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Religion/Theology Topic (I couldn't think of a good name) Answered

I've had this idea for a couple months now, and I thought I should share it with you guys. I have been interested in science for as long as I can remember (at the expense of my social life), and have always been an atheist. It has always made sense to me, and theism (opposite of atheism, the a is important!) never really has, other than the basic human will to believe in something that keeps order in the universe.

But this forum post is not about debating between atheism and theism. Many of us on Instructables excercise our knowledge of the world, and our will to spread it to others. I have partaken in this as well, posting my fill of comments trying to explain why atheism makes sense. But I have recently ceased to do this, and not just because arguing becomes very tiresome, very quickly.

Probably the greatest reason why most people believe in a god (or gods) is because it gives them hope; someone to look up to for wisdom and strength in times of need, and a justification for being humble and small in the big wide world. Everyone knows hope is important. I'm not the most hopeful person. Being an atheist does not help this.

This is why I have stopped my "atheist trolling". If everyone were like me, spending endless hours of my life just thinking, and coming to conclusions that I should not have come to until I am old. and going insane, and disconnecting from society, the world would not be a very pleasant place. It probably would not be very good if everyone were theists either.

I guess I should just say what I've meant to say throughout this whole thing: ignorance is bliss. Many theists are very happy and content with life because of religion. So after this whole post, here is my thesis which I wrote down after going (obviously) off track about halfway through writing this post. God dammit, I need a word limit.

I do not bother people about atheism any more because it gives people hope and keeps people sane, which keeps the world in order.


It is a form of ignorance to believe (yes, believe) that ignorance is bliss. Tell that to the fellow that rented the chain saw and didn't know how to operate it. Or to the lathe owner that can not longer use it because of missing fingers or an eye. If you will never hold a soldering iron in you hand, then knowing how to use it is of little recourse. It is futile. But, knowing how to use one, may inspire a person to use it as it should be used. Beyond the whole ignorance thing is the % of the population the have "blinders" on (those things put on a horses head to keep it's eyesight centered in the forward direction); those with a form of mental tunnel vision. Granted, one does not necessarily need to be "interested in everything" or we could have no specialists, but even they (those that are mentally healthy) have Other interests in life. Keeping an open mind about what is possible, with or without proof, is the way to find answers. Those that have tunnel vision will continue to believe that Polywater is the 5th state of the liquid and that either scientists or religious leaders are infallible.


9 years ago

I'm largely with you on this score, but there are a number of subtleties to the problem:

My primary problem is that yes, religious belief is used to give hope and so forth, but it is also used to justify all sorts of things from discrimination to oppression to genocide. The two aren't completely inseparable, but there is a strong causal link. I'm not going to go into the "yes but science justifies eugenics so there" argument, I am just stating that one reason I have for not withholding my opinions about religious belief is that I see it as the thin end of a wedge.

Looking at it from another point of view, could someone not interpret
ignorance is bliss. Many theists are very happy and content with life because of religion.
as being incredibly patronising (This is coming from someone who ranted at his school science teacher for "intellectual dishonesty" for saying that G was 10 m/s/s not 9.81m/s/s and that electron orbits could only have 8 electrons, so maybe my opinion is skewed)? You are effectively saying "Well, I know you're wrong but I'll let you keep believing what you want to if it will make you happy".

Ultimately I think this comes down to where you draw the line of "I do not bother people about atheism any more"- I have stopped arguing about it online becuase it is 99% futile and just causes conflict, but I would never deny that I am a staunch atheist/evolutionist and consider literal interpretation of most major religions to be a demonstrably misleading and potentially dangerous fallacy.

All that said, I agree with you about not being an "atheist troll". I was once put in the unenviable position of speaking to a very close friend who is also very strongly Christian, who claimed to me that the Bible was completely accurate and infallible, when I had recently seen a list of many pages of the literal contradictions that occur in it. I could have quoted a few of the more extreme ones which I happen to know the chapter/verse of, but at the same time I didn't want to. Once you've seen flat-out factual contradictions in a book you thought was infallible, you can't un-see them.

If everyone were like me, spending endless hours of my life just thinking, ... the world would not be a very pleasant place

This reminds me of a quote (that I can't find right now) along the lines of "The human mind/consciousness is remarkable for its ability to isolate parts of itself from other parts". I firmly believe, if anyone were to think absolutely logically about their life, they would immediately become a hermit and never come back into society, and the ability of the human mind to stop people from doing that is how modern society stays intact.

Second paragraph: That's exactly what I mean.

Last paragraph: I am a hermit. Unfortunately, I'm also only 16. The only times I ride into town (usually not more than once a week. I have to bike in because I live on an acreage) are when I go to the library to download stuff (sometimes I even talk to people there!), and when I go swimming in the summer (I never talk to anybody there though, just my brother, who I swim with.

Also, I haven't had a really good friend for three years.

Ignorance is definitely bliss, but bliss is pretty shallow. Anyone who simply believes (without question) what they're told by a pastor, preist, rabbi, parents, politicians, scientists, sociologists, philosophers, etc, ad infinitum, is squandering the brain that they have been blessed with. Knowledge is a wonderful tool, but the process of aquiring it can be very painful. I (almost) wish I could unlearn everything I've learned since about the age of 14. Then again, that kind of thinking is irresponsible, and in my view immoral. I've learned so much about life and death, and suffering and evil, and hypoctisy, and the futile nature of man's desperate search to control his destiny. That being said, please (anyone who can stand a little more knowledge) give the book of Ecclesiastes a read. It is far from what most people would consider theology. Solomon, probably more than anyone before or after, describes the human condition so well as to make it almost undeniable. There are hints of skepticism, doubt, uncertainty, and the vain nature of human strivings.

You've got a good head on your shoulders.