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Featured The Psychology of Atheism

Discussion in 'Religious Debates' started by Epic Beard Man, Feb 13, 2019.

  1. Epic Beard Man

    Epic Beard Man Bearded Philosopher

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    Not to be confused in its entirety with professor Paul C. Vitz's paper:The Psychology of Atheism but I found his paper quite interesting on the psychological aspect of atheism and the development of atheistic beliefs. Of course we in the psychology community believe there are a wide spectrum of beliefs concerning religion and metaphysics. Yes we indeed see the development of religious and irreligious beliefs as a development through personal experience. Nobody believes or disbelieves just because. There are developmental stages a person goes through before they solidify a particular life altering belief. I call it life altering, because for the atheist, they are not bound by any customary religious obligations nor observe any religious dietary customs.

    However, what I do see in a lot of atheists both in the background of philosophical writers and anecdotally more often than not, many (not all) come from religious backgrounds where there are two spectrums: either extremely religious and repressive or irreligious (religious in custom but not practicing). During my time in research researching dietary customs in religious households, I have seen that certain customs that are straight forward yet strict also tends to not just be allocated to merely what meals you're allowed to eat and not eat, but largely branches out into every aspect of one's life. These restrictions tend to also focus on behavior, what one can and cannot do even as something as benign as what type of clothing you ought to where can be scrutinized.

    For the irreligious growing up in a household where religion was not the focal point in the development of one's childhood would allow an easier transition into skepticism and the eventuality of developing hard atheist beliefs especially if one is a lover of the "hard sciences." Professor Vitz in his writing also highlights this when referring to specific socialization:

    "Another major reason for my wanting to become an atheist was that I desired to be accepted by the powerful and influential scientists in the field of psychology. In particular, I wanted to be accepted by my professors in graduate school. As a graduate student I was thoroughly socialized by the specific "culture" of academic research psychology. My professors at Stanford, however much they might disagree on psychological theory, were, as far as I could tell, united in only two things-their intense personal career ambition and their rejection of religion. As the psalmist says, ". . . The man greedy for gain curses and renounces the Lord. In the pride of his countenance the wicked does not seek him; all his thoughts are, 'There is no God'" (Psalm 10:3-4)."

    Atheism at least philosophically, is synonymous with freedom of expression, no constraints, autonomous thinking etcetera. One is devoid of a nagging deity or deities' rules and doctrinal regulations. One does not abide by any customary laws as they are seen as a matter of inconvenience as per Dr. Vitz in the following:

    "Finally, in this list of superficial, but nevertheless, strong irrational pressures to become an atheist, I must list simple personal convenience. The fact is that it is quite inconvenient to be a serious believer in today's powerful secular and neo-pagan world. I would have had to give up many pleasures and a good deal of time."

    But what is remarkable for me as an observer is that the issue I have with atheists is the same issues I have with theists concerning their belief. One side says "show me proof!" the other side says "the proof is here in this 2,000 year-old book The Future of an Illusion as his position seems to the most solid:

    [R]eligious ideas have arisen from the same needs as have all the other achievements of civilization: from the necessity of defending oneself against the crushing superior force of nature. (p. 21)

    Which Freud develops in idea that the composition of religious beliefs are:

    illusions, fulfillments of the oldest, strongest
    and most urgent wishes of mankind . . . As we
    already know, the terrifying impression of
    helplessness in childhood aroused the need for
    protection-for protection through love-which
    was provided by the father . . . Thus the benevolent rule of a divine Providence allays our fear of the danger of life. (p. 30)

    Quite interesting.....So I ask my fellow religionists, what say you in regards to this?
     
    #1 Epic Beard Man, Feb 13, 2019
    Last edited: Feb 13, 2019
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  2. Remté

    Remté Active Member

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    I think that unnecessarily assumes atheism is simply not following the written rules of any religion. There are plenty who don't follow them and are not atheists.
     
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  3. Epic Beard Man

    Epic Beard Man Bearded Philosopher

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    Elaborate....
     
  4. Remté

    Remté Active Member

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    The world is full of people who believe in God and yet do not follow - or possibly are not even aware of - the so called *constraints* of their religion. Atheists can hardly be due to their atheism praised for having no constraints or thinking autonomously.
     
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  5. viole

    viole Metaphysical Naturalist
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    Too complicated. Things are much easier.

    I don’t believe in God, because I do not believe in Mother Goose.
    And I do not believe in a numerable infinity of absurdities that have the same evidence of any god. So, I am de facto ecumenic for what concerns any belief without objective evidence. And Jesus, Allah, Mickey Mouse, the Blue Fairy, etc, they have all the same ontology, for what concerns evidence.

    So, either I arbitrarily pick one of these things, or I dismiss them all, pending additional evidence.

    The only connection I see with psychology is maybe an increased use of rational thought.

    Ciao

    - viole
     
    #5 viole, Feb 13, 2019
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  6. Unveiled Artist

    Unveiled Artist Veteran Member

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    There is a lot so it's hard for me to comment on the whole thing. I do disagree with most of it because it assumes that theism somehow is a default position to which when one is atheist it has to be an influence and studied and not accepted for what it is/is not.

    For example, the science part. I don't see how "hard atheists" can depend on science as a alternative to belief in god. Maybe the new-atheists, I don't know. The opposite of belief in god doesn't mean belief in science. The article doesn't take consideration other religions that many atheists follow which aren't theists focused at all.

    I read the whole thing (not the link) but I don't understand how personal experience can influence one to be an atheist. We are influenced to be theists growing up depending on where were are from and our parents. If we lived in a non-god area, I honestly feel there is no predisposition to believe in god. For example, not many people know what a payphone is; the younger generation. Yet, they existed.

    When young people grow older, payphones aren't in their line of reasoning. By default, they don't believe telephones exist. It takes a telephone theist influence (maybe by books or museums) to get them to believe it, who knows. But if those "proof" only comes from people's experiences, than the young would go towards his own experiences and observations if the former doesn't make sense to his reality.

    I do agree psychology has a lot to do with religion. To me, even the foundation of it. I don't see that as an atheist thing. Maybe the type of atheists in the article but that's a generalization.
     
  7. Remté

    Remté Active Member

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    This is again the presumption that just because they might not have the word God they don't believe in it.
     
  8. Unveiled Artist

    Unveiled Artist Veteran Member

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    What do you mean?

    I don't have the words and experiences of the Gita; so, that is why I don't believe in it. It needs to be 1. something I trust that is true 2. Part of my awareness once I hear or see it.

    For example, I trust my parent who tells me about her mother's mother because my parent told me and no one else.

    If a stranger told me about my great grandmother, I have no reason to trust that stranger because he is someone I don't know nor built a relationship with.

    These two people are alive in present day and talking about things that are well knowing to all people (we all have great grandmothers) regardless of our beliefs.

    God is not like that. We have to at least 1. Trust what books and/or people tell about it before we can even think about it's existence. Then 2. It needs to be in our form of awareness so we have somesort of experience and relationship with the information we are given about god.

    When one doesn't have a god-environment, there is no relationship, nor trust, nor awareness. There is nothing that makes god real but the thoughts and experiences of other strangers to whom he would have to trust and know in order to take their view into consideration.

    That statement already presumes god exists and some people are blind. It is a huge pessimistic view that one who has god should believe others have him as well.
     
  9. Remté

    Remté Active Member

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    God is part of a believer's awarness.
     
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  10. columbus

    columbus Conservative Catholic from Hell

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    I honestly believe that the large majority of non-theists are not atheists or agnostics. They are the apatheists who claim membership in some religious community or another. Who do so for reasons having nothing to do with theological ideology.
    Tom
     
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  11. Remté

    Remté Active Member

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    Many of them believe in God -
     
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  12. Unveiled Artist

    Unveiled Artist Veteran Member

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    It's just the believer's awareness, though. They have testimonies and experiences; but, just because they have these things doesn't mean they exist to other people. My experience of love is only felt (etc) by me. It's how that love defines me and vis versa and no one else.

    It would be wrong for me to think other people experience the same love as I do and even moreso, have the concept of the same love as me. It's just not in that other person's awareness to even consider it existing in the manner a believer would describe it.
     
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  13. columbus

    columbus Conservative Catholic from Hell

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    So do I.
    I just don't believe in religious God images. I see no reason to think the Creator cares about anything, much less what we humans believe, do, or what happens to us. And I see good reasons not to believe that.
    Tom
     
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  14. Quintessence

    Quintessence Tale Weaver
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    Some of that resonates with me as someone who pretty much grew up in an irreligious household. I mean, I was forced to do the church thing and Sunday school thing for a few years, but it was really more of a custom than the household being strongly religious. Having an inter-religious household may have had something to do with that. There were other things that grabbed my attention more, so I gravitated towards those. As I didn't have proper education about religion, I ended up dismissing it all as stupid and conflating all theism with things like "mother goose." From there, we have limited time to invest in learning and exploring things. I wasn't going to waste my time looking into the dumb superstition that was religious "fairy tales" and all that nonsense. Yeah, I was one of those atheists... because the environment I grew up in allowed for it.

    Fortunately, that same environment instilled in me a love of learning. It was only a matter of time before curiosity got the better of me and I pulled my head out of the dirt when it came to religion and theism. Not everybody has (or makes) the time to do that, though. My interest happened at the right place and the right time - when I was a college undergraduate and had a ton of free time to do my own research plus a huge arsenal of resources to sink my teeth into.
     
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  15. Unveiled Artist

    Unveiled Artist Veteran Member

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    They don't. Take a polytheist. They believe in gods. There are gods that aren't creators. Gods that represent or are the natural and physical environment.

    Even the word god isn't really appropriate to half the religions that have some sort of supernatural concept.
     
  16. LuisDantas

    LuisDantas Aura of atheification
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    This.
     
  17. Remté

    Remté Active Member

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    Yet, many of them do.
     
  18. LuisDantas

    LuisDantas Aura of atheification
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    Once again, I find myself impressed by the lengths some people go to lend complexity to the utterly simple thing that is atheism.

    In truth, at this point in history even the Abrahamics would benefit a lot from serious reconsideration of their theistic dogmas.

    It is plenty past the time when religious doctrine would be purer and more effective without that unwelcome baggage of theism - worse still, presumed universal monotheism.

    A doctrine that has at its core intentional disregard towards the reality of variety of stances toward god-concepts can't help but doom itself into disregard and fanaticism.
     
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  19. Unveiled Artist

    Unveiled Artist Veteran Member

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    They wouldn't be atheists and agnostics if they did.

    No one has a default of believing in god.
     
  20. Epic Beard Man

    Epic Beard Man Bearded Philosopher

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    Not really....
    Someone had to teach you the fable of Mother Goose and you had to categorize such fable in association with a metaphysical deity.

    You had to come up with a logical conclusion through a series of thought processes which concludes that such and such belief is absurd. so far, you're proving Dr. Vitz and myself right.

    Again, you did not come up with this belief all of a sudden. You had to go through as process like anyone else. The problem with atheists is they claim atheism is an easily defined belief that can be easily accessible as if there is proof of atheism. No. You went through the same or similar process as me.
     
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