F Rosa Rubicondior: Religion News - People Who Believe Absurdities Will Commit Atrocities!

Monday 18 March 2024

Religion News - People Who Believe Absurdities Will Commit Atrocities!

Why Religions Seem to Involve Outlandish Beliefs | Psychology Today

It's axiomatic that people who can believe absurdities can be persuaded to commit atrocities.

One only need look at the history of just about every world religion to know that is especially true of people who hold to religious beliefs, yet most religious people will look at other religions and wonder how on Earth they can believe that nonsense, while having no understanding why others who look at their beliefs have the same thoughts.

How many devout Christians, for example, would find nothing strange in the belief that the sun was swallowed each evening by the goddess Isis, who then gave birth to it every morning or that ancient Celtic chiefs physically mated with the Earth goddess at Tara to unite the Irish people with the land they lived on?

Yet those same Christians have no difficulty believing that the blood sacrifice of an innocent person can atone for collective 'sins' inherited from ancient ancestors or that the dismembered bodies of ancient holy men can somehow persuade a god to change his perfect plans for their better one, or an omniscient, omnibenevolent god needs to be told about a wrong and why if should be righted, or a mind-reading god needs to be told their thoughts.

And a Moslem who believes the founder of their religion split the moon in half and flew to Heaven on a magic flying creature finds it incomprehensible that saying prayers to a painting of an ancient holy man or priest can change the direction of the universe, or that the prohibition on 'graven images' doesn't apply to gold-covered icons or depictions of a god nailed to a stick, worn by people who believe tiny images of a blood sacrifice or miniature instrument of torture worn around their neck protects them from evil spirits?

There are even people who believe the sun can be made to perform strange maneuvers in the sky while no-one else on Earth noticed it and without Earth itself needing to suddenly change its speed and direction of rotation or orbital path round the sun. Even the leaders of a major branch of Christianity, with a whole panel of expert scientific advisors, believe that really happened and continue to send people to Fatima where it is alleged to have happened - just one of the many equally implausible and evidence-free beliefs orthodox Catholics needs to hold.

Even coeliac suffering Catholics can believe a piece of wafer, when the right spells are cast over it, miraculously becomes the body of a dead god to be consumed in a cannibalistic ritual, while knowing they need to avoid eating it to avoid the consequences of gluten intolerance! That's a condition of belonging to a cultural group called 'Catholics'.

And in defence of those bizarre and irrational beliefs, people will be induced to go to war and 'ethnically cleanse' people who reject their ridiculous notions, that the faithful would also find ridiculous if they were part of someone else's religion.

So, what it is about religions and cults in general, that can induce otherwise sensible people who can even cross a busy road without responsible adult supervision, to hold to such bizarre beliefs with such conviction and apparently oblivious of their impossibility?

According to a book by philosopher, Neil Van Leeuwen, Religion as Make-Believe: A Theory of Belief, Imagination, and Group Identity, the English word 'belief' can take two forms: one is a factual belief such as the belief that something that can be seen is really there - a pencil is on a table, a bus is at a bus stop, because they can be seen to be factual beliefs; and the other is 'groupish belief' where a claim is accepted as factual because the group believe it is.

Anyone can see a pencil on a table, or a bus is at a bus-stop, and will modify the belief if it is removed.

On the other hand, because the group believes Jesus rose from the dead and ascended bodily to Heaven, or because he was sacrificed to absolve us of 'sin', they really did happen, even though the believer never witnessed it. Heaven must be a real place and 'sin' must be something that needs to be absolved because the group believes them.

To modify those beliefs would be to leave the group and lose the group affiliation, and the cultural identity, that a shared belief conveys.

In other words, it's not the evidence that convinced the believe but the necessity to believe as a condition of group affiliation and cultural identity that is the 'evidence' on which belief is based.

It is the dilution of shared responsibility that makes the bizarre and irrational believable - 'every-one' else believes it so they must be right, no matter how stupid the belief is.

Bosniak Muslim men and boys - victims of Orthodox Christian fascists
And in the same way, dilution of shared responsibility makes an atrocity possible, and participating in it is a condition of group membership and cultural identity. So massacring 8000 Bosniak men and boys in Srebrenica, murdering Jews in the death camps or participating in the Armenian or Rwanda Genocides (to name three recent faith-based atrocities) was what the group did, and to be in the group meant participation in the atrocity. If you're not with us, you're against us.

Driven by the bizarre religious beliefs of America evangelicals, fools were persuaded that the serial adulterer, habitual liar and head of a family crime syndicate with an acute narcissistic personality disorder, Donald Trump, was ordained by God to lead America out of the clutches of a cabal of Satanic Paedophiles. So, without the slightest evidence to support those beliefs, other than that others of the cult believed them, a mindless mob of manipulated idiots were prepared to launch an attempted coup d’etat with the intention of killing the Vice President and leading Democrats and handing over power to the loser in a democratic election.

Ten Reasons To Lose Faith: And Why You Are Better Off Without It

This book explains why faith is a fallacy and serves no useful purpose other than providing an excuse for pretending to know things that are unknown. It also explains how losing faith liberates former sufferers from fear, delusion, and the control of others, freeing them to see the world in a different light, to recognise the injustices that religions cause and to accept people for who they are, not which group they happened to be born in. A society based on atheist, Humanist principles would be a less divided, more inclusive, more peaceful society and one more appreciative of the one opportunity that life gives us to enjoy and wonder at the world we live in.

Available in Hardcover, Paperback or ebook for Kindle


What Makes You So Special? From The Big Bang To You

How did you come to be here, now? This books takes you from the Big Bang to the evolution of modern humans and the history of human cultures, showing that science is an adventure of discovery and a source of limitless wonder, giving us richer and more rewarding appreciation of the phenomenal privilege of merely being alive and able to begin to understand it all.

Available in Hardcover, Paperback or ebook for Kindle


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