Understanding causality, who can justify condemning believers for believing, since they were after all, shaped, molded, and ultimately conditioned to believe just as non-believers where conditioned to not believe? Yet, we just can’t stand by watching them fritter their lives away being motivated, moved, and ultimately being hijacked by this contagious and dangerous god meme. Why can’t we? Because to survive as a species we need to acknowledge and address reality. We can’t just stand by, because we have been conditioned too, conditioned to not let our fellow man be deceived.

Believers come in all sorts of flavors, sizes, dilutions, backgrounds, shapes, and forms. While they all share a common belief in god, how they got to that belief, how they were conditioned to believe, varies. It may be difficult to use one particular method to reach every single believer. They need to be reconditioned, and it will take longer for some people to be reconditioned then it will for others, it depends on how deep in the rabbit hole they are.

To reach a believer, you must understand that particular believers motivation and justification to believe. You must understand them, you must know your audience, and to do so, you must temporary visit them at their level. It is here, after you have shown a genuine concern for their well-being, and have not shown an overly aggressive or offensive intent, that they will listen to you, and you can reach them. This is were you can touch them and direct them out of the rabbit hole. It takes great meticulousness, thoughtfulness, and caution to try not show any signs of what could be perceived as a possible assault on what they consider to be their sacred god fulfilled level of life. To do so may cause them to either be put on an immediate defense which will cause them to be less receptive to what you have to say, or even cause them to retreat deeper into their rabbit hole, the opposite of your intentions. So it takes great skill of thought and planning to let them be comfortable with you, meet with them at their level, and offer that guidance that will ultimately lead them out of the rabbit hole.

After learning what motivates them to believe, you may often find similar motives amongst them. They believe in god, supernatural realm, spirits, etc… often because it comforts their fear of death. Many people are afraid of the “unknown,” and death, is pretty unknown. They are attached to living, people have an instinct for survival, and believing in god, spirits, heaven, etc… makes them feel they can live even past death. They also tend to believe in god because they enjoy the sense of purpose that their particular holy book teaches their god demands of them. Life doesn’t come with an instruction book, but to believers it does, it’s their holy book, what it says. according to them. is the word of god, it is their instruction book, and they love the guidance. To them, without it, having no purpose except for the ones you makes yourself, subjective purposes, is one more scary “unknown” that they’d rather avoid and attempt to relieve by simply believing in god. There are many more motives, but knowing these two basics can arm you with the knowledge you need when you try to direct them back towards the importance of acknowledging reality and living in it openly and honesty.

Believers are without evidence to prove that the god they claim exist, actually exist. Therefore, they bombard themselves with scripture, hang out with other believers that will agree with them, claim to have personal experiences, use anything and anything to reinforce their faith. Yes, that is it, “Faith,” to believe without evidence. Why do that?! Again, because believers are attached to comfort, it addresses their fear of death, and gives them a sense of guidance and purpose, it avoids the “scary unknowns” and fills those unknowns with “god did it.” Ah, now they feel complete. All the blanks are filled in, no more unknowns. They are comforted.

Armed with this knowledge, you can understand how believing in god provides an emotional crutch to them. So should you just kick the crutch away from them, so they fall flat on their face and struggle to get back up as you watch? They still believe they can’t get up without the crutch anyways so they grab it again, stand up with their crutch under their arm, except now they are angry and defensive with you. You have accomplished nothing but shown that you are a possible violent aggressor that “hates crutches” or in this case “hates god” or “hates people who depends on crutches.” (to them anyways) You get the point. 

So what can you do to remove their crutch, and remove it so they never have to depend on it again? You have to heal their sickness. They are infected with the god meme, and it has hijacked their lives, invaded their minds, and makes them depend on it more and more, it doesn’t let up, it doesn’t let them doubt it, It depends on a magical word called “faith,” and uses positive and negative reinforcements such as heaven and hell to reinforce their addiction to it, etc…

This is no easy task. They are addicted to this infection, this substance, and it has become substance abuse. You can’t just take it away, make them quit cold turkey, they are in too deep. You need to ease them out of it slowly. Give them something else temporarily, another motivation, another substance that you can control the dosage of while you ease them back into reality. So first, you make them comfortable, meet them on their level, do not pose a threat, a threat that just wants to take their drug away, rather the opposite, be a friend that cares and shares the same fears and concerns. This is how you can reach them, get them to open up so you can nonchalantly drop in your measure of reality.

If you can’t reach them first with reality, then slowly lure them into it even if it requires playing along with their fiction at first. First you give them their dose of comfort they are addicted to, and slowly but surely you give them less fiction everyday until there is no fiction left. They are then left living in reality. They need something that at least at first motivates them enough, that comforts them enough that can replace the motivation and comfort their belief in god provides. Then slowly we can expose them to other truths that they try to avoid, like they are going to die, there is no afterlife, purpose is subjective, etc...

Trying to make them face the facts cold turkey is not working, it further scares them and makes them retreat into their hole deeper. We need to slowly lure them out of their hole first, comfort their fears of reality, and tell them it’s going to be okay. Having been on the battlefield, I know the common tactic is to reason with them, show them the logic, but a believers basis for believing isn't based on reason and logic to begin with, it is based on their desire for comfort, and therefore, it makes it very difficult to shake a believers faith or belief with reason and logic. This simply is not working for most people. These other more common believing folk, need this slow gradual introduction and reconditioning back into reality. With this maybe, we can make some progress.

While the details of my ideas shared here may be somewhat vague, I hope some of you understand where I am trying to go with this and may be able to contribute some more detailed examples and/or expound further on what I am trying to convey.

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Comment by Nate on September 30, 2008 at 3:41pm
I understand and agree. Very well thought out and expressed, TJ. The "we're smart and you're idiots" approach isn't working so well. Compassion and empathy are important tools in the fight against ignorance.

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