The paralyzed imagination of the theist

Theists have a paralyzed imagination: imaginary things have been imagined for them, and their own imaginations can imagine nothing more or less, but only what has already been prepared for them - ready-made thinking devoid of authenticity, only copied and memorized without a single original thought necessary to fit the prefabricated mold of what is supposed to pass for a mind.

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Comment by Loren Miller on May 9, 2012 at 5:50am

To Richard Healy:

Oh, goodie, here we go again: special pleading.  "I have knowledge or understanding or a special access which, because you do not believe as I do, that you are incapable of grasping."  This is no different from the old saw about needing the holy spirit to be able to fully understand the bible.

The fact is that we are NOT blind.  We hear the flowery rhetoric and the subjective justifications and the personal epiphanies and the wishful thinking ... and we reject them because they don't match up with the facts on the ground.  They want us to endorse their magical processes and we won't.

And I'm sure you are as sick of it as I am.

Comment by Jedi Wanderer on May 9, 2012 at 5:49am

Wow, imagine my surprise to wake up and find all of these responses to something I wrote at 12 at night, just before passing out from exhaustion. Thanks to everyone who replied! It would take too long here to explain my entire perspective as a response to all of the thoughtful comments, but it will suffice to say that I agree with every one of you. There's truth to what you have all said and the whole truth occupies a vast middle ground. Thanks again!

Comment by Loren Miller on May 9, 2012 at 5:42am

Imagination is a dangerous thing to a theist, especially an evangelical.  It presents the opportunity of thinking outside the box of the bible, of extended possibilities and alternative explanations which the bible never mentions.  It is dangerous because it opens up the possibility of justifying blasphemy.

In Playboy magazine many years ago, I remember seeing an article where a christian pastor actually warned against imagination for reasons very similar to this.  Robert Heinlein made mocking reference to it as well in his novel,
Job: A Comedy of Justice, so we shouldn't be surprised that such people want to dampen creativity to suit their mindset.

Comment by Glen Rosenberg on May 9, 2012 at 2:29am

Tony I have acknowledged that the imaginitive and inquisitive theists can overcome eg Steph and the many future apostates.

As for the logic of fundamentalists being stuck-that's easy. It is indoctrination/brainwashing. Fundamentalism produces automotons. The goal of fundamentalism is to control the subject through strict progamming. The fundamentalists limit inculcation to the "word". In fact it is always anathema/blasphemy to contradict the "word". The same thing happens in secular dictatorships of the mind. If you dont have the proper Hitler salute you can expect a call from the gestapo.

And so fundamentalists when confronted with even a suggestion of a world which is inimical to their programming recoil in psychgological terror. Or perhaps wont even contemplate the suggested contrary version of reality.  In a similar but less pointed way all theists are threatened by the proposition that god is make believe.

Comment by Richard Healy on May 9, 2012 at 1:46am

This morning I was told:

"I can understand why you believe what you just wrote. In the literalist world view it makes complete sense. For those of us that don't have a literalist world view, it doesn't ring true. The world I live in is more fluid than the one you live in, and hence I feel I am able to understand certain things that you do not. This is what I meant earlier when I asked if you had considered the possibility that you may have an inability to understand certain things.

For me that is the crux of ' the god debate' is there are a number of people who are blind in certain areas and are blind to the fact that they are blind. Makes it really frustrating for many others. I think maybe some people taking a step back if others are trying to have a conversation that is not fitting their understanding of the world (and by that I don't mean is god real or not, I mean does it matter)."

This was in response to me saying:

"I think I've striven to be as un-hostile in this thread as possible, but I am making my case that religious conversations seem to circle around the 'is it true' plughole, becuase people so do often believe they are true, and not every religion can be true, by definition."


So there you have it folks it is we who have a paralysed imagination, not them.  

Aren't you convinced? 

Comment by Tony Carroll on May 9, 2012 at 1:45am

I think that we, here, would be classified as an exception. Most of us try to avoid the trap of making assumptions without logic and reason, and a healthy dose of skepticism to boot. I do agree that fundimentalists seem to be less capable of flights of fancy, but why? To make a generalization like that without some sound logic is hard for me to accept. I can think of some reasons, like safety, tradition, family, even complacency, but I have no studies to base this on.

As you said, truth falls anywhere. Most of us (atheists) are willing to follow the truth, even when it flies in the face of logic. We can adapt. Even when it destroys our currently and deeply held views. It just takes others longer. Don't lump them all in the same basket. Keep an eye out for the imaginative ones. They will rise to the top.

Comment by Glen Rosenberg on May 9, 2012 at 1:15am

Generalizations can be dangerous, maybe. So can a foolish consistency. And when one is honest in their assesments and acknowledges that their view is a tendency and not an absolute rule, where is the harm?

Truth falls anywhere. It is not aesthetic unlike the designed lie. There was a time where scientists looked for universal rules. Now there is a tendency to look for variation.

Comment by Glen Rosenberg on May 9, 2012 at 1:10am

Unquestionably there are countless exceptions and there are many imaginative theistic authors. It is however my assumption that the greater the indoctrination (and to a greater extent with fundamentalists) the less receptive to flights of fancy or even to a mindscape which threatens their world view.

And for the same reasons their is an inverse relation between religiosity and science. Here again there are exceptions. For some of these religio-scientists the order in the universe is confirmation and affirmation of their world view.

Comment by Tony Carroll on May 9, 2012 at 1:07am

Yes, but generalizations can be dangerous. Theists use them all the time. Hell, most humans do. The trick is to investigate said claims. Use the same logic and reason as you would with anything else. Don't "paint with a broad brush". To me, (my own opinion, not trying to hurt feelings), is most generalizations are either a reaction to something you don't understand, fear, or plain old laziness. As is (mostly) the case, education will illuminate those with the most open mindset. Thanks for this interesting discussion.

Comment by Steph S. on May 9, 2012 at 12:58am
Thank you Glen I understand what you are saying. However, I'm not the only exception.
Jedi does have a point with his observation. However, I can think of some theist writers who have good imaginations. Like C.S. Lewis for example.

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