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Why I'm not an activist for atheism (at this time):
I am a de-converted person with very religious family and friends. Like, Jesus is your best friend, it's your identity type of stuff.

  1. I don't want to weaken relationships unnecessarily - religion has a way of holding people together.
  2. I suspect there is some evolutionary advantage to religious belief - societies with a stronger religion beating those with weaker religions - at least at certain times in human history.
  3. I suspect some people are biologically predisposed to accept or believe in religion. Thus, I think they might never abandon faith no matter what anybody says or does.
    So, I'm kind of in a "don't throw the baby out with the bathwater" kind of phase. I sprinkle my thoughts on certain subjects, as they come up naturally.
    Anybody else in a similar place, or maybe passed through it already?
By EB805
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9 comments

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0

On point number two, yes there certainly is an evolutionary advantage to religion. Nothing unifies a society better in war than religion. The cry of having "God on our side" while waging war against the infidels/pagans/godless whoevers has been heard throughout the ages.
On point number three, I think this is true. Religion dies a hard death and resurrects in the strangiest places. Study the history of Stalinist communism and how they professed atheism while pretty much mading a religion out of the State. Also, ever hear of celebrity worship?

1

Being a teacher in central Virginia for 30 years I've had to keep my lack of religion to myself, although I have expressed my political outlook. I practice a live and let live attitude although I do occasionally rail against the die hard fundamentalists. Once I retire in July I feel I can "come out of the closet" and become an advocate for the nonreligious. My protestant upbringing has given me a knowledge of bible stories that has given many kids to idea that I am a christian!

1

I have been through that before. The best thing to do so as to not make unnecessary waves with others is to just be quiet about it. In my experience it is the very religious people that feel the need to push their beliefs on others, not the not very or non-religious ones. I agree with EB80. Why inadvertently destroy a meaningful relationship with someone you care about because you know how they will react to knowing your religious disposition?

2

I now wish I had written a clearer post. lol
To try to clarify: the reason I wrote it is that I constantly hear, on podcasts and such, people very chagrined that they came out to their families and friends only to have much pain inflicted on all parties.
For various reasons I have been very resistent to doing this. I tested the waters with a couple of Christian friends and came off as a militant atheist, even though my intent was just to show them how how free I felt for the first time in my life. And wanted them to be free.
Besides possibly ruining or straining some important relationships, there is also the risk of causing a lot of pain to those like my mom who are super-duper true believers.
If necessary, yes, like if the belief is causing some harm. But when those around you are happy and maybe not likely to change, I feel some patience and compassion are a virtue.
I'm not sure that clarifies very well!

EB80 Level 5 Apr 13, 2018
1

As to your second point, internal violence in America seems to have coincided with the weakening of religion in our nation. I can't say whether there's a causative link, or rather that one is directly linked to the cause of the other, but there does seem at least to be a correlation, as in the two are somehow related.

Wow. What a troubling point. If there is a correlation. Is it possible that violence is just better reported now? Or, from another angle, is it possible the newer, faster news cycle is somewhat responsible too?

Well, it's possible. But look at the number of school shootings now. After Columbine, the number of such shootings seemed to skyrocket. Now, it's almost like we expect them. We have an average of one school shooting a month. Before Columbine, it was shocking, it was appalling. Now, it's both those things.

But sadly, it's not surprising. Before Columbine, there was that college shooting from the guy who was up in the clock tower and a few other incidents. But with the increased availability of automatic weapons (whether you call them assault rifles, or just automatic weapons) and the degradation of moral fiber in America, you get a horrible pervasive pattern of violence and hatred.

And this has largely coincided with the decline of religion in America. Now, if you look at a similar pattern in the decline of religion in Europe, Canada and other countries, you don't see the same level of violence. So perhaps the moral fiber of Americans was degrading and would degrade with or without religion.

But while religion may lead to hypocrisy, bigotry and anger, it has largely been a powerful force for good in many ways. And while you can't say that the 1960s was perfect, there certainly wasn't any one school shooting a month in the 60s. In fact, I can't think of a single school shooting that happened in the 60s. There were certainly mass shootings, but they were rare and in the 60s, religion was, for good or for ill, a powerful force in America. Take a look at the Wikipedia page on School Shootings in the United States.

[en.wikipedia.org]

I think you latched on to something that a lot of people see nowadays and think it was better back in the 1960's or 1950's or some such era. I'll tell you who definitely doesn't want to go back to 1950's America: Blacks, women, gays, pretty much any minority group.

As to why this decline of "moral fiber", whatever that means, has only impacted Europe in a positive way I will suggest that it is their social safety nets that protect them. And crime in this country has dropped ever since the 1990's and has stayed down. We are living in the safest time to be alive in the history of the United States.

It's true. The 60s wasn't the idyllic time that so many people like to believe it was, especially for minority groups. I'm familiar with the Civil Rights Movement, the police brutality against minorities in particular.

That doesn't mean that mass shootings aren't a bigger epidemic now than they were then.

@ErichZannIII Yet the mass shootings are mostly being conducted by people from the group that hold that the moral fibre of the USA has declined. That would lead me to read the increase in mass shootings as reaction to the change in definition of what constitutes moral behaviour.
In other words morality isn't declining, merely changing emphasis.
Which raises a point from the OP. The advantage may not be evolutionary in that religiosity is specifically enhanced. Rather that religion strengthens small, in group bonds which in crises are absolutely vital to survival.
Our lives not being in a state of perpetual crisis we can explore the virtues of larger group interactions and greater personal freedom. The virtues of religion become vices in that case. This looks like the loss of morality because religion has almost always defined morality.

1

Those are perfectly legitimate personal decisions to navigate these issues. I don't happen to agree with them 100%, and I suspect others would not either, but that's neither here nor there. However, for what it's worth, here's my $0.02 plus inflation:

1) Is aboslutely correct, and it's why when the thought experiment is presented to me, "what if there was a magic button I could press to make religion go away?", that I would hesitate to press the button. Even if that included making the memory of religion go away, I think within weeks some people would just be inventing new religions. Humanity is still in its childhood. It does not have sufficient grounding in critical thinking and empathy and actively pushing back against the tendency to tribalism and confirmation bias and so forth, that natural selection has made us prone to. The open question is would religion invented in here in the 21st century, without the cruft of the bronze and iron age, be less harmful? Arguably yes. I would probably say, oh what the heck, and press the button. But I would hesitate.

2) This is questionable in my view as the less religious western societies also rank among the happiest. But with the qualifier "at certain times in history", maybe this could be true, for some given value of true. But I suspect when it would be true, it'd be because religion has rigged the game to make not playing along to be maladaptive in practical terms.

3) Not biologically predisposed exactly, but mentally predisposed, because absent a clear understanding of well-understood cognitive biases / quirks and working to modify and inhibit those things in ways that work better in a modern, urban, technological setting than the settings we evolved in, people will continue to be vulnerable to the facile lies of theism.

mordant Level 8 Apr 13, 2018
3

I’m interested in points 2 and 3. Do you have some reading materials you could recommend on these topics?

Yes,

Hmmm. Great question. I think The Righteous Mind: Why Good People are Divided by Politics and Religion goes in to point #2. I think Sex & God: How Religion Distorts Sexuality goes in to point #3.

2

I respect everyone's thoughts belief and idealogoy I don't judge and I do take on board the discussion and learn from it

Rosh Level 7 Apr 13, 2018
3

Been there. I'm also reluctant to deprive someone of the one thing that might be keeping their head above water. The problem is that the real world effects of their beliefs have far reaching deletrious effects on other people.

Oh Boy......ain't that the truth

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