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"In atheists we distrust"


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#1    Mr Walker

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Posted 29 December 2012 - 12:30 AM

The title for this thread comes from a short article by Ara Norenzayan, associate professor of psychology at the university of Vancover in British Columbia in the New Scientist 17 march 2012 I will write out the article here

One of the most persistent but hidden prejudices tied to religion is intolerance of atheists.Surveys consistently find that  in societies with religious majorities, atheists have one of the lowest approval ratings of any social group, including other religions.(American Sociological review, vol. 71, p 211)

This intolerance has a long history., Back in 1689 Enlightenmant philosopher John Locke wrote in "A Letter Concerning Toleration."

"Those are not at all to be tolerated who deny the being of God. Promises, Covenants and Oaths, which are the Bonds Of Humane Society, can have no hold upon an atheist"

Why do believers reject atheists, who are not a visible, powerful or even coherent social group? The answer seems to be the same force that helped religions expand while maintaing social cohesion: supernatural surveillance.

My colleagues Will Gervaise, Azim shariff and I have found that Locke's intuition-that atheists cannot be trusted to cooperate- is the root of the intolerance.(Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, vol.101,p.1189)

Outward displays of belief in a watchful God are viewed as a proxy for trustworthiness. Intolerance of atheists is driven by the intuition that people behave better if they feel that a God is watching them.

While atheists think of their disbelief as a private matter of conscience, believers treat their absence of belief in a supernatural surveillance as a threat to cooperation and honesty.

Any spelling errors etc. are my own.

I am interested in comments, opinions and observations, on this POV.

You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here. And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be, and whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul.

With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world..

Be cheerful.

Strive to be happy.

#2    Ashotep

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Posted 29 December 2012 - 12:43 AM

*
POPULAR

Some people can't be trusted even if they are religious.  You have to look at each person as an individual and look at what has been done in the past because the past has a way of repeating itself.


#3    Sean93

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Posted 29 December 2012 - 12:49 AM

Simply because Religious people see their religion as the biggest and most important thing in their lives and to have someone ridicule, belittle or find preposterous that belief is a insult to them and makes them feel vulnerable in knowing that the thing they look up to the most is not without criticism which calls them to question that belief and subsequently takes them out of their comfort zone.

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#4    libstaK

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Posted 29 December 2012 - 01:00 AM

I have never understood the concept of vilifying atheists or anyone with differing beliefs.

It seems that if God himself gave us free will - then where do we get off subjugating the free will of our fellow man?  I know that my life is my own and put bluntly "none of anyone elses business" how I go about living it and what I choose to believe, as long as I am not hurting anyone else.

So if I want and believe I deserve to live my life as I see fit, why would I deny others the same?

Distrust is born of fear and ignorance, if you wish to overcome distrust of others belief systems then take the time to learn why they believe as they do, show some empathy for others paths in life.  To walk a day in anothers shoes is a huge sacrifice and that alone ensures it can reap huge rewards in our level of understanding and capacity to obtain wisdom.

Additionally, with all the belief systems in the world today it is a blessing to have "devils advocates" who take the opposing view or impel us to question why we think the way we do and what evidence we have to follow our chosen beliefs else we would blindly follow anything and comprehend nothing.

"I warn you, whoever you are, oh you who wish to probe the arcanes of nature, if you do not find within yourself that which you seek, neither shall you find it outside.
If you ignore the excellencies of your own house, how do you intend to find other excellencies?
In you is hidden the treasure of treasures, Oh man, know thyself and you shall know the Universe and the Gods."

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#5    Likely Guy

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Posted 29 December 2012 - 01:40 AM

Small correction. There is no University of Vancouver in British Columbia, but there is a University of British Columbia in Vancouver.


#6    White Crane Feather

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Posted 29 December 2012 - 01:53 AM

I lll trust an atheist far sooner than a fundamentalist. That's for sure.

I have seen "scales" of spiritual development that put atheistic thought quite high on the development list, as aposed those that follow specific religions.

Where the problem exist is the assumption that morality is based on spiritual beliefs....it is in a way, but morality comes from a deeper place me thinks.

I tend to fall into the cultural relativist camp on morality. Religons ten to influence culture, therefor anyone not believing in that religion is suspect, even though that person is just as affected by the moral base of the religion despite not being a follower of it.

Edited by Seeker79, 29 December 2012 - 01:58 AM.

"I wish neither to possess, Nor to be possessed. I no longer covet paradise, more important, I no longer fear hell. The medicine for my suffering I had within me from the very beginning, but I did not take it. My ailment came from within myself, But I did not observe it until this moment. Now I see that I will never find the light.  Unless, like the candle, I am my own fuel, Consuming myself. "
Bruce Lee-

#7    Paranoid Android

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Posted 29 December 2012 - 02:12 AM

View PostSeeker79, on 29 December 2012 - 01:53 AM, said:

I lll trust an atheist far sooner than a fundamentalist. That's for sure.
What about a fundamentalist atheist?  I see the general point in what you're trying to say, but fundies exist in every group, even atheists.

Just my thoughts,

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#8    Coffey

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Posted 29 December 2012 - 02:14 AM

View PostlibstaK, on 29 December 2012 - 01:00 AM, said:

I have never understood the concept of vilifying atheists or anyone with differing beliefs.

It seems that if God himself gave us free will - then where do we get off subjugating the free will of our fellow man?  I know that my life is my own and put bluntly "none of anyone elses business" how I go about living it and what I choose to believe, as long as I am not hurting anyone else.

So if I want and believe I deserve to live my life as I see fit, why would I deny others the same?

Distrust is born of fear and ignorance, if you wish to overcome distrust of others belief systems then take the time to learn why they believe as they do, show some empathy for others paths in life.  To walk a day in anothers shoes is a huge sacrifice and that alone ensures it can reap huge rewards in our level of understanding and capacity to obtain wisdom.

Additionally, with all the belief systems in the world today it is a blessing to have "devils advocates" who take the opposing view or impel us to question why we think the way we do and what evidence we have to follow our chosen beliefs else we would blindly follow anything and comprehend nothing.

Such a brilliant post and very well put. :tu:


View PostParanoid Android, on 29 December 2012 - 02:12 AM, said:

What about a fundamentalist atheist?  I see the general point in what you're trying to say, but fundies exist in every group, even atheists.

Just my thoughts,

~ Regards,

Tried to make this point before myself, you get people who treat Science like a religion. They quote science textbooks as thought they are bible verses.

The people who do this clearly do not understand science just as much as an extremist/fundamentalist does not understand their religion.

Edited by Coffey, 29 December 2012 - 02:16 AM.

When the power of love overcomes the love of power, the world will know peace.

#9    White Unicorn

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Posted 29 December 2012 - 02:20 AM

Outward displays of belief in a watchful God are viewed as a proxy for trustworthiness. Intolerance of atheists is driven by the intuition that people behave better if they feel that a God is watching them.

That's an interesting view that the religious people would say is true.

God may have created the universe but man has created  religions and everyone should keep that in mind.
When ever a prophet gets a message from God that they have gone to far we can see the religion's reaction to the messages...prophets all face prosecution one way or another.

The wheel of life turns but all spokes which are paths can lead to the center of the wheel which is God. We even have the choice of going outward and being flung off the wheel but the center still exists, we just don't see it from the point of view where we're at.

Athiests can be more honest because they do not just believe out of tradition which may hide the path in a way, because of another's misconceptions. I find many athiests had a religion forced upon them as children and turn from it but in the end with time they realize they were fighting the misconceptions of the religion not against the spiritual doctrine that is the truth that inspired it.


#10    Mr Walker

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Posted 29 December 2012 - 02:25 AM

View PostLikely Guy, on 29 December 2012 - 01:40 AM, said:

Small correction. There is no University of Vancouver in British Columbia, but there is a University of British Columbia in Vancouver.
Thanks I transposed the titles. Will teach me to work from memory. I checked and that's the one.

You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here. And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be, and whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul.

With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world..

Be cheerful.

Strive to be happy.

#11    Mr Walker

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Posted 29 December 2012 - 02:32 AM

Thanks for the replies so far. They are interesting and diverse. Would anyone like to comment on the speciific speculation that a society's distrust of atheists comes from the perception that, if they do not believe a powerful god is watching them, they will not be as honest or trustworthy as a person who does hold such a belief?
And fair warning here, there IS a sort of trap in this question.

You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here. And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be, and whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul.

With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world..

Be cheerful.

Strive to be happy.

#12    White Crane Feather

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Posted 29 December 2012 - 02:36 AM

View PostParanoid Android, on 29 December 2012 - 02:12 AM, said:

What about a fundamentalist atheist?  I see the general point in what you're trying to say, but fundies exist in every group, even atheists.

Just my thoughts,

~ Regards,
Indeed, but a fundamental atheist isnt likely to have the god said so excuse. Though they might have an extreme view of something like survival of the fittest.

Edited by Seeker79, 29 December 2012 - 02:41 AM.

"I wish neither to possess, Nor to be possessed. I no longer covet paradise, more important, I no longer fear hell. The medicine for my suffering I had within me from the very beginning, but I did not take it. My ailment came from within myself, But I did not observe it until this moment. Now I see that I will never find the light.  Unless, like the candle, I am my own fuel, Consuming myself. "
Bruce Lee-

#13    White Crane Feather

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Posted 29 December 2012 - 02:38 AM

View PostMr Walker, on 29 December 2012 - 02:32 AM, said:

Thanks for the replies so far. They are interesting and diverse. Would anyone like to comment on the speciific speculation that a society's distrust of atheists comes from the perception that, if they do not believe a powerful god is watching them, they will not be as honest or trustworthy as a person who does hold such a belief?
And fair warning here, there IS a sort of trap in this question.
I'd say this a reflection of the person who believes such a thing. If Somone were to tell that to me, I would be very glad they have a god watching them. :)

"I wish neither to possess, Nor to be possessed. I no longer covet paradise, more important, I no longer fear hell. The medicine for my suffering I had within me from the very beginning, but I did not take it. My ailment came from within myself, But I did not observe it until this moment. Now I see that I will never find the light.  Unless, like the candle, I am my own fuel, Consuming myself. "
Bruce Lee-

#14    Sean93

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Posted 29 December 2012 - 03:45 AM

View PostMr Walker, on 29 December 2012 - 02:32 AM, said:

Thanks for the replies so far. They are interesting and diverse. Would anyone like to comment on the speciific speculation that a society's distrust of atheists comes from the perception that, if they do not believe a powerful god is watching them, they will not be as honest or trustworthy as a person who does hold such a belief?
And fair warning here, there IS a sort of trap in this question.

I think this is a suspicion that very staunch believers in God and objective moral values have; that they get their morals, ethics and good character and will from god and so seeing someone who gives God the cold-shoulder puts them into defense mode because to them; the big bad Atheist won't take the 'Objective Moral Values' that God has created at face value and will choose to live by their own (and compared to Gods' standards: Inferior) codes and ethics and so will do what they please without thought or fear of an end-game consequence and in the minds of the believer, this is dangerous because they think that gives the Atheist the notion that he/she can do as they please (and we all know what would happen if consequence never existed in our societies).

In Dostoevsky's novel The Brothers Karamazov, the well known phrase is spoke (Translations vary but it's relevant anyway) : "If God does not exist, everything is permitted.".
It is this same fearful thinking that I think the religious people feel when knowing that there are those who walk among them that hold the law of God with disregard and omit it's authority from their lives. I'd compare it to a peaceful village inhabited with law abiding, good willed citizens. These citizens know man in the village who does not do the usual village hogwash; take part in the summer games, attend town meetings, trim his bush regularly etc. (No pun intended)
The people of the village are automatically weary of this man because, although he has done them no harm, his lack of conformity and abidance of the established way of life in the village sticks out like an sore thumb an thus niggles at and annoys the villagers who hate the fact that the established and accepted order has been broken by this man...and they don't like it nor do they understand his 'absurd' way of living ergo they end up creating a prejudiced image of him. "If he isn't with us, surely he is against us."

Simply put, people want others to think like them because they feel comfortable in thinking they are not alone and want to be right; no one wants conflict, least not when it involves the things they hold dearest like Family, business or pets and God is no different.

P.S The above is actually a true story too.  

"Regarding life, the wisest men of all ages have judged it alike: It is worthless."

"Be peaceful, be courteous, respect everyone; but if someone puts his hand on you, send him to the cemetery."

#15    White Unicorn

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Posted 29 December 2012 - 04:24 AM

View PostMr Walker, on 29 December 2012 - 02:32 AM, said:

Thanks for the replies so far. They are interesting and diverse. Would anyone like to comment on the speciific speculation that a society's distrust of atheists comes from the perception that, if they do not believe a powerful god is watching them, they will not be as honest or trustworthy as a person who does hold such a belief?
And fair warning here, there IS a sort of trap in this question.

Sometimes that belief leads to the discovery that some of those really so called "Christian" people do what they will because all will still be forgiven by a savior instead of following the laws with the compassion of love and turning away from a lower nature as their savior intended them to do!





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