Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Takes on Recent News Items

Thinking can undermine religious faith, study finds

Active, analytical thinking leads to less religious belief than passive, intuitive thinking. Makes perfect sense to me. The more interesting bit is how the test subjects showed different levels of faith after being primed for analytical thought.

It occurs to me that the difference in analytical and intuitive thinking also helps explain my view of morality. We can rationalize the best ethical decision in any given situation while, in the more black and white moral choices, we intuitively know right from wrong. This isn't due to some divinely inspired conscious, it's simply instinct.

From Minister To Atheist: A Story Of Losing Faith

Wow, what an awful position to be in. I wonder if many ministers lose their faith and keep preaching. If I was faced with losing my job, family and friends I might put up with a little hypocrisy--trying to convince myself that I could be wrong in my atheism. I doubt I could keep it up, and no one should. If you can't be true to yourself, who can you be true for?

This story shows the importance of an active atheist community. Mrs. MacBain knew she was not alone and the positive feedback of that conference surely dulled the pain of coming out.

Highly religious people are less motivated by compassion than are non-believers

Catholic church goers give money to charities (and the church) during collections every Sunday. The priest asks them to give and they give. This is admirable and the source of a ton of charitable funds, but the generosity is not triggered by compassion. I've asked Catholics immediately after the collection who they just donated to and most of them can't tell me.

People who don't go to church, and don't have a sense of obligation to give, only give out of compassion.


  1. Ministers who lose faith...I would suspect that there is quite a bit of hypocrisy happening there. Perhaps it is my own bias, but I feel that the more you learn about religion, the harder it becomes to take seriously. The "cafeteria Catholic" types have it easy. I suppose another reaction to questioning faith is to dig in deeper and in a more fundamental way. In short, could the study about homophobia you posted at my place also shed some light on fundamentalist preachers? Interesting thought...

    1. Very interesting. When I was engaged, my now wife and I did this meeting with a Catholic priest to appease her family. I mentioned that I didn't believe in a lot of the Bible and, to my shock, the priest admitted that he didn't believe everything either.

      Unfortunately, he didn't marry us, he was the only cool priest I've met since.

  2. I do genuinely feel sorry for anyone, particularly a minister, who goes through the process of losing faith. Though personally I think they're happier at the end of it, the slow realisation that you no longer believe in what you once held dearly must be a very painful experience. Not something I envy them for, I must admit.