I totally agree with the group's headliner statement. But it raises an interesting point for converts to atheism. As my months of membership at A|N go by I see so many ex-religious people leaving the holy book behind, and converting to the book of Dawkins, or the book of Hitchens. I've heard converts say:

"Religious people aren't stupid, I used to be one, and I'm intelligent, and was before"


It reminds me somewhat of divorce statistics. A woman marries a divorcee, expecting she'll get a different treatment from the previous wife, she's better matched than the previous wife, the man has 'changed', etc. However facts tell a different story:

The divorce rate in America for first marriage, vs second or third marriage
50% percent of first marriages, 67% of second and 74% of third marriages end in divorce.


People convert to atheism and 'suddenly' become 'less' stupid and lecture religious people on how stupid they are, when the converts themselves were religious mere months or years ago.

People fall in love, make grand declarations and grand promises, and then backtrack.

Alcoholics quit the booze, make grand declarations and grand promises, and fall off the wagon.

I am becoming more and more suspicious of converts. My mom changes her vote at nearly every election. She has no 'core' value, she flops according to fashion, according to other's promises. Religious people flop to atheism, because bashing god is in style.

In my eyes, flop once... flop twice!

I've never had a second of religion/god in my life, never fallen for supernatural beliefs of any kind. I suspect we'll be seeing more "returns to god" in the future than we've ever seen in the past.

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I've never had a second of religion/god in my life, never fallen for supernatural beliefs of any kind.

Well, lucky you... I have no idea if you are right or not in your being suspicious of converts, but I will point out that to "have a second of religion" in your life or not is not always a matter of (your) choice. If you for example were born, as I was, in Poland, say 38 years ago, then you would get religion and god and everything connected with this from the very first days of your life. Later, when more than 95 percent of your family, friends, neighbors are catholic and your country is isolated from the rest of the world, you really have no way of confronting it with something else. I like the words from the profile of Terence Meaden:

In my Oxford college I was at once dismayed to find a high number of evangelical Christians among the non-scientists. How could these people swallow the nonsense of superstitious dogma with which they had been fed? What made them prostrate themselves before scenes of human torture and make out they were drinking the blood and eating the flesh of Jesus!? What weakness of the brain had allowed otherwise bright children to be indoctrinated thus? Of course, the answer was that they had been ‘got at’ when very young, first by their parents and then by school and church.

Indeed, when you are exposed to this religion stuff from the very beginning, like: "this is a dog, this is a cat, this is Maria the mother of god", it gets really very deep in you, is a part of the things which "just are there", is a part of your reality.


Additionally, in Poland in the 1980's if you were not catholic, you were suspected to be a communist. What a nice choice, isn't it? ;-) .

I was raised in a Roman Catholic village of 2800 people, where my mom's new husband had to officially adopt me in front of god in order to prevent me from being kicked out of school, because I was a bastard child and the nun run educational system did not allow bastard children. 100% of everyone I knew in my youth (elementary school) were catholics, except a couple of family members. During highschool, I met 3 protestants, I was still the only atheist.


But what do you think of the headliner? How can someone religious yesterday call religious people stupid? How does that reflect on their own intelligence?


It's a header that would make sense in a group like "atheist since birth", but for this group?

My first thought was "O boy, he (she?) must have a very strong personality, must be a real individualist, to be able to figure it out on his own among 100% of catholics, from the very beginning!", but then... wait a minute, you are "a bastard child" and talking about your Mother's new husband. All this means to me that your Mother is (was) probably not really religious, or, at least, not enough strict catholic or fundamentalistic to indoctrinate you properly.


I can only repeat what I wrote yesterday: if you pick this crap (god, virgin Mary, heaven,...) from the very beginning from the people who are taking care of you and show you THEIR world (usually your parents), it really gets deep into your brain, somewhere on the very basic (almost instinctive) level. These are the same people who teach you not to run under cars and to be careful with dogs you do not know. You take seriously everything they tell you during the first years. If then the rest of your environment says exactly the same then, well, it is difficult to make a correction of this you got.


Maybe it is possible to be raised by strictly religious parents, in a 100% catholic community and understand from the very beginning that all this they tell you is BS, without making any connection with the "outside world", I do not know.


You ask me what I think about the headliner. Several things to say about it:

1. when I saw it I found it just funny

2. I did not think too much about the very word "stupid". It is just a word for me, I am not a native speaker in English. In other languages I know, there are lots of possible meanings of this word. It can mean the same as "silly", "naive", "ignorant", "foolish", in Swedish they even say something like "you were stupid to me" meaning "you were not nice to me". Shortly, it does not need to reflect any opinion about your intellectual capacities. Was the person who made the headliner a native English speaker?

3. I was (really, honestly, deeply) catholic the first 23-25 years of my life. I left Poland when I was almost 23 years old and, believe it or not, it was the first time I was able to confront this whole religion thing with another reality. I was reading a lot, observing non-religious people, reasoning about different beliefs.


And now it comes:

4. I am not particularly proud of myself that it took me so long time (plus the help of this confrontation) to realize how wrong it was to just believe a bunch of (quite improbable) crap. Maybe it is a sort of mental weakness, I don't know and I do not mind if somebody thinks I am stupid. But I do not agree with you that being a convert means that you just "flop" and have no "core" value. It took me like 15 years to go from strictly catholic to strongly atheistic, it was not an impulse, it was not "because it is fancy", it was a long and difficult way and I think it is quite improbable that I would go the same way back or to another religion from the (mental) place where I am now. Not all converts are "impulsive", surely not those of them who were religious mostly because of the environment. 

5. Personally, I NEVER call religious people stupid (in the meaning of "low intellectual capacities"), but I feel very sorry for them because they are living in a lie and do not know about it. Sometimes they let religion destroy their lives and they honestly believe that this is the path they should follow (lots of examples here, I think you know many examples for this).

6. Those religious people who have a possibility of confronting their beliefs with the "outside world" (by meeting non-believers, talking to them, reading books, reasoning, etc) and still stay religious their whole life... well... they have probably some severe mental weakness... Maybe you can call them "naive" if you do not want to use the word "stupid", but I think that the header is most suitable for them.


What about the header "Hey, how are your imaginary friends doing?!" ;-)

I have just seen in your profile: "third generation atheist", thus: no indoctrination by your parents. You were not "spoon-fed" with religion, you just met it outside your home, as a cool observer. It makes a difference, believe me!

I appreciate your candour. :)

For me the hardest grades were k-3. My teacher was a nun (same teacher entire time), and I spent half my days in punishment (banishment) for refusing to recognise sin during confessions, for refusing to obey, for refusing all she represented, I hated her intensely, even tho I had no idea at that age of the legal battles my parents where having with the school system. I was also constantly bullied in outdoor activities for my "difference". It was such a huge trauma that my parents never told me I was adopted! They decided on divorce when I was 15, and during that conversation, my mom advised me that my dad was my stepdad. My stepdad was a physically/mentally abusive and a dry/sober authoritarian. I always rebelled as much against my parents as against the school system, I hated both equally. But in books I found knowledge, and THAT was my drive, books and knowledge were my refuge of sanity and happiness, even at the k-3 age group. I was a very precociously opinionated child. The church registry indicates I was "baptised" at age 8, and therefore accepted into the kingdom of god... (in reality I wasn't, it was just a lie they wrote, so much for validity of written truths)  or whatever shit that is. My parents never mentioned atheism, or god, it was simply a void in that regard, however on morality and authoritarianism, they were beasts, worthy of Franco or Mussolini.

I'd even say I was born an iconoclast if that's possible!

I appreciate that it took you 15 years to change your mind, that is a long process, and indeed not a flop :)

I curtsey to your in depth and thoughtful response.

I see that you had been through a lot as a child. You must have been a very strong and independend kid, indeed!

BTW, what time is it now in your place? Here, in Sweden, it is 10:50AM, must be night there in Canada, isn't it?

LoL, definitely the kind of child parents prefer to not have!

Yukon is almost 2AM, I am not working, so I hang out late nights :)

Night, yes, but not for long, the seasonal change to longer days is beginning, soon no more night, weeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!

Hmm.  Interesting subject.  I think atheist people, particularity the ex-theist types, should take note of Dawkins, and others, who use the more correct term "ignorant".  Calling someone "stupid" tends to be a value judgment, where as the term "ignorant" doesn't.  "Ignorant" does not put a negative label on some one's intelligence level, but rather their lack of knowledge.  Theistic beliefs come from being fed incorrect information by people you trust and believe, and questioning the theistic beliefs become very difficult, as it call into question the trust invested.


Although I was not brought up in a theistic family, and to my knowledge only 1 of my siblings belongs to a "religion" (he's a Buddhist).  I see that most people with theist beliefs were spoon fed them by their family. Questioning the theism there for becomes questioning your family, and it is only through the knowledge that those beliefs are false (ie - replacing the ignorance with knowledge) can the road to rejection become possible.

Simply put, calling the religious stupid is incorrect, for they are really just ignorant.

I can only agree with you.
I am good at building things out of metal. I am not good at remembering the scientific name of plants. Being an equities trader, I am good at understanding financial concepts. Networking computers confuses me. I can change the tyres on a truck but I can't work out what my 15 year old nieces could possibly want for their birthdays.

So, I'm stupid in some fields but not in others. So a Doctor might also be a theist. Good at medicine (presumably, seeing as he hasn't been banned from practicing) but bad at understanding that God is Santa for grownups.
I get lost in shopping centres but I can read maps and navigate in wilderness areas.
I can cycle 100kms in a day but I've never been able to do a wheel stand.
Sometimes the stupid and intelligent can be on the same topic.

But what if religious docs are a large part of the medical system's problems? I don't think docs should be allowed to be religious. Cloudy judgement is cloudy judgement. BigPharma reps' job is to convince dumb docs of giving their off-label snake-oil cures to as many people as possible in order to create a market for their endless onslaught of pill popping. Without religious docs, the medical system would be much more respectable.

However I digress, the question is, if you instantly developed the ability to know scientific plant names, would you be calling the ones who used to be just like you just months before stupid?




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