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← Are all religions equally crazy?

Are all religions equally crazy? - Comments

jel's Avatar Comment 1 by jel

Short answer, yes.

You pretty much cover all the angles in your article, all religions, from the mainstream (whatever that is defined as) to the outer edges, are basically crazy.

Fri, 20 May 2011 19:11:10 UTC | #628929

sciencehead78's Avatar Comment 2 by sciencehead78

I think all religions are equally implausible, equally based on cognitive biases

This is the key to atheists not losing the run of themselves. We cannot admit the sticky trap of the human brain and be too unkind to those stuck in the trap. Those of us educated in the pitfalls can walk around them, we need to point them out to others and most importantly we need to stop equating natural, ground-state, human cognitive status with craziness, while at the same time helping all to be aware of our cognitive weaknesses and tendencies so as to think better in spite of them.

I saw Richard make some excellent and thought provoking comments on Edge.net where he talked (as I remember it) about Basil Fawlty thrashing his car with a branch, adding that the humour in that scene arose from the complete futility of the approach. He went on to say (roughly from memory) that we could view people as needing analysis, and constructive help, when they malfunction instead of thrashing them, and I would argue that we tend to thrash people who have not yet come into contact with good educational material. If we call poor thinkers crazy we are thrashing our dysfunctional car with a branch.

Fri, 20 May 2011 19:15:10 UTC | #628932

Ignorant Amos's Avatar Comment 3 by Ignorant Amos

Comment 2 by sciencehead78

I can't help but disagree....what's going on with the batshit crazies of the coming Rapture. At least we all should for the sanity of their poor children who are being subjected to this friggin' madness.

Fri, 20 May 2011 19:43:15 UTC | #628944

btheist's Avatar Comment 4 by btheist

Great read.... her last statement sums it up beautifully.

All religions are equally crazy. Some just hide their craziness better than others

Although she covers off many good reasons why believers believe what they believe, I still struggle to understand how they can't see the craziness themselves. I still hope that one day there will be a collective WTF moment and all believers suddenly realize they've been duped. Wishful thinking.... maybe I should pray for it :-)

Fri, 20 May 2011 20:01:47 UTC | #628949

kidchicago's Avatar Comment 5 by kidchicago

Nice piece, Greta. But good luck trying to talk Imelda Marcos out of her shoe closet anytime soon!!!!!!

Fri, 20 May 2011 20:36:16 UTC | #628961

Alexandreina's Avatar Comment 6 by Alexandreina

Excellent article. I'll come clean here and admit to NOT being an atheist but I am a passionate supporter of a secular society and secular government. I despise all organized religion because I see the harm they ALL do. I'll take science over "faith" any day. And never in a million years would I expect an atheist to listen to my views on the divine and give them any credence just because I happen to think they are more rational and a lot less wacky than any of the other religions I've encountered. All organized religion is crazy. On that I agree with the author completely. I wish there were a way to make the people who believe in that silly crap see it too but damned if I can figure out what that would be. Still, I think it's valuable to keep trying.

Fri, 20 May 2011 20:53:55 UTC | #628969

Didaktylos's Avatar Comment 7 by Didaktylos

It's not just how well a given religion succeeds in concealing its craziness, it's also about what that religion demands of its devotees in terms of relations with those who have not bought into said craziness to the same precise extent. One of the most abiding distasteful characteristics of Abrahamic Montheism is lack its of capacity to "agree to disagree" beyond the degree to which secular governments are able and willing to actively coerce.

Fri, 20 May 2011 21:20:07 UTC | #628983

AtheistButt's Avatar Comment 8 by AtheistButt

Greta Christina - brilliant as usual. She is always reasoned and analytical, and cuts like a knife. make sure you read her piece on atheists and anger.

Fri, 20 May 2011 21:22:51 UTC | #628985

Stevehill's Avatar Comment 9 by Stevehill

Are all religions equally crazy?

Yes.

Equally harmful?

No.

Fri, 20 May 2011 21:28:57 UTC | #628986

David Millar's Avatar Comment 10 by David Millar

Religions require their adherents be dishonest, cowardly and/or stupid. Almost always at least one of these, often all three. The holy trinity.

Fri, 20 May 2011 21:55:25 UTC | #628996

hemidemisemigod's Avatar Comment 11 by hemidemisemigod

All religions are indeed equally crazy, at least when examined in detail. They all fall apart if one subjects them to logic and rational thought. But many people are happy with a good story and are not concerned with holes in the plot.

The ideas of afterlife, a separate spirit, a creator who will answer all our questions, are very attractive and so people can easily succumb to religions that offer those sorts of comfort. For the people who are born into religious families, it's difficult to give up comforts that have been an important part of one's life since childhood.

It seems to me that many religious people thrive on "the ability to hold two contradictory ideas at the same time". There ought to be a word for this concept, perhaps there is. People can believe in the general story of creation, redemption, eternal heaven, etc. but ignore or dismiss the obvious flaws or alternative scientific explanations. The better the story, bigger the temples, more illuminated the manuscripts, the easier it is to ignore the inconsistencies and focus on the general theme.

I think the biggest hurdle for today's believer is encountering other powerful religions. In the past a nation had a dominant religion and the chances of learning about other religions was small. These days we have access to a world of religions. They are all crazy but some are surely crazier than others.

Fri, 20 May 2011 21:58:57 UTC | #628997

BanJoIvie's Avatar Comment 12 by BanJoIvie

Comment 6 by Alexandreina

... All organized religion is crazy. On that I agree with the author completely.

No, she didn't say all organized religion, she said ALL religion, and that includes the oh-so-rational "divine" of those who shun "organization."

But, though I think the position you briefly outline here is fully as "crazy" (in Greta's second sense) as any other "religious" belief, I would gladly stand shoulder to shoulder with you or anyone else willing to passionately defend secular values and secular society.

Fri, 20 May 2011 22:09:02 UTC | #629002

Ballardian's Avatar Comment 13 by Ballardian

The use of "crazy" is surely misleading, if not irresponsible. Religion is so widespread, and religious thought, of a kind (ritual, irrational or anti-rational assumptions and beliefs, moral codes, supernatural beliefs), is within just about everyone. If religion is crazy to the bone then the human animal is crazy to the bone, and if the human animal is crazy to the bone then we need a new word, because "crazy" begins to lose its meaning.

If it seems too easy it's because you're making it too easy. Surely the idea that you reading this - you rationalist, science lover, religion hater - are the sane one in the sea of ignorance and madness is at the very least similar to the core themes of many religions. Ninety per cent of the population is crazy, but you, YOU, have discovered the truth! There are inconsistencies in the Bible! Bad things happen to good people! You - you genius! - after much solitary thought and brain power, have found the flaws in these crazy ideas! When will the world listen to you and what you have to say?

I don't mean to imply that the majority is always on the right track. The Beatles somehow still sell records, after all. But it's just a bit sickly, all of this patting yourselves on the back for being so darn clever. It's also dishonest.

Fri, 20 May 2011 22:41:50 UTC | #629015

JuJu's Avatar Comment 14 by JuJu

Comment 6 by Alexandreina

Excellent article. I'll come clean here and admit to NOT being an atheist but I am a passionate supporter of a secular society and secular government.

Could you please come a little more clean and explain why it is that you're not an atheist? Or are you going to keep that to yourself like so many others have done recently on this blog.

Fri, 20 May 2011 22:42:56 UTC | #629017

Sara12's Avatar Comment 15 by Sara12

Comment 11 by hemidemisemigod :

It seems to me that many religious people thrive on "the ability to hold two contradictory ideas at the same time". There ought to be a word for this concept, perhaps there is.

It's called cognitive dissonance. It is intensely frustrating to watch someone be engaged in it and honestly not realize that that is what is going on.

Fri, 20 May 2011 22:53:02 UTC | #629019

Red Dog's Avatar Comment 16 by Red Dog

I'm an atheist and I don't think all religions are the same. The Quakers for example, at least as I understand them. Their religion is about peace and love. They welcome anyone to their congregation. Their "mass" consists essentially of sitting quietly with other Quakers and waiting for God to speak to them (which you could interpret as each individual listening for the divine within themselves).

Or the Unitarians. I knew one Unitarian who was essentially a Deist. When we talked for a while it was clear that what I called the wonder of the universe (something Dawkins also talks about) he just called God.

Finally, unlike most atheists I don't think that religion is something we can just cast off with no loss. I think that there are important questions that religion answers for most people, things such as the standards for ethical behavior and the meaning of life, that are still important for thoughtful atheists. I believe eventually everything that we now call religion will eventually be equated with myths. But i also think that something will take their place. Whether that something is philosophy, psychology, neuroscience, poetry, literature, something else, or some combination of all of them I don't know.

Fri, 20 May 2011 23:33:56 UTC | #629028

Vicktor's Avatar Comment 17 by Vicktor

Can there be a crazier religion than one that demands you pray 5 times a day every single day for the rest of your life?

Sat, 21 May 2011 00:07:19 UTC | #629032

JuJu's Avatar Comment 18 by JuJu

Comment 16 by Red Dog

Their "mass" consists essentially of sitting quietly with other Quakers and waiting for God to speak to them

I interpret that as crazy.

I think that there are important questions that religion answers for most people, things such as the standards for ethical behavior and the meaning of life,

There may be some ethical inspiration in religion if they cherry pick it , but there's diffidently lots of inspiration to be unethical.

Religion doesn't answer a single question about the meaning of life that I know of.. At least none that match up with reality.

But i also think that something will take their place. Whether that something is philosophy, psychology, neuroscience, poetry, literature, something else, or some combination of all of them I don't know.

How about reality.

Sat, 21 May 2011 00:08:54 UTC | #629033

                                                       rui's Avatar Comment 19 by rui

Based on evidence, sure. But i wouldn't use the word crazy. Zen Budhism and apocaliptic Evangelism aren't equally crazy. But if evidence is all that counts to decide what's crazy or not, then things like string theory, that require things like an LHC with the diamenter of our galaxy to be proven, are as crazy as anything else. Lack of evidence isn't what decides what's crazy or not.

Sat, 21 May 2011 00:09:05 UTC | #629034

JuJu's Avatar Comment 20 by JuJu

Comment 13 by Ballardian

Lol, that was really good Poe.

Or was it?

Don't answer that, I don't want to know.

Sat, 21 May 2011 00:15:43 UTC | #629036

Drosera's Avatar Comment 21 by Drosera

Comment 13 by Ballardian :

If it seems too easy it's because you're making it too easy. Surely the idea that you reading this - you rationalist, science lover, religion hater - are the sane one in the sea of ignorance and madness is at the very least similar to the core themes of many religions. Ninety per cent of the population is crazy, but you, YOU, have discovered the truth! There are inconsistencies in the Bible! Bad things happen to good people! You - you genius! - after much solitary thought and brain power, have found the flaws in these crazy ideas! When will the world listen to you and what you have to say?

If ninety percent of the population believe in things that are in conflict with everything we think we know, things for which moreover there is not the slightest evidence, while ten percent of the population consider it unwise to believe in implausible things for which there is no evidence, then I'll be happy to join the ten percent. This has nothing to do with pretending to know The Truth, which I don't. It's just refusing to believe in made-up nonsense.

Sat, 21 May 2011 00:15:44 UTC | #629037

                                                       rui's Avatar Comment 22 by rui

Comment 17 by Vicktor

Can there be a crazier religion than one that demands you pray 5 times a day every single day for the rest of your life?

If only that was the crazy aspect. It depends on what your praying is all about. It can be OK, if it serves some meditative purpose. Maybe it's better than the habit of going to Mcdonalds every day until you die. Would you say a Zen Budhist or a Lama is crazy for meditating everyday. Is it crazy to follow the doctors advice to make some exercice everyday. Or, your ideal of a free life is some sort of apathy where you whatch TV everyday.

Sat, 21 May 2011 00:19:59 UTC | #629038

reebus's Avatar Comment 23 by reebus

yes

Sat, 21 May 2011 00:35:24 UTC | #629040

erindorothy's Avatar Comment 24 by erindorothy

Yes.

Sat, 21 May 2011 00:39:16 UTC | #629043

Vicktor's Avatar Comment 25 by Vicktor

Comment 22 by Ike

"Optional/when you feel like it/occasional" prayer alone may not be batshit crazy. Compulsory "or you'll burn in Hell and I'll beat my kids until they do" frequent daily prayers, well...

I don't know why people (generally in the West) make such a big deal about women having to cover themselves from head to toe in Islam (though granted, it's nuts). Many don't and get away with it. Compulsory daily prayers is incumbent upon every living Muslim and affects both women and men throughout their lives until they are dead. It's slavery "behind the scenes" and carries a far greater burden. The vast majority of Muslims are probably doing it not because of some "meditative benefit" but because they are scared to death of being tortured by their god in this life and/or the next if they don't (and constantly reminded about it by their families, friends and mullahs). Is that healthy?

Of course, compulsory daily prayer does serve as a near-perfect mechanism in determining if someone is a "true Muslim" or not. If you notice that he or she is missing some of the daily prayers and thinks nothing much of it, you can be fairly certain this person is having doubts about Islam or is an agnostic/atheist.

I think since there was never such a thing in Christianity, most of the (formerly largely Christian) West overlooks it or thinks prayer is a casual, optional thing. They mingle largely with casual/agnostic/atheist "Muslims" and this confirms it for them. You will not find an imam living or dead that ever said that the daily prayers in Islam are optional. That is an idea of how seriously Muslims take it.

Sat, 21 May 2011 00:44:45 UTC | #629044

ZenDruid's Avatar Comment 26 by ZenDruid

If the Muslims are all running back and forth to the mosque all day, how the hell do they get any work done?

Sat, 21 May 2011 02:16:36 UTC | #629058

sciencehead78's Avatar Comment 27 by sciencehead78

Comment 3 by Ignorant Amos :

Comment 2 by sciencehead78 I can't help but disagree....what's going on with the batshit crazies of the coming Rapture. At least we all should for the sanity of their poor children who are being subjected to this friggin' madness.

Dr. Andy Thomson's video "Why We Believe in God(s)" describes the naturally evolved cognitive tendencies to believe in these fairy tales we call religion. We seem to be knowledgable of the NORMAL weaknesses in cognition that lead to religion and yet very quick to attribute religiosity to "CRAZY". This is a logic breakdown.

Consider these two statements and see if you find them contradictory. Then see if you recognise them from this forum.

1.Normal human brains are prone to religious belief.

2.Religious belief is caused by abnormal (crazy) human brains.

I'll put it another way, would reading a book like The God Delusion cure "craziness" because it can cure religious belief.

Sat, 21 May 2011 02:38:58 UTC | #629061

jac12358's Avatar Comment 28 by jac12358

Well, by "crazy" do you mean "likely"? When atheists excuse certain religions it is usually based on the lack of damage their doctrine dictates or their followers unleash. Other than that it is a relative judgment call. "Mormonism is just Christianity with some extra stupid ideas." Well, true, but one must be careful in determining the probability (based on a complete lack of evidence) of a religion based on how crazy it sounds.

Remember, as I've argued, we all - even atheists - hold biases and delusions. Free will and such. But I needn't go into such a contentious topic here. We still FEEL the earth is still and speak of it as such colloquially, even though we KNOW now it is not. We say the sun rises and sets when it does nothing of the sort. We say "I was just here yesterday" but as far as spacial coordinates you were nothing of the sort, that location which both you and the address on earth a millions of miles away from where you were both yesterday. And so on - intuition is not always to be trusted, and what we call "crazy" is sometimes not a measure of proposition's deviation from known scientific facts, but rather from "common sense."

As an example, consider this pair of propositions:

  1. Queen Elizabeth II time travelled back to visit Elizabeth I.

  2. Queen Elizabeth II time travelled back to visit Elizabeth I AND danced the Macarena nude before her court.

Of course we can dispense BOTH as completely unlikely since the Queen does not currently possess a time machine. But the 2nd proposition is even LESS likely because even if she did, she most certainly would not disrobe and perform such a dance publicly.

Now consider these two, in which the claims are religious/supernatural ones:

  1. In the Beginning God created the Universe.

  2. In the Beginning God created the Universe while wearing a toupee made from the puree of mimes fermented in purple fairy baskets.

IN WHAT SENSE can the second proposition be considered LESS LIKELY than the first, since we have not established god as a known entity, or even an understood one in what he can and cannot do? Certainly if he can create the universe having said toupee would be child's play. Yes, it is silly, and may be considered more crazy - or perhaps what is meant is simply more imaginative?

And if either proposition resulted in a religion in which its followers committed atrocities, those atrocities alone would not render the base claims any more or less likely.

And so, I suggest this thread really asks three questions, each with potentially mutually exclusive answers for each religion they are asked about:

  1. Are all religions equally LIKELY?

  2. Are all religions equally DANGEROUS?

  3. Are all religions equally IMAGINATIVE?

Sat, 21 May 2011 02:44:16 UTC | #629062

Carl Sai Baba's Avatar Comment 29 by Carl Sai Baba

There is nothing crazy about following the word of Carl Sai Baba, the only true avatar of God on Earth.

As for the rest... pretty much all the same.

Sat, 21 May 2011 02:47:00 UTC | #629063

Alexandreina's Avatar Comment 30 by Alexandreina

@Juju, you say, "Could you please come a little more clean and explain why it is that you're not an atheist? Or are you going to keep that to yourself like so many others have done recently on this blog."

Oh what the heck. I'm a bit of a Deist, a bit of "spiritual but not religious" and I have a few of my own kooky ideas on the nature of the universe. Why? Quite simply because I prefer to. Yep, that's the only reason. No god has ever spoken to me nor in any way manifested in my life and I've yet to find a religion I didn't think most of was pretty darned silly if not, indeed, crazy. Does that make ME a little crazy? Quite possibly. But I'm OK with that. I'm just comfortable with ambiguity and I'd feel silly attaching myself to a specific position and refusing the possibility that I might ever change my position on it. My ideas and beliefs about MANY things have evolved as I have aged (and hopefully matured a bit as well) and I am ALWAYS open to learning new things and with that the possibility that I may change my mind. Woman's prerogative dontcha know? ;) So it's not inconceivable that I may one day embrace atheism. I certainly find you lot FAR more appealing than the Christians! But the world is a very wonderfully weird place and who knows what mysteries science may one day unlock? Science changes its stance all the time, every time new information comes in. I'm prepared to follow its lead and do the same.

Sat, 21 May 2011 03:12:53 UTC | #629070