How Do They Believe
In Those Obvious Lies?
Sven Bjornson

Graphic Rule

From: "Positive Atheism Magazine" <editor@positiveatheism.org>
To: "sven bjornson"
Subject: Re:
Date: Friday, January 26, 2001 9:54 AM

Michael Shermer's book, How We Believe, goes to great lengths to address this very question. It turns out that most believers use some form of the Argument from Design to justify believing in a creator.

(I have taken this concept and run with it in that I now presuppose that all theists have or think they have valid reasons for believing the way they do. I think this is the first step toward ending the bigotry that we atheists endure: combating my own tendencies toward bigotry, particularly my bigotry toward theists. The second step, I think, involves prompting atheists to become aware that this bigotry exists, because I think most of us have become so accustomed to it that we've stopped seeing it as wrong.) I also think that Theodore M. Drange's "Mumbo-Jumbo Theory" may have some clues. Drange says that a belief must have substance to actually be believed. If there is no meaning to the stated belief, says Drange, it is not a belief at all, but simply a bunch of words strung together. So, if , people learn to quote slogans from childhood, and to state that they believe what those slogans say, they will appear to believe these things. Many go through life without ever considering what those slogans even mean -- if they mean anything at all.

I'm sure there are other possibilities, and I'm sure that none of the possibilities that we could come up with would be true for everyone. Each person is different, and we cannot know what goes on in people's minds, we can only decide whether we want to take their word for it.

Meanwhile, I am trying to distinguish between harmless religion and dangerous religion. Dangerous religion, to me, seeks to force the rest of us to conform. This tendency is most common in fundamentalism, so my biggest beef is not religion, per se, but fundamentalism. I have seen fundamentalism in organized atheism as well as in theism.

Cliff Walker
"Positive Atheism" Magazine
Five years of service to
     people with no reason to believe

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