe utterly those who knowingly tell mistruths with apologetic aims, and quickly run out of patience with those who make arguments only a very stupid or misinformed person would find remotely convincing.
 

southernhybrid

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I have never promoted atheism, but I have defended atheism when I've been personally attacked by Christians. While this has never happened to me from close friends, it has happened to me many times in the past by coworkers who were judgmental and self righteous in their approach to me. Since I've retired, I. have not had to deal with such viciousness from Christians.

I have no problem with religion if it gives someone joy or helps them cope, without causing any harm to others. Mythology has always had a great appeal for humans. Even now, it remains an important part of many people's lives. For example, we took a very poor friend and her two grandchildren out to lunch earlier this week. She is one of the few friends I have who doesn't know that my husband and I are atheists. When her little granddaughter was asked to sing her little prayer of thanks before lunch, I told her it was very sweet. I told her that because I think it's sweet to see a child be thankful for what she has, regardless of the fact that I also think she is thanking an entity that doesn't exist.

My friend uses her religion to help her cope with her difficult life and her life long medical issues. Her church community gives her a lot of support and joy. Besides that, she has called me god's angel because I've tried to be a good influence on her granddaughter, by buying her books and other educational things. Being only human, how can I resist such flattery?😉 I know what I do isn't a big deal, but apparently very few people from other classes or ethnic backgrounds have done a thing for her. Only a cruel and thoughtless person would criticize her for her religious beliefs. So, if you want a little joy in your life without religion, I encourage you to find a person who needs a little help, then do what you can to make their life a little bit better. You don't need religion to understand that there is joy in giving. No gods required for that.

Of course, it's going to appear different when one looks at some of the comments we make here. As an atheist who lives in the Bible Belt, I sometimes need an outlet and a place to vent. Of course, there are many religious people and groups that are harmful, judgmental and divisive. We can see how our former US president manipulated evangelicals to his advantage. Religion, like any human organization or ideology has both its good and harmful elements, when taken to extremes. This place gives those of us who need to vent, a place to do that safely. I can dislike many elements of religion while at the same time realize that there are others who find hope, peace and community in religion. We are all different. We are all products of our genetic and environmental influences. When we keep that in mind, it makes it easier not to judge. I just wish that more Christians realized that as well. It does get a bit old when some Christian says they will pray for me when they learn I'm an atheist, or they judge me for not believing that their god is real. So, we could all learn to be less judgmental if we want our society to improve. The gods sure ain't gonna fix the mess that we humans have made, but the godless could try and be positive examples of what it means to love, and not to judge people based on their beliefs, no matter how nutty they seem to us. Sometimes that's hard to do, but it's at least worth a try.
 

Thomas II

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A few days ago a co-worker of my wife friended me on Facebook. Usually I wouldn't bat an eyelid, but this woman and her husband are recent immigrants from Brazil, and devout Christians. From my perspective this is interesting because I don't see the devout side of things too often. Most people that I interact with on a day to day basis are either atheists, or don't outwardly discuss their religious beliefs at all.

My point-of-view vis-a-vis religion has always been one of live and let live. I get it, religion can dictate policy. But outside of this I'm usually happy to let others believe what they want to believe, if the belief system contributes to their having a more positive life.

Connecting with my wife's co-worker was interesting because after seeing her Facebook page it was pretty clear how much joy her beliefs gave her. She is obviously in love with her life, her perspective, and her family. Under those circumstances I can't even begin to imagine trying to convince her that what she believes is some kind of logical fallacy, and that she would be better off if she became an atheist. To me this makes no sense.

And then I navigated to IIDB, where we have many members who argue against religion.. almost religiously. When you look at our site from an outside perspective IIDB looks a bit like it's own religious cult. We've self identified as Infidels, we dwell on religion, much of our identity seems to revolve around our lack of religion, and we seem to be convinced that living a religious life is wrong, needing correction. Rather than an intrinsic part of human cultures.

My question is: how do you feel about the promotion of atheism, given how much joy believers get from their beliefs? What are your thoughts on trying to undo something so sacred in the lives of others? Do you give it any thought at all?

 

rousseau

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As I like to say, if it improves your quality of life, then good for you. It is not for me. I don't begrudge anyone a religious experience and it does not threaten me directly.
Religion doesn't really work that way in practice. I see no evidence that it improves anybody's quality of life, nor do I think religion is nonthreatening. Religious believers, if they are sensitive to enduring having their beliefs criticized, always have the option to leave unbelievers alone. Yet it is most often they who go after others trying to convert them and who attack and ridicule the views of unbelievers. That kind of behavior is socially disruptive and harmful in other ways.

So I think this view of the happy-go-lucky religious believer who only mind their own business harming nobody yet enduring the cruelty of critics does not jibe with reality.

You seem to be convinced that religion 'doesn't improve anybody's quality of life', but 80% of the world practices some form of religion. Why would such a significant portion of the global population practice something that is actively harmful to them?

This is a real question, not a gotcha. Your premises seem to need further examination.
 

steve_bank

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Th4 happy go lucky or 'slap happy' Chrtian, Jew, or Muslim? Where does that image come from?

There have been psychological studies of mental health of religious. We know mental attitude affects health and even the immune system. Constant negative though and bitterness over the long term puts harmful hormones in the blood.

Some studies indicate prayer and religion can reduce medical recovery time. Nothing supernatural. I have known several peole with terminl illness for which faith is a great comfort.

A black friend grew up under harsh Jim Crow culture in Louisiana. Battered with words likw nigger and and being called no good.

Yet he is one of the most positive forward looking person I have known. It all flows from his religious faith.
 

Elixir

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I couldn’t care less about what superstitions people harbor. But proselytizing creeps me out and eventually pisses me off. We have plenty of stoopids without leaning into creating more of them.
 

abaddon

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Th4 happy go lucky or 'slap happy' Chrtian, Jew, or Muslim? Where does that image come from?

....

A black friend grew up under harsh Jim Crow culture .... Yet he is one of the most positive forward looking person I have known. It all flows from his religious faith.
The word "happy" conjures images of "slap happy" people. I've met a few persons who are like that (yes, religious persons). I've also met Christians who are happy in the sense of being positive and resilient in the face of adversity. Even if that's not a constant glee, it still qualifies as religion-assisted happiness. Surely happiness has more to do with resilience or contentment than elation, since unhappy people are the ones who feel run over by life.
 
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You seem to be convinced that religion 'doesn't improve anybody's quality of life'...

I've yet to see any lasting improvement in anybody's life that is unambiguously the product of religious belief. Even if there is a pronounced relationship between life improvements and the adoption of religious beliefs, we don't know what caused the other. Did religiosity cause the improvement, or did the improvement cause the religiosity? We generally cannot tell if there is any causal relationship here, only a relationship. However, many Christians are quick to take credit for improved lives regardless of what caused what.

...but 80% of the world practices some form of religion. Why would such a significant portion of the global population practice something that is actively harmful to them?

I don't know. People smoke, drink, and abuse illegal drugs, too. The harmful effects of such practices don't keep people from engaging in that kind of activity. I have seen people turn a blind eye to religion's harmful effects very often. Maybe religion is like an addictive drug that maintains its use despite obvious harm.

Anyway, if you are arguing that a practice is good because a large number of people engage in it, then you are arguing a non sequitur fallacy. It does not follow that if many people do something, then that behavior is good.

This is a real question, not a gotcha. Your premises seem to need further examination.

I think I answered your question to my satisfaction if not yours. Until I actually see any good evidence that religion is harmless if not good, then you have not convinced me regarding what you claimed in the OP. You made those claims, so you have the burden of proof.
 

funinspace

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Of course, it's going to appear different when one looks at some of the comments we make here. As an atheist who lives in the Bible Belt, I sometimes need an outlet and a place to vent. Of course, there are many religious people and groups that are harmful, judgmental and divisive. We can see how our former US president manipulated evangelicals to his advantage. Religion, like any human organization or ideology has both its good and harmful elements, when taken to extremes. This place gives those of us who need to vent, a place to do that safely.
Pretty much all of what southernhybrid said fits my POV, but picked this particular part to quote. Other than picking on blow hard Christians on this site, I rarely do much other than correct miss-statements or ask a question here or there of them, and that has been about it for a few years.
 

SigmatheZeta

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Generally, I am rooted in both ancient Epicurean and ancient Pyrrhonist sentiments, although I am somewhat sympathetic toward the intentions behind ancient Cynicism.
A few days ago a co-worker of my wife friended me on Facebook. Usually I wouldn't bat an eyelid, but this woman and her husband are recent immigrants from Brazil, and devout Christians. From my perspective this is interesting because I don't see the devout side of things too often. Most people that I interact with on a day to day basis are either atheists, or don't outwardly discuss their religious beliefs at all.

My point-of-view vis-a-vis religion has always been one of live and let live. I get it, religion can dictate policy. But outside of this I'm usually happy to let others believe what they want to believe, if the belief system contributes to their having a more positive life.

Connecting with my wife's co-worker was interesting because after seeing her Facebook page it was pretty clear how much joy her beliefs gave her. She is obviously in love with her life, her perspective, and her family. Under those circumstances I can't even begin to imagine trying to convince her that what she believes is some kind of logical fallacy, and that she would be better off if she became an atheist. To me this makes no sense.

And then I navigated to IIDB, where we have many members who argue against religion.. almost religiously. When you look at our site from an outside perspective IIDB looks a bit like it's own religious cult. We've self identified as Infidels, we dwell on religion, much of our identity seems to revolve around our lack of religion, and we seem to be convinced that living a religious life is wrong, needing correction. Rather than an intrinsic part of human cultures.

My question is: how do you feel about the promotion of atheism, given how much joy believers get from their beliefs? What are your thoughts on trying to undo something so sacred in the lives of others? Do you give it any thought at all?
I tend to see religion as extremely interesting, actually. I am not sure that I consider it a defect, but I do ask that religious people observe a sense of boundaries. Most of them, in my experience, do. Just because I complain about the rotten apples doesn't mean I hate apples.

Apples are cool, but I also like dragonfruit, coconuts, plums, pineapples, pears, and all sorts of other fruits. I am not about to base my life on apples alone. I am not going to say that apples are the "one true fruit." I am not even sure that I will ever get around to eating an apple in my lifetime with all of the other cool fruits that are out there to sample. I've even had durian.

That's how I feel about religion. I am not an atheist because I dislike religion, but I am an atheist because I am absolutely fascinated with religion. It is one of my favorite subjects. I have enjoyed reading about the ancient roots of religion. I am particularly affectionate toward the goddess, Inanna, the goddess of sex and love! Later a goddess of war, but that was really more the Akkadian interpretation of their version of her, which was named Ishtar.

However, I don't stop reading just because it stops being just about religion. Eventually, ancient religions bleed over into ancient philosophy. The ancient Hindus may have accidentally taught atheism to the ancient Greeks because the Greeks learned an old form of mindfulness meditation from them, but since the Greeks did not have the spiritual context for it, they merely applied their own interpretation of it to their ideas and came out with a form of skeptical philosophy. It was an accident, but many skeptical schools of philosophy were borne out of it.

This ultimately influenced the ancient Epicureans, who were one of the ancient atomist schools of philosophy (atomism also might have come from India, but again, the Greeks only partially understood it), and they took their approach to natural philosophy right to the brink of developing something similar to early modern science! In fact, there is a school of thought that holds that De Rerum Natura, the last of the Epicurean writings, may have been the seed of all modern scientific thought, but if it's any consolation to my Catholic friends, it was a Franciscan friar that revived it!

I honestly don't mind if you have superstitious beliefs at all, though. I have friends that literally believe they have animal spirits. They call themselves "therians." They are my friends. My problem with many Christians is that they bristle over being compared with those people, but Christians that can be at peace with being one of many fascinating spiritual beliefs can get along with me just fine.

I think that you can't help but become an atheist if you have a veritably bottomless appetite for religious and philosophical ideas. All of them at once cannot be true, but all of them at once can be extremely interesting. The easiest way to enjoy them as the beautiful ideas they are is to recognize that they are only ideas. Religion, at its best, is like art. Just because it isn't real does not mean that it isn't beautiful or meaningful.

But Christians should not get mad just because I tell them that their angels might actually be descended from images of Inanna. Inanna was the original angel of ancient Mesopotamia. She traveled through the underworld, where people are turned into bird-like creatures and forced to live on dust unless they are symbolically given wine by pouring it on the ground in their honor (in ancient Mesopotamia, the idea was that you should be nice to people in life, or they would not give you any wine after you died). She came out partially transformed and looking a lot like the modern idea of an angel. In fact, the dove-like wings are just further proof: Inanna's most sacred animal was the dove.

In ancient Mesopotamia, though, doves did not just represent peace. THEY ALSO REPRESENTED LOVE AND SEX!

*bangs on some bongo drums*

Nah, I don't really hate religion, but I think that religious people that have really orthodox beliefs are likely to find me to be a little bit offensive simply because I know an uncomfortable amount of information about why they really believe the things that they do. I don't show a whole lot of mercy, there. I think, people can either keep up or not, but I'm flying at my pace.

Anyhow, I talk about religion because religion is actually a cool subject. Just because I don't literally believe in them as my one, true cosmology does not mean that I hate them. Many Christians that I have known actually enjoy having a secular humanist perspective on their beliefs. I am unfailingly interesting. Sometimes, this leads to Christians trying different belief-systems or philosophies, and once in a while, they make a similar journey to my own, leading them eventually to secular philosophy.

Sometimes, I run into Christians that have absolutely no sense of boundaries whatsoever, but I don't yell at them because I want to change their minds about their religion. I yell at them because they are richards.

Generally, Christians find me to be a little over-enthusiastic about religion, though, rather than antagonistic toward it.
 
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T.G.G. Moogly

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Isn't this really a discussion about how atheists react to the irrational aspects of religion?

At about 4 minutes in the Ricky Gervais video he is getting pummeled by Colbert. Gervais then makes the statement that if you destroyed all the religious books about gods, that in a thousand years those books would be back but they'd all be different again. But if you destroyed all the science books the science books a thousand years hence would be saying the same things because science is abut facts and truth and experiment.

Colbert says his belief in a god springs from gratitude about being alive and he wishes to be thankful for that. Okay, so it's a personal, emotional claim that gods are real. Another person could look at starvation and illness and child mortality and murder and come to the exact opposite conclusion based on personal emotion.

Irrational religious behavior has become normalized owing to human ignorance and cognitive differences between humans. A person believes that the protagonist of his favorite religious book is wholly human and lived two thousand years ago. But the same person also believes that this wholly human person was also a wholly non-human supernatural alien with supernatural powers from some supernatural realm. That's pretty weird stuff, not normal when observed by a counter-facing, rational human brain.

It's the fact that that another brain is capable of believing, embracing and acting upon irrational information that is the issue. Going into a magic building regularly for good luck isn't any more harmful than folding your clothes a certain way. We all have our comforting rituals. I do some of those same things all the while realizing that I'm behaving irrationally. The return is simply that the behavior is comforting, but I know that folding my clothes a certain way does not bring me good fortune, it is only personally comforting. I don't believe for a second that humanity's lot will be improved if we all folded our clothes similarly. This is not how a religious brain sees those same emotionally comforting religious behaviors. It's a fundamental difference and a difference that is fundamentally dangerous when observed rationally.
 

rousseau

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You seem to be convinced that religion 'doesn't improve anybody's quality of life'...

I've yet to see any lasting improvement in anybody's life that is unambiguously the product of religious belief. Even if there is a pronounced relationship between life improvements and the adoption of religious beliefs, we don't know what caused the other. Did religiosity cause the improvement, or did the improvement cause the religiosity? We generally cannot tell if there is any causal relationship here, only a relationship. However, many Christians are quick to take credit for improved lives regardless of what caused what.

...but 80% of the world practices some form of religion. Why would such a significant portion of the global population practice something that is actively harmful to them?

I don't know. People smoke, drink, and abuse illegal drugs, too. The harmful effects of such practices don't keep people from engaging in that kind of activity. I have seen people turn a blind eye to religion's harmful effects very often. Maybe religion is like an addictive drug that maintains its use despite obvious harm.

Anyway, if you are arguing that a practice is good because a large number of people engage in it, then you are arguing a non sequitur fallacy. It does not follow that if many people do something, then that behavior is good.

This is a real question, not a gotcha. Your premises seem to need further examination.

I think I answered your question to my satisfaction if not yours. Until I actually see any good evidence that religion is harmless if not good, then you have not convinced me regarding what you claimed in the OP. You made those claims, so you have the burden of proof.

The argument isn't that religion is good because a lot of people practice it, the argument is that if so many people are actively practicing it, then those people are seeing some appeal to that practice that either you aren't seeing, or aren't admitting to. The point is that in their view religion is satisfying, your point of view has no bearing on their engagement or enjoyment of religion.

You're making the linear argument that everything humans practice has to somehow be linked to social good, or has to be productive. This isn't how people actually work in practice. They do things that, when appealing to strict logic, might make no sense, but they find them appealing and enjoyable nonetheless.

This is the line of reasoning that I see most atheists apply to religion - it hinders some ambiguous form of 'progress' that religious people are too ignorant to know they want. If 80% of the world's population are happy drinking, smoking, practicing religion - why should we stop them?
 

steve_bank

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side Who on the atheists is arguing religion is harmless? What in all of human civilization is hamless?

Science is not harmless. It enabled social media with harnful aspects. Nuclear power along with nuclear weapons.

The re are polarized irrational theists who can see nothing wrong with ther position and decare ny as[ect of atheism wrong.

On the flip side are polarized atheists who can see nothing goof =d about relgion.

Whatever the down side of religion with the decline of region in the USA and thr rise of excessive self imdulgence is there a correlation to the rise of alcoholism, drug addiction, suicide down to young teens?

I believe we all need some kind of moral compass. That moral structure with its flaws once came from religion. There are consequences.


I have asked atheists several times on the forum with no real answers, where do you derive your sense of right and wrong from? As I see it it comes from the historical western history of Christianity.


Whatever issues there are today with religion at least here in the USA it is at the bottom of my concern list.
 

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This is the line of reasoning that I see most atheists apply to religion - it hinders some ambiguous form of 'progress' that religious people are too ignorant to know they want. If 80% of the world's population are happy drinking, smoking, practicing religion - why should we stop them?
It depends on what kind of world you are trying to build.
 

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This is the line of reasoning that I see most atheists apply to religion - it hinders some ambiguous form of 'progress' that religious people are too ignorant to know they want. If 80% of the world's population are happy drinking, smoking, practicing religion - why should we stop them?
It depends on what kind of world you are trying to build.
I would prefer one characterized by peace, and tolerance of one's neighbors.
 

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I would prefer one characterized by peace, and tolerance of one's neighbors.
I certainly prefer similarly. Maybe one day we'll get there, rise sufficiently above our instinctive fears and ignorance and start seeing ourselves in others. The irrational aspects of religious behavior are not a harbinger of good things to come.
 

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This is the line of reasoning that I see most atheists apply to religion - it hinders some ambiguous form of 'progress' that religious people are too ignorant to know they want. If 80% of the world's population are happy drinking, smoking, practicing religion - why should we stop them?
It depends on what kind of world you are trying to build.

In what ways do we build a coherent and unified world?
 

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This is the line of reasoning that I see most atheists apply to religion - it hinders some ambiguous form of 'progress' that religious people are too ignorant to know they want. If 80% of the world's population are happy drinking, smoking, practicing religion - why should we stop them?
It depends on what kind of world you are trying to build.

In what ways do we build a coherent and unified world?
The first way would obviously be to get a person to even ask themselves the question and then answer it.
 

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If there were such a choice, I might prefer a religious world where nature's held as sacred over the technophilic stuff that's hinted at sometimes when "secularists" aren't only presenting themselves as rationalists who merely want irrational people to stop bugging them.

That's very one-sided. It's easy to say "they're irrational so if they get out of the way then we 'rational' people can do what's best for everyone". Maybe... but what exactly is the world that the self-proclaimed "rationalists" want to "build"?
 
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The argument isn't that religion is good because a lot of people practice it, the argument is that if so many people are actively practicing it, then those people are seeing some appeal to that practice...

If that's what you're arguing, then I don't necessarily disagree. If I could live the lifestyles of many religious leaders, then religion might appeal to me too assuming I don't have a conscience.

...that either you aren't seeing, or aren't admitting to.

Please don't accuse me of lying. I haven't spoken to you that way.

The point is that in their view religion is satisfying, your point of view has no bearing on their engagement or enjoyment of religion.

You can say the same thing about rapists. Regardless of my opinion, it has no bearing on their engagement or enjoyment of rape.

You're making the linear argument that everything humans practice has to somehow be linked to social good, or has to be productive.

I freely admit that I'm biased toward socially positive practices and the production of what benefits society.

This isn't how people actually work in practice. They do things that, when appealing to strict logic, might make no sense, but they find them appealing and enjoyable nonetheless.

Oh sure--see my rape example above. In a civilized society we don't allow behavior that is harmful to others no matter how enjoyable that behavior is to the perpetrator.

This is the line of reasoning that I see most atheists apply to religion - it hinders some ambiguous form of 'progress' that religious people are too ignorant to know they want.

Actually, I think when it comes to the critics of religion, theists probably outnumber atheists. Protestants and Catholics, for instance, have been demonizing each other for centuries. Of course, much of this "interreligious" criticism is justified. So the religious are quite capable of seeing the harm done by religion although they may fail to see it in their own religion.

If 80% of the world's population are happy drinking, smoking, practicing religion - why should we stop them?

That's a very strange question. The very obvious answer is that what people do to themselves can have a harmful effect on everybody. Drinking can result in innocent people dying in auto accidents, and smoking can cause lung cancer in those who don't smoke. If religion encourages paranoia, superstition, and ignorance in millions of the members of a society, then the consequences for that society should not be hard to understand.
 

rousseau

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This is the line of reasoning that I see most atheists apply to religion - it hinders some ambiguous form of 'progress' that religious people are too ignorant to know they want. If 80% of the world's population are happy drinking, smoking, practicing religion - why should we stop them?
It depends on what kind of world you are trying to build.

In what ways do we build a coherent and unified world?
The first way would obviously be to get a person to even ask themselves the question and then answer it.

Well, you invoked world building, so what's your answer? I think you could argue that we've done a pretty phenomenal job of moving beyond religion in the past few centuries, but whether the world is in any way better than it was before is very debatable.

And that's kind of what I'm getting at. I'm not arguing in bad faith, just trying to win some points. If reason is preferable to irrationality why have we seen so many problems with regards to scientific innovation? Does science actually improve the world, or is it just another tool.

If people are self-interested, and selfish regardless of what we do, maybe we just let them live in the way they prefer, as long as they aren't breaking laws?
 

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Well, you invoked world building, so what's your answer? I think you could argue that we've done a pretty phenomenal job of moving beyond religion in the past few centuries, but whether the world is in any way better than it was before is very debatable.

And that's kind of what I'm getting at. I'm not arguing in bad faith, just trying to win some points. If reason is preferable to irrationality why have we seen so many problems with regards to scientific innovation? Does science actually improve the world, or is it just another tool.

If people are self-interested, and selfish regardless of what we do, maybe we just let them live in the way they prefer, as long as they aren't breaking laws?
I invoked community building is all, just on a world scale. World building is no different than community or city or state building. How is it that France and England and Spain were mortal enemies for centuries but not anymore? Why are Egypt and Israel not still trying to exterminate each other? What changed? City states and tribes that were mortal enemies now exist in tolerance. How do we get to acceptance, that's the question. We all accept, tolerate and reject.

We may be seeing the benefits of a more developed prefontal cortex. What I think changed is that emotions got nudged a bit to the side and that mutual beneficial tolerance - even progress - became likely, although grudgingly because the world has gotten smaller. Self preservation seems to have been the driving force.

We have some decent laws in the U.S. against violence between people but we reserve the right to wage violence outside the U.S. unilaterally. How does that work? Don't explain it, fix it. I could go on but you get the idea.
 

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I believ part of it is that at the heart of the ASbrahamic relgions there is a common thrad of lokking for peace.

The Egyptin and Israeli ace was opposed by conservatves in both Israel and Egypt.

Part of it was the USA military aid to Egypt.

It takes leaders who are willing to take risks. Sadat was assassinated , not unexpected.

Both Gandhi and King knew from the start they would be assassinated.
 

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Is there a difference between religious collective joy and collective joy tr a pop muisc concert? People waving arms and swaying in apparent ecstasy.
 

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Is there a difference between religious collective joy and collective joy tr a pop muisc concert? People waving arms and swaying in apparent ecstasy.
Yes. The source of the joy is different.

If the commonality is joy, so what?

Apples and oranges both taste sweet. It doesn't make them the same.
 

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I'd argue t is the same psycho-physical promenade. Love the pop icon and feel assured the pop icon loves you back.

Remember thteen song 'we love you Beattles we love you true'? People crying in the audience when the Beatles played the Ed Sullivan show?

When I see some concert clips I see what amounts to a church service.

In the late 60s I saw Sly And The Family Sone at the Fillmore East in NYC. At the end of the first show nobody left. People were wanimng hands and jumping around. The last song was 'Higher ' and the crowd got into it.The crowd for the second show crashed the doors. Sly Stone leaped off the stage into the crowd and ran out into the street followed by crowd dancing around in the street.

Music from classical to pop can be a 'religious' experience, so to speak.

There was the recent tragedy where a cowd of round 10,000 pressed the stage for a rapper known for stirring up the crowd literal;y suffocating people from restricted chests.

To me as I like to say religion is one manifestation of a common human trait. Group idenity and the herd instinct along with the need to follow a leader.
 

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I would say that music and religion can both be emotional experiences, not spiritual. But then again, the term spiritual is a rather meaningless term these days. It's interpreted by the individual. A lot of things that are simply emotional are sometimes referred to as spiritual. Whatever floats your boat, I guess. 🚤
 
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I would say that music and religion can both be emotional experiences, not spiritual. But then again, the term spiritual is a rather meaningless term these days. It's interpreted by the individual. A lot of things that are simply emotional are sometimes referred to as spiritual. Whatever floats your boat, I guess. 🚤
I think that when the religious claim to be "spiritual" they are being condescending implying that they have a perception of a truth or truths that we skeptics lack. In other words, they allegedly see what we are blind to. For example, soon after I lost my religious belief a woman I know became angry with me and told me I have "no spirit."
 

steve_bank

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I'd argue t is the same psycho-physical promenade. Love the pop icon and feel assured the pop icon loves you back.

Remember thteen song 'we love you Beattles we love you true'? People crying in the audience when the Beatles played the Ed Sullivan show?

When I see some concert clips I see what amounts to a church service.

In the late 60s I saw Sly And The Family Sone at the Fillmore East in NYC. At the end of the first show nobody left. People were wanimng hands and jumping around. The last song was 'Higher ' and the crowd got into it.The crowd for the second show crashed the doors. Sly Stone leaped off the stage into the crowd and ran out into the street followed by crowd dancing around in the street.

Music from classical to pop can be a 'religious' experience, so to speak.

There was the recent tragedy where a cowd of round 10,000 pressed the stage for a rapper known for stirring up the crowd literal;y suffocating people from restricted chests.

To me as I like to say religion is one manifestation of a common human trait. Group idenity and the herd instinct along with the need to follow a leader.
The difference is the religious believers are convinced the experience comes from a deity and is unique.
 

T.G.G. Moogly

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I think that when the religious claim to be "spiritual" they are being condescending implying that they have a perception of a truth or truths that we skeptics lack. In other words, they allegedly see what we are blind to. For example, soon after I lost my religious belief a woman I know became angry with me and told me I have "no spirit."
That's your standard fear response. Your position is also perceived by devout believers as an attack on their identity. Cult behavior 101.
 
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I think that when the religious claim to be "spiritual" they are being condescending implying that they have a perception of a truth or truths that we skeptics lack. In other words, they allegedly see what we are blind to. For example, soon after I lost my religious belief a woman I know became angry with me and told me I have "no spirit."
That's your standard fear response. Your position is also perceived by devout believers as an attack on their identity. Cult behavior 101.
I should say that this woman, "Donna," and I had been in a lopsided relationship for several years. I met her in high school, and she had a crush on me, but I only was interested in her as a friend at most. I think she resented my rejecting her as a lover, and so she had reason to be angry with me aside from my leaving Christianity. When I left my religious belief behind I became very vocal about how phony it was, and her anger started boiling over her hating what I was saying. What's interesting about her attitude is that prior to my leaving Christianity I never knew her to be religious. In fact, I thought she was an atheist. I should point out that I made very clear to her that I had been scammed when I was a Christian, but as far as she was concerned my being scammed wasn't sufficient reason for me to conclude that Christianity is a scam. She told me that "they're not all like that."

So the moral of the story is that people can have latent religious belief that rises to the surface if people feel that that belief is threatened by skepticism. People can also use religious belief to club people they resent even if the resentment is based in reasons that aren't entirely based in religion. Finally, knowing that a person has been hurt by religious faith is not sufficient reason to tolerate that person criticizing religious faith. Religious faith is the top priority, and while it may be unfortunate if people get hurt by it, faith must be preserved.
 

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I tremble and shake with joy whenever I post. It is a religious experience.
 

T.G.G. Moogly

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To me as I like to say religion is one manifestation of a common human trait. Group idenity and the herd instinct along with the need to follow a leader.
The woo is an offering to the listener that they can have woo too. It raises the payoff for the listener. It's a product for sale like any other product. And if my intellectual development is at a certain point I'm all in to buy some magic. Give me woo of give me death! And that's because I don't know any better at that point. It is why steve bank trembles. :)
 

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Knock Knock
Who's there?
Woo...
Woo who?

Ahh, stop crying.
 
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I tremble and shake with joy whenever I post. It is a religious experience.
You might even speak in tongues as you critique religion. I'm still wondering why the religious are allowed to be happy believing what is false while we critical thinkers are mocked when we are happy correcting the nonsense sold by religion.
 

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I tremble and shake with joy whenever I post. It is a religious experience.
You might even speak in tongues as you critique religion. I'm still wondering why the religious are allowed to be happy believing what is false while we critical thinkers are mocked when we are happy correcting the nonsense sold by religion.
Interesting that you portray happiness as something that believers find within themselves, but which you find in attacking the things that bring them that happiness. To ask a Kantian question, what sort of world do you suppose would result if all people found happiness primarily in circumstances of interreligious schadenfreude?
 

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You might even speak in tongues as you critique religion. I'm still wondering why the religious are allowed to be happy believing what is false while we critical thinkers are mocked when we are happy correcting the nonsense sold by religion.
Our brains are different. I think there's a lot more to be said for the condition of anosognosia than gets around.
 

steve_bank

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I tremble and shake with joy whenever I post. It is a religious experience.
You might even speak in tongues as you critique religion. I'm still wondering why the religious are allowed to be happy believing what is false while we critical thinkers are mocked when we are happy correcting the nonsense sold by religion.
I am confused, how do we speak without tongues?
 
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I tremble and shake with joy whenever I post. It is a religious experience.
You might even speak in tongues as you critique religion. I'm still wondering why the religious are allowed to be happy believing what is false while we critical thinkers are mocked when we are happy correcting the nonsense sold by religion.
I am confused, how do we speak without tongues?
I see what you mean. Did you ever try to speak out of your tongue? You'll need to ask those religious people when they are able to stop jumping for joy.
 
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I tremble and shake with joy whenever I post. It is a religious experience.
You might even speak in tongues as you critique religion. I'm still wondering why the religious are allowed to be happy believing what is false while we critical thinkers are mocked when we are happy correcting the nonsense sold by religion.
Interesting that you portray happiness as something that believers find within themselves...
Well, if I was religious, then I'd be happy to find a brain within myself.
...but which you find in attacking the things that bring them that happiness.
Achieving social progress leaving superstition and paranoia behind is one of my reasons to be happy, true.
To ask a Kantian question, what sort of world do you suppose would result if all people found happiness primarily in circumstances of interreligious schadenfreude?
Schadenfreude? I think I ate that at a fancy restaurant once. It's really good with white wine.

Anyway, I have no idea what world would result if all people partook of schadenfreude (with or without white wine). Nevertheless, I'm sure the world would be a better place if we felt joy over truth rather than lies. I've worked as an educator, and my feathers to tend to get a bit ruffled if all my hard work is tossed into the trash by those who may prefer to be misinformed. If learning what is true upsets people, then they'll probably get over it. I've been upset by facts often enough, but I'd hate to think where I would be without those facts.
 
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