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Are Religious Believers Stupid?

Are religious believers stupid? I get this question all the time ironically enough I get it the most from religious believers. My answer to this question is almost always the same. “Smart people can believe stupid things.” There is no doubt that the belief in the all-powerful god as described in the Torah/Bible/Koran based off of no valid evidence is stupid. It would be like me telling people that the Lorax or Voltemort are real based off of my reading of The Lorax and the Harry Potter books.

It is important to note that all of humankind’s technical advances were made off the shoulders of those who came before us. Charles Babbage couldn’t have invented the computer is Thomas Edison had not created the light bulb. But progress isn’t the only thing that advances of the shoulders of giants. Religious persuasion does too. Just as no person is smarter than the collective wisdom of humankind, no person is smarter than the collective system of religious manipulation.

Christianity is over 2000 years old and Judaism is almost three times as old. Over that time, these religious systems have been developed. They have evolved in such a way that they have become masters of indoctrination and manipulation. These systems start working on people almost immediately after they are born and they pervade our entire society and culture. It is very hard to reach the age of two without already believing in the unbelievable. Some people will surely slip throw the cracks and other will just not focus on that belief or not hold that belief in god strongly. But by the time a child is five years old, whether they believe in an imaginary god or not, they are at the very least aware that other smarter people than they do believe these things. Walk through any town in the country and you will find more churches than schools or libraries. Any curious child walking through town would surely ask what those fancy buildings are for.

Even after childhood, religious systems are not content with just indoctrination. No, these systems have evolved to deal with the possibility that people can slip through the cracks of indoctrination and so other systems of manipulation developed. The religious system has learned to attack people when they are most vulnerable. When emotions run high and people aren’t thinking rationally for a moment or two, religion takes advantage of the situation. Funerals, weddings, when people are down on their luck, after a devastating event or when someone narrowly escapes death, religion is right there ready to manipulate. The religious people who do the manipulations aren’t doing it out of malice either. They too have usually been manipulated into thinking that manipulating others is a good thing. They usually don’t even realize what they are doing and when they do, they see it as part of a greater good.

We are all human and we all are subject to these same systems of manipulation. Even smart people are not smarter than the collective system of manipulation of religious belief. It is only when we are faced with significant questions which religion can’t answer and when we start to focus on the holes in the religious system that we start to question. Sometimes, we start to see those holes on our own. Sometimes, we debate or discuss religion with non-believers and something they say quietly triggers us to think critically. But one thing is certain, how smart someone is has little to do with religious belief.

However, people who focus their time in the fields of science and philosophy tend to see the holes in religion much more because those holes are right in front of them. Those people are also trained to think critically and to question everything. Generally speaking, those in the fields of science and philosophy also tend to be academic minded and intelligent people. But it isn’t that we out-smart the system of religious manipulation, it is that these people and others embrace the system of critical thinking which often times makes short work of the system of religious manipulation.

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  • http://www.examiner.com/x-11708-Philadelphia-Reason--Religion-Examiner ShaunPhilly

    Christianity is closer to around 1900 years old or so. You know, those guys didn’t make it up until the 50′s or 60′s, and most of the rest of the NT was not written until closer to 100 CE.

    • Graham

      The founder of modern Christianity is Paul, but most Christian would say its Jesus. So getting into a debate about the date when Christianity was founded would evolve into a argument on whether Jesus existed or not.

      Must Christians treat the assurtion that Jesus never existed right up there with how seriously I take 9/11 conspirisy theorists, so I usually do not go there.

      • Graham

        Most Christians…

  • Steve

    My parent’s pastor did the ceremony at my Grandmother’s funreal back in March. This was in accordance with my Grandmother’s last wishes, to comfort my parents who are both christains.The pastor approached me afterwords and started talking to me about God.
    Right in the front row, standing in front of my Grandmother’s flowers and picture(she was cremated as per her request so there was no coffin). If I had not known that it was her request to have him there, I would have asked him to leave,as calmly as possible.
    So yeah, I can confirm that they strike when you are most vunerable.

  • Loic Phoenix

    Dangerous get RELIGION banned! Its keeping us already irrational humans, more deeply irrational into which they think they are speaking rationally to an irrational mind. <— CONTRADICTION of the RELIGIOUS MIND; World wide Ban of religion !

    • http://www.dangeroustalk.net Staks

      I don’t think that would be a good idea. It is a much better strategy to educate people about religion rather than to play into religion’s own persecution complex.

      • Loic Phoenix

        How can you educate people about something they do not want to be educated about? Only people with doubts would willingly be educated which means you are like religion attacking people who are vunlerable. So you can not religion at its own game sense it has been going on for thousands of years. Its like trying to make a communist country a democracy. Its harder to change traditional economys. But what you should do is get religion BANNED WORLD WIDE. ITs stopping the advancement of our society. As I quote bertrand russell my favorite philospher, i hope you actually take time to understand it;
        “It is possible that mankind is on the threshold of a golden age; but, if so, it will be necessary first to slay the dragon that guards the door, and this dragon is religion.”

        Anti-Religion Movement 2k9
        Contact me : N.o@gmx.us

        • http://myspace.com/scott888 Scott

          In California I was taught evolution in 6th grade. It was the first I heard of it. We learned about the fossil evidence and the history of how people came to be. In that classes, I never once observed anyone protesting evolution being taught. Then I moved to Virginia and I wrote an essay about evolution in 8th and got called an atheist before I even knew what an atheist was. Apparently in Virginia they don’t teach evolution.

          I had a community college professor in a biology 101 class in Virginia dodge the bullet of evolution by saying we didn’t come from apes but creatures do change over time. Then later that semester when we got to the relevant chapter it he told us we did come from apes. And we skipped the chapter that explained human evolution in detail.

          My knowledge of evolution along with my personal research in astronomy got me to drop religion altogether just before I started 10th grade. I’m almost 27 now and have been an atheist for 11 years now.

          It is clear the education needs to be much much better in the US. Currently though it is beneficial for one political party to keep sciences down.

          You can’t ban religion in our nation due to freedom of religion in our constitution. And overthrowing the government to make a new one that bans religion will get us a nasty dictatorship.

    • ProgRockGirl

      I agree it’s gullibility. It’s also people wanting to believe they’re special. It isn’t just Judeo-Christianity I see this with either; I saw a lot of it in paganism. Well, a person can still feel like they’re special for seeing through all this bullshit.

    • ProgRockGirl

      Banning things usually just makes them go underground. Wasn’t early Christianity banned, and underground? That made them all the more powerful in the long run.

  • fernanie

    My father is a preacher man. I found it amazing that at his own fathers funeral (my grandfather), he just preached about how is chilhood friends death led him to Jesus. He had read a pamphlet that qouted jesus as saying “I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live.And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die”(-John 11:25-26).

    I find this disturbing. Instead of remembering his father’s love and honoring him, he preached. WTF? They sung church hymns and “Praised God”. What fucking assholes. My grand father was akin to a stranger to men but shit, can he get some love at his funeral? The funeral is supposed to be about him, celebrating his life and dealing with the grief his passing caused. Instead it was a surreal escape from reality and event for the propagation of this stupid dogma.

    Funny Irony, when I was a small child a would preach to my grand father. He eventually went to church and was “SAVED”. Fuck me!lol. Now I am a fucking outspoken atheist.

    The genius of that it encourages followers to constantly reinforce the faith. To incorporate it into every aspect of their lives. To use every moment to “Glorify His Name”. To think of this life as temporary and expendable. To not see value or meaning in life without “Jesus”. To be dependent and pray to understand “His Will”. It is pretty sick shit.

  • http://myspace.com/misstea43 Miss Tea

    “people who focus their time in the fields of science and philosophy tend to see the holes in religion much more because those holes are right in front of them.”

    Believe me, they also see the holes in science and philosophy…. It would be nice if we could answer all the existential questions during our lifetimes but I don’t think there’s a snowball’s chance in hell…..

    • http://myspace.com/scott888 Scott

      But science and philosophy can adapt when new information is obtained, the bible is the perfect word of God and while the church tries to adapt, the book that is the proof of their God has tight rules. Back in the middle ages, the bible was only in Latin so nobody knew what it really said except for what a priest would tell them and there was a reason for that, the church didn’t follow the bible 100%. Look at medieval cathedrals with their graven images and gargoyle statues which is a violation of one of the commandments. Nowadays the church knows that most people won’t take the time to even open a bible and read the whole thing.

      I don’t really know philosophy but science is always answering new questions. Evolution and the big bang might have some issues due to being unable to see the past but these have more evidence than any other explanation out there. And so far, I have a hard time believing these theories could ever be completely rejected because the evidence is overwhelming.

  • Dave

    It is strange that the very stupid or uneducated tend to be religious, and the very smart and/or very educated tend to be not religious. Just saying.

  • http://myspace.com/scott888 Scott

    Religious people aren’t necessarily stupid but they are gullible. People were breed to be sheep in the middle ages and those who questioned were killed.

    Also, consider the population of believers in the deep south. Then consider that it takes less intelligence to live in the south. When the Pilgrims came to the US they got seriously owned by the first winter. I think the first generations of people in the US that lived in the north dealt with rough winters that only more organized and structured people could deal with while the southern climate is more forgiving. So we had the industrial revolution appears most heavily in the north when it happened while the south stayed with farms.

    People can be smart, average, or stupid in a variety of areas but most people don’t have the right combination of numbers to break the grips of religion.

  • http://poweressence.com/ Maxwell Jennings

    Mystical thinking of any kind (creating virtual realities in the mind based on beliefs and assumptions without any base in reality) will influence even the smartest person to do stupid things.

    • Loic Phoenix

      I once read a book.,. A book that said the world was first a big ball of water.,. A big ball of water floating in space.,.This book was the bible. How can water exist without land? Water Co-Exist with land. H2O<- Oxygen is produced by plants. Cant have water without Oxygen. I guess that’s also ignored in the bible. fuckin idiots. believing in age old stories that got taken too far. Im tired of hearing people say i need Jesus’, or the devil is in me. FUCK YOU , i guess the devil in me means ‘Common Sense’

  • http://myspace.com/blackhawk089 Matt

    First of all, it is your hugely due to the fact that you have 0 spiritual discernment that you see the actions of Christians as manipulative. Why? You have hardened your heart completely against any possibility of God existing, and don’t tell me you havn’t because I don’t buy it. If God came up and punched you in the face and said, hey, I’m real. You’d probably just say the classic, then why’d you go through such pains to hide yourself? Study the facts again, because not only did Jesus exist, he did what he claimed he’d do…..but I’ll stop with the preaching because you don’t care.

    I am open to the possibility that God is not real, because if he isn’t….it makes absolutely no difference to anything about my life. So what if I die and I’m wrong, it won’t matter then….I lived a partial lie…but I did my best to be “moral” and help others….so it won’t matter if I’m wrong.

    Another thing I find hilarious is that the entire basis for your worldview is naturalism, it has to be if there is no God, I see nothing else you can put there. When science exploded in the 1600′s and 1700′s…the driving factor behind this was that people thought that since God created this universe…it could be made rationally intelligible. The entire foundation of our boom in science was based on the idea that God created what we have, and therefore it can be understood. That one gets me everytime….something I learned fairly recently….

    • http://myspace.com/scott888 Scott

      “First of all, it is your hugely due to the fact that you have 0 spiritual discernment that you see the actions of Christians as manipulative. Why? You have hardened your heart completely against any possibility of God existing, and don’t tell me you havn’t because I don’t buy it. If God came up and punched you in the face and said, hey, I’m real. You’d probably just say the classic, then why’d you go through such pains to hide yourself? Study the facts again, because not only did Jesus exist, he did what he claimed he’d do…..but I’ll stop with the preaching because you don’t care.”

      ROFL, spiritual? The word spiritual is used by Christians when they need to make produce an argument. Then hardening one’s heart to the existence of a God? Good way to make the one’s you want to convert appear evil while making yourself look good in the eye’s of the gullible.

      “I am open to the possibility that God is not real, because if he isn’t….it makes absolutely no difference to anything about my life. So what if I die and I’m wrong, it won’t matter then….I lived a partial lie…but I did my best to be “moral” and help others….so it won’t matter if I’m wrong.”

      But living without God does make a difference. Right now, you live as a peasant in a feudal system by being a peasant to an imaginary God. But as an atheist, you are no longer in a feudal system, but rather in a democracy where the power is in your hands. Believing just in case God is real is a waste on a chunk of your life.

      “Another thing I find hilarious is that the entire basis for your worldview is naturalism, it has to be if there is no God, I see nothing else you can put there. When science exploded in the 1600’s and 1700’s…the driving factor behind this was that people thought that since God created this universe…it could be made rationally intelligible. The entire foundation of our boom in science was based on the idea that God created what we have, and therefore it can be understood. That one gets me everytime….something I learned fairly recently….”

      Well, you just don’t comprehend how a world can exist with no God. Time is the 4th dimension and the rate it goes by varies depending on gravitation fields and whatnot. We don’t know what happened before the big bang but I highly suspect the big bang is part of a bigger cycle. The big crush hypothesis is a possibility but if it isn’t, then my hypothesis is that time is somehow a cycle and the universe is of an infinite existence. Maybe the big bang is a result of some event in the greater universe, if such a thing exists. There is also dimensions beyond the 4th dimension we cannot comprehend and I suspect that if we traveled in one direction long enough in space we’d reemerge on the other side, just like on Asteroids the arcade game. Much like on Earth, you and your friend can walk in a straight line in opposite directions and meet on the other side. We live in a complex world the answer of “God did it” is just a cop out for doing real research.

      I also want to point out that a group of people known as aspies are known for their love of complex explanations and all of them regardless of how religious they are accept evolution. What this says to me that the reason for evolution not being accept is not necessarily that it conflicts with religion but rather it is an explanation too difficult for them to swallow.

    • http://www.dangeroustalk.net Staks

      Matt, I see the system of Christianity as manipulative because it is manipulative. When you drill into the heads of children that they ought to believe in something while at the same time discouraging the teaching of critical thinking skills that is manipulative. Second, I do hold open the possibility (however slim) that a god of some type might exist, but I reject the Christian God existence the same way I reject the existence of any fictional character. Interestingly enough an atheist friend of mine and I were just discussing what we would say if we died and there was a God. I will probably have a blog about that next week. As far as Jesus, I am pretty sure he did not exist.

      If you believe that not believing in God wouldn’t change your life at all, than I have to seriously question how seriously you really believe. For one thing, you would probably reject creationism since there was no creator. Your issues with homosexual marriage would no longer be valid since the Bible would not be the word of God and gays would not be an “abomination.” Your entire moral compass would spin around.

      As for Naturalism, the enlightenment thinking of the 1600 and 1700s came about through deism and atheism rather than theism. People started to reject Christianity and think on their own about the world. Some “naturalists” like Franklin, Jefferson, Paine, etc. rejected Christianity and the Christian God, but couldn’t solve some of the philosophical problems of the argument by design. So they took the deist view that a god created the world and that was that. The world was the creator’s holy book. Other naturalists like Voltaire and Rousseau were very atheistic. One thing is clear however and that is that Christianity has been and continues to be an obstruction to science and human progress.

  • http://myspace.com/blackhawk089 Matt

    I was actually referencing Whiteheads Thesis, Law in Nature because they believed in the law giver.

    “Matt, I see the system of Christianity as manipulative because it is manipulative. When you drill into the heads of children that they ought to believe in something while at the same time discouraging the teaching of critical thinking skills that is manipulative.”

    Who does that? I do not know any Christians that do this. My parents didn’t do this. I am not going to do this to my children. You make these broad generic statements that somehow should apply to Christians as a whole, but they don’t at all. Where would one even get this idea from Christianity? The Bible encourages us to use our reason and intellect to further understand God and the world we live in.

    “If you believe that not believing in God wouldn’t change your life at all, than I have to seriously question how seriously you really believe.”

    I think you may have misunderstood. I was talking in regards to the end of my life. However even so, if I did end up rejecting Christianity my views on homosexuality would not change nor would my views on any thing moral really. However I simply cannot on any intellectual level find myself rejecting Jesus, there is way to much evidence. My rational tells me that we do not get ought’s from is’s. If morality simply IS the case and there is no objective standard, then I can do whatever I want with no one to truly answer to. In essence there are really no oughts if morality simply IS. This argument can be taken to several levels.

    • http://www.dangeroustalk.net Staks

      Matt, I have one word for you, “Faith.” But even if that were not enough to prove that Christianity as a system discourages freethought and critical thinking, I will also point out that Christian parents raise Christian children pretty early on before the children have a chance to think for themselves. This is the same with most religions and it is MANIPULATIVE!!! Third, I also wrote about the anti-intellectualism in the Bible before, so I won’t rehash an old blog. But there is a category search in the side bar so feel free to re-read that blog entry.

      As for morality, we are not talking about an is from an ought. I also wrote a blog on Moral Grounding before (search the category in the sidebar). If you truly think that without an invisible deity to keep you in line, you would not be accountable for your actions, than I encourage you to test that out. Even if no one is looking and you are pretty sure you could get away with it, go ahead and try killing someone. Let me know how far you get. Of course, you should pray to God first and let him know that you are just doing an experiment and that you will repent for your sin right afterword. God will know you are sincere, so it shouldn’t be a problem.

      • http://www.atheistnexus.org/profile/DianaGraves Diana

        Your conversation is interesting and it reminds me of a recent conversation I had with a ten year-old little girl.

        This little girl has no one, really. She’s been tossed about between her flaky father and unemotional mother, so she has attached herself to the only constant in her life, me.
        We were working out together last week and out of the blue she told me she was an Atheist. Her father forces her to attend church, and has since she was born.

        I didn’t jump at the chance to encourage and drill atheism into her. I told her that she has her own mind, and her own life, and that decisions of this magnitude should not be made on a whim.

        What should have been different if a vulnerable little girl had said the same to a religious person, I wonder?

        You’re very lucky Matt, to not have run into pushy Christians…ironically.

        Though, I think that the religion on a whole is rather manipulative and as a Christian child, I can tell you it’s scary.
        I can’t think of a time while at church that anyone was mean or pushy. Everyone was real nice and I loved going to church…it was the teachings that scared me.

        My mom was single when I was a child and she dated men. I would cry so hard and so long at night. I feared for her soul. She was having relations with men out of wedlock and that’s a sin. I had nightmares every night; I was so scared to die. I kept thinking, what if I’m not Christian enough. What if God is mad because his son was murdered for me and I’m not good enough? These aren’t questions a 4 yr old should be pondering. At a time when I should be worried about my ABC’s and boy cuties, I’m freaking out because I was scared of hell. I know not everyone is me, but the idea of a god that loves you so much that he had his own son murdered as a ritual human sacrifice for our benefit, and that if we don’t believe and take this murder into our hearts that we will be forever punished in death, in whatever manner, IS scary and it has a big impact on a child’s mind and thus their development. Impacting a child’s mental development is manipulation.

        And don’t get me started on the implications of an ultimate evil, Satan…I can’t count how many nightmares I had for fear of Satan when I was a child. Scary shit.

      • http://myspace.com/blackhawk089 Matt

        “If you truly think that without an invisible deity to keep you in line, you would not be accountable for your actions, than I encourage you to test that out.”

        You misunderstand. I said without a law giver, there is no law. Saying there is a moral standard assumes that something set that standard, and God is the only thing big enough to do that. I am talking about a rational basis for which you can account for the fact that there IS objective morality. Axiological argument ftw.

        I also think you have a very different meaning for the word “faith” than I do. Faith is a belief in something hoped for but not seen, but faith is also based on evidence. I have faith in my wife’s love, there is some evidence behind that but it still boils down to faith. It is somewhat the same situation, my faith in God is also based on evidence.

        • http://www.dangeroustalk.net Staks

          I think you are miss applying the analogy of Moral Laws. Moral laws aren’t this universally objective thing as you think it is. Nor is it a universally subjective thing either. The ultimate law giver is US as a collective society.

          Your definition of faith just amounts to trust. I think faith is supposed to be something more than trust. It is trust without the backup. You claim there is evidence or your God… present it.

  • http://myspace.com/blackhawk089 Matt

    Morality isn’t universally objective? Interesting….so in Bosnia its ok for me to rape little girls, as long as the culture is cool with it? Going down that road fails miserably…..WE could not possibly set the standard for morality, for we are inconsistent and sway in our emotions throughout time. Morality has not evolved, I think you think it has but I would disagree. Simply because we as a culture have recognized its wrong to OWN another person does not mean that by that fact alone it is now immoral. It was always immoral always to own another life and treat them like dirt, in this way morality has not evolved. It has remained constant, and is to this day universally objective. There can be no other way or morality falls apart completely.

    • http://www.dangeroustalk.net Staks

      Matt, I think you missed the part where I said, “Nor is it a universally subjective thing either.” I also said that I already wrote a blog entry on this and I really get tired of repeating myself. So why don’t you re-read that blog (search the category in the sidebar). But if you think it is okay for you to go raping some little girl in Bosnia, than by all means give it a try. I don’t think you would get very far.

  • SmilodonsRetreat

    Heck yeah!