Friday, 20 March 2009


A new study shows that the more religious one is, the more likely one is to seek (aggressive) treatment in order to stay alive.

I find this to be rather hypocritical and logically inconsistent. For those that are so faithful, shouldn't they be confident that they are moving on to a better place? Yet, they scrap and fight as hard as they can in order to keep themselves from going to heaven. IMO, this represents what religion is all about. They are fearful. They are afraid of death, and even the stories they invent to help placate some of that fear are not enough. They fear death so much that they cling to these stories while not truly believing in them. If they really believed that which they profess, they would welcome the chance to go to heaven and be with their god.

(HT: Pharyngula)

PS: If you click on the picture, you can see what the text says.


Joshua said...

This isn't hypocrisy at all.

Many religions have deep beliefs about obligations to use such medical treatment as long as possible. So these people aren't doing this out of fear necessarily.

This also makes more or less sense in different religions. Christianity especially places a heavy emphasis on the afterlife but many other religions place much less emphasis on that aspect. Many Orthodox Jews when asked about the afterlife will say something like "I don't know and it doesn't matter" and explicitly regard time spent here as preferable to time spent in whatever the afterlife is. Part of the logic here seems to be that whatever the afterlife is like, you'll get there eventually, but you only get one shot down here.

If we did a follow-up study I wouldn't be surprised if some of this difference is caused by increased fear of death. However, even that wouldn't necessarily demonstrate hypocrisy. People who don't believe in an afterlife have had much longer to get to terms with their own mortality. Someone might be religious and thus not have given much thought about such matters until they are at death's threshold, and then their doubts become much more worrisome. This isn't hypocrisy.

Calling the results of this study hypocrisy just doesn't hold water.

GCT said...

Yeah, actually it is hypocritical. Xians should be looking forward to death, because heaven is supposed to be the best thing one can possibly imagine. But, when they get close to heaven, all of a sudden they don't want to go? Sorry, but that's hypocrisy. It's not practicing what you preach.

Joshua Zelinsky said...

GCT, no it is. Even if they look forward to heaven, they believe that they are under direct obligations from God to do everything they can to stay here. That's not hypocrisy.

GCT said...

There is a prohibition on suicide, not on making sure that you live as long as possible through whatever means. It is rank hypocrisy to allegedly look forward to heaven and then be so scared at the end of death that you try any and every possible means to escape.

something said...

Do you see how you're generalizing? You're drawing a huge conclusion off of a generalization and no solid fact. I'll give you an example.

I am religious. I am afraid of death, not because I don't believe the teachings of my faith, I'm afraid because it's something new and I have no concept of the afterlife. I look forward to seeing the Lord, but that doesn't make it any less scary.

You're right about what you said. What you're describing is hypocrisy, but to say that fearing death is hypocrisy is fallacious.

GCT said...

Why should it be scary if you are going to be with god? I think the reason that people are deep down scared of death is because they know that it's the end. So, they make up stories about gods and afterlives in order to assuage their fear, but in the end, they realize that it's all just made up.

Anonymous said...

No, typically folks are scared, because they've been in a church that's told them they can lose their salvation. They worry that they'll die before they've confessed some last-minute sin and be damned to Hell for eternity.

Really every saved person doubts their salvation at some point (although they really shouldn't, because the fact they're worried about it is a pretty good indicator that they are indeed saved.) That's why we sometimes fear death. If I thought it was simply the end, it wouldn't bother me at all. It would be easy to live as though there were no tomorrow.

Modusoperandi said...

Anonymous: So the "once saved, always saved" crowd doesn't do that? I think that, like Wikipedia, I'm gonna need a citation on such a statement.

"Really every saved person doubts their salvation at some point (although they really shouldn't, because the fact they're worried about it is a pretty good indicator that they are indeed saved.)"
Odd, I don't see doubt anywhere on this How can you know if you're really Saved? quiz.

Anonymous said...

I never said that. I said that the majority of folks I've heard of with those types of fears are not in a church that preaches "eternal security." I actually do believe "once saved always saved" and have a few times in my life had moments of doubt. Doubt is a normal thing for any human being.

Tyler said...

Anon: No, typically folks are scared, because they've been in a church that's told them they can lose their salvation.

If I can't lose my salvation, I don't have the free will you dolts drone on about.


Matthew 12:32 And whosoever speaketh a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him: but whosoever speaketh against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, neither in the [world] to come.

I hereby say, "Fuck the holy ghost."

I win.

Anonymous said...

Really even saying that is not the "unpardonable sin." Really in our modern age, I can only think of one way you could commit it, and it would be in commenting on something done at a point in the past. Sorry Tyler, but you're still able to be saved!

And "free will" is concerning your actions, not the state of your soul. People in jail have free will, but are limited to their small resources and restricted abilities. They can choose many things in their daily life, but are simply restricted to the prison cell.

GCT said...

The unpardonable sin passage speaks about anyone blaspheming against the holy present tense.

I'm also not seeing why it isn't contradictory to be assured of salvation and not want to be there.

Anonymous said...

I'm glad you don't understand the unpardonable sin. Now as long as I don't explain it to you, you won't be able to commit it. It's blaspheming in a particular manner about a very specific occurance.

Anonymous said...

Whoa, no discussion here for a while but since I stumbled on it I do have this to add.. Let's look at it this simply:

I'm not scared of death at all, for two reasons:
1) I am a Christian and saved - unless I lose my religion, pending there IS a GOD and a HEAVEN, I plan on going there once I die on Earth.
2) If there is nothing and it's the end after death on Earth.. big deal, what did I lose?!?! This may sound bad, but even if I die tomorrow and I have a wife and two young children left behind on Earth.. I won't be hurting, will I? I'll be dead, I won't know a thing! Like a long peaceful sleep.. for eternity.

On the flip side.. if there is a HELL and you die unsaved, you will burn in agony for eternity.. SO WHO WINS NOW?!?!?!?!

GCT said...

This is better known as Pascal's Wager and it's a bad argument for many reasons. If we follow your reasoning, you should also believe in Allah and various other gods who will torture you for eternity for your heresy in not believing. You wouldn't want to be inconsistent now, would you? (And, that's just one counter-argument of many.)

And, of course, it's simply not true that belief costs you nothing from a practical standpoint. There's a whole lot of philosophical baggage that comes with it that most likely does impact on your life in tangible ways. See how Xians treat others that they deem as sinners, like gays, atheists, etc. See the time spent doing useless activities like praying. See the time spent going to church, etc.

Tigerboy said...

Pascal's Wager is so intellectually bankrupt. It assumes that there is no value in coming up with the real answer. It assumes that there is no value in using logic and observation to figure out the real answer. It assumes that some outlandish stories should, from the very start, be assumed to have merit.

Take a moment to consider a religion that tells you that you must commit suicide in order to gain entrance to Paradise. (Not at all an outlandish hypothetical. There have been quite a number of so-called "suicide cults.")

Do you still want to hedge your bets? What have you got to lose?

To be more accurate, Pascal's Wager assumes that the real, true answer has absolutely zero possibility of being known (until after death). Like in gambling. Pascal's Wager reduces human life to a game of chance. Only the outcome has value.

Unless one is cheating, the outcome of a throw of a pair dice can not ever be known. Unil it's done. The dice have no intrinsic value. The throw itself is meaningless. Only the result matters.

There are significant differences between the living of a human life, and the tumbling of a pair of dice.

Firstly, why are the odds of finding out the reality of the existence of God assumed to be zero? Religion is making statements about a very important feature of our universe. They are either true statements, or they are not. Does God exist (in reality), or not? If the assumption is that religion is the ONLY way that this truth can be revealed, that ALREADY makes the proposition highly-suspect. Biased.

If God exists, that answer should be able to be found through objective means. Logic and observation.

Secondly, living your entire life in such a way as to please a non-existant personality is not a situation of "nothing to lose." It's more like "everything to lose."

Is the time of your life worth nothing? Mine is quite important to me. Do you know what else is quite important to me? The autonomy to make my own choices.

I will choose (with some input from the social society in which I live, and the ways I deem to be the best ways to interact with the other human beings for whom I have love and affection).

I will choose how I live my life.

Will I be giving that authority over to some preist, or some pope, or some dusty book, on the off chance that I might get some angel wings and big gold harp? Sorry.

That's one of my biggest issues with religion. It's authoritarian. It tells me I must spend my life being a servant.

Then, old Pascal comes along and says: "Just do exactly as you are told, and what have you lost if it's not true?"


"My freedom to self-determine."

"My entire life."

You spend your entire life, prostrate on the ground, mumbling to yourself, begging not to be tortured for eternity. I hope it works out for you. There is still not the slightest scrap of evidence that there is anyone listening.

I'd rather go enjoy my very short, very precious life.