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This study makes me think I've been a bit too hard on people afflicted with religion. I'm aware that in most cases they have been indoctrinated or abused, and in some cases suffer from certain mental & emotional disadvantages. But many (most) of them suffer from a deficient education and a lack of instruction and mentoring to learn critical thinking. Okay, I get it. I'll try to become a kinder, gentler agnostic.

mischl 7 Nov 5

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one of the things that pushed me away from identifying as an atheist for so long was my exposure to atheists with no kindness for believers. i don’t put up with any abuse from religious people or excuse bigoted beliefs, but i was a christian for somewhere around 20 years. i can’t stand atheists who have 0 sympathy for the indoctrinated. don’t put up with abuse or continue in conversation with someone who continuously tries to convert you, that’s fine. it’s fine if an atheist doesn’t want to be close to religious people too. no one can force friendship. i just hate the idea that we should look down on people just for believing in anything religious.

In my case, I've been resentful of Christians in particular for turning their brains over to Trump, in the name of "god."
I've been avoiding any religious subjects when around religious people, but flew into a rage when talking to my nuclear physicist brother Trumpite. I didn't do well.

@birdingnut i totally understand being resentful. religion was the source of a lot of trauma for me, so i still avoid it whenever i can, and i don’t really build relationships with religious people. it can definitely be difficult.

@basher Yeah, forget about it. The Trumpanzees are not just "supporters," they are believers and worshippers. They are cult followers. They are not in touch with reality. Their minds are simply not open to receiving any new information that disagrees with their programming.

Yes, respect goes both ways. I’m surrounded by born-agains or other Christians: my ex fiancee (I’m boarding with her at the moment), two siblings, a friend down the road, and another friend. They don’t argue with me about religion, and I don’t argue with them about it.

Mischi: Can I use ‘Trumpanzees’ in a song? Haven’t seen that word before.


yes, no need to be unkind as long as they're also being civil.... if you're not combative with them you can at least communicate with each other.... who knows, you may open their eyes to what must be a scary thought initially, that they don't truly KNOW what's going on.... the next step is to learn it's OK to not know and generally it won't hurt you(but still don't stick a fork in the electrical outlet!)....

I was led gently out of the morass as a teenager--by my Philosophy professor at the U. of Maryland. Essentially, I was already an agnostic, but I hadn't come out yet. His style of leading me was just merely by asking questions. Most importantly, "Does this seem rational to you? Does this really make good sense?" And so on.


Recently we learned a islam-based elementary school has closed. Not sure why. Some of the children have been transferred to various public schools. A good friend of ours who has worked for years as a transition support person for immigrants, told us, “The third graders can barely read english.”

There should be NO religious based schools. They take our taxes and they damage children and society, current and future.

Jacar Level 8 Nov 5, 2019

I'll be nice to a point but I was also a brainwashed follower once and I found my way out. If they refuse to even try to think critically then they lose my sympathy.


I love the expression "afflicted with religion".


Softly, softly we shall tread.

Yes, but carrying something a bit more powerful than a big stick.

@mischl No real need for anything like a Big Stick, etc, for we carry with us the most powerful weapon of them all, Logic, Reasoning, Sciences and TRUTH.


My ad blocker made that website you linked to really, really mad. So I won't be reading it, sorry. However, I think I can see where you're going - and I get it.

The reason I'm not hard on religious folks is that I don't particularly think I'm above them in any particular capacity. I know that I, were I only ever exposed to the same environmental conditions, would very likely think the same way they do. We have developed our critical thinking faculties, and we should be happy to have them, but we should also steep ourselves in the appropriate humility as befits any human being, lest we fall from the pride we would thrust before ourselves.


It gets complicated when the victims behave like bullies. This happens in many situations, like mentally ill people abusing those caring for them, and people in socially-deprived areas behaving violently towards other people. I find it easy enough to care about people until they start threatening me.

Or like a drowning person fighting the person trying to save them. It’s not really all that complicated. Fear isn’t rational. It’s not easy to deal with, but possible. And when successful, the drowning person will be grateful afterward. I was.


I always start trying to talk to the ardent Faithfools in a quiet and friendly manner BUT when THEY start getting Agro and threatening me with Hellfire and Damnation, etc, it gets harder and harder to remain quiet and friendly towards them unfortunately.
There, I have ' confessed to ALL my sin,' so what penance doth thou prescribe for me....LOL.

Can I use "ardent Faithfools" in a song? What a great word!

@MxMargaret Go for it, I've got no patent pending on the word 'Faithfools,' nor on the name 'Goat-herders Guide to the Galaxy either, so feel most welcome.


You may enljoy. The documentary I watched years ago. I will have to go dig for it.its about the neurology behind why humans evolved a brain geared for superstition. And jumping to the wrong conclusions. It used to have an evolutionary advantage. Flight is fight wiring. Of sorts

ok home on my pc now here is one link, but its not the doc i watched, it is in the same vein though


Do sceptics have more inhibitory brain control than supernatural believers?



shermer is great. always liked his debates and lectures.

another one of our heros.


Still, I think you should draw the line with people to mistreat or dee3fame others, and with those who try to impose their beliefs and practices on others. They deserve to be called out for their misconduct.

and that applies equally to everyone, religious or not.


Nah, just be yourself. It is my experience that people are fully capable of listening to and being instructed in mental discipline. However, 99% of the time, they just slip back into their lazy coma. People are weak and they like being weak. Thinking requires actual effort and that effort is NOT a practice they're willing to practice regularly. It's sad, but true. Encountering or hearing a genuinely high performing person is a startling and all too rare experience, but genuinely refreshing and humbling. Perhaps we will discover some nootropics that perform on the comfortably lazy among us.


Sometimes it is willful ignorance too, and as at least one post below indicated, too many of them act inappropriately, attacking mercilessly those who do not share their specific views.


I feel your pain. . . .Recently i posted about my attempts to understand why there are so many still waving the confederate flag, and history. . . Immediately, i was excoriated by the left-polers that all those people were, and are, traitors, and of course, by my empathy, i am a traitor as well.

Inability to comprehend context knows no political, nor belief, boundaries.

The "progressives" are more intolerant of reason than even the alt-white.

Jacar Level 8 Nov 5, 2019

I strive for understanding of the whole Confederate flag, South will rise again mentality. I struggle to see where the logic develops or thought processes take them. It’s an ongoing challenge I imposed on myself. Still working on it.

@Tinocca I lived in the deep South for awhile, observing the "rise again" thing first-hand. Giant chip on their collective shoulders, and fomenting even more racial hatred. Just awful!


And... none of this addresses, or even acknowledges the existence of, those who are religious but not superstitious.

skado Level 8 Nov 5, 2019

perhaps because that can be seen (and is!) as an oxymoron. Can you give examples?

The idea that religion is inherently about the supernatural is a very popular (but not informed) modern myth. Religion is a lot of things, not just one. When you go looking for scholarly definitions, they are as numerous as those who propose them.

But at the core of all major world religions you will find a practice (with or without superstitious beliefs). And that practice is aimed at the relief of suffering through the disidentification with ego, which is not a natural state, but one which must be cultivated by practice.

There is absolutely no need for a belief in anything supernatural in order to participate in this practice, and there is no scholarly justification for denying that such a practice is the rightful domain of religion. Thirdly, there is nothing contrary to a scientific understanding of human psychology in the notion of reducing identity with ego.

If I am wrong about this, I would welcome any evidence or rationale to the contrary that I might have overlooked.

The rebuttal I get most often is that a majority think otherwise, but if that’s the criterion we use here, why don’t we feel obligated to be religious simply because a majority are. We know why. Because being held by a majority never made anything true.

@skado as you know, I happen to agree - but can you give examples? It's a valid point, I think, and why this is rarely thought of.

The Dalai Lama is a great example. Arguably the spiritual “leader” of modern day Buddhism, says belief in the supernatural is not important, but practicing in order to gain control over negative emotions is paramount.

@skado ah - but this gives ammunition to the side saying that Buddhism isn't a religion... no?

The people who have their minds made up about this will use anything as ammunition in order to support their preferred view, but google world religions and you will always see Buddhism listed.
On the other hand, if you look closely at Abrahamic religions, you will see undeniable references to disciplines that are very well described in Buddhism. They have more similarities than differences. Some Buddhists also believe in supernatural elements, but if you look closely at the supernatural, it’s usually quite understandable if you see it as metaphor for nonmaterial things that we all agree exist when we use nonmetaphorical language to describe them, like attitude, mood, intention, intuition, etc.

@skado this always seems to come full circle - to whether one wishes to 'rehabilitate the term' religion, or whether it's better to arrive at a different terminology. ie. a semantic debate... While those can be useful, in this case I still hold it's so outside of the usual definition that it's shooting itself in the foot, through a sort of inverse snobbery.

It would be snobbery if it were held solely for the purpose of distinguishing oneself from the “others” but if there is good reason to hold such a position, then claims of snobbery could be the same defense we all want to use at first when we encounter a new truth, “Who the hell does he think he is to hold ideas unfamiliar to me; my ideas are plenty adequate, and I’m a well-informed person! He must be a snob!”

So what are the good reasons? The first good reason is that it is supported by the evidence. Study any major world religion and you will find, among all its local cultural trappings, a core practice aimed at the reduction of psychological suffering, and the strengthening of social cohesion. That’s what religions do. That’s what’s consistent about them all.

The second good reason is linguistic continuity. No matter what word you use to replace “religion” with, it won’t have anywhere near the historical recognition religion does. Sure, many people have ill-informed associations with that word, but that’s better than no association at all. If I say gazornumplatz instead of religion, people are going to have to ask me what I mean, and then I’m going to have to say, you know... religion!

The third good reason is, I can’t, in good conscience, abandon the historically most powerful cultural institution ever invented, to those who misunderstand and abuse it. The ignorati don’t own religion. Religion is an emergent property of Homo sapiens, and as such, it is here to stay. It will be managed and directed either by the ill-informed or by the better-informed, and I believe the better-informed will be better stewards.

The fourth good reason is, my own religious practice compels me to seek consonance, wherever possible and practical, instead of succumbing to the more “natural” inclination toward dissonance. This requires effort, but is conducive to peace instead of war.

Our real-world circumstances are massively, if not perhaps entirely, at the mercy of language. Worldview is dependent on language. Intelligence is dependent on language. Language is arguably what makes us human. All human struggles unfold first in the realm of language before they boil over into the practical world.

Peace begins with language. War begins with language. Words, spoken or thought, are prior to action. It’s a lot more economical to stop a thought than to stop a bullet.

It’s practical, and economical to seek consonance with all fellow humans, instead of retreating to the security of our tribes and declaring all “others” wrong. One way is effortful, but leads to peace. The other way feels better but leads to war. Eighty percent of my fellow humans claim some kind of religious orientation. It makes more sense to me to do the work of looking for common ground, if any exists, than to write them all off as irredeemable, or worse. And, much to my surprise, when I look, I find that it does exist! We can preempt material problems with non-material (thought-based) interventions if we are willing to do the work. All humans have more in common than in difference.

And the fifth good reason is that I am not afraid of identity cooties. 🙂

@skado certainly excellent arguments! except #5 because I have no idea what it means!

@skado on the connotations fo 'religion' - this is cultural of course, and my culture may be far more fringe than yours (I don't accept that but it is possible). For generations in the UK, religion has been short-hand for hierarchy and establishment, not for a personal practice in any way... The word was long ruined before the Enlightenment, and subsequent behaviour of the churches hasn't redeemed it. I would go so far as to argue for 'spiritual' despite the loathing felt by ½ this site for that idea.

If you don’t like that word, you shouldn’t use it. What word would convey the sense of a practice, aimed at “spiritual” (psychological) transcendence of natural suffering (compounded by modern complexities)? What single word best describes all of the world’s combined, so-called wisdom traditions, at least the parts of them that are aimed at transcendence practices?

@skado meditation?

Well, that’s a good thought. That would make a fitting symbol. I’ll vote for that!


Respect everyone's right to express their opinion but remember that not every opinion carries the same weight.

"...not every opinion carries the same weight."

I'm not tracking. Why should any opinion outweigh another?

@Shawno1972 B/c opinions need to be weighted based on a person's knowledge, education, experience, training etc. In order to have any validity.

@Atheist3 - Opinions? Opinions require no validity. Facts do, but an opinion is never guaranteed to contain those.

@Shawno1972 Exactly, so opinions need to be weighted in order to separate the wheat from the chaff.


I respect everyone's right to have their own beliefs or non beliefs. I don't try to shove my non belief onto anyone, and I don't want anyone to try to shove their beliefs onto me. Most people are respectful, but others aren't, and they refuse to let someone else have a different view that is contrary to their own.

I respect other peoples' religions so long as they don't advocate doing harm to which case I come down pretty hard on them.


In most cases they are assumed as adults to have the capacity to observe & think.....I give them No slack, I find "stupid" annoying to the point of personal affront!

Yes, that's very much my gut reaction. I've consciously decided I can't save them, nor do I want to...unless somebody comes asking questions, perhaps genuinely wanting to know why I'm not afflicted by religion like everybody else.


My mother I love her, but she was say afflicted by "religion" of her parents growing up in the 1960's (ish). She didn't like having to go to school wear only dresses to her ankles that was all homemade and not store bought fashion designer. She wanted to do the 60s hippy stuff and be all "worldly", wear a lot of make-up. What many call a poster child for a preacher's kid. Grandpa was a world war 2 drill Sargent then later turned preacher. It's like ironic would you say, so many sterio type "Christian " house holds as Male dominated. No, not my "Preacher" Grand parents. You could say my grandmother "wore the pants" in her house but she only wore dresses and not because of Male domination.

But back to my "Rebellious" mother. She grew up and out of her parents house and did the worldly stuff as soon as she could. She married my alcoholic father that died of alcohol overdose when I was 3. Oddly, My mother did quit smoking cigarettes for some reason, when I was 5 or 6 years old, for quite some years.

Anyhow, said all that to make my point of my mother, the typical preacher's child illogical atheist type. She reared me with a lot of "God damn you Shannon" and her favorite saying was "I be damned, damned if you do, damned if you don't". A lot of typical illogical atheist pessimistic, negative.... discouragement to be around her. Not much mentoring really, just more of barking orders and demands then wondering why something wasn't done right. When I was young she asked my grandparents if they would take and raise me. They were like, you live next door to us, we help you with him but he is your son. At least they lived next door and if I needed a peaceful place I could go there to get away from my mother's illogical atheist outrages. I can can admire her for things she she did do, widow woman building up a person small town successful business and some other things.

My teen years I had friends visit or stay over for a weekend night and would have to explain the holes in walls and doors where she would get into one of her illogical atheist out rages and go to swinging a bat and breaking things.

Already a long story, but I survived. Wasn't able to drop out of High School after 9th grade and go on to college like I could have if it wasn't for her illogical atheist pessimistic attitude. In my 20's with out the long story, my mother had her part of having me thron in jail where she was sheriff's secretary. I had been deputy sheriff investigating organized criminal activity of governmental officials that she was not aware of my investigation. Her attitude was that I needed to learn to "submit to authority ", and jailers were going around trying to entice other inmates to beat me up. Then, I come to the understanding that Jesus is Lucifer the devil and everything makes sense.

So to have more agnostics and illogical atheist taught to be gentle and more compassionate might help make the world a better place. Now, if the Sun would hurry up and explode or expand into a red giant star tomorrow and burn everything up on Earth, no one would have to be around to worry about any of this pathetic crap that there is just no hope anymore for true goodness.

Word Level 7 Nov 6, 2019

My, what an interesting story. That sounds worse than been raised by right-wing fanatics. I guess you have a lot of healing to get through. Best wishes.


It would be easier for me to consider theists as merely folks who have contracted the disease of theism if they weren’t so intent on being carriers for their particular disease and refusing to accept treatment for it. Instead, they insist that everyone else needs to contract their disease. It’d be the same as if someone had measles and insisted on telling folks how wonderful it is to have measles and went out of their way to try to spread it around. I regret it if anyone has a disease, but if they’re trying to give it to me, I’m not going to feel too damn sorry for them.

Speaking of one’s perceived outgroup in terms of the language of pathology sets the stage for their physical eradication, as Hitler did with the Jews when he spoke of them as viruses. These people hold a worldview that’s different from the one you currently hold. That’s it. They are more like you than different from you. Some of them may even know that.

@skado In your original post, you had used the term “afflicted” when referring to theists. From the use of that term, it appeared you were considering theism as a sort of pathology. My comment was merely to extend the metaphor of “disease” when discussing theism. I bear no particular antipathy towards theists individually, though I must say, neither can I find much empathy for them. My apologies if I was incorrect when I assumed your post was meant metaphorically.

It wasn’t my post. I don’t mean to sound preachy - I just hate to see people talking about fellow humans that way, even when I do it.

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