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← 'Abrupt' atheism: consequences?

'Abrupt' atheism: consequences? - Comments

ccburke's Avatar Comment 1 by ccburke

Suppose that some sort of (scientific) event would abruptly cause all people to see that there truly is no God. What do you think that the consequences will be in the short term?

Well, in the short term, I suppose people wouldn't be blowing up themselves (and countless innocent others) in hope of getting 72 virgins in Paradise. In the mean time, we need to develop a language for ethics and even "spiritual" experience which is founded in rational and humanistic terms, rather than ancient (and barbaric) superstitions.

Fri, 28 May 2010 04:41:02 UTC | #474270

Hauntedchippy1's Avatar Comment 2 by Hauntedchippy1

Suppose that some sort of (scientific) event would abruptly cause all people to see that there truly is no God. What do you think that the consequences will be in the short term?

I have to take issue with your supposition here. By definition almost, faith is the denial of observation so that belief can be preserved (I'm paraphrasing a greater wordsmith here) and so there is nothing you can do to convince the dyed-in-wool faith heads that there is no god. They take pride in that fact that their faith is unshakable, not being swayed by evidence is a virtue in their world. It's a brilliant piece of memetic engineering for preserving the beliefs in the population and anyone who truly subscribes to it (of which I imagine there are many) then you can only entrench the beliefs even further by challenging them.

For the interest of the discussion, suppose it was possible. Along with the belief in god(s) I imagine the virtue of unshakeable faith would also disappear. Such a thing could possibly be the single greatest enlightening force for the human race.

Fri, 28 May 2010 18:19:02 UTC | #474501

Ailis R's Avatar Comment 3 by Ailis R

Hmm, interesting thought-game. I bet a lot of the more decent religious folks would be depressed for a little bit, ask themselves "What was it all for?" etc., listen to emo music, and then in a short time look at the world around, think, "This is still a pretty cool place, and I still don't like to see other people hurting and want things to be fair. Well, God, if this is all there is, maybe I should start working to make things better in THIS life since there's no other life to fix things in."

The selfish or psychopathic were that way with or without religion and will probably act much the same, just without having quite the veil to hide behind. You might get a few who agitate for Nietzchean-style anarchy and nihilism, but all the decent folks would rise up and say, "That doesn't sound like a world worth living in."

And

In the mean time, we need to develop a language for ethics and even "spiritual" experience which is founded in rational and humanistic terms, rather than ancient (and barbaric) superstitions.

Definitely agree with that. I think all of us need to keep speaking out and keep trampling down the lie that the world and people aren't good without God. Start enough memes, and they'll have to add up to something. I think the reason that atheism is off-putting to many people is that they buy into the dualistic stereotype that meaning and significance and morals all fall on the "God" side of the scale, and only us saying the opposite over and over again is going to change minds.

Mon, 31 May 2010 02:27:24 UTC | #474970

Ailis R's Avatar Comment 4 by Ailis R

Hmm, interesting thought-game. I bet a lot of the more decent religious folks would be depressed for a little bit, ask themselves "What was it all for?" etc., listen to emo music, and then in a short time look at the world around, think, "This is still a pretty cool place, and I still don't like to see other people hurting and want things to be fair. Well, God, if this is all there is, maybe I should start working to make things better in THIS life since there's no other life to fix things in."

The selfish or psychopathic were that way with or without religion and will probably act much the same, just without having quite the veil to hide behind. You might get a few who agitate for Nietzchean-style anarchy and nihilism, but all the decent folks would rise up and say, "That doesn't sound like a world worth living in."

And

In the mean time, we need to develop a language for ethics and even "spiritual" experience which is founded in rational and humanistic terms, rather than ancient (and barbaric) superstitions.

Definitely agree with that. I think all of us need to keep speaking out and keep trampling down the lie that the world and people aren't good without God. Start enough memes, and they'll have to add up to something. I think the reason that atheism is off-putting to many people is that they buy into the dualistic stereotype that meaning and significance and morals all fall on the "God" side of the scale, and only us saying the opposite over and over again is going to change minds.

Mon, 31 May 2010 02:28:48 UTC | #474971

FractalShift's Avatar Comment 5 by FractalShift

In my experience, the real thing keeping most relidgiots from going on a crime spree is not fear of divine spanking, but rather the secular legal system. After all, the law promises real and immediate penalties for wrongdoing, not just far off imaginary ones. Even the melted brain of a creationist can compute priorities.

Thus, when faith disappears, the primary safety net is still there. I think the danger lies not in loss of accountability, but in personal emotional upheaval - loss of purpose.

Tue, 08 Jun 2010 07:21:08 UTC | #477942

ccburke's Avatar Comment 6 by ccburke

Another big issue (perhaps the biggest), which I brought up in a different thread, is the problem of in-group vs. out-group behavior in humans. If religion disappeared too abruptly, there would be an enormous vacuum left that could be exploited by more destructive ideologies, such as racism or extreme nationalism.

I'm not sure I'd want to see religion to go away too quickly. It might be better if it faded out gradually enough for people to find more benign ways of engaging their competitive and territorial instincts.

Tue, 08 Jun 2010 07:59:12 UTC | #477950

FractalShift's Avatar Comment 7 by FractalShift

@ ccburke

Good point, hadn't thought of that. Certainly it's a problem if a magic button is pressed to make religion disappear everywhere. Of course in reality, people who lose faith are usually intelligent enough to rise above such group thinking.

Tue, 08 Jun 2010 21:41:47 UTC | #478247