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Blake Stacey

"Skeptics like you are just too close-minded to know what quantum physics tells us: People turning into animals is just like waves turning into particles!"


I think that what we witness in these instances is exactly what is going on in their heads. It's cognitive dissonance.

They believe it furvently until evidence needs to be presented, resort to special pleading/shifting goalposts/etc. until there's no where else for them to run, claim the belief was never literal, and finally the "unharmful" fallacy. Then when you point out how such beliefs can be harmful they pick up their ball, go home, and claim to everyone else that they won the argument.

I'm reminded of the "early morning hours" comments that I've gotten in the past. Supposedly in the dark, early morning hours I admit to myself that their is a God, or some other spiritual nonsense. Perhaps that is actually projection.

Maybe it's they who wake up in the early morning hours and wonder if they have wasted their lives following something that they have no reason to believe other than they've invested so much of their time and selves into it.


Yes. I've been thinking for a long time that it is really not specific religious beliefs so much as a 'kind of thinking' that is the problem, and that kind of thinking takes different outer forms, such as different religions, a lot of differing New Age beliefs, all sorts of woo and superstition - But those are the outer forms, and the underlying thinking patters are often strikingly similar, as are the excuses to get to keep the belief.

I've said it before, I am pessimistic by nature, but even so I think it's not totally irrational to not have high hopes about this. As I think I have mentioned before as well, I live in a country where a majority do not believe in a Christian god and live mostly secular lives but that does not mean that there's not still the same kind of superstitious thinking around (of which organized religion is only a part, though a big and very nasty one). The woo is flourishing here and are in no way at risk of being eradicated.

When a people as a whole mostly loses religion it does not get more rational in its stead, it seems, to express it in a simplistic way. The same kind of thinking just takes new routes. Speaking out against religion having too much influence on our lives is a very good thing that is definitely worthwhile, and it is obviously possible to create socities that function well with much less, or very little influence from organized religion. But to change the actual thinking patterns behind that makes things like religion possible... I am much more pessimistic about that.

There is no way to disarm magical thinking, no matter if it calls itself advanced modern theology or voodoo; it's all the same sort of thinking. The only difference is the name, and that's determined by the culture they were born into.


The fact that many people act as if their religion is true is indeed important. It is what makes the whole debate relevant. It is why creationists oppose the teaching of evolution. It is why Mormons oppose gay marriage. It is why some Christians promote abstinence-only education. In short - the fact that people act as if their religion is true is the very thing that makes religion so harmful.

On a different topic ... there's no need for people to turn into animals. People are animals.


I'll bring the trail mix!

Kit Whitfield

You almost never hear progressive ecumenical New Age believers say, "It doesn't matter whether Jesus really hates homosexuals -- what matters is that people believe that Jesus hates homosexuals."

Hang on a cotton-pickin minute. I'm an agnostic and that's pretty much exactly what I'd say.

What the historical Jesus, if he existed, thought about homosexuality matters in practical terms a whole lot less than what people nowadays believe, because it's the contemporary beliefs that lead to actual oppression. What the historical Mohammed, same proviso, believed about jihad is not what leads to suicide bombers: it's what people nowadays think he thought. When a source of belief is ancient and ambiguous, interpretation can mean the difference between life and death.

I'd say that what people do is what's important because that's what affects the rest of us, so how they interpret and act on their beliefs matters a whole heaping lot.


Re 'better bring some snacks' and Libby's comment: wine and crackers?


Theists and other believers in the supernatural have to move the goalposts or they will suddenly realize that they are wrong. They must insist that the non-believer is wrong and that they don't want understand/can't understand. What else can they do? Ask the average Christian when Jesus will return to watch this in action. Will it be tomorrow? Real soon now? In a "generation" and "a thousand years is like a day to God"?(which incidentally gets Jesus returning in 10.8 million years). they can claim all they want about "metaphors" but when it comes down to brass tacks, they are lying as much as anyone else to save their self-worth as defined by their religion.

Greta Christina

Kit: That's not what I meant. I should clarify.

The theistic meme I'm talking about essentially says, "It doesn't matter whether religion is literally true -- people's faith in religion is an important and beautiful thing, and that's all that matters." But people only trot out that meme for religions they agree with, religions they think are beautiful. They don't apply it to religions they're passionately opposed to.

So you don't hear fundamentalist Christians saying, "Who cares if Islam is literally true -- isn't the Muslim faith a beautiful and noble thing?" And you don't hear progressive ecumenical New Age believers saying, "Who cares what Jesus really thought about homosexuals -- isn't people's faith in Jesus's homophobia a beautiful and noble thing?" When it comes to beliefs they oppose, people are suddenly a lot less impressed with how wonderful it is to believe in things, and whether it's important that the things people believe in are true.

That's what I meant. Sorry if that wasn't clear.

Harold Ennulat

Is moving the goalposts just reserved for Theists?
Isn't this kind of a universal tendency?

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