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Dependency. Starts with our first relationship. To a baby, their mother and father are god. In a religious family, that gets extended to the church and pastors, who are put in an intermediary position, in some cases being like mall santas for the red dude at the north pole. I think that's sometimes how cult leaders get away with the craziest nonsense and horrible actions in their compounds...

IMHO.

Indeed.

I agree; dependency does it.

Yet,...

During my teens I worked in a grocery store and the manager told me to discard cans of food that were swollen. He said that despite the pure food laws of forty years earlier, packing plant sterilization had failed and bacteria in the can were growing and causing the swelling.

I no longer see swollen cans. Is it because grocery store workers are discarding them, or has packing plant sterilization improved?

If I see a swollen can, I know to discard it. Or get a refund.

Where am I going with this?

People who create dependency in children are much like careless packing plant operators. They are dangerous.

Separation of church and state in the Constitution does what pure food laws do; it protects some of us from the poison of religion-taught dependency.

How to reduce the harm religion does to others?

I would like to ban religion, but believers don't feel their faith's poisonous effects.

Political work taught me the danger of giving freedom to people who are unable to accept the responsibility that freedom requires.

Actions that affect many people at a time are like the pure food laws. We have yet to educate people about religion's poisonous effects.

We can talk to believers one by one--that is, educate them one by one about swollen cans.

The billboards and signs that some atheist organizations are using are educating people.

Some of them show the happiness, the good health, of non-believers.

We can show our happiness in our lives. If our happiness needs a boost, let's boost it.

Any more ideas about how to reduce the poisonous effects of religion-taught dependence?

I agree with Nerdlass. In many ways, reliance on religion is akin to arrested development. This is why God is often called the Father. The North Korean regime has tapped into this as well. The citizens are taught very early on to regard "Dear Leader" (or whatever Un shall be called) as a father figure. 

Faith provides a false sense of empowerment. It allows people to endure great hardships because they are convinced in their minds that it will all be worth it in the end.

I think that shared fantasy is deeply ingrained in our brains.  Like anything else, it is stronger in some than in others.  But kids play make-believe, and adults have faith.  I think both behaviors come from the same place.

There was an NPR or BBC Radio story sometime last year about a band of some kind of apes in Africa.  A long term observer recorded that they stopped for a moment of silence every time they passed a certain pond.  I have tried to find it on the web without success.  But I am sure I did not dream it.  Assuming I'm remembering it correctly, it points to something very deep in our evolution.

I suspect the following common human traits seem to play a strong part in religious faith:

  • A tendency to anthropomorphize  
  • A discomfort with ambiguity  
  • Human "group think" and the desire to trust experts
I should mention i'm not saying these traits are bad or anything. By themselves they are actually kinda cool. Eg. a discomfort with ambiguity helps drive many great scientists and explorers to find out more about the universe. Or how trusting experts is part of why we are so powerful as a species -- it allows us to specialize in areas of knowledge and coordinate with folks who have other knowledge to build something greater than the sum of our individual expertise!


   

Faith is the consequence of a dysfunction of the brain.  

Blog entry: Irrational Beliefs As A Symptom Of A Brain Dysfunction

Have you ever been in a Pentecostal church?  Many, many people have had ecstatic experiences, which they regard as proof of God's existence and approval.  They are not all faking.

"faking", maybe not. Neither were the followers at Jonestown. That was a pretty pure expression of faith and where it leads.

The mention of religious ecstasy started me to thinking about causes of faith. Is unhappiness a cause?

I remember the unhappiness of growing up in an occasionally violent home. It wasn't an alcoholic rage or sadistic violence; it resulted from "backtalk". Knowing nothing of flight or fight responses, I "took flight" into reading. I escaped another way too, on Sundays for a quarter I rode public transit all day. I returned near or past midnight. I backtalked less often and felt the violence less often.

When I had hours, those escapes gave me a mild happiness. When I had only minutes, solo sex gave me an intense happiness. Neither happiness required faith, only "works".

Sent to Catholic schools I heard every day of a future, happy life with a god. I heard lots of words about a gift of faith. No evidence, just words, which I believed. A dependency on more such words resulted. The words had the effect of certain drugs.

(A man I know told me of a violence he escaped by leaving at eleven. It broke his dependency. The violence I knew was less severe; it did not break my dependency and I stayed.)

Does faith in a future happiness result from unhappiness in a present life?

Arrested development or brain dysfunction describe the condition; I felt the dependency.

Is religious ecstasy an escape from unhappiness? Has any brain scan research been done?

I think babies grow up and have faith in gods by the same methods they become bigots.

I'm interested and want to know more.

A 1940s-era Broadway show, South Pacific, had a song about bigotry titled, "You've Got to be Carefully Taught."

Is that what you have in mind?

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