This post is the result of reading other posts that address god and atheism.
For the atheist, you may already know of the difficulty of challenging religious belief. It even makes sense to me why you would chose to deny god. You can use certain valid and truthful arguments to challenge any religion, but as you well know, if you have tried, they will deny you, no matter what you say. Trying to deny gods existence is far more difficult. In fact, most atheists don’t try. They simply decide that god is not provable and therefore, they have no reason to believe he exists.
For the believer who won’t accept their own faults, you like to claim that any challenge to your religion is a challenge to god. So you insist that the atheist that challenges you has the problem and must just hate god. Numbers are irrelevant, so I will just say that not all atheist hate god or even deny him. Some have become atheists only because faith alone is just not enough evidence for them, they do not deny the possibility of god however.
Some atheist who come to believers actually want very much to know god because they have faith and are just looking for more evidence. If they try, and use the wrong approach, they will likely be immediately attacked and if they have not yet identified themselves as atheist, they will be called that. Even if they use the right approach, the chances they will be successful are still slim.
Before I go any further, let me explain the real problem, so I won’t have to explain the things that I will write. The human being, as a species, no matter where you think we came from or how we got here, has demonstrated throughout history, that this problem exists. The problem is that we all have difficulty understanding and accepting truth.
Since we are all different, we solve this problem in different ways. But most of the solutions are similar enough that they are not hard to understand, but the variations in the applications of the solution creates groups. It’s the differences between these groups that have caused virtually all the worlds problems. The problems for the individual are the same, but any damage is usually localized and not on the level of the group.
Understanding Truth is actually a Black & White problem. You either believe in it or you don’t. So you don’t fool yourself, if you tell yourself truth is relative, then you don’t believe in it. And for the religious types, if you say the only truth is gods truth, then you don’t believe in it either. For those few of you that believe Truth is absolute and independent of human perception then congratulations, you are closer than the rest to understanding truth.
For those of you who came closest to understanding truth, if you do think you understand it, please send me a comment with an explanation, I’m still struggling with it.
The second, and biggest part of the problem, is accepting truth. For all of us, this a is matter of having the evidence we need to verify anything as true. This is where the problem begins. The evidence needed to verify a truth is different for each individual.
Some people need very little evidence to accept something as true. They are usually considered by most people to be either too trusting or a fool, depending on your personal perspective and your concern for other peoples feelings. For a criminal, they are considered a mark. At the other end, some people require a tremendous amount of evidence, and often wear the label of skeptic, or, for the religious types, a doubting thomas. And the rest of us fall somewhere in between.
The labels provided aren’t important, they’re just there to help establish the concept of the scale. Someone can be a fool for reasons that vary by individual. The same is true for skeptic, depending on your definition.
The important thing to remember is that once accepted, a truth becomes a belief.
Even for those who require a lot of evidence to verify something as true, a belief is often used as evidence to support accepting another truth.
This is a problem for all of us. The belief used as evidence is only good for evidence if it is true. If the belief was recently obtained, then before using it as evidence, we might reconsider it, depending on how certain we are about its’ truth.
Even for those who are tough to convince, the longer we believe something, the deeper it gets in our memory and becomes what I call an “established belief”. These are the worst kind of belief, because they can be considered such reliable evidence that an individual will use them as the only evidence needed to verify a new truth(This reliability is, fortunately, relatively difficult to achieve because of certain requirements.) Even worse is that we can so sure of their truth( a level that varies both on the individual, or conditional requirements) that any evidence that contradicts them is denied off-hand, or not even considered, so arguments to dislodge them have little chance of success.
For myself, I have an established belief in the existence of god. I see no way that any evidence could come forth that would contradict that belief. I have, however, managed to eliminate most of the established beliefs of god and the effect of that has helped my peace of mind tremendously.
The fabric of society is woven by the commonality of our beliefs. The greater the number of beliefs shared, the stronger the fabric of that society. The fewer beliefs shared, the weaker that fabric becomes. The “unity” of a people can also describe this fabric.
For those who we might consider enemies, weakening the fabric is intended to make it easier to rip apart, thus destroying us, if they wish only to control us, then weakening the fabric is intended to make resistance harder, either way, the enemy succeeds and we lose.
The same goes true for groups, but with variations.
Of course the success of an enemy depends on his being hidden. Hiding is easiest if you are not noticed. If the enemy is noticed, remaining hidden depends on the level of attention you receive, and the effectiveness of your countermeasures.
For a nation, this is accomplished fairly easily because most people focus their attention elsewhere, not on an unseen enemy, who’s existence is easily denied. This focus is usually on a group of their choice.
For a group, they have shared established beliefs, so it’s members are not only focused on the group, they are committed to it because of the reinforcement of those beliefs. (think of the basic concept of the safety in numbers idea and this reinforcement is easy to understand). Because of this commitment, the members will accept new truths from the group without question. These new truths immediately become shared established beliefs and therefore increase reinforcement of the shared establish beliefs which increases commitment. Critics of this process refer to the new truths as propaganda, and describe the reason for it’s success as “GroupThink”.
Of course, the group has a leader, which, at first, is usually the person responsible for the creation of the group. If the group survives the leader, then a new leader is necessary and will be determined in a way described by the leader. If the leader fails to describe the method of succession, the group will likely not last long after him.
The importance of the leader is because he is the one most capable of affecting the commitment of the members. He has the greatest trust value of the group because he is the leader. The trust value varies depending on his ability to increase commitment.If he can increase commitment then his trust value becomes the maximum value possible and he can become a shared established belief, that is only possible because he has verified his ability as an established belief. He can only confirm an established belief by increasing the evidence for that belief, he can increase the evidence by the length of time the belief is held or he can add additional evidence. It can only be considered additional evidence if it is based on an established belief that is not the one in question. Any other established belief may be used regardless of the basis. Because of the additive rule requirement, a shared established belief cannot be used as evidence to establish itself. However, since any other evidence can, the use of another shared established belief is allowed and will confirm the established belief by virtue of it’s nature, thus becoming a shared established belief and thus any statement made by the leader will automatically be confirmed as unquestionable by any group member. The leader is then considered The Supreme Leader, although this label is used by those outside the group, it is unlikely it will be used by members of the group because the sentiment is inherent for them and a label is unnecessary. Only some specific groups will establish a Supreme Leader. The best example of such a group is a religious type.
By virtue of the definition other groups can possibly establish a Supreme Leader, this possibility varies by group but it is most likely that only a perception will be established.
Groups can, if necessary, be divided into types, which creates subgroups with common characteristics, useful for discussion or to determine subgroup size.
In the case of cults and religions, When I use the term cult here, it is not because I consider a cult to be the same as a religion, but because they are both types of groups.
Religion as a type of group does not specify or indicate a specific religion. It is large enough and well known enough that it can be used to provide examples that help understand the concepts being presented. Cult is being used as a blanket term to cover all remaining groups regardless of type. I put “some” as qualifier because the statement is not true for all cults.
For any disagreement, these concepts can help resolve conflicts that may occur because of disagreements. For most people, agreeing to disagree is the best method to avoid creating conflicts and it works. In cases where it does not prevent conflicts, the concepts here may be able to help explain the reasons for the conflict well enough to make it possible for the parties to reach a mutual understanding of the conflict.
There is no intent here to actually try to resolve the conflict. The only help it could is if it somehow provided evidence that allowed the understanding to point to a solution. I don’t believe that could ever happen. The only help, in the case of the atheist vs religious, is if it allows for a version of the acceptance of the agreement to disagree, where this version means acceptance is not merely futile due a problem with either party, but because both parties have the same problem. The only help this could provide is if it reduces the animosity between the parties, then it could reduce the justification for hate and resentment, creating a chance to increase the overall good in the universe, rather than allowing it to continue to decline.
This concludes the latest message provided by The Mumbling Man.