April 6, 2018 at 1:30 pm #8635
@robert – isn’t it true that our “Muslim atheist” friends say that a non-believer is seen as the very worst kind of person in the world by Islam. Christians don’t seem to think that much of us either, sometimes.April 6, 2018 at 4:12 pm #8636
“at least they have faith” is sometimes said to me when I ask believers about other religions. It is because they hold faith with a higher regard than they hold reason. It does not matter that they are believing in the “wrong” god, it only matters that they have faith – that they too pretend to know things that they cannot possibly know. They can be very difficult to debate with because they are very closed minded. They will ignore anything that contradicts their delusion.April 6, 2018 at 4:29 pm #8637
“at least they have faith” is sometimes said to me when I ask believers about other religions. It is because they hold faith with a higher regard than they hold reason. It does not matter that they are believing in the “wrong” god, it only matters that they have faith – that they too pretend to know things that they cannot possibly know. They can be very difficult to debate with because they are very closed minded. They will ignore anything that contradicts their delusion.
@robert – isn’t it true that our “Muslim atheist” friends say that a non-believer is seen as the very worst kind of person in the world by Islam. Christians don’t seem to think that much of us either, sometimes.
Simon, If I came out as an atheist around here, it would be social suicide. It would likely cost me my career as well. People do have a intuition that I might not believe. They challenge me to determine if they are right. I never take the bait. I have no illusions about how xtians feel about atheists ’round here.April 6, 2018 at 6:38 pm #8638
I often hear people, not just Christians, making blanket statements about other faiths. They assume that all Arab peoples are Muslims when in fact many are actually Christians or that “white Europeans” are Christians when they have been Muslim for several generations. I think that religion tends to put people into camps where they see “others” as different. It tends to make societies gradually become more insular (a survival technique for religion?) and not want to allow in too many outside influences.
I will make a confession here. I was speaking with a Syrian woman last year who has lived in Ireland for over 10 years. This was at an atheist meet-up. I asked her if she ever got hassled by her family for renouncing her faith. I had (stupidly) assumed she was an ex-Muslim. She told me that she was always an atheist, just like her parents and grandparents in Damascus. They had never been discriminated against by any Muslim or Christian during the 25 years she had lived in Syria. It had no discrimination there. Not because everyone was trying hard to be tolerant but because it was never a thing in the first place. They lived in a very secular society. It was only in the “liberal and civilized West” that she encountered any form of it, she said with a grin. She said Christians also assumed she was an ex-Muslim and had asked if she was one because of the influence of Christianity on her since she moved to Ireland. When she told them she was an atheist and was always an atheist they would either get aggressive towards her or become very dismissive of her. I apologized for making such a crude assumption myself. She told me to forget it and then asked me if I was a Catholic atheist or a Protestant atheist. Nice one! We ordered more coffee.April 6, 2018 at 7:10 pm #8639
“religion tends to put people into camps where they see “others” as different. It tends to make societies gradually become more insular (a survival technique for religion?) and not want to allow in too many outside influences.”
– the ultimate, evolutionary reason why people don’t like “outsiders” is because 1) they are outside “our” group; 2) each group is a collective, cooperative endeavour; 3) that means that anyone entering from outside hasn’t done any of the work or taken any of the risks that the rest of “us” have in “our” battle for survival; 4) those people are “free-riders” who don’t deserve any of the rewards of what “we” have worked for.
In the first phase of human evolution (2.5 million years ago -> 12 thousand years ago), groups were relatively loose, and certainly peaceful with each other. After settlement and farming began, then groups became much more structured internally and more coherent as a whole (think, competing city states). This is the phase when organised religion began, and were a solution to the problem of how to cooperate on a large scale, when personal relationships are less face-to-face and more anonymous and impersonal. And so, they are very group- and rule- oriented. The bigger the threat from outside, the more organised the groups became internally, and sealed-off from other groups.
Interestingly, within religion we see a lot of the attitude “you have to earn it”, which is a reflection of the businesslike, impersonal tit-for-tat reciprocity that takes over when people don’t know each other personally. Behind that, with Jesus’ back-to-basics approach, we get the earlier phase of unconditional love, when people have a personal stake in each other’s well-being.April 6, 2018 at 9:15 pm #8640
– add into the picture:
1. this means that outsiders are either irrelevant (i.e. non-people, not deserving of empathic concern) or a threat;
2. most group members think, we do things the right way [for us], therefore it’s the right way, and everyone else’s is weird and wrong.April 6, 2018 at 9:33 pm #8641
I find most theists dislike “others”, especially atheists, is that outsiders disrupt their “group think” and tend to not confirm or add to their religious bias. Outsiders bring new ideas and force them, often unintentionally, to challenge their own faith. A herd of theists will never allow this but if you challenge them on a one-to-0ne basis you are more (very) likely to compel them to confront their own doubts. Asking them if they really believe they are to become immortal is often enough to get them thinking.April 7, 2018 at 6:45 am #8643
I guess the situation is different in the UK to most places, where being religious is not the default position. If people are religious (Christian, at least) it means being part of a minority that’s distrusted by the rest and seen as weird. So the reasons why people get into it are different: they tend to consciously choose it, and they’re into it to “do good”. I have to remember this if talking to religious people here: it’s more thought about and deliberate than most places. Basically they seem like one more UK cultural tribe, not much different from hippies or punks, except with different music and smells I guess.
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