Why is it that theists are able to shut down critical thinking at the door of religion?

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Stuart Wright

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There's obviously a big difference between our American contingent and our British contingent here.
It amazes me how apparently intelligent people believe in a god.
They do so because their indoctrination is so strong that they have to stop critical thinking when it comes to religion.
Because no sane person would properly consider religion and decide it's anything other than ********.


Well-known member
Not sure this is a topic they allow or want here, but basic answer would simply be "what then?".

If we cannot explain bad luck, suffering, disease, death, etc. in such a way that it makes at least some sense.....life itself can become unbearable. Fairy tales have helped this stuff greatly.....

Let me create a real world example.
Your daughter bears you a grand daughter, but becomes very sick and passes away when the daughter is 3 years old. What do you tell your grand daughter?

Or, you go to war and become best friends with a couple of guys on your squad - until they because mincemeat from a mortar round. What allows you, a 19 year old boy, to integrate this experience?

I'm not looking for answers here....it's just an illustration of one of the many reasons we all live within our stories.

You say no sane person would consider it anything other than BS? So what you are saying is that if such a belief helps something through ALL the difficult passages of life, that means it does not work properly?

Putting it in a broader sense, do you believe than NONE of the BS we all run our minds over each day (games, videos, tv's, books, etc.) do us any "good"?


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Speaking as a thealogian the original post here is philosophically confused and invalid.

First of all spirituality need have nothing to do with "god." This is a contaminated way of thought which roots in the suppression of alternatives by Christianity in the West (and Islam in the East). Both go back to the war deity Yahweh of the Hebrews who made a successful bif to dominate theology and exclude his wife (goddess) and the other gods and goddesses of his pantheon.

Secondly, rational belief is founded on evidence. One influential sector of it is science though it is not the only type of rational belief.
Spiritual faith is not constructed from evidence but from a deep upwelling from the centre of self. There is a fascinating overlap with science because many of the greatest scientists were/ are deeply spiritual.

There are parallels with most of the really important areas of life. Sex, Love, Violence are all areas that give birth to the same kind of deep upwellings of faith. There is ultimately no way to justify or explain these modes of being. Rationality tries to do so, and some theories are very strong. But they remain theories, which their diversity and contradictions demonstrate.
To my way of thinking these are centrally part of our spirituality. The commonest experience most people have where all these modes intersect - sex, love, violence and the sacred - is falling in love. Its consequent intensity is why there is a mass culture of music and literature about it.
(Also, it acts as a soporific to distract us and drug us: if only I can fall in love/ stay in love, life will be good. Economic manipulation of the major part of the population is much easier to pull off if people focus on the wrong reason for loneliness and deprivation.)

But to return to the core issue, anyone who claims that it is idiotic to be aware of one's spirituality, is themselves prety ignorant of history ad current affairs. As I said many if not most scientists and key thinkers on society are happily spiritual.

Spiritual or religious in Britain is indeed different to the USA. In the UK the organised official version of the State religion is limping to its demise. A tiny few per cent patronise its temples, and most are older people. Predictions are that as a result of so few active younger members congregations will die out within 20 years.
However British people are not irreligious. Far from it. The great majority of Brits report spiritual commitment or experience. They just don't carry it into special buildings or organisations. We are a deeply spiritual population here, just very independent about it.
Other religions outside the State selected one, are flourishing. Islam has a powerful minority: in some views too powerful. The New Age, Paganism ("the Green Party at prayer") and Goddess movement, are all fast growing and becoming well integrated with the mainstream.

It's a great shame that some atheists and agnostics lack manners and insult those of other faiths. For of course atheism is a spiritual faith with no conclusive rational foundation, and agnosticism is just a standing back from the arena.
It's a great shame that some religious people lack manners and insult those of other faiths, including atheists. The history of Christianity in the West has been a particularly bad one in this respect and kicked off much of the immaturity of atheism in reaction.
Fundamentalism whether a recognised faith or atheism is unhelpful and ugly.


Formerly CyclingTribe
My mum is Catholic and goes to church every week. My dad has no religion. When I was younger I once asked him why he allowed mum to drag us kids to church each week (under protest of course - we wanted to play out with our friends)?

He said, simply, "Catholics have the best schools son".

And he was right - we all got a good education and did well for ourselves in our chosen careers and are all well-rounded adults and none the worse for having been brought up (well, until we were 16 anyway) as catholics.

Now I'm personally a man of science and art, not religion. A Darwinian in terms of evolution. A dreamer about space and life and the Universe ... and I simply don't believe in God. I once puzzled a priest by describing the bible as a "Good living guide" - something that, in its day, would have been used to encourage people to live better, fuller, less selfish lives. He seemed to be okay with that idea, albeit a bit thrown I think. :D

But I don't knock my mum's belief; not because I think her idea of God is daft - I do - but because I see that her religion has done her more good than harm over the years. When she's had bad times she has been able to lean on her friends at church. She's a more gentle and understanding person because of her beliefs. She's been to places all over the world on the trips she's taken with her fellow believers, places she might otherwise never have seen, and her life experience is richer for it.

That being said, it's a topic that I don't allow on any of my forums because it always results in such passionate polorisation and never, ever, ends well - ever!! :(


Well-known member
You basically answered your own question. Indoctrination works on all IQ levels, that's the 'beauty' of it. Even the most skeptical (scientists) can fall for it. But I thought threads like this were not allowed here (politics/religion).


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In a couple of physics classes I heard the quote a few time's "The Universe must have know we were coming".

Good old Albert seems to have thought so too.

I don't know but some scientist get persuaded by their own work.

Fred Sherman

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I believe in God and I am a better person for having that moral compass. If I turn out to be wrong, no harm - no foul.

But if you are wrong, what have you lost?

As my granddaddy used to say, never bet what you can't afford.


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A god or goddess or whole pantheon families of them, are only a small part of the huge scope of religion.
So whether you "believe in"one or not has nothing at all to do with whether you are religious or not.
You can be deeply religious without the god stuff because the divine is not so limited as to be packed all in that package. You can also talk god stuff till the cows come home and do it to please the social customs of your group or to further a career.

Why people speak of "believing in" a god when they are dedicated to one is beyond me. Why speak of believing in something when that way of speaking logically implies what you "believe in" might not be there? The kind of person who says this generally gets quite fraught about "arguments for the existence of god." As if the rational debate matters in such a thing. Strange.

I don't "believe in" any god. I do find it hard to understand why many people are not aware of the ground under their feet, the feel of having a warm, breathing body, and the voice of the sacred. It's simply there. So if some can't hear the sound of the sacred I guess it's like not being able to hear the difference in kinds of music, or not seeing certain colours. They are not inferior but they use different tools.

My son for example has an eye not working. So he cant see perspective. It's no big deal. He functions efficiently just the same. The brain finds other pathways to cope. In the same way an atheist or agnostic finds perfectly workable ways of operating a morality, finding meaning to existence and all the rest of spirituality.
Everyone is spiritual. It just expresses in different ways. Some join organisations (religions) increasingly many do not. Some are comfy sayinmg they are outside the game but of course atheism and agnosticism are just variations on spirituality.
I have met people suffering from a low level of spirituality both as religious folk and atheists. I've also met those who are rich in spirituality in both groups.

In the end good manners around difference counts for a great deal. As long as children are safe, and domination accepted only by informed consent, all the faiths including atheism can provide a good life pattern.

Just don't obsess on "god." It only gets people heated and it has so little to do with spirituality anyway.


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I'm not a religious person myself, but I have absolutely no issue with those who do, provided they don't try and shove their beliefs down my throat. If believing in a diety gives someone strength, more power to them.

Myself, I believe that *if* there is a great architect (I believe in science, but am struggling with what set off the big bang, so I have not dismissed the idea of a creator altogether), it granted me the use of my brain for a reason, and thus, as long as I can believe in myself, I'm doing what is expected of me. All that's left is striving to be the best person I can be :)


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I believe in god, not because of religion (I belong to none), but because I feel love for others, as others feel love for me.

I refuse to believe that some random explosion magically created everything we see, hear, feel (emotion wise), touch and can taste.


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I believe in god, not because of religion (I belong to none), but because I feel love for others, as others feel love for me.

I refuse to believe that some random explosion magically created everything we see, hear, feel (emotion wise), touch and can taste.
Pretty slick, eh?

Well, chances are (odds - by far - they have been calculated)....it's true!

I find, however, the science does not affect spirituality - it may affect dogmas, but not the true mysteries. I'm more with Einstein on these things. That is, in my own words, the actual truth seems so much more fantastic and mysterious than all the fairly tales...that it keeps me completely amazed.

There was a recent news article about the exact chances of us NOT coming directly from apes and monkeys (early primates). The odds were honestly and mathematically calculated and came to something so far in the trillions that I could not even figure out how far it was! Maybe it was 10 with 34 zeros or something like that...

In a general sense, until proven otherwise, I'm with the billion/trillion as opposed to the other side...


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The idea that a god must be a "creator" is only one possibility in spirituality. It has been very dominant due to suppression of other ideas but other ways of knowing survived and are growing once more.
A "creator" makes "god" separate and superior, and leads to theologies of inferiority: sin, guilt and the idea of "salvation" (rescue) or else eternal damnation - something unique to Western Christianity. (No other religion insists on this nor ever did so.)

But there are very different kinds of spirituality where we start from a different idea. In immanent theology/ thealogy the sacred is not separate and superior, nor did it create anything separate as a kind of magical factory product.
Instead the sacred IS everything - you me and the computer and the tree. Always has been always will be.
There was no "beginning." There was no "big bang" of creation. (I understand that there is a growing school of science which m=now questions the big bang theory as well.)

In this view the sacred expands and contracts, moves or is almost stil - never really still, never really ending. Thus universes emerge and "die." But only to emerge from themselves again.
In this view we look within ourselves and within those we love human or otherwise, whatever we feel the most deeply, to connect to the sacred, not "upward" to something superior and outside.


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OK, who here has been "experienced"......

"In the lyrics, Hendrix invites the listener to break through and go beyond "your measly little world", to go on a journey, "Trumpets and violins I can hear in the distance, / I think they're calling our names. / Maybe now you can't hear them, but you will, ha-ha, / If you just take hold of my hand", and pleads to answer "yes" to the question, "Have you ever been experienced?"

That's spirituality, IMHO. Being able to occupy the larger realms of thought and experience - past the verbal and written word, to the direct electrical connection we all share with nature and humankind.

Sadik B

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I never agree with the hostility that both religious and athiests show for each other. That same hostility is very evidently visible in the OP. I say, let everyone make their own choice... :)
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