When we think about religious believers, we tend to think that they all actually believe in the belief system that they identify with, however that might not always be the case. Many religious believers are brought up in the traditions of religion but might not really believe in the actual beliefs – and really, who can blame them. Many of those beliefs are pretty ridiculous.
The traditions of religion give people community and a sense of charity even if sometimes that charity is used to fund protection for pedophile priests or to push religion on those who are vulnerable due to youth, economics, catastrophes, or general starvation. Still, those traditions promote the idea of charity and help to channel that charity sometimes in helpful directions.
As for the beliefs themselves, many religious believers pick and choose what aspects of their religious beliefs they accept. This is most notable with Catholicism because of the authoritative rule of that religion. What I mean is that according to the tradition, the Pope is the leader of the Church and whatever he says goes… except when a particular Catholic thinks that the Pope is wrong of course.
In America, you would be hard pressed to find many Catholics who believe that birth control is a sin or that a communion wafer actually miraculously transforms into the body of Jesus… literally. Most Catholics just see it as a metaphorical thing if they think about it at all. The idea that this is a literal transformation, breaking the laws of physics, is rarely believed outside the Vatican and may not even be believed inside the Vatican.
If we can acknowledge that religious believers don’t always believe what their traditions tell them to believe and we can get them to acknowledge this also, then it is only a short step to persuade them to reject all of their religious beliefs on the same insufficient evidence.
It’s sort of the opposite of the old, “In for a pinch; in for a pound” expression. If you’re out for the cannibalized zombie cracker, then why believe any of it at all? It isn’t like Jesus’s resurrection was on YouTube or anything. There was no real documentation of it. Even in the contradictory Gospel stories about the resurrection, no one actually saw it happen. So even if those stories are to be believed (and they aren’t), no one actually saw Jesus rise from the dead even on paper.
My point here is that once we can separate the traditions from the beliefs and we find or create secular alternatives for those traditions, we will have an easier time getting religious believers to stop being religious believers. I say this because it seems that for a large number of religious believers, it isn’t really their beliefs that are keeping them religious, but rather it’s the traditions.
There are good and bad aspects of traditions. The good aspect of tradition is that it gives families and individuals structure and fosters a sense of community. The bad thing is that people get stuck in those traditions and become so focused on the traditions themselves that they forget the reason behind those traditions. But there is also another good thing about traditions that I think is probably the best thing about traditions – we can create new ones and get rid of old one!
- Religious/Secular Misconceptions (skepticink.com)
- Hello? Your Beliefs Are Ridiculous!! (skepticink.com)
- WooHoo, I’m Skipping Purgatory! (skepticink.com)
- Does Science Apply To Religion? (skepticink.com)
- ‘Jesus Popsicles’ to beat the summer heat (examiner.com)
- 5 Best Books To De-Convert A Christian (skepticink.com)
- Atheism 101: Why do atheists only focus on Christianity? (examiner.com)