Friday, 29 July 2011

Why cry, Christians?

The critique thing is currently on hiatus, partly because I can't be bothered, partly because it isn't really that popular. But I will, maybe, finish it if I see anything that sounds unbelievably wrong in the Fun Theory Sequence. In any case, what I'd like to talk about today is something a little antitheistic, not entirely, of course, I'm just following a train of thought I had recently. If you are a religious person, I suggest you don't read this so we don't have a bit of a falling out. It's sad to lose antinatalists from the cause.
     Recently I had this thought: Why do Christians, and members of other religions who believe in a great afterlife, cry at funerals? Because they think the deceased may be going to hell? In most cases, no they don't even think that. Because they miss them? Why? They'll see them in about 20-40 years or so. It's a long time, but its nothing to mourn over, surely. The only reason I can see why the religious cry at funerals is because of the inherent, in-built fear of death inside us. Anyone who truly believed that their kin were going to a greater place than in life would be happy for them, instead of being upset. Do Christians cry out of joy when one of their loved ones die? I doubt it.
     Another accidentally irreligious thought I've had is why religious people cry at all. Why ever be upset or in a poor emotional state? Your deity has made a great world for you, even though humans have ruined it a bit. You can't possibly be unhappy if you're religious, if the scripture is as soul-strengthening as you say it is. And yet there are tonnes of depressed religious people out there. I don't understand myself why Christians, specifically, don't just rely on God a little more, because that's something they're really supposed to do. For example,if faith can move mountains, then why do services exist for people to move their stuff to a new house? Why is it that God can be relied on to help you get through a tough situation mentally and 'spiritually' but never physically? Maybe he's omnipotent, omnipresent and omnibenevolent, but he's pretty lazy. I guess the same sentiment has been made before me as the 'Why Won't God Heal Amputees?" conundrum. Why is it that God only works his magic when the situation could be explained away by science? On this documentary on people jumping from the Golden Gate Bridge, one kid was apparently 'miraculously' saved by a seal, and then attributed it to God. To God, nothing is impossible. Any power used is never depleted. Why then, did He send a seal? He could have sent an angel, easily. Why didn't he? Angels were all over the place in Biblical times, so why not one in the world now? Would certainly save a lot of souls and convert a lot of people. But no, a seal. Which could have done that on its own, by coincidence. But maybe I'm wrong here. Maybe God has to make sure that people don't convert based on any pesky scientific evidence lying around, they should convert based solely on 'faith' (a strong religious upbringing in the family/horrible fear of the unknown). Though the problem with that is, early Christians supposedly had hard evidence to believe with. Angels, Jesus's resurrection, prophecies coming true (could be said about any religion, really), and yet, they God doesn't seem to care to give anyone any kind of show these days. There are two scenarios that could explain that: (a Jesus has already come back, and everyone good has been taken up already (would certainly explain why this world is so hellish). No need for any attempt from God to give the unworthy goats any table scraps (like the Canaanite woman, haha). OR (b 'God' is a concept that cannot even be defined, let alone imagined, and therefore any proposition of Him/Her/It existing is illogical from the get-go. It's like saying Shirpadoodles exist. When someone asks, "What's a Shirpadoodle?", they reply, "No one could ever know".


  1. 'God' is a concept that cannot even be defined, let alone imagined

    I've recently come across two quotes to the effect, "Everyone understands God. Only, no one can explain." :-)

  2. Recently I had this thought: Why do Christians, and members of other religions who believe in a great afterlife, cry at funerals?

    The philosopher Georges Rey has suggested that behavior like crying at funerals is evidence for a thesis he calls meta-atheism, that is, the position that in modern societies at least, religious people know "at some level" that the doctrines they profess are false, but through mechanisms like self-deception, they lack conscious awareness of this fact.

  3. I wonder if you have seen the fMRI studies (starting with this one) on religious versus nonreligious belief. I haven't been able to articulate a clear theory from the data, other than that it seems religious people do conceive of their god as a sort of person for whom they have theory of mind.

    It would surprise me not at all if religious beliefs had limited effective range in controlling affect and behavior, but I haven't seen a study that really nails that home (i.e., that really demonstrates the meta-atheist proposition clearly).

  4. Lots of people also cry if their loved one is about to leave them for a few months, even if the trip is going to improve their loved one's standard of living or career prospects. So I think missing the dead person is a pretty good explanation.

    That said, I think meta-atheism is pretty close to my own experience. That's why it was so easy for me to deconvert.

  5. It's more than meta-atheism; after all, we are all born atheist and religious believers often experience doubt (most famously, Mother Theresa had profound doubt about her belief in God). It seems that atheism is the natural position, and it's religion that requires constant indoctrination.

  6. That would make sense Franc, since many religious beliefs are so unlike anything in reality that it truly does take faith in order to believe.