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Emotions And Irreligion


J.P.
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For me, as for many others whose stories I've heard, a key point when our faith began to breakdown is when we began to distrust our emotions as valid. And as we finally made the decision to deconvert and joined the non-religious minority (at least for those of us in the US and other highly religious countries), we realized just how many people go by emotions alone. No matter how much reason and evidence to the contrary they encounter, their faith remains unperturbed.

 

Recently, I was listening to the song "Imagine' and realized the extreme irony of its popularity in the US, a quite religious country. It's quite odd that a nation where a vast majority profess a belief in God and heaven, that people sing along to the lines "Imagine no religion", "Imagine all the people, living for today" and "No hell below us, above us only sky". And then I realized, the reason this song, which pretty much advocates secular humanism (and is the theme song of the FFRF podcast), is popular because of emotional reasons. If all the lyrics talked about non-belief in God, our society wouldn't like the song - but only a few do, and the rest talks about a utopian society with a profoundly amazing melody. It generates positive emotions. Hence, it's popularity.

 

It got me to thinking - a lot of the public's perception of non-religion is tied to things that spark negative emotions within them. Or, none at all, so they have no emotional impetus to change their beliefs when confronted with say, critical scholars of the Bible. It goes without saying that a lecture on OT textual sources isn't likely to cause deep emotional 'deconversion' experiences in most of the population. Some might, but for many, they can easily shrug off what those people have to say since they have their personal emotional experiences to fall back on.

 

It made me realize, if Christianity ever declines, it might well be because it lost the emotional edge in our society. I was thinking about the New Atheism movement - while it holds reason and evidence as paramount, one of the things motivating it as a movement is an emotional outcry against the abuses of the conservative Christianity. I don't mean that as a criticism - emotions are important, and I would criticize emotion only when it is used to justify belief that flies in the face of reason and evidence. I think it's an interesting example though of the importance of personal emotions.

 

Anyway, just thought I'd post my thoughts on this. I'm interested to see what all of you think and read your replies.

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A lot of UK musicians of this era came out of religious backgrounds circa 1960-1980 and taking the UK stance on religion these days excluding Ireland, they are 40 years ahead of the US.

 

John Lennon was deemed persona non grata by the religious woos but Brit bands brought a dynamic that was far more popular than R&B and R&R. Back then it was known as heavy metal. A lot of the lyrics were profound and challenged much of the then norms of society.

 

Don't get me wrong, there were many good bands from the US too but the music industry in the US was more influential on the global scene than Brit labels.

 

Britain and Europe were in a state of rebuilding post WWII and the sentiment was where is all the sense in this and where was god? The secularization of Europe started post WWII when the US went on to engage in other police actions and wars, patriotic sentiment was as such a key driver of getting the populace behind the "Amerikan Dream " and the support of the war effort against the threat to this culture.

 

Perhaps if the US had the crap bombed out of their cities on a daily basis, then the sentiment may have been similar, where was god in all this madness?

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You know what's interesting about Imagine? We would regularly sing it at the catholic church I used to attend. Can you believe that? It's true. This was back in the 70's and 80's. While I haven't attended church in decades, I'd be willing to bet it hasn't been sung since the last couple of popes started cracking down on modern rational thinking instead of pedophile priests.

 

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Guest Babylonian Dream

I wondered this before. I also wondered why so many of my friends who are religious (jews, christians and muslims) don't care that I'm gay. I realized that even peoples beliefs are all in their emotions, and have less to do with their books than they say that they do.

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yea the whole religion is based off a emotional stimlulation of that manifestation in their minds. if you have ever been to a protostant church they give a invitation at the end where you accept their religion and they do thier best (and are quite good at it) to make the atmopshere as emotional as posible so it will drive people to the religion, its the whole reason they play music at the end of the sermon.

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Heh, my parents are consistent enough in their beliefs to find that song offensive.

 

I heard about one cover of that song that changed the "problematic" lyrics to Christiany ones. I thought that was hilarious.

 

My favorite song taken out of context is "This Land is Your Land". The few verses people sing regularly are all patriotic sounding. The full song is actually anarchist and speaking against private property ownership and unemployment. According to wikipedia, it started as a sarcastic response to "God Bless America".

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My favorite song taken out of context is "This Land is Your Land". The few verses people sing regularly are all patriotic sounding. The full song is actually anarchist and speaking against private property ownership and unemployment. According to wikipedia, it started as a sarcastic response to "God Bless America".

 

 

Interesting. I never knew that. Can't wait to share that tidbit with some people I know. No wonder it's one of the few so-called patriotic songs I halfway like can tolerate.

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