An explanation for religiosity?

Here’s an interesting article from England’s The Times newspaper: “I don’t believe that believers really believe“. It’s well worth reading in its entirety, but the gist is that the columnist does not believe that believers truly believe what they say, because their actions are wildly inconsistent with the professed beliefs. It’s an interesting argument, but I don’t think it’s quite right. I believe Jamie Whyte’s perceptions about religious belief are biased from living in a country that is largely apathetic toward religion. Well, here in the United States Under God of America, things are a bit different, and it’s not quite so easy to be so dismissive about religion.

I don’t blame the incoherency between professed beliefs and actions on lack of true belief, I blame it on hypocrisy and compartmentalization. Most people realize religion doesn’t have anything to do with their day to day life. The only time they are in “religious” mode is when it is explicitly brought up, for example when they go to church, or when someone asks them what their religion is. Otherwise, they just live their lives as humans are wont to do, with all of the activities contraindicated by their religion that that entails, even if it is wildly hypocritical. It’s not that religious adherents don’t believe in all that nonsense, because they do; it’s just that it’s nearly impossible for it to affect every aspect of their life.

I really like the point Jamie Whyte makes about abortion, though. If abortion really was comparable to the Holocaust, as abortion protestors frequently like to claim, we might actually want to, you know, stop it.

6 Responses to “An explanation for religiosity?”

  1. Ed Says:

    Christians believe that all their sins will be forgiven before entering heaven, if they regret them and give themselves up to christ. I’ve heard this one many times before. So, they can and they do act like whatever they want, not like the bible tells them what a pious life is. (Why does firefox want the word christ in upper case? I refuse to change it…)
    There are 2 comments in the article which I quote below
    “I don’t believe many atheists really believe what they claim to believe. As you have no objective basis to morality or purpose then it shouldn’t matter to you what other people believe because nothing really matters. Isn’t there something else you can become obsessive about – golf, perhaps?”
    and…
    “Kant’s Enlightenment could have been his reaction to an overbearingly strict religious upbringing.Despite its ‘civilizing’ commentary, Kant himself rprtdly delighted at the news of the
    French Revolution.Murderous atheistic Communism/Nazism were the major global effects of Enlightenment philosophy”

    Most of the so called believers think of atheists as amoral beings. People who are ever so happy to kill, rape and steal, or at least to be the perfect egocentric selfish hedonists.
    Calling oneself a (whatever religion) provides a label that identifies you to others as someone aspiring to meet a defined set of values, which are perfectly known from the outset.
    Tell someone you’re an atheist they don’t know what to think of you. Politicians play on the fear of the unknown and scares people off away from atheists.
    I was once always signing up to go and work in Saudi, doubling my salary and paying no taxes. I had to fill up a form and there was a field marked religion. I told my boss that I was going to leave it blank, he argued with me that if I did then the application was going to be refused and that it would be ok for me to write christian. (Another upper case? I’m getting annoyed now…) In the end I refused to go, not only because I had to lie but also because I understood then the label system.
    Of all things, most atheists have higher principles. At least, you (religious people) should understand that an atheist is someone who does not lie just to get an advantage like most politicians do.

  2. Jeff V Says:

    Why does firefox want the word christ in upper case? I refuse to change it…

    It is a name right?

    I had to fill up a form and there was a field marked religion. I told my boss that I was going to leave it blank, he argued with me that if I did then the application was going to be refused and that it would be ok for me to write christian. (Another upper case? I’m getting annoyed now…) In the end I refused to go, not only because I had to lie but also because I understood then the label system.

    Why not just write Atheist? What kind of job was this?

  3. Ed Says:

    According to Wikipedia christ is synonym with “the anointed” or the messiah. You are probably right, I used it as a name, but this is arguable. For example, “Bush, the warmonger”, if later on I just write The warmonger, other people may make the association pretty quickly, but then again maybe not.

    Atheism is not a religion, therefore I wanted to leave it blank. Anyway, the reason my boss wanted to write christian was precisely to avoid writing atheist and “embarrassing” his company in the eyes of the Saudi officials. I’m sure he knew better as the company had a big team already working there for a number of years.
    People in Saudi have some uncommon views on things…
    http://www.freethinker.co.uk/2008/09/16/muhammad-mickey-munajid-the-mouse-maligning-mufti/

  4. William (green) Says:

    I’m not entirely certain, but the warmonger used like that, I would expect to be capitalized like a name: Bush, the Warmonger. You’re saying he is the warmonger, as opposed to just any old warmonger. If you referred to it later, I think Yeah, The Warmonger ate some cheese would be clearer than without the uppercase, ’cause without it, it needs to be something you’ve named fairly recently.
    Capitals = global declaration?

  5. Jeff V Says:

    I think if you say something like Bush, the warmonger. “The Warmonger” seems like an epithet from mythology like “Zeus, the lightning hurler”. When used as a proper noun like that it seems reasonable to capitalize it. I like using epithets (provided they are not racial epithets) to break up the monotony when I am writing about a singular subject for a long time.

    People in Saudi have some uncommon views on things…

    That is definitely true. I used to work for a company that did a lot of business in the Kindom (see, epithets are fun) and it is amazing how backasswards a country can be yet still get support from the Western world.

  6. Knacker Says:

    Ed, you can sue for that sort of thing if it was in america. I’d think you’d have taken it that far if you felt strongly enough to refuse to just write what the wanted.

    It may not even be too late.