Where does this confidence of believers in a religion come from?

Where does this confidence of believers in a religion come from? Why are believers in a given religion so sure of it and do not allow rational facts that explain many things to us? Why is it that a book, such as the Holy Scriptures, is living proof to these people, even though it is no proof at all.

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Oh do fuck off please, this is the what the 14th thread you’ve started by positing a question, and you’ve not responded in any of them.

And now we can add this one, so you’re trolling aren’t you.


And people say we atheists have no manners. Puh-leeeeeze… :roll_eyes: That is possibly the most polite “fuck off” request I have ever seen.


Even if the original poster is being an asshole by posting threads and not responding, he does–at least here–ask fair questions.

I think that the answer is that religion removes ambiguity, and humans are uncomfortable with ambiguity.

When religion makes us feel good despite the obvious harm, it seems–at least to me–that this is a similar dynamic that we see in drug abuse and alcoholism. In drug addiction, the body is deteriorating, yet we keep doing the substance because it makes us feel good. When we do drugs, a chemical (or chemicals) removes doubt, it removes anxiety, it takes away feelings of guilt, and so forth. These “benefits” are so powerful that we dismiss the damage that is done by the chemical, such as losing a job, contracting HIV, or becoming a street prostitute to support the habit.

I feel that it is similar with religion. It makes us feel good by providing similar benefits to drugs, and we keep doing it despite the wars, terrorism, and other garbage that comes from it.


Dang, Kev, that’s a pretty cool analogy. Never really thought of it like that before. Makes sense. Gonna have to remember that one.


Thank you very much.

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I second that. I have saved it in my list of arguments that can come in handy later.


Thank you very much for seeing my side of it.

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Faith and Spiritual Experiences: Many believers derive confidence from their personal faith and spiritual experiences. These experiences can be deeply personal and profound, providing a sense of certainty and comfort. For some, experiences that they interpret as encounters with the divine or as spiritual insights reinforce their belief.

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One can have intensely spiritual experiences without any suggestion of the supernatural and/or divine.

The first time that I (as an EMT) helped a woman give birth was an overwhelmingly spiritual experience for me.

Also, I helped feed paralyzed people as a part of my nursing program (during clinical hours), and this was a very spiritual experience for me as well.

I also became a strict vegetarian as the result of an odd spiritual experience that happened to me out of the clear blue sky.

Yet none of this implies anything supernatural, and certainly none of this justifies the wars, bigotry, homophobia, environmental damage, terrorism, or rigidity that religion gives (or–perhaps–“inflicts upon”) humanity.


I imagine their confidence comes from growing up in a family that at least pays lip-service to those beliefs, and a school and culture that does the same. Remember when we had that former Muslim member that didn’t believe in god but had never even considered that Abraham (and other characters in Bible) might not have been real?


Please define spiritual and give objective evidence for your claim of anything related to a ‘spirit’ so some sort.

What in the ‘FUCK’ is a ‘Spiritual Insight?’ Please share any spiritual insight you might have run across.


I could tell you what my spiritual insights were, which I suspect everyone (or almost everyone) has . . . and a spiritual experience is not neccesarily pleasant or nice.

I became a vegetarian when I was shopping, and I was looking at steaks when a question occurred to me: “How do you like your body being a graveyard for dead animals?”

I started thinking about animals like Stellar’s sea cow, the North Atlantic grey whale, the passenger pigeon, and so on . . . and I felt guilty (by association) for being a human being.

I am now unable to look at a rack of ribs without seeing the animal that it came from, or getting a visual in my mind’s eye of a screaming, crying pig being ushered to it’s death in a meat factory. I’ve had pigs sitting on my lap, and I’ve also played fetch with them.

When I gave up meat, it is because I feel a need to acknowledge the animal suffering (that is caused by people) in a tangible way by sacrificing a level of culinary enjoyment.

This all happened to me for no reason in a grocery store while I was shopping for a ribeye or porterhouse to throw on the grill. There was nothing that precipitated it . . . it just happened.

So, I guess we can try to define a spiritual experience as a sudden, drastic change in one’s values that that either temporarily or permanently alters one’s viewpoints on fundamental issues.

Where is the “Spirit?” I don’t get it? You made a decision to give up meat because you decided not to harm animals? Demonstrate how anything connected to that is ‘spiritual.’ Two people are in a room. One person decides to stop eating meat because he does not want to harm animals. The other person has had a ‘spiritual experience’ as does not want to eat meat. Now explain to me the measurable, observable difference between the two.

People have sudden drastic changes in their values all the time. I was in the business of facilitating sudden drastic changes in values. People find Jesus and their values change. They find Krishna and their values change. They find the Noble 8-fold path and their values change. Sometimes their values just change. You don’t have the same values you had when you were 6 years old, 10 years old, 20 years old, 30 years old. You have always been changing. For some reason, you just happened to think this latest change was special. You haven’t even noticed most of the changes in your life. Not even the dramatic ones. So, where is this ‘spiritual’ thing you speak of? Just a change you happened to notice?


In Psychology, some of these experiences are called “Peak Experiences.” Peak experiences are often described as **transcendent moments of pure joy and elation . These are moments that stand out from everyday events. The memory of such events is lasting and people often liken them to what is archaically called a spiritual state. You can facilitate these states within yourself with a bit of practice. A closely related concept is the idea of flow. The state of ‘here and now’ in Buddhist meditation will get you there as well. Carlos Casteneda called it,‘Stopping the World.’ Interestingly, positive changes in one’s life can be associated with both positive and negative experiences. A nightmare, for example, can also alter a person’s life forever. A near-death experience, or the doctor informing someone of a terminal condition, can all be prompts to a more positive life. It’s totally weird what we call spiritual.

So back to the original question… where is this spirit you speak of? Aren’t we just calling a brain state “spirit?”


I’ve no objection to the word being used as a metaphor (as you have done here), for an epiphany brought about through introspection, However this lacks the woo woo religions and religious apologists usually attach to it, which is why the word always has me on my guard.


  1. relating to or affecting the human spirit or soul as opposed to material or physical things.
  2. relating to religion or religious belief.

Now the human spirit need not be defined using any supernatural or religious terms, which is why I am sometimes ok with the phrase spiritual being used as a metaphor, but I am wary of it, and tend not to use it, and search for more precise descriptions, but that is a personal choice, probably linked in no small part to my OCD.

Human spirit: “The human spirit is an extraordinary force within each individual, embodying a remarkable array of qualities and capabilities. From resilience to creativity, empathy to courage, the human spirit showcases its incredible potential in various aspects of life.”


If we consider the brain to be an organic computer (which it is), then I would explore the idea that the “spirit” is the firmware that helps this computer function.

And BTW, I acknowledge your criticisms, and I agree with most (but not all) or your points.

If one is going to discuss matters of deep importance (and religion destroys so much), then we should use precise language to avoid ambiguity . . . and you rightly indicate that you want a precise definition of what we’re talking about.

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It is? Are we confusing a useful analogy/metaphor for the thing itself? The brain is no more a computer than a hamster is a brick of cheese. We use a computer analogy or metaphor to help us describe a brain and its functions, under specific circumstances.

" Conclusion

Computers are programmable things. Brains are not—at least not literally.

Except in rare Cartesian views where the mind is seen to program the brain (Penfield, 1975), the brain-computer metaphor is indeed a metaphor. Explicit formal comparisons with computers are rare, but brain processes are often described using words borrowed from the lexical field of computers (algorithms, computation, hardware, software, and so on). It is in fact a double metaphor, because computers are themselves metaphorically described with mental terms (e.g., they memorize information). This circular metaphorical relationship explains why the metaphor is (misleadingly) appealing.

The brain-computer metaphor is a source of much confusion in the neuroscience literature, in the same way as the “genetic program” is a source of confusion in genetics (Noble, 2008). “Computer” might be used metaphorically to mean something complicated and useful. But computers run programs: what programs are we referring to? Evolution? The connectome? Neither is actually a program, and it is misleading to suggest they are. “Algorithm” might be used metaphorically to mean “laws” or “model.” But this is misleading: “algorithm” suggests elementary operations and codes, which are not found in all models, and certainly not obviously found in brains.

The idea of ‘Spirit’ is as vague a concept as humans have ever invented. It has whatever meaning any mystic or religious fanatic decides to attach to it. It exists in every branch of woo woo on the planet. Finally, consider the following…

What religions have done, throughout history, is steal that which is demonstrably human from us, label it mystical, and feed it back to us as if it is from their god. (Love, compassion, and Peak Experiences) The peak experience is most referenced as being touched by the Holy Ghost. What is human, a very human moment, has been stolen from you and labeled ‘spiritual.’ ‘magical’ ‘unexplainable.’ You were moved by the spirit! It was a holy experience. An epiphany! A miracle. Actually, it was just a moment of perceived clarity in your own life. Something you found meaningful, that means nothing at all to me.

"I appreciate your acceptance of the criticism thus far. Proceeding… There is no firmware that helps the brain function. Mind appears to be an emergent property of brain. Finally, there is a fundamental understanding gap when using the computer analogy. We don’t fully understand how the mind works. We have a far better understanding of computers. So, using the software-hardware analogy may lead to the illusion of understanding brains, when we are barely scratching the surface.

AI has made progress by leaps and bounds. I am ill-equipped for a conversation about AI. I get the fanaticism of its adherents but have not yet seen a self-aware computer. AI is certainly blurring boundaries. Are we to imbue computers with spirit now as well? Can AI have a meaningful insight and an emotional response? (Chewing gum for the mind.)

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Exactly my objection… Reading further, it was not just a metaphor Kevin referenced but an actual physical experience. A peak experience.

As I previously stated… A very human experience. One the Church/religions stole from humanity eons ago and ascribed to their Gods or spiritual dogma. A religious experience, mystical, magical, enlightening, unexplainable, etc. And religions stole it from us. Every religion on the planet has its magical state of woo-woo that is referenced in some way, as being connected to a spirit of the great ju-ju of that faith. It’s all bullshit. But it is all very human, non-magical, and probably a part of our own creative process. I dislike the word spiritual in all its forms.

My point exactly. I would use your quote without even referencing ‘spirit.’ And this drive is not in 'each individual" but only in some individuals. " drive within sine individuals, embodying remarkable qualities and capabilities. From resilience to creativity, empathy to courage, this drive, showcases its incredible potential in various aspects of life.”

Including everyone, seems disingenuous. I have yet to show any remarkable qualities or capabilities. LOL.

I can accept and appreciate most of your points . . . except that I don’t define a computer in the same way you do.

My definition of a computer is simply any device that handles information as it’s primary function.

In my mind, an abacus can be argued to be a kind of (very) primitive computer.

I see our technology often mimcking what we see in nature. A fishnet mimics the spider’s web, a hypodermic needle mimics the insect’s poison stinger (or a viper’s fang), and warm clothing mimics the furry coats of animals.

So . . . the computer mimics certain aspects of the brain, and this was the sense that I had intended when I made the comparison.

I do agree that the distinction is important, as theists work backward from our technology to assume that their natural equavalents were designed by God, rather than the reverse.

Another valid point in your criticism (see below):

[quote=“Cognostic, post:18, topic:4609”]
We don’t fully understand how the mind works. We have a far better understanding of computers. So, using the software-hardware analogy may lead to the illusion of understanding brains, when we are barely scratching the surface.[/quote]

People sometimes use big words or sweeping ideas to create the impression that they understand more than they actually do . . . which is the hallmark of a mendacious bullshit artist.

So, I acknowledge that by comparing the brain to a computer and leaving it at that could create the impression that we know more about the brain than we actually do . . . and I probably should have been more precise.