Reading Chris Mooney's article, How the Right-Wing Brain Works and What That Means for Progressives made me wonder about parallels to Atheism. He says

...the expert agreement. In all of these schemes, what’s being called “morality” is emotional and, in significant part, automatic. It’s not about the conscious decisions you make about situations or policies—or at least, not primarily. Rather, the focus is on the unconscious impulses that shape how you think about situations before you’re even aware you’re doing so, and then guide (and bias) your reasoning.

This leads Lakoff and Haidt to strongly reject what you might call the “Enlightenment model” for thinking about reasoning and persuasion, and leads Kahan to talk about motivated reasoning, rather than rational or objective reasoning. Once again, these thinkers are essentially agreeing that because morality biases us long before consciousness and reasoning set in, factual and logical argument are not at all a good way to get us to change our behavior and how we respond.

This is also a point I made recently, noting how Republicans become more factually wrong with higher levels of education. Facts clearly don’t change their minds—if anything, they make matters worse! Lakoff, too, emphasizes how refuting a false conservative claim can actually reinforce it. And he doesn’t merely show why the Enlightenment mode of thinking is outdated; he also stresses that liberals are more wedded to it than conservatives, and this irrational rationalism lies at the root of many political failures on the left. [emphasis mine]

We would like to usher in a world where reason prevails over toxic religious memeplexes. But is reasoning the most effective way to encourage believers to abandon faith for reason? Chris Mooney is suggesting not, because people operate on gut level intuitions of how families work, extrapolating them as metaphors to comprehend the larger world at a deeper level of thinking than the conscious.

I submit that the Atheist community is more wedded to "irrational rationalism", as Mooney puts it, than any other.

So Alain de Botton's vision of Atheism 2.0, which addresses the emotional needs of participants as well as the intellectual, would be a beginning. Not only as an end but as a means of religious deconversion. We can discuss the emotional roots of faith in divine father figures, but also offer appealing concrete alternatives understandable by the child ego state.

Tags: irrational rationalism

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Replies to This Discussion

if atheism pays, won't people get attracted?  look how christianity would become the third most powerful religion of the world from scratch? it would be a case study for every atheist. the way christianity becomes dominant is the way atheism will become dominant. just replace faith with reason, god with nature , theology with science and you get atheism. isn't it so?

christianity first target poor people who are in large number in Rome. it gives them what they need: food, clothing, shelter, hope.this move gave christianity its grounding, its base. and then christianity started spreading like epidemic. the next move of christianity is to convert the rulers. this move gave christianity its ultimate flowering. this is the way atheism too can spread.

atheists will first create an organization worldwide.this move will collect atheist under one roof. then they target rich people ( businessmen, politicians) and try to convert them into atheism. this move will give atheists the financial and political power it requires to fight against established religions. then atheists will go to the poor people and give them food clothing and shelter out of the money procured from the riches in previous move and convert poor into atheism. this move will give atheism its ultimate flowering. this way atheism can be spread with 3 simple moves.

i think this is a possible way atheism can become worldwide concept. what do you think?

I would suggest there is one thing missing, the emotional part Alain de Botton talks about is really the feeling of transcendence, the feeling of losing oneself into something bigger. That's why we can't replace faith with reason, reason is the tool of the self, faith is the feeling of belonging, of being pat of something greater than the self. Reason is unfortunately not the opium of the masses.

Don't confuse wonder and transcendence with opium of the masses. There is connection and meaning in Atheism that can be emotionally fulfilling if it's expressed and validated in community, with a personal touch.

We human beings are the meaning creators. Each of us is unique and part of the tapestry of reality. Each of us has perceptions, responses, actions and choices that carves out the future, making one possible future scenario of the-universe-as-we-know-it real out of infinite possibilities. Think of it as the experimenter effect writ large.

If we pay attention to our connections to the universe, and allow ourselves to be grounded in identifying with all of humanity across time, we are a part of something far grander than religions ever preached. Let's celebrate our connection to the universe.

We are the glorious ones, the way the universe knows itself.

thank you so much for those amazing videos Ruth!

It would be a hard sell to convert the wealthy to Atheism if our agenda is to strip them of their wealth to feed the poor.

Religion gets converts among the poor even without bribing them with material resources, by paying attention to their feelings, offering community, a source of self respect and pride, promises of a bright future, transcendent experiences that lift them out of despair and boredom, and a new way of looking at themselves and the world. If Atheism can offer these things, and I don't see why not, we can compete.

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