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Atheist Community of Austin
Fiction degrading the person's view of reality, source of religious assurance?

In long discussions with religious people, I found that many of their views of reality, especially regarding other people, are hideously distorted by preconceptions that are drawn from fiction, most of it being movies. When presented with dilemmas such as the death penalty, they often state that there are good people and bad people. This is a very solid pillar for their belief in Heaven and Hell. They separate people by this standard, also implying that the soul is the source of a person's behavior. I tried to argue with them, sometimes using the "the road to hell is paved with good intentions" as an analogy of what drives people to do bad things. It's just not getting through their head that under certain circumstances and environments, things which we might consider heinous or evil become normal, and by this I usually give the worst examples possible, the Holocaust war criminals, and how it could be possible for such times and such pressures to transform a man into a drone that follows orders and commits atrocious acts. They downright dismiss this as their life is spent more on watching TV, where the characters portrayed are stereotypes and shallow shadows of what really constitutes a human being, than talking to real people, different people, whether society deems them good or bad. The discussion usually ends with me telling them to go talk to an ex-convict, so he can tell them himself about what people really are in prison, the "place where BAD people go". Any thoughts?

Why do you think that only religious people think of other people with stereotypes? Why do you think that this is the only way religious people think of other people? Aren't you stereotyping religious people? I'm a theist and I very much agree with the old adage that the road to hell is paved with good intentions. There you go. One exception to your rule. By what standards do you separate people? What, do you think, *really* constitutes a human being?

I'm not stereotyping anyone. This is solely on my experiences when talking to theists. You say that you are a theist and that you believe that the road to hell is paved with good intentions: therefore, doesn't that conflict with your idea of eternal damnation/ eternal bliss? If a person's intentions were good, but their effects were bad, where does he belong in your view of the afterlife?

I don't separate people by any standards. People are complex machines which are mold by their experiences, with genetic predispositions counting as their background. If by separation you mean "theists" and "atheists", then, I think it's logical, and it's a separation perhaps as clear as your gender: they STATE that they believe or not in a god. Of course, there are agnostics, which state that they are not SURE about the existence of a god, but that's most probably because, although no evidence points out to an existence of a god, they have a personal feeling that there might actual be one, but they can't state that because they know they can't back their hunches up, so they just say they don't know (But for me, this places them in the theist group, as the agnostics I've talked to usually said something like "I don't know if there is a god, but there are these unseen energies/ spirits that are denied by the scientific community". Always, "something is denied by scientists". Always, when coming down to the discussion "why aren't scientists supporting your view?" there is this "conspiracy" in which a scientist tries to keep a spiritual man down with his materialistic view, and there is also some unaccredited wacko who got his degree from a shady theology university, the kind which Kent Hovind attended, that pushes and supports his view, and that's the "scientist" he usually brings up. He calls it controversy, he says that the scientist views on the matter are "divided" as in "divided" is one wacko says it is and the whole spectrum of scientific community says it ain't.)

What constitutes a human being? A human being is a highly advanced machine. It is an engineering marvel, crafted after billions of years of trial-and-error. Of course, it's not perfect. But life in it's whole is an inspiration for engineering. How a simple routine of empirical engineering can lead to such complexity, this is what makes observing it all the more interesting: that you DON'T need a philosophically bankrupt imbrication to explain it, that it's simple but it's algorithms are hidden to the uneducated or improperly educated mind, that the way we are grown and what we are taught greatly influences how we view the world, and thus our capacity to understand it. It's like "the world is divided in 10 types of people" joke: "those that get binary and those that don't".

And this is the topic of this thread: The exact improper education that leads to a worldview which rejects things that are logical, rendering it unable to understand the mechanism of life. This is the improper education that is promoted by most media. If you don't believe that media is presenting a simplified but ultimately bogus version of reality, just watch this latest movie Prometheus (as an atheist) and tell me what do you see wrong in it.

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