Do we prevent somebody being hurt by superstition or faith by rejecting and challenging those things? 

Is it mistaken to support organised religion in membership or donations?

If people do good because they are human, not because God prompts them then is it right to risk giving God any credit when they alone own their good?

Patrick H
Gormley


Peter Boghossian on faith

Atheism aspires to depending on evidence and facts.  It sees no reason to find God in them.  Religion says it cares as much about evidence and truth too which is why it ends up with faith in God.  It says evidence and facts point to God. But atheism is not seeing a purpose directing the evidence and facts and religion is. God uses evidence and facts to say he is there and in them.  So atheism does not require something special or magical and faith does.  Atheism does not treat evidence and truth as a communication but as something that is just there.  This makes a huge difference between atheist and believer. 

Religious faith has murdered millions.  Women died from being deprived of abortion under Catholic regimes particularly in poor countries. Moses and Muhammad were mass-murderers.  Some feel that the root problem is how faith gets people detached from reality and they may not realise that their victims are being been by them as toys or objects to be destroyed if you feel like it.

David according to the Bible did the wrong thing wearing the armour and was better facing the giant without it and just trusting in God.  So he faces the giant with a stone and a sling.  Jesus is an example of reckless mad faith too - he as good as asked for the crucifixion.  And so is Abraham who was going to murder his son as a sacrifice and who got a huge reward from God for choosing to do so.

Peter Boghossian insists that the following ideas are true. One is that religious faith is always based on something other than evidence which means it is futile as a guide to truth. Two, that it is like a mental virus, a meme. It is a disease that needs to be stopped in its tracks and wiped out.  I am not going to dwell on the mental virus idea except to say I prefer to see faith not as a virus but something that works like a virus does.  The idea that faith is a virus of the mind corresponding to a computer virus seems too open to ridicule and appears untrue.  A virus does harm to spread. For example the flu makes your chest sore and thus you cough and spread the viruses in your breath.  A religious virus tends to harm children and thus that way it spreads itself.

Critics of religion will repeat the teaching of the religion.  This amounts to doing the evangelization for the religion.  Theology and life both show that the message can have an uncanny ability to grip some people.  It is usually put down to the influence of the Holy Spirit.  People open to the idea of the supernatural and paranormal will agree that there is something odd about the influence never mind if it is from the Holy Spirit or not.  The power of preaching the so-called gospel and "bewitching" people especially the vulnerable is real and atheists must be careful.  It is unexplained.  It stands to reason that this message, "You will sense that something is guiding you to accept the gospel and take its word for it.  This is the Holy Spirit at work" will capture people in a way that, "This is the teaching for a good life as far as we can work it out" cannot.  Testimony even an imagined one from God has power over what other humans think for there is nothing that special about what anybody thinks anyway.

He is right that faith in the supernatural or magical is trying to believe without evidence or caring about evidence. For example, if Jesus rose from the dead magically then we have to depend on hearsay to tell us that that was why his body vanished.  It is hearsay not evidence for if the magical happens there is nothing you can say if somebody says that the body was an illusion and was not there and that was how it vanished.  Or what if somebody says the miracle was in how the witnesses memories were altered so that their memories were false and thus there was no missing body?  You do not even need a miracle for the alteration of memories for that though unlikely can happen purely naturally.  Thus to say a miracle is evidence or that you have evidence for Jesus rising is a lie

Christianity says that God working inside us, changing us slowly from inside, is what matters is not any outward obedience to the religion or even to Jesus. Real obedience comes from the heart. That doctrine that faith is supernatural is an extremely dangerous doctrine in principle. And it does much harm. It urges a person who sees you trying to be good when you are not. This basic Christian teaching shows the whole system which is built on it is based on guesses. There is nothing to put to the test.

Some jump in to say that "religious faith is personally committing yourself to a supernatural person and is not about merely thinking that statements are true. You either agree with a belief or you do not, it is not a matter of choice. You cannot stop yourself thinking something is true - it just happens. But you can choose to trust a person. Even if you see a person as trustworthy, that does not mean you have to trust them. You might still choose not to trust."

Is that relevant? No - blind faith in a person is as bad as blind faith in statements or doctrines. And are they right that faith is a relationship and not just about doctrines? Yes but it is still both. There are statements by that person about that person. They are involved.

Christians always bring that statement of theirs up but it is not clear why. It does not help show that faith is about evidence. No - it does the opposite. It also implies that as a decent person trusts people that you are not decent if you do not trust Jesus. It is as nasty as Boghossian would say.

It proves his point that faith is poison.