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Religious gullibility

#1almasbabyPosted 3/27/2013 6:18:19 AM
I just came across this movie on Netflix about a guy who set himself up as a guru to make a documentary on religious gullibility. People actually thought this guy had some special insights that they could learn from him. Is this the way all religions are? Are we making something out of nothing? Are the great spiritual leaders only what we make of them and no more?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Liqtk_qV0PE
#2kts123Posted 3/27/2013 6:24:24 AM
I recently saw an atheist arguing with a Christian on my news feed. One was promoting ID while the other Evolution. The sad part was that neither of them had the slightest clue about Evolution, yet both vehemently supported their view sans knowledge of the subject.

Now, I have noticed a lot of the people in my local "church circle" are horrendously gullible. But of the atheists I know, they are too, just in a different way.
#3almasbaby(Topic Creator)Posted 3/27/2013 6:54:05 AM
I think gullibility must be part of our chemistry. We want to believe so it's easy for people like Kumare to get over on us. I also think that the more followers a spiritual leader has the easier it is for him to gather more - you look at all these people saying he's enlightened or divine, and you figure maybe they know something you don't, and wouldn't it be nice to have that in your own life? The worst part (or best?) is we can actually convince ourselves that we find it.
#4FingerpuppetPosted 3/27/2013 10:02:22 AM
There are a few scenarios.


1) People only want to be comforted, thus they stick with the most comforting view.
-Religion provides an afterlife; no gullibility (just weakness)

2) People haven't learned to question their views and accept whatever an authority position states.
-Religious authority promotes gullibility

3) Someone believes there is evidence and believes it
-No gullibility, but a possible lack of critical thinking

4) Someone is an atheist for standard reasons (no evidence, incompatibility, unsound arguments, etc.)
-No gullibility, but possible stubbornness

5) Someone is an atheist because their life sucks and are trying to rebel (these are the faketheists)
-They seek to justify it by any means, even if they don't understand it.

6) People smoke too much pot
-They have brain damage
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The problem starts when we are having a discussion just fine and you come along and derail the topic because you can't stand us all having the same definition.
#5almasbaby(Topic Creator)Posted 3/27/2013 5:08:53 PM
Whatever the scenario, this guy is an admitted fake and his followers fell for it hook, line and sinker. I wonder what the people in the documentary thought when they saw themselves in the movie. That has to be embarassing. He may have done them a favor by forcing them to re-evaluate their concepts of reality.
#6kozlo100Posted 3/27/2013 5:14:25 PM
I don't think it's a particularly religiously related thing. I think humans in general are just kind of gullible. If I had to guess I'd say it arises from the fact that we're social pack animals, so we're predisposed to trust others of our species, particularly when they're telling us something we want to hear.

Whether it's someone telling you this religion is the right one, this car is a really great deal, I swear I'm not cheating on you, or this pill will make you look twenty years younger, we just kind of fall for it kind of a lot of the time.
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Time flies like the wind,
and fruit flies like a banana.
#7KNessJMPosted 3/27/2013 5:43:33 PM
What kozlo said. If there's an especially strong predominant psychological trait that seemingly all humans share in common, across cultural boundaries, then there's a good chance that it has something to do with how we evolved.

Gullibility regarding danger is especially easy to understand in an evolutionary context. If, thousands of years ago, someone shouted "RUN! LION!", then everybody who ran would likely survive. However, the skeptic that remained behind to see if there really was a lion coming might be eaten. Over time, those who are more gullible in regards to claims of danger were more likely to survive, and whatever psychological trait that made them more susceptible was more likely to be passed on.

Notice how many scams and conspiracy theories are predicated upon people's fears and insecurities. This formula will keep you from getting cancer, the government is taking away your freedoms, aliens are abducting people, God will punish you if you don't act this way, etc. We as humans have been bred to have a 'better safe than sorry' approach.
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Quote of the Week: "There is an inner logic and we're taught to stay far from it. It's simple and elegant but it's cruel and antithetic."
#8FingerpuppetPosted 3/27/2013 6:23:13 PM
KNessJM posted...
What kozlo said. If there's an especially strong predominant psychological trait that seemingly all humans share in common, across cultural boundaries, then there's a good chance that it has something to do with how we evolved.

Gullibility regarding danger is especially easy to understand in an evolutionary context. If, thousands of years ago, someone shouted "RUN! LION!", then everybody who ran would likely survive. However, the skeptic that remained behind to see if there really was a lion coming might be eaten. Over time, those who are more gullible in regards to claims of danger were more likely to survive, and whatever psychological trait that made them more susceptible was more likely to be passed on.

Notice how many scams and conspiracy theories are predicated upon people's fears and insecurities. This formula will keep you from getting cancer, the government is taking away your freedoms, aliens are abducting people, God will punish you if you don't act this way, etc. We as humans have been bred to have a 'better safe than sorry' approach.


Great. Science has ruined my night...well, thanks for this. It explains why 214 is so bad.
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The problem starts when we are having a discussion just fine and you come along and derail the topic because you can't stand us all having the same definition.
#9bratt100Posted 3/27/2013 6:35:03 PM
If it makes you feel any better, there are no more lions to stalk us.
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"If the victim was a mute, then she shouldn't really be out alone."- OrangeWizard on rape
#10JonWood007Posted 3/27/2013 7:16:53 PM
I will say from experience that when faced with adversity, there is nothing more comforting than believing that there is an all powerful force by your side looking out for you. Sometimes I wish it to be true. It would make life simpler. However, I know that it is not. I know that relying on such a force when none is there is more harmful than helpful, and sometimes you are really without divine help when facing your problems. Sometimes, not everything is going to be okay. This is something that gets under peoples' skin, makes them uncomfortable. Including myself. Sometimes I wish some form of god existed. However, to the best of my knowledge, I see no reason to believe there is one. And the evidence suggests that there isn't an all powerful force looking out for us. This is why the problem of evil is such a powerful argument against many forms of God. Because the facts don't line up with the fact that God does have a plan for us, looks out for us, comforts us in times of sorrow. There just isn't. And basing your worldview around something that doesn't exist is rather detrimental.

Just my take on why belief in God is such an attractive option to some people. When listening to Christian apologists, sometimes I don't think this guys can even fathom a world without God. The idea that there is not this perfect lawmaker to right wrongs and stuff just boggles their mind. They can't compute it. They can't compute a world that does not require God to bring it into being. They can't comprehend the fact that maybe God isn't there looking out for them. Call this a form of mental weakness (ie, not enough training with critical thinking), or a dependence of some kind (let's face it, some people just want order in their lives, and want to know everything is going to be okay) is up for debate, but I think a lot of people just want/need god in their lives even if he is not really there. Could be partially innate, or a need for socialization, etc.

That and despite our intellectual advances, religion is left as a remnant of a past in which we did not understand things. We didn't know how things came about, why things are as they are, so we made up gods to explain these things. We explained the world through gods. When things went wrong, we thought god was angry. When things went well, we thought we did something right. When it rained, we thought God was making it happen. When people did right and bad still happened to them, the ideas of Satan and persecution for being good were born. We made heaven to explain where people would go when they followed God, even if they were persecuted on earth. We made hell out of our pure hatred and wish for vengeance upon those doing the persecuting. Hell got out of hand when people realized no one is perfect and if one's enemies were going to be punished, they may be too.

These ideas were borne in an age when people didn't understand the world. Not only that, but in a world in which life was harsh. In which people often died before reaching 30. In which war reigned, disease was rampant, and people generally did horrible things to one another. Societies were basic, only a step or two above the brutal existence that is the state of nature. Religion was their way of understanding the world, and these ideas persist today. Sometimes people need to be comforted, but is false comfort really helpful? IMO it isn't. Quite frankly, looking back at my previous Christian life, I feel like I was delusional the whole time. That the world I believed in was fake. I felt like I was in the Matrix. Perhaps ignorance is bliss....until you begin to see cracks in the illusion, and as you slowly begin to realize that a lot of it is nonsensical, untrue, and ultimately unsupported. You try to process your life through these crumbling concepts, and you get paradoxes, infinite loops in logic, absurdities, and then you realize there's no evidence for any of it. Why believe?
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