The meaning of gods
Very recently….like 20 minutes ago….I came to a final supporting piece of evidence that many people don’t ‘believe’ in gods as such, but in the effect believing in gods have on them, from society.
So, what is this about?
Well, whoever debated or discussed religiosity with someone who is ‘of faith’, will have come to realise that the counter arguments you get are all based on ‘personal experience’. This isn’t strange, because anything we know and learn from the world, we learn from experiencing it. However, the point for a non- or lesser-believer is, that they are self-sufficient enough to accept that if more people support the same view regarding experience, the experience holds more validity. Why would it be different from an experience from a religious person? Why would that hold less validity? For the religious person it doesn’t. It supports their reasoning in why they feel ‘happier’ in their own perspective. They feel they connect better with people than those that don’t ‘believe’. Is this true? Are people who don’t believe less connected? I would say (being a realist) no. I know I have a high impact on society around me, because of the actions I do. I do the actions because that is who I am and I know I try to help people with them. I teach good values, I act to improve the temporary or longterm quality of other’s lives. This would be (to my understanding) the same a person of faith would do. Likely for the same reason: To lighten the burden of others. But why are people discerning themselves about the underlying lie that is causing the discussion/debate? Why would I (a realist and therefore atheist) care about what kind of imaginary friend a person holds in their mind? Because of numerous reasons. 1. Because it is a lie. 2. Because it generates a fragile framework that is easily misused. 3. Because the direct and indirect effects are additional lies. 4. Because when the lie finds enough people, it changes society to a dangerous place for specific individuals or whole groups. Something that is ‘inhuman’.
Now, why would people still not accept the absence of a god, if it is the logical and honest thing to do?
Well, likely for the same reason someone would supress the truth regarding something, if it would mean the difference between a warm cozy place near a fireplace in the middle of winter, or standing barefeet in the snow of -10 C.
I read a very ‘sane’ story of a person today, that said: Well, I came from an ‘atheist’ home, but as we had family problems and it felt cold, I found a place where it promised warmth and care. Though it was based on religion, I welcomed it, because it felt someone cared for me.’
And I think this is what is causing people to only move away from the lie, if the lie is becoming too obvious to them that they can’t uphold it anymore.
The ‘atheist’/’realist’ view and life seems (I must emphasize this: seems) lacking the warmth of social cohesion we see in the christmas movies. The warm sweaters and cozy singing. People who are feeling lonely want this. People can feel lonely for many reasons, even with no place to go because of the amount of people.
We humans are a social species. Not all of us are at the same cognitive awareness level. Some pretend to be beyond, some don’t want to be aware. We all have our prerogative regarding what we want to be aware of. But does that mean we should accept a lie? No.
Why do we do this anyway? Why do for instance students more easily convert to a faith-based world view?
Well, taking the numbers and denominations, it is very likely an non-faith person at college time, will fall in a group where 3/4 is faith-based. Often a non-faith person doesn’t easily talk about it, causing 2 non-faith people next to each other, to be unaware of their shared state. This can cause them, due to the need to fit with the group to adapt to the general concensus of accepting a/the faith.
In earlier years, there isn’t really a question. Children take the word of their parents. They will accept the believe, because it is rationalised and even worse, children aren’t rational yet, they are learning how to reason. So, when learning to reason with a faith, it means that any further thought will incorporate rationalisation including that faith.
How about, after college? Well, high school, university all hold the same social bonds and needs for people to support each other in groups. So, the same danger exists. But what when people are mature and starting their adult life? They surely don’t fall for such group based empathies? Why not? We are, as I said, a social species. The main part of our ethical/moral encoding comes from the genetic learning to rely on safety within a group.
So, as long as the group that is faith-based, gives a signal that the group supports the individual to the amount that we learn (cultural) to accept as warm and welcoming, people will try to accept the accompanying lie.
To overcome this obstacle, it is important, as a humanist, realist (and atheist), to acknowledge the shortcomings and work towards a honest and thoughtful world, where taking out the lie doesn’t equals leaving out all the accompanying social commitments and group support.
We must create a better view on non-faith societies, where humans are still supporting and ‘warm’ towards each other, so the individual will have no reason to see benefit in a lie over honesty and reason. Though this is not something that needs to change. Societies of secular reasoning are among those to best support the whole group instead of a selective one, being aware on the impact of limited visibility against the overall ‘Coca Cola’-family effect of religion, will improve global human awareness of honesty, logic and reason.