Speaking Science 2.0

Over at Framing Science, I describe what I find so troubling about the Dawkins/Hitchens PR campaign:

It has radicalized a New Atheist movement of complaints and attacks that is almost completely devoid of a positive message about what it means to live life without religion.

Long before the New Atheist movement, sociologists began to identify an increase in the number of Americans who report “no religion” in surveys. What this growing segment of Americans needs is not a set of leaders who employ a form of “us vs. them” binary reasoning to add further division and polarization to the country, but leaders who set an agenda focused on community life and social responsibility. We need leaders who encourage atheists to work together with religious Americans to solve collective problems such as poverty and climate change.

Comments

  1. #1 crimsongirl
    June 26, 2007

    Thanks Matthew, for a level-headed take on this subject. (Rare for scienceblogs.com)

  2. #2 Pelio
    June 26, 2007

    Of course you’re right and I sincerely hope that is the way it goes.
    However, you can’t help but understand the exasperation of the zealous new atheists sometimes. Dawkins does point, a little bit, to the positive aspects of leading a life without religion but I think its currently overshadowed by the rest of the message.
    Unfortunately, the moderates on both sides (i.e. the ones who could work together) are usually the quiet ones.

  3. #3 Matthew C. Nisbet
    June 26, 2007

    One problem is that not many people within either the atheist or scientific community have called attention to the potential negative impacts of the Dawkins/Hitchens PR campaign.

    What does this do to the public image of science and scientists?

    In radicalizing a segment of the atheist community, what is the long term damage to the atheist movement?

  4. #4 Renee
    June 26, 2007

    And yet, you’re guilty of the same things you decry. Instead of buying into “religion vs. atheism” movement, you’ve bought into the “liberal vs. conservatism” movement. You aren’t interested in religious people for their sake, or for the sake of rational discourse, but merely to convert them to socialism.

  5. #5 Tulse
    June 26, 2007

    One problem is that not many people within either the atheist or scientific community have called attention to the potential negative impacts of the Dawkins/Hitchens PR campaign.

    I disagree, there have been quite a few atheists and scientists who have objected to the more aggressive approach of the “new atheists”, including (perhaps most notably) Michael Ruse:

    http://dir.salon.com/story/books/int/2005/08/06/ruse/index.html

    but also Neil deGrasse Tyson:

    http://scienceblogs.com/dispatches/2006/11/tyson_and_dawkins.php

    and of course your own colleague, Chris Mooney.

    And frankly, I think they, and you, are simply wrong, especially about the long term. It has been over eight decades since the Scopes Trial, when religion threatened science in a highly specific way. Over those eight decades, polite, deferential atheists have quietly suggested in the most respectful and non-offensive way that perhaps this situation might not in some circumstances be the most optimal for everyone. The result of that approach is that religion threatens science on more fronts now than when Clarence Darrow lost his case. Yet, in the space of a handful of years, atheism and the impact of religion on science is now on the public agenda — the subject of massive best-sellers, of talk shows, of blogs, etc.

    So tell me again how this “PR campaign” has been unsuccessful, compared to the previously-tried alternative?

  6. #6 Matthew C. Nisbet
    June 26, 2007

    Tulse,
    I think the flaw with your definition of the problem and that of the New Atheists is using the very loose label “religion.”

    In fact, what you are describing are the attempts of a small group of Christian conservative operatives to impose their political interpretation of religion in policymaking, in the process using framing and other strategies to try to set the political agenda for religious Americans.

    If anything, as I’ve argued on intelligent design, the Dawkins/Hitchens PR campaign makes it easier for this small group of conservative elites to turn moderately religious Americans against the teaching of evolution.

    Ultimately, I think what is at risk with the New Atheism movement is major damage to the public image of science among the wider American public.

    Morever, I think for atheists it’s misleading and distracting, radicalizing a segment of atheists into a “us vs. them” mentality where all forms of religion pose an undefined threat.

  7. #7 Benjamin Franz
    June 26, 2007

    And full civil rights for blacks and women in the US were achieved by quiet civil discussions and not by using ‘in your face’ tactics that alienated those with traditional positions about voting rights and integration.

    NOT

  8. #8 Matthew C. Nisbet
    June 26, 2007

    As DJ Grothe and I discussed in the Point of Inquiry interview I did a while back, I think a useful model for promoting what it means to live life without religion is the gay movement.

    Instead of a militancy decrying the heterosexism of society, gays have engaged in a celebration of gay culture while working with Hollywood to boost positive portrayals of gay central characters in TV and film. It’s about mainstreaming social norms and perceptions in a positive way.

    Atheists need to work towards articulating and presenting a celebration of secular culture and values instead of turning into a radical movement of complaints and attacks that just adds to polarization in society.

  9. #9 Tulse
    June 26, 2007

    what you are describing are the attempts of a small group of Christian conservative operatives to impose their political interpretation of religion in policymaking, in the process using framing and other strategies to try to set the political agenda for religious Americans.

    Yeah, and how much has tolerating that done for science? How much has waiting for the more liberal religious elements to actively fight against that accomplished? I appreciate your position, but let’s face it — we wouldn’t even be having a discussion about the role of religion in science if it weren’t for Dawkins (or, perhaps more accurately, there wouldn’t be such discussions going on in the public arena).

    As for you comments about the gay movement, where were you when Stonewall happened? Did you never see a protest with participants chanting “We’re queer, we’re here, we’re not going away!” Have you not seen the very “in your face” posters on college campuses for “Dyke Night” or “Queer Hop”? As I see it, these and other similar phenomena (including the very public fight over gay marriage) are not simply about “celebrating gay culture” — they are very much about demanding an equal place in our society, no matter how uncomfortable that makes people (and often intentionally pushes that uncomfortableness to make the point). It sounds to me like you’re advocating the equivalent of “Don’t ask, don’t tell” for atheists. Not every atheist wants to be Will on Will and Grace.

  10. #10 garhane
    June 27, 2007

    One of the posters really nailed it with the comment that people such as Hitchens display a completely bleak and vacant sociology, truly a winter’s scene. Dawkins has always seemed to me essentially childish in his frantic efforts to get round the now deceased Gould. You can read a few paragraphs from either of these literary molesters and then just take a few pages from one of Gould’s charming and deeply optimistic essays, and feel a lot better.
    Do you think people born and raised in North America, here I speak of Canada, can truly be atheist? I always feel a sort of stab of pity when I hear a person describe themselves in that way. I see them as lost souls, doomed, and if they continue, dammed. Their behaviours seem to inevitably veer off toward one of the standard fates of those who test the patience of the Creator, or perhaps their own inner child, or committee, or self in the Jungian version of soul, call the principle what you will.

    But even if it is possible to be such a person in some cold limited analytic way, you can’t live on that. Where else will you find the comforts of religion except within a religion.
    “The hapless soldier’s sigh
    runs in blood down palace walls…”
    That is what we have to deal with right now , and alas it is quite clear there is going to be a lot of it. And who do you suppose you may find huddled next to you in the black days ahead, telling the beads of their own sudden conversion. If you have to burn a few books burn Dawkins, burn Hitchens.
    Heck, burn Hitchens several times. Feels great.

  11. #11 Bill
    June 27, 2007

    This sounds very similar to the problems in the Middle East and many other places around the world, where religion dictates who you associate with. In my humble opinion, the best outcome would be for everyone to forget about the religious part and accept everyone as an American.

  12. #12 Matthew C. Nisbet
    June 27, 2007

    Tulse,
    I reject the idea that there are parallels between the civil rights movement and atheists. Last I checked, atheists have civil rights and always have. Like with any minority, these rights need to be watchdogged and defended, but for the most part, it’s pretty easy being successful in life if you are an atheist just like it’s pretty easy being successful if you are a Mormon, an orthodox Jew etc. You live life as a minority, but you get by in a pluralistic society where your rights are protected and dissent is respected.

    Sure, atheists have a public image problem, as evidenced by the long standing poll trends that show Americans would not vote for an atheist for president, or evaluations of atheists that rate down there with communists.

    Yet an image problem is a two-way street. Certainly the Dawkins/Hitchens PR campaign is not helping these numbers. While radicalizing atheists, the duo further reinforces the stereotype of the atheist as the “alien other,” someone not like us.

    That’s why I think positive entertainment portrayals of religious non-believers along with atheists who play leading roles working with diverse groups within their communities are so important. It’s about changing social norm perceptions, not hitting people over the head with attacks on their religious beliefs or retreating from society into a like minded blogosphere.

    Many Americans think that they don’t know an atheist and carry around in their heads instead a Dawkins-like stereotype of an arrogant, eccentric and insulting know-it-all. That needs to change, yet Dawkins/Hitchens are just making things worse.

  13. #13 Benjamin Franz
    June 28, 2007

    You may want to go through your ‘spam’ pile. I posted a response to your last yesterday that linked to several examples of how atheists parallel the civil rights movement in their battle for basic rights. I suspect the ‘spam’ filter snagged it for having too many links.

  14. #14 Drew
    November 15, 2007

    You say you want “leaders who set an agenda focused on community life and social responsibility”.
    What does this have to do with atheism? Atheism is about pointing out the obvious – that gods do not exist, that basing life decisions on human-made religion is not logical, and that the morality which religion claims is actually bogus.
    If you want community life and social responsibility, then join a sports team. Or a theatre group. Volunteer with handicapped children or a hospice. But stop asking “the new atheists” to create a panacea to assuage your personal social angst or inner guilt. That’s not what they’re writing about.
    They’re trying to mobilise people who aren’t religious, and who find religion damaging to society, to speak up. They’re trying to get rational people to apply rational criticism to religion. By doing so, they are furthering our collective social responsibility, by helping us have healthy debate on all social issues that is freed from “respect” to ancient dogmas, which have already been shown by historical study to be harmful.
    That’s a difficult enough task, without asking them to solve all the rest of the world’s problems while they’re at it!
    Cheers.

  15. #15 sex shop
    December 22, 2007

    Damn, you are totally late! I got the intern blues last August. Who am I kidding?…July even. Funnily (

  16. #16 geciktirici
    December 23, 2007

    I always feel a sort of stab of pity when I hear a person describe themselves in that way. I see them as lost souls, doomed, and if they continue, dammed. Their behaviours seem to inevitably veer off toward one of the standard fates of those who test the patience of the Creator, or perhaps their own inner child, or committee, or self in the Jungian version of soul, call the principle what you will.

  17. #17 john
    January 9, 2008

    Their behaviours seem to inevitably veer off toward one of the standard fates of those who test the patience of the Creator, or perhaps their own inner child, or committee, or self in the Jungian version of soul, call the principle what you will

  18. #18 kanser
    April 7, 2008

    what we have to deal with right now , and alas it is quite clear there is going to be a lot of it. And who do you suppose you may find huddled next to you in the black days ahead, telling the beads of their own sudden conversion.

  19. #19 Debbie Kean
    August 9, 2008

    Matthew, I fully agree with your point of view.. Positivity wins every time, over anger and insult!

  20. #20 Jeff B Hale
    January 5, 2009

    My intentions are not to offend anyone, please try not to take this personal, these are just my thoughts and philosophy on life. I feel everyone should at least hear me out. I really appreciate everyone who will read this with a mature and open mind. Thank you to everyone who took the time to read this.

    Do u believe that your ALIVE after you DIE?

    That should be a simple question and it should receive an obvious and simple answer, but we are still in the age of time that this answer is usually answered wrong. few people genuinely understand this question.

    The idea of god is an abdication of human reason and justice, it enslaves people, whoever believes in it should have no childish illusions about the matter but bravely renounce his humanity and freedom

    There are good things about religion but there are far worse things about it.
    Because the idea of god and religion primarily offer comfort and a sense of security to people that ďChooseĒ to join theyíre church- most people are born into a religion and religious family so they donít necessarily get to choose but some people do became ďBornĒ again Christians. But because of the fact that it comforts people and it requires that people take a leap of faith, the idea of god has helped a lot of people overcome things like drug addiction, emotional personal problems,but never has god done anything for anyone like he supposably did for ancient people during the bible era.

    Religion sometimes brings families closer together but thatís usually only around the time that the children are very young, once they start growing up they will start to realize certain things about life and start having questions about why they are here. During their teen years they are in a sense going through an emotional roller coaster but my point is that religion in homes have torn a lot of families apart as well, especially if they happen to have a gay son or daughter in the family that happens to build the courage to tell his religious family that he or she is gay. Some parents actually tell theyíre son or daughter that they are going to hell, some try to ďFixĒ this ďproblemĒ with therapy and prayer.

    The fact is that religion makes a lot of people ashamed of themselves. No one on this planet is perfect, and no one is going to be 100% satisfied with theyíre moral standards, some never meet theyíre moral standards. The fact that we are not perfect and never will be means that we should accept ourselves for who we are and admit a certain degree of ignorance because we are not super people, look at our history and you should know this. We are not superior to other animals and species like religious and spiritual people think we are, we are no different from these creatures, the only difference is that we are more intelligent, we have the ability to learn and advance. Religious people think that animals are nothing more than animals- which is true- but the same goes for humans. They think that they are going to heaven and these animals are not because they donít have spirits. Thatís ridiculous.

    Religion creates a lot of shame in families and homes. But not only in homes and families, individually it causes a lot of confusion even with adults, especially when things donít go your way people tend to really wonder why god hasnít been there.

    I go to AA meetings with my dad once a week and Iíve heard a lot of stories from people who truly felt like god had taken away their short comings and depression- when they first started the program- but then all of a sudden a couple months later the depression and problems come back and they donít understand why. Iíve seen a lot of sad and confused faces talk about their experiences and its unbelievable how these people donít realize that there is no god. I think that some of them do but itís the fear inside of them that keeps them in line, the fear of god, the fear that god will be upset and make your life a living hell. The fact that theyíve lived their whole lives believeing that there was someone that loved them and cared for them somewhere out there, and to try and question whether heís there or not leaves you with the fear of what he could do and the fear of loneliness.

    When I became atheist I was depressed for 2 months everyday. And thatís because it is depressing knowing that when your dead your dead, and that this is the only chance we get to live. And that your never going to see your dead relatives again. That realization was sad for me but I faced and accepted the truth, the fact that there is no reason or evidence to believe in god, and that science is on my side. But for these people that are close to questioning the idea of god its going to be very difficult for them if they actually do it. because that spot in your mind and heart that has always been filled with comfort and hope will go away and it will feel as if you were stranded on an island with a friend for years surviving, and all of a sudden your friend fell off a cliff and died, now your all a lone and thatís very depressing, these people that believe in god will have no one to pray to when theyíre having problems, the all mighty powerful god who can do anything that we claim to be impossible. According to the bible god has murdered mass people but at the same time cured a lot of people that were sick ( yet religions require donations, they ask you for your money in order to actually make a difference for the sick and poor). This God that theyíve known their whole lives and learned to love in a mysterious way will no longer exist and for the people that are much older and closer to the end of their lives it would be much harder to realize the truth as I did, it took me 17 years and it was hard then, I cant even imagine being 70 years old and realizing that youíve been living a lie your whole life, Iím almost positive most people in older generations will deny it until death. But for the new generations like my generation I hope you do the right thing and face the facts and accept them.

    Faith has caused more fights and deaths in all human history than any other disaster, here are a couple of examples:

    They have a good charity record, organized religion has a reputation for being very good at persuading people to give away they’re money in the name of god, and not always is it for charity, the churchís are a business and they need to pay themselves and of course their employees.

    For people during the middle ages and other time throughout human history I truly believe that religion has helped in ONE way and that is in the sense that they gave humans a sense of morality and justice. But at the same time Religion and the idea of god has massacred and stripped away rights from millions throughout history.

    The crusades were Christians who committed mass murder, it was pretty much genocide, not only did they kill Muslims in all the attempts to recapture the holy land but also killed jews and Christians as well. the crusades in the end were ultimately a failure

    9/11 was an act of faith, if these people didn’t believe that they would live after they die they wouldnít’ have flown planes into a building

    ďThe End Of Faith and The Future Of ReasonĒ a book written by sam Harris which I recommend everyone consider reading it. It claims that religion has no way of advancing and keeping up with modern philosophy and what poses the most danger for religion of course is science.

    Religion is based on doctrine- books that were written by people who still thought the world was flat

    Because its based on old books it will never evolve or have any progress, science has already evolved so much that they have already discredited organized religion, ever since Charles Darwin came out with the theory of evolution people have been leaving organized religion and individually having their own personal gods

    Science will always make progress and advance, we already have the knowledge and facts to know that when you die your dead and that there is no evidence or reason to suggest that “God” or anything spiritual whether the devil or ghosts exist.Your not going to float away into the skies to a better magical place after your body drops, shuts down, and slowly rotts away.

    The definition of faith is “Belief without evidence or reason”, you have no reason to believe in god because of the fact that its based off faith and personal conviction, which I know is comforting but the truth isn’t always comforting. If you were a cancer patient in the hospital would you rather have the doctor tell you the truth that you have cancer? or have him lie to you and tell you that you donít just so your happy, relieved and comforted? Or maybe you would rather have him tell you that you do have cancer but that its not that bad and your going to survive when he knows that your going to die in a month because the cancer has spread all over your major organs? I think you would want the truth.

    In this case your scared of death just like our ancestors were when they became curious enough to come up with the idea of gods, which itís a fact that they had many and there’s been many throughout human history. Your scared of death and the idea that your going to continue living after you die is comforting, the idea that your going to see your dead relatives or friends afterlife is very comforting, but that doesn’t mean its true. science has already advanced enough for us to know that when your dead you dead, and there is no such thing as a spirit, this idea of god was created by our very very ignorant ancestors and because of fear, curiosity without reasonable accurate source of information to turn to and the fact that we were raised since birth believing in god its hard for us to let go, but its inevitable that we will eventually let go in the future, science will continue to evolve and make people more liberal and rational and discredit the idea of god even more, even though it has already discredited enough.

    In 100 years kids in school will be in history class and they will be learning about 2001 9/11, and the teacher will tell them that people used to believe in god back then and thatís why these guys flew planes into buildings, and these kids will laugh and be amazed just like we used to laugh and be amazed when we heard about ancient people doing stupid shit in history class
    like when they used to believe in and burn witches or believe in slavery.

    Even though slavery is not funny, neither is burning “witches”.

    The future is atheism.

    you can have beliefs but its too danger to have faith, I have “faith” in people but because I have reason to believe in them, I have faith in myself too but the fundamental difference is that my beliefs/ theories, and other atheists and scientists beliefs are based on reason.

    -like evolution or the big bang theory.

    Even maybe parallel universes. but like I said to have faith “belief without evidence or reason” is going to cause things like the crusades which was genocide in part of Christians, the holocaust- against jews, 9/11 2001, people like my mom almost dying from cancer because she chose to put her faith in god instead of doing what the doctors recommended and taking modern medicine. Also people getting their rights taken away – like gay people not being allowed to marry because the majority of people and religious people donít believe in it and try to force their views upon everyone else.

    The fact that people are raised in a society and with parents that believe in god and the fact that traditions are mostly tied to religion causes everyone to believe in god, everyone grows up not questioning in the existence of a god because religion builds a wall in front of it that blocks any kind of rational argument or criticism against it because it has no rational argument that it can use to defend itself because all religion has is personal convictions, they have no reasonable evidence to proof that there is such thing as spirits. Society teaches us not to question or ask about others religious affiliations in public, we are taught not to speak of religion in public period. We are taught to keep religion behind doors, safe away from reasonable criticism.

    In our society today religion has made it essentially illegal to question the idea of god, or to even talk about god or religion in public, they make it very private in order to keep people from questioning it. They have no argument in the court of public opinion so they stay out of it.

    They have no argument that would make sense or succeed in court, thatís why anything that has to do with speaking to god or spiritual stuff in court is considered insanity.

    Thatís why religion has nothing to do with science and is actually against science, because science discredits everything they believe in.

    There’s 2 reasons we have the separation of church and state, the 1st reason is because we have a diverse population of people and religions in this country and because of the fact that people were fleeing Europe because of religious persecution, 2nd religion has no rational agrument in the court of public opinion, when we have real issues to deal with like wars, we cant have religious fueled people thinking god is telling them to do things, or having any kind of resentment against other sects of religions.

    They take the rights away from people, especially other minority groups and religions, like Muslims and jews. it’ll be like Hitlerís Germany during the 30s and 40s. they’ll take away our freedom, and science would come to a halt. we wouldn’t advance knowledgeably or technologically.

    If religion and government were together it would be considered a fascist nation. Thank our forefathers for the constitution.

    Religious institutions target people with fear, they attract people by arguments that are based from they’re own personal convictions and experiences, they target your emotions and curiosity of life, they want you to fear death and want you to believe that there’s something more to life. they want to make you feel like they are the only moral people in this world. They make you feel like your not alone and that someone out there that cant be seen or heard but that is powerful and loves you and cares for you is out there watching out for you, and that if you turn against him your going to have to deal with the consequences and possibly go to hell. religious institutions are nothing more than corporations that brainwash you in to taking a leap of faith. but the modern world that has been developing has been posing a danger to its ability to recruit, attract and keep converts.

    Science is causing religion problems. Another fact is that the majority of scientist which statistically I think it was around 85-90% are atheist. And religious leaders are urging their followers who are in school studying in the area’s of science and psychology to not admit to their professor that they are religious or believe in god because they wont receive their PhD. intellectuals donít believe that people that still believe in god should be able to say they have a PhD because its an embarrassment. I personally know this for a fact because Iíve read a lot of christian right wing books and they urged their followers to not admit that they are religious because they more than likely wont receive theyíre PhD.

    I used to believe in god, I was born and raised Mormon. During my sophomore year in highschool I suddenly went through a phase of deep depression, I had started smoking weed and doing mushrooms and acid, the effect of these particular drugs make you think really deep and at that time I started to realize things that I had never realized before, I was thinking really deep and complex all the time, realizing things that depressed me about society and life in general, and at one point I thought I went crazy, I thought I had realized things that people shouldnít realize because it would be too depressing and make you want to die because of what you had realized about life. I had realized that there wasn’t a god and by myself – but didn’t know it yet- I had pretty much discovered evolution, even though of course evolution had already been discovered in the 19th century. I obviously didnít realize all the complexity and specifics of evolution but one night standing on a giant rock looking out over the whole salt lake valley, I realized how life evolved into what it Is now. It was kind of depressing.

    I thought I went crazy, but I couldn’t see that what I realized was truth, its just that the Truth was too overwhelming for me because I was raised believing in other things and I was used to not questioning or thinking philosophically. So being naive as I was- because I hadnít then at that moment actually realized that what I had realized was evolution and atheism- I decided to start praying more than usual and I did, and one day I remember that I felt like my depression went away, I felt like I was no longer depressed, and at that moment I honestly thought that god had saved me from depression and insanity. I was so convinced of that that I literally started feeling better for the next couple months, but then of course another phase of depression came a long and I didn’t understand why, I thought maybe I did something wrong and god was mad at me. Which is another bad cause of spirituality and religion, it makes people ashamed of themselves, ashamed of their own human nature and animal instincts. Which are natural.

    Once I got over the depression of realizing that thereís no god and not having that idea there to comfort me whenever I thought about life, I noticed that I started to really appreciate life since I believed that we only have one life and that when its over its over. I realized that I donít want to hurt anyone, I donít want to break any laws, I want to get married and fall in love, I want a child of my own. I realized that you donít have to believe in god or be religious to be a moral person of society.

    Your mind is the most powerful thing in your body, Iím sure everyone has experienced confusion or being convinced about something at one point and then something happens and you realize that you were wrong and are surprised because you thought you were right but you were not. We can all become convinced very easily If we donít base our beliefs on reason. My point is that we use 8-9% of our brain and we are vulnerable to being tricked by our own minds, and mixing faith with ignorance is dangerous. When I thought I went crazy I tricked myself, I tricked myself into thinking that what I had realized was insanity. And then out of emotional distress and depression I tricked myself into believing that god had taken away my depression, and when you believe in someone that is as powerful is god then you believe that its possible if you get right with him that he would help you, that he will do good things for you. And that what I thought happened to me, I thought he cured me, so my mind became convinced of it and since the mind controls your whole body I started to feel better, but of course that didnít last.

    One year Later when I was a jr. in high school I met my science teacher who happened to be atheist, in that class I met another kid that I had went to school with my whole life, he also happened to be atheist, I remember being so amazed that someone could be atheist that I was telling other people that he didnít believe in god thinking they would be amazed, and they were but didnít seem to care that much. After a few weeks of reading little and thinking a lot, I realized what I had realized back when I went ďcrazyĒ and I realized that It wasnít insanity I had realized reality. I became atheist.

    Just remember that your mind is very powerful and you can become convinced of anything, you have to have control of you mind and emotions or your risking the chance that you’ll live a lie and be confused the rest of your life.

    We humans are no different from other species of animals, the only difference is that we are more intelligent, and of course we look different, but the fact that we are more intelligent means that we have the ability to learn and be curious and want to know the truth, figure things out in order to achieve something. People that believe in god and religion have always felt superior to other species, they have always considered themselves better than other animals, they donít believe that animals will go to heaven or that they have spirits, but the fact remains that they donít, and that we are just like them with animal instincts, we control these animal instincts but never the less we have them, and society has always look at these instincts as animalistic and evil.

    We as humans are not perfect, we all have higher standards but never fully perfect our desire to be perfect. And religion and god makes you feel bad for yourself because of your character defects which everyone has, gays are told they will go to hell, people that smoke weed will go to hell, atheist are the worst people in the world controlled by the devil supposable. Religious and spiritual people believe that they are spiritually superior and in a sense “Perfect”, and they try and flaunt that to the rest of us, religious people always pretend to be better than the other.

    When you go to church all you see is old people, that is because these people are closer to death, more fear. And if you see young people its because religion exploits the vulnerable with their faith-based ideology which is far to complex for a young child to understand but to definitely be amazed by and attracted to, any child would be attracted to heaven.

    The fact is that most people haven’t read the bible yet claim to believe in it and base their lives on it. I’ve started reading the bible and book of Mormon recently and I can tell you that the first 20 pages from Abraham – Isaac -Jacob, the god of the old testament is full of genocide, murder, jealousy, and vengeance. what a terrible thing to believe in in my opinion.

    I will end this with that. I hope that someone got some insight from this, I hope that it was at least enjoyable to read.
    I think everyone should really think about this, I think that for once in your life you should question what it is that society and your parents have taught you to believe in, just because your parents believe in it doesn’t mean its right.
    Everyone should re-evaluate their lives once they turn a certain age. History has shown that the majority of people can be wrong, you chose whether you want to be ahead of your time or not.
    Ė Jeff B Hale

  21. #21 JB HALE
    January 5, 2009

    My intentions are not to offend anyone, please try not to take this personal, these are just my thoughts and philosophy on life. I feel everyone should at least hear me out. I really appreciate everyone who will read this with a mature and open mind. Thank you to everyone who took the time to read this.

    Do u believe that your ALIVE after you DIE?

    That should be a simple question and it should receive an obvious and simple answer, but we are still in the age of time that this answer is usually answered wrong. few people genuinely understand this question.

    The idea of god is an abdication of human reason and justice, it enslaves people, whoever believes in it should have no childish illusions about the matter but bravely renounce his humanity and freedom

    There are good things about religion but there are far worse things about it.
    Because the idea of god and religion primarily offer comfort and a sense of security to people that ?Choose? to join they?re church- most people are born into a religion and religious family so they don?t necessarily get to choose but some people do became ?Born? again Christians. But because of the fact that it comforts people and it requires that people take a leap of faith, the idea of god has helped a lot of people overcome things like drug addiction, emotional personal problems,but never has god done anything for anyone like he supposably did for ancient people during the bible era.

    Religion sometimes brings families closer together but that?s usually only around the time that the children are very young, once they start growing up they will start to realize certain things about life and start having questions about why they are here. During their teen years they are in a sense going through an emotional roller coaster but my point is that religion in homes have torn a lot of families apart as well, especially if they happen to have a gay son or daughter in the family that happens to build the courage to tell his religious family that he or she is gay. Some parents actually tell they?re son or daughter that they are going to hell, some try to ?Fix? this ?problem? with therapy and prayer.

    The fact is that religion makes a lot of people ashamed of themselves. No one on this planet is perfect, and no one is going to be 100% satisfied with they?re moral standards, some never meet they?re moral standards. The fact that we are not perfect and never will be means that we should accept ourselves for who we are and admit a certain degree of ignorance because we are not super people, look at our history and you should know this. We are not superior to other animals and species like religious and spiritual people think we are, we are no different from these creatures, the only difference is that we are more intelligent, we have the ability to learn and advance. Religious people think that animals are nothing more than animals- which is true- but the same goes for humans. They think that they are going to heaven and these animals are not because they don?t have spirits. That?s ridiculous.

    Religion creates a lot of shame in families and homes. But not only in homes and families, individually it causes a lot of confusion even with adults, especially when things don?t go your way people tend to really wonder why god hasn?t been there.

    I go to AA meetings with my dad once a week and I?ve heard a lot of stories from people who truly felt like god had taken away their short comings and depression- when they first started the program- but then all of a sudden a couple months later the depression and problems come back and they don?t understand why. I?ve seen a lot of sad and confused faces talk about their experiences and its unbelievable how these people don?t realize that there is no god. I think that some of them do but it?s the fear inside of them that keeps them in line, the fear of god, the fear that god will be upset and make your life a living hell. The fact that they?ve lived their whole lives believeing that there was someone that loved them and cared for them somewhere out there, and to try and question whether he?s there or not leaves you with the fear of what he could do and the fear of loneliness.

    When I became atheist I was depressed for 2 months everyday. And that?s because it is depressing knowing that when your dead your dead, and that this is the only chance we get to live. And that your never going to see your dead relatives again. That realization was sad for me but I faced and accepted the truth, the fact that there is no reason or evidence to believe in god, and that science is on my side. But for these people that are close to questioning the idea of god its going to be very difficult for them if they actually do it. because that spot in your mind and heart that has always been filled with comfort and hope will go away and it will feel as if you were stranded on an island with a friend for years surviving, and all of a sudden your friend fell off a cliff and died, now your all a lone and that?s very depressing, these people that believe in god will have no one to pray to when they?re having problems, the all mighty powerful god who can do anything that we claim to be impossible. According to the bible god has murdered mass people but at the same time cured a lot of people that were sick ( yet religions require donations, they ask you for your money in order to actually make a difference for the sick and poor). This God that they?ve known their whole lives and learned to love in a mysterious way will no longer exist and for the people that are much older and closer to the end of their lives it would be much harder to realize the truth as I did, it took me 17 years and it was hard then, I cant even imagine being 70 years old and realizing that you?ve been living a lie your whole life, I?m almost positive most people in older generations will deny it until death. But for the new generations like my generation I hope you do the right thing and face the facts and accept them.

    Faith has caused more fights and deaths in all human history than any other disaster, here are a couple of examples:

    They have a good charity record, organized religion has a reputation for being very good at persuading people to give away they’re money in the name of god, and not always is it for charity, the church?s are a business and they need to pay themselves and of course their employees.

    For people during the middle ages and other time throughout human history I truly believe that religion has helped in ONE way and that is in the sense that they gave humans a sense of morality and justice. But at the same time Religion and the idea of god has massacred and stripped away rights from millions throughout history.

    The crusades were Christians who committed mass murder, it was pretty much genocide, not only did they kill Muslims in all the attempts to recapture the holy land but also killed jews and Christians as well. the crusades in the end were ultimately a failure

    9/11 was an act of faith, if these people didn’t believe that they would live after they die they wouldn?t’ have flown planes into a building

    ?The End Of Faith and The Future Of Reason? a book written by sam Harris which I recommend everyone consider reading it. It claims that religion has no way of advancing and keeping up with modern philosophy and what poses the most danger for religion of course is science.

    Religion is based on doctrine- books that were written by people who still thought the world was flat

    Because its based on old books it will never evolve or have any progress, science has already evolved so much that they have already discredited organized religion, ever since Charles Darwin came out with the theory of evolution people have been leaving organized religion and individually having their own personal gods

    Science will always make progress and advance, we already have the knowledge and facts to know that when you die your dead and that there is no evidence or reason to suggest that “God” or anything spiritual whether the devil or ghosts exist.Your not going to float away into the skies to a better magical place after your body drops, shuts down, and slowly rotts away.

    The definition of faith is “Belief without evidence or reason”, you have no reason to believe in god because of the fact that its based off faith and personal conviction, which I know is comforting but the truth isn’t always comforting. If you were a cancer patient in the hospital would you rather have the doctor tell you the truth that you have cancer? or have him lie to you and tell you that you don?t just so your happy, relieved and comforted? Or maybe you would rather have him tell you that you do have cancer but that its not that bad and your going to survive when he knows that your going to die in a month because the cancer has spread all over your major organs? I think you would want the truth.

    In this case your scared of death just like our ancestors were when they became curious enough to come up with the idea of gods, which it?s a fact that they had many and there’s been many throughout human history. Your scared of death and the idea that your going to continue living after you die is comforting, the idea that your going to see your dead relatives or friends afterlife is very comforting, but that doesn’t mean its true. science has already advanced enough for us to know that when your dead you dead, and there is no such thing as a spirit, this idea of god was created by our very very ignorant ancestors and because of fear, curiosity without reasonable accurate source of information to turn to and the fact that we were raised since birth believing in god its hard for us to let go, but its inevitable that we will eventually let go in the future, science will continue to evolve and make people more liberal and rational and discredit the idea of god even more, even though it has already discredited enough.

    In 100 years kids in school will be in history class and they will be learning about 2001 9/11, and the teacher will tell them that people used to believe in god back then and that?s why these guys flew planes into buildings, and these kids will laugh and be amazed just like we used to laugh and be amazed when we heard about ancient people doing stupid shit in history class
    like when they used to believe in and burn witches or believe in slavery.

    Even though slavery is not funny, neither is burning “witches”.

    The future is atheism.

    you can have beliefs but its too danger to have faith, I have “faith” in people but because I have reason to believe in them, I have faith in myself too but the fundamental difference is that my beliefs/ theories, and other atheists and scientists beliefs are based on reason.

    -like evolution or the big bang theory.

    Even maybe parallel universes. but like I said to have faith “belief without evidence or reason” is going to cause things like the crusades which was genocide in part of Christians, the holocaust- against jews, 9/11 2001, people like my mom almost dying from cancer because she chose to put her faith in god instead of doing what the doctors recommended and taking modern medicine. Also people getting their rights taken away – like gay people not being allowed to marry because the majority of people and religious people don?t believe in it and try to force their views upon everyone else.

    The fact that people are raised in a society and with parents that believe in god and the fact that traditions are mostly tied to religion causes everyone to believe in god, everyone grows up not questioning in the existence of a god because religion builds a wall in front of it that blocks any kind of rational argument or criticism against it because it has no rational argument that it can use to defend itself because all religion has is personal convictions, they have no reasonable evidence to proof that there is such thing as spirits. Society teaches us not to question or ask about others religious affiliations in public, we are taught not to speak of religion in public period. We are taught to keep religion behind doors, safe away from reasonable criticism.

    In our society today religion has made it essentially illegal to question the idea of god, or to even talk about god or religion in public, they make it very private in order to keep people from questioning it. They have no argument in the court of public opinion so they stay out of it.

    They have no argument that would make sense or succeed in court, that?s why anything that has to do with speaking to god or spiritual stuff in court is considered insanity.

    That?s why religion has nothing to do with science and is actually against science, because science discredits everything they believe in.

    There’s 2 reasons we have the separation of church and state, the 1st reason is because we have a diverse population of people and religions in this country and because of the fact that people were fleeing Europe because of religious persecution, 2nd religion has no rational agrument in the court of public opinion, when we have real issues to deal with like wars, we cant have religious fueled people thinking god is telling them to do things, or having any kind of resentment against other sects of religions.

    They take the rights away from people, especially other minority groups and religions, like Muslims and jews. it’ll be like Hitler?s Germany during the 30s and 40s. they’ll take away our freedom, and science would come to a halt. we wouldn’t advance knowledgeably or technologically.

    If religion and government were together it would be considered a fascist nation. Thank our forefathers for the constitution.

    Religious institutions target people with fear, they attract people by arguments that are based from they’re own personal convictions and experiences, they target your emotions and curiosity of life, they want you to fear death and want you to believe that there’s something more to life. they want to make you feel like they are the only moral people in this world. They make you feel like your not alone and that someone out there that cant be seen or heard but that is powerful and loves you and cares for you is out there watching out for you, and that if you turn against him your going to have to deal with the consequences and possibly go to hell. religious institutions are nothing more than corporations that brainwash you in to taking a leap of faith. but the modern world that has been developing has been posing a danger to its ability to recruit, attract and keep converts.

    Science is causing religion problems. Another fact is that the majority of scientist which statistically I think it was around 85-90% are atheist. And religious leaders are urging their followers who are in school studying in the area’s of science and psychology to not admit to their professor that they are religious or believe in god because they wont receive their PhD. intellectuals don?t believe that people that still believe in god should be able to say they have a PhD because its an embarrassment. I personally know this for a fact because I?ve read a lot of christian right wing books and they urged their followers to not admit that they are religious because they more than likely wont receive they?re PhD.

    I used to believe in god, I was born and raised Mormon. During my sophomore year in highschool I suddenly went through a phase of deep depression, I had started smoking weed and doing mushrooms and acid, the effect of these particular drugs make you think really deep and at that time I started to realize things that I had never realized before, I was thinking really deep and complex all the time, realizing things that depressed me about society and life in general, and at one point I thought I went crazy, I thought I had realized things that people shouldn?t realize because it would be too depressing and make you want to die because of what you had realized about life. I had realized that there wasn’t a god and by myself – but didn’t know it yet- I had pretty much discovered evolution, even though of course evolution had already been discovered in the 19th century. I obviously didn?t realize all the complexity and specifics of evolution but one night standing on a giant rock looking out over the whole salt lake valley, I realized how life evolved into what it Is now. It was kind of depressing.

    I thought I went crazy, but I couldn’t see that what I realized was truth, its just that the Truth was too overwhelming for me because I was raised believing in other things and I was used to not questioning or thinking philosophically. So being naive as I was- because I hadn?t then at that moment actually realized that what I had realized was evolution and atheism- I decided to start praying more than usual and I did, and one day I remember that I felt like my depression went away, I felt like I was no longer depressed, and at that moment I honestly thought that god had saved me from depression and insanity. I was so convinced of that that I literally started feeling better for the next couple months, but then of course another phase of depression came a long and I didn’t understand why, I thought maybe I did something wrong and god was mad at me. Which is another bad cause of spirituality and religion, it makes people ashamed of themselves, ashamed of their own human nature and animal instincts. Which are natural.

    Once I got over the depression of realizing that there?s no god and not having that idea there to comfort me whenever I thought about life, I noticed that I started to really appreciate life since I believed that we only have one life and that when its over its over. I realized that I don?t want to hurt anyone, I don?t want to break any laws, I want to get married and fall in love, I want a child of my own. I realized that you don?t have to believe in god or be religious to be a moral person of society.

    Your mind is the most powerful thing in your body, I?m sure everyone has experienced confusion or being convinced about something at one point and then something happens and you realize that you were wrong and are surprised because you thought you were right but you were not. We can all become convinced very easily If we don?t base our beliefs on reason. My point is that we use 8-9% of our brain and we are vulnerable to being tricked by our own minds, and mixing faith with ignorance is dangerous. When I thought I went crazy I tricked myself, I tricked myself into thinking that what I had realized was insanity. And then out of emotional distress and depression I tricked myself into believing that god had taken away my depression, and when you believe in someone that is as powerful is god then you believe that its possible if you get right with him that he would help you, that he will do good things for you. And that what I thought happened to me, I thought he cured me, so my mind became convinced of it and since the mind controls your whole body I started to feel better, but of course that didn?t last.

    One year Later when I was a jr. in high school I met my science teacher who happened to be atheist, in that class I met another kid that I had went to school with my whole life, he also happened to be atheist, I remember being so amazed that someone could be atheist that I was telling other people that he didn?t believe in god thinking they would be amazed, and they were but didn?t seem to care that much. After a few weeks of reading little and thinking a lot, I realized what I had realized back when I went ?crazy? and I realized that It wasn?t insanity I had realized reality. I became atheist.

    Just remember that your mind is very powerful and you can become convinced of anything, you have to have control of you mind and emotions or your risking the chance that you’ll live a lie and be confused the rest of your life.

    We humans are no different from other species of animals, the only difference is that we are more intelligent, and of course we look different, but the fact that we are more intelligent means that we have the ability to learn and be curious and want to know the truth, figure things out in order to achieve something. People that believe in god and religion have always felt superior to other species, they have always considered themselves better than other animals, they don?t believe that animals will go to heaven or that they have spirits, but the fact remains that they don?t, and that we are just like them with animal instincts, we control these animal instincts but never the less we have them, and society has always look at these instincts as animalistic and evil.

    We as humans are not perfect, we all have higher standards but never fully perfect our desire to be perfect. And religion and god makes you feel bad for yourself because of your character defects which everyone has, gays are told they will go to hell, people that smoke weed will go to hell, atheist are the worst people in the world controlled by the devil supposable. Religious and spiritual people believe that they are spiritually superior and in a sense “Perfect”, and they try and flaunt that to the rest of us, religious people always pretend to be better than the other.

    When you go to church all you see is old people, that is because these people are closer to death, more fear. And if you see young people its because religion exploits the vulnerable with their faith-based ideology which is far to complex for a young child to understand but to definitely be amazed by and attracted to, any child would be attracted to heaven.

    The fact is that most people haven’t read the bible yet claim to believe in it and base their lives on it. I’ve started reading the bible and book of Mormon recently and I can tell you that the first 20 pages from Abraham – Isaac -Jacob, the god of the old testament is full of genocide, murder, jealousy, and vengeance. what a terrible thing to believe in in my opinion.

    I will end this with that. I hope that someone got some insight from this, I hope that it was at least enjoyable to read.
    I think everyone should really think about this, I think that for once in your life you should question what it is that society and your parents have taught you to believe in, just because your parents believe in it doesn’t mean its right.
    Everyone should re-evaluate their lives once they turn a certain age. History has shown that the majority of people can be wrong, you chose whether you want to be ahead of your time or not.
    ? Jeff B Hale