Friday, 23 April 2010

Update on godliness

I'm still an atheist.


flensr said...

I wouldn't dream of trying to change your mind or convert you to any sort of religion, but here is something to consider as a pure thought experiment. For what it's worth, although I don't consider myself atheist, I also do not have any personal faith that any particular god exists in any religious framework.

1. Set your personal beliefs, any pride, any ego, personal knowledge, and any possible belief that your opinion about religion or god is better than anyone elses.

2. Imagine any or all of the benefits you might get from being "religious" and belonging to a church. Example benefits include free food some weekends (as a bachelor you're often excluded from bringing food to church events), and a social network that can help you out if you ever need, well, help.

3. Imagine the drawbacks of the afore-mentioned church membership. Drawbacks might include a loss of a portion of self-identity (the flip-side of increasing conformity), being pressured into giving money to the church, and being subjected to having to listen to a variety of truly stupid and ignorant ideas about everything the other church members think they know something about.

3a. Discard any drawback reference to participation in crusades or other past idiocy. Few mainstream churches expect you to go crusading these days, and it's kind of dumb to make current-day personal decisions based on the poor behavior of people who have been dead for a long time.

4. Tally up the benefits and drawbacks, and then compare them against your current, atheist existence. Some drawbacks will of course be a wash. For example, even though you don't go to church, you are still subjected to the stupid ignorant opinions of other people who think they know something about everything.

5. Decide if you would be better or worse off, completely objectively, if you were "religious" and went to church, regardless of the fact that you are convinced that "they" are all wrong.

6. If you are able to objectively come up with enough benefits to outweigh the drawbacks of religion and church membership, add back in ego, pride, personal knowledge, and examine the effect it would have on you if you decided to embrace religion on a purely objective, benefits vs. cost basis.

7. Imagine you have a family, with a spouse and children who would share those costs and benefits but who, in the case of the children, will likely adopt as "normal" the conditions they grow up with.

I ran this experiment myself, and decided that for most people, the social support structure alone may be worth the cost of conforming. All societies expect a degree of conformity, but religious groups often offer a tangible benefit in return for conforming to their behavioral standards and belief systems.

AS-4-L said...

You know, being religious sounds a lot like being in prison :)

Catana/Sylvie Mac said...

Prison. I'd agree, somewhat. Especially when being religious is based on a cost/benefit analysis. I thought religion was supposed to be about faith. I'll stick with atheism, thanks.