I have often written that non-theism or ‘atheism’ is the natural condition of the universe into which we are all born.

Most atheists—perhaps all, because by definition—conclude the same, realising that non-theism is the default situation of a godless universe [although pace to Richard Dawkins, who prefers to cautiously allow that we cannot be entirely sure of this]. Nevertheless, whatever else, children are all born ‘atheist’ in the sense of not knowing anything of gods until elders start instructing them.

Religion is a taught fiction—which explains why there are so many religions and why so many gods.

Inevitably, indoctrination is directed first at unsuspecting and trusting children because they are the most easily drawn into the tangled web of belief and deceit that accounts for so much of our religious, social, world population.

When a believer asks me directly the driving question, I answer firmly that natural rationality and commonsense point to religion as being nothing but a giant fraud—and a deep-rooted long-lasting fraud at that.

By the same token, the gods that religions embrace are merely the deliberate poetic and literary inventions of story-tellers.

Gods exist nowhere but inside the heads of believers, and occupy and distort their valuable, limited, neuron-circuit space where unprejudiced clear brains should be.

Why does the human race go on suffering such beliefs, when in other so many other endeavours we benefit handsomely from the great works and discoveries of the scientists and engineers?

How long will it be before we break the cycle of worship and free the minds of our leaders who keep on believing the impossible about the irrational?

One would think that it is the duty of schools to teach the truth, the scientific truth, and nothing but the truth.
If this was done, science would win through, slowly but surely.
But not all schools do so. Many teach untruths under the banner of religious freedom---and religion is all lies. Again I say: Religion is nothing but a giant fraud.

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Replies to This Discussion

Kelvin, I am pessimistic like Loren as to any possibility of a fairly quick solution evolving in which adult masses give up their superstitious crutches with which they get mental support.
The beautiful brain can be used or abused.
As Claudia Mazzucco wrote here a few days ago, what an "infinite mess" humanity has managed to get itself into. Inside some peoples heads their otherwise wonderful brains have a pretty inert side to them that has been grossly mismanaged in recent millennia.

What the religious do is teach children the supernatural untruths while they are vulnerable and trusting.
What we should be doing is teach children the rational truths while they are at school, alert and trusting.

One of our targets therefore is to rationalise the next generation with truths, especially the major scientific truths.
Terry, I've pointed this out before, but I think it bears repeating: we have a case of MASS ADDICTION going on on this planet. That means that, presuming people can wake up, we've got a cool couple billion cases of WITHDRAWAL to deal with for those who kick, and a couple billion more of DENIAL and all the other lovely little symptoms of addiction where they don't ("Oh, I can quit ANY TIME!"). And of course, those who don't have their act together are very likely to act out on those of us who DO (FRAK, but I hate the idea of having to arm myself!).

Lotsa fun for everyone....
Not bloody likely, Larry, not bloody likely at all. I have no problem recognizing the greater of two evils ... and N. B.: my granddad taught me to shoot ... he was an Elyria, OH motorcycle cop back when Elyria wasn't so nice a town....
A case of mass addiction, terrible one.

According to Charles Darwin we mustn't "overlook the probability of the constant inculcation in a belief in God on the minds of children producing so strong and perhaps an inherited effect on their brains not yet fully developed, that it would be as difficult for them to throw off their belief in God, as for a monkey to throw off its instinctive fear and hatred of a snake.” (Charles Darwin in his autobiography, written in his old age.)
As larry said unfortunately for mankind you are right loren, the worst part is religious fundamentalist have pumped up the volume in the last couple of years. We need to do the same, we must fight ignorance with knowledge, as Dr. Terence Meaden said "What the religious do is teach children the supernatural untruths while they are vulnerable and trusting.
What we should be doing is teach children the rational truths while they are at school, alert and trusting.

One of our targets therefore is to rationalise the next generation with truths, especially the major scientific truths." But i also sense dark days ahead of us.
Indeed larry, i agree. Speaking of organizing in the past couple of weeks i've been thinking about starting up an atheist youth group in my school but i can really use the help of the good people of atheistnexus. But back to the whole organizing talk it will be difficult to start a strong movement when there are still some atheists in the closet and the harsh reality that, (excuse me for sounding like a bible thumper)we are like sheep without a sheppard at the moment. but i'm optimistic, we are growing day by day and our following is becoming stronger. One of the key things we are missing is good and reliable organization.
Thank you larry for the both inspirational & motivatinal words, i will take your advice and poke around for a while. Let us make a toast to a internationally united atheist movement.
My aunt-in-law teaches at a Christian school. I was suprised at Thanksgiving to hear how much science her 4 children actually knew about. However, the response to the limited discussion that we had was just that it was "something they had to learn". Like it was a bore. I agree with schools, and not just Christian ones, distorting the youth's ability to comprehend reality. These kids know in and out evolutionary theory but still look me dead in the eyes and tell me God set it all in motion.

I don't know HOW we can break this stranglehold but I hope I can see the hands loosen in my lifetime.
As recent neurological studies show, the concept of God has a specifically unique effect upon the brain. Children begin with a simple concrete image of God that slowly becomes more abstract and emotionally arousing in either a positive or negative way. God must be one of the most powerful words that a person encounters in childhood. And a word represents both: a feeling and an idea.

Andrew Newberg M.D. and Mark Robert Waldman have been conducting an experiment for several years with different groups of religious and nonreligious people. Nearly everyone paused for a long time when they asked, “What does God feel like?” – which told them there is increased activity occurring in many parts of the brain, especially in the visual, motor, association, cognitive, and emotional centers.

Children, however, have no difficulty with drawing a picture of God. It is a delightful request. For example, in 1986, psychologist David Heller interviewed forty children using drawings, doll play, and invocative forms of dialogue. He found that Catholic children associated God with family. Jewish children talked about God in relationship to suffering. For Baptist children, God was controlling, providing order, organization, and structure to one’s life. Hindu children identified their gods with community. For them a divine being symbolized energy or a force in the universe, not a person.

God is seen as a protector or a king, sometimes living in a palace or in the clouds. Naturally, we find certain images that correspond to the religious affiliation of their parents like angels of biblical scenes depicted in their drawings. But as children grow older, faces and people are replaced by more symbolic images such as crosses, hearts, open hands, or an eye hovering in the sky. The oldest children often represented God as the sun or as radiating spirals and light. In all studies, the use of symbols increases with age.

One might assume as Richard Dawkins says, that if you have faith it is statistically overwhelmingly likely that it is the same faith as your parents and grandparents had, but recent major studies show that religious denomination has little to do with a child’s physical image of God.

You all know that I have autism, as I have revealed before in Atheist-Nexus. Personally, I account for religion as an accidental capability produced in its boundless stupidity by a process of natural selection which is normally opposed to the expression of such a capability in a brain severely wounded by autism. Autistic children – at least in my personal experience – don’t have the imagination to draw a picture of God. Nonetheless, when I was four years old, I saw God as Zeus because my brain cannot process abstract spiritual concepts. No one taught me the concept of Zeus. It could be that because there was no activity in my parietal lobe, the boundaries between me and God dissolved. I felt a sense of unity with Zeus and I placed him in the “shadows” that appears on the moon because my grandma Irma told me that the shadows in the moon were mountains. And Zeus lived in a mountain. The other areas of my brain such as the frontal lobe, which creates and integrates all of the ideas about God and the thalamus, which gives emotional meaning to the concept of God, were not functioning or were damaged by the neurological condition. It seems that only the amygdale was over stimulated when the cross created the emotional impression of a frightening, authoritative and punitive God. Because the frontal lobe didn’t have the ability to logically think about God, my brain constructed an impression of God in others which was quite the opposite of my own primordial feeling of awe.

As long as the picture of Zeus exists, the work of building up religious ideas was carried on at a terrible disadvantage. Therefore, if religion didn’t find the neurological structure to replicate memes, it must have arisen as an unintended by-product of some other process. What could be that other process? This puzzle can be deciphered for its own sake, regardless of whether or not a deity exists.

Source: How God changes your brain, by Andrew Newberg, M.D. and Mark Robert Waldman, 2009, Ballantine Books, New York. See Chapter 5, “What does God look like?” page 83.
Man is not a rational animal; he is a rationalizing animal.

-- Robert A. Heinlein
I've seen Heinlein being vilified as a fascist or racist, but never as a libertine so far.
Done (x3). To me it still sounds like you suggest it's Heinlein's libertine views on sex that drove people away. If there's a double entendre I missed it (although it wouldn't be the first time I bump into the language barrier head-on.)

Unless you meant 'a little more of a libertine' instead of 'a little less...'? That I can 'grok'.




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