Why do they believe?

Why do christians, jews, muslims, hindu’s, basically all theists, believe that what they’ve been told about their respective doctrines is in fact the truth? Why do we(they) swallow what they’ve been taught since their childhoods and rarely, if ever, question what they’ve been told?

Is it fear, or ignorance, or group-think? Or is it education, or lack of education? Is propaganda to blame, or is it really because we’re a social species and want to belong to a group that is seen as having the correct answers to our questions about what the meaning of life is? (deep huh?)

We recently moved into a much nicer place that is closer to our kids and grandkids, and part of moving is hanging stuff on the walls. Along with the usual family photos and artwork that we have accumulated, my wife has several religious items that she wants displayed. Her stuff used to make me angry every time I had to look at it, but I’ve reached a point now to where it makes me smile or laugh.

I’ve inverted her crucifix when she’s not home several times for my own amusement, until I forgot to put it back one day. She went totally apeshit about it, so I rarely touch it anymore(it burns). I started thinking about it and wondered why she, along with most other theists’ need to put their sayings’, prayers, and symbols on display in their homes.

Is it a reminder that their god is watching every second of every day, and it “honors” their deity, or is it because they need a reminder of what they believe, or why they believe it? Maybe it’s fear, or just a daily reminder of why they’re right, and the other faiths are all wrong.

I came to the conclusion decades ago that I’ve never believed in anything other than our own demise, and that god/gods don’t exist. We will all die, and I think a lot of theists can’t, or won’t believe that this is the only life we get. We’re so special, there just has to be an afterlife, we’re the only conscious species in all of creation right, so we live on after we’re planted or incinerated. Where you spend eternity depends on whether you followed the correct doctrine.

Here’s what my wife had to hang on the walls in our new place.

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Delusion does strange things to the human mind.


Because they trust the people telling them about it (most frequently, their parents).



Why do you believe all the things you believe without questioning them? Think of all the silly shit we hold as true or at least held as true until we grew up and did the research. ‘Edison invented the light bulb.’ ‘Washington was the first President of the United States of America.’ ‘Aliens are thin and tall with big heads and black eyes.’ What other silliness are we not questioning?

Yes.[quote=“mr.macabre13, post:1, topic:3889”]
Or is it education, or lack of education?


Why does your relationship continuously remind me of a 16-year-old being rebellious with a parent?


Well I think all of these can and do come into play with different people, and some other things like trust as @CyberLN mentioned.
From my point of view, the big one is the fear of letting go…to let go of something you have believed in for a long time, that your family and/or community believes in, especially if you were indoctrinated young, can be rather scary for some. More so if it something which you believe ostensibly answers difficult questions (albeit falsely). What will I replace it with?
I recall in my earlier life dealing with people who had taken LSD, completely unprepared for the involuntary letting go of beliefs, assumptions, perspectives, and often the misidentified or even unvisited identity of “self” which is a common “effect”. The fear reaction was palpable at times.
Having to assume the responsibility for your thinking and the results of that thinking, can be scary as shit if you have never stepped into that room before. I try to remind myself of this when I encounter someone who is doubting but not ready to completely walk away from the programming.
I ride the fence on this sometimes though, as I accepted responsibility for myself well over fifty years ago and ultimately think we should all at least attempt to do so.
Honestly I think your “shenanigans” with your wife’s trappings are an attempt to gain some power and control in the relationship. Since those things are largely illusory, any satisfaction you gain will likely be temporary.
I’m glad you are in a better place.

It can often be any combination of those things you mentioned that keeps people clinging to their respective religion. OR, it could simply be any ONE of those reasons. It varies from person to person, depending on several factors.

For instance, it was the fear of hell that kept me shackled for most of my life. Even though the things I was taught from the bible never made much sense to me as a child, I trusted my family elders who loved and cared about me. As a child I simply “reasoned” that the adults must know/understand things I couldn’t at the time. Oddly (ironically) enough, however, I was always encouraged to learn and think for myself. As such, I was always curious, inquisitive, adventurous, and academically “advanced” in school. As you might have guessed, this combination REALLY made the bible teachings even more confusing for me during the early years of my mental development. But, still, I was an obedient child who trusted his elders. Besides, in the areas where I grew up, to be thought of as somebody who wasn’t religious was a one-way ticket to being an outcast. Because of that, the fear of Satan and hell became firmly embedded in my young brain. And there is NO WAY to describe that feeling to somebody who has never experienced it. The uncertainty, indecision, anxiety, dread, and fear associated with it are VERY real and sometimes consuming. That is why I can so easily relate to those who come here who are “on the fence” but unable to fully pick a side.

On the other hand, one of my uncles was a Methodist preacher. He also happened to be one of the smartest and most intelligent men I knew at the time. Joined the Air Force during the Vietnam Era, and I was told he was involved in working on some of their high-tech research stuff during that time. Got out of the Air Force, came home, worked a few regular jobs for awhile, got a couple of college degrees (one in theology, I believe), and then decided he wanted to be a preacher. He got ordained (or whatever it’s called), and he was a preacher until the day he died at the age of 64 (cancer).

There are all kinds of reasons people choose faith over reality. But when it comes right down to it, the fact is it just totally depends on the individual.


Probably, when it comes to our beliefs, our relationship could be viewed that way. It boils down to the fact that she has zero respect for my opinions on the subject of religion, as do I for her beliefs. The subject is rarely, if ever discussed any more.

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It’s easier to accept a lie than live with a harsh truth.


English only, please.

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Why does who believe they can win what?

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My aunt has the same name and we do have some Bulgarian background but I can’t understand what you are saying.
Можда ме овако боље разумеш, мораш да пишеш на енглеском!

It’s Russian- that’s what the translator pops up.

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“Why does everyone believe they can win” according to Google translator. Suitably cryptic for a theist.

It’s possible, I don’t know either of those. I see it’s Cyrillic script and it reminded me of Bulgarian language. TBF there is a symbol that I don’t think I have seen previously in Bulgarian writing.

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I’ve come to think that religion has an element of Stockholm Syndrome to it.

A child is–essentially–a captive of their parents, and pushing a religious mindset can be compared to the “programming” done by religious cults.

This early programing creates a form of Stockholm Syndrome, and then it gets perpetuated to the next generation.


And how is hand me down atheism any different in this ?

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I guess you could make that argument . . . except that atheism is usually the end result of questioning and searching, rather than indoctrination.

I am sure that there are probably atheistic parents out there whom program their kids in an emotionally abusive way to avoid religion.

However, what I’ve seen (and I’m sure that there are exceptions) is that atheists generally let their kids make their own spiritual choices.

Another way to look at your point is the claim that any devout Catholic, Muslim person, Orthodox Jew, etc. can also qualify as a kind of atheist. This is because a devout Catholic (for example) does not worship–or believe in–the Hindi god Vishnu, the Egytian Osiris, or the Roman god Jupiter (Zeus to the Greeks).

An atheist just takes this philosophy one god further.

Or we can look at your point in another way: There are–perhaps–more than 5,000 different religions and sects that are practiced by all kinds of people.

One thing that most (not all, as Buddhism may be an exception) of them have in common is that if you don’t follow their faith . . . then you will be eternally punished in some afterlife (although the Jehovah’s Witnesses claim that all non-Jehovah’s Witnesses will simply remain dead, and not burn in Hell). Sometimes this punishment is just eternal separation from God, other times it’s torture and endless burning in a lake of fire . . . and in some religions, I may be reborn as a cockroach or an intestinal parasite.

And so on.

So . . . out of the approximately 5,000 religions and sects, the odds are overwhelmingly against me, because I will most likely (1 chance in 5,000) pick the wrong one, and then I’ll damn myself to Hell anyway despite beingly piously religious and worshipping God. This means that religion most likely wouldn’t help my soul even if I was devout, so atheism is a perfectly reasonable . . . and, perhaps, even a comforting choice under the circumstances.

All of the religions can be wrong, but they can’t all be right.

Do you personally know very many people who are identified as atheist? Know them well? Have you observed how parents who have no gods raise their children? If so, could it be a quantity that would represent a sample size large enough to produce a reliable determination on parenting norms for folks identifying as atheist?

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Hand me down atheism would not be any different. The difference lies in the fact that most atheists are ‘critical thinkers.’ ‘Skepticism’ is the difference. It is extremely hard to be both a skeptic and religious at the same time. (Not that it can not be done, some religious people have been very good at compartmentalizing their faith and hiding it from their ability to be skeptical.) The real difference here lies in the fact that most atheists would still love their kids when they discover they are religious. Theists tend to abandon their kids.

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Why (as you claimed) do you think love is evidence for a deity?

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