Thursday, May 7, 2009


Mimi of California asks:

I am amazed that so many people take God and Hell so lightly. CASE, what is the reason for this?

I chose the psychological angle to explain why non-believers (and even believers) do not constantly cower in fear of the supposed afterlife BBQ:

The reason is psychological and the same reason that theists come to fear death, even though they assume they are "saved".

The human brain has two sources of information, logos (logic, reality) and mythos (fantasy, imagination). These sources appear to be identical to the conscious mind, however, the subconscious retains some understanding that:

1. Logos can be trusted, in this way, we know that if we jump off a building, we will fall. There is no fear that we will not fall.

2. Mythos is untrustworthy, in this way, we know that although we think we are good looking, we have doubts about our personal attributes when we ask a girl on a date.

Similarly, if we are bungee jumping for the first time, our expected experience is only imagined (mythos) and we have doubt or fear about not stopping the fall in the face of our knowledge (logos) of gravity.

Because the brain knows that religious activity is mythos (fantasy and imagination), it does not create the same fear effect as if we were standing on a precipice over a ravine. That is, essentially, the reason why people take God and Hell so lightly.

However, there are many situations where the fear created appears to be logos deceptively. For instance, a child that is beaten, berated, socially ostracised or suffers some other coercion if they disagree with the Bible will naturally form the rule that disbelief brings about greater fear than professing belief and thus, will not tend to treat the matter lightly. Of course, this is a strong reason behind the use of peer groups in churches, particularly, youth groups. The sad conclusion, however, is that these children live in a world where the only alternative on any religious issue is fear, which is damaging to the psyche and potentially destructive to the life of the child.

1 comment:

David Gee said...

This article is appalling, you have pressumed two very false things before you even wrote back to this poor lady:

1. If left to themselves children would be naturally agnostic or atheistic

2. Christianity (again I note your reticience to identify Muslims in this regard) is naturally damaging to both people and society

The first assumption is very roundly refuted by a study done by Dr Justin Barrett, a senior researcher at the University of Oxford's Centre for Anthropology and Mind. He found that not only do children naturally have faith in a deity but that they believe creationism over evolution! So who is doing the indoctrination here?!

The second assumption is refuted by one of your own in britain, Matthew Parris. He knows what he is talking about having seen the poorest of the poor in africa and the effect of Christianity (interestingly reformed protestant Christianity at that). He claims that Africa needs God - socially and personally for each and every African.