The Mentality of Religious Absolutism Question

harleysportster
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The Mentality of Religious Absolutism Question

      I was recently having a discussion with someone who had come from a very different background than mine (mine being an ultra-religious one and theirs where the presence of religion was almost non-existent).  Anyway, they had brought up an opinion that it could be possible that even though one might become an Atheist, it might take years to shed the notion of religious thinking.

     Now when I say religious thinking, I am referring to absolutism, unquestioning feelings about something authoritarian or the tendency to possibly listen to authority without delving deep into thinking, feelings of guilt and of being punished, etc.

   I am not saying that any of that would solely apply to me today, now was the other person insisting that coming from a non-religious background would make anyone less likely to fall for that sort of thinking, but it did lead to some interesting ideas.

  For instance, for a very long time after I had stopped believing, I still secretly felt kind of guilty for being an Atheist, still at times had the notion that when bad things would happen that I was being punished, still felt at times that something was sending me a sign, etc.

  I also noticed a tendency to not really question a bold assertion for quite some time.

  Now I doubt any and all bold assertions and genuinely feel ok about being an Atheist, but it did take me a while to get to a place where I was comfortable with doubt, where I was comfortable with not having answers and in knowing that there may never be any, and it also lead me to a lot more freedom in the fact that I actually can express an opinion, whether it is popular among ANY community. Be it Atheist or be it Theist.

  What my question to all of this is, is there a name for this type of absolutism in people's thinking and do any of you think that coming from heavily indoctrinated backgrounds might lend anything to it ?

   Did anyone on here go through anything like I mentioned above when they finally walked away from religion permanently ? While I had known in the back of my mind that this sort of thinking was in my thought processes. I never really gave it the importance that the particular discussion of recent interest with someone brought about.

  For instance, when I jettisoned all of the preppy dress that I was forced to wear all the way up into my late teens, grew my hair long, got covered in tattoos on my arms, chest and back, got earrings and started running with some hard-core bikers, on some level, I was simply doing it to get back at all the wasted youth of religion.

  Now, I live that way because I am comfortable with it and choose to live that way. All of the other trappings are just that, trappings, I ride and dress and behave that way because I feel fine with me. But, I would be the same man if I had to put on a suit and tie and carry a briefcase. In other words, I am not proving anything to anyone and have not been doing so for quite some time. Perhaps I am making more of a deal out of this than it really is.

  But if there is a name for this type of fallacious reasoning that is so prevalent in religious dogmas, I would be interested.

  I could not give a definite time frame of when I stopped being a reactive Atheist and just became an ordinary Atheist. If any of this makes any sense at all whatsoever.  Which it probably does not.

  I debate today because I like doing it. I read things because of the simple pleasure of knowledge.  Not to prove that I am the alpha Atheist to every Theist that tries to put me back in my place with their faulty arguments.

“It is proof of a base and low mind for one to wish to think with the masses or majority, merely because the majority is the majority. Truth does not change because it is, or is not, believed by a majority of the people.”
― Giordano Bruno


Beyond Saving
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harleysportster

harleysportster wrote:

      I was recently having a discussion with someone who had come from a very different background than mine (mine being an ultra-religious one and theirs where the presence of religion was almost non-existent).  Anyway, they had brought up an opinion that it could be possible that even though one might become an Atheist, it might take years to shed the notion of religious thinking.

     Now when I say religious thinking, I am referring to absolutism, unquestioning feelings about something authoritarian or the tendency to possibly listen to authority without delving deep into thinking, feelings of guilt and of being punished, etc.

I don't think the kind of thinking you describe is limited to religion. While it might be reinforced or encouraged by many religions, it is also reinforced and encouraged in many places in our culture. From a young age, children are taught to obey adults more or less without question and taught to respect and trust authority figures such as police, teachers and government officials. Most people, at least in our country, are not taught critical thinking from a young age and are taught not to question things.

When I went into the military, I had a lot more problems than most of the recruits with the authority aspects, but I kind of expected that going in and forced myself to adapt to it. When I got out, I was shocked when I went to college and found the mentality wasn't all that different. I had always had the impression that college was supposed to be a place where ideas and debate were welcomed and creativity encouraged. As it turns out, most college students have no ideas or creativity, they show up to class and simply accept what the professor says without question and follow the steps they learned in high school to get high GPAs regardless of whether they are learning anything.

It is also why I have a terrible record at being employed by other people. I never fit in well with the "do what the boss says" and time clock mentality that pervades corporate America. Even as an employer, I find it really difficult to find employees that don't require hand holding and want a supervisor to okay every little decision they make. I don't know if such attitudes are nature or nurture, but it drives me absolutely nuts and it certainly seems to be prevalent both in religion and outside of it. 

If, if a white man puts his arm around me voluntarily, that's brotherhood. But if you - if you hold a gun on him and make him embrace me and pretend to be friendly or brotherly toward me, then that's not brotherhood, that's hypocrisy.- Malcolm X


harleysportster
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Beyond Saving wrote:I don't

Beyond Saving wrote:

I don't think the kind of thinking you describe is limited to religion. While it might be reinforced or encouraged by many religions, it is also reinforced and encouraged in many places in our culture. From a young age, children are taught to obey adults more or less without question and taught to respect and trust authority figures such as police, teachers and government officials. Most people, at least in our country, are not taught critical thinking from a young age and are taught not to question things.

 I had always had the impression that college was supposed to be a place where ideas and debate were welcomed and creativity encouraged. As it turns out, most college students have no ideas or creativity, they show up to class and simply accept what the professor says without question and follow the steps they learned in high school to get high GPAs regardless of whether they are learning anything.

 

I have also noticed that college campuses tend to be filled with people that pride themselves on being intellectual, but a lot of them are mere parrots for something.

I think that critical thinking is probably the most crucial thing that young people should be taught. It could be because it was so difficult for me to break away from all of the old feelings of religions, that I damned near study everything and anything to find out more and am quick to jump in and say that I know nothing about a subject when touching upon it. It seems that has given me a more broader perspective of looking at things and not through the false dichotomy of this way or that way. Thanks for responding and giving me an even broader perspective on this thing to think about.

“It is proof of a base and low mind for one to wish to think with the masses or majority, merely because the majority is the majority. Truth does not change because it is, or is not, believed by a majority of the people.”
― Giordano Bruno


iwbiek
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harleysportster wrote: I

harleysportster wrote:

 

I have also noticed that college campuses tend to be filled with people that pride themselves on being intellectual, but a lot of them are mere parrots for something.

 

i'm only just now, at the age of 31, beginning to suspect i might be an intellectual, in that i'm beginning to develop my own ideas and worldview in a systematic, communicable way.  one literal meaning of "intellectual" is having a developed faculty for discrimination, which requires dispassionate objectivity.  one must learn to take each situation, each individual, each continuum as a thing-in-itself, and only apply syllogisms when direct perception is either impossible or exhausted.

if x self-identifies as a christian, muslim, jew, democrat, republican, physicalist, spiritualist, or what have you, these labels might be useful in an auxilliary way, but the fact that x is x trumps everything else.  is x pleasant?  is x reliable?  is x honest?  is x useful?  is x altruistic?  is x nonviolent?  is x compassionate?  if so, then in my position as a humanist, i can find no fault with x.  i'm essentially a conservative person (i don't mean that politically), and one thing my studies of buddhism have convinced me of is that a thing is inseparable from its constituent parts.  therefore, if x fulfills my above humanistic criteria of what constitutes "good," then changing x, making x an atheist rather than a christian, for example, or a democrat rather than a republican, might just as easily do as much harm as good.  in other words, if it ain't broke, don't fix it.

an example of a common syllogism found in many people's thinking on this site is,

christianity is at root harmful;

x is a christian;

therefore, were x not a christian, he would be less likely to do harm.

such syllogisms cannot stand up to direct perception of x in terms of calculating his capacity for doing good.  if i perceive x never does harm, that invalidates the inference that x must be ultimately harmful, or have more capacity to harm, because he is a christian.  indeed, it makes the syllogism useless. 

how can we move from inferential knowledge to superior perceptual knowledge?  get to know x.  there's no other way.

"I have never felt comfortable around people who talk about their feelings for Jesus, or any other deity for that matter, because they are usually none too bright. . . . Or maybe 'stupid' is a better way of saying it; but I have never seen much point in getting heavy with either stupid people or Jesus freaks, just as long as they don't bother me. In a world as weird and cruel as this one we have made for ourselves, I figure anybody who can find peace and personal happiness without ripping off somebody else deserves to be left alone. They will not inherit the earth, but then neither will I. . . . And I have learned to live, as it were, with the idea that I will never find peace and happiness, either. But as long as I know there's a pretty good chance I can get my hands on either one of them every once in a while, I do the best I can between high spots."
--Hunter S. Thompson


harleysportster
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iwbiek wrote:i'm only just

iwbiek wrote:

i'm only just now, at the age of 31, beginning to suspect i might be an intellectual, in that i'm beginning to develop my own ideas and worldview in a systematic, communicable way.  one literal meaning of "intellectual" is having a developed faculty for discrimination, which requires dispassionate objectivity.  one must learn to take each situation, each individual, each continuum as a thing-in-itself, and only apply syllogisms when direct perception is either impossible or exhausted.

if x self-identifies as a christian, muslim, jew, democrat, republican, physicalist, spiritualist, or what have you, these labels might be useful in an auxilliary way, but the fact that x is x trumps everything else.  is x pleasant?  is x reliable?  is x honest?  is x useful?  is x altruistic?  is x nonviolent?  is x compassionate?  if so, then in my position as a humanist, i can find no fault with x.  i'm essentially a conservative person (i don't mean that politically), and one thing my studies of buddhism have convinced me of is that a thing is inseparable from its constituent parts.  therefore, if x fulfills my above humanistic criteria of what constitutes "good," then changing x, making x an atheist rather than a christian, for example, or a democrat rather than a republican, might just as easily do as much harm as good.  in other words, if it ain't broke, don't fix it.

an example of a common syllogism found in many people's thinking on this site is,

christianity is at root harmful;

x is a christian;

therefore, were x not a christian, he would be less likely to do harm.

such syllogisms cannot stand up to direct perception of x in terms of calculating his capacity for doing good.  if i perceive x never does harm, that invalidates the inference that x must be ultimately harmful, or have more capacity to harm, because he is a christian.  indeed, it makes the syllogism useless. 

how can we move from inferential knowledge to superior perceptual knowledge?  get to know x.  there's no other way.

That is a very interesting response as well as a good lesson on logic.

I would share the viewpoint that total Atheism is not best for everyone.

For instance, as I have stated on here before, my girlfriend is a Wiccan/Pagan and so are her friends. Whenever one of them says some hokey thing to me like : "Blessings your way." I generally say absolutely nothing. Why ? Because they are quite sincere  and very well meaning people that have no desire to harm anyone. So why stir shit with them? They are not trying to force anyone to think some way, and they are certainly not out to change anything.

I would probably say the same thing about some of the more tolerant theists in my family (they are next to none) but one or two of them that I am still on speaking terms with is a devout Catholic and knows my feelings and it just is never discussed.

Either I am getting more mellow now that I have hit the grand old age of 36. Or something is happening (perhaps some Wiccans cast a spell on me without my conent). But  it occurred to me a little over a year ago, that if I was going to truly make the assertion that there were not any absolutes, and if I was going to claim that there were not any answers, then I would be a bit of an asshole if I was going to decide for everyone what to believe and not to believe.

That was around the same time that I started to really try to enrich my knowledge around me a bit.

That was around the time that I first got interested in Communism and had begun asking questions. Not necessarily because I wanted to become a Communist, but because I had heard how awful it was my whole life, and had never taken the time to really delve into its history or what all happened at the time.

Lo and behold, I get a chance to Facebook with Russians as a result of it. Topics range from television to weather to whatever.

Truth to be told, it is one of the reasons that I began delving into a whole lot of other types of works that are not constricted to things that would confirm my biases.

I have found that the more knowledge I have about an issue, the better I can articulate it.

I think part of the reason for bringing this topic up, was that particular conversation had me thinking about how often I have operated from a false dichotomy of good/bad, right/wrong, etc. It was an all or nothing equation for me for many years and I did not know if religion had something to do with it or not.

Perhaps just broadening my reading list may have had something to do with it.

There was a time that I was raging an all out holy jihad against everything that had a church and steeple on it. While I am still and Atheist and still believe that religion is not a good thing. I am a not out to see it completely destroyed either.

“It is proof of a base and low mind for one to wish to think with the masses or majority, merely because the majority is the majority. Truth does not change because it is, or is not, believed by a majority of the people.”
― Giordano Bruno