Religion and Prosociality

http://freethoughtblogs.com/reasonabledoubts/2014/04/07/rd-extra-does-religion-make-us-better-people-galens-bulldog-edition/
My favorite podcasters offer up a review of studies that helps understand all the data about how religious are happier. The cynical synopsis; they're happier here in the US because they are the dominant in group. There's more to it than that and although packed with information, Jeremy Beahan does a nice job of sorting it out. It helps to know a few research terms, but he does explain them as he goes. He doesn't accept self reports of how moral you are and identifies the trouble with reporting on the morality of others. Apparently even atheists trust religious people more, at least in the US. But, when you separate out people who are confident in their worldview, atheist or theist, you find more similarity. Many studies compare high church attenders to the mix of all atheists so what they are finding is people who are getting the support of a group, regardless of their actual beliefs, are healthier than an average person who may or may not be getting similar support. In other words, belief is not the issue, it's the institution. This idea that church is just good for you, so why question it, is one of the last vestiges for many in the mainstream of religion in the US, and this review of studies shows that is a weak stance.

I will look at the link later; however, will comment that I think people part of religous communities benefit from “community.” However, I a Unitarian Universalist and many UU persons are atheist. There are some free-thinking “churches” out there with no dogma or supernatural. You do, however, have to look long and hard for them and they are usually only available in urban environments, unfortunately. I really do not think “church” is the true benefit, I believe the underlying benefit people gain, whether they recognize it our not is the community and socialization aspect. Just a different perspective of mine. I actually know atheist who attend “Bible-believing” churches just for tradition sake and for the community.

I’ve seen that too. We know a lot of people go to church just for the community, because, outside of church, that’s what they say. The problem is, if you say that in church, the leadership might be fine with you saying it, but won’t do jack to make the structure of the church match what the people in the pews actually believe. Even pastors who want to, can’t, because their job is dependent on reviews that count up how many souls have been saved (kids in communion, members who recited the creed and joined, etc.), not how many people are showing up for the community.

http://freethoughtblogs.com/reasonabledoubts/2014/04/07/rd-extra-does-religion-make-us-better-people-galens-bulldog-edition/
My favorite podcasters offer up a review of studies that helps understand all the data about how religious are happier. The cynical synopsis; they're happier here in the US because they are the dominant in group. There's more to it than that and although packed with information, Jeremy Beahan does a nice job of sorting it out. It helps to know a few research terms, but he does explain them as he goes. He doesn't accept self reports of how moral you are and identifies the trouble with reporting on the morality of others. Apparently even atheists trust religious people more, at least in the US. But, when you separate out people who are confident in their worldview, atheist or theist, you find more similarity. Many studies compare high church attenders to the mix of all atheists so what they are finding is people who are getting the support of a group, regardless of their actual beliefs, are healthier than an average person who may or may not be getting similar support. In other words, belief is not the issue, it's the institution. This idea that church is just good for you, so why question it, is one of the last vestiges for many in the mainstream of religion in the US, and this review of studies shows that is a weak stance.
"Apparently even atheists trust religious people more, at least in the US.". Not this atheist in the US. In fact, the minute I hear that someone is theistically religious, all kinds of red flags go up. I have a hard time trusting anyone who's been indoctrinated and hasn't intuited his way out of it. Lois

I like people, but similar to Lois’ response, I don’t expect a theist to use logic or reason all that clearly and carefully. Similarly, their grasp on ethics vs. self-interest is often a bit weak which means, I like them but I don’t trust their judgement or behavior too strongly.
Occam

Only type of fellowship I could attend is the UU because they are highly receptive to humanist and atheistic views and values and you do not have to buy into any dogma or belief in supernatural or gods. I really enjoy my group of free-thinkers in my community. Atheist, humanist and other free-thinkers have opportunities for the same type of community and social justice activities within their communities; however, they may not be as prevalent as those of many of the major denominations found in just about every corner of the U.S.

Well, I have to say, I tend to trust in the predictability of the religious minded. One of my favorite jokes is, “why do you always take at least 2 Mormons with you if you invite them on a fishing trip?” Because, if you only invite one, he’ll drink all your beer.
Seriously though, I think secularists and non theists have got to be able to offer a supportive community to hang with if we want to lure them away from the church. Actually, I think many are thirsty for community sans having to drink the Kool-Aid. I think there is a lot of low hanging fruit of this type.

I appreciate free thinkers too but how do you define freethinker?
For example, if someone is an athiest but acts like this] (click for a funny video)
then I personally do not attach much wieght to their intellectual capabilities. It does not matter if a person is religious or not, they just
are not very bright.
So again how does one define a freethinker/ logical person

Like all words, freethinker is not defined the same way by all who use it. However, I think the term applies to those who do not accept prepackaged concepts and religious dogma as the final word on a topic. Freethinkers question and think through an assertion before they give it any validity. Religion and its dogma are not questioned by those who choose to let their faith define everything for them. The less you question, the stronger your faith and therefore virtue. They are the opposite of a freethinker.

So again how does one define a freethinker/ logical person
The term "freethinker" is a bit flimsy IMO, but a logical person (or rationalist) is somebody who uses intellect more than emotion in order to try to understand the universe. A completely logical person doesn't exist, however.
I appreciate free thinkers too but how do you define freethinker? For example, if someone is an athiest but acts like this] (click for a funny video) then I personally do not attach much wieght to their intellectual capabilities. It does not matter if a person is religious or not, they just are not very bright. So again how does one define a freethinker/ logical person
Getting a little tired of you trotting out that video. It doesn't have anything to do with the topics. "freethinkers" or whatever label you want to use are honest, open-minded, civil (because they use facts, they don't need to get angry), they are tolerant and they understand the danger of being tolerant of everything. Bertrand Russell wrote a Decalogue of rules to live by, you might want to check that out. Intelligence is a different matter, "freethinkers" is about how you acquire information, not how much or how well you've absorbed it.
I appreciate free thinkers too but how do you define freethinker? For example, if someone is an athiest but acts like this] (click for a funny video) then I personally do not attach much wieght to their intellectual capabilities. It does not matter if a person is religious or not, they just are not very bright. So again how does one define a freethinker/ logical person
One who uses rationality and critical thinking And rejects dogma of all kinds before making decisions. That doesn't mean that everyone will come up with the same decisions. Nor that everyone has the same IQ. Freethinking is a process, not a result. Lois
One who uses rationality and critical thinking And rejects dogma of all kinds before making decisions.
Second that: dogma of all kinds. That includes dogmas of science itself. Just a few relatively recent examples: - Stomach ulcer] is not caused by a an infection - proteins cannot transfer diseases (prions]) - heredity functions exclusively via genes (epigenetics]) (the dreaded 'That is Lamarckism!' allegation) Believing in scientific truths is not enough to be a freethinker: knowing the arguments why science believes something is true, what the scientific arguments are, and know that many scientific 'truths' are tentative until some better argument passes by (the best arguments being based on empirical evidence) belong to the makeup of a freethinker. Yelling some scientific truths has nothing to do with freethinking.
That doesn't mean that everyone will come up with the same decisions. Nor that everyone has the same IQ. Freethinking is a process, not a result.
Yeah. It is enough that somebody keeps trying. Some are better in it than others, that's fine. But giving up and saying 'I stick to my opinion, whatever the arguments' is not rational, that is dogmatic.
One who uses rationality and critical thinking And rejects dogma of all kinds before making decisions.
Second that: dogma of all kinds. That includes dogmas of science itself. Just a few relatively recent examples: - Stomach ulcer] is not caused by a an infection - proteins cannot transfer diseases (prions]) - heredity functions exclusively via genes (epigenetics]) (the dreaded 'That is Lamarckism!' allegation) Believing in scientific truths is not enough to be a freethinker: knowing the arguments why science believes something is true, what the scientific arguments are, and know that many scientific 'truths' are tentative until some better argument passes by (the best arguments being based on empirical evidence) belong to the makeup of a freethinker. Yelling some scientific truths has nothing to do with freethinking.
That doesn't mean that everyone will come up with the same decisions. Nor that everyone has the same IQ. Freethinking is a process, not a result.
Yeah. It is enough that somebody keeps trying. Some are better in it than others, that's fine. But giving up and saying 'I stick to my opinion, whatever the arguments' is not rational, that is dogmatic. Yes it is and an intelligent freethinker will be aware of that and also be on the lookout for the dogmas of science. Not everyone who claims to be a freethinker is one. We should all be aware of that, too. Lois
s. Intelligence is a different matter, "freethinkers" is about how you acquire information, not how much or how well you've absorbed it.
Exactly :) Now lets put "religion" (or lack thereof) aside for a second and take an example: Suppose someone is raised in a culture where it is taught that boys must be sent to boarding school when they turn 2 months old. (just hypothetical) If this person moves to another place (say the US) and continues to believe in this, without consutling Books by educators Scholarly journals interviews with experts etc This person, regradless of their faith is not a freethinker

Applying that to modern times, I am of the personal opinion that almost noone today is a freethinker
To take a couple more example:
Christian example
Most who have issues with the trinity will consult only their pastor. They never watch debates with other faiths (or athiests)
Muslim Example
Many of my friends insist that evolution is “just a theory”. They have not consultedthese:
http://evolution.berkeley.edu/evolibrary/misconceptions_faq.php#h1
http://evolution.berkeley.edu/evolibrary/misconceptions_faq.php#e2
http://en.islamtoday.net/artshow-437-3448.htm (website of a saudi scholar)

Atheist Example
Many (but not all) think science and religion are incompatible because of some random facts they know about galileo and the like.
They do not consult these works
http://www.amazon.com/Galileo-Other-Myths-Science-Religion/dp/0674057414
http://www.amazon.com/Science-Religion-Around-Hedley-Brooke/dp/0195328205
http://www.pbs.org/faithandreason/transcript/num-frame.html

Common to all these examples is the fact that there was a prepackaged idea which is not verified from scholarly sources or research
If a person, however, studies and comes to a wrong conclusion, then I would still consider him a freethinker
.
Mike Licona, for example, spent years of his life studying biblical studies and came to the conclusion that Christianity is true.
Now, I think Dr. Licona was dead wrong in that concluison. But I still respect the fact that he challenged his old beliefs to see
if they withstood academic scrutiny.
Though we are on different faiths, I consider him to be a much better freethinker that most religious people around me.

The term freethinkers was created to specifically to apply to people who stop letting their religion dictate their thinking. Also, it is not an absolute term. A person can only be a freethinker by degree. Some are more free than others.

The term freethinkers was created to specifically to apply to people who stop letting their religion dictate their thinking. Also, it is not an absolute term. A person can only be a freethinker by degree. Some are more free than others.
Insightful comment! I agree that there are degrees to freethinking. However lets get back to the origins of the term "freethinking" According to the The New Encyclopedia of Unbelief one of the earliest uses of the term in English occurred in 1995 when, in a letter of Dec 24 to the empiricist John Locke, William Molyneux called John Toland a "candid freethinker" page 343 http://books.google.com/books?id=fsZ26vQxJKMC&pg=PA343&dq=John+toland+William+molyneux+freethinker&hl=en&sa=X&ei=sRtVU8ToDYadyATHjIHoDA&ved=0CDIQ6AEwAQ#v=onepage&q=John toland William molyneux freethinker&f=false Scholars differ on whether to classify John Toland as a christian (and which kind) or Deist. He was a freethinker who challenged his beliefs about the bible and sort of changed faiths. However, he was not an athiest. See The Church of England and the Bangorian Controversy, 1716-1721 By Andrew Starkie PAGE 11 http://books.google.com/books?id=X5mPUiCAf-QC&pg=PA11&dq=john+toland+pantheism&hl=en&sa=X&ei=R_1TU_yTIYynyATT2oDoAw&ved=0CFIQ6AEwBg#v=onepage&q=john toland pantheism&f=false See also Reflections on the Conduct of the Modern Deists --- page v By Samuel Chandler http://books.google.com/books?id=bFzT20VZVcMC&pg=PP5&dq=freethinker+William+molyneux&hl=en&sa=X&ei=pvpTU4GHA8yWyASSp4H4Aw&ved=0CDMQ6AEwAQ#v=onepage&q=freethinker William molyneux&f=false
The term freethinkers was created to specifically to apply to people who stop letting their religion dictate their thinking. Also, it is not an absolute term. A person can only be a freethinker by degree. Some are more free than others.
I think this is significantly affected by early age exposure. I started reading science fiction at 9. It was mind blowing at the time. No one told me that the Sun was a star. I encountered the ideas of atheism and agnosticism from science fiction. I NEVER heard any adults mention any such thing. But I also think there is a personality component. I have talked to people who told me they were really afraid of the idea of Hell when they were little kids. My mother sent me to Catholic schools and I suppose I accepted the idea but it never really bothered me. I heard it but it did not have an emotional impact. psik

I grew up in a Mormon town in Utah. The Mormon church was the only thing I was exposed to as far as religion goes. I just never was able to stop asking questions and I saw thru the idea that I was being somehow sinful for asking those questions. I never believed it and I still can’t understand the people I grew up with that did. I was always like, “but you don’t really really believe this crap, right?”. I realize now that they don’t think about belief or non belief, they just go along with the way they were raised. The ones who “really” believed were the ones I avoided like the plague and those other people agreed with me that they were nuts.