Tuesday, November 15th, 2011

Atheists Should Be More Superstitious If They Want People To Like Them Better

Why do God-believers hate atheists so much? Apparently they (the God-believers) find that an unwillingness to credit magical enchantment and mumbo-jumbo makes them (the atheists) untrustworthy:

Religion, in other words, has served a specific function throughout much of human history (beyond assuaging existential fears): It keeps people in line, discouraging them from engaging in selfish acts that hurt the larger community. Gervais and his colleagues point to recent research that bears this notion out; several studies have found people engage in less-selfish behavior “when reminded of watchful supernatural agents.”
If you believe – even implicitly – that the prospect of divine retribution is the primary factor inhibiting immoral behavior, then a lack of belief in a higher power could amount to a free pass. A 2002 Pew Research Center survey found nearly half of Americans feel morality is impossible without belief in God.

There you go, God-deniers: they hate you because, if don't live in fear of divine retribution from some celestial cartoon character, how will you ever know the difference between right and wrong?


38 Comments / Post A Comment

laurel (#4,035)


There are you happy now?!

LondonLee (#922)

Obligatory comment about all the bad things done in the name of God throughout human history.

Bittersweet (#765)

@LondonLee" Obligatory counter-statement about all the bad things done by atheists throughout human history, especially last century.

Tulletilsynet (#333)

@Bittersweet @LondonLee
I'm glad we've got those points behind us now and can get on to the fun bits.

Bittersweet (#765)

@Tulletilsynet: As long as the fun bits involve bourbon and ridiculous dance songs, I'm in.

City_Dater (#2,500)

So for religious people the only perceptible point to being a decent person is avoiding punishment by a powerful imaginary frenemy?
This explains so much.

Flaneur (#998)

@City_Dater Not the case for all religious people, certainly. The message we get week after week at my Episcopal church is that the point of following Jesus' example in being a decent person is to create a better and better human society–in this world, not the next (which we don't dwell on all that much, and which I consider to be uselessly beyond our comprehension if it exists at all). Also, being a decent person gets you invited to better cocktail parties, which are important indeed to Episcopalians.

Tulletilsynet (#333)

"Where three or four are gathered, you will usually find a fifth."

roboloki (#1,724)

morality is doing the right thing regardless of what you are told.
religon is doing what you are told regardless of what is right.

ep (#8,509)

I think we can all agree at this point that the metaphysical foundation of morality is the stainless purity of our appetite for more money.

davetar (#1,114)

Atheists could probably also do themselves a favor by not being condescending blowhards like Richard Dawkins.

He must pray every day that God isn't a mong.

Auntie Maim@twitter (#178,787)

My husband was raised Lutheran, while I was raised basically heathen. Because religion is a big deal for his family, we were married by a Lutheran pastor, who had us do premarriage counseling during which one point of discussion was whether we'd raise our kids in the church. I was surprised indeed to hear my husband say he wanted to bring kids to church (he never goes now), and when I asked why, he said, "How will they learn morality if we don't take them?" I pointed out that I'd been to a church service approximately eight times in my life and wasn't a raging sociopath, because my parents raised me to think about how our actions affect those around us, and it was a crazy revelation even to him — very secular, very open to non-religious viewpoints, and marrying an atheist — that one could get morality outside of religion.

Jugger (#178,784)

Remove God and Morality is illogical. It's simply an evolutionary glitch that has hung on because it strengthens the species. If you are atheist and you believe in morality, you are as guilty of living in a fantasy land as any Bible-thumper. There is only pleasure and pain. You're making your decisions based on what brings more of the first, and less of the second.

DMcK (#5,027)

@Jugger Oh stop. I'm an atheist yet I still wholeheartedly believe the Golden Rule makes perfect moral sense. The appreciation and practice of sound moral teaching on its face does not de facto require a belief in supernatural hoo-ha.

Niko Bellic (#1,312)

@Jugger Remind me to not have anything to do with you. In fact, I would like the government to remind me.

Multiphasic (#411)

@Jugger It's simply an evolutionary glitch that has hung on because it strengthens the species.

That's not how evolution works, homie. Morality has hung on because it strengthens individuals.

Jugger (#178,784)

@Multiphasic What is your point? Is a species made up of something other than individuals?

Multiphasic (#411)

@Jugger The point is that, evolutionarily speaking, morality is as selfish (and adaptive) as pleasure-seeking and pain-avoidance, which means you can't exalt the last two and depreciate the first.

Jugger (#178,784)

@DMcK Correct. You've proven my point. You don't have to believe in "supernatural hoo-ha" in order to be wholeheartedly believe in something that doesn't exist. You could use the same logic you used to prove "God" is illogical to prove that the Golden Rule is illogical too. You are highly-evolved enough to do that. Thankfully, you just choose not to.

scrooge (#2,697)

Most geniunely religious people can probably agree with most atheists that being moral is a good thing, in both cases regardless of whether or not there is a deity. Fundamentally, logic doesn't really come into it.

P (#20,877)

@scrooge A moral sensibility, without any sort of objective ethical reality, is the result of collective decision making, which therefore subjects it to the same rational scrutiny as God. Believing in morality is dumber than God because it doesn't even get you anything.

WaityKatie (#79,377)

@P Why do you assume that atheists have no objective ethical reality? "Because God said so" is not the only basis for devising a system of ethics.

scrooge (#2,697)

@P I don't see how a moral sensibility is necessarily "the result of collective decision making" (though I'm not sure quite what you mean by "without any sort of objective ethical reality"). I guess I feel that morality is innate in most people; and that most people, atheists or not, have a natural sense of what is right, and will generally behave reasonably decently even when it is to their disadvantage to do so (which would make it "illogical").

Jugger (#178,784)

@WaityKatie What objective ethical reality do you observe in nature?

P (#20,877)

The complaints of atheists would be more valid if they had any interest or knowledge of actual theology, as opposed to the stuff they rejected in seventh grade.

It's the intellectual equivalent of a religious person rejecting evolution based on misconceptions about monkeys making cavemen (or whatever).

@P Faith, by definition, can never be proven or disproven objectively. Therefore, I don't need to know the details of any particular religion to know it's something I'm not interested in, because I have no use for anything that is not or cannot be based on objective evidence. Sorry, not the same as rejecting evolution in any way.

WaityKatie (#79,377)

@P A lot of us do know a lot about religion, actually. Almost all of us were raised in a religion, and many of us have studied religions. I would wager that most atheists know more about various religions than most "believers," who blindly accept whatever religious doctrine was handed down to them by their parents. But way to stereotype, you're going a long way towards establishing that believers are open-minded and awesome.

DMcK (#5,027)

@P Theology and religious belief are two entirely different entities. A friend of mine who holds a degree in theology and religious studies is an atheist.

Further to WaityKatie's point, the practice (if it can even be called that) of atheism is a consciously arrived-at choice requiring a deep questioning and analysis of received belief systems, whereas religious belief (no matter how sincere or nuanced) functions as an affirmation of tribal fealty. Which, hey, fine, religious institutions often serve as important and beneficial lynchpins of the community they serve (particularly in urban settings), but to dismiss atheists as the equivalent of posturing tweens is completely unfair.

Tulletilsynet (#333)

I guess I was being a little too optimistic about "fun bits."

@Tulletilsynet I've got at least one. You wanna come up to my place and see my ethics?

@Tulletilsynet: It stopped being fun when I got to the part where I was less trustworthy than a rapist. From now on when people ask me my religion, I'm just going to tell them I'm a rapist and see where that gets me.

Multiphasic (#411)

@brilliantmistake Into a job in college football, I'm afraid.

nutmegger (#178,987)

Oh, those stupid believers, with their celestial cartoon character and their mumbo-jumbo! If only they would just give up their faith already, then they'd all be as intelligent and tolerant and respectful of difference as Alex Balk.

DMcK (#5,027)

@nutmegger "A 2002 Pew Research Center survey found nearly half of Americans feel morality is impossible without belief in God." Apparently so!

Scum (#1,847)

Everyone hates atheists because the most vocal are nearly always massive assholes who seem to think their atheism places them at the forefront of human understanding and that you should be really impressed when they say the exact same old shit that you used to say when you were a 15 year old prick who thought they knew everything

DMcK (#5,027)

@Scum In other words, proselytizers. You know what? Many (if not most) atheists think those folks are assholes too. You can't evangelize for non-belief without affecting the worst attributes of the believers.

DMcK (#5,027)

@DMcK In other words, people like Dawkins who all but cry out for the abolition of religion are every bit as militantly reactionary as…hello? Anybody still playing?

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