When a man stops believing in God he doesn’t then believe in nothing, he believes anything - G KChesterton

by slimboyfat 8 Replies latest social entertainment

  • slimboyfat

    I have been reading Rodney Stark's new book Triumph of Faith, where he makes his argument afresh that religion is alive and well. In fact he says it's doing better than ever, and we are in the middle of a revival of faith.

    Above is a particular quote he likes to use when refuting secularisation. or generally the idea that, as humankind progresses toward greater enlightenment and rationality, it is becoming steadily less religious. He claims that even people who don't go to church still believe in the spiritual. He uses the example of Iceland. On the one hand secularists can point to it as a very secular country that's stopped going to church, stopped believing traditional Christian teaching, and has a relatively high number of atheists. On the other hand close to half of the population of Iceland believe that trolls live on the land. So much so that when they plan a new building they first seek confirmation from troll experts that they are not building on top of a troll settlement, which would bring terrible luck. Icelanders may have given up on the Christian God but the G K Chesterton rule seems to apply. How does that fit in with the idea that we are progressing toward rational secularity?

  • LoveUniHateExams

    It fits in very well with progress towards secularity, IMO.

    Lots of people - religious, deists, atheists, agnostics - claim to be 'spiritual' to some degree.

    I don't take secularism to mean the eradication of religion - it's simply about separating religion from state, getting rid of all the crappy bits of religion, and letting religious people understand that church and home are the only acceptable places for religion.

    Iceland might have a few people who believe in some eccentric things but it sounds like a great country.

  • slimboyfat

    It's not just trolls people turn to after rejecting God. Some make a religion out of evolution for example as we see on this forum.


  • DJS

    As Cofty says, bullocks.

    The quote you are so fond of SBF is similar to one used frequently by the fundie preacher Billy Graham. If you try to take a middle of the roach approach to god you will get run over from both directions. Other fundies have opined something similar - those who don't believe in anything will fall for everything.

    Utter bullocks and x-tian spin and nonsense at its worst. The rationals follow the evidence, without prejudice or emotion. That isn't believing in 'anything'; that isn't even belief. The only thing required to believe is to feel.

    Whistling through the graveyard is Mr. Stark. Religion is dying a much deserved, slow painful death. Without a doubt it will re-born like a Phoenix into something our planet and species can tolerate. A lot of humans will seek out religion for generations, because we are a pathetic species. Religion is the single most barrier in the way of the evolution of our species. The sooner it can be vanquished, and the 'need' for it removed, the better we will be as a species.

    And really, he wants to place ANY relevance to the word spiritual? Really, SBF? That word means anything and everything. I would use the word to describe many of the travels and excellent adventures I've been on the past 2 decades. I would use it to define my friendships and the relationships with my kids. I use it frequently to describe my GF's ass.

    None of those things have anything to do with religion or god. Hanging his hat on the relevance of that word is more whistling whilst walking by Mr. Stark. Through the graveyard.

  • tor1500

    Hi All,

    I find if there was no God, man would have to believe in something....example: Tooth Fairy, Fairy God Mother, Santa Claus, Leprechauns, & the like...None of these things can anyone see.

    I think there is something in us that needs to have something to believe in....it's in our Nature.

    Religion, I think the purpose of it has gone way beyond what the purpose was to be....I think, what the original purpose was supposed to be was to watch out for your fellow man, rich or poor, if you have it share it. If you see someone in need, help them, care for the sick or elderly....give up your seat on the bus/train, give someone your umbrella if it's raining...if you see someone at the store, & they are short a few pennies or dollars, help them, help someone across the street & so on....Treat folks the way you want to be treated...

    But guess What ???? That's too simple...folks much rather say the Lord's prayer backwards, standing on one foot, yep, that's easier....or tell you what to do, but won't do it themselves...


  • LisaRose

    So because some people in Iceland believe in Trolls, and Iceland is a secular country, it means that Atheists have all just traded in one set of superstitions for another? That's patently ridiculous. Not being religious does not necessarily mean you are an atheist, it simply means you are not religious. Now if you had a statistic that said the X percentage of Atheists believe in Trolls, you might make a case, but you don't have that.

  • David_Jay

    Pardon my words, those of you who love Chesterton--and I do like some of his proverbial statements quite a bit--but I find this comment of his very offensive and very untrue.

    I am not an atheist, but I have atheist friends who I have loved dearly and are like family to me. Just because one does not believe in Chesterton's Catholic notions of God (and they are very limited to Catholicism) doesn't make them more likely a fool who will fall for other things.

    On the contrary, a house built on reason is a house where the owner knows where all the nails are holding his structure together. A house built merely on faith is one where the owner believes there are nails, even where there may not be.

    Now to be fair, being atheist doesn't prevent people from being stupid anymore than being religious guarantees that a person will be just and good. Being Jewish there are many of my family members who hold on to and practice superstitions, even those beliefs that Jews are supposed to avoid, and it rubs me the wrong way. Living in a predominantly Catholic neighborhood growing up I can also list all the ridiculous things that many of these theists believed--knock on wood as I toss some salt over my shoulder. ;)

    I know atheists who believe in UFOs (and I means "little green men"), Bigfoot, ghosts, and more. These are very rational people too. But nodody's perfect or immune from choosing to believe in things others think aren't real.

    Having an ideology, taking ownership of a creed, siding with a philosophy, and even joining the Catholic Church or the Jehovah's Witnesses does not prevent people from failing to live up to their own standards that they make claim to. Belonging to the ethnic group that invented the God that Chesterton claimed to worship does not prevent my people from thinking and doing foolish things. Being able to quote the Ten Commandments and the Sh'ma in Hebrew doesn't prevent me from committing adultery, coveting, and worshipping idols.

    Chesterton has written many clever things (my favorite line of his I like: Being found in a church every Sunday does not make one a Christian anymore than standing in a garage makes one a car.) But alas, sayings are not the same as axioms based on reality.

    No ideological or belief system, religion included, is an automatic preventative from being a fool, stupid, and outright wrong. Neither is being an atheist mean you have created a void that trolls, the Loch Ness monster, and Yetis must now fill because God is not there.

  • David_Jay

    To add one more note (as if I haven't pontificated enough), to believe that God is not present in voids made by mere mortals is to belie a theist's claim of belief in God.

    If one believes in the God of Abraham, one also believes that God is everywhere. One who believes that the Almighty can be fully excised by a mere mortal is one that doesn't really believe in God.

    (This isn't saying that the atheist view that there is no God to begin with is wrong.)
  • slimboyfat

    Treating evolution as a religion borders on superstition like believing in trolls.

    The opposite of belief isn't atheist it's apathy.

Share this