Through the Eyes of the Devoutly Religious January 20, 2011

Through the Eyes of the Devoutly Religious

Suzie sees God everywhere she goes. She’s happy and content and not harming anybody… so does that mean we should all just lay off her and let her believe what she wants?

Ignorant, misguided, and delusional is no way to go through life, Suzie.

The people you really need to thank in life are all around you. There’s no need to look any higher.

(via The Thinking Atheist)


Browse Our Archives

What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • Drew M.

    I love The Thinking Atheist.

  • April

    so does that mean we should all just lay off her and let her believe what she wants?

    And what if Suzie is your own teenage daughter? And you feel she is susceptible to the charismatic influence of the Christians she is spending time with and is no longer thinking skeptically or allowing herself to see things from a different point of view?

    What if you feel it’s destroying her natural curiosity and potential?

    What if your daughter’s newfound blah blah God talk makes you throw up a little bit in your mouth and you WANT to love your daughter unconditionally but find yourself repeatedly disgusted by her because she makes FB status updates along the lines of: “Although 2010 brought the death of both of my grandfathers, our family dog, and many other challenges, I THANK GOD for all of it because it is the year I was brought to you God!”?

  • Oh sure, when you actually look at the devoutly religious they do look ridiculous. There’s a “but” somewhere but I just can’t think of it.

  • Richard P.

    what if Suzie is your own teenage daughter?

    You understand her life is her journey and you allow it to take it’s course. Think of it as she has met a new boyfriend and it will take a while before she sees he’s an asshole. Love her, be there for her and allow her the room to learn from her mistakes.
    If that doesn’t work, lock her in the bedroom and feed her through the key hole.

  • April

    You understand her life is her journey and you allow it to take it’s course.

    :::sigh::: Yes, I know. The stand back and let her find her path route makes sound sense, but is proving more difficult in practice. Ah well, I will try harder.

    (“Do or do not–there is no try” I know Yoda! Shut up!)

  • DA

    The post title made me think of Cypress Hill’s “Looking Through The Eyes Of a Pig” so I threw that on the stereo. Haven’t heard this for a while! Thanks, Hemant!

  • Lynn

    Tell her she should learn more and more about Christianity. She’ll like that idea. She could then start with church history or reading the whole Bible.

    That should be eye-opening for her.

  • Tom

    I love the “I survived Earth” theme-park T-shirt. Hilarious.

  • Bob

    Belief in God is just a highly visible manifestation of the problem.

    It’s the irrational belief in any framework that is unsupported by rational thought. If Suzy attributed everything to her horoscope or the space aliens from Planet X, we’re talking about the same thing: an individual ceding control of their lives to a haphazard and contradictory belief system.

    The problem is making the transition. Religion is more like an addiction – it provides comfort, it feels good … but you eventually have to indulge more and more to get the same level of satisfaction. And you’re sure as hell disinclined to listen to anyone who thinks otherwise.

  • Paul

    I am mostly frustrated at the attempts of religious organizations to dictate school curriculum. People live in a world where scientific understanding of the natural world has lead to the treatment of disease, and these same people do not see the connection between this and understanding evolution. Where do they think the next doctors and researchers will come from? Suzie has the luxury of believing in god because others have turned to science.

  • cat

    “goes. She’s happy and content and not harming anybody… ” I disagree, I think religion is harmful (but I am more antheistic than most). Also, when living in a fucked up social and economic system like the one that exists both nationally and worldwide, voluntary participation and inaction do involve harm. Instead of having to take real, concrete action (even upper class bandaid ones), she does nothing while she sits near the top of a really screwed up global heirarchy.

  • tim

    @cat

    The problem is not Suzie. The problem is people like you filled with so much anger and hate. People are always going to have delusional beliefs – if you think you can eliminate that – you are delusional yourself.

    Being gay – I have learned the best way to
    bring people over to a belief system that doesn’t include stoning me is to live my life in a open and decent fashion. In other words live by example. That does more in any given day for my cause of equality than partisan groups like the the HRC has done in the last decade.

    Furthermore when I get on a plane – I expect to be able to sit in peace and not be witnessed to by an evangelical christian (something happens perhaps once or twice a year). If an atheist attempted the same thing – I also would tell him/her to kindly shove off.

  • Schmeer

    Tim,
    I can’t figure out why you think Cat is full of hate. I also can’t find anything to disagree with in Cat’s post, so maybe I’m a hate filled, spiteful misanthrope. But then again, I already knew that; my Catholic neighbor told me so.

  • I might have stated it differently, but I’m on the same page with @cat. One must willfully ignore reality on the ground to ever conclude that religious belief isn’t harmful. One person’s belief (say, Suzie), might not be harmful in isolation. But in the aggregrate, religious belief does a great deal of harm to a society.

  • That video is f-ing brilliant!

  • BrianE

    I know so many Suzie’s in this world…time to post this on Facebook and piss off my whole family again!

  • Cortex

    @tim –

    “People are always going to have delusional beliefs – if you think you can eliminate that – you are delusional yourself.”

    Yeah, and there will always be child abuse, so why try to stop specific cases when we find out about them?

    Improvement is worth striving for, even if perfection is unattainable.

    “That does more in any given day for my cause of equality than partisan groups like the the HRC has done in the last decade.”
    –evidence?

  • JSavek

    what if Suzie is your own teenage daughter?

    I was a born-again Christian for about 3 months when I was a teenager. Years later I asked my mom how she stood it and she said “I just bit my cheek a lot and waited for it to pass…and it did!”

    As tim said above, live by example and your daughter will see that there’s a better way than to be a “Suzie”. Good luck to you!

  • Robert W.

    Everyday Atheists,

    I might have stated it differently, but I’m on the same page with @cat. One must willfully ignore reality on the ground to ever conclude that religious belief isn’t harmful. One person’s belief (say, Suzie), might not be harmful in isolation. But in the aggregrate, religious belief does a great deal of harm to a society.

    Please explain this without talking about the extremes. We can all agree that when a person flies a plane into a building in the name of religion that is horrible. But your comment was on the whole, so that takes into account all of the good things done by people who are religious or the good things even done by religious institutions. For example, a Catholic priest abusing a child and the church ignoring that is horrible, but that same church sponsors orphanages around the world and feeds and clothes the homeless worldwide.

    Also, please give an example of a society with no religion that has shown the benefits of it being taken away. The societies that have sought to impose a state based on the absence of religion have been horrible examples of human rights violations, exploitation of women and children, slave labor etc…

  • Steve

    And Robert once again (though of course unsurprisingly) confuses correlation with causation.

    Don’t feed the troll.

    You want a country where religion harms society: see the United States in the last few decades. qed

  • Cortex

    Robert, sponsoring orphanages is the least they can do after all the work they put into fighting birth control.

    In my eyes, the greatest harm that religion causes is convincing people that being dishonest to oneself is honorable.

  • McWaffle

    @Robert

    Firstly, I’d go with widespread, religious-based public opposition to stem cell research, abortion rights, and same-sex marriage. Those are pretty common, certainly not on the fringes. Additionally, I’d point toward religious charities/organizations that discriminate on religious grounds. The Boy Scouts, for example, or the Salvation Army (who throw away Harry Potter toys instead of donating them, according to some anecdotal evidence I’ve seen.)

    Secondly, it’s a straw man argument to say that we want religion to be “taken away”. Nobody here advocates that. We may want it to “go away” but there is a huge difference there. And yeah, life in the USSR sucked, we know, but it wasn’t because religion was taken away, and it isn’t a good example of what anybody here is talking about.

    If you want an example of a country where religion has GONE away to positive effect, I’d point you toward Scandinavia.

  • Richard Wade

    The societies that have sought to impose a state based on the absence of religion have been horrible examples of human rights violations, exploitation of women and children, slave labor etc…

    I never heard of a “state based on the absence of religion.” I’ve heard of states based on completely centralizing the control of production, I’ve heard of states based on completely dispersing the control of production, and I’ve heard of states based on a mixture of the two. In fact, the mixtures are every single country existing today.

    In the few states that have suppressed or oppressed religion, their human rights abuses weren’t because of the “absence of religion.” It was because they were too far to one of those extremes.

    There have been a few states that have imposed one religion on their people, regardless of the control of production thing. They have the worst human rights records of all.

    I’m not saying correlation is causation, I’m just sayin’.

  • Rieux

    Ignorant, misguided, and delusional is no way to go through life, Suzie.

    Thank you, Dean Wormer.

  • Robert W.

    Steve,

    You want a country where religion harms society: see the United States in the last few decades. qed

    Do you really think we are worse off now then we were a few decades ago due to religion in this country? I would argue just the opposite and that is that we are worse off now as a society due to the absence of the conservative values championed by mainstream religion in this country.

    Cortex,

    In my eyes, the greatest harm that religion causes is convincing people that being dishonest to oneself is honorable.

    Please explain.

    McWaffle,

    Firstly, I’d go with widespread, religious-based public opposition to stem cell research, abortion rights, and same-sex marriage. Those are pretty common, certainly not on the fringes. Additionally, I’d point toward religious charities/organizations that discriminate on religious grounds. The Boy Scouts, for example, or the Salvation Army (who throw away Harry Potter toys instead of donating them, according to some anecdotal evidence I’ve seen.)

    I would have to disagree with your assessment that religious opposition to embryonic stem cell research, protection of the rights of the unborn or opposition to same sex marriage and throwing away a few toys shows that religion does more harm then good.

    Secondly, it’s a straw man argument to say that we want religion to be “taken away”. Nobody here advocates that. We may want it to “go away” but there is a huge difference there. And yeah, life in the USSR sucked, we know, but it wasn’t because religion was taken away, and it isn’t a good example of what anybody here is talking about.

    Taken away was a poor choice of words on my part.

    If you want an example of a country where religion has GONE away to positive effect, I’d point you toward Scandinavia.

    By what standards was it worse because of religion and how is it better? For example, it is my understanding that marriage is now almost nonexistent and that more then 60% of the children are born out of wedlock.

    Richard,

    I agree that theocracies have a bad track record for human rights in some parts of the world. I also know that highly religious countries have been strong advocates for human rights. ( Correlation, I know.)

    But my question really hasn’t been answered as of yet- the proposition was that religion on the whole makes a society worse then one where the people are religious so that you can say that religion does more harm then good. That is what I am still waiting to see.

  • Cortex

    Robert,

    I’m referring to the idea that faith is a virtue, and that loyalty to Church doctrine takes priority over following material evidence.

    Members of religious communities are encouraged to protect their faith, and never to test God. They are taught that disbelief is less forgivable than even the worst acts of violence. It is made apparent that they will be rejected by their community if they stop believing. Where’s the room for honest inquiry and critical examination?

    As for your big question, I think that it’s too big for this comment thread. In order to truly examine the question, we’d have to come to some way of defining and quantifying “harm” and “good” that we could all agree on, and then actually carry out the necessary measurements and analyses – not something I’m willing to undertake without grant money.

    I’m not sure the answer would be worth the work, anyway. If a great philanthropist was sexually abusing neighborhood kids, would anyone question throwing him in jail?

    The question shouldn’t be whether religion does more harm than good. The question should be whether we can find a way to do the good that religious organizations do without also causing the harm that they cause. This has been done. We don’t have to take the bad with the good, we can just get somebody better.

  • Edmond

    Robert W,

    If Suzie were content to pray her little prayers and ignore the doctors and farmers and engineers who are actively working to make her world a better place, that might be fine.

    But in 5 minutes Suzie is going to be out signing a referendum that controls who I can marry because she thinks a god told her to.

    Blissful ignorance is one thing, I guess, but when you’re sticking your nose into people’s private lives, and sticking your religion into government, this is an abuse of personal beliefs. When you believe that an omnipotent being, which created all the universe, is in your corner and supports your beliefs over the beliefs of others, then your sense of entitlement over others is going to be near infinite. You can feed 10 million people in the name of charity, but when you kick ONE person down, you’ve undone your own good works.

  • Nordog

    And yeah, life in the USSR sucked, we know, but it wasn’t because religion was taken away, and it isn’t a good example of what anybody here is talking about.

    I recommend you read “Witness” by Wittaker Chambers as a counterpoint here.

  • Robert,

    I can envision a society where the presence of a religion does more good than harm. But the religion I would envision would not have a God passing judgment on people. I think whenever there exists a theology that has a God passing judgment, the believers will emulate the God and pass judgment themselves on others.

    Then you get the problems associated with the “tyranny of the majority” amplified because the believers think they are acting as agents of God (hands and feet).

    Historically, whatever societal biases the majority has gets conveniently added to scripture as if it is also the bias of the deity. Then the biases become even more entrenched in the society. You are screwed if you think differently and are in the minority.

    I don’t think the problem is with religion in general. I think the problem is with religions that have a God who judges.

  • Drew M.

    I cannot get the Boxxy “Love and Trolls” song out of my head right now. Thanks a lot.

  • Robert,

    By what standards was it worse because of religion and how is it better? For example, it is my understanding that marriage is now almost nonexistent and that more then 60% of the children are born out of wedlock.

    Why is “in wedlock” good and “out of wedlock” bad? Yes, it’s true that fewer couples marry in Scandinavia. As far as I know, there are no tax incentives for doing so and no stigma attached to not doing so. That doesn’t mean that the couples in question are less committed. Do you have evidence that Scandinavian couples break up with more frequency than American couples? Considering the divorce rate here, I would be interested to see evidence that the Nordic countries are somehow worse off.

    As someone who was raised by parents who are not married (the law prevents them from doing so), I do not automatically assume that unmarried couples are less committed to each other and to their children. My parents have been together for over 30 years. Unlike many of our peers, my brother and I were raised in a stable, intact, two-parent family. Do have evidence that this is not the case for many of the Scandinavian couples you mention?

    Furthermore, Robert, have you ever actually been to any of the Nordic countries? I have visited Sweden, Finland, Denmark, and the Netherlands, and I was quite impressed by all of them. Relatively few people there believe in a personal god (and almost no one espouses the type of fundamentalism you follow), yet they have stable societies with a high standard of living. There is no evidence that the citizens of these nations are suffering because they lack belief in deities.

  • Anna

    I do not automatically assume that unmarried couples are less committed to each other and to their children.

    Thank you for that. My girlfriend and I have been together for 18 years, have four children together and are very committed. Yet we have chosen not to marry because we consider it a religious ritual with very little benefit for us. While I don’t see a difference between us and married couples I’m sure that they do.

  • Robert W.

    Anna and Hoverfrog,

    No I haven’t been to the Nordic countries and i am sure they are a fine place. In fact a study came out today that said by some standards they are a very happy place to be.

    I quoted that example about the lack of marriage as just that, an example of one of the effects of a secular society. And although in your cases you have had long term stable relationships, I would think that this is not the norm for couples that live together without the commitment of a marriage. From my understanding there are multiple studies showing that people who live together tend to break up more often then those in marriages. A high divorce rate is already bad for women and children, simply living together without legal protection and a higher break up rate would I am sure be even worse.

  • Robert,

    I quoted that example about the lack of marriage as just that, an example of one of the effects of a secular society.

    I don’t think you can assume that lack of marriage necessarily follows from a more secular society. China is officially atheistic, and they place a high value on marriage. I would think it has more to do with how the government treats married and unmarried couples. Here in the United States, there are many legal rights and benefits that are linked to marriage. In other countries, that is not the case. Therefore, the people in those countries have little incentive to get married as it does not affect the quality of their life together as a couple and family.

    You presume that marriage=good, but there is no evidence that not getting married affects Scandinavian couples negatively. If there is no social pressure to marry, couples may not sign a legal contract, but I have not seen a reason to assume that they are less committed to each other as a result. Religious countries tend to have high marriage rates because it is mandated by the religion, but that says nothing about the health of people’s relationships. There are countries where divorce is forbidden or strongly discouraged, yet women in bad marriages live under oppression and are often victims of domestic violence.

    And although in your cases you have had long term stable relationships, I would think that this is not the norm for couples that live together without the commitment of a marriage.

    It depends what country you’re talking about. If you have evidence that couples in the Scandinavian countries have a higher rate of break-ups than couples in United States, I would be interested in seeing it.

    From my understanding there are multiple studies showing that people who live together tend to break up more often then those in marriages. A high divorce rate is already bad for women and children, simply living together without legal protection and a higher break up rate would I am sure be even worse.

    Which studies? If they are based in the United States, most heterosexual American couples marry because it is a) expected and b) provides important legal benefits. Unfortunately, with our high divorce rate, it’s clear that marriage does not guarantee a permanent relationship. Again, I would love to see a comparison between the U.S. and some of the Nordic countries. I find it hard to believe that they are more likely to break up than we are. Indeed, this link seems to show that the uber-religious United States leads the world in divorce.

  • Robert W.

    Anna,

    I am no expert on Scandinavian marriage practices so I won’t pretend to be.

    I don’t think you can assume that lack of marriage necessarily follows from a more secular society. China is officially atheistic, and they place a high value on marriage.

    An interesting fact about china is that since the government officially allowed for freedom of religion the number of Christians in that country has risen from a few million to over 130 million and is growing at a dramatic rate. It may soon be one of the largest Christian countries in the world if that trend continues.

    Unfortunately, with our high divorce rate, it’s clear that marriage does not guarantee a permanent relationship.

    I agree with that but I don’t think that it can be blamed on the institution of marriage but on the break down of that institution. Marriage has been devalued in our country which I see has bad for our society. In the countries we are talking about it is almost non existent. Whether that is good or bad for a society in the long run we will find out because the trend is relatively new.

    I think you may very well be right that in those countries the need to marry to achieve legal rights and protection may not be there but I think that marriage does more then that. If entered into with the right commitment you are saying to your mate that you will be with them until you die, through the good times and the bad, through sickness and health and not just as long as you want to. To me that means something.

    Unfortunately, in our society where marriage is still the norm, too many people go through it with the idea that it is disposable and in reality it is for the wedding not the marriage. I have seen the problems that this causes for the couples and the inevitable children. I would be curious to see the effect of not even going through the ritual does for a society.

    As far as the US leading in divorce rates, that would be easy if the rest of the world is not getting married in the first place.

  • R.T.

    The hetrosexism and willful ignorance if not outright denial of the merits of modes of social compacts aside from your own reeks Robert.

    A high divorce rate is already bad for women and children, simply living together without legal protection and a higher break up rate would I am sure be even worse.

    Pray tell what advantages do you see for women and children when they live together when they don’t want to? Emotional abuse, beatings, murder, these all things are a consequence of people being entangled with each other when they do so against their will, and the difficulty of obtaining a divorce compounds what should be a healthy separation of a couple that don’t get along. But oh, divorce is bad, think of the children. I’m sure my childhood would have gone much better if my parents were still together and were still fighting. *snort*

    My mother’s parents are a couple who should have divorced, but didn’t and they’ve driven two of their sons to suicide and my mother has been suffering from mental illness all my life. That’s how great it is when people don’t divorce.

    Do you really think we are worse off now then we were a few decades ago due to religion in this country? I would argue just the opposite and that is that we are worse off now as a society due to the absence of the conservative values championed by mainstream religion in this country.

    Like the conservative values of killing lgbt persons? Like warring on those whose religion you don’t like? Like national media sanctioned discussions on who’s really a citizen or not based on what flavor of supernatural bs they believe in? Great values, these being the current values, which are still better than it was, though which isn’t praise of today’s mainstream values.

    If entered into with the right commitment you are saying to your mate that you will be with them until you die, through the good times and the bad, through sickness and health and not just as long as you want to. To me that means something.

    Why not you live according to your values instead of claiming dominion over the lives of everyone else?

    I would have to disagree with your assessment that religious opposition to embryonic stem cell research, protection of the rights of the unborn or opposition to same sex marriage and throwing away a few toys shows that religion does more harm then good.

    Less disease, more womens’ autonomy, legal protection for oppressed groups, and comfort for children are of course things that can be just waved away from the measuring scales.

    But my question really hasn’t been answered as of yet- the proposition was that religion on the whole makes a society worse then one where the people are religious so that you can say that religion does more harm then good.

    I’d guess that you wouldn’t accept an answer showing that religion is bad so long as it does bad things to people you don’t care about. My heart will be warm when your sick hegemony finally get’s flushed with all the other terrible ideas the afflict real people with brutality and horror for the benefit of a privileged few.

  • Robert W.

    although in your cases you have had long term stable relationships, I would think that this is not the norm for couples that live together without the commitment of a marriage.

    Robert, it isn’t about the commitment of marriage but about commitment. I’m aware of marriages where one or both partners cheated or abandoned their commitment fairly early in the relationship just as I’m aware of unmarried couples where the same has happened. Marriage does not equal commitment.

    From my understanding there are multiple studies showing that people who live together tend to break up more often then those in marriages.

    Coudl you produce links to them?

    A high divorce rate is already bad for women and children, simply living together without legal protection and a higher break up rate would I am sure be even worse.

    In what ways? What legal protection do a married couple enjoy that I do not when it comes to a break up?

  • Robert W.

    R.T.,

    The hetrosexism and willful ignorance if not outright denial of the merits of modes of social compacts aside from your own reeks Robert.

    Pray tell what advantages do you see for women and children when they live together when they don’t want to? Emotional abuse, beatings, murder, these all things are a consequence of people being entangled with each other when they do so against their will, and the difficulty of obtaining a divorce compounds what should be a healthy separation of a couple that don’t get along. But oh, divorce is bad, think of the children. I’m sure my childhood would have gone much better if my parents were still together and were still fighting. *snort*

    Yes divorce in most instances is bad for children. I know this first hand. Yes in some cases it is better for the marriage to end and the children can be better off. But, the problems that are in a marriage such as control and abuse don’t end just because the marriage does. When there are children involved it continues for years unless the people change. The problems you are citing are not with the institution of marriage but with the people involved in them. A husband who abuses his wife in a marriage will continue to abuse her after the marriage in other ways. A husband who is intent on murdering his wife won’t let a divorce stop him. The true and most common result of divorce for women and children is poverty.

    Less disease, more womens’ autonomy, legal protection for oppressed groups, and comfort for children are of course things that can be just waved away from the measuring scales.

    There is little research to show that embroynic stem cell research has cured any disease that can’t be also cured with adult stem cells. I balance “women’s autonomy” when it entails killing unborn children. As for the oppressed groups I grant you religious groups stand in the way of same sex marriage, but of course I think the institution of marriage between a man and a woman is a good thing for society that should be protected not weakened.

    My heart will be warm when your sick hegemony finally get’s flushed with all the other terrible ideas the afflict real people with brutality and horror for the benefit of a privileged few.

    Privileged few? Are you talking about the 90% plus of religious people around the globe as a few? Are you talking about the millions of religious people that have been killed for their faith throughout the centuries? And you would replace it with what exactly? An atheist state perhaps? We have seen the effects of that already.

    Hoverfrog,

    Robert, it isn’t about the commitment of marriage but about commitment.

    I agree wholeheartedly. Unfortunately we live in a disposable society that allows people to all too easily dispose of anything that doesn’t please them or may make their life a little difficult. I fully understand that entering into a marriage with that attitude is a recipe for failure.

    In what ways? What legal protection do a married couple enjoy that I do not when it comes to a break up?

    In my State of Texas marriage provides protection of community property and obligations towards children that are automatic with marriage and are much more difficult to obtain without it.

  • Robert W.

    Hoverfrog,

    here is one link to a sampling of the studies of the negative impact on living together:

    http://www.leaderu.com/critical/cohabitation-socio.html

    let me say that I am glad that you and your girlfriend are defying the odds and I pray for your continued happiness.

  • Robert W.

    Anna,

    To answer your question about studies done on the effect of increased cohabitation and the decline of marriage in Scandinavian countries, I did find this article which has some of that information.

    http://www.weeklystandard.com/Content/Public/Articles/000/000/003/660zypwj.asp

    It is rather interesting.

  • R.T.

    Robert

    You are committing a mistake to believe that a social idea, your “institution of marriage,” is infallible, and that people are to blame when the idea doesn’t work.

    Social compacts are about people, made by people, and for people, not things to be served by people. The institution of marriage doesn’t work because it’s a flawed idea to demand that all people live according one set of rules. People are different from each other, and no singular idea of what a relationship should be will work for everyone.

    There is little research to show that embroynic stem cell research has cured any disease that can’t be also cured with adult stem cells. I balance “women’s autonomy” when it entails killing unborn children. As for the oppressed groups I grant you religious groups stand in the way of same sex marriage, but of course I think the institution of marriage between a man and a woman is a good thing for society that should be protected not weakened.

    1. Cutting of one option to seek a cure when both lines of research are more likely to succeed is a mistake.

    2. Unborn people use a woman’s body to develop, as it is her body, she has the only and ultimate say in who can use it.

    3. You’re an authoritarian. Expanding legal rights to encompass the spectrum of adult relationships will not hurt marriage. Additionally if marriage was so good it should be able to prove it’s superiority on it’s own without needing outside force people to live in that one sort relationship. Unfortunately for the institution of marriage it does not demonstrate that it is the only good way for adults to have a relationship and families to develop even with the additional outside support it is given already.

    Privileged few? Are you talking about the 90% plus of religious people around the globe as a few? Are you talking about the millions of religious people that have been killed for their faith throughout the centuries? And you would replace it with what exactly? An atheist state perhaps? We have seen the effects of that already.

    Yes privileged few. Most religious people are ignorant dupes supporting a hierarchical system that benefits just a few at the top of the pyramid.

    And I wouldn’t force change on people like authoritarians which de facto religious people are. Your ancient, bunk ideas will give way to better, more humane ideas so long as the millions of faithful do not murder millions over faith as they always have throughout the centuries.

  • Robert

    I agree wholeheartedly. Unfortunately we live in a disposable society that allows people to all too easily dispose of anything that doesn’t please them or may make their life a little difficult. I fully understand that entering into a marriage with that attitude is a recipe for failure.

    I fail to see how marriage changes that.

  • Robert W.

    Hoverfrog,

    I fail to see how marriage changes that.

    I think that if people enter into a marriage at least they are taking a step that makes it harder for them to walk away. They are also making a public commitment that might make them think twice before they just walk away. I’m not saying that all people would be effected by making such a public and binding commitment but clearly some are. Just as some who do don’t take it seriously at all.

    But if as the studies i linked are true and people who live together break up two to three times more then people who get married, then it has to have some effect. Maybe like signed a contract of employment or a lease that you have to fulfill and can’t just walk away from. (not a completely accurate analogy but close)

  • Robert W.

    R.T.,

    Your ancient, bunk ideas will give way to better, more humane ideas so long as the millions of faithful do not murder millions over faith as they always have throughout the centuries.

    Millions? Very large exaggeration. Millions were actually killed by faithless people over the last century, not the other way around. Maybe not to promote their faithlessness, but they certainly were atheists and their ideas certainly weren’t more humane.

    2. Unborn people use a woman’s body to develop, as it is her body, she has the only and ultimate say in who can use it.

    So by your logic, killing unborn innocent people based upon a decision of another with the power to do so is more humane then trying to protect the life of the innocent?

  • R.T.

    Millions? Very large exaggeration. Millions were actually killed by faithless people over the last century, not the other way around. Maybe not to promote their faithlessness, but they certainly were atheists and their ideas certainly weren’t more humane.

    So all the faith on faith violence between all the faithts in the world didn’t happen and isn’t happening?

    So by your logic, killing unborn innocent people based upon a decision of another with the power to do so is more humane then trying to protect the life of the innocent?

    I think that no one’s organs and body should be used by another against their will.

    What you think is humane is maternal slavery, and your logic dictates that it’s more humane to force a person to donate their organs against their will so whoever you deem “innocent” will live.

    The power to decide who is “innocent” and “saved” and who is “lost” and dictate what people get to do to them based on irredeemable, meritless superstitions is blatant authoritarianism.

  • ACN

    But if as the studies i linked are true and people who live together break up two to three times more then people who get married, then it has to have some effect. Maybe like signed a contract of employment or a lease that you have to fulfill and can’t just walk away from. (not a completely accurate analogy but close)

    There is another possibility though, that even if the data is correct, the relationship isn’t causal, but purely correlative. For example, for several reasons, it could be that on aggreggate, due to social pressures/conditioning, the people who are most committed were also the people who chose to get married.

  • Robert W.

    R.T.,

    So all the faith on faith violence between all the faithts in the world didn’t happen and isn’t happening?

    Of course it has happened. My point was that you ignored the millions killed by atheists in your desire to blame religion for all the harm in the world.

    What you think is humane is maternal slavery, and your logic dictates that it’s more humane to force a person to donate their organs against their will so whoever you deem “innocent” will live.

    Yes it does. Because by any reasonable standard the baby conceived by the actions of others is innocent and the life of the innocent should be paramount. It is in every other context then to those who support choice. And the last time I checked, a pregnant women still had all her organs after she delivered her baby.

    The power to decide who is “innocent” and “saved” and who is “lost” and dictate what people get to do to them based on irredeemable, meritless superstitions is blatant authoritarianism.

    So when would an unborn child not be innocent?

    ACN,

    There is another possibility though, that even if the data is correct, the relationship isn’t causal, but purely correlative. For example, for several reasons, it could be that on aggreggate, due to social pressures/conditioning, the people who are most committed were also the people who chose to get married.

    Maybe. But the end result is still the same. More people breaking up and unfortunately a lot of them having children that are negatively affected by those choices.

  • Robert W.

    I think that if people enter into a marriage at least they are taking a step that makes it harder for them to walk away.

    How so? I don’t mean to be obtuse but does a marriage certificate put a lock on the door or chain a couple together? the only thing stopping someone from walking away is their desire to stay or at least their unwillingness to leave. How does a marriage change that?

    Also if you are so keen on marriage then why not allow it for gay couples? You’re always going on about how they shouldn’t be allowed to marry but here you are saying that it makes people more committed. Surely that’s a good thing.

    But if as the studies i linked are true and people who live together break up two to three times more then people who get married, then it has to have some effect.

    I think it probably does. I think that we live in a society now where people are more wary of commitment. That means that people are more willing to live together or even to have sex before making a commitment. A “try before you buy” culture. I don’t believe that there is anything wrong with that, nor do I think that marriage is some magic pill that will make people more committed.

    Maybe like signed a contract of employment or a lease that you have to fulfill and can’t just walk away from. (not a completely accurate analogy but close)

    You can just walk away from a lease or employment contract. You pay a penalty for doing so designed to disincentivize you but you are still free to leave. What disincentive do you suggest for people who want to divorce? Whatever it is I can’t imagine that it will make marriage more attractive for people. If marriage is a viable social state to enter into then it needs to offer something to the participants. For gay couples they get equality with straight couples and a step closer to a recognition of social acceptance. Straight couples have it easy in that we already have that. Other than some property and inheritance laws and some hospital visitation rights (not things you tend to think about when you’re in the spring of life) what does marriage offer?

    Does it offer protection for women? After all women aren’t permitted to work and own property and so need a husband or father to keep them. No, that was a hundred years ago. We’ve moved on since then.

    Does it offer protection for children? 50% of divorced fathers lose all contact with their children within 5 years and support payments are very often missed or taken up by a new spouse.

    Does it offer protection for men? I don’t see how when we already foist off our parenting responsibilities to women. I’m speaking as a culture, not as individuals here.

    Does it benefit society? What we have in the West is a culture of serial monogamy where couples will marry not once but two, three or four times. Children often have half brothers and sisters from several relationships and difficulty identifying male role models within their own families. Grandparents take up significant child care and child raising responsibility because both parents work just to pay the bills. Parents don’t have a home life or much of a social life and rarely have time for one another. How does marriage make that better? As far as I can see marriage is little more than a stamp of ownership for men to put on women. Sure it’s wrapped up in a pretty dress and given the stamp of law but it is still about men giving their daughters to other men. Forgive me if I choose not to participate.

  • Robert W.

    Hoverfrog,

    How so? I don’t mean to be obtuse but does a marriage certificate put a lock on the door or chain a couple together? the only thing stopping someone from walking away is their desire to stay or at least their unwillingness to leave. How does a marriage change that?

    In a marriage it is harder just to leave in a legal sense if nothing else. If a couple is just living together, one could just walk out and the relationship is legally over. They may have some contractual obligations on leases for example but otherwise they can just leave. In a marriage in order for the relationship to be legally over you have to go through an annulment or a divorce. there are also instant and recognized legitimacy of the children with corresponding obligations. More then once faced with the expense of a divorce people have reconciled when they otherwise would have walked away.

    Also if you are so keen on marriage then why not allow it for gay couples? You’re always going on about how they shouldn’t be allowed to marry but here you are saying that it makes people more committed. Surely that’s a good thing.

    Different topic all together. I have made my views known on the secular benefits of marriage as a recognized institution between a man and a woman.

    A “try before you buy” culture. I don’t believe that there is anything wrong with that, nor do I think that marriage is some magic pill that will make people more committed.

    This is where we differ because the result of “try before you buy” to the point of living together and having children is what causes the problems we have been discussing.

    What benefits does marriage offer? Marriage as a social institution between a man and a woman should be clear. Until the last fifty years or so it was the primary social contract that protected the rights of all parties including and probably most importantly children. It was societies way to establish a family.

    Countless studies have shown that children are better off in a stable two parent household. They are healthier, they have higher grades, they are happier, they are more secure, they have a smaller instance of drug and alcohol abuse, etc..

    For women, divorce has led to a great increase in poverty, single, women suffer a larger percentage of domestic (intimate partner) violence, married women are generally healthier and have a longer life expectancy.

    For men, married men make more then single men, single men are six times more likely to be incarcerated, married men live longer, married men have more stable work histories, they are more involved in their communities.

    The evidence shows that we should be striving to promote marriage as an institution not tearing it down. A society that promotes living together without the commitment of marriage, having children and making it perfectly okay to simply abandon them and place all of the child rearing obligations on single mothers is not a recipe for a healthy and stable society. I am not saying that single women can’t raise a child, many do but you can’t ignore the fact that this is not the ideal and isn’t that what we should strive for? Men should not be able to father children and then so cavalierly walk away and say its not their problem. Promoting a society that doesn’t legitimize commitment in a strong fashion will only make this problem worse. We are already seeing it. Particularly among the poor in our country where the cycle of poverty continues through generations in a large part because men are not living up to their responsiblities.

  • Robert W.

    In a marriage it is harder just to leave in a legal sense if nothing else. If a couple is just living together, one could just walk out and the relationship is legally over.

    One could still walk out of a marriage.

    They may have some contractual obligations on leases for example but otherwise they can just leave.

    What’s the difference between a contractual obligation on leases and a contractual obligation on marriage?

    In a marriage in order for the relationship to be legally over you have to go through an annulment or a divorce. there are also instant and recognized legitimacy of the children with corresponding obligations. More then once faced with the expense of a divorce people have reconciled when they otherwise would have walked away.

    That’s your solution? Make divorce so expensive and difficult that people will be forced to stay in loveless relationships.

    Different topic all together. I have made my views known on the secular benefits of marriage as a recognized institution between a man and a woman.

    I fail to see any secular barriers to marriages between two men or two women. I furthermore fail to see why if marriage is a good thing for relationships why it should not equally apply to gay people.

    This is where we differ because the result of “try before you buy” to the point of living together and having children is what causes the problems we have been discussing.

    Really? Care to back that up with evidence?

    What benefits does marriage offer? Marriage as a social institution between a man and a woman should be clear. Until the last fifty years or so it was the primary social contract that protected the rights of all parties including and probably most importantly children. It was societies way to establish a family.

    So it is an argument from tradition then? I’m sure we don’t need reminding what kind of argument that is.

    Countless studies have shown that children are better off in a stable two parent household. They are healthier, they have higher grades, they are happier, they are more secure, they have a smaller instance of drug and alcohol abuse, etc..

    I happen to agree that two (or more) parents are better for a child. I do mean parents and not just biological fathers and mothers. Again though what has that got to do with marriage?

    For women, divorce has led to a great increase in poverty, single, women suffer a larger percentage of domestic (intimate partner) violence, married women are generally healthier and have a longer life expectancy.

    Easy solution. Get rid of marriage and you get rid of divorce. No divorce, no increased poverty, etc.

    For men, married men make more then single men, single men are six times more likely to be incarcerated, married men live longer, married men have more stable work histories, they are more involved in their communities.

    See what the love of a good woman does for us.

    Still you’re taking about relationships here rather than a bit of paper.

    The evidence shows that we should be striving to promote marriage as an institution not tearing it down.

    You haven’t presented evidence. You’ve made assertions.

    A society that promotes living together without the commitment of marriage, having children and making it perfectly okay to simply abandon them and place all of the child rearing obligations on single mothers is not a recipe for a healthy and stable society. I am not saying that single women can’t raise a child, many do but you can’t ignore the fact that this is not the ideal and isn’t that what we should strive for? Men should not be able to father children and then so cavalierly walk away and say its not their problem. Promoting a society that doesn’t legitimize commitment in a strong fashion will only make this problem worse. We are already seeing it. Particularly among the poor in our country where the cycle of poverty continues through generations in a large part because men are not living up to their responsiblities

    Way to miss the point. In a previous comment I mentioned that the problem was commitment and not commitment to marriage. You have failed to explain how a committed relationship without marriage is worse than a committed marriage. Instead you’ve gone on about the worst aspects of society and laid the blame at a lack of marriage. I would think that it marriage is but one social norm that has become out of fashion. Like religion.

  • R.T.

    Robert:

    Of course it has happened. My point was that you ignored the millions killed by atheists in your desire to blame religion for all the harm in the world.

    Atheism=/= religion. It’s a null position, what some atheists do is not reflective of atheism as it has no doctrine or rules. One cannot kill or “in the name of” atheism as it is just the personal lack of belief in deities. It’s intellectually honest to blame dictators and totalitarians and their authoritarian lackeys as that rather than as atheists.

    When religious kill over faith it absolutely reflects religion as it’s their motivation for acting.

    Yes it does. Because by any reasonable standard the baby conceived by the actions of others is innocent and the life of the innocent should be paramount. It is in every other context then to those who support choice. And the last time I checked, a pregnant women still had all her organs after she delivered her baby.

    Maybe I’ll make it clearer: there’s no such thing as innocent and non-innocent people in a metaphysical and superstitious sense, just people period.

    You are demanding that people give their bodies and lives against their will for your selected “innocent” persons. You have no conception of what the humane means, and you are not humane; the word monster is fits you better.

    So when would an unborn child not be innocent?

    They’re guilty of leeching off of, and endangering the health of the person they are growing in. If a person doesn’t want another living off their body then that person has the only right and only say in ending the situation, not third party dictators like you.

  • ACN

    RT,

    They’re guilty of leeching off of, and endangering the health of the person they are growing in. If a person doesn’t want another living off their body then that person has the only right and only say in ending the situation, not third party dictators like you.

    I don’t know what stance you take on this in general, I do know Robert’s. I just wanted to point out that many people would not agree with you two that a fetus is a person. Fertilized zygotes are not humans. There is more to being a human than being a human cell, or even a colony of human cells, with the right number of chromosones.

  • Robert W.

    Hoverfrog,

    That’s your solution? Make divorce so expensive and difficult that people will be forced to stay in loveless relationships.

    Well that isn’t the only option. They could work on it and see if they could reconcile to save their marriage where they are both happy.

    Really? Care to back that up with evidence?

    Please refer to the links I provided earlier. Also, there are countless studies on the effects of single parent households that I mentioned before. do you have evidence that a “try it before you but it” attitude has helped society?

    Easy solution. Get rid of marriage and you get rid of divorce. No divorce, no increased poverty, etc.

    You aren’t serious are you? The effect of divorce that leads to poverty for single women does go away if they are single with children from a failed cohabitation relationship. The effect is the same.

    You have failed to explain how a committed relationship without marriage is worse than a committed marriage. Instead you’ve gone on about the worst aspects of society and laid the blame at a lack of marriage. I would think that it marriage is but one social norm that has become out of fashion. Like religion.

    The studies I have linked you to show that people who co-habitate without marriage have a break up rate that is two to three time higher then marriage.

    R.T.,

    Atheism=/= religion. It’s a null position, what some atheists do is not reflective of atheism as it has no doctrine or rules. One cannot kill or “in the name of” atheism as it is just the personal lack of belief in deities. It’s intellectually honest to blame dictators and totalitarians and their authoritarian lackeys as that rather than as atheists.

    When religious kill over faith it absolutely reflects religion as it’s their motivation for acting.

    I know all the arguments for atheists claiming that the actions of Stalin and others can’t be blamed on their atheism. I don’t buy them and they ignore the reality that these dictators were actively trying to develop and promote an atheist state.

    You are demanding that people give their bodies and lives against their will for your selected “innocent” persons. You have no conception of what the humane means, and you are not humane; the word monster is fits you better.

    They’re guilty of leeching off of, and endangering the health of the person they are growing in. If a person doesn’t want another living off their body then that person has the only right and only say in ending the situation, not third party dictators like you.

    I must admit I have a hard time responding to something so inane. You call an unborn child a leech that isn’t innocent and then call me a monster. There is no sense continuing this discussion. Your sense of morality and reality is warped beyond belief.

  • R.T.

    I know all the arguments for atheists claiming that the actions of Stalin and others can’t be blamed on their atheism. I don’t buy them and they ignore the reality that these dictators were actively trying to develop and promote an atheist state.

    Yeah, just overlook what kinds of people totalitarians, dictators, and authoritarians are so you can call some of them atheists.

    Hitler (a christian who believed in the christian god, invoked the christian god, and was supported by the popes) was a painter. I guess that means painters, especially watercolorists, can be blamed for genocide in the past.

    I must admit I have a hard time responding to something so inane. You call an unborn child a leech that isn’t innocent and then call me a monster. There is no sense continuing this discussion. Your sense of morality and reality is warped beyond belief.

    If you don’t know how to read properly how can you read you religious texts? Leeching is a verb which people can do in a myriad of ways to each other and I wrote that innocence doesn’t exist in a religious way, therefore no-one is your special version of “innocent” or “sinner” or whatever good/bad religious term you’d like to use.

    You have a hard time responding because you don’t have any reading comprehension skills and/or can’t think outside your little religious box.

    Human evil exists especially in unwitting monsters like you.

  • R.T.

    To leech, though the difference obviously is lost on you.

  • Robert W.

    Well that isn’t the only option. They could work on it and see if they could reconcile to save their marriage where they are both happy.

    But you do think that it is an option. More importantly what difference does a marriage make to whether or not you need to work on a relationship.

    The effect of divorce that leads to poverty for single women does go away if they are single with children from a failed cohabitation relationship. The effect is the same.

    If the effect is the same then what benefit is marriage?

    The studies I have linked you to show that people who co-habitate without marriage have a break up rate that is two to three time higher then marriage.

    Which I’ve already indicated might be the result of a “try before you buy” culture.

    I do not believe that marriage is a solution to societies problems. I think that it is in desperate need of a separation in the institution between what is religious and what is secular. Make it one or the other and treat couples the same whether they are married or not. Provide that apparent protection to partners and children when a couple live together for two years. “Problem” solved.

    What would be even better is to instill a sense of responsibility into people from a young age. Our culture is one of serial monogamy, the very worst aspects of monogamy without the benefits of polyamory. People are able to ignore their responsibilities. That’s the problem. Marriage isn’t a magic bullet to fix that. I’m not sure why you think it is.

  • Robert W.

    R.T.,

    Yeah, just overlook what kinds of people totalitarians, dictators, and authoritarians are so you can call some of them atheists.

    I was not just calling them atheists, they were actively trying to set up an atheist state. Unlike Hitler who wasn’t trying to set up a painter’s state.

    If you don’t know how to read properly how can you read you religious texts? Leeching is a verb which people can do in a myriad of ways to each other and I wrote that innocence doesn’t exist in a religious way, therefore no-one is your special version of “innocent” or “sinner” or whatever good/bad religious term you’d like to use.

    I understood completely what you were saying. Here is the definition of leeching as a noun and a verb:

    leech
    1 ? ?/lit?/ Show Spelled[leech] Show IPA
    –noun
    1.
    any bloodsucking or carnivorous aquatic or terrestrial worm of the class Hirudinea, certain freshwater species of which were formerly much used in medicine for bloodletting.
    2.
    a person who clings to another for personal gain, esp. without giving anything in return, and usually with the implication or effect of exhausting the other’s resources; parasite.
    3.
    Archaic . an instrument used for drawing blood.
    –verb (used with object)
    4.
    to apply leeches to, so as to bleed.
    5.
    to cling to and feed upon or drain, as a leech: His relatives leeched him until his entire fortune was exhausted.
    6.
    Archaic . to cure; heal.
    –verb (used without object)
    7.
    to hang on to a person in the manner of a leech: She leeched on to him for dear life.

    Your arrogance precedes you.

    And if you can’t understand the concept of innocence, even outside of a religious context then you truly are ignornant.

    Hoverfrog,

    Provide that apparent protection to partners and children when a couple live together for two years. “Problem” solved.

    Interesting idea. In Texas we are a common law state. If you live with a person, hold yourself out to be married and agree between yourself that you are married, you are considered by law to be married without a ceremony or a license. If this happens you have the rights of a marriage and you must get divorced through the courts (there is no common law divorce).

    What would be even better is to instill a sense of responsibility into people from a young age. Our culture is one of serial monogamy, the very worst aspects of monogamy without the benefits of polyamory. People are able to ignore their responsibilities. That’s the problem. Marriage isn’t a magic bullet to fix that. I’m not sure why you think it is.

    I agree. Where I differ is that I believe that marriage as a societal institution prevents that from happening as often as a society that promotes cohabitation without that formal commitment. We have proof through the ages that a solid marriage and family life between a man and a woman in an intact home is good for society.

  • Robert

    We have proof through the ages that a solid marriage and family life between a man and a woman in an intact home is good for society.

    Rubbish. Marriage through the ages is a varied and highly changeable institution with differing practices and expectations. Even within Christian marriage the practices have changed hugely in the past 500 years. Go back to the dawn of Christianity and you’ll see that it has changed even further.

    Pick a properly old religion like Hinduism and you’ll see less variation in the last few hundred years but you’ll still see changes as society changes and religious practices adapt.

    Imagine a future world where gay marriage and temporary marriage is normal and wonder how they will look back at our age. Probably in the same way we look back at arranged marriages for 12 year old girls. Maybe by then we’ll have separated religion and secular marriage. Who knows?

  • R.T.

    I was not just calling them atheists, they were actively trying to set up an atheist state. Unlike Hitler who wasn’t trying to set up a painter’s state.

    So removing other authoritarian systems from being able to challenge, like religion, authoritarian/bureaucratic-communists therefor were creating an “atheist” state? *lol* They were making authoritarian states.

    Again you should blame Leninists, Stalinists, and those those who came after modeled on them as what kinds of people they are.

    Your arrogance precedes you.

    Yeah, being called arrogant by a maternal-slaver mean very little.

    And if you can’t understand the concept of innocence, even outside of a religious context then you truly are ignornant.

    Again this your stumbling block. Your concept of innocence begins and ends at religion.

    I’m beyond your magical concepts about innocence and sin and justice and punishment. Throughout our exchange I’ve been talking about innocence without religious frame.

    It’d be nice if people like you could catch up. We’d have a finer world for it.