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Oct 14 2011

Note to believers: fanaticism ain’t proof

Got a PM on Facebook today from a fellow heathen who presented me with the following.

Hey Martin, I have a dilemma and was hoping for some quick advice on how to handle a situation. I am a part of a theology group here on FB and during one of these exchanges a Christian (fairly fundy) said he would die for his god and asked what I would die for.

My response was that it sounded like jihad. Was this a good approach I guess is my question? I’m pretty sure (with the fundy part) he’s just not going to get where the similarities are between jihad and fundamental christianity but I can try right? lol

Any advice is appreciated.

Bringing up jihad isn’t a bad point, but an unnecessary one. Why would this dude die for his God? What has convinced him that this being is real, and so important, that such a crazy act might be required, and would be acceptable if required? If this God is all powerful and can do anything, as most Christians believe, what would be accomplished in this God’s benefit that He could not accomplish just as easily without this person having to die?

This kind of expression strikes me as a prime example of the irrationality of religious belief. No one would be so quick to say he would die for his God if he had truly considered the above questions.

It is possible there are things I might die for — like defending my family, or my country if it were invaded — but so what? The whole issue is beside the point. His willingness to die for his God, on top of being irrational, does not in any way constitute evidence God actually exists. It only proves what a fanatic this guy is.

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  1. 1
    Worldtraveller

    We can point out quite a few followers of other religions who were quite willing to die for their beliefs too. Clearly, they can’t all be right. So that argument doesn’t even qualify as evidence.

    I would die to protect my wife, but (and don’t tell her this) that doesn’t mean she’s divine. ;-)

  2. 2
    James

    “His willingness to die for his God, despite being irrational, does not in any way constitute evidence God actually exists. It only proves what a fanatic this guy is”
    Exactly.
    I’s the same when a religious person says that old, tired “argument” that there re no atheists in threnches or that at death’s door every atheist converts. Even if that were 100% true, it would say nothing about the existence of god, only that people in desperate circumstances do weird things.

  3. 3
    Kiwi Sauce

    I find the question “what will you die for?” an interesting one. I don’t really want to die for anything (although when death comes, I would prefer it was quick), I would much rather live for helping make the world a better place, e.g. through my taxes, donations, through my paid and unpaid work. Once I die, none of that assistance is clearly going to continue, as it also stops when others die. I suppose I see purposive dying in support of a cause as a dramatically self-limiting action.

  4. 4
    Mauricio Duque

    I think i would die, for any person showing any conclusive evidence for a god…but i think this a fairly safe bet XD.

  5. 5
    DobermanGuy

    I would die to save someone, just dont know when and how.

  6. 6
    Jasper of Maine

    I would think that making sure that what you were dying for was actually real would be step 1.

    It’s kind of complicated. I need to make a flow chart. I would die for Spiderman, but not before Batman or Captain America. I would, incontrovertibly, die for Batman before Captian America, but I’m not entirely sure if I would die for Zues more or less than Captain America.

    Would you die for Spiderman first, or Batman?

  7. 7
    jacobfromlost

    I think it kind of depends on what you mean by “what would you die for?”

    Would I go out into the world purposefully intending to die (or possibly die, or probably die) in service of some cause? Depends on what the cause is, what the evidence is for why someone MUST put their life on the line for this cause, and if I think it would be worth me (and others) possibly dying in order to stop some egregious wrong from continuing or spreading. In fact, putting your life in risk for such a cause might give your life more meaning.

    But I don’t think it takes that much to imagine a very specific situation in which you would sacrifice your life for that of another human or group of humans. These scenarios end up in tv, books, and movies all the time–sometimes the character chooses to sacrifice themselves, and sometimes they don’t, and both have consequences for the group based on the context.

    Just like everything else, the context is everything, and we have to endeavor to use evidence and reason to understand the context to the best of our ability. Sacrificing or risking our lives on a faulty understanding of the context of the given situation…would just be a waste of a life.

  8. 8
    Kiwi Sauce

    Pondering on this some more, after reading others’ responses, I’m not seeing the point of dying for something when one believes in a god. Surely the god could just make everything okay without needing anyone to die? So the whole point of the person dying is that the god wants them to die (as an omnipotent god can do anything they want, at any time), which means that the circumstances of their death are irrelevant. The only outcome that is required is the death. Therefore, the death is pointless other than from the perspective that the death occurs.

    So, therefore, if one needs to die for their god, that shows the god doesn’t exist. Or something like that?

  9. 9
    naturalcynic

    Seventy years ago, how many Russians willingly sacrificed themselves for Uncle Joe, Mother Russia and the Communist party. Sixty years ago, how many North Koreans died for Big Kim. Forty-five years ago, how many Vietnamese …
    Granted that many were forced into combat, but many others went willingly. You don’t need a religion, only propaganda.

  10. 10
    Howie

    I’d die for a large fresh slice of lemon meringue pie with a freshly brewed cup of Colombian coffee long before dying for some imaginary pie-in-the-sky god.

  11. 11
    Randomfactor

    I believe the approved answer is “two siblings or eight cousins.”

  12. 12
    Douglas Falknor

    Hey guys,

    I saw Matt at AAA/Texas Freethought Convention and thought I’d check out your blog.

    I think Richard Dawkins disputes the thesis that religion was an evolutionary adaptation, but it was the missing piece of the puzzle for me. I’ve been scratching my head for many years as to how religion could have such a universal grip on humanity when it seems so counter-intuitive given religion as we know it.

    Whenever I hear a question about an aspect of religion, I’m taken back about a hundred thousand years to consider the underlying source.

    Dying for their religion? Sounds like a strange concept to us.
    Take that back 100,000 years in human evolution, though, and it was a pact, a pledge, to the tribe. It was a brotherhood, with serious initiation rites, blood rites, and it was solemn and binding. A binding stronger than kin and marriage.

    This is one reason why the “God & country” linkages seems to continually resurface. It was reflective of an underlying super-reality, a reality that hunter-gather clans could (or tried desperately to) relate to. It was the realm of the supernatural. The natural world was beyond their understanding.

    The projected a power or great father behind the world and worked hard on their identity as his subjects.

    Would they die for God & clan and the culture they created around this identity? Oh, yeah. And the clans that did have members who’d make that sacrifice produced more offspring–and here we are.

    1. 12.1
      jacobfromlost

      “I think Richard Dawkins disputes the thesis that religion was an evolutionary adaptation, but it was the missing piece of the puzzle for me.”

      I have no idea if Dawkins is right or not. But my sense is that religion is simply the result of mistakes in abstract reasoning. When we try to understand the world better, we often grasp at metaphors, analogies, or other rhetorical devices.

      Some people are better able to do this than others, and some people can confuse metaphors with realities more easily just by their intellectual/emotional/psychological make up, and some because that confusion started at a young age when the ability to distinguish metaphors from realities wasn’t yet formed. Certain metaphors then cemented in their heads as realities before they could tell the difference, so even when higher cognitive ability developed, they developed AROUND those cemented “real” metaphors (in much the same way facts, like “the sky is up”, cements in everyone’s head).

      I taught high school English for eight years, and it is truly amazing the transformation in abstract thinking that kids go through from age 14 to 18…and the variety of those transformations is also fascinating.

      But what always amazed me is that rarely do students EVER question what they are told about this piece of writing being “fiction” and that piece writing being “nonfiction”. Even at a fairly old age of 14 or 15, students WILL accept fiction as reality even with fantastic elements (I know this because of the confusion that stemmed from some students, NOT because I ever floated the idea that a fictional story was true in its details, lol).

      I once showed parts of “Shakespeare in Love” during a “Romeo and Juliet” unit, explaining it as it went, and one girl simply did not understand the real/unreal context AT ALL. I explained that in the movie, the actors perform the play “R&J” at the end. I explained this is the part where Mercutio dies. “REALLY?” she exclaimed, alarmed. I then explained that no one was really dying, these were actors in a movie, playing actors on the stage, putting on the play that we just spent 6 weeks reading. “Oh,” she said. Then I explained the next part, when Romeo kills Tybalt. “REALLY?” she almost shrieked.

      Good grief. The metacognition required to understand that this is a movie in which hollywood actors are portraying people in Shakespeare’s day who were putting on a play of “R&J”…was just one too many levels for her to grasp. Everytime I said “this is where X kills Y”, her confusion literally led her to believe some real person was really getting stabbed to death in this movie. (And no, she wasn’t “playing with me” as high school students sometimes do–she was a low level student in a low level class, where even the other students groaned every time she exclaimed a confused, “Really?!” I was at a total loss as to how to explain it to her, because every explanation I gave just didn’t improve her ability to understand the difference between metaphor and reality. Any time I told her “this isn’t really happening”, she felt better, and every time I told the class “X is killing Y”, she took THAT statement just as literally as she did the first one! She took EVERYTHING I said literally, even when I told her the context beforehand.)

      Similarly, there was a lotto commercial in Washington State where some “lottery winner” bought the Space Needle, put it in the back of his Dodge Ram, and ever so slowly drove it home down I-90. Students CONSTANTLY asked teachers if that was real…over many, many weeks. It was always my theory that they WANTED to believe it, so even being told it was not real by teachers didn’t faze the belief, or the questioning. (Our students were overwhelmingly poor.)

      1. Douglas Falknor

        Poor reasoning or rational analysis just doesn’t explain why there’s been some form of religion in every human culture there is or has been.

        I’ve just started into Scott Atran’s In Gods We Trust, the Evolutionary Landscape of Religion, from Oxford University Press. It wears a category label that says “evolution and cognition.” It’s a long work, seems academically rigorous.

        You can catch a hint from Michael Shirmer’s the Believing Brain. I saw him talk last weekend at the American Atheist Alliance/Texas Freethought Convention. He said we are believing machines.

        From the years of wondering & study that I’ve put into this, believing is what we do–and what we’ve done for maybe 100,000 years or more. We’ve just been flirting with reason for a few thousand years.

  13. 13
    CompulsoryAccount7746

    The whole issue is beside the point. His willingness to die for his God, on top of being irrational, does not in any way constitute evidence God actually exists. It only proves what a fanatic this guy is.

    As part of the meme’s stock script, it could be viewed as a way to signal the futility in arguing with a given follower.
     
    Train them to derail conversation with declarations of irrationality, tribal accusations, emotional outbursts, dishonesty, fallacies, and rote nonsense, and it’ll sap the patience of outsiders to continue trying to talk them out of it. The more inane or absurd the better.
     
    He doesn’t need to mean it (can be noise, though if he believes he means it, the delivery’s improved). Doesn’t need to make sense. Just some cliched phrases tossed out to drive you off.
    Any conversation where you’re forced to think more about his position than he has to of yours, before giving up, is a win for him.
     
    It doesn’t matter what you’d die for, if anything. Your response would only pale in comparison to his infinitely righteous cause. So definitely try to subvert the illogic of that rhetorical question rather than wow him with a profound pearl of humanist wisdom.

  14. 14
    Jolly

    Under what circumstances would a god get some use out of a human dying for him/her/it? P.S. God hates bankers on Wall Street.

  15. 15
    tom

    Hello, my name is Tom and I am writing you from Toronto, Canada. I’ve heard a lot about this topic about God and if “he” exists or not and where is the evidence or proof either way. Before I give my thoughts I would like to include I quote I heard recently that seems to be relevant to this issue

    “To the believer no proof is required and to the non-believer no proof is enough”

    You all know God, you see him and her every time you look in the mirror. God is the living man or woman. The universal energy that binds us together is a density of conscious energy containing all knowledge, experience and creative ideas among other things. It is the source of this universe. This density exists beyond the confines of the mind, outside your mind. That is why you have no concept of it. A human brain that is connected with this source energy is empowered by it and transforms the man into its “God potential”.

    We as humans have been cut off from our natural source energy when we buy into and believe the lies that are perpetuated by fear upon us like “I can’t” or “I don’t deserve” which of course leads to “I won’t”.

    It is not a matter of evidence or proof, it is a matter of knowing the presence and the feeling of the connection to the source/God energy. That is knowledge of God. This source is present within not only every living organism but within all matter. It is a matter of accepting that you don’t have the answers and opening up your mind and thoughts to the unknown, one can experience true wisdom this way.

    This is the Truth

    If something does not reflect the truth, what is it then? And what does it represent?

    I urge you all to let go and search your own inner space for this beacon of truth and light within you. It is where your answers are, its is the place of peace

    Do not believe something because your religious institution says so, or your government or your peers or something from outside yourself. The knowledge is there, present, right now in you. And let us make no mistake, the enemy is fear itself. Not other governments or banks or militaries or terrorists but the fear that has infected our minds and enslaves our hearts. Free our minds of this fear and we will liberate our world

    I applaud you gentlemen for creating this forum and thank you for the opportunity to share my thoughts.

    Wishing you all the best

    1. 15.1
      Jdog

      It very much is a matter of evidence or proof. We don’t take things on faith here and aren’t going to start just because you think we should. Do you really think this is the first time we’ve heard this argument?

    2. 15.2
      Martin Wagner

      Wow, man. It’s a shame there’s no real way to respond to this without sounding harsh, so brace yourself. If you thought you’d find a receptive audience for this vacuous, postmodern New Age drivel here, you seriously miscalculated. Really, how can you possibly justify the following to a group of rationalists?

      It is not a matter of evidence or proof, it is a matter of knowing the presence and the feeling of the connection to the source/God energy. That is knowledge of God.

      You fail at epistemology. Clearly you do not understand the difference between knowing something and pretending to know something.

      Making up a heap of twaddle about a “universal conscious energy” and claiming that “knowing the presence” and “feeling a connection” to it constitutes “knowledge” of God is no more sensible than saying that hopping up and down in a circle on one leg and chanting “Tweed-li-oop!” puts you on a sympathetic harmonic wavelength with Gus the Magic Cosmic Hippo. Because if you’re immediately dismissing the necessity of evidence as a way of confirming the claim, you’re overlooking a key flaw in your position: how is anyone supposed to evaluate whether or not what you’re saying is actually true or just stuff you made up?

      So you see, when trying to judge the value of any fact claim, evidence is, and always is, the matter. Why should it be the case that the things you’ve chosen to believe get to be exempt from the same standards of evidence that every other claim is subject to?

      If I were to tell you that rubbing a puppy against your tummy will make you immortal, would your immediate reaction be that I was telling the truth, or pulling your leg? If I went on to tell you that I didn’t need to present you with any evidence for this, but that all you had to do was “feel the connection” to the puppy and thus achieve your immortality, what then? Am I telling the truth, or a deluded clown? At what point, if any, do my claims deserve to be simply accepted without evidence?

      Now consider your claims. At what point do they simply deserve to be accepted without evidence? Of course, you attempt to shield yourself from my objections by bringing up the old saw that “To the believer no proof is required and to the non-believer no proof is enough,” which any actual skeptic will tell you is flat false and little more than a cheap dodge to avoid burden of proof.

      I don’t believe in Bigfoot, but if I bumped into him in the woods, I’d be willing to change my mind at the very least. I don’t believe in your “conscious universal energy.” But if you actually presented a method by which this energy could be measured, studied and examined, I’d be very open to the idea. The simple problem is this: you haven’t got the goods, and rather than produce the goods, it’s easier to overlook this shortcoming by convincing yourself that unbelievers simply have an attitude problem. Nice try, but — fail.

      While I don’t doubt you are sincere, you’re unfortunately revealing a point I’ve long made about religious and “spiritual” thinking: that it fails to provide its believers with the proper cognitive tools to distinguish between that which is known and that which is merely believed fervently. If you can get yourself to the point where you can begin to grasp this distinction, you’ll have made a big leap indeed.

      1. Douglas Falknor

        I’m voting with Martin’s response to Tom.
        Tom, I think what a person experiences when they approach a “spiritual” idea is the neurochemically supported (dopamine, seratonin, endorphins, epinephrine or a tweaked mix thereof), evolutionarily-originated reinforcement from within. (see earlier comment)

        When we talk in hushed tones of special knowledge known only to the initiates, that probably starts a dopamine “drip” into our brain right there.

        Tom is trying to make that “spiritual” connection of one(self) with everything. That is the sort of religious behavior that we inherited. It’s embedded in our nonblank slates (see Stephen Pinker). It’s in our “lines of code.”

        I’m as “spiritual” as an atheist gets; I say we have a human (though temporal, only whatever is actual) spirit that needs nourished, perhaps because we evolved that way, some archaic religion (i.e., religiosity) proved to have survival value.

        (Some population bottlenecks occurred in the last 100,000 years. Maybe only the religious tribes survived the Mount Toba super-eruption of 50,000 years ago. There were other worldwide events, we like to complain about a cold spell. How would you and yours like to go through a 10,000 year ice age with mile thick ice all over your entire continent?)

        I think that we sense a combined human spirit, maybe it’s that source of altruistic genes that Dawkins argues about. At any rate, we enjoy the benefits, individually and as a group or community, when we ennoble that spirit and our higher aspirations.

        BUT, and I do mean BUT, there’s a slippery slope to religiosity that is known for pushing too far–the crazed believer, the religious fanatic, the radical fundamentalist. Why so many loose cookies in this particular area of human existence?

        It’s built into us. If I write about the human spirit long enough, I eventually voice an aspiration for forming a superconscious mind of all people via the internet.

        Deepak’s quantum consciousness is the same thing done from the believers’ side. Where we doubters have a light & siren go off when we approach that supernatural realm, believers don’t have that.
        They are not satisfied with the religions of today, but their inherited tendency toward religiosity goads them toward belief.
        So they cast around for something to believe in.

        And there you have the dilemma of the modern seeker of faith. They have the need to believe but in a world where we’ve haltingly started on the road to reason, there’s less and less of any spiritual or supernatural realm that’s viable.

      2. savoy47

        I feel sad for you because you don’t believe in Gus the Magic Cosmic Hippo and will I pray for you. Gus is the one true god of disgust. The disgust that I feel for religion leads me to the universal energy that binds us all together is a density of conscious energy that is Gus.

    3. 15.3
      Martin

      Martin Wagner covered all the points I was going to make, albeit more coherently.

      So, what I’m left with is:

      Your post is total bullshit and please send me some of what you’re smoking.

    4. 15.4
      jacobfromlost

      “To the believer no proof is required and to the non-believer no proof is enough”

      The first half is right. The second half is wrong.

      I can give you a long list of things that would be conclusive evidence–the same kind of evidence that is used for anything else that is real.

      For the Christian god, let’s say if the bible had a description of the spot on Jupiter, or an explanation of the perehelion of Mercury (along with a definition of it, and Mercury), or included ANYTHING that an ignorant writer of the time couldn’t have made up out of his own head. Things that could have only later been confirmed empirically (vague guesses about things that are somewhat right in the future don’t count).

      But you get my point. We know what evidence IS. There is no evidence to believe the god claims. All you have to do is compare it to evidence in any other circumstance, and the problem is clear. Line up other false claims, and you can find “evidence” in exactly the same way to god claims (seek and you shall find whatever you want to find if you redefine “evidence”). Line up true claims, and the reason you know they are true is because you have a long list of objective, confirmable, verifiable, falsifiable, mutually corroborating evidence!

      “You all know God, you see him and her every time you look in the mirror.”

      This is the same point I made in another thread. Theists look in the mirror and get confused–they think they are seeing something else in there the same way an animal gets confused and thinks it sees another animal. This is BASIC psychological projection.

      “The universal energy that binds us together is a density of conscious energy containing all knowledge, experience and creative ideas among other things.”

      All the evidence contradicts this, and “energy” is a defined term…so you don’t get to redefine it in this way, or float it in a way for which there is no evidence whatsoever.

      “A human brain that”

      All the evidence in neurology contradicts this.

      “We as humans have been cut off from our natural source energy when we buy into and believe the lies that are perpetuated by fear”

      How do you explain atheists who do not have this fear, do not say “they can’t”, and instead of ultimately saying “I won’t” DEMONSTRATE THAT THEY ACTUALLY DO? Many atheists are very successful in life.

      Atheists (demonstrably) do not act in the ways you would expect them to act IF YOU ARE CORRECT about “buying into and believing” lies about fear. Moreover, theists also often don’t act the way you would expect them to if this was true also (they are not demonstrably more successful by virtue of believing in god).

      “It is not a matter of evidence or proof, it is a matter of knowing the presence and the feeling of the connection to the source/God energy.”

      I know exactly the feeling you are talking about. I can describe it perfectly, tell you all about how it made me felt, write it up in a page or two, and put it in a pile of 100 other such descriptions where the writers believed that feeling was from “god” or the “source”. Guess what? You wouldn’t be able to pick mine out of that pile. (Also, if that feeling you are describing could be distinguished from other explanations and DETERMINED to be what you say it is, then THAT WOULD BE EVIDENCE by definition, and it could be verified, confirmed, tested in falsifiable ways, and predictive.)

      Why couldn’t you pick out my description of this feeling from a pile of 100? Because these are human experiences grounded in the real world–in neurology, biology, etc.

      Do you really think that atheists never have a deep sense of connectedness? We just don’t confuse the feeling with something supernatural, in EXACTLY the same way we don’t confuse metaphors with reality. Just because I say I’m so angry my head is going to explode DOESN’T mean you should go get the rug shampoo.

      Similarly, just because you feel a deep connectedness with the people and places around you does NOT mean that is “god”. Even atheists feel that, even Buddhists feel that, even astronomists feel that, even music lovers feel that.

      “This is the Truth”

      No, it is not. Now how do you propose we find out who is right, since we disagree? I rely on evidence, and all the evidence contradicts you. Why would the evidence contradict you if you are right?

      “If something does not reflect the truth, what is it then? And what does it represent?”

      What you are saying does not reflect the truth, which is why the evidence contradicts you. It represents your desire to be greater than you actually are, to know things that you don’t really know, and to be conforted by telling yourself that the things that you “know” benefit you and others. The problem is that things that ACTUALLY benefit us can be demonstrated in reality, and distinguished from things that don’t benefit us. In essence, they can be tested, they’re falsifiable. You can’t claim out of one side of your mouth that this god notion is “true” because of things that are evidence, and then out of the other side of your mouth say that there cannot be evidence. That’s doubletalk.

      “I urge you all to let go and search your own inner space for this beacon of truth and light within you. It is where your answers are, its is the place of peace”

      You’ve redefined “answer” to be “nonanswer” just as you’ve redefined “evidence” into “nonevidence”. (And this is coming from the atheist “Lost” fan who always realized there couldn’t BE a grand “answer” to that show–that the only answer we were ever going to get is that some things cannot be answered, either because the question was nonsense all along, or because we were asking the wrong question. I loved the ending because it was ABOUT the characters and the emotions–but I always had the wherewithall to distinguish the symbolic nature of a story from the reality that magic islands don’t exist.)

      “Do not believe something because your religious institution says so, or your government or your peers or something from outside yourself.”

      I believe what the evidence says because that is the only thing that has ever been demonstrated to work. From your sentence here, you seem to think that one can only believe things that A) they are told to believe, or B) things they imagine in their own mind. What happened to making the model of reality in your own mind as close to what the evidence in reality suggests as possible? THAT is the only course of action that has ever lead to greater human success in reality.

      “The knowledge is there, present, right now in you.”

      You’ve just redefined “knowledge” now. You don’t get to do that. Sorry.

      “And let us make no mistake, the enemy is fear itself. Not other governments or banks or militaries or terrorists but the fear that has infected our minds and enslaves our hearts. Free our minds of this fear and we will liberate our world”

      There is no situation in which fear is useful? Beneficial? I can think of several situations in which fear actually saved us from killing huge chunks of humanity, if not pretty much all of humanity.

      “I applaud you gentlemen”

      You forgot the ladies.

      “for creating this forum and thank you for the opportunity to share my thoughts.”

      Is this one of those drive-by comments where you make a lot of unsupported claims, and then never return to defend any of them? (Note for future: that doesn’t make your claim stronger.)

      Counter claim (playing god’s advocate): god is like The Force that binds the universe together. He is everywhere, but, like a hologram, all of his existence in a lesser form is in everything, even the smallest living thing. This is the truth. Now, on one end of the spectrum of god is absolute goodness from which all goodness comes, and on the other in is absolute evil. The fear you keep talking about can be spread throughout that spectrum–sometimes fear is good, sometimes evil. It is good to fear pushing the button to start a nuclear war, good to say “I won’t” do that. This entire spectrum can and is found in all people and agents of action. There can be no evidence for this.

      Now how do we determine which claim is true? Yours, or mine? I overlayed my claim into reality in the exact same way you did, claiming it is the truth, and claiming there can be no evidence. Which do we choose? My claim, or yours? And HOW do we deterine which to choose WITHOUT EVIDENCE?

      See the problem now?

    5. 15.5
      davidb

      Hi tom

      The term ‘natural source energy’ is a comparatively new one to me. I first came across it, in exactly those terms, at my favourite discussion board (see my profile) a few days ago.

      You wouldn’t be the member there under a pseudonym starting with ‘bud’ would you.

      I’m familiar with different wordings of much the same concept, though. All to familiar in fact. It reminds me very much of what I was told meditation to the point of gaining Cosmic Consciousness would allegedly activate within me in my cultic days, many years ago now, sitting at the feet of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi.

      I now understand the experiences I undeniably had in meditation, which led me to spend time at the core of the cult, much better than I did at the time.

      Much talk between atheists and believers has the atheists going on about logic and reason, which is all very well, but sometimes I think that it might be more enlightening to have some sort of discussion of the effects of suggestion, expectation, wish fulfilment and mutual positive reinforcement can have on peoples experience, and how it can lead them astray.

      As I was led astray.

      David B

  16. 16
    Martin

    IIRC, KiwiSauce is echoing the sentiments of Brutha in Terry Pratchett’s “Small Gods”: (paraphrase) Your god is not something you die for, but to live for.

    1. 16.1
      Kiwi Sauce

      I read Small Gods a few years ago, clearly I am unconsciously influenced by Terry Pratchett. Ah well, it could be worse. :)

    2. 16.2
      Akira MacKenzie

      Your god is not something you die for, but to live for.

      You call that living?

      1. Martin

        You call that living?

        Better than being dead.

        Of course in PTerry’s universe gods are real, present and very active…so there’s no need for faith or belief.

  17. 17
    rrpostal

    Under his philosophy, being willing to die isn’t even much of a sacrifice. He gets to go be with loved ones in lala land of eternal bliss. What a guy!

  18. 18
    Jasper of Maine

    We see this a lot – theists who simply cannot meet the basic requirements for evidence/epistemology/anything. They’ll try to redefine what they’re trying to qualify down to meet them instead – whether it’s Kansas changing the definition of science to include supernatural things, Intelligent Design loosening the requirements of scientific theories, or the average Joe trying to explain why he doesn’t need to meet the burden of proof.

    It’s like trying to apply for a job opening for a nuclear engineer, and trying to argue with the employer why he, as a duggie highschool dropout, doesn’t need to meet the basic criteria for the position.

    That’s when the employer calls security.

    1. 18.1
      Jasper of Maine

      Bleh, that was supposed to be in reply to tom.

  19. 19
    louis14

    I wonder what it is that this guy might do by dying for his god, that his god couldn’t do for itself?

    1. 19.1
      davidb

      Well some people manage to do things by dying for their gods that the gods cannot do for themselves.

      Fly planes into buildings for one thing. Cut their genitals off and kill themselves for another. A bit of googling on death cults would show many more examples, but now a poker tournament calls.

      David B

  20. 20
    Luke J

    Make a non-prophets will you! I had to listen to repeats! repeats, I tell you!

  21. 21
    Akira MacKenzie

    People willing to die for a cause don’t impress me much. Any idiot drunk on belief can get themselves killed for it.

    No, the ones you have to worry about are those who are willing to kill for a cause.

    1. 21.1
      louis14

      Completely agree. I don’t give a damn about the 911 bombers removing themselves from the gene pool. It’s the fact that they took so many with them that’s the tragedy.

  22. 22
    sumdum

    This whole claim of ‘dieing for god’ sounds a little scary to me, cause history shows more often than not the believer really means ‘killing for god’.

  23. 23
    P Smith

    “Bringing up jihad isn’t a bad point, but an unnecessary one. Why would this dude die for his God? What has convinced him that this being is real, and so important, that such a crazy act might be required, and would be acceptable if required?”

    A thousand years ago, suicide missions were a common practice of crusaders. They were quite willing to die for their “god” as well as kill as many as they could and become “martyrs” to “secure their place in heaven”.

    If there had been airplanes a thousand years ago, “9/11″ would have been on 1001/9/11, not 2001/9/11, and it would have been christians flying the planes.

    .

  24. 24
    François

    Hi, first of all I apologize for my english, I’m from argentina.
    Second, y want to congratulate all you guys from “the atheist experience”, I really enjoy the show, being myself an atheist (and bald :-b)

    About the topic of the post, I think that the irrationality of somebody who claims that “will die for X” (being X something abstract or ideal), isn`t an exclusively religion thing, but ideological in general, and an aspect of human psychology that is beyond the belief of a “conscious superior being”, but instead “something (an idea) greater than us”.

    And saying this, I apologize with you (north) american people, but I think nationalism is another way of religious thinking, and you as a culture (as I can perceive in general), are quite nationalist. Which implies the belief of something “greater than yourself” which you cant´t question.

    An example in this context is a comment above:

    “Seventy years ago, how many Russians willingly sacrificed themselves for Uncle Joe, Mother Russia and the Communist party. Sixty years ago, how many North Koreans died for Big Kim. Forty-five years ago, how many Vietnamese …
    Granted that many were forced into combat, but many others went willingly. You don’t need a religion, only propaganda.”

    Note that USA is not mentioned, which I would expect from somebody who is from a place that has so many wars on his back, and when is obvious that a lot of (north) american people just will die (and died) for the “freedom” of their country.

    Generally very, but very far away of his own country.

    And hollywood propaganda (which I remind the whole world watches)?
    Appealing to emotions and irrationality, and a sense of identity to a whole (american nation, “freedom”, etc.) that is never questioned…. just like religion.

    Please, I’m not trying to be offensive, or turn this in a polithical matter, but I can`t stop relating, regarding your country, the strong relation between religion and nationalism, and how both appeal to the same paychological biases of human nature.

    Saludos!

    1. 24.1
      Mary2

      Agreed.

      And your English is better than that of most of the people who post here :)

  25. 25
    had3

    Tom, God here. Thanks for believing in me w/o all that proof stuff. I assume you accept me as your god without question, otherwise it would seem awfully hypocritical of you to demand proof now. Btw, I would appreciate your bringing me a plate of sushi as a sacrifice for my blessings.

  26. 26
    Cay Borduin

    I think this guy would die for his god because believing in God defines his life’s meaning and purpose. He has made the leap to believe and now his entire self-definition depends upon it. So he’s not really dying for his God, but dying for himself.

    And the odds of this guy following through on his pledge to die for his god are statistically slim.

  1. 27
  2. 28
    茶叶商城

    茶叶商城…

    [...]Note to believers: fanaticism ain’t proof | The Atheist Experience[...]…

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