Monday, February 27, 2006

Uncanny coincidence

Out of all of the sects in the world, we notice an uncanny coincidence: the overwhelming majority just happen to choose the one that their parents belong to. Not the sect that has the best evidence in its favour, the best miracles, the best moral code, the best cathedral, the best stained glass, the best music: when it comes to choosing from the smorgasbord of available religions, their potential virtues seem to count for nothing, compared to the matter of heredity. This is an unmistakable fact; nobody could seriously deny it. Yet people with full knowledge of the arbitrary nature of this heredity, somehow manage to go on believing in their religion, often with such fanaticism that they are prepared to murder people who follow a different one.
~Richard Dawkins

12 comments:

Stardust said...

Another uncanny coincidence...almost all of the world religions center around DEATH.

Because it is what humans fear the most and wish they could live forever. Most humans cannot handle the truth of our mortality.

vjack said...

You might want to read Pascal Boyer's Religion Explained. I'm about halfway through with it and have found it a great read. He challenges most of our standard explanations for religion, including the comfort and wish-fulfillment ones. Not that I agree with everything I read (I'm not a Christian, after all), but the perspective he brings from anthropology is quite interesting.

Stardust said...

vjack, I have heard that book mentioned so many times in comments on various blogs and used in argument in postings. I will find a copy and read it.

JDHURF said...

Richard Dawkins is the man....good quote!

Religion Explained is a great read, a fellow blogger suggested it to me (ben avuyah)

John W. Loftus said...

According to John Hick, “it is evident that in some ninety-nine percent of the cases the religion which an individual professes and to which he or she adheres depends upon the accidents of birth.

Someone born to Buddhist parents in Thailand is very likely to be a Buddhist, someone born to Muslim parents in Saudi Arabia to be a Muslim, someone born to Christian parents in Mexico to be a Christian, and so on.” [An Interpretation of Religion (p. 2)].

I've added your blog to my side bar.

Stardust said...

John W Loftus`

Thank you for stopping by and commenting on my blog. Thanks too for adding me to your sidebar. I find your blog intelligent with many good discussions and debates going on there.

Considering the religions of my friends and family, most adhere to the religion they were indoctrinated into as a child. A few of us have had the courage to break away from all that. And it does take courage to be different from others in a society. I sense that several family members and a couple of friends are "sitting on the fence" as one of the posts on your blog discusses. I think most people doubt, but are too afraid of imagined consequences after they are dead.

John W. Loftus said...

Say, can you email me where you found this quote from Dawkins, please?

I'd appreciate it, since I'm going to use it when discussing the Outsider Test for one's faith.

Edward T. Babinski said...

Thank God He made it easy to find the “one true faith.” So easy that your parents can pick it out for you before you are even born, and, in most places on earth, they do.

It’s even easier to find a “true” Christian as opposed to a false one, or a “true” Moslem as opposed to a false one. The “true” believer who understands what his holy book “really” says, always happens to be the one addressing you.

E.T.B.
____________________________

They told him a God of Near Eastern origin, the God of Abraham (who evidently had a stupendous bosom) and Isaac and Jacob, had made the whole universe, stars and atoms, from start to finish in six days and made it wonderfully and perfect, and had set it all going and, after some necessary setbacks called the Fall and the Flood, had developed arrangements that were to culminate in the earthly happiness and security and eternal bliss of our little Mr. Davis, which had seemed to him a very agreeable state of affairs. And further they had shown him the most convincing pictures of Adam and Eve and Cain and Abel and had given him a Noah’s Ark toy to play with [in times past the only acceptable toy to play with on Sundays was Noah’s ark] and told him simple Bible stories about the patriarchs and the infant Samuel and Solomon and David and their remarkable lessons for us, the promise of salvation spreading out from the Near East until it covered the world, and he had taken it all in without flinching because at the time he had no standards of comparison. Anything might be as true as anything else. Except for difference in color they put him into a world of Green Pastures and there they trained him to be a simply believing little Anglican.

H. G. Wells, “The Mind of Mr. Joseph Davis”
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Scientific education and religious education are incompatible. The clergy have ceased to interfere with education at the advanced stage, but they still control that of children. This means that children have to learn about Adam and Noah instead of evolution; about David killing Goliath instead of Koch killing cholera; about Christ’s ascent into heaven instead of Montgolfier’s or Wright’s. [SEE NOTE] Worse than that they are taught that it is a virtue to accept a statement without adequate evidence, which leaves them prey to quacks of every kind and makes it difficult for them to accept the methods of thought that are successful in science.

J. B. Haldane

[NOTE] Montgolfier ascended into the heavens via a balloon filled with hot air, and the Wright brothers designed and piloted the first successful heavier-than-air flying machine.
____________________________

BORN UNBELIEVERS? (CHILDREN’S LETTERS TO GOD)

“Dear God, Why is Sunday School on Sunday? I thought it was supposed to be our day of rest.”
- Tom L.

“Dear God, What does it mean you are a jealous God. I thought you had everything.”
- Jane

“Dear God, How come you did all those miracles in the old days and don’t do any now?”
- Seymour

Children’s Letters to God: The New Collection, compiled by Stuart Hample and Eric Marshall
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By dipping us children in the Bible so often, they hoped, I think, to give our lives a serious tint, and to provide us with quaintly magnificent snatches of prayer to produce as charms while, say, being mugged for our cash or jewels.

Annie Dillard, An American Childhood
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Fundamentalist preachers were horrified when they found out that children in public schools were forbidden to pray in unison. Everybody knows that little children just love to stand up and pray in unison. They do it on their own whenever they get the chance--that’s half of what goes on during recess. The slides and swings are just for little atheist children. In fact, in those evil public schools children were being whipped and beaten just to keep them from leaping out of their chairs a hundred times a day in spontaneous outbursts of hallelujahs and hymn-singing. In such ways, the public schools cruelly repressed children’s natural religious impulses.

Orson Scott Card, “Secular Humanist Revival Speech”
____________________________

I attended a Nativity play one Christmas in which children of different religions were playing the roles. “Isn’t it wonderful?” one parent whispered, “The child playing an angel is a Muslim, the one playing Mary is a Baptist, the one playing Joseph is a Jew.”

I said, “That’s funny, my child hasn’t decided what she is yet. I’m giving her a few more years.”

E.T.B.

Stardust said...

E.T.B - Thanks for stopping by and commenting.

I really enjoyed reading the quotes you provided. I will have to remember to use some of them in the future. I especially like the children's quotes.

I found this one "A child sees everything, looks straight at it, examines it, without any preconceived idea; most people, after they are about eleven or twelve, quite lose this power, they see everything through a few preconceived ideas which hang like a veil between them and the outer world." --Olive Schreiner

And this one "Too often we give children answers to remember rather than problems to solve." --Roger Lewin

tommykey said...

I used to be a Catholic because that was what I was born and raised to be. My father still goes to church on Sundays and during Ash Wednesday and days like that. But to my knowledge, he does not read the bible in his spare time. He bristles at my atheism, but he has never once asked my why I turned away from Catholicism. It just seems to me that it was drummed into him when he was a child that the Catholic Church was holy and good and that such things were not to be questioned.

One reason why Christianity in various forms spread throughout the developing world was that the natives would encounter Europeans with loud guns, big ships and all kinds of advanced technology and think "their god must be true, look how powerful they are!" The same holds true with Islam I suppose.

My wife is from the Philippines, which is overwhemingly Roman Catholic, except for the Muslims in the southern part of the archipelago. I joked to my wife that if the Spanish had reached the Philippines 100 years later, she would probably be a Muslim.

Stardust said...

Tommykey - thanks for stopping by and sharing your story.

Most of the time people do things because of traditions passed down in families. But after awhile we have to stop and question WHY are we continuing to do a certain thing when it seems senseless after awhile. Too many people are afraid to question things like tradition and religion.

Stardust said...

I have an example of something to add here...my son's roommate is from Sweden. He is of Iranian descent. He considers himself to be completely Swedish and though in Iran he would most likely be muslim, he doesn't have any religious beliefs at all. Environment and experience has a lot to do with what a person believes.