Let’s just presume for a minute that you are actually reading this, as an enlightened first world reader. (If you didn’t know it already, the 1st world is obviously much more Atheistic and generally enlightened, as I show stats for in my post called Will science be the death of religion?) Let’s then just skip over the obvious issues with religion, and presume you are no longer a theist or a Deist. Does this mean that you won’t now fall prey to the infiltration of religious thought in our American culture, because being aware of it, you know how to avoid it’s pitfalls? I think those coming from mainstream religion will still need to be aware of the tendency to fall into a religious mentality, or sheep-like mode, not only because we have likely done it in the past, but because it’s human nature for the religious, and nonreligious alike.
That said, those who are the intellectuals of our time, but have never been raised in extreme religion like me, have a big disadvantage, IMO. Not having experienced the personal blinders of religion, they for one thing, don’t see where it can take them, and so are less cautious. An experience in religion leads a person to certain sensitivities, because of hurt and/or bitterness that serve a very practical purpose, of not likely repeating your foolish mistakes.
This is why when you’ve gone to the extreme edge of religion, you don’t generally ever carelessly go back into any form of religion. . . As you will have had your eyes enlightened by facts, and your heart matured and made skeptical of being suckered again.
While that experience of rejecting what has been your passion and life does mature you fast, giving you wisdom in dealing wisely with other propaganda and conditioning in life, Agnostics and Atheists are not the only intelligent and wise people out there, by all means! I find some wise and intelligent people in religion too! Believe it or not, I even find that most people I like most, are from, or still in, a similar background as me. While a lot of them are seriously questioning their background and doctrine, like me, the good people who have a head on their shoulders yet are strangely still stanch in their beliefs, have a pretty logical reason for being behind the times, read on to find my guess as to why. . .
From my experience, the few both decent and smart people still in religion, are the passionate, compassionate, outspoken and stubborn religious extremists. They are usually so busy in their missionary efforts and ministries, that they feel little motivation (and have little time), to look into or consider changing what they fight so hard to teach because it’s still working for them and paying the bills. Likely (unless they already feel the disconnect with their crowd), they’re scared to look into the options with an open mind, fearing they could be humiliated, lose their job, their hard earned respect from their circle of friends, and fall into a life of depression as a hermit. So they close their mind, and try to stay blissfully ignorant.
This blissfully ignorant passion that gets focused toward ministry is not without it’s negative consequences though. Passionate people often neglect something in their life to make room for their passions. As with me and my blog now, so this was definitely the case in my own family growing up. My parents were so involved in ministry as evangelists, that they sadly neglected a decent education for me . . . I won’t speak for the rest. Homeschooling, while successful for many families, was such a low priority with them, that such basics as spelling, math, critical thinking, a second language and reading was neglected. I felt at such a disadvantage in a Bible college setting! I was accepted mainly because I was an evangelists kid. I was even given a “ministry scholarship”.
But back to the type of people I believe are descent and smart, while ironically still being religious; there are second plus generation religious people as well. These are often neither as passionate as their parents, nor are they leaders in the church . . .unless they inherited the reins, or have the passionate personality their parents had. (And it wasn’t beat out of them as a child, being called a “strong will” or “rebellion”.) They are probably very nice, and try not to be disagreeable.
They likely claim the near exact beliefs of their parents (having the life-goal of filling their parents shoes or making them proud), and are also likely a first born of their sex in the family (or took over the firstborn birth order role). These people are mostly found in cults, and would be a wreck if they ever left them alone, as they are not likely to be leaders or strong personalities.
Often, both of these personalities (which I am a little of each) are on the fringes of mainstream society, and have little influence from or to “the world”, enjoying instead their exclusive, old fashioned circle of friends. They are both standing on the somewhat historical, and literal reading of their holy book to defend most of their lifestyle and beliefs, yet the lifestyle would be quite fine and accepted without that justification . . .
Fearing the accountability and positive peer pressure found in mainstream culture though (calling it “persecution”), they avoid any confrontation about their lifestyle or beliefs with Atheists or people of different religions. Ignorantly judging the other groups they often know little of, they create a small circle of like-minded friends to bolster their faith. Then often with a simple or natural lifestyle, they homeschool their children and work at home, which is ideally away from a big city.
They control their lives closely, fearing the influence of “the world” will come in and pull them and their children away from “the truth.” If they even allow themselves “the dangers of technology”, they have very narrow choices of websites that they frequent . . .TV programs, movies, radio programs or stations as well as CD’s and books are also very limited.
Honestly, because of an education in something, common sense or just a preference, this can be something said of my family even today! I see so much of that past lifestyle as not religiously motivated (as religious people claim it is) as much as just what conservative personalities and/or intelligent people do. Other then not feeling that I have to shun ‘bad people”, technology or other previously “bad” stuff anymore, I still don’t prefer to be around them/it.
Those like-minded intelligent people in extreme religious circles, are like me and other ex-religious, free thinking people, in that we are all very wary of any sheep-like thinking. We have grown up that way, or we wouldn’t have avoided the inconsistencies and idiocies of the mainstream religions, and mainstream thinking in general. The extremely religious minorities, like the ex-religious minorities are skeptical of anything said by the people in power.
Sadly though, there is a whole group of non-religious people, who have never been on the extreme side of religion like me, who will naturally discount all skepticism of mainstream thinking, still believing that there is safety in numbers. I think this could be because they have never fully believed in religion as a thinking adult, and don’t know the power of a crowd and conditioning as a child. They have consequently never developed a distrust of their authorities, or they never veered far from mainstream thoughts of religion, to become a mainstream Agnostic skeptic.
Because of this background, these non-religious believe these ex-ultra religious extremists to be predisposed to religious thoughts and are just rebounding back into it if they look into, adopt or start standing up for another uncommon practice or new theory. Simply because a person has a mindset that is not mainstream, doesn’t mean they are religious though. .in fact, in many cases, it just shows that like they were a free thinker and smarter then the average person in religion, they carried that over to their unbelief, and are still, “Smarter then the average bear.” (As I talk more about here.)