The correct category for believing in a god.

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mykcob4's picture
The correct category for believing in a god.

I have often wondered why so many fucked up things are or have any popularity at all.
Anyone in their right mind would have not only voted against Trump but also would have publicly denounced him.
Religion is in much the same vein. Common sense would tell you that if someone promises you something but doesn't and can't even produce a shred of evidence that it is real then it is bogus.
But just look at the various things that are popular for no real reason. Reality shows about people whose only claim to fame are that they are famous. Famous for being famous...which came first?
Religion, faith healing, who promises peace and happiness but only bring misery and pain. There isn't a shred of evidence that there was ever a god. The bible is nothing more than a collection of folklore and fables (might as well have been written by the Grimm brothers).
You can drive around the seedier part of any town, and find palm readers, head bump readers, faith healers, witch doctors, massage parlors (whore houses), liquor stores, check cashing stores, churches, dive bars, topless bars, and every corner drug dealers, not to mention the street prostitutes.
They all have one thing in common. They are businesses (illegal or not) that prey on the desperate, the addicted, the poor. They exploit the customer and the worker.
You have to have a medical condition to use any of these services, an addiction, a psychological condition.
So let us categorize faith for what it is, a mental condition. The causes are many but the result is the same.
Most people come to this condition via institutional brainwashing. They call it tradition or cultural heritage, but slavery was a cultural heritage as well. It didn't make it any more justified for exploiting innocent people!
There are different degrees of this mental disease we call religion. the extremes are like Scientology or Westboro Baptist Church, but even the Pastor at Dallas Baptist Church actually said that god gave Trump the "okay" to take out North Korea. That is insanity by definition.
On this forum, we have a few youngsters that suffer this mental condition. Longwinded 77, Dumb Ox, Jon the Catholic, and a couple more. They troll and proselytize, apologize, and ignore facts. You can't reason with them. they need medical help.
So let us recognize this terrible condition called faith, then may be we can do something about it.

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Randomhero1982's picture
I suppose we could all view

I suppose we could all view it in many ways, I think I would consider brain washing a bit harsh a term but we are all entitled to our opinions.

Personally I've always wondered if theism is a form of operant conditioning, In operant conditioning, learning refers to changes in behavior as a result of experiences that occur after a response.

This form of conditioning involves changing voluntary behaviors, and th behavior response is followed by either reinforcement or punishment.

Reinforcement following a behavior will cause the behavior to increase, but if behavior is followed by punishment the behavior will decrease.

You could apply this to how, if you believe in god, do good deeds, live as he commands, you are rewarded... this would allow religiosity to increase.

And obviously sinners burn in hell for eternity, or in some cases remain in a state of limbo etc... this would likely decrease non belief and reinforce belief in a God.

Just an opinion, not fact.

mykcob4's picture
I suppose random but there is

I suppose random but there is a bit more going on. If you look at history and follow the mesmerising effect of Hitler on the general public of Germany at the time, it parallels what is going on in America. The nationalism, the racism, all in the name of god, security(paranoia), heritage, and tradition.
Psychologists refer to it as mass hysteria. I don't entirely agree with that diagnosis. That only accounts for a relatively short term effect. When you account for centuries of the same sort of hysteria it amounts to institutional brainwashing. Preparing the masses for a sudden burst of racism and or war. That is what it is. It is the systematic training for the masses to be obedient to tyranny and not to question the authority that brings that tyranny.

Randomhero1982's picture
I do entirely see your point,

I do entirely see your point, i was merely offering the operant conditioning as a sort of 'food for thought'.

It also works with the analogy you presented in the case of Adolf Hitler, in that those who followed him unconditionally were highly rewarded... for example a politician or someone within the military could fly up the chain of command like reinhard heydrich.. as oppose to political opposition who were sent to death camps, this would continue the condition already ingrained that following would be rewarded and opposing would be punished.

What do you think?

mykcob4's picture
I agree

I agree

Flamenca's picture
Randomhero, you said in an

Randomhero, you said in an early post that you're atheist since forever, probably because your parents were not religious people. I've never met a grown-up believer who has not been influenced by theist thought in their childhood, do you? Is that different from adult people from North Korea thinking that their leader has magic powers? Or make believe in Overlord Xenu? For me, in all of these cases, brainwashing is the right term.

About the reinforcement argument. I totally agree with you guys. But I also think that there's a natural tendency in human beings to believe in authorities (parents, teachers...) when we are children. That's why we also believe in Santa, the Tooth Fairy (in Spain, Little Mouse Pérez) and God or whatever bs we're told. What reinforcements do we get when we are old to keep believing that this is true?

1. And just as it happened with the sight of Jesus in the ecography or in a wet wall or in a fried egg, we tend to look for familiar patterns in things. And randomness is not in a mind of a believer (my own mind when I was a kid): Good things are God's work, but bad things are products of the free will or God's mysterious ways.

2. Our innate desire for justice, immortality, finding meaning to everything, and as you said, rewards. Believing in a superior entity, that all of these things are possible, therefore make people happy, reinforces the behavior.

Thanks for the post, mykcob4, and the comments from both of you. Very interesting. Something to think thoroughly.

Randomhero1982's picture
Angiebot - I could probably

Angiebot - I could probably better describe my outlook a bit better now if you would kindly indulge me... my parents had no inclination for or against religion, but they did agree that it should be something I naturally discover before it was to be discussed. Fortunately for me, I was lucky enough to have British secular education that wasn't interfered with by religion until religious education studies during senior school, by which time I'd developed reasonable critical thinking faculties that allowed me to objectively view religion for what it is.

I would agree that the theists that I know have had some form of indoctrination before coming to their belief system of choice.

But I would still say the operant conditioning fits the bill, to use your north Korea analogy.. if one defies the doctrine that is punishable by death, this conditions the people, generation after generation to follow suit.
An adult would quickly tell their children, "A is fact, and you cannot question it, or you'll be killled!"

We outside of north Korea are not recipients of any possible punishment so can view the leader as the tubby little wanker that he is ;)

But would I say that to him if I visited the country? I'm not brainwashed so it's possible to! However I to am conditioned to realise what will happen if i do.

I hope that makes sense, I'm trying to type whilst chasing after my crawling 6 month old son haha.

The natural tendency could also fit the bill, given we know what happens if we disobey, we are punished... be that jail, or the naughty step, so I would then ask, could it be that we are conditioned to obey, respect authority/our elders?

I deeply apologise if I've rambled on somewhat, it's just something I've always thought about a bit not discussed so this is kind of on the fly.

Flamenca's picture
Hey, Randomhero, you don't

Hey, Randomhero, you don't need to apologise for anything at all! Just so you know, since I'm in this forum, I read your posts eagerly, because your statements usually make perfect sense (even when your baby's interrumpting xD). I'm the one who has troubles when it comes to argue, because it's very difficult to contend about complex subjetcts like this, when you're expressing in a language that's not your own... I wish I could be as fluent as I'm in Spanish.

I'll try to follow your arguments. You wrote: "The natural tendency could also fit the bill, given we know what happens if we disobey, we are punished... be that jail, or the naughty step, so I would then ask, could it be that we are conditioned to obey, respect authority/our elders? "

Dawkins upholds that we have a natural tendency to follow orders when we're kids for evolutionary reasons (the children who disobey their parents/elders advice, are more likely to be hurt or to die), so I guess this is, in a way, still in us when we grow up. Then we could say that we are naturally conditioned to obey and respect who we consider authority (political, religious or others) in a subconscious level.

I hope this makes sense.

Randomhero1982's picture
Angiebot - Thank you, it has

Angiebot - Thank you, it has been tough start to this forum as most others I have frequented in the past have certain section for general thoughts, and others for subjects such as physics, theology, philosophy etc...

As oppose to here where it's fairly open, which is good.. just takes some getting used to as i can post and get a wide range of opinions from different contexts!

And don't worry about English not being your native language, you're doing very well!
Buena noches, Que tal? Apologies my spanish is basic, leant some at university through an ex girlfriend haha.

On topic - I completely agree, conditioning is the most rational explanation! It certainly answers more questions then it asks.

It makes me wonder if this also explains how humans can perform acts considered immoral?
(Side note - we could also possibly ask if morality could also be linked to conditioning, which I'll happily discuss)

Flamenca's picture
Random, this is my first

Random, this is my first atheist forum. Almost every person I know is a theist (and the atheists I know are very apathetic and disspasionate about debates), so I want to learn from people like you, apparently well-adjusted atheists (don't get too conceited), how to defend my points of view... And btw, if those are all the Spanish words you know, I feel a little less embarrased of my poor English, hehehe.

On topic: Many years ago, when I was young(er), I studied about psychologist Jean Piaget's theories of the development of children. Apparently, studies show that morality is not innate, but learned and get sophisticated over the years, through interaction with others.

How humans can perform acts considered immoral? And I ask: Immoral for whom? Since moral is relative, it's a really difficult question to solve. I consider bullfighting immoral, but in most places in my country is still legal... Let's say, murder, which seems immoral to every society. I guess the terrorists in Barcelona considered what they did was totally moral, according to their education and life determinants.

Now, let's say that a person -who is not a physicopath or sociopath- breaks his/her own inner moral law. Can she/he do it even if it's breaking their moral code? Of course. Normal people have temporary insanity -or learn how to rationalize and justify this- and sometimes they even kill a relative, for example. Let's put aside the fact that the punishment of their regret will be huge!!!

When I was a kid, in my school, a male-teacher planned and executed the murder of his ex-wife (another teacher) in front of 30 six-year-old kids, because he thought that she was being immoral (cause she wasn't respecting custody agreement). So in his mind, she was the one who broke the moral code first, so he justified his crazy and immoral behaviour that way.

Randomhero1982's picture
Angiebot - I think you'll

Angiebot - I think you'll find this forum quite refreshing in that case, there are quite a few very good posters! I would suggest having a read of Nyarlathotep's comments, he appears very well versed in numerous disciplines.

Haha unfortunately English is my native language and German was my second... Spanish was a hobby that I continue to improve along with Finnish from a close friend. (by the way I do know more Spanish, just being courteous Haha!)

Back on point, morality does appear to again be a conditioning process...

We could ask, what is more rational or probable...
A - that two early hominins worked out that cooperation benefited both parties far more than working individually in what could be a starting point for some form of morality. (will note this needs more substance but for now it's just a point of consideration)
B - A supernatural entity provided morality

We can't truly dismiss either option using say.. a scientific method, but we could assume what is more or less likely... but again I would stress neither option could be conclusively dismissed without solid evidence.

However I would hope it wouldn't be too bold of me to assert that one makes more sense as it doesn't require the suspension of the laws of nature.

Nyarlathotep's picture
B - A supernatural entity

Randomhero1982 - B - A supernatural entity provided morality

One of the many problems with B is that different groups of people seem to have very different moral ideals/beliefs/whatever. Implying that god gave these groups different "settings". If morality comes from god, look what he did to the Etoro people (just need to read the first 4 sentences). Remember them the next time someone tells you everyone is born knowing some kind of absolute right from wrong (from god).

xenoview's picture
Those Etoro people are a sick

Those Etoro people are a sick twisted bunch. I guess it's no different than a priest taking advantage of little boys.

Kwahu Jakquai's picture


I agree with you vehemently!

Harry33Truman's picture
There are many things that

There are many things that should never have been things to begin with from a logical point of view, we cannot explain how anyone who isn't batshit insane could go along with it, because you cannot use logic to understand the illogical mind. God, Genital Mutilation, and Socialism are perfect examples. Those of us who are in touch with reality and with common sense cannot understand how anyone could actually believe that there is a magical man in the sky, or that mutilating their children's genitals is OK somehow, or that socialism is a good idea. They are living in an entirely different universe than us so to speak.

As far as Trump is concerned, our alternatives were a turd sandwich, or a couple of third party candidates that almost no one is voting for. So, I'm sorry you didn't get *the* dirt bag you wanted, but that's how things turn out sometimes.

mykcob4's picture
Harry, Harry, Harry,...

Harry, Harry, Harry,....Socialism is nowhere near what you think it is and your take on the choices for president couldn't farther from the truth.

Harry33Truman's picture
I happened to have a

I happened to have a dictionary- socialism is government control over the economy, and our choices were:
Hillary Clinton
Donald Trump
Gary Johnson
Jill Stein

The last two were guaranteed to loose, Trump was as bad as Ted Bundy, and Hillary was worse than Ted Bundy.

Am I getting this right or was there a fith option.

mykcob4's picture
1st of all Harry you are

1st of all Harry you are trying to hijack this thread to push your fucked up uninformed political bent.
2nd your description of socialism is completely inaccurate.
3rd your hatred for Hillary is propaganda motivated and unfounded.
4th you were all for Trump and now that he is proven to be a criminal with no regard for the rule of law you just marginalize the whole system and lie to fit your fucked up narrative.
Even though I hate Trump even he isn't like Ted Bundy.
That is your problem. You equate everything that you have been brainwashed to hate to things that don't even relate.
Trump wants to be an authoritarian, a dictator.
Hillary and the Democratic Party are nowhere near socialist, not even close.

Flamenca's picture
I agree with you Mykcob,

I agree with you Mykcob, Harry is really confused about the term 'socialism', I guess he thinks it's equal to "communist" (intentional quoting) dictatorships or Thor knows what... I know in USA, there's a deliberate confusion between these two terms (in Europe, I assure you, we can tell there's a huge difference). If you want an American guy to explain it, just listen to Bernie Sanders. But my point is that I'd like to remind you -both of you- that this thread has been certainly hijacked by American politics and the topic is "The correct category for believing in a god"...

mykcob4's picture
@ Angiebot I know I started

@ Angiebot I know I started the thread. Harry always try to hijack every thread and make it a conservative propaganda rah rah thread. He isn't even old enough to vote and he doesn't know what he is talking about.

Harry33Truman's picture
I haven't hijacked anything g

I haven't hijacked anything g, you are trying to make it into a socialist propaganda thread, and get mad at me for not going along with it, so you spew out this bullshit. You don't know what you ate talking about, and someone ought to put you in a box floating down the river.

Nyarlathotep's picture
Angiebot - Harry is really

Angiebot - Harry is really confused about the term 'socialism'

Harry is a kid who has it all figured out. The funny thing is, he has had it all figured out before and done a huge flip-flop. How that does not give him pause now (I mean, why he continues to be so sure about things after doing a 180 degree turn not that long ago) is beyond me.

Harry33Truman's picture
"Authoritarianism is bad"

"Authoritarianism is bad"

Harry is just some kid who thinks he knows everything.

There's no other possibility is there? I don't accept your bullshit, therefore I know it all? I only rejected nonsense, I'm not even making any claims.

mykcob4's picture
@Harry Truman

@Harry Truman
It isn't that you know authoritarianism is is. It's your application of the term. You don't know the difference between fascism, communism, socialism, Liberalism, and other political ideologies.

Harry33Truman's picture
My application is just the

My application is just the dictionary definition of authoritarianism. Government control as opposed to individual choice, you support the prior, I the latter.

mykcob4's picture
Nope government regulation

Nope government regulation exists in every ideology other than anarchy. It isn't, as you say that socialism is authoritarianism.

Harry33Truman's picture
Laws, mykbob, not regulations

Laws, mykbob, not regulations, exist in every ideology except anarchy. Regulations are laws written by unelected bureau's and enforced independent of the judicial system.

Yes, government control over our lives is authoritarian.

Harry33Truman's picture
My application is just the

My application is just the dictionary definition of authoritarianism. Government control as opposed to individual choice, you support the prior, I the latter.

Freeslave's picture
Interesting observation. AR

Interesting observation. AR's official description states that "most Atheists were once believers". Does that mean that since most Atheists have done a huge flip-flop that they should question their present belief in Atheism which they now have all figured out?

Nyarlathotep's picture
I think everyone should

I think everyone should question what they believe. But I was wasn't specifically talking about him switching from theist to atheist. I was talking more about his claims, like when he told us:

  • he had proof that millions of people witnessed Moses talking to god
  • monks can start fires with their minds
  • your mind/soul emits a "unique magnetic field"
  • you can use dowsing rods to find fossils of giants
  • Hillary Clinton is a rapist
  • tourists found a nuclear bomb in Georgia
  • he was the only conscious being in the universe
Harry33Truman's picture
My claims of Moses talking to

My claims of Moses talking to the wizard in the sky were my beliefs in religion, zyranthrope, and flip flopping on that was my switch from theist to atheist.

I did say that monks could start fires with their minds and that brains have electrical waves going through them, and that there were giant bones buried underground. I also said that Hillary was accused of rape, and posted a legitimate news story of A tourist finding an old hydrogen bomb, which isn't even indisputable. When I said I was the only conscious being in the universe, I was thinking about an abstract concept, I downstream it literally.


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