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Old 03-03-2014, 08:42 AM
 
Location: East Coast of the United States
17,293 posts, read 19,577,939 times
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Here's a scenario to ponder:

Imagine going into a Church and listening to the priest at the altar announce -

"Ahem.. Dear congregration, after many years of study and long reflection on the evidence, I have come to the conclusion that there is very likely no such thing as an afterlife for humans or a soul which survives the body once it has died. On the contrary, it is basically just a blank nothingness once your brains and bodies have ceased to function."

"Of course, God gets to live on forever because - you know - He's the 'big guy.' But He did not give humans like you and me any special blessing to live on in any way after we kick the bucket as was once thought. You will never go the heaven. But if it's any consolation, you can never burn in hell either."

"God basically just wants all of you good people to pray to Him, worship Him, accept rewards and punishments from Him and all that other cool stuff while you are living. Once you reach the end of your lives, it's just toodle loo forever and that's pretty much a wrap."

Now, think of the reaction to this speech from the congregation.
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Old 03-03-2014, 09:57 AM
 
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For some reason, Biblos.. I mean Bilbo's 111th birthday party speech to a bunch of bewildered, annoyed and not -too-bright Hobbits pops into mind.
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Old 03-03-2014, 12:45 PM
 
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Fear is the hold that religion has on the masses. Fear is a human emotion that is hard to overcome and the purveyors of absurd fairy tales, commonly known as religion, have learned to manipulate this fear to create huge followings, and of course the obligatory $$$$ donations, or more accurately 'protection money' from the boogie men of the fairy tales.
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Old 03-05-2014, 03:03 AM
 
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I agree. It is a big con, and specifically a protection racket. And, like all protection rackets, if people will overcome their fears and work together with those who don't have it, the perpetrators of this scam will soon find themselves having to find honest jobs.
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Old 03-05-2014, 03:43 AM
 
2,415 posts, read 2,430,339 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AREQUIPA View Post
I agree. It is a big con, and specifically a protection racket. And, like all protection rackets, if people will overcome their fears and work together with those who don't have it, the perpetrators of this scam will soon find themselves having to find honest jobs.
Oh, but they think of themselves as already having "honest jobs".
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Old 03-05-2014, 04:06 AM
 
Location: South Carolina
3,533 posts, read 2,452,165 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BigCityDreamer View Post
From my experience, it seems that there are a LOT of people out there who know in their heart of hearts that religion is basically a bunch of nonsense. But in spite of this, they just cannot accept their own mortality and they are terrified by the idea that their lives and that of their loved ones have an expiration date.

People desperately want to believe in things like God, heaven and afterlife.

So, does it really boil down to this particular reason that most people will never be atheists?
I think you hit the nail on the head, it is fear that keeps the religion thing going. At least in my experience, I was so afraid of "hell" and of non-existence that I couldn't let go of Christianity for many many years even though I had serious doubts.

I don't really know how to give advice as to how to let go of the fear, it still lingers from time to time with me but for the most part I've let it go but it was a long process. I guess the best thing to do is to always think rationally and deal with the facts because it wins out every time.
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Old 03-05-2014, 08:54 PM
 
40,103 posts, read 26,772,494 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Asheville Native View Post
Fear is the hold that religion has on the masses. Fear is a human emotion that is hard to overcome and the purveyors of absurd fairy tales, commonly known as religion, have learned to manipulate this fear to create huge followings, and of course the obligatory $$$$ donations, or more accurately 'protection money' from the boogie men of the fairy tales.
Quote:
Originally Posted by AREQUIPA View Post
I agree. It is a big con, and specifically a protection racket. And, like all protection rackets, if people will overcome their fears and work together with those who don't have it, the perpetrators of this scam will soon find themselves having to find honest jobs.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Northsouth View Post
I think you hit the nail on the head, it is fear that keeps the religion thing going. At least in my experience, I was so afraid of "hell" and of non-existence that I couldn't let go of Christianity for many many years even though I had serious doubts.
I don't really know how to give advice as to how to let go of the fear, it still lingers from time to time with me but for the most part I've let it go but it was a long process. I guess the best thing to do is to always think rationally and deal with the facts because it wins out every time.
I am sure there are SOME believers out there that are motivated by fear. I would suggest that they are not really believers . . . but are playing Pascal's wager. Believers generally have a positive motivation to believe based on positive personal experiences. Many do not even subscribe to the hell nonsense so there is nothing to fear. It is simplistic to pretend that most Christians are fearful, IMO.
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Old 03-05-2014, 10:24 PM
 
Location: Logan Township, Minnesota
15,511 posts, read 13,299,862 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MysticPhD View Post
I am sure there are SOME believers out there that are motivated by fear. I would suggest that they are not really believers . . . but are playing Pascal's wager. Believers generally have a positive motivation to believe based on positive personal experiences. Many do not even subscribe to the hell nonsense so there is nothing to fear. It is simplistic to pretend that most Christians are fearful, IMO.
I agree.

I think the fear factor would be a strong motivation for a person to become an Atheist as denial would soon set in as a defense mechanism.

It would be much easier to come to the conclusion that God(swt) does not exist then believe based on fear.
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Old 03-06-2014, 04:26 AM
 
39,205 posts, read 10,887,543 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MysticPhD View Post
I am sure there are SOME believers out there that are motivated by fear. I would suggest that they are not really believers . . . but are playing Pascal's wager. Believers generally have a positive motivation to believe based on positive personal experiences. Many do not even subscribe to the hell nonsense so there is nothing to fear. It is simplistic to pretend that most Christians are fearful, IMO.
There may be an element of that, but Pascal's wager is only a means to an end; to get people into an imitation of faith in the (rather misguided) hope that this would be enough to satisfy God. In fact it is just one of the many ploys for getting one into the prayer position which puts the brain on the edge as it were so it can be tipped over into realization. Which is, as you know, a real phenomenon, known amongst all races, achieved in various ways and interpreted according to their own beliefs.
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Old 03-06-2014, 04:47 AM
 
Location: Northeastern US
14,197 posts, read 9,094,403 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MysticPhD View Post
I am sure there are SOME believers out there that are motivated by fear. I would suggest that they are not really believers . . . but are playing Pascal's wager. Believers generally have a positive motivation to believe based on positive personal experiences. Many do not even subscribe to the hell nonsense so there is nothing to fear. It is simplistic to pretend that most Christians are fearful, IMO.
Motivations for faith are many and usually intertwined in any given individual. But I think you are underestimating the "keeping power" of fear. Yes, it's true that one response to fear is to get away from the threat, but what is the perceived threat we're talking about here? In this case the fear is a tool used by fundamentalism. Its real source is the church dogma, but the perceived / alleged source is god ... he is threatening people with hell and/or other punishments including the rather primal one of a father's disapproval and disappointment (particularly effective if your real father was the shaming and blaming type). The only way to escape those threats is to appease the wrath of the father through obedience and repentance.

As you are fond of saying, these are primitive beliefs from a more savage age, but things are the way they are because they got that way. These techniques are effective. Even Pascal's Wager is a way to appeal to the weaker, yet lingering fears and doubts of a more intellectual / heady person.

Hellthreat, as Arq likes to call it, is deeply embedded in society and in our collective psyche, and it is not going to fade quickly or without a fight -- it still works, even as its power over us inexorably ebbs.

You are of course correct that for many, belief is based in whole or in part on positive personal experiences, and I would add what I'd call "adequate personal experiences", such as, being raised in the faith and finding it an adequate abstraction to live by and not really knowing anything else or having the motivation to try anything else. Those motivations can even do their thing right alongside all the fear and loathing.

I agree with you that a believer who mindfully embraces positive subjective experiences of a religious nature has a better quality experience of faith than one who mindlessly cowers before their faith out of terror. But just because one type of believer is a more ideal representative of your faith ideals doesn't make the other type any less genuine a believer. Religion will take them however it can get them. Its hold on people is multifaceted and includes the good, the bad and the ugly. Your disavowal of association with the fearful and ignorant believers is no more valid than the church's disavowal of deconverts as "never one of us".
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