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Old 02-27-2014, 11:09 AM
 
Location: East Coast of the United States
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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?
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Old 02-27-2014, 11:22 AM
 
Location: Florida
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I think that's a huge factor.

Other big factors: Religion is a force of order in their lives. Religion is a means of satisfying the ego. Religion is an artificial 'clan' that replaces the prehistoric group survival instincts.
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Old 02-27-2014, 11:29 AM
 
Location: Parts Unknown, Northern California
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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?
How do you know that eventually most people won't be atheists?

I suspect that if people were born into a majority atheist world they would not devote portions of their lives wondering about the mythology associated with religion. How much time to you currently invest in worrying about getting into Valhalla or being given 72 afterlife virgins or angering Zeus?

Your question is phrased so as to treat religion as the natural default position and the alternative as the deviation. That isn't a natural condition, it is the product of overwhelming cultural indoctrination. Religion in a culture isn't merely the tenants of the faith, it is the whole Sunday go to meeting/celebrate Christmas/use Biblical references in our speech/motto on the dollar/bless you when you sneeze everyday things you don't even think about but serve as constant reminders. Religion seems legitimate because it is everywhere and is being treated as legitimate by the majority. It requires some mental doings to overcome all this.

Remove all that and those religious tenants no longer possess any power of persuasion beyond the merits of the arguments that these things really happened and represent the story or will of god. Children who were not frightened by the hell business while children, aren't likely to grow up to be adults frightened by it.
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Old 02-27-2014, 11:51 AM
 
Location: Sitting beside Walden Pond
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BigCityDreamer View Post
So, does it really boil down to this particular reason that most people will never be atheists?
The reasons you pointed out are certainly good ones, but I think many people have a greater fear of being separated from loved ones.

For example, look at the 'Legacy Site' comments on this web site dedicated to a young lady killed in a car accident 9 years ago.

http://allie4ever.com/
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Old 02-27-2014, 12:26 PM
 
Location: Logan Township, Minnesota
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Just the input of one theist. Can only speak for myself.

I don't recall ever having a fear of death. Possibly the result of my Tatar/Lithuanian heritage. I was raised that birth was a time for grief. We mourn the birth of a child as they are beginning the experience of pain, disappointment and loss. We rejoice for a person who has died as they have escaped the pains of earth.

I guess that concept has always been a part of my thoughts on death. I tend to have a neutral feeling about eternal life.

Can't say I ever give it much thought. Not much of a motivating factor for me. I doubt if my religious thoughts would change much even if I was positive there was no eternal life. I really don't have much of a concept of eternity. Never really thought it was of any personal concern. I do believe God(swt) exists and it is my desire to serve him. But I am not motivated by ideas of reward or punishment. I still desire to serve God(swt) even if it is just for the duration of this physical life.

I have no less or more fear of death as I did during my Atheist era. In the words of my mentor, Alfred E. Newman, "What, me Worry?"
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Old 02-27-2014, 12:29 PM
 
Location: Northeastern US
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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 believe that eventually (as in, a couple hundred to a thousand years) most people WILL be atheists. I am just not sure how quickly they can be weaned from the false notion that bare-metal reality is such a sucking horror. It's not as superficially comforting as the alternatives, to be sure, but it lacks the long-term disadvantages of comforting lies, too.

In the meantime I believe that even many fundamentalists take their faith far less seriously than their overlords would like them to. I recall constant whining from the pulpit about people acting differently in church than in the real world the following Monday, not enough tithing, not enough Bible study, not enough prayer, not enough faith, too much doubt and too little "commitment". One of my brothers has not mentally left fundamentalism but I can't detect that he actually believes the BS anymore either and he hasn't even been to church in 20 years. How many people are there who fear the LABEL of atheism or even agnosticism but are FUNCTIONALLY those things? How many don't give a fig but pretend to to keep peace in the family or community? And those are just the fundamentalists.

Some people are content not to assertively examine their thinking but to just hold their beliefs loosely. These people may be unsure about, say, evil-ution, but rather indifferent to it at the same time, too. They will not sign petitions or agitate about it. They will not debate it in places like this (or at least not for more than about 2 posts).

So we are probably further along into the secularization of society and de-fanging of religion than folks suppose that we are. At some point, a few generations hence, we'll hit some sort of tipping point where religion will become marginalized and no longer an automatically respected default.

Not that I think religion will utterly vanish anytime in the next millennium and perhaps beyond. Not everyone is able to handle their unattenuated self awareness and is prone to even more maladaptive methods than religion, such as substance abuse. Religion will remain a lesser evil for some, but as people learn to deal in reality, including fully dealing with the fact of their mortality, it will not be such a common default mode of being.
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Old 02-27-2014, 12:42 PM
 
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People believe for all sorts of reasons. Fear of oblivion, as suggested, but also a need for meaning. Something to make them feel safe or less alone. Etc.

My father is for all intents and purposes an atheist, but he hedges his bets by donating to his old church. You know, just in case all that stuff about hellfire is true. LOL.

The world and life itself are kind of scary. Everything you have can be lost in a flash, and we all know it. A magical being who can make everything right - even if it's in the afterlife - is the ultimate reassurance.
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Old 02-27-2014, 01:36 PM
 
Location: USA
3,427 posts, read 1,256,851 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?
No atheist that I am aware of fears death and nonexistence. People who DO fear death and nonexistence also tend to be terrified of ghosts, spirits, and all things which go bump in the night. Such people are not really candidates for atheism anyway.
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Old 02-27-2014, 01:55 PM
 
Location: SGV, CA
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It's not the fear of death that keeps people from renouncing their religion. It's the fear that everything they were taught is wrong, that their culture is wrong and that everything they were taught was a lie.
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Old 02-27-2014, 02:01 PM
 
Location: Sitting on a bar stool. Guinness in hand.
4,429 posts, read 5,668,397 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tired of the Nonsense View Post
No atheist that I am aware of fears death and nonexistence. People who DO fear death and nonexistence also tend to be terrified of ghosts, spirits, and all things which go bump in the night. Such people are not really candidates for atheism anyway.
I don't know If I exactly fear death.....but...I'm not a big fan of it. Probably why I am fanatical follower of transhumanism. But I have uncomfortably excepted that death/nonexistence is the most likely outcome for me. For now that is just the way it is from my POV.

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?
In general I think you're correct. I think one's own mortality and mortality of their loved ones drives (the main driver) a lot of folks to believe. Also usually there seems to be the added benefit that once you get through this life, the afterlife/continued existence seems to be a much better deal than what one gets in the here and now. The grass is always greener on the other side ain't it.
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