Re: virus: Why people cling to faith
Tue, 26 Jan 1999 12:56:19 EST

In a message dated 1/25/99 7:51:15 PM Central Standard Time, writes:

<< > The reason permitting it is always one, not using >critical thinking skills. Either having a general pattern of not using them,
>or putting them on hold for one or a few emotional exceptions.

Do you know how arrogant and naive this sounds? I guess you do:>>

Ah please!! Are you getting an attack of PCitis? I am naive? Do YOU have a religious experience to share with us unenlightened and naive folks? I certainly think about religion a lot, because it is inextricable from our culture, but I am not religious, and religious thinking survives in our culture because people allow it to survive by not thinking critically about it or various aspects about it. The day that people stop doing that is the day that modern religion joins greek mythology in its rightful place in history and literature. I don't care too much if it remains alive, however, as long as it does not dominate culture the way it has done in the past.

If you are just trying to be P.C. about religion, that's fine - I've done my share of that too - but I finally got tired and made an affirmative decision to not supress my thoughts about it anymore. Religion is interesting, its fascinating, it gives people a sense of meaning in their lives, I could watch it all day, but it is still fundamentally irrational, and I am not going be silent about that out of "courtesy".

If I am going to speak my mind, I am sure it will sound arrogant, so I don't waste time trying to sugar coat it when it makes no difference. I could sprinkle those "IMO"s thoughout my posts, but I am sure that reasonable people don't need that kind of reminder. "IMHO" actually sounds kind of obnoxious to me. If you need to remind people that you are "humble", you probably aren't. Humbleness, unless you already have it, is a waste of time to fake. If you are arrogant but sincere, you WILL be humbled at some points in your life, (unless, of course, you are the Ueber Mensch ;-)). These things tend to take care of themselves.

A sense of humor is far more valuable than humility IMHO!

>>>After more than a decade of striving to understand religious folks, I can't
>put it any more charitably than that - though I spent a fair amount of
>in the past trying to be more "politically correct".

And if they spend a decade trying to understand you, would you advise them to give up?<<


I mean, maybe or maybe not, but I wouldn't expect any different. Who said that I really care if they understand me? If NOBODY understood me that might be a different thing, but if some religious people do not understand how I can live a normal healthy and even occassionally happy life as an atheist, that's just not a big concern for me. If anything it seems to concern them for some irrational reason.

>>Get it through your head: they've got something GOOD that you don't got.
Maybe you should learn what it is!<<

Good for whom? Good for what? I know what it is. It is a sense of comfort, meaning, purpose, connection and so forth. It works for some people. Not for me. I take care of those things in other ways.

>>>Religion (at least as it is traditionally understood), is doomed for

You make the common mistake of the evangelistic atheist: irrationally assuming that the pursuit of Truth is a more important value than the pursuit of happiness.<<

I don't how to pursue happiness. It just seems to happen when I pursue other things. Pursuing the truth, is one of those things. It seems to be one of those things for lots of other people as well. If it is not one of those things for some folks, that's fine with me as long as they do not interfere with my pursuit.

I only point out what I see as the obvious - throughout this century, I have seen a rapid decline in the population of intelligent religious apologists. They seem to be replaced by these extremely dumbed-down or even outright fundamentalist blow-hards. Is C.S. Lewis still alive? He didn't impress me too much, but he seemed like he might have had a few neurons still firing up there somewhere. Most of the intelligent religionists now, what few are left, don't seem to be too interested in real apologetics. They are mostly sentimentalists and spend their intellectual capital on other pursuits.

The intelligent apologists were one of the few things that kept religion culturally viable, but now that there don't seem to be any left. I imagine that it got a little too expensive to compete against growing scientific knowlege and secular philosphers for whom this knowlege is very compatible. Furthermore the impossibility of maintaining the false distinction between "the humanities" and "the sciences" at the academy, has not done them any favors. The disappearance of intelligent religious apologists - concurrent with the rise of fundamentalism - has marked religion for extinction as far as I can see. This latest upsurge in religious activity is the last hurrah for the millenium. There will definitely be a hangover in the morning.

For the second time in this post you assume I am an atheist evangelist. I am not. I am just an atheist who won't shut up. There's a difference. If people aren't happy with the truth, that is not my concern. I am. Maybe not ecstatic, but as happy as I can get. Certainly a million dollars would sweeten my day regardless. It probably wouldn't obliterate the truth from my mind, but I might pretend, if that's what I need to do to get it ;-).

I am very sure that lots of people can lead perfectly happy religious lives and not be atheists. Oddly enough, lots of religious people are not so sure that atheists can lead perfectly happy lives without Jesus dolls and religious platitudes. It's when they get so concerned about MY happiness as an atheist that this gets really obnoxiously evangelical, because as a general rule I don't worry about theirs as religionists.

If people want to talk about the truth, I am not going to shut up just because it upsets their evangelical sentiments. And yet they claim to want to talk about the truth so much? What am I to do? I LOVE to talk about the truth, and so when they start, I see no reason for this PC politeness.

And by the way, our interloping faith experimenter, seems to have had no qualms about my candidness. He seems sincere enough to accept my responses at face value as I did with his. If this changes his mind in the long run, bully for him! If not, bully for him anyway!

Arrogant as ever,