User:Woozle/2007-07-03 chat

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From #ethics, 2007-07-03:

<TeneIsTheInternet> Basically it comes down to Why did none of my friends ever tell me that I was wrong about the whole 'god' thing?
<TeneIsTheInternet> I have several friends that I know of that were completely aware that I was wrong, but nobody ever pulled me aside and said Hey, Stephen, I hate to tell you this... but your parents lied to you. You've been wasting your life chasing after something that's not real.
<TeneIsTheInternet> It took me several years of wasted effort, a couple of painful years, and some extremely painful and unpleasant months to figure out for myself. I feel kind of upset that nobody who knew better helped me with that. Is that unreasonable to feel? Am I missing some important reason that they didn't besides it not being socially appropriate to disagree with religion? ...
<TeneIsTheInternet> ... I mean, if I was going to make a very poor financial decision, like investing in a pyramid scheme because I didn't know better, I feel fairly certain that many of my friends would warn me against it. If I were to start using drugs recreationally, many of my friends would ...
<TeneIsTheInternet> ... help educate me of the dangers and things to be aware of.
<TeneIsTheInternet> Since discovering that I was wrong about all that God garbage and working to deprogram myself, my life has improved very significantly, but nobody ever told me There's a better way to live. They all just said It's fine if you believe in God. That's just fine for you. and such, but it's *not* fine.
<TeneIsTheInternet> Believing in religion was harmful to me, and nobody ever told me this.
<TeneIsTheInternet> I think I'm starting to repeat myself now, so I'll stop.
<TeneIsTheInternet> Just... is that inaccurate? Was there a good reason that none of my friends ever told me that?
<TeneIsTheInternet> That issue is the main reason that I've been hesitant to share this with others, that if nobody else told me, maybe there's a good reason for me not to tell others, but I sure don't see it.
<TeneIsTheInternet> I *really* want to hear Woozle's response to this.
<TeneIsTheInternet> Also, nobody stopped my parents from brainwashing me into that from childhood.
<TeneIsTheInternet> Nobody even *objected*.
<TeneIsTheInternet> How can society be okay with that?
<TeneIsTheInternet> remind me in the morning to post the follow-up conversation.
<Sotek> heh
<TheWoozle> Some answers, and not necessarily everything I have to say on the subject:
<TheWoozle> (1) People (including atheists) are generally taught, from early childhood, not to criticize people's religion.
<TheWoozle> The feeling that I got, at least, was that it would be kind of like criticizing how someone goes to the bathroom; it's personal, and none of your business, and they're not hurting anyone, so leave it alone. Etc.
<TheWoozle> This is one of Dawkins's main points in The God Delusion: we're way too polite about religion. Although religion and science can co-exist peacefully (says I), the fundamental premise of religion is anti-scientific, and unless religion is kept in check (or eliminated altogether as Dawkins apparently wants, although this isn't 100% clear), religion works to undermine science. As we are seeing now.
<TheWoozle> (2) Knowing that religion can be a really big deal for some people -- the basis of their entire philosophy of life, gives them the confidence to survive the day, etc. -- one doesn't want to make them go through the pain of having that rug pulled out from under them, and possibly seeing them become more cynical when they aren't able to find something to replace it with.
<TheWoozle> I want to add ...even though you know they'll probably be better off in the long run, but (a) although I *felt* that this was true growing up, I didn't really have any evidence to back it up, and (b) it smacks of this is for your own good condescension.
<TheWoozle> And so as long as they really *aren't* hurting anyone, it seems wrong to force the issue...
<TheWoozle> But now, with all this anti-science stuff floating around and influencing policy and getting people like Bush into office, they're not hurting anyone just isn't true anymore.
<TheWoozle> (It still seems wrong to attack religion *as such* however; the important thing is to attack those attributes of religion which are problematic, e.g. preferring faith over evidence, allowing God did it and other mind-deactivating exercises to pass as explanations, and so on.)
* TheWoozle rereads the Tenepost to see if there's more to say...
<TheWoozle> (3) Well, who knows -- there *might be* a God.
<TheWoozle> There's nothing provably wrong about the basic premise, and using God as a working hypothesis can help with making difficult choices.
<TheWoozle> (The bad part is all the assumptions you're then asked to swallow about God: that he wrote this book with all this horrible barbaric stuff in it, and that we're somehow supposed to derive a moral code from that even though no two people agree on what it means; that this being is concerned with our daily lives, is good, *and* yet allows all the ugly stuff in the world to proceed without any explanation... etc. etc. etc.)
<TheWoozle> But everyone is also trained not to talk about the details of their religious beliefs (outside of church, anyway), so it doesn't generally come up.
<TheWoozle> (1a) People frown -- or at least it *feels* like people frown -- on overt attempts to get a believer to question their faith. Especially other believers.
<TheWoozle> It can feel like nothing better than trying to get someone to switch religions; you're *selling* them something, not giving them something useful.
<TheWoozle> (Never mind that the whole of science is based on the idea of questioning, and that science *encourages* questioning its most fundamental beliefs -- questioning *religious* beliefs is still taboo.)
<TheWoozle> (1b) Friendship is more important than being right.
<TheWoozle> (4) This is why I've been writing about this stuff*: nobody told you There's a better way, but now at least the information will be out there.
<TheWoozle> *as have many others, but they generally seem to be approaching it from the logical standpoint, i.e. exposing all the logical inconsistencies with religion but generally *not* giving examples of sound, decent personal philosophy *not* based on religion -- much less how you might derive one without starting from pre-digested morality of some kind.
<TheWoozle> I don't think there's any harm in you sharing your experiences with others -- especially if you present it in a form where people don't have to confront it if they're not ready (for which writing on the web seems to be the best medium -- easily available but easy to avoid).