Belief in god(s) is superstition based
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Author:  Stephen Uhl [ Thu Jul 17, 2008 11:01 am ]
Post subject:  Belief in god(s) is superstition based

The reader can come up with more than 50 reasons for believing if that reader is superstitious. "The central concept of superstition as understood throughout this book [namely Imagine No Superstition] is very close to the concept as defined by Webser: belief or practice resulting from ignorance, fear of the unknown, trust in magic or chance, or a false conception of causation." (p. 31)
Once reason is no longer a person's Highest Power, insecurity and fear quickly let superstition take over. And, once that happens, literally anything can be believed or cooked up as a reason for believing in something that is imagined to be greater than the well-functioning human mind. To counter or guard against such resultant insanity, we need to present our youngsters with good scientific or fact-based education so that they achieve good self-confidence and self-esteem levels. Then they will not go looking for new reasons to believe superstitiously.

Author:  Chris OConnor [ Thu Jul 17, 2008 3:48 pm ]
Post subject: 

Science education is definitely vital to conquering irrational thinking.

I'd say these are the most important areas of study....

1. Science
2. Critical Thinking
3. Comparative Religion

Author:  Lawrence [ Tue Jul 22, 2008 2:53 pm ]
Post subject:  A different perspective

Steven, it appears to me from yours and Mr. Harrison's book you are not considering what I think is fundamental in this discussion of is there a god or not. Here is my review of 50 reasons. I look forward to your reply to this post.

Like everyone else whose review I've read, I also found the author's presentation of this topic "Is there a god(s) is there no god(s)" respectful. That is so refreshing when most of the literature is polemic and does little to advance understanding of the issues. Mr. Harrison's book is an apologetic for those who choose to not believe there is god(s). I recommend the book to those who do believe there is a god. Mr. Harrison's rebuttal of the 50 reasons people give for believing in a god do show the truth of Mr. Harris' statement in his Letter to the Christian Nation "If people believed in anything else the way they believe in god they would be certified delusional." It might give those who believe there is a god some humility if they could better understand how silly they look to an outsider. I would not recommend this book to those who do not believe in a god because Mr. Harrison is preaching to the choir. Please excuse my mixing of metaphors. He tromps on very tromped ground and brings nothing new to the public discourse other than well phrased rebuttals.

I pluralized rebuttal and that is an error. Mr. Harrison makes one rebuttal 48 times. In Chapter 6, his logic was so corrupted I could not make heads or tails of what he was saying. His one rebuttal is "since believers cannot prove there is a god it is much more rational for them to believe there is no god" and be like us (non believers).

Such logic is flawed. He is criticizing not proving the improvable is therefore making another improvable (there is no god), true. The 50 topics in this book are simply foils for Mr. Harrison to make his argument. I found his argument to be similar to an eight year olds argument "My daddy is bigger than your daddy."

Beliefs are exactly what the dictionary says they are "acceptance by the mind that something is true or real, often underpinned by an emotional or spiritual sense of certainty." This is America. We are privileged to believe what ever we want. Our law lets my belief go right up to your nose. I cannot trespass. All of the uproar about this topic is the result of both sides failing to acknowledge the truth that the answer about god is that there is no answer only belief and the furor is the result of intolerance and American government's lack of neutrality on this subject.

Do I, like Mr. Harrison, know people who are irrational, psychotic, and neurotic in their belief in god? Of course! Folks are irrational about many things. What makes it special to be irrational about god(s)? What is a 350 pound man or women who is 5' 2" tall eating a second double cheeseburger? What is the fruitcake who sends spam? What is A Rod doing that is inconsistent with being a hero to youngsters? Believe it or not, I've been irrational, psychotic and neurotic on certain subjects at certain times. I suspicion you have too. It is inappropriate behavior for me to make anyone else behave in a manner that is pleasing to me. That is tyrannical. I say to Mr. Harrison "pick you fights but do a better job of knowing what the issue is you are addressing and offer a solution that is realistic."

Author:  Stephen Uhl [ Tue Jul 22, 2008 7:46 pm ]
Post subject:  Laurenceindestin

I think Mr. Harrison will perhaps want to reply to your remarks. You might get enjoy some further insights by reading all of Imagine No Superstition. Enjoy.

Author:  Penelope [ Tue Jul 29, 2008 9:56 am ]
Post subject: 

I would like to try to differentiate between 'superstition' and 'religion'.

I am not superstitious - in the sense of looking for omens and belief in magic charms. The cross for example is an instrument of torture, why wear it as jewellery?

When I went to visit Santiago di Compostella - I was saddened to see the market stalls all around, for the purchase of religious relics and various paraphernalia.......That is superstition.

When I walked up the cathedral steps there was a beggar there at the top and no one was donating or even appeared to notice him. - but if some one asks you for don't ask 'why?' you just help......that is 'my' religion......nothing to do with supersition.

Many an atheist would have helped him just out of natural goodness, I know....but my religion, spirituality...does prompt me.....because I don't think I am naturally good or compassionate. I recognise this because I am married to one atheist who is.

Author:  Chris OConnor [ Tue Jul 29, 2008 12:02 pm ]
Post subject: 

Good post, Penelope.

Author:  Penelope [ Tue Jul 29, 2008 1:00 pm ]
Post subject: 

Well, Thank you Chris!

Bless You! :laugh:

Author:  Chris OConnor [ Tue Jul 29, 2008 1:01 pm ]
Post subject: 

Stephen, I think saying "religion is superstition-based" is a little too simplistic. Yes, some people are religious because of superstitions, but not everyone is superstitious. Penelope claims to not be superstitious. Perhaps I don't fully understand your argument.

For the individual that gives Reason # 32: Millions of people can't be wrong about my religion, they are not displaying superstitious tendencies, but are actually committing the logical fallacy of Appeal to Popularity. ... arity.html

It would take much effort to force all "50 reasons" given by author Guy P. Harrison into a matter of superstitious beliefs. Where am I going wrong?

Author:  Chris OConnor [ Tue Jul 29, 2008 1:07 pm ]
Post subject: 

Stephen, after going back to your first post in this thread I'm now thinking we're probably more in agreement than not.

The central concept of superstition as understood throughout this book [namely Imagine No Superstition] is very close to the concept as defined by Webser: belief or practice resulting from ignorance, fear of the unknown, trust in magic or chance, or a false conception of causation.

When you expand the word "superstition" to include all of the above characteristics I do indeed agree that all religious belief is superstitious. Faith is derived from ignorance, lack of education, poor critical thinking skills, lack of exposure to competing ideas, base fears, etc... If these are elements of superstition than I am 100% behind your thesis.

Author:  Penelope [ Tue Jul 29, 2008 1:26 pm ]
Post subject: 

Chris - It would be scientific and eradicate all 'weak genes' in the human race.

All the kids who are 'Down's Syndrome' (for instance) would have to go.....that would be sensible.

But we LOVE them....they are lovable.....which is not sensible...but it is what religion is about....

This 'love' thing is a bloody nuisance....but it is the 'God' part of us...and it is not simple to sort.....

It is about 'love' which is an emotional response....not rational.....but I would like you to accept that everything which is not superstition......and I bloody well feel it too!!

Author:  Chris OConnor [ Tue Jul 29, 2008 1:38 pm ]
Post subject: 


Mr. Harrison's book is an apologetic for those who choose to not believe there is god(s).

I take issue with this statement, but I'm sure you'll find my point of contention trivial or one of semantics. Not believing in a God or gods is the default position of all human beings. You, me and even the Pope were born as atheists or "lacking the belief in a God or gods." I'm not saying that we were born with the actual belief that a God or gods do not exist, but we certainly lacked the belief. Does a new born infant believe in Santa Claus? Of course not. They are introduced to this myth at a time when they are old enough to grasp it, but not too old so as to know to reject it as irrational.

The same applies to the God concept. It is only when the God concept is introduced that people have a choice to make, namely, whether or not to believe in a God or gods. Typically, the myth of a deity is introduced when a person is in their youth - their brains are young, naive and impressionable. Belief is not an option at this developmental stage.

So I would argue that, in most cases, faith is not an option, but a byproduct of brainwashing. And brainwashing is abuse. Brainwashing a child is child abuse. Oh, I am dead serious.

But a rejection of the God hypothesis is not a "decision" any more than it is a decision to believe that the Earth is spherical. Using the word "decision" implies that the atheist makes a conscious choice between believing and not believing. Rejecting the God concept was not a choice for even a single atheist I know. We rejected the myth of God because the evidence is so lacking that belief wouldn't make sense.

I would not recommend this book to those who do not believe in a god because Mr. Harrison is preaching to the choir.

I'm an agnostic atheist and I find great value in this book. Understanding how and why people believe what they believe is important to me as I really think this is the first step in helping these same people get rid of the crutch of faith. You cannot help a delusional person if you don't understand the nature and cause of their delusions. If all atheists wanted to do was roll up in a ball and live a solitary existence as if they are not an integral part of a greater social group than I can see the futility on reading and learning about how delusional people think and believe. But I am influenced daily by the thoughts, beliefs and subsequent actions of the faithful. I want to understand how they tick.

Please excuse my mixing of metaphors. He tromps on very tromped ground and brings nothing new to the public discourse other than well phrased rebuttals.

Sometimes authors write books because they think they have a new way of introducing subject material. Guy Harrison does a fantastic job of stepping through the reasons people give for believing in a god -- better than anyone I have ever seen before. I see value in this book. He is direct and to the point using no unneeded philosophical fluff.

Author:  hegel1066 [ Tue Jul 29, 2008 1:52 pm ]
Post subject:  Chris:

It's precisely BECAUSE his book has no "philosophical fluff" (by which I'm sure you mean meaningful philosophical substance) that some of his arguments are so easily attacked.

I'm only on Chapter Five, since I'm writing my reviews and criticisms one chapter at a time, but it seems that in a lot of the chapters, he's building up a strawman Christianity, and then knocking it down. This isn't ALWAYS the case, but it has been with at least a couple of chapters.

He should have called this book "50 Reasons why the Overly Credulous and Bloody-Knuckled Believe in God."

-John (hegel1066)

Author:  Chris OConnor [ Tue Jul 29, 2008 2:04 pm ]
Post subject: 

I consider ALL philosophy to be irrelevant in this discussion (yet I love reading and thinking about philosophical issues.) Whether or not a God exists is more the domain of science, despite the continuous efforts of the faithful to set religous belief somehow apart from scientific inquiry and examination.

If a God is there we should see evidence. And we don't.

Author:  Stephen Uhl [ Tue Jul 29, 2008 2:09 pm ]
Post subject:  Belief in God is superstititon

To Chris and Penelope:

I appreciate very much, Chris, the fact that you went back to analyze my definition of superstition with the resultant agreement. Over the decades, I have given this matter a lot of thought. Thanks again.

Penelope, I think love is not a bloody nuisance; it is indispensible to our deep (spiritual but non-religious, certainly non-supernatural-religious) meaning of life. This is most reasonable, namely to treat others as you would reasonably want and expect them to treat you if the roles were reversed. This is how I define the revised Golden Rule in my book, and I stand by it as being very rational, and very smartly selfish--not a nuisance, but a joy producer!

Congratulations, P, on living with a good atheist; I have found that most atheists are really good folk, probably because they are far more honest than the average superstitous person or wishful thinker. It is reasonable (long term) to be good to one another, starting with self but not ending with self.

Enjoy honest reality,


Author:  hegel1066 [ Tue Jul 29, 2008 2:11 pm ]
Post subject: 

How can you honestly say that philosophy is irrelevant? You're stuck on one, single-minded conception of a Big Man In The Sky, Chris. He's not a little elf that drops clues so we can go on an Easter Egg hunt for them.

You're never going to get evidence for him. As I've said repeatedly in my posts, you're not going to get NATURAL evidence of the SUPERNATURAL. You're not going to get PHYSICAL evidence of the METAPHYSICAL.

But some people have moved on to more interesting, sophisticated interpretations of what divinity might be, and how to incorporate it into our lives.

What, precisely, makes you think that there would be evidence of god's existance if there was a god? What makes you 100% sure that science would leave something behind to tell us?

-John (hegel1066)

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