I've noticed while reading through some of the discussions around here that there are at least a few people who try and point out that we should not stereotype the religious just as we don't like to be stereotyped by them (as angsty, whiny people rebelling against god, or perhaps as morally depraved people who have a skewed idea of right and wrong).

I decided to take an introspective look into how I have misused stereotypes without even knowing it.

For example, "the religious are so because they are afraid of death and the unknown." I was raised Roman Catholic. I considered myself very religious when I was a kid, but not because I was afraid of death and the unknown - it was simply because I was taught religion as fact in private school. I didn't choose to believe in god to avoid fear of the unknown any more than I chose to believe in evolution because I was afraid of not knowing the origin of the species. And the truth is, had I not been forced to challenge religion as a whole (as opposed to simply the existence or lack thereof of the Jesus/God religion combo), I might even still harbor some pseudo-Catholic belief in Jesus and God.

I do believe, as is sometimes the case with stereotypes, that there are some religious folk who latch on to their faith at least partially because of their fear of death and the unknown, but it is important to realize that the existence of religion is far more complicated than that.

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Thanks for recommendation. I downloaded a sample of the book on my iPhone and it seems interesting and relevant. I'll check the video later.

I agree with you Michael, but what about when people are grown-up and have heard reason and rationality and learned about science.  How can they STILL ignore all that and believe in the crazy?  I still stereotype them in my head automatically and that is usually crazy, not-so-bright, or stubbornly believing something they know deep down cannot possibly be true.

That's a great point. I think for many, religion is passive enough in their lives where they don't feel the need to think critically about it.  Often times, everyone around them believes the same thing and there's simply no reason to question it.
It is worrying that as adults, people don't reach a point where it all becomes questionable. I don't think that deep down people really don't believe. It seems to me that people can believe all kinds of wacky things without feeling any doubt. In fact, I think many people feel deep down that some deity DOES exist, even if they call themselves atheists. It has been preached as 'normal' and factual for so long by so many that belief seems to be the default that people have to overcome.

Wonderful story Jonathan! I think it is great that you are friends with a theist(s) and you both are accepting of each other.

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