Friday, January 9, 2015

Oh, To Understand the Religious Mind!

I can't believe I haven't posted since November!

I've been wondering lately - but am too lazy at the moment to go find out - if there is a book about the "Science of Religion".

It would be fascinating to find out if there have ever been any scientific studies on the religious mind and what it is exactly that causes people to cling so desperately to the "truths" they have been raised in from infancy.

Why does the human mind so easily believe such nonsense?  Why is it so difficult, nearly impossible in fact, to pull people's minds out of this delusion?  Why do people ignore simple facts and believe in ancient myths?  Even when presented with the common sense arguments that their beliefs are false, they cling to them desperately.  In fact, it only makes their resolve to believe even stronger.

There never has been - and I daresay there never will be - any evidence AT ALL that religion is true and god exists.  Religious people often make the claim "there is indisputable evidence of X, Y, and Z" but when asked to produce said evidence they either can't, won't, or just make extremely ignorant arguments.

I am absolutely baffled that we live in such an age where information is so abundant that we have virtually unlimited knowledge streaming right into our homes (thanks to science), and yet the world is still full of people who would give their lives in defense of stone-age stories.

I am dumbfounded.

In fact, that brings a thought to mind.  I'm not that great of an artist, so I will write a cartoon with no pictures (if anyone could help, that would be awesome!)

Picture a young religious boy being talked to by his religious leader.

Leader: "With the word of the Lord, you can confound the unbeliever, the wise, and the learned."

Picture now this boy debating with an atheist.

The boy makes some comment and backs it up with a verse from scripture.

The atheist walks away, speechless.

The boy thinks to himself, "He is confounded!"

The atheist thinks to himself, "I am dumbfounded!"


Heather said...

I think I've read about studies being done on people, and the findings being religious people aren't as intelligent but happier- but its hard to trust studies like that.

Its very hard to rationalize with an over zealous religious nut. Especially if that nut is a loved one. Makes it more complicated.

Good joke at the end. =) and you should POST MORE OFTEN. Just a small suggestion over here in Idaho Mormonville.

luksky said...

There is a very interesting book I read once that just may be what you are looking for. It's called "THE BIOLOGY OF BELIEF" by Bruce Lipton. Very interesting read.

Mormon411 said...

I wonder about the validity of that study too because I know some religious people that are far smarter than I am. Happier? Doubt that too. Although I have read about studies that show religious people tend to live longer. Maybe that's because the heathens are out actually having some FUN!

I will seriously try to post more. I'm really busy being a single parent and working full time. I always have thoughts about stuff to write about though. My son has even made a few comments which I'd like to share.

Thanks for the referral, Luksky. That is exactly what I was hoping for. I'll see if the library has a copy.

Hakam Adam said...

"what it is exactly that causes people to cling so desperately to the "truths" they have been raised in from infancy."

Your problem right away is that the way you've described the situation is to make your view so narrow that you'd miss anything relevant to epistemological beliefs that differ from yours, which were arrived at after personal study late in life.

I was converted intellectually. There was no emotional persuasion of any kind that influenced my decision to agree with black-or-white logical assertions. Statements like the one quoted above strike me and all other like converts as absurd, because we ourselves are living demonstrations to the contrary.

You'll never persuade people who came to faith through reason, by insinuating that everybody who believes in something more than naturalism is emotionally persuaded or arrived at faith from early childhood indoctrination.

I was 20 when I believed, and it was not from ignorance. It was the naturalistic story of earth's origins that I had been raised with, absorbing dinosaur books and astronomy books, and excelling in science classes in public school. My parents were at best nominal believers and gave me no private education on theological matters.

Therefore, assertions that people believe, in the main, because they are raised to, strikes me as naive overgeneneralizations and the epitome of what it means to have a narrow minded view of the world.

In your endeavor to make powerful mockeries, you seem to have sidelined any concern for accuracy. This comment is meant to point this out and suggest that you reconsider this. Otherwise, if you ignore truth in order to pursue your agenda, you're behaving exactly like the Mormon Church you left behind.

Surely you wouldn't willingly be so hypocritical?


Mormon411 said...

Yes, clearly I have a narrow view. Clearly I'm just trying to make the evidence fit my beliefs.. no wait, that's what religious people do.

Ok, my narrow view... Most people are brought up in their religion. If you weren't indoctrinated as a child, then you are the exception to the majority. So don't tell me I have a narrow view.

Converted intellectually? You believe god tortured his favorite son to death so you could feel better about yourself and you call that intellectual? I would argue that I was de-converted intellectually. I started thinking and asking questions. And when I answered those questions honestly, there was absolutely no room for religion.

"Faith through reason"... wow. That statement is harshly self-contradicting. Faith is the act of believing in something which has no evidence. Reason is "mental powers concerned with forming conclusions, judgments, or inferences". So if you use something which has no evidence in order to make judgments, then your judgments are most likely incorrect. This is not intellectual, but self-deception.

So the bottom line is, most people are raised in the religion of their parents/culture. So trying to make me look narrow minded for pointing out this FACT only makes you look desperate for an argument.

Accuracy, wow! Sorry, but I haven't surveyed every person on the planet to make sure they were all raise in religion before I wrote this post. Clearly there are exceptions. I never stated that EVERYONE who is religious was raised that way. But most are.

Please come back when you have an argument that actually has some substance.

If you want to accuse me of having a narrow view, then maybe you should realize that I was willing to take a good, hard look at my childhood beliefs and be willing to question them with the possibility that they might be wrong. You have also demonstrated a willingness to do this. You have arrived at your conclusions by faith and I have arrived at mine by reason.

Don't insult the word "reason" by using it congruently with "faith". There is no such thing as "faith by reason".

Mormon411 said...

I just have to say, I'm a little disappointed in your comment, Hakam Adam. Out of all the issues I addressed, you choose to focus in on a concept that has little bearing. So not everyone is raised from infancy in religion. Big deal!

Focus on the important stuff here. I claim that your beliefs are stone-age stories. Why don't you dispute that?

Why don't you actually try to answer my question. Why do people cling to religion despite the fact that they have no evidence to support it; in fact, there is evidence to the contrary?

I mean, focus on the important issues. Trying to make me look bad only backs up my claim that you can't really refute anything with a viable argument.

I freely welcome your valid arguments as to why faith is superior to reason. I didn't ask this question to make religious people look bad. I asked it because I genuinely want to understand.

My question is this: even most religious people will admit there is no evidence for the existence of god. So why then do they cling to it? Whether they were raised from children or converted as adults, doesn't matter. I want to know why they cling to an invisible god that they can neither see nor hear.

If you claim you were intellecually converted, then I would LOVE to hear that story!

Hakam Adam said...

Urgh. Somehow ended up posting the response over here:

Because it turned out to be 4 posts in length due to the character limit, I'll just link to there rather than repost it all here and royally clutter everything up. :P

Mormon411 said...

"I would say that His truth is irrefutable, because it can be challenged, but never succeeds, or will succeed, in being *proven* unsound, let alone invalid."

The burden of proof rests upon the believers. You're a smart fellow. You should know that.

You can't prove the Flying Spaghetti Monster doesn't exist, can you? You can't disprove the flying tea kettle, or even the stone in my garden. How do you know that stone isn't the entity that answers your prayers? You don't. And you can't prove it doesn't.

The rest of your comment is far too much to respond to, esp since it won't lead anywhere.

I will just say this, we don't call ourselves "free thinkers" because we seek the easy answer with the easy "evidence". We prefer a slightly more rewarding answer than "god did it".

Take a good, hard think about what you believe: talking snakes, virgin births, magical fruit trees, dead people coming back to life. I have news for you.. In the real world, this stuff DOESN'T happen.

Hakam Adam said...

1. Burden of proof is a concept that says that whoever is trying to persuade someone has the onus of making the argument. "I see no proof" is always a logically coherent reason, if not practically wise, to reject anything. Therefore, whoever wishes to make the case for anything is the one who needs to bear the burden of proving it.

That means that, irrespective of whether you're a believer or unbeliever, if you are trying to prove something (e.g. if you are making any claim at all that you think is true), then you have the burden of proof to justify your statements logically, and not merely make bare assertions.

In what you quoted me saying, I'm not saying "you can't prove God doesn't exist, therefore He does." That's irrational. As irrational as saying "you can't prove God exists, therefore He doesn't." This world runs according to logic (because God made it that way and God is logical). If anything is true, it will be provable. Ergo, what I was saying was that God is certainly provable. The focus of my quoted statement was to distinguish between denial and refutation. One is an act of will and the other a deductive operation.

"You can't prove the Flying Spaghetti Monster doesn't exist, can you?"

Actually yes, and it's very simple.

1. If Jesus Christ is God, then what He says is true.
2. What He says is true is recorded in the Bible.
3. The Bible unequivocally excludes any and all religious beliefs contrary to that prescribed in the Bible.
4. Jesus Christ is God [refer to external proof]
5. All other religions are false.

6. If a general set is false, all specific instances of that set are false.
7. FSM is a specific instance of the general set, "religions contrary to Biblical Christianity"
8. FSM is false.

The logic is totally valid. Your only avenues of gripe are that "the Bible does not accurately represent what Jesus Christ said," "the Bible rejects all contrary religions," "FSM is contrary to Christianity," and of course, "Jesus Christ is God."

But asserting that would be to assert that my logic wasn't sound, not that it is invalid. It's a perfectly reasonable argument, if every point is true. And hopefully you can now see how things with no proof for them can still be shown to be false, provided you have access to a divine revelation concerning them.


"In the real world, this stuff DOESN'T happen."

If it did, that would be reason enough to question the significance placed on those things occurring in the Bible, wouldn't it?

If the Bible ascribed supernatural, historical or eschatological significance over the fact that it rained on such and such a day a few thousand years ago, you'd think, "uh, it rains all the time. It means nothing."

Consequently, your criticism isn't a real criticism. What you are attacking INSISTS that those things do not happen all the time. So what then is your real problem?

Presumably it's incredulity. But if there is a God who can do anything not logically impossible, then He can easily make donkeys speak, virgins conceive, and raise the dead. To have issue with that simply betrays a failure to understand omnipotence.

Mormon411 said...

Your proof of the dis-existence of the almighty FSM is a sore disappointment.

Do you realize, like I have been saying, that this line of "logic" can be used to demonstrate the truthfulness of any religious set of beliefs?

Let me demonstrate.

1. If Allah is God, then what He says is true.
2. What He says is true is recorded in the Koran.
3. The Koran unequivocally excludes any and all religious beliefs contrary to that prescribed in the Koran.
4. Allah is God [refer to external proof]
5. All other religions are false.
6. If a general set is false, all specific instances of that set are false.
7. Christianity is a specific instance of the general set, "religions contrary to Koranical Islam".
8. Christianity is false.

You're going to have to do much better than that.

Oh, and next time, you might not want to use circular arguments to prove your point.

In fact, you might want to get online and do a Google search for "logical fallacies", because you use them left and right.

Hakam Adam said...

"Oh, and next time, you might not want to use circular arguments to prove your point."

Circular arguments like assuming the Bible says something that it doesn't say, then rejecting it on the basis of absurdity/incredulity re: that thing, and concluding that the Bible is absurd?

There wasn't anything circular in that argument. That's what the external proof reference was about. You'd be perfectly valid in making that argument about Islam, but then to sort the two out, you'd have to go and evaluate the premises "Jesus Christ is God" and "Allah is God" and decide which is most logically coherent.

The point is that you actually do have to put in the leg-work of looking into the deeper claims of a belief system if you want to reject it out of intellectual honesty and not out of ignorance.

The challenge to you is, you never bother to get anywhere close to addressing the actual truth-claims in the Bible, because you're "caught up on" picking on an easy target, Mormonism, which the Bible refutes as a heresy anyway, and because you throw up untrue assertions about what the Bible teaches.

Since you never intend to actually find out what the Bible teaches, you don't feel like you need to worry about rejecting it for valid reasons, it seems.

This is an issue for someone who asserts that his world-view is more logical than the alternative.

My challenge to you is to give up fyour oft-repeated "absurdity defense" and actually examine the Biblical text critically, to see what the contents of Biblical Christianity really are.

If you refuse, I don't know how you'll be content with yourself, to live the rest of your life fully knowing that you're rejecting Christianity for no good reasons.

Give it some thought. If "religion" is inferior to "reason," then it shouldn't hurt you one bit to scrutinize the actual claims of "religion." But avoiding it screams of insecurity in your own private faith. These are your options.

Mormon411 said...

I am avoiding nothing. This blog is full of over 500 posts where I scrutinize the claims of religion. Your comments are simply far too wordy and lenghty to respond to all of it.

Example: Religion claims Jesus came back to life.

Criticism: people don't come back to life so that claim is false.

Claim: Jesus walked on water.

Criticism: It is impossible to walk on liquid water so that claim is false.

It is so very, very simple.

Hakam Adam said...

Here's a very simple question: if an all-powerful being exists, does that being have the capacity to bring a dead person back to life?

Yes or no.

Mormon411 said...

If an all-powerful being does exist, ("if" being the key word here) then, yes, he/she/it would be able to bring dead people back to life.

Now you're going to tell me that you read about this happening in a really old book so therefore, since dead people come back to life, this all-powerful being exists.

There's just one problem.. it's a story. In a book. It's words on a piece of paper. I read a story in a book. It's about this really short person who found a ring and when he puts it on, he turns invisible. Cool, huh? Must be true since it's in a book and now a major motion picture! I mean, if it wasn't true, why would so many people pay money to watch it?

I read another book about a whole winter world that exists in the back of a closet, complete with prophesies, talking animals, sacrifice, and epic battles.

I read another book about a little girl who gets blown away in a major hurricane to a mysterious kingdom where she sets out on a quest to get back home. In her adventures, she obtains a pair of magical shoes, combats wicked witches and flying monkeys, befriends the most unusual characters, and dares to call an all-powerful wizard "humbug".

I read another book about two naked people in a garden paradise who only have one rule to NOT break. But a talking snake tricks them into breaking that rule and now all of mankind is fucked.

In the sequel to this book, god has figured out what to do about this "mankind fucked" dilemma. He will impregnate a virgin with himself so that he can die and save everyone. I won't spoil it, but it has a happy ending. No, not that that kind of happy ending, pervert!

I think you get my point.. words in a book are just words in a book. Just because they are there, doesn't mean they are true, even if they claim they are true. Even if millions of people believe it. Especially if it tells of things that we know are impossible.

Put that in your pipe and smoke it.

Unknown said...

This comment questioned why seemingly intelligent people buy into religion without any scientific or verifiable facts in support thereof. In my opinion, there is one glaring reason. Many people are terrified of death. This fear of death is the overriding reason why people pay homage to beliefs in gods, religions, demons, prophets, popes, etc. This fear is the motivating factor behind most religious beliefs. People will cling onto outrageous, bigoted, destructive, vile, and even evil beliefs if they can fool themselves into believing that they will escape death and experience another life after this one ends. I also firmly believe that the rate of atheism is higher than what statistics may say. Rational, intelligent people do have their doubts even though they shun these doubts. Many, if not most people, deep down, don't really believe in the supernatural. There is also the social aspect of religion that draws many people into certain beliefs because it provides friendships, love, and escape from loneliness. Then there are people who do see religion for what it is and they are not swayed to accept or even purport to believe in things which simply do not exist. They are courageous. Einstein said that "religion is nothing more than an expression and product of human weakness." Einstein was correct.