This article at Paleolibrarian makes the argument that religion is a classic Hobson’s Choice.
If you are unfamiliar with Hobson’s choice it is essentially the option of no options. It is the illusion of fair and free choice set within only one possible outcome. So if you’re offered just one option and you’re told you can take it or leave it, is that really a choice?
How many religions have urged that they would encourage you to engage in free thinking, as long as you come up with the right conclusions? Stir in threats of ostracizing those who come up with the wrong conclusion combined with the fear of hell, and many a believer has been convinced to draw the curve before plotting the data. All of this is compliments of the confirmation bias, the cognitive bias that causes us to seek evidence that leads us where we want to go and blinds us to conflicting evidence. Thus, many people “choose” religion after asphyxiating their own thought process. But it feels as though one is thinking freely all the way to the preordained conclusion that embracing one’s religion–usually the religion one was taught as a child–is logical.
Over at Flickr, I ran across a photo by Jimmy O’Donnell featuring a beautiful woman in lingerie walking in a church. Maybe O’Donnell didn’t take this photo for any of the reasons I find it interesting—maybe he took it for the mere shock value, or because he simply liked the image. Nonetheless, this photo serves […]
All kinds of things can go wrong at a wedding, but I’ve never before seen THIS. The video is only 40 seconds long, and it’s compelling watching. If you were the bride or groom here, what would YOU say or do if this happened at YOUR wedding?
I know that I’m in a minority in this country, but I don’t see how making children say a pledge that affirms the existence of a supreme non-material being doesn’t violate the separation clause. The way I see it, if we starting making public school children starting affirming the existence of “god” today, the court’s would immediately put a stop to it. But since the phrase has been in place for more than 50 years, it’s somehow OK.
David Niose, former president of the American Humanist Association, and the plaintiffs’ representative, opened his arguments Wednesday saying the pledge’s use of “under God” violates the Equal Rights Amendment of the Massachusetts Constitution and is an issue of discrimination.
Niose said the pledge’s repetitiveness in the public school system is indoctrinating and alienating to atheists.
“It validates believers as good patriots and it invalidates atheists as non-believers at best and unpatriotic at worst,” he said.
I agree entirely.
How did this high ranking Mormon lose his faith? It wasn’t the result of someone getting in his face and telling him he was an idiot. The NYT tells the story:
When fellow believers in Sweden first began coming to him with information from the Internet that contradicted the church’s history and teachings, he dismissed it as “anti-Mormon propaganda,” the whisperings of Lucifer. He asked his superiors for help in responding to the members’ doubts, and when they seemed to only sidestep the questions, Mr. Mattsson began his own investigation.
But when he discovered credible evidence that the church’s founder, Joseph Smith, was a polygamist and that the Book of Mormon and other scriptures were rife with historical anomalies, Mr. Mattsson said he felt that the foundation on which he had built his life began to crumble.
There are 35 of these inconvenient quotes at Addicting Information. Here are the first five:
1. “If I could conceive that the general government might ever be so administered as to render the liberty of conscience insecure, I beg you will be persuaded, that no one would be more zealous than myself to establish effectual barriers against the horrors of spiritual tyranny, and every species of religious persecution.”
~George Washington, letter to the United Baptist Chamber of Virginia, May 1789
2. “Of all the animosities which have existed among mankind, those which are caused by a difference of sentiments in religion appear to be the most inveterate and distressing, and ought to be deprecated. I was in hopes that the enlightened and liberal policy, which has marked the present age, would at least have reconciled Christians of every denomination so far that we should never again see the religious disputes carried to such a pitch as to endanger the peace of society.”
~George Washington, letter to Edward Newenham, October 20, 1792
3. “We have abundant reason to rejoice that in this Land the light of truth and reason has triumphed over the power of bigotry and superstition… In this enlightened Age and in this Land of equal liberty it is our boast, that a man’s religious tenets will not forfeit the protection of the Laws, nor deprive him of the right of attaining and holding the highest Offices that are known in the United States.”
~George Washington, letter to the members of the New Church in Baltimore, January 27, 1793
4. “The United States of America have exhibited, perhaps, the first example of governments erected on the simple principles of nature; and if men are now sufficiently enlightened to disabuse themselves of artifice, imposture, hypocrisy, and superstition, they will consider this event as an era in their history. Although the detail of the formation of the American governments is at present little known or regarded either in Europe or in America, it may hereafter become an object of curiosity. It will never be pretended that any persons employed in that service had interviews with the gods, or were in any degree under the influence of Heaven, more than those at work upon ships or houses, or laboring in merchandise or agriculture; it will forever be acknowledged that these governments were contrived merely by the use of reason and the senses.”
~John Adams, “A Defence of the Constitutions of Government of the United States of America” 1787-1788
5. “The Government of the United States of America is not in any sense founded on the Christian religion.”
~1797 Treaty of Tripoli signed by John Adams
Faith is not like a switch that gets flipped on or off. Former Pentecostal Minister Jerry DeWitt explains:
I dearly wish that there was one day or even better, one particular moment when I stopped believing (lost my faith). It would make my story much easier to tell. But instead, like so many others in the growing Secular movement, there was no one particular event, no one particular day when faith suddenly disappeared. Instead, it was like my faith in the supernatural and all things related to it were a pot filled with water on the stove. For the first several years of my spiritual journey the burner dial was set to high-heat and the water of my faith was continuously boiling over.
Unbeknownst to me, as I entertained thoughts, concepts and belief systems outside of the Pentecostal doctrine that I had inherited, my belief dial was being turned down and the water temperature was decreasing. Along with doctrines, there were also new life experiences that generated thoughts that couldn’t be easily ignored and over time they changed me. In other words, when a challenging thought came my way, I faced it and adjusted according. It took years for all of those small adjustments to add up to atheism. Eventually I simply recognized that I no longer believed.
According to Douglas Kenrick at Psychology Today, liberals and conservatives adopt their morals regarding sexuality in order to serve their preferred lifestyles. Kenrick breaks it down like this–first of all, for skeptic liberals:
1. Smart people are more likely to go to college.
2. If you are going to get a college degree, it helps to delay starting a family.
3. Smart people still have sexual drives.
4. If you don’t want to wait till you are in your mid- to late- 20s to start having sex, but aren’t ready to settle down, you have liberal attitudes about sexual behavior, birth control, and abortion.
On the other side of the coin, if you are not going to go to college, and you want to have a family early, you don’t want a lot of promiscuous people running around – available unattached sexually experimenting people disrupt monogamous families. Early reproducing women don’t want those “loose women” hanging around tempting their husbands, because that means less resources for their children, and a possible divorce. Early reproducing men don’t want promiscuous men lurking around, because they want to be sure that those children they’re supporting are their own.
People don’t come prewired with beliefs. Rather they choose their morality based on their perceived needs:
liberal nonbelievers adopt a certain set of attitudes not because they are more logically compelling, but because they serve a particular lifestyle and mating strategy. Because liberals are more educated, they are better at expressing their ideas in compelling logical ways. But although the beliefs on “our” side may seem more logical and enlightened, Weeden has abundant data to show that political and religious attitudes are less about logic than about serving one’s own reproductive goals.