Do believers really believe?
Posted: 22 February 2012 10:10 PM   [ Ignore ]
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On one of the fantastic ‘Conversations from the Pale Blue Dot’ interviews, they were discussing whether fundamentalist Christians really believe what they claim to believe, and in particular they were asking why it is that these people don’t celebrate the death of a Christian child. After all, the child is now infinitely better off etc. There is a suspicion that even a lot real hardcore fundamentalists know deep down that some of this stuff is bullshit. I think it was Noam Chomsky who said that if you want to know what people really believe, look at what they do not at what they say.   

Another example would be that of being in heaven with one’s relatives. A lot of people claim to believe that they’ll be together with their loved ones for all eternity and so on, but the intelligent ones among them surely realize that when your grandmother’s idea of heaven is to be with you forever, but this would be your idea of hell, you’ve got a bit of a problem here.

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Posted: 23 February 2012 02:21 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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Dom1978 - 22 February 2012 10:10 PM

On one of the fantastic ‘Conversations from the Pale Blue Dot’ interviews, they were discussing whether fundamentalist Christians really believe what they claim to believe, and in particular they were asking why it is that these people don’t celebrate the death of a Christian child. After all, the child is now infinitely better off etc. There is a suspicion that even a lot real hardcore fundamentalists know deep down that some of this stuff is bullshit. I think it was Noam Chomsky who said that if you want to know what people really believe, look at what they do not at what they say.   

Another example would be that of being in heaven with one’s relatives. A lot of people claim to believe that they’ll be together with their loved ones for all eternity and so on, but the intelligent ones among them surely realize that when your grandmother’s idea of heaven is to be with you forever, but this would be your idea of hell, you’ve got a bit of a problem here.

Chomsky is very right about that; but the theory that hardcore christians don’t really believe what they say they believe is an interesting thing. Some definitly don’t believe, but their desire to believe is actually stronger then their said belief.  Like Dan Dennett explained, some people have belief in belief.

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Posted: 23 February 2012 07:54 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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Speaking from personal experience, I’d say mid atlantic nailed it. Even when I was up to my eyeballs in fundyism, I often said things like, “If we really truly deep down believed that our ‘unsaved’ loved one are bound for hell, we’d be camped out on their doorsteps 24/7.’ More to the point, if we we had really believed and thought through the implications of it all, we’d be the most depressed people on the planet.

But the mind is a funny thing, isn’t it? Even while acknowledging the possibility that I didn’t really believe, there was something compelling that kept me embroiled in it, and kept me convinced that I really did believe. I am still wresting with what that “something” was and have been journaling about it. Maybe when I have thought it through better I’ll share some of these thoughts.

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Posted: 23 February 2012 03:09 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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When some people talk about belief I think they are expressing what they wish were true, rather than what they actually believe is true.

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Posted: 23 February 2012 06:18 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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Gallant Skeptic - 23 February 2012 03:09 PM

When some people talk about belief I think they are expressing what they wish were true, rather than what they actually believe is true.

Many of us would like to live forever, would like to see our loved ones again, and would like Hitler to be punished for what he’s done etc, but this is not the point at issue here. The point of my post was to suggest that we could look at people’s behaviour and emotional reactions to see what they actually do and do not believe.

Now, my view is that most Christians have humanist values rather than Christian ones on many of these points. They agree that it is a terrible tragedy when a child dies. The child had their whole future in front of them and now it’s all gone. Also, they agree that it would be positively IMMORAL to celebrate this death as a good thing and to feel happy and cheerful about it.

Admittedly, there are some people who really do believe this stuff and live their lives accordingly, but I think we would consider them to be crazy.

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Posted: 23 February 2012 07:21 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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My Fundamngelical relatives (only two are still alive) really did/do believe it and they reject humanist views.  I’m not sure how they can believe any of the myth (which they don’t believe it is a myth) or even how they can believe there is an afterlife, but they do.

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Posted: 23 February 2012 07:52 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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FreeInKy - 23 February 2012 07:54 AM

Speaking from personal experience, I’d say mid atlantic nailed it. Even when I was up to my eyeballs in fundyism, I often said things like, “If we really truly deep down believed that our ‘unsaved’ loved one are bound for hell, we’d be camped out on their doorsteps 24/7.’

I actually know someone whose mother did exactly that. My brother’s fiancee actually. Her mother would camp outside her house, read out bible verses all night, leave fundie literature in her letterbox, stalk and harass her friends. The result being that she’s no longer allowed within 100 metres of her.  gulp

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Posted: 23 February 2012 07:54 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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You can listen to the interview I was talking about here

http://commonsenseatheism.com/?p=7086 

It’s an interview with atheist philosopher Stephen Maitzen. He makes some excellent points about how Christianity is completely at odds with our moral intuitions about the wrongness of killing, the badness of death, and various other things.

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Posted: 24 February 2012 06:55 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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King - 23 February 2012 07:52 PM
FreeInKy - 23 February 2012 07:54 AM

Speaking from personal experience, I’d say mid atlantic nailed it. Even when I was up to my eyeballs in fundyism, I often said things like, “If we really truly deep down believed that our ‘unsaved’ loved one are bound for hell, we’d be camped out on their doorsteps 24/7.’

I actually know someone whose mother did exactly that. My brother’s fiancee actually. Her mother would camp outside her house, read out bible verses all night, leave fundie literature in her letterbox, stalk and harass her friends. The result being that she’s no longer allowed within 100 metres of her.  gulp

So what is your brother’s fiancee like? Her childhood must have been strange.

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Posted: 24 February 2012 11:54 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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King - 23 February 2012 07:52 PM
FreeInKy - 23 February 2012 07:54 AM

Speaking from personal experience, I’d say mid atlantic nailed it. Even when I was up to my eyeballs in fundyism, I often said things like, “If we really truly deep down believed that our ‘unsaved’ loved one are bound for hell, we’d be camped out on their doorsteps 24/7.’

I actually know someone whose mother did exactly that. My brother’s fiancee actually. Her mother would camp outside her house, read out bible verses all night, leave fundie literature in her letterbox, stalk and harass her friends. The result being that she’s no longer allowed within 100 metres of her.  gulp

Yep. There are always a few like that. A rare exception. Pretty scary though.

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