Social Question

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

Believers, if you mistrust atheists, does this study ring true for you?

Asked by Simone_De_Beauvoir (38828 points ) December 3rd, 2011

In this new study, it was found that religious believers mistrust atheists more than they mistrust gay people or feminists (these being collapsed with evil makes a queer feminist atheist such as myself feel particularly good). In fact, they mistrust atheists almost as much as they mistrust rapists (awesome, isn’t it?)

I want to know if there are any specific reasons people can give me for mistrusting atheists more than those who are gay or feminist. Obviously, you may be a believer who has no issues with atheists or gay people or feminists (please then specify your religion), why do you think lack of religion scares believers more than people who are ‘committing sodomy’ or ‘going against god’s wishes for women’?

Observing members: 0 Composing members: 0

111 Answers

auntydeb's avatar

Cor blimey, what a great question @Simone_De_Beauvoir. Perhaps ‘no religion’ simply means ‘no hope’? I have no problems with believers or atheists, as long as they have some sense of morality. Perhaps those believers who entertain this deep mistrust feel, that without theism there can be no morality, therefore evil is the only option. I don’t have a real answer, only more questions!

…goes away to tread water and watch conversation develop :)

bongo's avatar

I would like to see the actual published version of that study and see if they were given a choice between groups of people i.e. multiple choice directly comparing rapists and criminals against atheists or they had an open answered question in which case they picked atheist off the top of their head because that is the first think they thought of and what kind of context the questions prior to the trust question were in.
Having read studies and then read corresponding news articles it is quite worrying how much the media bend the truth with scientific study results. Being an atheist myself I simply don’t want to/can’t believe in this study (please excuse the pun)

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@bongo Agreed. That’s why I’d rather ask people instead then really go with this study.

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

This is incredibly disturbing. :\

bongo's avatar

Here is a link to the paper with reference:
Gervais, W. M., Shariff, A. F., & Norenzayan, A. (2011, November 7). Do You Believe in Atheists? Distrust Is Central to Anti-Atheist Prejudice. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1037/a0025882

For those of you who wish to read the whole thing.

Aster's avatar

Great question; made me actually think. Could it be that believers don’t mistrust Atheists but really don’t like them because they’re afraid some of that Atheism might rub off on them thus rocking their boat? And they are doubly afraid of them because, to my mind, Atheists are thinkers, not idiots or hollow headed sheep. Personally, I’m no Atheist but can well understand why a large percentage of Europeans are- seeing that thinkers want proof of a God. They demand answers, aren’t getting them, so they simply write off the entire concept. This is not to imply that believers are all empty headed sheep which is a metaphor, Simone, as you already knew.

DominicX's avatar

I think @auntydeb hit the nail on the head here. Some theists believe that morality can’t exist without God thus they believe that atheists have no sense of morality and could kill or rape for no reason because they don’t have to answer to God. However, I think it’s interesting in the way so many theists (read: Christians) push the idea of hellfire on people as if Hell is the only motive for acting in a moral way, as if Christians would be killing and raping if it weren’t for the idea that that would cause them to burn for all eternity.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@Aster “Atheists are thinkers, not idiots or hollow headed sheep.” – I really don’t think that applies to all people, if at all.

lukiarobecheck's avatar

Dom, and Aunt got it before I could. It is a question of morals. Religious believers think that non religious believers are amoral. Not always, but I would wager to bet for the most part. It is always fear of the unknown that will hold us back.

vine's avatar

It may be an extreme example, but while reading the question I thought of Steve Harvey’s comments on atheists. His views corroborate the explanation that @auntydeb has offered when she writes some people might feel atheists have no sense of morality. Harvey calls it a ‘moral barometer’ and suggests atheists have no explanation for the existence of the world.

Not sure how common such views are, but it makes sense that someone who thinks this way will mistrust an atheist, who would seem to possess neither a moral compass nor an explanation for existence. It’s a gross misunderstanding but I’m sure it’s also very threatening to some uninformed people.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

Because many Atheists, even on this forum, believe that Religion should be done away with and banned entirely. Not easy to trust anyone whom you feel is working to extinguish your world view.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@RealEyesRealizeRealLies Well, it’s obvious if you look at any data whatsoever, that that’s far from what’s actually happening in the world. But perceptions are what they are. They’re not facts or truth.

Facade's avatar

What does someone’s religion have to do with trusting them?

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@Facade Well, a lot, apparently. The likelihood that we’ll have an atheist President soon, for example, is tiiiiiiny.

Judi's avatar

I do mistrust rapists, but atheists? As a Christian, my biggest problem right now is that I trust atheists more than most Christians. I’m working on it though. If I’m going to be true to God’s command, I even have to love the self righteous and let God be the judge. (but it’s really hard.)

I would like to know a bit more about the study. Who was their sampling? I find this article a little biased and condescending. I could believe these results if they were taken from the fundamentalist factions of any religion (Christian, Muslim or whatever, ) But there IS a large group of believers who don’t do what they do out of fear that a holy boogie man is going to punish them. Is that what the participants said, or is that just the erroneous conclusion of the researcher?

Brian1946's avatar

@vine

“It may be an extreme example, but while reading the question I thought of Steve Harvey’s comments on atheists. His views corroborate the explanation that @auntydeb has offered when she writes some people might feel atheists have no sense of morality. Harvey calls it a ‘moral barometer’ and suggests atheists have no explanation for the existence of the world.”

Thanks for the info on Steve Harvey. This solidifies my opinion that he’s the worst Family Feud host EVER!

jerv's avatar

@RealEyesRealizeRealLies That feeling is mutual, and what leads many non-believers to view religion as a bad thing. Look how many killings and other bad deeds have been “justified” by religion.

That said, it’s kind of a disservice to those believers who are not murderous rapist bigots, but the fact remains that religion has caused enough problems that you really can’t blame people for thinking it’d be a better world if religion didn’t exist.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@Judi The study is linked in one of the above comments.

Aster's avatar

@Judi HuffPost Religion
Why do you think believers distrust atheists?

Study Explores Distrust Of Atheists By Believers
www.huffingtonpost.com
Distrust is the central motivating factor behind why religious people dislike atheists, according to a new study led by University of British Columbia psychologists. “Where there are religious majorities -– that is, in most of the world – atheists are among the least trusted people.”
I subscribe to Huffpost religion, too.

Coloma's avatar

Considering one of the most basic premises of christianity is to judge not, lest ye be judged, well…kinda speaks for itself.

If Jesus forgave murderers and prostitutes their “sins”, to distrust and judge non-beleivers is hypocrisy at it’s finest.

I am not a believer in fundamentalist religions, but I am a believer in walking your talk, whatever it is.

Practice what you preach rings “true” for everyone.

Aster's avatar

@Coloma I don’t know if it’s true or not but someone said that the “judge not” only relates to judging acts by others when you are guilty of doing them yourself. In other words, hypocrisy. I think. I am so sleepy.

Coloma's avatar

@Aster Me too! Well…interpretations are subjective at best, your take is as good as mine. :-)

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

People mistake “judgement” for opinion. Judgement requires that one must have authority over another, to make the judgement with, and pass a sentence. Jesus never gave one person authority over another. Jesus said let he who is without sin cast the first stone.

But Jesus also had opinions about things. He didn’t hide from truth. He didn’t agree with most of what people did in their lives, even his own disciples. But he didn’t pass judgement on society. Society passed judgment on him. Killing him for his opinions, not his judgements.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@Aster That’s an interesting clarification. So people can judge others for not believing in God especially because they do?

cazzie's avatar

No, I think it means you shouldn’t judge people for say…. adultery, if you have done that yourself.

cazzie's avatar

People shouldn’t judge other people for doubting the existence of a god, if they have done the same thing themselves. More to the point.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@cazzie And if they haven’t doubted god?

cazzie's avatar

Then they are unthinking robots who’s opinions I would never value

But, hey.. that’s just me. I have friends on both sides of the fence. We get along fine as long as there is mutual respect.

Coloma's avatar

Nothing worse than a hypocrite, judgment be damned. ;-)

pezz's avatar

This is a strange turnaround, I find that I mistrust anyone that has a strong belief in something that doesn’t exist. A bit like trusting Father Christmas to bring that Porche that you’ve had your eye on. never gonna happen

JLeslie's avatar

I am an atheist, I know you are looking for believers to answer, I will share the question with some. I think it is morals, and even more than that Christians, some Christians, believe they stay in line because they fear punishment from God. Without that threat of punishment they would be all over wild, boozing it up, promiscuous sex, stealing, and God knows what else. ~

Just like you have to have that strap or paddle hanging on the wall so kids remember not to act up, adults have God in their mind so they are obedient.

So, the Christian who really really believes atheists are bad people, either is a bad persn himself, or just is not exposed to enough atheists to know better. I bet there are many Christians who think they have never met an atheists, certainly they don’t have friend who are atheists…that they know of. The atheist is like the boogy man.

My dad was visiting and came to my gym with me. He had just returned from China so when a woman I know in my class happen to be standing next to us, I introduced them, because she lived in China for 8 years, just returning about 10 months ago. He asked her what had brought her to China (I had walked away, my dad relayed the conversation to me) and she said she was doing missionary work. During the short conversation he asked if she had a lot of success converting people, and I don’t remember if she said yes or no, what I remember is my father saying how offended he felt when she described the Chinese as “atheists” with a tone of either disgust or disbelief people like that existed. Poor misguided souls.

Coloma's avatar

Well, I dunno…something led me to the animal shelter on Thurs. and I now have Myles the magnificent.
Maybe it was the great cat spirit that said ” ya know that silly bohemian gal that lives in the woods, set her up with Myles.” ;-)

Judi's avatar

My daughter and I (both Christians) have been discussing the question, “If there were no hell, would it make any difference in my behavior.”
The answer we have come up with is that it shouldn’t. We should be living our lives not out of fear, but out of love. If their data really is correct, it makes me really sad that so many people of faith are motivated by negative rather than positive.

Aster's avatar

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WNbdUEqDB-k

I know one man who is an atheist. He has a Ph.d , he never left his wife even though she has been in and out of mental hospitals for decades and has been on all kinds of heavy meds forever and is obese. He is seventy and does volunteer work at a local Methodist Church, handing out food for the hungry who come in and ask. He also gave the local university at least 100K dollars. And it’s sort of strange but the main thing I love about him is that he was not ashamed to cry with tears on his face at my best friend’s funeral. He knew her well but wasn’t as close to her as I was and there he stood , crying his eyes out, just feet from her open coffin after coming up to the front to see her. Knowing him, I could never dislike a person because he or she is an Atheist.

Blackberry's avatar

I’ve heard more people than I’ve wanted to hear say if it weren’t for their belief is either god, heaven, or hell, they would assume they could do whatever they wanted without consequence. So, I should be wary of religious people. Lawlz. :P

Aster's avatar

@Blackberry I’ve never heard one person say such a thing. Some may have been joking or simply very young. Terrible to think people would turn into amoral criminals if they felt they didn’t have a hatchet over their heads.

judochop's avatar

I love statistics and studies however I do not think that it is incredibly hard to weight a study in one direction or the other. For instance if you were to do this study in the Pacific Northwest say…..vs. the Biblebelt I am sure you could weight it on both sides.
I am a believer. I pray daily. I don’t go to church but I am a true, faithful believer. I do have many friends who are atheists, queer and even a couple who are transgender that do not believe in God. I do not care about your beliefs as much as I care for my own. We are given the right to decide. I do not distrust any one person based on their religion or lack of religion or whom they are attracted to. Fanatics on both ends of the spectrum are obnoxious, unfair and close minded. So in short, studies are like politics, I take them with a grain of salt.

KatawaGrey's avatar

I think the problem is that “trust” is actually such a broad word. I don’t trust rapists in any sense of the word, but I don’t trust many atheists in a lesser sense. I don’t think an atheist would necessarily hurt me physically, but for me, trusting someone means being able to let my guard down around them. I don’t let my guard down around most atheists because many react like people here on fluther. If I talk about my belief in god, I am mocked, laughed at, verbally abused and lumped in with religious fundamentalists who have committed atrocities. So, while I do not think that being an atheist means someone would hurt me physically, I don’t trust many atheists I have met with my essential self.

Let me amend my above statement. I have no problem with true atheists, as in, people who simply don’t believe in god. I mistrust anti-theists, as in, people who don’t believe in god and believe that all or the majority of believers are stupid, dangerous and close-minded.

And it certainly doesn’t help that this question implies that all believers think that feminists and members of the GLBTQ community are evil.

Since the question asked that I specify my religion, I shall. I have no religion, but I do have a very strong personal spirituality and since so many non-believers on here think that we believers base our morality on god, let me say that a large chunk of my personal belief system is based on my sense of morality, not the other way around. A large chunk of my spirituality is also based on a basic scientific principle, specifically evolution, which may be hard to wrap your head around, but it is true. Science and spirituality are not mutually exclusive like so many seem to think. And I’m talking about both believers and non-believers there.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@KatawaGrey “And it certainly doesn’t help that this question implies that all believers think that feminists and members of the GLBTQ community are evil.” – this question doesn’t do that, the details prove it. Obviously, not all believers find any of these groups problematic. Hence the question.

KatawaGrey's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir: I really love how that’s the only part of my response you address.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@KatawaGrey Oh, that’s because the rest of it is spot on. And I’m willing to forget that you mistrust all atheists kind of right off the bat.

fundevogel's avatar

Yes I’m bristling skeptic, but I was raised in a religious household so I’m going to answer according to how atheism seemed to be regarded by people within my religious community and to an extent myself at the time. In my defense I was a kid.

Honestly, as much as some people may claim to think atheists are devoid of morals no one ever seemed overly concerned about the immorality of atheists being a threat to them. No one really expected atheists to go about murdering or raping. At worst some of them looked down their noses about all the unmarried sex atheists were assumed to be having. Not that the Christians in my life were that good at saving it til marriage, they just seemed more likely to resent it when other people didn’t feel guilty about it. Judge-y but hardly grounds for fear or condemnation of atheists.

The pressure I did feel to give atheists wide birth was akin to what @Aster said. There was a distinct warning that if you fraternized too much with the atheists it could rub off on you. And then where would you be? In Hell! It’s silly and highlights the vulnerability of the faith of those involved, but honestly, there isn’t malice in it. From what I saw they weren’t so much afraid of atheists as people as they were afraid of the hell their own religion damned unbelievers to.

The only reason atheists were more off-putting than any other damned soul is that at least the damnees from other religions realized that there had to be a god behind the scenes. Even if they got everything else wrong (in Christian eyes) they at least had that in common. Two theists are already on equal grounds on that matter. But how can a Christian relate to someone that doesn’t see any spirituality in the world? For a theist the existence of someone that so completely denies a spiritual world can raise doubts. Religions often claim their truth is plain to see to anyone who will look, but how can believers continue to believe this when faced with people who see no such thing. And if there are people that don’t see any spirituality in the world it could be that it’s because there isn’t any.

It’s just a chink in a wall. But if you get enough of them the wall falls down. At least that’s what happened to me.

KatawaGrey's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir: please point out in my answer where I said I mistrust all atheists. I thought I had specified that I mistrust most atheists wth my essential self, but perhaps I am mis-remembering.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@KatawaGrey Okay, so most. Kind of mistrust most atheists. That’s like if I said I kind of mistrust most Christians ‘cause they bother me about my soul. It’s not that great but whatever, what can you do. We’ve all got out biases.

SavoirFaire's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir But I think @KatawaGrey‘s main point is that “trust” could mean many things. What she is saying—if I understand her correctly—is that she feels the need to approach people who self-identify as atheists with some amount of caution because she cannot know in advance whether they are people who simply don’t believe in God or people who are anti-theistic and will attack her merely for having different beliefs (the so-called “evangelical atheist” who does to theists exactly what so many people—myself included—complain about when done by certain evangelical theists).

If she has met with this behavior repeatedly, it is not unreasonable of her to proceed with caution. She’s not saying that she cannot trust atheists to do general tasks like fix her car without putting a bomb in it or run a daycare without eating the children, but only that the path to getting into her inner circle has an extra bend in it for atheists due to past experience. That seems quite a bit different from the reading of “trust” that most people assume the study was getting at. But again, that was the main point: the survey’s respondents may have had a different idea of what “trust” involves than we do.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@SavoirFaire Who’s the ‘we’ you’re talking about? We’ve all had our bad experiences, I’m surprised I open my door to Jehova’s Witnesses all together. Anyway, yes I guess there are many definitions of trust and that’s why studies around these things are difficult…as they are about any sociological concept.

SavoirFaire's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir As per the sentence immediately prior to my singular usage of the word “we” in the above post, “we” refers to jellies responding to this question (who may have a different meaning of the word “trust” in mind than those who responded to the survey had).

SuperMouse's avatar

I can’t help but wonder if some of the theists who say they mistrust atheists do so because they are threatened by atheists. Folks such as @Judi are secure enough in their own beliefs not to feel threatened by non-believers. If one has not examined their faith and truly taken it to heart as a way of life, then one should not be threatened by the belief systems of others. If one has been spoon-fed what they believe and has never taken the time to figure out why or even if they actually believe it, they might tend to be threatened by those who do not believe.

For myself I can say that I don’t mistrust atheists, gays or feminists. I do mistrust rapists. I don’t think my reason for feeling this way is all that enlightening. I am pretty sure that I trust these folks as much (or as @Judi said upthread – more) than theists is because I spent quite a bit of my life as an agnostic with atheist tendencies.

As for the threat of going to hell keeping people on the straight and narrow, I’m not buying it. I felt liberated when I finally came to a place where I no longer believe in the concepts of heaven and hell. I still do the right thing, but now it is for the right reasons not because I am afraid I will spend all eternity in pit of fire. I try my hardest to live by a code of ethics because it is the right thing to do and regardless of whether one believes in an afterlife, there are benefits right here on this earth of doing the right thing.

judochop's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir @KatawaGrey I think what you two are trying to say is that you both dislike fanatics.

fundevogel's avatar

@KatawaGrey “I mistrust anti-theists, as in, people who don’t believe in god and believe that all or the majority of believers are stupid, dangerous and close-minded.”

I’m probably an anti-theist, occasionally a misantheist. But I don’t delude myself by thinking that because people do believe in god they are probably stupid or dangerous. Most of them are just regular people that were taught to think that way. Doesn’t change my dislike of what they believe. I think the atheists you’re thinking of would be better described by words like condescending, self-important dunderpate.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

I’m a Theist… and I think Religion is pure evil. If not done away with entirely, I would hope for a complete overhaul… starting with TV Evangelists hairstyles and the girly pageant makeup their wives hide behind.

plethora's avatar

@KatawaGrey describes exactly my feeling about dealing with atheists and my lack of trust, as she and then @SavoirFaire comments upon it. I will note that prior to my experience on Fluther, I had really never had negative experiences with atheists, nor reason to distrust. Some, not all, atheists here give plenty of reason to be cautious in revealing one’s essential self.

Leanne1986's avatar

Wow. This is disturbing. Personally I don’t mistrust groups of people at all. I mistrust an individual if they give me a real reason too but not because they happen to be gay, a particular race/ethnicity or atheist. I don’t care what your beleifs are as long as you are a decent person for the most part and I certainly don’t think that being religious is what makes you a good person. I feel lucky that I don’t know a single theist who appears to have a problem with atheists.

Leanne1986's avatar

I always try to answer any question on Fluther without being influenced by the comments of others and so, on this question in particular, I decided to answer before reading what others have to say. Now I have read all the above answers I have to say that I can really relate to what @KatawaGrey said and, I am guarded when talking about my faith with an atheist as I do fear being made fun of. This doesn’t mean that I wouldn’t trust an atheist with any other information about myself or that I think they are dangerous in any way but I keep that little bit of info to myself until I am happy that I won’t be laughed at for my beliefs.

JLeslie's avatar

The answers here are really interesting. So theists are thinking trust in terms of personally trust atheists not to hurt them individually, as in one on one, their feelings. While I think atheists think of trust as in theists are afraid atheists are going secularize the country and world or that atheists are less moral and more likely to commit crimes.

And, this idea atheism will rub off. I never would have guessed that. But, it is kind of funny sort of. Makes sense clergy and the religious might feel that or tell other theists that. It is basically the same as people being clannish, staying around their own, especially for theor children. The more secluded they are, the less they know about other beliefs, the more likely they are to stay in the religion. In fact, I would think people in organized religions would worry about the rub off, not people who are theists/spiritual, but not associated with an organized religion. If people start to stray from the religion less people in the congregation.

@Aster I know people exactly like what @Blackberry described as I stated in my answer also. I don’t think it describes the majority of theists or Christians, but they definitely exist. There is a Political right wing commentator, can’t remember her name, I saw her interviewed on The View, and she was about to get her 4th or 5th abortion and she had a fairly messed up life, and her boss at the time kept trying to get her to go to church with her. She finally did, found Christ, and straightened her life out. She said every day she has to choose to do the right thing. I hear that from Christians all the time, that they choose every day to do the right thing. I think some say just as a saying, bit than others are tempted to do bad things all the time and what stops them is their belief in God. I don’t choose every day, I don’t feel tempted every day to do something shitty or immoral to others or for myself. The sentence is odd to me. But, again, I realize for some people it is just a saying, I in no way think all or even most theists have some sort of evil inside they have to constantly restrain.

bkcunningham's avatar

Richard is 31 years old. He has a rare inherited medical condition.
This leads him to have dry, flaky skin and produce excess mucus. His
skin often flakes off at embarrassing times, and he almost always has
a dripping nose and phlegm in his throat.
On his way to work one day, Richard was scratching his itchy
shoulder. Some of the dry skin that flaked off caused him to sneeze,
and some snot ended up on his tie. He failed to notice that the phlegm
got on his tie. He wore this dirty tie through an entire work day.

Do you think it is more probable that Richard was either (a) a teacher or (b) a teacher and homosexual or© a teacher and an atheist or (d) a atheist and a homosexual or (e) an atheist or (e) a homosexual or (f) a teacher and a homosexual and an atheist

Judi's avatar

@bkcunningham , did you extract that from the study? Is that the kinds of questions they were asking?

bkcunningham's avatar

Yes, it is from the study. There is a lot more to the study than what the simple article shows and what @Simone_De_Beauvoir‘s question leads you to think.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@bkcunningham I had no ‘hidden agenda’ – I’ve already agreed with whomever above that this study needs to be read up on and that is why I’m asking other people. But whatever. Interestingly enough, I learned there are people who actually mistrust atheists. I didn’t know that was really true.

Judi's avatar

Sounds like a study designed to lead to a biased conclusion to me. (Although I don’t even want to wade through the data like you did.)

Aster's avatar

www.youtube.com/watch?v=_K2I5P36-Z8&feature=endscreen&NR=1

I don’t fear atheists at all unless they appear very, very angry and bitter. And I think that is not the norm. I smile to myself, they can’t see it, when I am around highly educated atheists because I know someday they’re in for the biggest thrill of their lifetime when truth is revealed to them. I’ll miss that thrill because I already expect it and I’ll never have, nor want, an M.D. or Ph.d but I have some knowledge that they don’t have and that amuses me. I’m excited for them, really.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@Aster Yeah, that’s really condescending. Also, not true. But enjoy.

bkcunningham's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir, I didn’t say you had a hidden agenda.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@bkcunningham Oh I know. I was just clarifying, my love.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

My two very best friends are Atheists. These guys are the most giving and living example of Jesus archetype that I have ever met. As a Theist, my trust is in them. My distrust is with the Christian Religion… not the Christian necessarily, but the religion.

The hypocrisy is vulgar. Who drives the fanciest cars on most Protestant church parking lots? The Preacher and Elders of the church do… in my experience. Yet the Jesus they pray to walked everywhere in poverty and rode a mule once.

I work for fancy hotels downtown. One manager told me that XXX movie rentals rise exponentially when the Pentecostal Convention comes to town.

To anyone who has actually read the Bible, and studied the teachings of Jesus, it doesn’t take long to discover that J never judged or scorned anyone. He never politicized morality. He spent his days comforting prostitutes, tax collectors and adulterers… saving them from scorn of the religious powers that be. The only people he was against were the religious leaders… calling them a brood of snakes. He did not want the house of God to be used for a marketplace.
__________

I will trust religion when it follows the examples of God it worships. Christ never said to give money to a church. He said to go visit the sick and dying, those in prison, the poorest and most lost in society that are consumed by addictions.

Christians have it all wrong. Jesus didn’t come to make bad people turn good. He came to let dead people live. The spiritually dead can find spiritual life.

When Christians stop legislating morality, and instead start loving their neighbor, by giving themselves, their time, their compassion to their neighbors, without foisting self righteousness upon them, then, and only then, will I trust Christianity to do what it was originally intended to do.

bkcunningham's avatar

The four hypotheses the study set out to prove or disprove are:

Present Research and Hypotheses
If religiosity is used as a signal of trustworthiness, atheists
should be seen as less trustworthy than their “God-fearing” counterparts,
particularly by individuals who strongly believe in God.
Therefore,

Hypothesis 1: Stereotypes of atheists should center on themes
of distrust. This should be more true for atheists than for other
comparable outgroups disliked by religious groups but not
seen to pose a specific trust-based threat (e.g., homosexuals).

Hypothesis 2: Anti-atheist prejudice should be most evident
in measures of distrust, rather than in more general measures
of dislike or other specific (non-trust-based) appraisals.

Hypothesis 3: Belief in God should, in turn, more strongly
predict distrust of atheists than generalized dislike of atheists.
This relationship should be specifically mediated by a belief
that people behave better when they believe they are under
supernatural surveillance.

Hypothesis 4: Prejudice against atheists should be contextspecific,
especially evident when the need for trust—rather
than other dimensions such as likeability or pleasantness—is
particularly potent.

http://www2.psych.ubc.ca/~will/Gervais%20et%20al-%20Atheist%20Distrust.pdf

To get to the core of the study, you need to read the theories and studies about religiosity as a signal of trustworthiness in society.

fundevogel's avatar

@bkcunningham “Do you think it is more probable that Richard was either (a) a teacher or (b) a teacher and homosexual or© a teacher and an atheist or (d) a atheist and a homosexual or (e) an atheist or (e) a homosexual or (f) a teacher and a homosexual and an atheist”

What get from this is that the study subjects weren’t so great at math or have naively accepted that there is a correlation between an unfortunate health issue and religion and/or sexual orientation. Clearly this is a numbers game and since teachers by far out number other other options listed the correct answer is A.

Or perhaps they do understand math but think that God is statistically more likely to allow this condition in people that don’t believe in him.

JLeslie's avatar

@bkcunningham I’m glad you posted that question. That question is ridiculous to me. I would not be able to answer it, because I would not assume religion or belief in God at all from any of those behaviors,

What would also be interesting to know is if the people who wrote the study are atheists, theists, Christians, Whatever. I was part of a study at my university that later I found out was to try to ascertain if there was a correlation with having a strong belief system and doing better in school,

While taking the questionaire there were many many questions that within the multiple choice answers did not fit me. I waited to speak to the person administering the test when I was done, to let him know that maybe mine was not valid for the study, because I did as instructed and answered with the best choice possibly out of what I was given, but many times it really did not represent me. As I waited another girl walked up, and was waiting also. He finally could give me his attention, I explained my concern, and the other girl waiting said, I had the same problem. I looked at her, she looked Jewish, so I asked her if she was, and she was. Whoever created that test I am assuming was Christian by how the questions were written, I could be wrong of course, just an assumption, and had no clue of the in between world of Jews, and secular Jews. Jews statistically as a group are very successful when it comes to education, are fairly likely to be atheists, but feel part of a religion, and I feel sure that test didn’t test for that sort of person. I have no idea what conclusions they came to with the study.

Harold's avatar

As a christian, I have no inherent mistrust of atheists. I think that there are trustworthy and untrustworthy people of all persuasions. The one thing that I have trouble with is trusting so-called “scientific research” that sets out with a goal of proving that God doesn’t exist, and then congratulates itself by “proving” what is based on pre-conceived ideas. Yes, I know, christians are often guilty of that too. Honestly, lack of religion, sexual preference, or whatever does not scare me at all, nor does it make me value a person any less.

JLeslie's avatar

@Harold Science does not prove there is no God. Science can’t prove a negative. What most theists would say is there is no proof of God. Meaning the burden lies on theists to prove there is one. For me it doesn’t matter, because I think science and God can peacefully coexist. Science does not prove there is not a God, which in my opinion does not mean God does not exist, but as an atheist what I desire is for people, theists, to not reject science when there is proof of something because it contradicts the way clergy or an individual interprets the bible. Science today is in a totally different place that 5,700 or 2,000 years ago. We know more, understand the universe better.

bkcunningham's avatar

I always smile when I hear someone say, you can’t prove a negative. That statement is itself a negative.

JLeslie's avatar

@bkcunningham It’s a matter of scientific terminology. Like the word theory. Scientific theory is not the same as using the word theory in a typical sentence to describe an idea or hypothesis. The theist and the scientist are using different dictionaries. I know there are all sorts of Christian articles out there trying to argue why the statment you can’t prove a negative is bullshit. Doesn’t matter, I am not stuck to that explanation anyway. My concern is never whether someone is a theist or not, makes no matter to me, I have zero judgement or assumption either way about it or the person.

Mariah's avatar

@bkcunningham You can prove some negatives (you can prove something is impossible, for instance); you can’t prove nonexistence, though.

SavoirFaire's avatar

It is a pernicious myth that one cannot prove a negative. There are various ways of proving negatives, such as by modus tollens or proof by contradiction. This is why we know there are no square circles or integers greater than zero and less than one. The reason that science is unconcerned with proving or disproving the existence of God is because God is not a scientific hypothesis so long as everything that needs explaining can be explained without Him. God just doesn’t enter the picture. We might then take scientific evidence and see how it tallies with the philosophical arguments given for or against the existence of God, but that’s a different project.

plethora's avatar

@SavoirFaire But what if the scientific method is not the sunom bonum of life? Is everything that needs explaining only those things that submit to the scientific method?

What if other methods of thought are more appropriate to thinking and arriving at conclusions about God?

(Not trying to start a debate here. Your post just above simply brought these thoughts to mind)

JLeslie's avatar

@plethora I’m with you, I don’t care if God is ever proven or not proven. God is defined in so many ways anyway, which God are we proving or disproving? I’m all good with that as long as we don’t throw science out with the bath water. The scientific method has given us great advances and knowledge. Unscientific method sometimes gives us great things to, although later scientists like to prove those things found in trial and error and antidoctal observations.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@JLeslie I agree, I don’t know why it so often boils down to proor or not proof. It just doesn’t matter to me, at this point.

plethora's avatar

@JLeslie No need or wish to throw out the scientific method. It’s validity is more than proven. The issue these days is that in the minds of many, it is the only valid method for examining any and all areas of thought and life.

Is everything that needs explaining only those things that submit to the scientific method? What if other methods of thought are more appropriate to thinking and arriving at conclusions about God?

Nor does one have to care one way or the other in reference to God. I would be content just to not have the scientific method (which requires repeatable observations) thrown up as the only valid method for thinking about anything or arriving at any conclusion about anything.

JLeslie's avatar

@plethora I think I understand what you are getting at. Many atheists say there is no proof of God as their explanation for God not existing, which is not why I don’t believe in God, so I don’t offer that as an explanation. It’s not that I don’t agree there is no proof, because I do, but no proof does not prove for me there is no God. I don’t feel at all a war between science and God in my own mind. I actually feel it more from the theist side than the atheist side, but I am sure that is probably because of my own bias and filters. And, there is a statistic that scientists are more likely to be atheists, so I can see how it all intertwines.

Theists are the ones who seem worried our leaders believe in God, I don’t care if my politician believes or not. I have never heard an atheist say they hate having to vote for a theist, they do say they are bothered by religious politicans who know nothing about science and want to legislate medical procedures and ethics. I am fine if someone wants to argue the ethics of something, but I hope all people at the table are trying to understand all the points of view and are capable of understanding the science. They can still find it, whatever it is, unethical.

It would be interesting to ask on one of the Christian sites what they think about atheists, what type of people they think they are, just to see what they assume about atheists. Everything from how an atheist might look, behave, etc. I think some of them maybe think of non-church going criminals. Which maybe that is the only type of atheists they know of, that is their personal experience.

auntydeb's avatar

Wow, knew it would get interesting. So, poor Richard, for starters: needs a little help from his friends methinks – he may actually be blind or have asperger’s – oh and a hanky. A routine dust down before facing the public. Whether he’s gay or not, or believes in a deity, the kids in his class will have thoroughly mocked him for his snotty tie. I feel sorry for him.

For those science buffs hereabouts, a recent bit of very clever-dickie stuff has come about here in the UK. It included wiring up Richard Dawkins (atheist extremis) for testing. And this was the test: It has been shown, that if small amounts of electromagnetic force (very tiny, not enough to produce spasm or fits), are applied to certain areas of the brain, the subject may have the distinct experience of finding themselves feeling ‘not alone’.

The stimulation creates the strong sense of someone else being present, when the room is in fact empty. This experiment showed that around 80% of individuals tested felt some kind of ‘presence’. That leaves around 20% feeling very little. Professor Dawkins was one who felt no more than rather relaxed and interested.

This no more proves the existence or not of any deity, but it clearly shows how subjective experience may lead our belief systems. My comment about morality has been echoed above, other issues take the ideas further. In particular @cazzie‘s comment about ‘unthinking robots’ gives me cause for concern. There is a truth in the comment, as fundamentalism of any kind, is a thief that steals love, communication and tolerance.

From a purely personal viewpoint, which is how I understand the question to be framed, I have no specific ‘mistrust’ related to any of the groups mentioned in the study. In fact, the study itself appears thin and flawed (also noted above), it certainly doesn’t put Canadians in a good light. Would I trust a rapist? I would trust him to rape. Would I trust a Gay man to help me choose the new colour for my hair (getting it cut tomorrow, coloured on Wednesday), well I might. Trust itself is contextual and personal.

I’m probably going for light ash-blonde, it favours my new silver streaks

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@auntydeb Really, making fun of someone like Dawkins who might have conditions? I am not into the man all that much myself but that’s kind of pointless.

fundevogel's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir I don’t see any mockery in her comment.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@fundevogel I do. Thinly veiled, disguised as ‘I feel sorry for him’ but the user doesn’t, really. Maybe they can clarify it for me.

fundevogel's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir If you mean the “poor Richard” bit that’s referring to the flakey, snot-stained man in the question. Not Dawkins. And given the way he’s presented in the question I think her appraisal is reasonable and not at all condescending.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@fundevogel Ah, got it. Thanks for that.

bkcunningham's avatar

That was funny.

fundevogel's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir No problem, it is a bit confusing with them having the same first name.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@fundevogel Well, especially since people actually say those things irl about Dawkins.

fundevogel's avatar

that’s true.

SavoirFaire's avatar

@plethora I would never say that the scientific method is the summum bonum. I’m a philosopher, after all. It is part of my professional creed that there are things to prove that are not subject to the scientific method. This is not at odds with my previous response, though, as I was only saying that God is not needed for science (and thus uninteresting to scientists qua scientists—though perhaps quite interesting to them qua human beings).

plethora's avatar

@SavoirFaire Thanks. I understand. And thanks for the spelling correction. I knew something was wrong with it and even spellcheck missed it.

auntydeb's avatar

…chuckling a little at mistaken identity
Hi again, apologies for any misunderstanding regarding the name ‘Richard’. My sympathies are with the chap in the earlier question, with the snotty tie. And, to clarify, although I appreciate his expertise as a scientist, I have little sympathy with Professor Dawkins views, as I find him bigoted and rather ‘fundamentalist’; treating Religion as idiocy, which helps no one.

However, he was an amusing and honest subject in the experiment I describe which has become known as ‘The God Experiment’, by Michael Persinger. Find more here on youtube and here for the original TV programme broadcast in the UK by the BBC.

Harold's avatar

@JLeslie – Point taken, although I do think that many people try to use science to prove that there is no God. I agree that people should not reject science because it contradicts their ideas. However, I think that there is a lot that masquerades as science which isn’t.

JLeslie's avatar

@Harold I agree there is a lot that is presented as science that isn’t. But, most people don’t know the difference. Science on evolution, embryonic stem cell research, and other big issues are hard science. It is not like a sample of 30 people who lost weight eating grapefruit. When I say hard science I don’t mean all parts of the theories are absolute truths, but the findings should not be thrown out because someone thinks it doesn’t agree with the bible. If the findings are to be challenged they need to be challenged scientifically.

Paradox25's avatar

Actually this doesn’t surprise me since I live in a very conservative area that tends to be very religious. I think that many people who follow an orthodox version of a religion tend to be very conservative (authoritarian style) so it is more about conformism than anything else. Most of these people were brought up not to trust others who are perceived as being ‘different’, and it is called the authoritarian mindset as Dr. Bob Altemeyer brilliantly explains.

It is not just nontheists that feel this wrath but so do many pagans, wiccans, spiritualists, etc. The way I’ve always seen it (as a very type of unconventional theist with Spiritualist leanings) it is the motivations for your actions that are important, not fearing punishment or for just merely believing something. Silver Birch teachings emphasize this.

Harold's avatar

@JLeslie – I agree. No science should be thrown out because the bible contradicts it. However, it should be thrown if if shown to be fraudulent, or simply illogical (ie no logic in its methods).

fundevogel's avatar

So it turns out there’s a group of Catholics that wants to reach out to help atheists. By adopting them and giving them the courage to dig deep within themselves and discover their inner Christian.

‘If we hurry, these closeted Christians can celebrate Christmas like the rest of us. As an added bonus, they will no longer be looked upon as people who “believe in nothing, stand for nothing and are good for nothing.”’

So saith Bill Donohue.

Mariah's avatar

Closeted Christians, good fuckin’ god. :|

It’s like to them the thought that athiests actually exist is so outlandish that they have to delude themselves into thinking we’re all secretly Christians.

Blackberry's avatar

@fundevogel I’ll let someone adopt me, if that person is an attractive woman who is sexually repressed.

fundevogel's avatar

@Blackberry I don’t know that that will work out the way you hope :P

Blackberry's avatar

@fundevogel Yeah, probably not.

Blackberry's avatar

Ew….....More relevance.

augustlan's avatar

@Blackberry Wow. Those tweets were pretty insane. And really poorly written.

Blackberry's avatar

@augustlan Be very afraid…...... :/

SavoirFaire's avatar

My favorite is “U sound real stupid. His the greatest.”

fundevogel's avatar

oy…Fluther has a way of raising my expectations of people. Unfortunately Twitter is probably a more representative cross section of humanity… :(

Blackberry's avatar

The part that bothers me the most is that I know these people didn’t just come to these conclusions on their own. These opinions were learned from someone else.

Nullo's avatar

Taking ‘trust’ to relate to security of my person and belongings, I tend to trust Christians more readily than atheists, but I also trust atheists. My tentative policy re: rapists in flagrante delicto is to go clubbing, furrier style.
I do not trust atheists, gays, or certain varieties of feminists to be neutral when relating events pertinent to their descriptors, simply because I feel that it is impossible to truly be neutral when discussing something that one is passionate about.
I hold little more than contempt for the Solanas-type feminists.

@Blackberry I disagree. People wish others to death on a daily basis, and for considerably more trivial matters. It’s a fairly common response to insult, as are cussing and generally getting flustered. This is almost certainly one of the reasons behind the doctrine of turning the other cheek.

It’s not a new juxtaposition; King Louis IX of France, called Saint Louis, said once,
“The best way to argue with someone who has insulted the faith is to put a sword through his belly.” Like the late King Louis, the people in those tweets simply have not yet made all of their connections, hence the striking mashup. It is possible that they aren’t really Christians at all.

fundevogel's avatar

@Nullo “I hold little more than contempt for the Solanas-type feminists.”

So you disapprove of feminists that are also murders? That’s a pretty small slice of the pie. I’d like to defend feminism further, but the diversity of thought that claims the feminism mantle means there are a lot of “feminist” positions I strongly disagree with and can’t defend at all. It sucks that we’re all stuck with the same title, but I’d hope you remember just how much variety there is among feminists before fixating on a deranged, but tiny number of feminists rather than addressing the sort of feminists you actually encounter around here.

“People wish others to death on a daily basis, and for considerably more trivial matters. It’s a fairly common response to insult, as are cussing and generally getting flustered. This is almost certainly one of the reasons behind the doctrine of turning the other cheek.”

uh…I’ve never wished anyone dead. And I’ve never picked up any indication that people I know wish that either.

Also, when Jesus referred to “turning the other cheek” he was saying if your enemy strikes you on the cheek, turn so that he may strike the other side as well. Are you honestly saying that after hearing a barrage of violent, unprovoked vitriol the proper response is to submit to further abuse? It’s one thing to walk away from a conflict, it’s another to invite abuse.

Now that I’ve been informed that it’s normal for Christians to wish other people dead I’m not sure I trust them.

Nullo's avatar

@fundevogel Chances are you don’t know very many people, relative to the whole seven billion of us. Some people have shorter tempers than you, or perhaps come from backgrounds where death is appropriate retribution for insult. There are murders every single day, so obviously the thought crosses a few peoples’ minds; it’s likely that even more people have the thought and don’t act on it because they know better. Remember: we live in a world where people riot over sporting events.

Christians are something of a cross-section of the human race; you’ll find most sorts of people in our ranks. Some of them don’t respond well to insult. Salvation is for everybody who goes looking for it, and some people take longer to scrub up than others.
It is my hope that the tweeters will soon see that their death-threats do not honor God.
I didn’t say that it was appropriate or Christian, and I was implying that the set of people who wish others to death includes a bit of the set of people who call themselves Christians, not that Christians are somehow more prone to violence. But Christians are people, and people tend to sin and require forgiveness, which is what the whole business is about in the first place. “A church is a hospital for sinners, not a museum for saints,” after all. The old self lies about the place and trips you up until you have him taken out.

Also, when Jesus referred to “turning the other cheek” he was saying if your enemy strikes you on the cheek, turn so that he may strike the other side as well. Are you honestly saying that after hearing a barrage of violent, unprovoked vitriol the proper response is to submit to further abuse?
Ah, no, sorry. I was referring to the death-wishers. Rather than responding with venom and violence to insults, even those to the faith, they ought to be turning the other cheek.
King Louis ought to have paid more attention in Mass.

Yes, these people who are tweeting (though perhaps not King Louis; I don’t have much more data on him than I have presented here) have been insulted, either directly (Fluther has at least one post calling Christians stupid) or indirectly by insulting their God and their faith. One shouldn’t be surprised at the insults – the Bible warns about them, and offers the appropriate response – in several places, but sometimes he is.

Sorry for the wall-o-text, I’m trying to Communicate While Sleep-Deprived, and I don’t want to miss.

fundevogel's avatar

@Nullo Thanks for answering. Personally I hope that the bulk of those people don’t actually desire violence or death for others, I hope it’s just hot-headed language. Either way they should work on that. No matter who they are they come across as idiots for behaving that way.

Answer this question

Login

or

Join

to answer.
Your answer will be saved while you login or join.

Have a question? Ask Fluther!

What do you know more about?
or
Knowledge Networking @ Fluther