Getting Religion

Nontheists understand that religion is wrong. We discuss religions, rant about them, and fight them. Do we understand them? The goal of here is to learn about religions, how they developed, what they beleive, what makes them tick.

Location: Global
Members: 52
Latest Activity: Jan 18

"Getting Religion" means understanding religions.


File:Stonehenge Closeup.jpg

The impact of religion is pervasive.  Religion flavors all aspects of human life.  Religion has influenced human evolution for thousands of years.


Just as we learn about chemistry, biology, and psychology, learning about religion helps us understand ourselves as a species, and how we came to be who we are.  That understanding may also help us understand how to function in a world where the majority of humans continue to be religious.



Intro to "Getting Religion" - what the group is about.

Paleolithic origins of religion.

Religion in the Neolithic Age.




Here is a link that summarizes the 43 biggest religious or religious belief systems, in the world today.  This is the "Big Religion Chart".


To me, religions are like science fiction.  I like the worlds of Battlestar Galactica, and Star Trek, and X-Files, and I like reading about Zoroastrianism, Aztec cosmology, and Catholic papal  intrigues.

-Sentient Biped 5/29/2013


Discussion Forum

Where, and what, is Hell?

Started by Daniel W. Last reply by Michael Penn Dec 10, 2014. 42 Replies

The Americas before 1491.

Started by Daniel W Dec 25, 2013. 0 Replies

Religion in the Neolithic Age.

Started by Daniel W. Last reply by Daniel W May 28, 2013. 1 Reply

Intro to "Getting Religion"

Started by Daniel W May 23, 2013. 0 Replies

Origins of Religion in the Paleolithic Age

Started by Daniel W. Last reply by Daniel W May 21, 2013. 26 Replies

Comment Wall


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Comment by William Hopper on January 6, 2010 at 6:49pm
Jo Jerome: I've been working on exactly that sort of thing of late... religious antho. I'm a bit stymied in my thought process atm though. Thing is, I am currently of the opinion that much of religious belief is physiological, not cultural. I think it's a sort of replacement for parental nurturing that we're hardwired to need. Mommy and Daddy become God Almighty as we get older, basically. Like Mommy and Daddy, God has all the answers, knows what is good and bad, and will punish or reward you based on your behavior.

Just throwing that thought out there for discussion...
Comment by Jo Jerome on January 6, 2010 at 6:11pm
I just keep finding cool groups on this site!

While on one side of it I'm very angry at the religious 'indoctrination' of mainstream society, of institutions that exploit people and religion for political gain, and of the general ignorance of the supposedly educated ...

On the other side of it, we learn a lot about a culture from its religion. It is my geeky dream to study cultural anthropology (and that dream is very soon, if gradually, to become reality). My emphasis will be on religion and mythology and how they play in to a society's dynamics. How we can extrapolate that from scraps of text, artifacts, where and when the people lived. In short, I dream of being the one on the Discovery Channel at the dig site saying, "This is what we think a day in the life of this ancient village was, and here's how we came to those theories..."

Atheist Nexus continues to be such an awesome site to bounce ideas off of people. Lots of inspiration for me to start those online courses and doggie paddle ever so slowly towards my Discovery Channel dream!
Comment by Daniel W on December 27, 2009 at 6:20am

Sorry about the title change on the other thread. I second guess myself all of the time. It's just part of my nature.

I read the Paul Bloom interview in the article below. It makes sense to me that humans are "hard wired" to be religious. Of course, that doesn't make religion beneficial in the modern age - but understanding that it is "hard wired" might help us learn how to deal with that aspect of our characters.
Comment by Daniel W on December 26, 2009 at 8:41pm
Taking from your comment, I googled on Pascal Boyer, got his website here. and the following comment on his site: "N a t u r a l n e s s o f R e l i g i o n

This cognitive framework was developed to account for the recurrent properties of religious concepts and norms in different cultures. The latter are parasitic upon standard cognitive systems that evolved outside of religion, such as agency-detection, moral intuition, coalitional psychology and contagion-avoidance. Religious concepts and norms can be explained as a by-product of standard cognitive architecture." This looks like "meme" theory, am I correct?

So this would be his book, "ReligionExplained

The Evolutionary Foundations of Religious Belief
Random House (UK) and Basic Books (USA), 2001". It looks like it examines the idea of religion, rather than specific religions. Is that correct? SHould it be a recommendation for our reading list?

I did find this Atlantic article about Paul Bloom. "Wired for Creationism". Does he have a web page or particular book that you are referring to?
Comment by Daniel W on November 30, 2009 at 8:57pm
This discussion group is new and will probably take some time to get off the ground. If nothing else, it will give me a more focused effort into looking at religions.

I'm not much into arguing with theists, but it would be interesting to comment to someone, for example, "I think christmas is a really interesting holiday. I like the way that it echos the birth stories of Osiris, with the divine son coming down from heaven. And the story of Attis, a Phrygian god from Asia Minor, who was Born on December 25 to a virgin mother, later sacrificed his life so he could save all humanity from eternal torment, and died at Easter of acute crucifixion, and descended for three days into the underworld. On Easter Sunday, he rose again. and And Mithra, the Unconquerable Sun, who did battle on behalf of humanity, died a martyr, and rose again.

It's so cool how the same stories echo, and sometimes are derived from one another. I think they tell about universal needs of humanity, at a point in our social evolution.

I don't like fighting with people. I would rather leave them thinking - "he knows some interesting stuff'' and maybe plant a seed of critical thinking.

I agree with you that religious people probably think they are doing good.
Comment by William Hopper on November 30, 2009 at 12:50pm
I think the most important thing to understand about all religions is that the laity-- however naive-- really do think they are doing "good". As simple as this sounds, I always stress this point whenever the topic of comparative religions comes up.

What this means in dialogue is that you have to understand that the person's motivation is to be a good person. If you start out attacking them for it, you paint yourself as opposed to "good", and therefore "evil". I know... it sounds trite. But understanding this is the difference between an argument and a productive dialogue.

If you want to sway people from their assumptions you have to do so without making it sound like you are attacking everything they were taught since birth. Do it right, and you really will get religious fanatics agreeing with you.

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