Millions of atheist scientists and other rational freethinkers know full well, through the application of unbiased commonsense and the results of millions of complex experiments and the calculations of astute experimental and theoretical physicists, that we humans inhabit a tiny part of what is a vast godless universe of immense age; and that we have good reason to infer that gods exist nowhere but in the imaginations, stories and lies of faith-driven men.

So how can bible-believers seriously defend their ever-shrinking part of the world against the supreme logic produced by elite scientists when there is no case to answer? Why are there faith-believers at all?

A principal reason is that once the fictions of faith get into people’s heads it is difficult to be rid of them. Indoctrinated when young, they indoctrinate the young of their own and of others, and the cycle of merciless irrationality continues.

These dogmatic bigots never let go—and that is because they never listen, their minds are already made up, and they are incapable of understanding and absorbing new knowledge no matter how thoroughly well-tested and proven the latter may be.

Only freethinkers and scientists see the universe clearly and correctly for its materiality and man’s place in it as an evolutionary accident but a marvel nonetheless.

Religionists sink inside the mental quagmire and nightmare of their own making for it is philosophically incontestable, when the evidence is well presented and the listener has a high enough level of intelligence and freedom of thought, that gods exist nowhere but inside people’s heads—and that is that.
Terence Meaden. 27 August 2008. Planet Atheism/ Enlightened Observer

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Replies to This Discussion

Nicely said. I have to agree with you on most of those points, I don't think it is fair to call someone illogical because they have an illogical belief that, more likely than not, was given to them at childhood. Remember: Atheism is the default, and therefore I assume that so is this 'logic' and 'common sense' we value so highly. Following this line of though, religion subverts it at young age in most people, but it is religion altering the fundamental quality, not the other way around; so the default response to an action is not based off of religion or faith, but on logic and common sense. Because I think that this is the case, the humanist in me does not appreciate when anyone doubts the intelligence of fundies (or anyone else), because that is a human quality that is just more inhibited in some than others. Just because fundies are fundies does not mean that they aren't intelligent people capable of making intelligent decisions, it just means that they have a few more things getting in the way of that goal.

All that being said, I also value what Dr. Terrence Meaden has to say about society's values. That currently faith is considered virtuous while logic is often put on the back-burner. It should be the opposite, and we should try to affect this sort of change in the zeitgeist, so unsubstantiated claims become demonized and logic is elevated to a supreme virtue. To achieve this we must attack faith, and admire logic vocally, when people realize that we are not alone, that this position, contrary to perceived 'societal values', is better and more virtuous than the alternative.
What an excellent thought. Use Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT).

Just a bit of motivational interviewing, followed by some 'self' driven CBT. It is all about altering those thought processes that have a negative influence upon one's experience and subsequent emotional/behavioral response.

I really think it could work. There no 'preaching' involved but it also assumes a relatively high degree of cognitive functioning, as mentioned by D.E.Hall.
Excellent will have to remember that.

In order to enable effective intervention you would utilise motivational interviewing, like you say unless they are motivated for change intervention is pointless.
Thank you for telling us your story, Phoesune.

It is well expressed, and this excerpt tells us much about why belief can be so tenacious:

"I was curious, I was aggressive in my search for truth. The problem was that I had limited my acceptable criteria to specific set of parameters. Those parameters being spiritual sources. I fell prey to the computer adage of garbage in, garbage out."

You did well to apply a logical view of reality at a sufficently high level that you achieved escape velocity.
Whatever else you may feel, you stand now on the intellectual high ground.
We are not being arrogant about it. It is just a fact to which every scientific experiment adds to the corpus of evidence.

An atheistic universe is what the universe is. It is godless.

The only gods anywhere are fictions inside peoples heads. It is a pity that the "wrong" look down on the "right" for the wrong reasons.
I don't think intelligence is the problem though it is easier for the uneducated to believe and follow simple stories so you are more likely to find atheists to be in the more educated and more intelligent class.

There is however a wide gap between intelligent thinking theologians and the mindless masses of the fundamentalists.

Bishop John Selby Spong has a strong belief and faith yet I would place him amongst the most intelligent rational and articulate people I have ever heard.

I believe faith and religion have evolved along with humans to fill a requirement of our brain to cope with the unknown. Mankind has always tried to rationalize the universe and gods and religions fill this need very well for a lot of people, it removes the need to stretch their imagination and gives them a safe reassuring basis for their lives.

While I have absolutely no problem with this kind of personal faith where problems arise is the fanatical who think everyone should think as they think and believe as they believe..

"Gods exist nowhere but inside people’s heads" This is fine by me there is an enormously complex universe of synapses and an infinite number of connections in the human brain if God exist in a persons brain then for them it is a valid experience. I just wish them to understand that because something exists in their brain it does not nor does it need to exist inside my brain as well.
PS as my son once said "Doug's mind is not somewhere you would go without an armed escort "

We all live in our own personal reality and not all that reality is shared by everyone.
Bishop Spong might have a high IQ as usually tested; and he is indeed articulate. But in having faith in some supposed god for which there is no evidence, he is clearly rejecting a whole cartload of scientific facts from physics and cosmology and other sciences.
Whatever else, the scientific facts that explain the world, as proven by the world's elite scientists, are uncontestable. This leaves no room for gods.
Some months ago on another forum I posed the question "what is a true scientist?"
I'll look for it later because the response is much the same (in this sense) as the one that answers the question "What is a rational being?"
Please notice that I have just initiated a new discussion in this ORIGINS group headed
"When is a scientist not a true scientist?"
Doug, I'm wondering whether this assertion has any useful meaning. If a person is certain that Elvis is alive and living as a recluse in a penthouse in Miami, in what sense is this notion "a valid experience"? What is validity?

To answer this you would have to give a good definition of what is consciousness.
Doug wrote: .. if God exist in a person's brain then for them it is a valid experience. I just wish them to understand that because something exists in their brain it does not nor does it need to exist inside my brain as well.

The basis of the science of psychology is that subjective experience is extremely unreliable as a measure of reality. There are numerous studies showing how easy it is to fool the brain into thinking that it is observing or experiencing reality when it is not.

Here is a 101 example.

We all have a blind spot in each eye where, due to "unintelligent design", the optic nerve passes through the retina. No-one is aware of this hole in their vision unless they perform tests like the one available at the link I just quoted. For the rest of the time, the brain simply fills in the gaps in such a way that the looker cannot detect the permanent defects in their vision.

There are a whole host of other perceptual tricks played by the brain. All of them result from cognitive processing elements which otherwise have good survival value for the species.

Cognitive illusions exist in more complex areas of cognition as well. As well as visions of angels, saints, burning bushes, and so on, these include the sensations which religious people incorrectly interpret as "god's presence", "god's voice", "being filled with the spirit", etcetera. Such sensations have been manipulated and produced under controlled laboratory conditions. (You will find them referenced in texts dealing with the psychology of religion). In one experiment some subjects were given sensation-altering drugs and others were given placebos. Some were aware that they might feel differently. Others were not warned about this possibility. Some were sent to religious meetings, others to a waiting room. As predicted, subjects interpreted the unusual sensations in line with the context of their situation at the time. They also interpreted such sensations in line with their previous experiences, cultural background and knowledge.

In other words, while a religious person's subjective experience of the supernatural may seem like a valid experience of reality to them, it is actually a subjectively conceived cognitive construction of elements of reality, memory and imagination.
Dear Dr Meaden: You will lose the respect of theists and atheists alike if you continue to make assertions that are clearly metaphysical, and persist in making obviously refutable statements such as that people with high enough intelligences will come to atheism. We need to focus more on our message, which will be obscured if we give the theists such ammunition. Stick to the facts, sir. Avoid the argumentum ad hominem. The truth will speak for itself.




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