So I got into an argument with my mother over religion

Medievalguy
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So I got into an argument with my mother over religion

I pretty much shot down every argument of her except one. It is my one weakspot that I am painfully aware of. I tried to start a thread on it earlier, but never got any satisfactory responses. The only argument of hers that I could completely destroy was that religion gives people hope. (She got so emotional at this point she started to cry a bit, which i found funny) But yeah. So what do I say to that?  Religion gives people who are dire situations hope. The only answer I could think to give her was that the hope religion gives (false hope) does not justify all the other side effects of religion (child indoctrination, killing, discrimination, you know the list). To that she said that it doesn't need to justify it, (that doesn't make sense to me) and that you can have the hope without all the rest of the religion. (also doesn't make sense to me)  She also refused to believe me that we didn't get our moral center from God and the Bible. (I even showed her that video "Proof the Bible is repulsive", and repeated Dawkins answer to "God is the ultimate good, and from that we judge all other goodness&quotEye-wink Now mind you, my mom is nowhere near those bible fundies. She is ok with me being atheist (but she was upset when i told her i wasn't going to go to church with the rest of the (extended) family over xmas) But come on, i need some help with this one weakspot in my argument. What would you say to a person that tried to justify the belief in the existance of god b/c it gives people hope?


magilum
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Why do you need religion to

Why do you need religion to have hope?


Li Yuki
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Wow man that is so creepy,

Wow man that is so creepy, i just had an argument with my mom earlier that seems to be kinda like your argument with your mom.(By the way my Mom is ok with me being an atheist too and by ok i mean she can get in sort of a denile about it sometimes. It's actually kinda funny but whatever.) Anyways this is how i respond to that sort of question.

It's fine that it can give people hope in times of need(some people just don't seem to have the mental strengh to get over things, especially a family like mine that has a history of depression in it), but that no where nears justify all the bad it does. It can cause years of damage to your critical thinking skills, basically make you a robot, cause unnecisary death, give false hope, and much more including stupifying(sp?) science. Besides there are much better, and safer ways to get over terriable incedents.

Sorry for the spelling mistakes, It's late and i can't think clearly. 

Warning the following post may be offensive to certain people. Theist are not advised to read unless they are prepared to debate!
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Iruka Naminori
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I have a couple of answers

I have a couple of answers to that:

1) Does it really give them hope? Those who have been indoctrinated to believe OR ELSE fear hell and fear god. When my father, a fundy's fundy, learned he had terminal cancer, he said, "God is punishing me." When the moment of his death came, he was terrified. I know. He could no longer speak, but the stark terror was palpable. I started making up stuff about heaven--stuff I didn't believe anymore--to comfort him. And yes, it finally comforted him as the last breath left his body.

But what had caused the need to be comforted?

Several years ago, I had to go under general anesthesia every other day for two weeks. At the time, I had not yet banished my fear of hell, even though I no longer cognitively believed in it. I was also terrified of death: terrified it really was the end. When I came out of the anesthesia, it felt like coming from nothing...like coming back from the grave.

The sensation was completely unnerving. It scared the hell out of me. I was terrified both of going to hell and of ceasing to exist. I know that makes no sense, but it sometimes takes a long time for our emotions to catch up with what we know.

After my penultimate treatment, I felt that strange sensation...like coming back from death itself. I forgot I had diabetes so when the nurse gave me some 7up, I swallowed it. When I was in the car and on the way home (they didn't make me stay), I played back the experience in my mind and totally freaked. I was terrified of hell...terrified of the nothingness.  And I still had ONE MORE TREATMENT!!!!

I started bawling.

My mother prayed for me and to this day she claimed it "comforted" me. Yeah, maybe it did. An illogical fear of hell can be comforted by an illogical belief in god.

I thought of it this way: It was as if god had given me a black eye then applied a poultice to the bruise. And that's what religion does: It creates need where there is no need. It makes you believe you're a wretched, hellbound sinner and that you NEED Jesus to save you. In fact, I think the idea has permeated our very culture.

Religion comforts, but it only comforts what it caused (or exacerbated) in the first place: FEAR OF DEATH. Fear of death is the reason we crave hope. But religion takes that fear and magnifies it all out of proportion, but in my experience, it does not provide enough hope to make up for the FEAR it caused in the first place.

_____

2) “The fact that a believer is happier than a skeptic is no more to the point than the fact that a drunken man is happier than a sober one.” -George Bernard Shaw

____

I believe The God Delusion had something to say on this matter...or maybe it was an RRS Show: the Irrational Precepts show about religion.

____

On edit: I had an argument with my mom last week.

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Maragon
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The only hope religion gives

The only hope religion gives you is a remedy to the fears that it instilled in you in the first place.


Iruka Naminori
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Maragon wrote: The only

Maragon wrote:
The only hope religion gives you is a remedy to the fears that it instilled in you in the first place.

LOL...you said in one line what took me several paragraphs. Eye-wink 

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Medievalguy
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Nice posts so far. But the

Nice posts so far. But the "hope" i'm talking about isn't so much hope from the fear of going to hell, but the hope someone has that someday their life will get better, like somebody praying that they will get a break in their job, or somebody trapped on a mountian praying help will come. The kinda hope that make people feel like "they aren't alone". (which is stupid, b/c if there is an all powerful god, it's his plan that you're royally fucked and in the jam you're praying to get out of). Its that kind of hope my mom was talking about. She pointed out that her best friend (who IS a fundie) had a child diagnosed with a rare blood disease. Only 2 other children in all of the Tampa bay area (where they lived) had it, they both died. Her child survived. She attributes it to her faith in god and the fact that she made him eat all this stuff she made by hand that she found in the bible (including baking her own bread). This woman has has a pretty rough life, and has often relied on her hope and faith in God to get her through. Thats the kinda hope i'm trying to come up with an answer to. But i like the post so far. Thanks Smiling


Magus
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Iruka Naminori

Iruka Naminori wrote:

Several years ago, I had to go under general anesthesia every other day for two weeks. At the time, I had not yet banished my fear of hell, even though I no longer cognitively believed in it. I was also terrified of death: terrified it really was the end. When I came out of the anesthesia, it felt like coming from nothing...like coming back from the grave.

The sensation was completely unnerving. It scared the hell out of me. I was terrified both of going to hell and of ceasing to exist. I know that makes no sense, but it sometimes takes a long time for our emotions to catch up with what we know.

After my penultimate treatment, I felt that strange sensation...like coming back from death itself. I forgot I had diabetes so when the nurse gave me some 7up, I swallowed it. When I was in the car and on the way home (they didn't make me stay), I played back the experience in my mind and totally freaked. I was terrified of hell...terrified of the nothingness. And I still had ONE MORE TREATMENT!!!!


  <Off topic sorry>  Under my first trip under anesthesia I recall the same exact thing as you described, almost like I wasn't there anymore... The second time I went under anesthesia I remember a dream and time elaspe.  I would only under for 2 hours.  Maybe after the effects of anesthesia I went directly into a dream like state.  


Sounds made up...
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Li Yuki
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Wow, I am sorry but that

Wow, I am sorry but that seems like a really stupid reason. Tell your Mom to do some research herself on her beleifs if she hasn't already done so.

WARNING THE FOLLOWING POST MIGHT BE OFFENSIVE TO CERTAIN PEOPLE! YOU WERE WARNED

First of all the general population seems to pray to the god they beleive in WHENEVER something bad happens and the one time out of a million times they get what they pray for they claim it's a miracle and undeniable proof that god exists.

Second point

it seems that she thinks her child was saved through her praying to god and not because of science, genes or anything else. Then how can she explain the other 2 deaths that happened. Could she possiably say that the other 2 kids died because their families didn't pray enough, or maybe it's because the other kids life wasn't as important as her kid's life. Well if she thinks it's because they didn't pray enough- what if no one liked the kid in suffering and he basically had a screwed up life, does that mean the kid deserves to die? I hope not. If she is still convinced that prayer was what saved the kid then how could she walk up to someone like a rape victim and say to them it only happend to them because they never prayed for it not to happen. Complete BS.

 

Anyways im tired and i well try to check what i wrote for spell errors but i am REALLY tired so please forgive me for all the retardedness(lol? is that even a word) in my post. Oh yeah i might seem a lil angry because im tired, and I'm sorry if someone already gave a response that was like mine, I was just slow to type out my post. Did i mention i was tired?

Thanks by the way you just gave me an idea for my first sig. 

Warning the following post may be offensive to certain people. Theist are not advised to read unless they are prepared to debate!
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MrRage
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I have a some problems with

I have a some problems with the religion-gives-me-hope argument. (I'm close to finishing Breaking the Spell by Daniel Dennett, so most of these ideas come from his book.)

This argument is akin to arguing for religion with personal experiences. A Christian may have hope, but Christianity didn't give me hope. This would only keep the believer believing. But it won't convince me, because it's only evidence to them.

Have there been any serious studies into this claim? Usually what I hear is a few personal stories about someone overcoming drugs, depression, etc after a conversion experience. So, sure some people get hope from religion, but is that the usual experience? It might be true that for every story of a restored hope there is one similar Iruka's heart wrenching experiences. Until the religious do the research and back up their claims with data, religion-gives-people-hope is only anecdote and conjecture.

As magilum said, "Why do you need religion to have hope?" Even if religion gives hope to most of it's faithful, this doesn't mean there are other ways to live a fulfilled and contented life. These could even be better than what current religions offer, and they wouldn't require us to hold to bronze age myths.

These supposed benefits of religion probably all have natural, i.e. non-supernatural, explanations. (I think they all have natural explainations, but I'm weakening the statement to make it more acceptable.) Many religions promote self reflection, strong communities, etc. I find it more believable that these things are what help people not a god. Communities are often the biggest selling point of religions, and is the only thing I really miss from my christian days.

This argument doesn't show that any one religion is true. Followers of various and conflicting faiths claim their religion gives their life meaning. Undoubtedly they're all sincere in their beliefs. There's simply no way that this argument can determine the veracity of the various claims that religions make.

The only thing that the religion-gives-me-hope argument does is provide an argument for toleration of religions. Obviously some people need their faiths to cope with life. I know this is true of my parents, so I have no desire to force my viewpoints on them. But, for those who don't need that crutch, please, spare us the irrational appeals to emotion.


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Well it looks like a

Well it looks like a straight up appeal to emotion. Just because positive emotions are attached to it doesn't make it right.

Does that help?


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Good for her fundie friend,

Good for her fundie friend, I am glad her child got better but, it changes nothing.  There are feelings and then there are facts. I may experience positive feelings: excitement, inspiration, hope from reading a superman comic but that does not make superman real.

It sounds like she has taken the blue pill. There are going to be people who are content to live in the fantasy world regardless of the truth and there are those who take the red pill who want live the truth.


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I would ask her hope for

I would ask her hope for what? What about what is going on right now in her life. What is so horrible about right now that people need a future in order for now to be meaningful. Now is the future of the past. enjoy it!!

"Those who think they know don't know. Those that know they don't know, know."


V1per41
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I would simply point out

I would simply point out that even though it gives someone hope that doesn't mean that any of it's true.

Plus you don't really need relegion to have hope.  If I were trapped on a mountain in a storm I would hope that someone would save me.  Or if I were in a burning building, I would hope that I survive.  You don't really need religion for these things.

"It is far better to grasp the Universe as it really is than to persist in delusion, however satisfying and reassuring." - Carl Sagan


Nero
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I am cool with the fact

I am cool with the fact that your were discussing religion with your mother and tried to show her a rational alternative.  I find it a little twisted that when you brought her to tears, it made you want to laugh.  That doesn't say anything about religion or atheism.  It says something about sadistic qualities.

 Disassociating yourself from religion is very different than being cruel.

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The ultimate problem with

The ultimate problem with all "hope" arguments is that it reveals disdain for truth. The implication is it's OK to believe falsehoods if they provide some sort of psychological satisfaction.

My standard response is I would have know a painful truth than a pleasant lie.


Vorax
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  Anyone can hope things

 

Anyone can hope things will work out - you don't need god for that.  Praying to god is pointless even by biblical standards - lets suppose the christian god exists - he has what they call a "plan for each of us" - thinking he will modify the plan if you pray is putting a whole secondary level of delusion onto the faith.

The bible says god is all knowing and all powerful; from his position, the thing the person is praying about has already been determined.  If for example you are on a hill with a broken leg and about to starve and pray for rescue - by biblical accounts, you are already going to die or live, god has determined it already in his "plan for you".  Iif he is going to let you die, it's his call and thinking or suggesting (prayer) you know more then an all knowing sky daddy (thus he might take your suggestion to let him live into account...HAHAHA...no) then you are only delluding yourself.  The bible offers no hope.

For some other thoughts, I wrote a blog entry on this very topic and show why Atheism does offer hope, not hope that you will be rescued (but neither does the bible), but hope for the future.

Check it out here  

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Medievalguy
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Nero wrote: I am cool with

Nero wrote:

I am cool with the fact that your were discussing religion with your mother and tried to show her a rational alternative. I find it a little twisted that when you brought her to tears, it made you want to laugh. That doesn't say anything about religion or atheism. It says something about sadistic qualities.

Disassociating yourself from religion is very different than being cruel.

Whoa whoa whoa, hold on a minute, i think i came across wrong. I didn't bring her to tears, and I wouldn't have laughed at her had I, I'm not a cruel person. You kinda just have to know my mother, I was laughing (quietly and mainly to myself, not in her face) when she started to tear up talking about it. I was doing this b/c i was completely suprised that she would get that emotional about it, and partly i was thinking "Oh no, not again". (She gets emotional over the littlest things) But I am in no way a cruel person. 

V1per41 wrote:

I would simply point out that even though it gives someone hope that doesn't mean that any of it's true.

I agree with you completely, but I have run acrossed people who reply to that very argument with "Why does it have to be true? Why is the truth so important?" (Which just blows my mind how somebody could think that) 

 


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I would never try to argue

I would never try to argue against the comfort factor of religion, I would merely point out that it has no relevance to the truth.

A person who has cancer and who is told he/she doesn't have cancer of course is going to have a new lease on life (at least for a while), but that doesn't mean it's true.

That doesn't mean an atheist is without hope, it just means that the atheist doesn't derive that hope from a potentially ficticious deity and afterlife.

If I was in such a position as being diagnosed with cancer of some kind for example, I would find hope in wanting to see my kids grow up, I'd hope to stand with my wife on our 70th wedding anniversary and tell her I love her, I'd hope to witness amazing amounts of human progress and discoveries. etc etc

Essentially, the idea of an afterlife and a god doesn't do anything for me, comfort-wise.  I see enough beauty and potential in this, the only life I have evidence for, to satisfy me until well beyond the end of my days.

 What comfort can I get from a god that is just as likely to smite me as help me?