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The Real Problem
I Love this site and the clarity of thinking exhibited, even love chasing down the trolls, lol!
However, I see a pervasive myth that if we just show the religious the Truth, they will quickly see the light as we have.
I believe this is completely false thinking, because Most of what people get from religion, on a day to day basis, is the Community of it, which goes deep into our genetics...a tribe member had a much better chance of surviving, procreating, having a good quality of life, than a loner.
If we wish to truly reach the average person, we need to have a replacement for that sense of belonging....you even see people on here who have "seen the light of reason", asking about where & when they can find "community" (usual answer, UU or similar).
The feeling of being "tended" by an all-seeing mystical parent, I think most people could be weaned from, but replacing the feeling of BELONGING is a huge obstacle!

By AnneWimsey
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56 comments

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I love everything about this post. I say this all the time! To your first point, I think confronting someone on their illogical beliefs only makes them cling more tightly to those beliefs and makes them less trusting of atheists in the future. Arguing with people will never get you anywhere. Accepting people, inspiring people to be better and earning their respect is the only thing I've ever seen that changes minds. 
To your second point, we absolutely lack that sense of community and also the ability to get together once a week and discuss ideas, particualrly pertaining to morality. Sometimes navigating life is difficult and having people to bounce ideas off of and having that support system makes a big difference. I would love to see atheist gatherings; complete with discussion, debate, guest speakers, etc. 
klang72 Level 4 Sep 13, 2018
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Well said. smile001.gif

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Well stated. All a logical, rational thinking person can do is present the evidence, facts and data in support of reality and "let the chips fall as they may". You can lead a horse to water but you can't make it drink.

jlynn37 Level 8 Sep 13, 2018
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Well said and right on. The reason that I joined UU was for community plus there is nothing to believe, no dogma about invisible beings, just a respect for all beings.

starwatcher-al Level 7 Sep 13, 2018
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I think you are correct when it comes to the majority, but there are those of us who are quite comfortable not belonging to anything. I have a feeling, and it is just a feeling, that the percentage of us who have no need to belong may be growing. We shall see.

evidentialist Level 8 Sep 13, 2018
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There's a nasty rumor goin' 'round that you belong to some internet community that has a religion-related theme... smile009.gif

@skado -- LOL ... nice one.

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I think you're right. People need to feel community and religion is one way of doing this, as is a common feeling of atheism or agnosticism. There's safety in numbers. Trouble is it can also lead to tribalism and a common desire to defeat the opposite view. The most peaceful society is one where all are able to be themselves. That's the only way a society can be free.

ValJ Level 6 Sep 13, 2018
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I guess I have enough interaction with others that I already have a feeling of community.

oldFloyd Level 6 Sep 13, 2018
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4

Why must we "ween" people from believing in anything? I'm for "live and let live".

bigpawbullets Level 8 Sep 13, 2018
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My saying is "You do you, I do me", which is live and let live, I must add the caveat, "let's strive to do or cause no harm". Therein lies the difference.

@jlynn37
I'm with you sir.
Unfortunately, we don't seem to be wired that way.
Not just religion though. Apparently any excuse will activate the "My way or the highway" gene.

3

An interesting post but it leaves me wondering who is the "average person, " the proverbial John or Jane Doe? Perhaps many people experience a sense of belonging akin to what they formerly experienced when they belonged to some religious organization?

"In most people the desire to belong is greater than the desire to understand. Hence the popularity of cults and religious organizations and the lack of the role of reason in human affairs." Thomas Szasz

ASTRALMAX Level 7 Sep 16, 2018
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I agree, for most people belief isn't about truth. If it was the vast majority would already be atheists. To "unconvert", a person may need to break from family, friends, church and even spouse. This rigs the system heavily in favor of religion.

When I present evidence, I am supporting a truth. When they see the evidence I present, they "feel" like I am attacking the world view they thrive in. They connect to this false information through years of echo chamber logic.

Giving people a alternative support system is every bit as important as convincing them of the false claims of religion.

ThisGuy Level 5 Sep 15, 2018
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We are all individuals. To belong you need a group. Groups form doctrine which identifies the group.
So if you want to be accepted by the group, the group expects you to accept their doctrine.
So you are 100% correct in saying belonging to a group is a driving factor. We all want to be accepted by others.

powder Level 7 Sep 14, 2018
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Truth has the unsatisfying habit of seldom swaying anyone. Belief is a mean mofo to overcome, despite facts and truth.

Seeker3CO Level 6 Sep 13, 2018
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That is exactly one of my standard arguments I have been putting forward on this site...
That religion is much more than just a set of beliefs and pseudo-explanations, and that believers are just stupid...

What is it that makes religion so attractive to many people? According to Tim Crane in his book "The Meaning of belief" (that every educated atheist should read), there are basically two motivations:

(A.) the "religious impulse". That is a sense of the transcendent, of there being “more to it all than just this.” It is the desire to transcend the own little, fragile and evanescent life towards something that is "bigger", more stable, more meaningful, and to live one’s life in harmony with the transcendent (whether it is called god or the "divine order" or whatever.)

(B.) "identification": To be religious is more than subscribing to a set of propositions, tenets, dogmas; it is an integral part of one's identity. "Identification" refers to the the fact that religions are inherently social institutions; that, as the famous French sociologist Durkheim said, one does not just believe in a religion, one belongs to it.

Matias Level 7 Sep 13, 2018
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I believe, and I think the evidence, facts and data support it (although I have none to show), that it is mostly indoctrination and brianwashing from birth to adulthood, the family and sociatal structure, the mere geographical area that you are born into, that is the dominant driving force for religious belief the world over. Just my opinion of course.

@jlynn37 Parental influence in childhood may offer a good explanation why children adopt the religion of their parents in the first place, but it does not explain why so many keep their faith when they are adults. They would discard it if it did not give them some benefit. Because people discard a lot of the stuff their parents bequeathed to them when they grow up (dialects, fashion, way of life, political orientation...)

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I completely agree. I absolutely don't care what others believe, as long as they don't try to convert me to their beliefs of govern based on it. I never, ever try to convert religious people to my beliefs. Of course there is an evangelical radical fringe who want to make America a theocracy, and they are enabled by Trump and his minions, so I will fight them with every fiber of my being.

Wisewoman3 Level 7 Sep 13, 2018
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There is a lot of truth to this. I clearly remember a conversation with one of my daughters, many of whose friends during middle and high school were from practicing religious families. We were discussing atheistic beliefs and she mentioned that she felt a missing sense of community that she knew her friends enjoyed. She was solid in her beliefs, but felt that absence of community.

As time would go on, both of my daughters found their own communities, and lo, they were largely populated with very like minded people - my oldest found hers in Academia, and my youngest within the theater/performing arts crowd. The point with which I agree is that some sense of community is desirable in most humans, and it is understandable if religion provides that sense in the absence of any other alternatives.

Byrdsfan Level 7 Sep 13, 2018
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Obviously you can not change another person—only they can change themselves. What might not be obvious is that the other person’s opinions might just be superior to our own, and that perhaps it is we who need to learn and change.

IMO, more important than to express opinions is to respect each other.

WilliamFleming Level 7 Sep 13, 2018
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It has been my experience that people feel that identifying with Christianity is synonymous with being a "good person". No matter how little, if ever, one practices ANY aspect of an individual's religion they are good people for simply identifying with a religion. That connection is iron clad in the minds of a large portion of the Christian population to the point that they cannot conceive that an openly atheist person is not a complete amoral psychopath. In their minds one who does not practice religion is OK but one who does not identify with a religion is evil. That is based on the old, albeit elementary, concept that Christians are responsible for all that is good and non-Christians are responsible for all that is evil. They cannot even CONSIDER not identifying with being a Christian even if they disagreed with every single tenant of Christianity. To say that it is an uphill battle to convince one who identifies as a Christan that being an atheist is OK can be a major understatement. Those folks are not coming around any time soon.

OCJoe Level 4 Sep 15, 2018
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I think you make a very good point, a lot of church goers come for the community, especially these days. There just aren’t enough humanist places of worship for that secular stream to fill this gulf.

Denker Level 7 Sep 14, 2018
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Yes indeed, and this is a point that the atheist activists like Dawkins and others have made, despite attacks from religionists and even sadly some non believers. What a lot of people get from religion is often not so much the beliefs, which they may not really believe at all, but the other stuff: community activities, the theatre and entertainment of religion, and that feeling of "belonging". It's a serious challenge in pursuing a non religious world. How to replace and substitute these things. Religions are cultural organisms as much as belief systems. There are those who will say that religion is good because of that. I don't agree. The fundamentals of religion are appalling: bad history, awful theology, terrible practise, corrupt activities, harm to people, directly and indirectly due to all those things. What you have raised is one of the most important questions. I do think that with religion in decline in the west, and religious attendance in particular, this aspect of the ongoing momentum of religion is declining.

David1955 Level 7 Sep 13, 2018
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Easily stopped, keep religion away from kids as in formal instruction
Kill religion in a generation.

powder Level 7 Sep 13, 2018
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Yeah, that sounds easy...

How would you keep the beliefs of fundamentalist parents ramming their ludicrous beliefs down the throats of their innocent children and brain washing them?

@Hercules3000 OK, 2 generations

The solution may seem easy but implementing it is another story.

@Betty I have faith(pun intended). Getting closer to banning priests from contacting kids I think. Current generation would support religion being child free zones, going on their past pedo form. Need a vote, the question being "Do children have the right to mature free from belief ideology indoctrination?"
Think would be a resounding yes.

@powder

I agree with you, it just will be a hard road to sell it. Religion for many is part of their identity, messing with that will be tricky.

@powder 😁

@powder a vote loser for any American politician to try to push that through I fancy

@DEROB I grew up in the 50's, when separation of church & state was an actual thing.....
I vividly remember the words "under gawd" being inserted into the Pledge of Allegiance we said every school morning, and the great unease many adults felt about it (thanks, Joe McCarthy!)
So your theory doesn't hold water, IMO

@DEROB what shits me is the debate is about freedom of religion. Religions are organisations, they have no rights or freedoms. People do.
The debate should be about freedom of belief; the freedom to believe what you want. This will protect religions but more importantly, will protect children from being formally instructed, indoctrinated.
Freedom of belief become a human right (religions cheer). Then remind all that children are human too (religions DOH!)

Russian tried this for 3 generations, including serious persecution of "believers", constant propaganda, education through the school system, etc etc etc......and yet, achieved NOTHING

2

I agree. I think you are describing the backfire effect. Here is a video that explains how that works.

Betty Level 7 Sep 13, 2018
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Yes, it is false thinking, but not "completely", as there are soem peopel otu there who simply never havethought of or considered alternatives to the beliefs they were raised with.

However, the vast majority of religious persons so prefer their fantasies over facts and realities.

Personally, I am more inclined to try to get school to once again teach "logical fallacies" as a part of their curriculum. If people to learn to spot flaw in arguments (religious or political), then they are less likely to cling so strongly to religious views. This would not be a "cure all", but it woudl be a step in the right direction.

snytiger6 Level 8 Sep 13, 2018
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You hit the nail on the head! The feeling of belonging is what keeps most people in religion. I have heard jws say that if they had evidence that they were wrong, they would still remain in the cult.

Happyheretic Level 6 Sep 13, 2018
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I absolutely agree. My father and I used to argue about a lot of things (religion not being one of them) and he would always say, 'you just don't understand' to which I would reply, 'No, I just think you're wrong.' Understanding doesn't have a lot to do with religious differences. What's going on is that organisms, human or otherwise animal, will stop doing things that don't provide reinforcement and will continue to do things that give them some sort of reward.

The fact that religious thought is so ubiquitous shows that people do got a lot out of it. Otherwise it would have disappeared. Also, when people make choices and then are challenged, their belief becomes stronger (it's called reactance). Since religion is so basic to some people's entire value system, and they chose that value system, disagreeing or arguing with them is only likely to deepen that belief.

ladyprof70 Level 6 Sep 13, 2018
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I agree that some on this site simply do not comprehend the phenomenon of the "True believer" -- ideological or religious. True believers have literally sold themselves to dogmatic belief and it forms the core of how they define themselves. Their need to escape the feeling of powerlessness, lack of knowledge, and of being alone drives them to tis action, to the extent that, if you take their ideological core away from them, they have nothing. To really understand this, one MUST read Erich Fromm's, ESCAPE FROM FREEDOM.

wordywalt Level 8 Sep 13, 2018
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I don't have to believe in fairy tales to love my fellow man and I don't need to believe in bullshit to give them a hug or a handshake.

We are all we got in this Universe. I feel if more would really think about that and come together we could drop all the religious nonsense.

MiltsterD Level 7 Sep 13, 2018
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