This site is not maintained. Click here for the new website of Richard Dawkins.

Comment

← Emotional arguments against religion

Pete H's Avatar Jump to comment 29 by Pete H

It would work - but you're dealing with manipulation and there's a lot of effort and skill involved. As Robert Cialdini said: these non-rational influence techniques are coercive, like nuclear weapons. And the other side has them also. Religious leaders are normally far more adept at employing these techniques. Not so much in the mainstream churches, more in heavy duty cults like megachurches, scientology etc. But you can expect more sophisticated psychology from the mainstream churches as they get more desperate to compete with the likes of the emerging cults.

Therefore they wouldn’t be arguments against religion, in the sense of a reasoned train of consistent logic. The target wouldn't necessarily be aware they were subject to various tools of influence - ranging from dress to mannerisms and complements etc.

In a more open and honest confrontational approach you could generate some emotionally negative association with religious situations – ridicule, disgust, humiliation. But people have natural defenses against such a frontal attack. It would probably more effective to effect positive emotions towards an alternative affiliation.

Ideally what you want are highly trained and indoctrinated, sexually attractive people who can go door to door recruiting and evangelising for an atheist cult of science. (Perhaps they could sell vacuum cleaners, pyramid schemes, and time share property investments on the side to cover expenses.)

Reasoned argument could still be relevant, but only where there is an emotional link associated with the concept of reasoned argument. Perhaps to someone who represents reasonable argument to which someone has an emotional connection and admiration. Reasoned argument might then be something that is undertaken because it is emotionally driven.(Which sounds contradictory but you can get a sense of this along the lines of "What would Michael Faraday do in a situation like this?")

You would also have to provide your conversion target with more of what they are getting from their religious affiliation. Not many people would have that much time and energy. If you were to follow that path you’d want to identify people whose emotional affiliation needs are already substantially not being met via their religious beliefs and affiliation.

Sat, 22 Jan 2011 11:09:18 UTC | #582427