What will it take for theists to stop believing?

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

  1. SkinWalker Archaeology / Anthropology Moderator

    Spuriousmonkey beat me to it... I was going to say 'death' as well. But I mean it in all seriousness.

    I think that a fundamental tenent of nearly all religions is that there is something beyond death.

    Believing in an afterlife, reincarnation, etc. devalues one's existance. If you go through life with the realization that this is all you get, then you are more likely to make the best of it. This, I think, is why many atheists that I know are less violent and appear to be more considerate to others. That last statement is by no means a fact, but it would be an interesting research topic.

    Religious people have this idea that they'll go on after death, therefore as long as they meet certain, specific criteria (belief in a messiah, death in jihad, etc.) they will have continuance of their lives.

    I choose to believe this is not the case. In fact, I've only recently made my mind up about this, though I've questioned religions for years. Now I see life as priceless.... invaluable. It shouldn't be wasted. This is all I'm going to get!

    If the majority of the world believed this rather than the opposite, the world would be a much safer and pleasant place. Life would be good in most nations rather than a few. Two thirds of the world's population might not subsist on less than $2 per day and the abundance of food available might find its way to the hungry. Wars would be shameful and warriors would be shamed rather than honored.

    I see religion as the blame.
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  3. Maia Crimson Spirit Registered Senior Member

    Well put.

    Now to explain away all those atheistic couch potatoes.
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  5. SkinWalker Archaeology / Anthropology Moderator

    Are they apathetic because they're atheist, or atheist because they're apathetic?

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  7. Maia Crimson Spirit Registered Senior Member


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    I'm a couch potato at heart!! I only hope that flute playing and occasional games of tennis doesn't disqualify me.
  8. Medicine*Woman Jesus: Mythstory--Not History! Valued Senior Member

    When will the theists quit believing?

    When hell freezes over.
  9. Prisme Speak of Ideas, not of things Registered Senior Member

    When confronted with a dilemma, one can try and seek the truth or decide to quit.

    Theists think they have found it and try to make a case...
    Half and half believers are still looking to see if there is a case...
    Atheists are quitters and don't care about proving their point...

  10. drnihili Registered Senior Member

    I think you have a typo. There's a misplaced "A" in your post.

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  11. SkinWalker Archaeology / Anthropology Moderator

    But you assume that the 'truth' is with a theistic view. There plainly is as much or even more evidence to support a atheist truth. So therefore, one could use your opening statement to invalidate the remainder of your post.

    Theists are quitters, since they've quit looking for the truth (they think they've found it, remember) and put all their faith in superstition.

    Atheists are seekers, since they are not satisfied with the status quo that religion has established over the millenia and seek more.

    In short, we question.
  12. Tiassa Let us not launch the boat ... Staff Member

    Cross-checking your mother

    To what end? What do you question and why?

    I think the whole "quitter" issue is rather silly, all in all. I'm intrigued by the accusatoin that atheists are quitters, because I think that there's an issue there that lies largely undiscussed, and it's well known that the most popular forms of theism do, in fact, call for "surrender" of various sorts.

    What is a person's obligation to knowledge? Even I assert that people have some responsibility to knowledge, but experience tells me that my own poor results in trying to know before I act is to a certain degree typical of the superstitions people employ to decry philosophical inquiry into anything. Many people don't try at all because they are afraid of getting caught in the quagmire, but those who speak don't know of what they decry.

    As with all things, though, this does not disqualify their considerations at all. Believe me, I'm not going to go kill someone just so everyone will believe me when I say killing is wrong. And few people, if any, expect me to do so; largely, the ones who do are not advocating simple murder, but rather war.

    In the history of theism, there is no sign of quitting. For the masses, though, many have resigned themselves to their "knowledge" and have ceased inquiry. In the history of modern atheism, at least, there seems to be a trend that atheists have no obligation to understand what they criticize. Neither the apathy nor its resultant arrogance are universal to atheism, just as surrender is not universal to theism. But, like surrender and theism, the apathy seems a notable symptom.

    What it comes down to, it seems, is truth, and where the parties seem to differ most is the anthropomorphization of truth, as petty gods lead to petty distractions: just ask the atheists who worry about them.

    The "quitting" accusation, from either side, is rather like a dispute between children. Did Joe accidentally catch you with his elbow, or did he haul off and pop you? Generally, it depends on whether you're Joe or the guy he nailed.


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  13. SkinWalker Archaeology / Anthropology Moderator

    Which is why I suggested only that one could consider a theist a quitter. My point was to invalidate the idea of surrender, since, as you seem to put it, surrender/quitting is not characteristic of one side of the religious issue or the other. Nor is apathy ('couch potato' syndrome).

    These are characteristics of human behavior. As is religious thought. In every society on the planet, there is religion and superstition (considered by some to be synonymous). There are many hypotheses as to why humans develop religion, but I tend to agree with Boyer (2001) who asserts that it has its roots in the way people think and learn. It's our cognitive development that makes counterintuitive ideas like the supernatural easy to believe.

    Religion isn't the only by-product of our "belief" abilities. There are also cults of UFO believers, alien abductionists, ESP believers, and a plethora of New Age topics that have absolutely no basis in fact. This same cognitive development is also the human characteristic that enables tabloids like the National Enquirer. A look at your local bookstore's New Age section might prove to be nearly as large as the religion section, if not larger (perhaps they should be merged).

    I think that, as Boyer suggests, many "beliefs would vanish if people would apply commonsense principles of mental management like the following:

    • Only allow clear and precise thoughts to enter your mind.
    • Only allow consistent thoughts.
    • Consider the evidence for a claim before accepting it.
    • Only consider refutable claims."

    People believe, according to Boyer, "because they fail to (or forget to, have no time to, are unwilling to, or just cannot) censure ill-formed or poorly justified thoughts."

    I must say that I agree with him.

    Boyer, Pascal, 2001. Religion Explained: The Evolutionary Origin of Religious Thought. Basic Books, New York, NY.
  14. Tiassa Let us not launch the boat ... Staff Member

    Fair 'nuff and other notes

    Fair enough. To be honest, I should have put a section divider there. I only addressed the "quitter" issue at all because it persisted. Turns out I had more to say about it than I expected.

    I'll have to give Boyer a look-see. While you note human belief ability, essentially human appreciation for irrationality, I always urge people to consider myths like "State" and "rights". Technically it doesn't matter to me, for instance, that the Declaration of Independence appeals to a "Creator" when asserting inalienable rights. The whole thing of rights, while I believe in them as a fundamental reality of human existence, is a myth. Rights are something people came up with because they were sick of living the other way.

    Why should one person not go out and hurt another? Because God says so? Well, if that's all that restrains people ... fine. It's better than having them running loose in the streets hurting others. Because the imminent force of the law? Ah, now there is a practical concern.

    But the fact that the imminent force of the law is more directly and situationally applicable than the will and desire of God is about the only difference. The logical foundation for law and order runs into a wall of presumption eventually, leaving it as ill-founded as the will of God. But the direct nature of its application makes law and order much more relevant and useful a consideration.

    I prefer Diderot's view, ultimately: Whether God exists or does not exist, He has come to rank among the most sublime and useless truths.

    In fact, as I look for a web reference to Diderot, I find a book review of the same book I picked it up from. An Amazon member review of Karen Armstrong's A History of God (fourth review down) pretty much says it all in its last paragraph:

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  15. Prisme Speak of Ideas, not of things Registered Senior Member

    You surrender too easily Tiassa...

    I politetly oppose Skinwalkers replies accross the board.

    I never made that assumption.
    Theists are not quitters for they are still attempting to have a spiritual life. As we all know, there is no such thing as a 'pure' theist... everyone has inner doubts and nobody is walking around claiming that they KNOW God. If they do, we all know they are kidding themselves, but so is the state of almost any debate these days. (Iraq, abortion, tax cuts, death penalty): people like to show that they know, eventhought they don't.

    This being said, the theist is in a continuous fight to somehow manage to live his spirituality, despite the modern world's attempt to sterilize the individual in a purely economic agent.
    (Gov'ts give no meanning, only rights to consume)

    This said, the atheist is a quitter in the sense that he has revoked his personal search for a spiritual life. They do this based on hilarious genetics theories that don't prove anything, but seem convincing and stupidly comparing medieval religious behaviors with those of today's which only beg the real question:
    Is their a God? Is their a transcendantal meanning?

    Theists believe there is a meanning and they try to formulate that meanning through religion.
    Agnostics review the facts in order to make a decision

    Atheists say there is no transcendantal meanning and are content on remaining with that assumption. Of course, there is no way to prove the absence of a meanning, they only have faith in the absence of a meanning... but then again, atheists deny the existence of their own faith... kinda like a catch 22:

    -There is no God
    -God requires superstitious faith
    -I cannot prove the absence of God
    -I have faith that God does not exist
    c: I am a non-religious believer "

    The only difference between the theist and atheist is the first proposition: existence of God.

    So atheists are not as 'enlightened' as they usually pretend to be. They act just like theists, except for the first clause... but what is even more funny in their position is that they are actually 'acting' like theists when 'believing' there is no God.
    Of course, they will never admit it, they don't have any faith.. right? Sure...

    You make a subtle mistake when saying:

    Atheists can't believe in finding the 'truth' concerning God, for they presuppose there is none (remember?). So atheists cannot be seekers as theists are, for they say to have no faith to doubt.
    The atheist position is particularly misleading:
    "I know there is no God" : oximoron!
    You -believe- there is no God.
    Which is not as different as believing their is one.

    This said,

    Theists are continuously attempting to legitimize their faith.
    Agnostics are thinking about it.

    Atheists are not seeking anything, for there is nothing to seek (according to them) and have not even bothered to realize that their own position is equally founded on faith as that of the theist.

    As for 'putting their faith in supersition', that's just another pejorative and unproven assumption concerning God. Only if he doesn't exist does religion become superstitious.


    Theists and agnostics are not at rest with God, they are thus attempting to make something, to define something.
    Atheists are quitters by ignoring the issue and don't even understand their contradictory position, all the while claiming 'knowledge superiority'.

    This is as scientifically proven as Freudian babbling concerning the innate desire of boy children to sleep with their mother... cognitivetly.

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    Ok, I could believe that the car in front of me is going in the opposite direction of me at 50 miles per hour.... so what if I don't buy a police radar and start to use algebra to calculate the exact location of the car in the universe in accordance to me?
    In such a case, believing the initial presumption could be usefull and save time... so we are satisfied in believing that the car is going as we saw it.

    However, I think it is pretty simple of mind to think that such everyday thought patterns (such as practical belief patterns)actually persist when humans start to actually THINK about a subject matter and with their imagination, try to enlarge its scope and refine it.
    Most scientific discoveries are not made by 'believing' in the way that we see a car and presume its status.. humans make progress by questionning his surroundings, carefully studying them and redefining his concepts.

    This complex thought pattern of discovery can hardly be reduced to primitive practicality:
    just look at physics and biology: there is absolutely nothing 'practical' or 'intuitive' in knowing these sciences, in fact they are very counter-intuitive. (<--recognize this word?)
    Practical physics tells us that the earth is flat... abstract physics show that it is actually round.

    So man used to believe that earth was flat... now he believes it is round, but has never actually experienced its 'roundness'. This is about as counter-intuitive as you ca get... and yet we are talking about science... not faith\beliefs.
    (other examples of counter-intuitive science:
    existence of atoms, non eucledian geometry, relativity)

    So Boyer, in an attempt to answer how man has faith, should bother to explain why man CAN think outside of his so called
    -practical thought patterns = belief- equasion.

    For if man can think outside of himself concerning physics, why not with religion and God? What makes 'faith' or 'believing' -as Boyer would say- necessarily without serious human thought?

    So Boyer is begging the question:
    He is not talking about "human faith", he is talking about practical human thought patterns related to everyday life matters. Rather than explaining the religious side of man as he claims, he is getting lost in psychological thought patterns that do not answer anything about man and why he believes in God.

    Boyer should seperate 'faith' and 'believing' and stop misleading people that his theories are actually explaining something new.

    We 'believe' in things for practicality: (moving objects, gravity, locations). While most beliefs are commonsensical and true, many are incorrect (earth is round).
    Thus counter-intuive science shows us that reality is not always commonsense.
    On the other hand, we have 'faith' in order to attempt to give meanning to this life, which has nothing to do with what is practical or intuitive.

    So someone write an e-mail to Boyer and tell him to seperate faith from practical belief patterns.

    Thank you,


    Favorite quote:
    Boyer thinks:"beliefs would vanish if people would apply commonsense principles of mental management"
    (original, yet false... *insert non-commonsense science here* and repeat the quote without laughter.)
    Again, Boyer confuses faith with belief and now with scientific knowledge which he seems to presume is 'commonsense'.

    Blaise Pascal:
    God is the only thing which his existence is as absurd as his non-existence.
    Last edited: Jun 23, 2003
  16. CounslerCoffee Registered Senior Member

    I sincerely DOUBT that. I believe in the pure theist, heck, I may even know a few. To claim that all theist have inner doubts is like claiming that Bush didn't start the war with Iraq. Bush did start that war, and some theist don't have doubts. I am sure of this one. Oh, and some people do claim to know God. These people are known as nutters.

    And the rest of what Prisme says is the truth.
  17. Prisme Speak of Ideas, not of things Registered Senior Member


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    So we can agree that rational people don't go running around claiming to know God as factual ... good.

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  18. drnihili Registered Senior Member

    Re: You surrender too easily Tiassa...

    I can't decide if you're really this clueless about atheists or are simply trying to pick a forum fight.

    You seem to have drawn up caricatures of theists and atheist and then pretend that they somehow reflect all real theists and atheists. Your claims about atheists have about as much truth to them as the claim that theists don't believe in science. Yes there may be a few, but certainly not all - not even the majority.

    Many atheists continue to pursue spirituality. That their pursuit doesn't fit within your limited construct says a lot more about you than it does about them.

    This all reminds me fo what I was taught as a child; There are no real atheists, everyone believes in god at some level. What a crock. Of course there are real atheists.

    All the effort trying to define the other camp and say what they're all like is just an expression of one's own fear and misgiving. It's the same with all prejudices.
  19. AAF Registered Senior Member

    "What will it take for theists to stop believing"?

    They will stop believing, if and only if SCIENCE solves the PROBLEM of ETERNAL SLEEP.
    It just doesn't make sense for those people that one is given 60, 70, 80, 90, or even 100 years to live and the rest of INFINITE TIME to be dead.
  20. Tiassa Let us not launch the boat ... Staff Member

    That's a new one on me

    How so?


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  21. Drakkon Registered Member

    Since you can't disprove the existence of anything (you can only pretty much prove its existence) then the answer is=

  22. drnihili Registered Senior Member

    So you can't prove that there are no equilateral right triangles?

    curious, I always thought you could.
  23. Drakkon Registered Member

    Show me how you disprove that.

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