What will it take for theists to stop believing?

Discussion in 'Religion Archives' started by Dr Lou Natic, Jun 20, 2003.

  1. Dr Lou Natic Unnecessary Surgeon Registered Senior Member

    - the simpsons

    Seriously, what would it take? I mean really, what MORE could you possibly need?
    I get the impression the only thing that could sway you would be if a god came down from the sky and said "please, stop believething in me" but there is no god so that won't happen and if there was and he did you would still believe because you would have just seen him..... see the predicament you got yourselves into?
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  3. Voodoo Child Registered Senior Member

    ala Adams' Babelfish.
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  7. Tiassa Let us not launch the boat ... Staff Member

    Hmm ...

    What will it take to get baseball fans to stop leaning forward in their seats on the two and two?° What will it take to get sports fans in general to stop saying "We" when referring to the actions of the team proper?

    When will people give up the idea of separate nations?

    Can you pry superstition entirely out of the human mind?

    What will it take to prepare a human mind for as much information as will be required to avoid superstition?

    Those challenges at least must be considered; as long as a superstition is left, it can be built into a religion.

    ° two and two - It would be more fair to ask why people murmur and even boo when the 0-2 pitch is low and away. Why throw three strikes in a row? Most of the strikes I see on 0-2 are foul balls because the batter was protecting the plate. But more often than not (and baseball is a game of numbers) on 0-2 you're not getting a strike. In the face of what seems to be an observational reality, fans at least seem to expect that pitch to be a strike. Watch a baseball game; interact with fans. See how much rational thought is there, and juxtapose that notion against the idea of extinguishing irrational devotion to myths.


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  8. Gravage Registered Senior Member

    Discovering the mysteries of the brain...

    We all know,God is just projection of human mind,all the theists are still children in their lives foolishly thinking there is someone to take care of them.People believe in God,because feelings simply blow up,when someone of their families dies.I had 2 deaths in my family caused by car accidents,and I still had control over my feelings.
    You see,it's simply everything about control over feelings.People are to weak these to handle some really,really bad situation(for them) like death of a loving person,hunger.They need to project someone in their mind,to have enough mental strength to survive in this truly ruthless world.Believing in God isn't that bad,until you have to live under some laws,presented by rich,hungry-for-profit people.Believing in God isn't that bad,until your imagination starts to alter the real,cruel reality around.So,virtually all people live in imagination created by themselves,as the side-effect created by too much quantity of feelings.There's no good or evil.Good and evil is just another human term,which explains ideal or bad situation for an individual.That's we must be good to each other to survive,the law survival-the only true law presented in the universe.We're nothing more than electro-chemical bodies.
    People who believe in God,but they are AWARE that He doesn't exist;it's only what they need to get some mental strength for keep moving;know how to keep reality and have control over feelings what gives them,also control over superstitional belief in God.More you exclude feelings,more you're realistic,more you include feelings,more you believe in spirits/souls/conscoiusnesses/God.This overwhelming belief in God
    cannot stop the hardness,ruthlessness of this world,it only makes it harder to accept that only the strongest survive.
    That's why fanatism is created,so-called holy wars,hungers of innocent children,and etc...
  9. Prisme Speak of Ideas, not of things Registered Senior Member

    cracke goes my fingers

    This is just a theory that some psychoanalysists (those that say you want to sleep with your mother but don't in the fear of being castrated) hold and most likely is just a general assumption since psychoanalysis is not a science.
    Plus, saying that all theists are wimpy children that need someone is about as developped as saying that all atheists are hard asses about science who have a God complex.

    Interesting you should say that. So are you saying that the feeling of God is 'natural' to human beings? That the feeling of need for a higher order imposes itself to all of us? Not only the weak among us? Interesting.

    Control or repression?

    If this would be true, then atheists would have more difficulty to survive difficult survival-related events? If so, then God is a good thing: it helps the creature (called man) survive better.

    I agree that institutionalized religion have crazy laws that bi-pass the whole point of believing in God.
    As for God having mind-reality altering properties... I would like to see studies on that. People are buying drugs to do that, not go to church.

    No good and evil? I wouldn't want you to babysit for me man.

    Ok, so there is a man-made good and evil. Glad to heir that.

    Law of survival only true law? Could you prove this to me?
    I could just as well say that life is absurd and that no law truly applies. Or that we must obey the laws of our eco-system that have been given to us.

    Just like we cannot be only a psychological being, we cannot only be a genetic being.
    A man has a depression because his brain is unbalanced... but what caused the unbalance? Depression caused by post-traumatic syndrome after serving in Viet-Nam for 4 years.
    Which comes first? The psyche trauma or the biological trauma?
    Thus we are not only bio-chemical arrangements.

    *Note that saying we are only genetic machines and then saying we live in a completly imaginary (psychological) world can become contradictory in the long run.

    Again, unproven theory that stems from gross caricatures of western social behavior.
    Feelings do not have to be opposed to reason, you have a prejudice concerning that, but thats the way our society is rigged.

    Aristotle: Only the man that engages in philosophy will truly know happiness. What is happiness for aristotle? Pleasures of the senses and emotions.
    Thus one does not engage in reason to destroy his feelings, only to accentuate them.

    Actually belief in God pretty much stops believers from worrying that htey are purposeless atoms in the universe.
    This does ot create fanatism, but a life with a meanning.

    As for holy-wars and massacers... God didn't make them, humans did.
    Please do not exclude your own right to rationally believe in a God for the simple reason that people in the past have organized institutions to control the masses.
    Religions do not own God, they just like to say they do. Atheists should get that through their heads. This is not a copyright infringement to talk of God in a personnal way!!!!!

    Kiergegaard: Q: what creation of man would deserve to contain the greatness of God? (referring to religion and churches)
    A: None. What man makes is not divine.

    Thus God is not to be held by a group for Kiergegaard, but only within an intimate relation between a man and his God.
    If this man chooses to be irrational and dogmatic about God.. he will do so on his own.


    So please do not abnegate a part of you: feelings. You will only go nuts with time, feelings were not meant to be repressed.. ask any psychologist. Sure, don't obey everyone of them, but ignoring them isn't so great either.
    And don't base your decision about God with what 'religions' do\did with him.
    IF you are the son of a God, you don't need a church to talk to your maker.
    If you are not, then you have a freaking job of explaining to yourself why is life worth being lived and why should a bio-chemical machine struggle on through life knowing its existance is unsignificant in every way.....

    The latter not being the argument I want to end with, just remember that atheists and theists are alike:
    They both believe in something:
    One in the presence and the other in the absence of God.

  10. Mucker Great View! Registered Senior Member

    Tiassa, it is only really recently that I have noticed your posts (i.e. been drawn to them). COuld you elaborate on what you mean in your above posts please, Thanks.

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    P.S., what does your name mean??

    - the simpsons

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    , I love the simpsons!
    For me? Quite a lot I think. I used to be an Athiest when I was younger. Being a Westerner (I think this was the cause) I was never really religious, but i did fear God (and I think most people do). If they don't, they are foolish because it is far from being proven that there is no such thing!! I supposed in this sense (because I was a typical western child) I could be considered a 'Born again Christian', but I hate labels! I bet I have very little in common with the 'Born again Christian' group.

    I think it's quite interesting the way education can be used as propaganda in the 'Religion war'. All of our societies children are taught that we are just animals, and that we are the product of Evolution. Education can be used to keep the masses docile, from childhood (though I think in this case it does more than that: I think it breeds the violence and hatred we see today!!)
    Last edited: Jun 20, 2003
  11. Prisme Speak of Ideas, not of things Registered Senior Member

    Religion owned schools to endoctrinate children about the correct way to act and believe in a dogmatic fashion.

    Secular governments own schools to endoctrinate children about the correct way to act and believe in a dogmatic fashion.

    The more it changes, the more it stays the same!

  12. Mucker Great View! Registered Senior Member

    Yeah but on one side you have Social problems, and on the other you have social problems that include people going out and killing innocent children! I think today the social problems are probably worse than they were 'under God', but maybe this is to be expected in a growing population, but I don't think so.

    I wonder how many documented cases there are of people killing innocent children in the days when the Church ruled?? Like in the Green Mile.
  13. drnihili Registered Senior Member

    I think it depends on the theist. Theists believe for different reasons and would take different thinks as being reasons for not believing. I've known devout theists who changed their way of thinking as the result of rational argument. Admittedly, that's not real common though.

    But the same is true of atheists. People are atheists for lots of different reasons. WHat it would take to turn them into theists varies considerably. Some might be persuaded by logic, others might requrie a more phenomenological nudge.
  14. drnihili Registered Senior Member

    Uh, lots. Anyone who thinks that people were "nicer" when religion ruled, hasn't taken a good hard look at life in the middle ages. I don't know when you think religion lost it's grip, but I'd be willing to bet that there isn't substantially more evil today than there was then.
  15. Prisme Speak of Ideas, not of things Registered Senior Member

    It's always hard to evaluate if life is better or worse off than our ancesters lived.

    The one thing that we can know however, is that people used to be given a purpose by society.
    ex: 1 of the family, usually the one lucky enough to read and write became a priest. The stronger ones became lumberjacks or hoard handlers. The ones that could use their hands better became masons and iron workers.
    If you were the son of a merchant, you would most likely become a merchant yourself.

    The Church held the society and its members together by enforcing the (judged) appropriate roles on the appropriate candidates.

    So people didn't have time to feel depressed and question their own existence all the time: they already had it served to them. And of course, negative consequences would heppen if someone didn't obey the rules of the society.

    Today, society offers no absolutes under the pretext that the individuals must develop themselves. So the role of religion is reduced to the same importance as being part of a soccer or croquet team. Every choice stands on its own and doesn't have to hold up against social scrutiny.
    ex.: Tattoo's, body piercing, pot in college, rock bands, commercial type of car and clothes.... nothing has to be justified, you are free to chose yourself for your choice is as good as anyone elses.
    (ok, ok, many subjects are still controversial, but our liberal society is always striving towards the elimination of taboos)

    So in the old societies:
    The identity of people was given to them
    the downfall:
    those who disobey the rules can get shuned from its group and lead to extreme guilt.

    The new one:
    People are free to make their own identities
    the downfall:
    A profound meanning to one's own identity is almost impossbile to find... and thus depression and prozac.

    (Up to now, most of what I typed come's from Marcel Gauchet)

    I personnally believe that mankind has transformed itself in a major way. Instead of having a stagnant definition of itself, it has become everchanging. This being true, it has become all the more important to seek meanning in our seemingly infinite nature.
    Said otherwise, now that man is without restrictions to define himself, this is the best of times to actually define him, without restraints.
    Eventhought psychopathologies have always been with us, those that are most common speak to us: our illnesses represent our lacks, what we have failed to protect in us.

    By trial and error, or the socratic method, we will and must find ourselves in order to live the good life, the life we were made to live.

  16. Tiassa Let us not launch the boat ... Staff Member

    (Insert Title Here)


    A tiassa is a large winged cat from the fantasy novels of Steven Brust. It is also a house of nobility in the same stories. Tiassas are catlike, polite but easily aroused to fury, and as a people tend to strike after their opponents' vital points in order to end a dispute quickly. I highly recommend The Phoenix Guards (and its sequel, Five Hundred Years After), by Steven Brust, if you happen to be into any dimension of fantasy literature or have an affection for Dumas or his Three Musketeers.

    As to the deeper questions, it's one of those perspective things. Thus, as I see it, religion has served in human history various functions including aspects of psychology and anthropology. And as old religions fall away, not only new religions, but new forms of religion take their place.

    The pantheon served by the Roman Empire would eventually be replaced by Christianity, and this new form of religion had to defend itself against charges of atheism (see Justin Martyr, Apologies for the Christians; my usual link to the text is not working at present, so I must apologize. I'll try to get a working link. (Actually ... try this one; see Chapter V especially.)

    In the modern day it is not the New Age or the Pagan Revival which Christians need fear insofar as potential usurpers are concerned. Scientology presents a viable threat; religion openly acknowledged to be for profit seems almost a natural evolution. Islam, while being the fastest-growing religion, faces critical philosophical questions which could put an end to that trend. EBE Theory is becoming a populist religion to a certain degree, and only the confirmed existence of aliens can start to either advocate or denounce such ideas. Transhumanism presents some interesting philosophical perspectives, but I defer to Cris regarding Transhumanism's status according to the idea of religion. Outright atheism presents a tough challenge and a "new form" of "religion": the idea of no God at all. That would be a drastic change but not unimaginable.

    But at some point everyone relies on certain assumptions. There is no fully-objective anchor for ideas like right and wrong in the Universe. So anything held to be "Truth" by any individual rests on presumption. At a certain level, this is no different from common superstition except that the "superstitions" of daily living have some functional value. Throwing salt over your shoulder or knocking on wood have no real practical value. But getting out of bed each day and going to work because "that's the way the world is" ... well, that has some value. Some superstitions have positive results.

    But I'm not even pointing to such an airy translation of the issue.

    On a practical level: Why do, as the example has it, baseball fans lean forward in their seat on the two and two? Does it actually do anything besides give you a stiff back and render your butt numb to do so for an entire game?

    Of course not. But that lean includes people's hopes. That trapped breath catches fear and swallows it deep inside. American football's "Hail Mary" is way too obvious on the one hand, but suffers a severe case of Catholicism on the other. And somewhere, though I haven't devised a coherent thesis, is a comparison between the sports of old (e.g. ancient American ballgame that nobody can figure out exactly how to play, but the losers were sacrificed to the gods) and the idea that we as a public can spend a billion dollars (one way or another) on sports arenas (the new baseball parks, for instance, are truly Houses of the Holy), or give a guy $250 million dollars to play a game for ten years.

    Sports, even devoid of genuflecting and praising God after scoring, even stripped of the dude with the rainbow hair and the "John 3:16" sign, even if we bury every seventh-inning-stretch copy of "God Bless America" ... sports are a place to see religion without God. (See also, Bull Durham ... there's a bit about "the Church of Baseball" that is, in fact, quite true.) From the communal identification with the players, management, and coaches down to the tailgate parties and if you haven't seen die-hard football fans, real American football fanatics . . . well, there goes a huge chunk of my argument. But sport is rife with superstition, and I'm not talking about jumping over the (invisible) baselines. Betters have their system. Players have their rituals (e.g. tying shoes in a certain way, eating a whole chicken before the game ... okay, I guess I am getting down to the invisible baselines ....) Fans believe that there are certain things they can do to affect the game. And while there are things that fans can do to actually help their team, none of those things take place on the living room sofa or at a tavern. Beyond that, you'd be amazed at how many people don't pay attention to who's at bat and what to do. Watch carefully, and you'll see hometown fans cost their teams a few runs here and there by interfering with gameplay. Watch American football. There used to be sort of a code to how you cheered. If you were too loud, your own team couldn't hear the snap-count. But if you're too quiet while your team is on defense ... some players say it gets spooky. They need that wall of sound as part of the defense. But fans don't do this. They'll recite the Hail Mary, eat ceremonial meals before the games, get blithering drunk for their team, paint their bodies, sit nearly naked in the snow ... but they can't seem to grasp the things they can do that are objectively shown to help their teams. In Cincinnati once, the Bengals were charged a 15-yard penalty because hometown fans were throwing ice onto the field. What did the fans do? They threw more ice. Eventually the team's coach asked for the P.A., and while it's considered irregular to hand him the mic on demand, they did. And he proceeded to ream his fans publicly. Somebody had to say it.

    Enough about sports. I'm rambling.

    But whether its sports or politics or economy or marital relations ... the human mind is bursting with superstitions.

    And in order to overcome religion, in order to overcome the Superstition of Superstitions (e.g. God), people must eliminate superstition pretty much entirely. It will be fair enough to presume that the sun will rise tomorrow, but beyond that ....

    Think of a certain myth: the myth of the car. Ask any American fifteen year old about cars. You'll hear the myth of the car. Poll our younger members about how important driving privileges are. (I can't remember who I picked that tidbit up from.)

    Or another myth: the myth of The State. I, for instance, am a huge fan of the Declaration of Independence.
    You'll note that I didn't boldface what some would think the obvious cue. Nature's God is, in fact, irrelevant to the point at hand. The essential statement:

    - When it becomes necessary for one group of people to tell another to **** off, decency commands that you should tell them why you're telling them to **** off.

    It's a nice idea. But when we get down to it, absolutely nothing about that is objective. I agree that social sciences can demonstrate the necessity. But that's according to a deeper presumption concerning right and wrong, decency and dignity ... it's existential at least, but it's there. It's a certain degree of presumption. And that presumption gets tested in another political arena: watch what happens when one group of governments finds another government illegitimate. All appeal to rational consideration is suspended. The "illegitimate" does not apparently have the "right" to appeal to rational considerations. This is only because the people actively involved in the issues "disbelieve" that "right".

    Everything about human function and cooperation is presumptuous. This is not a criticism of the human endeavor, but rather a simple observation.

    But how much knowledge does it take to break superstition? Humanity may not be physically evolved enough to handle that information capacity. Humanity may be insufficiently prepared to handle that many calculations at once.

    No more novels, no more plays, no more eye-candy blockbuster films. No more competitive sports, no more individuality ... humanity at its most efficient would resemble simpler social structures, perhaps those of ants or bees.

    So as an attempt to wrap up, I see the "devil's gift" inherent in human diversity. Part of what makes being human worth it is actually our inefficiency. And, as I'm being highly subjective to begin with, let me also assert that nature is not extraneous. If humans were to simply consume and produce like other species--e.g. ants--humanity would not have evolved its ability to think as it does. The human thought process is terribly inefficient in terms of immediate reactions; the body is terribly weak compared to other animals. But it is our ability to innovate seemingly on demand that makes us what we are, and in the scope of that ability to calculate apparently exists the necessary requirements for "human-level" self-awareness.

    I won't go so far as to say that nature intended me to proselytize at Sciforums, but it's fair enough, I think, to assert that if typing these words is a result of any evolution we can at least say that certain aspects of the process (e.g. computer, internet) are in some way "supposed" to happen; that is, our human talents apparently include this level of manipulating energy and matter; what I, individually do with this result is most likely irrelevant to the larger consideration.

    But why haven't we evolved blood so acidic it can eat through metal? Well, why would we? Nature is not extraneous; such a trait combined with other aspects of the human animal might spell extinction for the species.

    It is possible to sell individual theists on atheism, but it won't stamp out superstition or its more evolved cousin religion. These are aspects of our thinking. Consider - superstition, religion (organized superstition), rational consideration. Some may see an evolution or progression of thought, but an elimination of superstition would be devastating to those who think we would be "happier" without religion. Certes, we might live in a more harmonious world, but "happiness" beyond a certain psychological value--that can be applied to increase human productivity--would become irrelevant and even to a certain degree detrimental.

    It is fair to say that those who wish for the end of religion may not understand the implications. From what I can tell of the most part of those who would call for the end of religion, they would be bored to tears if they ever got their wish.

    Think about Liberty: Every human being has a right to determine their destiny.

    Says who? It's a presumption.

    My atheist phase included the logic-based rejection of God. However, I found that other myths dissolved on similar terms: state, family, even love itself is vulnerable to a rational rejection. And as one who, nearly seven months ago, received his first known blood relative ever, while I felt that alleged "bond", I will not quantify it as a reality as I have no basis beyond perception. I would like very much to believe it is real, and I will even believe it for comfort's sake. While I admit it irrational, I will not deny the physical presence of love.

    And you know what? I never knew the numbness I was feeling existed. I never had any reason whatsoever to think I was "numb". Don't tell me it's not real sounds good enough, but in reality the reason for that is that I can't prove that it is real.

    Theism is merely a manifestation of superstition more complex than, say, knocking on wood. Human beings, according to their present capacities, will continue to seek to raise certain ideas to a larger-than-reality status. In other words, even without God, humans will still seek gods. They'll just call them something else. Perhaps State or, as history has it, Leader. I wonder what "Divine Right of Kings" looks like in an atheistic universe?

    I might also nod to Prisme's point.

    In the end, as long as superstition exists, people will find a way to raise it into a religious cause. It's a long and difficult road, perhaps subject to the molasses pace of evolution, in preparing humanity for the task of living without superstition, which equates to living without fear.

    (And how's that for a closing line?)


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  17. Greco Registered Senior Member

    Dont forget Tiassa the ying and the yang.

    Theism , atheism.
    good, evil
    cold , hot
    superstition, scientific method.

    One condition defines the other. Atheists can not exist without theists. By trying to eliminate one condition you eliminate both. Eliminating evil would render good meaningless. Unfortunately we need the ying and the yang.
  18. atheroy Registered Senior Member


    what?!? why should you fear god? he's supposed to be all loving and caring and blah blah blah. seriously, i am not afraid of any god a) because he probably deosn't give a shit that i or anyone else exists and b) i'm living my life better than most christians i know, so who is more impressive? the guy that is good just because, or the guy that is good because if he isn't he goes to hell. the former seems far more worthy of getting into heaven in my eyes (not that i'd want to, perpetual boredom doesn't float my boat).

    you think school keeps kids docile???????? try religion buddy, the largest place for conformative thought processes and sheep hearding minister/priest/whatever. and education causes the violence today????????? try telling that to george W, or look at any of the other atrocities in the past 2 millenia that have been performed under the umbrella of religious belief, where do you get off?
  19. Tiassa Let us not launch the boat ... Staff Member


    I shan't forget them, but I do criticize dualisms from time to time in the sense that I'm not sure any situation is actually bound to them. While some things are polar opposites by definition, perhaps it is our application of those ideas to life which is in error.

    It's just that in a practical sense, life rarely if ever offers a black/white decision. Everything is shades of gray.

    But your point is well taken; I suppose the challenge--not one I'm prepared to undertake from either side--is the necessity of yin and yang. What if we only think we need it?

    At that point, though, my point may become even more meaningless

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  20. okinrus Registered Senior Member

    "Heaven and earth will pass away but my word still remains". I think you atheist will have a long wait.

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  21. spuriousmonkey Banned Banned

    Death could be the only event that could make a theist stop believing.
  22. Maia Crimson Spirit Registered Senior Member

    Mmm...surgical removal of the brain, perhaps?

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  23. okinrus Registered Senior Member

    "The spirit is willing but the flesh is of no avail."

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