We are fully aware of what theists claim to believe, but do they really believe it? We've seen the hypocrisy, and it certainly looks like many do not live in accordance with what they claim to believe. They often attribute this to human imperfection, but I cannot help but wonder if a better explanation might be the incomplete nature of their belief. If they believed - I mean really believed - wouldn't they devote themselves completely to their god? How could they not?

I am suspicious that theists claim to believe certain things more because of social pressures, real or imagined, than because of actual belief. We know full well that faith confers all sorts of social privileges on the faithful. Couldn't this be far more important in driving religion than belief itself?

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I couldn't agree more! We need to end the social pressure toward religion!
Cheers to that!

I have met probably only a handful of "true believers" in my life. The rest feel that religion is something that's part of life but isn't to be taken too seriously. It's like being a member of a club, and while you may not agree with each and every one of the club's rules you just suck it up because the golf is good, and you like the people on the course.

It takes a certain level of brainwashed zealousness to be a true believer. I just don't think many people have it in them to constantly deny the contradictions that the rational mind presents on a daily basis.
agree on that. I live in a highly catholic country (Chile), and most of the people that claim to be christian are veeery hypocritical. I'm 20 and most of people my age that claim that spend most of their time partying, drinking, having oral sex and such things, and never to mass or those things. They just say they are catholics because "everyone" is catholic xD
I do have some friends that I consider catholics-not fanatical though-and they are awesome people (being true to what you say you are is very important to me).
Fear and comfort play a big part in their belief. I have been talking with a couple via the outerweb that want so much to take the step and admit that they were trusting in an illusion. It was hard for me to finally utter the words Atheist, as I was a 30 year old recovering evangelical fundamentalist christian. Yes, the pressure exists socially but I feel it might be stronger within...
I Can't argue that!

I had an interesting conversation with my 13 year-old niece a few weeks ago. She was going on about something, and eventually said, "I don't really believe in god and all that." She sounded so nervous I had to chuckle.
"Me, neither," I laughed.
"You don't?!" She sounded so happy and relieved, like she though I was going to say something horribly denigrating. I was torn between the joy of knowing she is growing up mentally healthy, and sadness that she had been afraid to speak her mind. No one should have to be afraid to be rational.
That's such a great story! A wish the impressionable youths in my family were as well on track.
yes, I think this touches something important. I feel that a lot of people must feel there is a reason in relationship to something bigger, because they cannot like the fact that they are not important and their lives don't matter in the huge universe. Humans come and go.

Somehow I feel a lot of people are afraid of this lonliness and that they mean nothing in a greater perspective. While I understand most people want to feel important and that they mean something, there is also a great hypocrisy in this sort of egoistical self-love, project towards a being in outer space. I have to say it is a greater selfishness since I feel this is done in the sake of your own good, despite it says clearly in their faith to not be selfish.

Well, it should be noted I don't believe altruism exists in the first place. But it would be stupid to say that the love for self cannot exist.
vjack - fyi i came to this question via your Twitter entry. My close friends who are religious rarely talk about their religion. They know my wife and I are atheist. Maybe they think that discussing their religious beliefs with us, will alienate us in some way. I'll probe their thinking sometime.
I believe a lot of people go to church solely for the ready-made social network. It's a (mostly) safe place to take kids to play with others their same age. It's sad that people can't get together like that without involving the supernatural. I've thought about going for some entertainment but I would constantly have to refrain from saying 'that's bullshit' every five seconds, asking everyone if they believe in talking snakes, and questioning everything. I'd probably be asked to leave.
From stories I've seen in the news, the Scouts can have strong religious undertones. I seem to recall a story in the news a while back about a scout getting kicked out because he was an atheist. I was in the scouts and had fun though.
The Boy Scout mission statement:

On my honor I will do my best
To do my duty to God and my country
and to obey the Scout Law;
To help other people at all times;
To keep myself physically strong,
mentally awake, and morally straight.

If you go to the Boy Scout website and search for "God," you will find ample proof that they are anything but a secular organization.
The Boy Scouts will not admit atheists, agnostics or gays as scouts or leaders. Granted those who stay "in the closet" can slip in, but anyone who is open about who they are is denied.




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