Misperceptions, Misperceptions

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  1. gmwilliams profile image85
    gmwilliamsposted 11 years ago

    What misperceptions that so many people have regarding atheism and agnosticism?  Why are so many traditionally religious people threatened by the concepts of atheism and agnosticism?

    1. profile image0
      Motown2Chitownposted 11 years agoin reply to this

      I think the biggest misconception by theists about atheists/agnostics is that they are somehow looking/waiting to be convinced of the 'truth.'  Not so.  Atheists have made a choice based on a lack of evidence that is acceptable to them.  Presenting more of the same type of evidence is futile.  They know what and why they don't believe.  Little, if anything, you may present is new to them. 

      Agnostics just don't know.  They are okay with that.  The biggest misconception about them is that they are just waiting for us to give them the answer.  They don't think our answer is any more valid than anyone else's. 

      In short, I think the biggest misconception is that anyone really cares if a theist chooses to believe in a god/gods of any sort.  Theists feel threatened by this because they are basically rejected by those who lack belief and that upsets the central tenet of faith which states that they are special and unique.


    2. profile image0
      Lybrahposted 11 years agoin reply to this

      I'm not threatened....it just hurts to hear somone talk smack about the God I love and serve...some athiests are a little too smart for their own good...

      1. JMcFarland profile image69
        JMcFarlandposted 11 years agoin reply to this

        you said yourself that all atheists are angry at god - which is a misconception.  That's like saying that all christians are pissed of at Zeus.  You don't think he exists, so how could you be angry at him?  You can be hurt all you want, but that doesn't change the facts.

        You think that being intelligent and well-versed is a BAD thing.  Have you read the whole bible?  How many times?

        1. profile image0
          Lybrahposted 11 years agoin reply to this

          I read the bible and I attend a weekly bible study.  What I don't appreciate is someone saying I'm dumb because I choose to believe the bible.  I am intelligent and well-versed, too.

          1. profile image0
            riddle666posted 11 years agoin reply to this

            It is not whether you studied and believed in a book/s that make you intelligent but whether you have used your critical thinking faculties to analyse what is taught. A circus lion that has studied well its acts is called a well trained lion not intelligent lion.

          2. wilderness profile image94
            wildernessposted 11 years agoin reply to this

            Speaking only for myself, I do not consider believers dumb or stupid.

            The problem is that when theological discussions happen any attempt at logic and rationality goes out the window for believers.  The believers reasoning and logic is deeply flawed.

            They don't reason the same way in problem solving in the real world, why suddenly change when the discussion turns to religion?  The answer is that every answer must conform to the belief held in an omnipotent, omniscent God, but that premiss is not accepted by the non-believer and the arguments are thus flawed.

            Dumb, no.  Poor logic and reasoning in the one instance, yes.

            1. MelissaBarrett profile image58
              MelissaBarrettposted 11 years agoin reply to this

              Agreed... sort of.

              I actually had this conversation with Earnest once.

              There is a difference between thinking emotionally and being stupid. Everyone makes irrational decisions in their lives... These are not stupid decisions they are emotional decisions.

              For instance I adore my hubby... I love him to literally no end. There is not a bit of stupidity in this either... but it is absurdly irrational.  If I was making decisions rationally and logically I would have never given him the time of day. 

              Religion is much the same way... it is an emotional decision.  And there is absolutely nothing wrong with that.  Demanding reasons for belief is the same as asking someone why they love their spouse.  Sure they might throw up some logical reasons in the beginning but it soon breaks down to "I just do"

              Some atheists make the mistake of thinking 1. That theists SHOULD have a logical reason. 2. That when presented with logic the theists should change their mind.

              Both of those are wrong.  A theist doesn't need to explain anything nor is it productive to try and change an emotional belief.

              Theists make the mistakes that 1. You can convince someone to believe that doesn't and 2. when presented with emotional motivation atheists should change their mind.

              Both of those are wrong because for essentially the same reason that you cannot force someone to love someone that they don't.

              So really the whole argument is stupid emotional and illogical... from both sides.

              1. profile image0
                riddle666posted 11 years agoin reply to this

                Is he that bad? OR Why is it irrational?

                Every decision is an emotional decision. Either you choose to accept logic or reject it and that is the decision one make and that is emotional.

              2. wilderness profile image94
                wildernessposted 11 years agoin reply to this

                You've got it.  There are two very different methods of reasoning being used, and neither accepts the use by the other.

                Both present perfectly well reasoned arguments to the other, but the method of that reasoning are totally different and come to totally different conclusions.  Both sides then reject the conclusion of the other, not realizing that they are, in fact, rejecting the reasoning process itself.

                The atheist way of thinking will usually, but not always, produce a conclusion that is more in line with reality. The theist will almost always, produce a conclusion that is more in line with their perception of reality.

                In the case of religion and belief, it won't matter which system is used; whichever produces the best result for the individual is the one that makes the most sense.

                1. profile image0
                  AntonOfTheNorthposted 11 years agoin reply to this

                  "The atheist way of thinking will usually, but not always, produce a conclusion that is more in line with reality. The theist will almost always, produce a conclusion that is more in line with their perception of reality."

                  As reality is always subject to perception, the second statement is true for both camps. 

                  The rationalist believes that reality is rational.   They point to those observations that are objective (ie that others can demonstrate and prove) and tend to reject that which cannot be objectively demonstrated.

                  The spiritualist believes that reality is spiritual and that the rational world, while demonstrable, cannot be trumped by the spritual.  The rational world is subject to the 'will' of the spiritual.

                  The agnostic believes we don't have enough information to determine which is true, and by our very nature cannot.

                  These are all perceptions of reality.  I suspect the 'truth' is parts of these plus something none of us have thought of yet.


                  1. wilderness profile image94
                    wildernessposted 11 years agoin reply to this

                    I cannot agree; there is very often a difference between perception of reality and reality itself.

                    The perception was the earth was flat; reality is that it's round.  The perception was that the earth was the center of everything; reality is that it is far from that.  All the philosophical declarations to the contrary, these statements are not equal.  One is real, one is only a perception and a mistaken one at that.

                    Reality is never determined by perception; it is up to us to align our perception to what is real (if, that is, we are searching for Truth).

                2. A Driveby Quipper profile image57
                  A Driveby Quipperposted 11 years agoin reply to this

                  1. This is a predisposed bias. It is equal footing for both when it comes to reality vs. perception. Time will tell.

                  2. Exactly.

                  3. We sit and watch the sunset together. It looks the same to both of us.


                3. Quilligrapher profile image72
                  Quilligrapherposted 11 years agoin reply to this

                  Hey Wilderness. I truly admire your disciplined thinking and your ability to articulate your thoughts. You are among those who are most consistent about facts (things we believe because they can be measure) and skeptical about supposition (things we believe that can not be or have not yet been measured). I have often thought rational thinkers should make room for both.

                  The debates between believers and non-believers never end it seems. I venture to comment in this one because it is exceptional in both tone and tolerance. Arguments offered here about different thinking processes seem particularly valid and they may explain why both sides may be correct in the end. However, conventional concepts of reality have never been able to resolve this endless debate, but perhaps they soon will.

                  While unqualified as a philosopher, I suspect there is a flaw in your comparison of the two realities. Specifically, I disagree with your position the conclusions of an atheist are more in line with reality and the conclusions of a theist are “more in line with their perception of reality.” The implication seems to be the former is the real reality and the latter is somehow a distorted view. In this regard I do agree with Anton when he said, “As reality is always subject to perception, the second statement is true for both camps.” {1} However, a growing segment of the scientific community now believes the reality each human perceives is different and, more startling, each of those realities can be altered by observing them.

                  New notions are rapidly changing what is reality and they are challenging classical thinking about how it is measured. Take for example an article with the lengthy title A team of physicists in Vienna has devised experiments that may answer one of the enduring riddles of science: Do we create the world just by looking at it? {2}

                  Albert Einstein, never a fan of quantum mechanics, worked hard to prove it had shortcomings but he did not try to prove it was totally wrong. His interest is noted in this article, “More than the notion that god might play dice, what most bothered Einstein were quantum mechanics’ implications for reality. As Einstein prosaically inquired once of a walking companion, ‘Do you really believe that the moon exists only when you look at it?’” {2} How strange it is for me to consider Einstein’s question. In my egocentric childhood, I often had the feeling as I turned a corner that the streets and the people behind me ceased to exist.

                  Science may be on the verge of proving reality goes far beyond what humans can perceive it to be. For example, “In essence we do create the classical world we perceive, and as Brukner said, ‘There could be other classical worlds completely different from ours.’” {2} I wonder if one of those worlds will one day explain why so many humans have a spiritual nature.   

                  Agnostics are in the center of the God v. No God debate and they may yet turn out to be the ones closest to the truth. “It could very well be that the distinction we make between information and reality is wrong. This is not saying that everything is just information. But it is saying that we need a new concept that encompasses or includes both.” {2}

                  I found this quick read thought provoking and very informative, Wilderness. I highly recommend it.
                  {2} http://seedmagazine.com/content/article … _tests/P1/

              3. JMcFarland profile image69
                JMcFarlandposted 11 years agoin reply to this

                while parts of your statement I vehemently agree with, other parts that I don't.

                If theists are claiming with absolute certainty that there is a god, and they know that god personally, they should be able to come up with a justification for that belief.  The bible even SAYS that they should.  1 Peter states "you should always be prepared to give a reason (justification in Greek) for the hope that you have - to anyone who asks".

                The burden of proof in logical discussions (which may be where non-believers are fundamentally going wrong, thinking that a discussion about god can be logical) is upon the person positing a claim.  If you claim to know that god is real, you should be able to justify it and prove it. 

                There are 3 possibilities.
                1) No god exists
                2) God exists but he does not manifest in the material world (deism)
                3) god exists and it DOES manifest in the material world.

                possibility 1 and possibility 2 are indistinguishable from each other.

                If possibility 3 is true and a god exists that manifests in the material world, there should be ample evidence from him.  For Christians, especially.  Christians believe in the bible which has this god answering prayers, healing the sick (but not amputees) curing illness, stopping the sun in the sky to allow a slaughter, sending bears to kill 40 children, causing the plagues of egypt, causing a world-wide flood, etc.  The problem is that there are no facts to back up any of these claims and history does not corroborate the stories.  Therefore they are ultimately forced to revert to "faith" which does not amount to proof at all.

                1. MelissaBarrett profile image58
                  MelissaBarrettposted 11 years agoin reply to this

                  Well... consider the following statement:

                  I know God is real because I feel it in my heart.

                  That's my justification and that's all I need.

                  (we're talking hypothetically but my answer to why I believe would be something like that... not quite exactly but something like.)

                  As far as faith and why I know he exists... Because I have felt him work in my life.  Now... personal experience IS proof.  Your lack of that feeling does not mean that my feeling doesn't exist.

                  I'm doing a poor job of explaining this but it basically (to use the example again) amounts to me telling you I love my Husband and you demanding that I 1. Provide proof that the love exists and 2. Provide a logical explanation to why it exists.

                  1. JMcFarland profile image69
                    JMcFarlandposted 11 years agoin reply to this

                    I get what you're saying, I really do.  But your example is slightly flawed.  Love is an emotion, and you CAN actually prove why it exists, and why it bonds spouses together.

                    I accept that a lot of people have personal experiences and that's all the evidence that they need.  When it comes to others, however, especially non-believers, even THEISTS will admit that personal experience is not evidence.  It can't be tested.  It can't be duplicated.  It can't even be explained.

                    Say I had a personal experience that I was abducted by aliens (I didn't but just go with the example).  To me, it's absolutely true because it happened to me.  But if I start to tell other people, they don't believe me.  I have nothing to back it up - and I can't really just expect them to take my personal experiences on "faith" can i?  How can I possibly expect someone else to accept what I'm saying or even take me seriously unless I have something to back my claims up with?

                    Extraordinary claims ( like the existence of god) require extraordinary evidence.  If I tell you that I have a dog, you'd probably believe me.  If you came over to my house, however, and I had no visible dog, no dog food, no bowls, no toys, etc, you may start to question me.  If, on the contrary, I claimed to own a pet purple dragon, you'd likely not take me at my word.  Why?  Because a pet purple dragon is extraordinary.  you'd want proof before you ever accepted my word for it - and you would be right to do so.

          3. JMcFarland profile image69
            JMcFarlandposted 11 years agoin reply to this

            I didn't say you were stupid.  Just curiously, though - how many years of study in college do you have on theology, apologetics and the biblical history and literature?  What degree do you have?  How many languages do you read the bible in?  Do read/understand the original languages, or do your weekly bible studies not go back to the source?

    3. profile image0
      brotheryochananposted 11 years agoin reply to this

      Threatened... lol
      as if
      I'm too busy trying to find something to respect them for.

  2. Marisa Wright profile image86
    Marisa Wrightposted 11 years ago

    I notice that many religious people are not willing to debate their religion or justify their belief.  That suggests to me that they're afraid to examine it too closely, in case they discover their faith isn't as solid as they think.  If they were confident in their belief, surely they'd be willing to analyse it?

    So I think that's why they feel threatened by agnosticism and atheism, because they are challenges to their belief and they're afraid they might be forced to realize their faith is wanting.

    1. profile image0
      brotheryochananposted 11 years agoin reply to this

      Some people are not investigative journalists and asking them to investigate something is not how they are wired. Some people do not need to discover deep secrets or spiritual meanings, some might not even read at all depending on what country you are in. To say that all christians have to answer all questions is ludicrous.
      Some christians do not want to come to their own conclusions for reasons pertinent to themselves. They are just very content being told by their church. Absolute correct doctrine is on every subject is not what christianity is all about. Christians can love God and never open their bible fulfilling the number one commandment jesus gave.. Love the lord your God.
      Some christians will be happy to answer deep questions, so keep asking and you'll find one who spends most of their lives with their nose in the book, others have families and demanding jobs that give them little time for study.
      You can't say people are threatened because they don't have the right answers or they are challenged, they may feel embarassed a bit but threatened, i don't think so, its too much of a generalization.

  3. profile image0
    EmpressFelicityposted 11 years ago

    That atheism or agnosticism is a belief. Errr no, it's a lack of belief.

    1. profile image0
      Emile Rposted 11 years agoin reply to this

      I disagree. We all believe we have a bead on the answer to a cosmic question. It is difficult to deny that is a belief

      1. profile image0
        EmpressFelicityposted 11 years agoin reply to this

        Would you class lack of belief in the Tooth Fairy as a belief?

        1. profile image0
          Emile Rposted 11 years agoin reply to this

          Sure. You believe the tooth fairy doesn't exist.

          1. profile image0
            riddle666posted 11 years agoin reply to this

            Is it a matter of belief?

            1. profile image0
              Emile Rposted 11 years agoin reply to this

              No. But comparing belief in the tooth fairy to a belief in  God serves little purpose, other than to admit you don't understand the difference between cosmic questions and childish thoughts. It shows a lack of respect for other adults.

              1. profile image0
                riddle666posted 11 years agoin reply to this

                Is disagreement lack of respect?

                1. profile image0
                  Emile Rposted 11 years agoin reply to this

                  No. But pulling conversations down to a point where you don't listen, or assume the other is in denial doesn't make for deep discussions.

                  1. profile image0
                    riddle666posted 11 years agoin reply to this

                    Well most people come to hubpages not to listen but to make their point, so what is the point in questioning their motive?

              2. profile image0
                EmpressFelicityposted 11 years agoin reply to this

                ...and that comment, in a nutshell, is why I normally avoid the religious threads. Should have avoided this one too.

              3. wilderness profile image94
                wildernessposted 11 years agoin reply to this

                Why?  You have to know that non-believers find the belief in God just as childish and without reason as the belief in the tooth fairy.

                At least children have a reason to their belief in the fairy; mom and dad fool them.  The believer doesn't have that excuse but still believes while expecting everyone else to respect that belief.  If you can, set aside that belief, putting yourself in the shoes of the non-believer, and you will see that there is no real difference in the two beliefs.

                1. profile image0
                  Emile Rposted 11 years agoin reply to this

                  As a non believer, I can respectfully disagree. As I said, they claim relationships and believe they have been given proof.

                  I honestly don't understand how the atheist can summarily dismiss others without understanding how pointless that is. To call them childish does nothing, but to close their minds to your point of view. I'm not certain what purpose that serves in the long run.

                2. profile image0
                  AntonOfTheNorthposted 11 years agoin reply to this

                  "If you can, set aside that belief, putting yourself in the shoes of the non-believer, and you will see that there is no real difference in the two beliefs."

                  No rational difference, but the believer does not come to their belief for reasons that make sense to the rationalist.  They come to that belief from a whole different processing method.  Which rationalists tend to decry as invalid.  The reaction one gets when another denegrates that process is predictable, regardless of what that process is (rational or emotional).

                  The yelling and screaming start when it becomes about objecting to, not simply disagreeing with, the chosen process.  The useful part of the discussion ends there, which is why I don't understand the value of beating someone up for their process (ie, denigrating it by comparing a deeply felt emotional conviction such as belief in god with what the believer considers a lesser and trivial myth such as the tooth fairy or santa.)

                  If one's goal is to create dissonance, there is no quicker way to do so than to arbitrarily devalue another's experience.

                  If what one wants is discussion, another way must be sought.


                  1. wilderness profile image94
                    wildernessposted 11 years agoin reply to this

                    Overall, I agree with what you're saying, particularly the denigrating part.  It's counter productive and serves no real purpose.

                    At the same time, it works both ways.  Most of the arguments and proofs produced by the believer are met by the attitude of "You must think I'm really stupid to accept that as proof - it's nothing but a personal belief without foundation and everyone knows it as such".  The theist, giving profound and completely true (to him) statements, is just as obnoxious in their statements as the atheist.  The most common reaction is to become obnoxious in return and the circle continues.

                    Unless both make a major effort to understand how and why the other is reaching their conclusions there can be true discussion and that just doesn't happen.

      2. JMcFarland profile image69
        JMcFarlandposted 11 years agoin reply to this

        I agree that atheism is fundamentally a lack of a belief.  If you do not believe in a deity, you are "without belief", hence a-theist.

        the fact of the matter is that almost everyone in the world is atheistic - if they believe in one god, they lack belief in all the other proposed gods.  Christians are atheists when it comes to Islam, etc.  Atheists just take it one god further.

        I don't claim to have a bead on the cosmos.  I just don't believe in any of the deities that have been presented to explain life's mysteries away.

        1. profile image0
          Emile Rposted 11 years agoin reply to this

          It is a little more complicated than that. With billions of people claiming belief in a deity, many of those claiming a personal relationship, a large number insisting they have been given personal proof..... in essence, a lack of belief in a deity equates to a belief that those billions are misguided or lying.

          Cosmic conclusions are beliefs. Nothing more. Atheists have their beliefs, as does the agnostic, theist and kids who believe in Santa Claus. There is no reason to live in denial and then question the person who accepts that they have a belief.

        2. profile image0
          AntonOfTheNorthposted 11 years agoin reply to this

          "if they believe in one god, they lack belief in all the other proposed gods. "

          This does not make one an atheist minus one.  At anyone time, a person believes something.  Belief is a central, core fact of a human being.  We act on beliefs much quicker than we act on knowledge.  This is not surprising because we know so little.  (using 'know' as in having experienced something)  As most of us believe things without the actual experience, it is all belief.

          In the god, no god question, none of us have experience with how the race came to be.  None of us were there.  We are all sifting through what we call evidence and we are all formulating what we believe.

          One either believes that a sentience was involved in our coming to be, or one does not.  If one does, the rest is definition.  Once one has decided 'there is a god', one then sets about deciding what that god is like.  All religion is (all religions) are efforts to describe that sentience.

          Anyone who believes there is a god is a deist
          Anyone who believes in the theory of that god is a theist
          Anyone who believes there is no god is an atheist  (shouldn't it be adeist?  smile

          The notion that theists are atheistic except for their own god is flawed.  What they don't believe is other theories of god.  They are firm in their belief that there is one.


  4. secularist10 profile image60
    secularist10posted 11 years ago

    I wrote a hub on the top 10 myths and fallacies about atheism.

    When someone questions the foundations of one's conception of life and reality (i.e. God), it is pretty jarring. So it is predictable that many theists would respond with fear and loathing.

    On top of that, there are many passages in the Bible and Quran that call nonbelievers ignorant, fearful, prideful, and so on. Is there any rational basis for these accusations? Of course not, but who says anything about religion is rational.

    It comforts many believers to say "everyone knows that God really exists, you're just too afraid to admit it because you don't want to be judged by an all-powerful, all-loving God!"

  5. cathylynn99 profile image74
    cathylynn99posted 11 years ago

    a poll showed that most americans would rather have their children be babysat by a convicted rapist than by an atheist. i'd say there are rampant misconceptions about atheists, one being that we are under satan's control.

    morals develop in childhood whe we realize others are persons, too, and just as we wouldn't like to be hurt, these other people we are bonded with woudn't like it either. no religion is necessary to intuit the golden rule. it's natural out growth of human development. though the golden rule does appear in all major religions.

  6. profile image0
    Deepes Mindposted 11 years ago

    JMcfarland, You stated something that is sticking out to me. You mentioned that with love being an emotion, you can prove why it exists and how it bonds spouses together. Can you elaborate on that for me? I have a response prepared but I would like your elaboration so that I can have a clear interpretation before I respond.

  7. profile image0
    Deepes Mindposted 11 years ago

    In this whole debate, our overall opinions and beliefs can easily allow us to either find a flaw in every explanation or keep asking questions until no answer can be given.  With this idea in mind, that is where our beliefs come into play. We can formulate a logical explanation for some of our feelings, but typically we say that we win when our questions cannot produce a satisfactory answer. Does that make us right? No. It just reinforces our beliefs. Beliefs, opinions, philosophies.. etc all mean the same thing, in my opinion. It just comes down to the conclusions we choose to come to once we find what answers we are looking for to reinforce our thought patterns. They're all like buttholes, everyone has one (and they all stink to others...LOL). At the end of the day, We may never really know the truth until we die and really we can possibly still carry that truth to our graves as depending on what is "real" (not perceived). It's possible that there is a God (which I choose to believe) that will reveal himself only to those who believe in him. There may not be.. We may or may never know. But we still should live the best possible life we can live while we are here based on our understanding and beliefs so that no matter what, we can go to our graves with the belief (in ourselves) that we lived the best possible life for us.


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