Researchers Say that Religious People Dislike Atheism (and Atheists) because They Associate Them with Death

Researchers from the University of Washington, Tacoma and the College of Staten Island have conducted a study that indicates American religious students who are instructed to think about Atheism think about death as well and to the same extent as when instructed to think about death itself. The researchers believe that this association between Atheism and death drives the religious to defend their values against Atheists in America and contributes to Atheism in America being held in low esteem. Per the article:  

…."Atheists in America have an image problem. Studies and surveys consistently rank nonbelievers as untrustworthy, threatening and un-American. Researchers reporting in a 2011 paper published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology even found that people viewed atheists as equally untrustworthy as rapists. This previous work found that atheists are perceived as without morals and values, Cook said….Now, research suggests one reason why: Thinking about atheists reminds people of death….We found that thinking about atheism actually increased thoughts of death to the same extent as thinking about death itself," said Cook…. These death thoughts help trigger a subconscious dislike of atheists, said study leader Corey Cook…. Not only do thoughts of death put people in a negative frame of mind, Cook told Live Science, but they also prompt people to hold more tightly onto their own values….When people are reminded of their own impending deaths, they become more protective of their worldviews and show increased prejudice against those with different worldviews….

The research has been reported in the journal, Social Psychology and Personality Science.

 

http://news.discovery.com/human/psychology/atheists-inspire-thoughts-of-death-in-many-americans-150523.htm

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Replies to This Discussion

Also people do not like to be ignored or their ideas shrugged off, so there is a natural dynamic of tension going both ways. There is hardly a comment made in this forum (no matter what the subject) that does not drip contempt for the theist and his/her views. This does nothing for the power of persuasion, so we find most conversations between these groups as nonstarters. Very few listeners and lots of talkers. It is as hard a task as can be imagined.

That's why perhaps the most productive mechanism for engaging believers is the Socratic method championed by Peter Boghossian, though is book, A Manual for Creating Atheists.  The whole point of his approach is far less to disqualify their beliefs than to get them to do so themselves through a question-and-answer structure.

As for their beliefs ... yeah, they ARE contemptible, and if we say so in the comfort of our own space, I have no problem with that.

It is. The problem I have debating God, gods, is that they are a man made concept, an idea, ideas are debatable only if  admitted to be  speculative. When someone claims an idea as past the post, non debatable, what's the point in trying to discuss the merits of it.

The religious argument( if it deserves the title), is a hang up that people can't shake off.

Yeah, the term “atheist” has a strong negative connotation in the superficial currents of the public mind, which is where most folks that think no deeper than the messages of TV preachers dwell. Conformity of belief produces shallow thought and opinion where labels, names, and definitions brand the complexity of humanity with a few broad symbols and creates simple lines between what is seen as good and evil. Even if just for that reason, I like the terms freethinker and non-theist which sometimes opens the door to a discussion on the use and validity of reason in making sense of reality and life choices. The fear of death and the choice of heaven or hell is perhaps the most powerful tool of religion. With heaven as the carrot of a promised afterlife and hell as the whip, the donkey of the religious mind trudges blindly through reality and into the dungeon of inanity.

One of my relatives years ago told me that it was a good idea to believe, just in case.  That way I'd be covered as it wouldn't hurt if there wasn't a god and better to be a believer if there is.  She's very religious.  I could never understand her logic but it made perfect sense to her, and she thought I'd be swayed by this logic.  I think at this point I'm not interested in trying to open any doors of discussion.  What is there that hasn't already been said?   But as I say this I'm reminded that my husband has come to agree with me but it took almost 40 years of gentle discussion (making my point over and over, nagging?) not sure what finally changed his mind or if he would have come to the same conclusion without my input.

And five will get you 50 she's never heard of Pascal's Wager.

Indeed.  She never suggested that I live as though he existed, which I would have understood; she just thought I should believe he existed to protect myself.  I guess I must remember that this came from someone who also believes that I could be the worst possible person but then "get god" in the end and be saved!  

As many have said over the years that if there is an all-knowing god, she-he-it would already KNOW if someone was faking their "belief."  So Pascal's Wager is always a no-win situation.

These things can make ones head spin. What's the point in death if one doesn't die? The idea that people will live after death makes death a nonentity,  I personally have never seen a live dead person, and hopefully never will.

One of my relatives years ago told me that it was a good idea to believe, just in case.

This one always makes me laugh.  So, I don't believe, because it seems like complete nonsense, but they want me to profess belief anyway, as if that would fool an omniscient god.  They want me to lie ... to their god.  I'm pretty sure that's against one of the Ten Commandments, and if their god gets so pissy about us lying to each other, I'm sure that lying to him will go over, really well.

That's right , we intuit belief, we haven't got a choice, we either believe it or we don't.

"Atheist" became a dirty word after the Russian Revolution.....but it's such a simple, useful word.

After WW2, when the USSR became our enemy again, and Joe McCarthy was poisoning the airwaves, and "I Led Three Lives" was popular on TV, That's when we were forced by religious groups to have "undergod" ('Under god's Thumb") in our pledge of allegiance, and In Dog we Trust on  our money.....to prove to ourselves(?) that we are not "godless communists."

We are just godless....more and more of us every year. 

It's going to take another 15 or 20 years for some of the end-timers to give up on their wishes, but I will be long gone by then.  I sincerely hope!

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