Religion and the Ego

rdklep8
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Religion and the Ego

A student in the same major as me at my university is highly religious.  Sadly enough, on good friday he and two of his fellow "Jesus Freaks" carried a cross across our campus in the pouring rain in order to feel closer to Jesus and to know "His pain".  He writes "Smile, Jesus Loves You!" on the walkways of our quad in chalk so people on the way to class can feel "uplifted".  When I asked what made him so religious, he went on a torrent about how Jesus came into his life and changed his course. 

That statement stuck with me for a few days, and after I have mulled it over I have come to one conclusion: his faith is a product of his Ego.

I don't know if this has been touched on in other threads, but I find it downright depressing that so many people believe that Jesus entered into their life and saved them from the road they were on.  There are billions of people on this planet, the majority of which are not Catholic.  Why is it that Jesus, in his almighty wisdom, chose to enter into your life while he simultaneously let millions of others die prematurely or remain ignorant to His message?  If he can be in all places at once, why wouldn't he intervene in everyone's life? 

The incessant need to be liked, need to be important, and overall self-centerdness of each individual leads to several different paths, and one of which is religion.  It is a perfect wall to hind behind, stroke your ego, and tell yourself that you are special.  In order to believe that some devine intervention happened in your life, you have to believe that you are better (or more special) than the common man. 

I do admit, the person in question does quite a bit more charity work than I do.  But I feel like that again may be an indirect way to boost his ego.  "Look at what I did... I'm so good to others."  I'm not saying charity work is pointless, I'm saying that certain people's reasoning behind it isn't as squeaky clean as wanting to make a difference.

That being said, do you think that being religious and being self-centered is related in some way?  Not that everyone who is religious is self-centered or vice versa.  More that it is a component that leads many people to become religious.


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In my humble opinion, at

In my humble opinion, at least christianity is very geared toward the self-centeredness that I think all humans have. It's all about the ego there. You are a vile dirty sinner completely unworthy of salvation. Yet Jesus died for you. He is your personal savior. He loves you. God takes a personal interest in you, and listens to your prayers.

 

On a related note, has it ever struck everyone as extremely ironic that when you reveal you are an atheist, you sometimes get accused of being arrogant? For whatever convoluted reason, not believing in god is somehow an expression of arrogance. Yet this is said by people who believe they have a personal relationship with the creator of the universe! That he loves them, personally intervened in their lives and cares so deeply about them that he sacrificed himself to himself for their sake. A claim doesn't get more arrogant than that.


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rdklep8 wrote:That statement

rdklep8 wrote:

That statement stuck with me for a few days, and after I have mulled it over I have come to one conclusion: his faith is a product of his Ego.

Yeah, of course it is.  Thinking that belief in Jesus has "turned my life around" only means to me that that person hasn't recognized the source of their strength - one's strength is oneself, and no one needs an imaginary friend to turn their own life around.

rdklep8 wrote:

That being said, do you think that being religious and being self-centered is related in some way?  Not that everyone who is religious is self-centered or vice versa.  More that it is a component that leads many people to become religious.

It is almost invariable - people want to be the center of somebody's universe.  We all want to be unconditionally loved and to be important.  Those of us with personal relationships that fulfill those needs are very fortunate, but very much in the minority.  Those without that fulfilling personal relationship but manage to be atheists anyway are a much smaller minority and usually have strong personalities.  Example: many of the RSS members.

I kind of agree with EXC in this.  We are all self-centered to some extent.  We all need value and worth.  Those of us who can not find that worth internally to ourselves, must seek it externally.  There are theists who have internal worth separate from their religion, but they are in the minority.  Most theists can only find personal worth in some imaginary friend.  That they can only do good in the name of the same imaginary friend is rather pitiable to my way of thinking.

-- I feel so much better since I stopped trying to believe.

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All three of you make

All three of you make excellent points.

Playing devils advocate, what would your responses be, if you were a theist confronted with this argument?  Can you think of anything that isn't just saying, 'Nu-uh!'?

 

Everything makes more sense now that I've stopped believing.


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 Quote:do you think that

 

Quote:
do you think that being religious and being self-centered is related in some way?

I don't think the two are necessarily joined at the hip, but in terms of Western Christianity, it's very pervasive.  Some religions actually teach the opposite of self-centeredness -- that no individual is special, and that wisdom only comes through humility and destruction of the ego.  

Within the various branches of fundamentalist Christianity -- which owe a great deal to Calvin -- there is definitely a thinly concealed vein of self-importance.  Especially with people like Benny Hinn, the gospel being preached is that Jesus wants Christians to be important and wealthy.  Wealth and power are signs of God's approval.  

It's also worth noting that the "special privilege" version of Christianity (and any other "personal god" belief) is only a couple of baby steps from fascism.  Remember, in Hitler's rise to power, there was a lot of propaganda about the "chosen race" and the superiority of the Aryan people.  

As a side note, it's also worth noting that in Germany, the Nazi party was really quite small but wielded considerable legislative and economic power, and successfully convinced the German people that all the social ills of the day were the fault of Jews.

(As a side note, it's also worth noting that in America, the Christian Dominionist Movement was really quite small but wielded considerable legislative and economic power, and successfully convinced the American people that all the social ills of the day were the fault of atheists and liberals.)

I'm just sayin.

 

Atheism isn't a lot like religion at all. Unless by "religion" you mean "not religion". --Ciarin

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rdklep8 wrote:A student in

rdklep8 wrote:

A student in the same major as me at my university is highly religious.  Sadly enough, on good friday he and two of his fellow "Jesus Freaks" carried a cross across our campus in the pouring rain in order to feel closer to Jesus and to know "His pain".  He writes "Smile, Jesus Loves You!" on the walkways of our quad in chalk so people on the way to class can feel "uplifted".  When I asked what made him so religious, he went on a torrent about how Jesus came into his life and changed his course. 

That statement stuck with me for a few days, and after I have mulled it over I have come to one conclusion: his faith is a product of his Ego.

I don't know if this has been touched on in other threads, but I find it downright depressing that so many people believe that Jesus entered into their life and saved them from the road they were on.  There are billions of people on this planet, the majority of which are not Catholic.  Why is it that Jesus, in his almighty wisdom, chose to enter into your life while he simultaneously let millions of others die prematurely or remain ignorant to His message?  If he can be in all places at once, why wouldn't he intervene in everyone's life? 

The incessant need to be liked, need to be important, and overall self-centerdness of each individual leads to several different paths, and one of which is religion.  It is a perfect wall to hind behind, stroke your ego, and tell yourself that you are special.  In order to believe that some devine intervention happened in your life, you have to believe that you are better (or more special) than the common man. 

I do admit, the person in question does quite a bit more charity work than I do.  But I feel like that again may be an indirect way to boost his ego.  "Look at what I did... I'm so good to others."  I'm not saying charity work is pointless, I'm saying that certain people's reasoning behind it isn't as squeaky clean as wanting to make a difference.

That being said, do you think that being religious and being self-centered is related in some way?  Not that everyone who is religious is self-centered or vice versa.  More that it is a component that leads many people to become religious.

What a shocker! You mean humans default more to being intellectually lazy than actually testing the bullshit they spew out of their mouths?

All kidding aside, Dawkins describes this as an evolutionary hiccup, as a "moth mistaking the light bulb for the natural moonlight it guides itself by"

Our species doesn't test what gets us to the next generation, We still have intellectually yet to understand what luck is and randomness is. Our "ego" simply goes with what we think works, but reality is that what "works" is not a label or magic, what works is social structure and cooperation.

For over 3,000 years the "ego" maintained the Egyptian culture, but it did not make the sun a thinking being. It merely meant that a falsehood was a rallying point.

What is missed in humanity is that our egos, ideas, perceptions, thoughts are good for supporting  groups, because we evolve to socialize. Where it fails is that getting to the next generation doesn't depend on testing via lab replication, but luck.

All humanity has to do to see how stupid labels are, is to know that we still exist as a species, despite all the labels dying in the past. Labels are nothing compared to meteors, gamma rays, or bacteria. Those things don't give a shit about us and for us to fight each other over superstition distracts our species from extending the ride.

"We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus -- and nonbelievers."Obama
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mellestad wrote:All three of

mellestad wrote:

All three of you make excellent points.

Playing devils advocate, what would your responses be, if you were a theist confronted with this argument?  Can you think of anything that isn't just saying, 'Nu-uh!'?

 

I have made this argument before. 

Any religion that encourages special behavior to remove themselves from the general population is just being self righteous - "we are better than you because <we don't eat pork, beef, meat; we don't smoke, drink, dance, fornicate, commit adultery; we wear head scarfs, hats, veils, dresses, skirts, pants, we are better than you ----->"

Any religion that insists on not mingling with non-believers is arrogant.  Or if they insist they have the "truth" and no one else does.  Or if they do good works and no one else does. 

Very few religious people are not sucked into this arrogant attitude in some fashion.  It takes a true saint (and I have met one or two) to be truly humble.  As I said, one or two in almost 60 years.

So, I have made this argument to theists.  I get one of two responses.  The most common is for the theist to leave.  Which is fine by me.  The less common response is - "hmmmm" and some more questions.  I have convinced a couple of fundamentalists to switch to mainstream.  Not a perfect outcome, but better.

-- I feel so much better since I stopped trying to believe.

"We are entitled to our own opinions. We're not entitled to our own facts"- Al Franken

"If death isn't sweet oblivion, I will be severely disappointed" - Ruth M.


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KSMB wrote:On a related

KSMB wrote:

On a related note, has it ever struck everyone as extremely ironic that when you reveal you are an atheist, you sometimes get accused of being arrogant? For whatever convoluted reason, not believing in god is somehow an expression of arrogance. Yet this is said by people who believe they have a personal relationship with the creator of the universe! That he loves them, personally intervened in their lives and cares so deeply about them that he sacrificed himself to himself for their sake. A claim doesn't get more arrogant than that.

 

Honestly I think part of that is the association of atheism with science and knowledge of science.  Scientists are typically regarded as intelligent by society.  They are also most associated with atheism by the masses (that might just be a personal observation).  Consequently, they hear people they regard as intelligent say they are wrong, and react to that by claiming arrogance.  I can also see how science can be labeled as arrogant.  (because it's right )


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Hambydammit wrote: Quote:do

Hambydammit wrote:

 

Quote:
do you think that being religious and being self-centered is related in some way?
 

Within the various branches of fundamentalist Christianity -- which owe a great deal to Calvin -- there is definitely a thinly concealed vein of self-importance.  Especially with people like Benny Hinn, the gospel being preached is that Jesus wants Christians to be important and wealthy.  Wealth and power are signs of God's approval.  


I think you are being too kind to say that the self importance of religion is thinly veiled especially if you are talking about calvin who brought about the concept of predestination. Most religious sects in the judeo christian tradition explicitly have the idea that they are the chosen ones and that they are the only ones who will enter into the kingdom of heaven.

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If you had the nads, you

If you had the nads, you could tell him you spoke with jesus in a dream last night, and he told you he had a special place for you.

Or some such drivel.

Someone like that has a purpose on this earth..entertainment.

I tease my co-workers to an extent. If I took it too far I would probably get fired. But for now, I ask them to pray for me or "is that the face of jesus in that cloud?" and other little things like that. Maybe I'm too easily amused.

Faith is the word but next to that snugged up closely "lie's" the want.
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It's about the hugs.

 

I think the OP has a point. It's funny how humble the godly feel as they contemplate a universe made specifically for them and won with the screams of the damned in their ears. There's a definite element of ego. But there is more to it than that and I think the relationship with the almighty is as subjective as you'd think it might be. Some people love jesus because they really feel so insignificant faced with the bigness of the universe that they actually do feel humbled and awed and worshipful. Then there are those who are into jesus because he is their only friend. These cardigan-wearing bibli-emos could probably be won over to our side if only we were prepared to ignore their desert boots and parramatta socks and give them the cuddles they crave so deeply.

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mellestad wrote:All three of

mellestad wrote:

All three of you make excellent points.

Playing devils advocate, what would your responses be, if you were a theist confronted with this argument?  Can you think of anything that isn't just saying, 'Nu-uh!'?

 

 

I think that, if confronted, a religious person would immediately turn the argument around on me.  "Just by stating that we are self centered, you are judging us and therefore YOU feel morally/intellectually superior.  I will let you think what you want.  I will just follow Christ and do his works, if you call that self-centered and egotistical than you don't understand my relationship with the lord"

 

Some bullshit like that.


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When cornered on any super

When cornered on any super natural claim "poof" will be the ultimate answer. It allows them mentally to cling to their belief without the intellectual responsibility of replicating it and falsifying it and having it independently verified.

Once you buy "poof" as the answer, making shit up is easy.

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I agree. How in the world

I agree. How in the world can jesus listen to billions of peoples problems and atempt to fix them, whilst monitering their beliefs, actions, and loving them.... Its impossible, I use to pray. Than i read the satanic bible, and it made me realize "I have to take care of my own problems. I can't just beg some possibly imaginary being up there to fix it for me, I have to take some responsibility for my actions, and deal with it." I actually see no problem with people who have faith, those "Jesus freaks" as the starter of this disscussion had said, are being a little pushy, though. If he actually made the decision for himself to become Christan, than i entirely respect that. But if he was brainwashed to believe this by his parents, or his friends, or a church, than i have zero respect  for Whoever converted him to it, and i feel bad for him.....

Oh, and I so agree with you about those puritan bastards. Wiccans and satanists are bad for worshiping, or using as a symbol, the image of the hgorned god, or lucifer? But some how, Its okay to burn them, and drown them, and copy them? The bible is actually FULL of stuff stolen from the Kabbalah (well, its jewish, so i guess the new testament stole from them then, like the earth being made in 7 days, 7 is a kabbalahistic numeral, if im not mistaken), Strega (the symbol of their god, lucifer, whose symbol is the inverted pentagtram, The golden rule was repeated by many, many, many past religions before Christianity), just so many things stolen from other religions, especially wicca (The trinity God, jesus, mary is based upon the three pagan gods, one male, female, male, same as the trinity) And how Christmas is right next to the winter slostice, the time of rebirth of the sun god, in wicca, when the actual birth of jesus is supposedly in july, becuase of the sheep and such...

They follow somewhat of a lie...... But im not going to interfere with their beliefs too much.... It their mind, but they should be open to other ideas....

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 Quote:I think you are

 

Quote:
I think you are being too kind to say that the self importance of religion is thinly veiled especially if you are talking about calvin who brought about the concept of predestination. Most religious sects in the judeo christian tradition explicitly have the idea that they are the chosen ones and that they are the only ones who will enter into the kingdom of heaven.

Perhaps.  There's a neat trick of the human mind, though.  We often don't recognize fault in ourselves, and backwards rationalize it as something else.  The Fundamentalist Right is very, very good at using Orwellian Newspeak to "redefine" themselves.  Instead of being the bully who's trying to legislate their own morality, they're the oppressed minority who's just trying to overcome the societal impositions of the liberal media.  Instead of being self-righteous bigots, they're preaching a message of love and liberty.  Etc.  Etc.

I was part of this movement for a short time, and trust me.  Words are very powerful.  If you say, "I am tolerant" enough times, you can happily exclude anyone who's different from every aspect of your life, and the two things don't seem contradictory.

So when I say that the self-righteousness is veiled, I really mean that it is veiled from the believers themselves, who genuinely see themselves as compassionate, tolerant, humble, and loving.

 

Atheism isn't a lot like religion at all. Unless by "religion" you mean "not religion". --Ciarin

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I read or heard somewhere

I read or heard somewhere along the way that ego stands for Easing God Out.


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robj101 wrote:  .... yeah,

robj101 wrote:

 

.... yeah, what's wrong with using photobucket, egh?