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How Do People Get Lead Into Temptation?

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I recently came back from my holidays (vacation for those who are literarily challenged) and managed to do a shite load of fishing. No electricity, no iPhone, no technology, just the wild wilderness, the trusty Shimano and a few Peronis.

Anyway, I gots ta thinking, what are the odds of catching a fish. Given that you have the right gear, some decent bait, the right spot and right time, it is just a matter of chance that you are going to catch one of those fish. 

Or is it chance?

Then I thought, here we have a body of water full of succulent protein just swimming around doing what fish do; busily reproducing, feeding and surviving predators. They have a definite sense of purpose and urgency about what they are doing in their day to day lives. They have direction.

Until, along comes the one who is unfocused, always looking around, wondering what to do then, suddenly right ahead is a juicy worm just dangling in the water waiting to be taken. “Wow, what are the chances, nobody else spotted that except me; this was meant to be and seemed to come from nowhere, a miracle….chomp". Famous last word.

In other words, any good fisherman (and me) know that there is going to be the oddball who will take the bait. So, is this a bit like religion whereby the gullible and greedy among us will succumb to the temptations of belief in God?

(Incidentally, I did catch two fish that day and I could say that I also had five loaves of bread but that would be tempting fate)

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  • dallased25dallased25 171 Pts   -  
    I've encountered many who seem to fall for this kind of thinking. Pretty much anytime I hear a "conversion" story, it's something personal to the person, but seemingly normal to anyone else. For example if the person prayed for someone in their life to get better and they do, or they prayed for a sign and then found one by opening the bible, or encountering a random christian or scripture, or religious symbol. I once had a woman say to me, "Once you experience the miracle of child birth, all of your doubts there is a god will go away." When I heard that, in my head all I could think was "Literally thousands of births happen every single is that in any way a miracle?" I also wanted to ask her if she thought the birth of a Tarantula Hawk was also a miracle...but anyone with that mindset clearly isn't very rational. Truth is that when people are looking for something to justify belief...they will find it in any form they wish, not because it is actually a sign from god, but because the person is desperately seeking validation. When a piece of burnt toast turns into a religious know that people are gullible and desperate, but so long as we fear death and are uncomfortable with not knowing everything, people will head right towards the lazy answer of "god did it". 
  • MayCaesarMayCaesar 4521 Pts   -   edited January 5
    In my experience, people who used to not be religious, but became ones, simply always overinterpreted mundane situations. Throughout the life of every individual there come moments that have a profound emotional effect on them, and humans tend to associate this effect with something mystical. For example, a very materialistic person, when they first seriously fall in love, may indulge in this kind of thinking: "We are made for each other", "This feeling is beyond my corporeal form", "This is my destiny"... These thoughts are absolutely irrational, but they make the person feel that there is something very special about all this, and, ultimately, about them - and, on some level, everyone wants their life to be special, unordinary.

    I have known a guy, very materialistic one, whose daughter had hit a rock bottom, doing drugs and hanging out with the most unsavory crowd. One day someone from a private charity ran into her and offered to help her, and a year later she was a completely different person, clean, happy and pursuing a promising career. He now says that he does not believe that something like this could have happened naturally, as it is too unlikely to have happened accidentally. He sees it as a sign from above, and although he still does not quite believe in god, he is of that in-between crowd of people who "believe in something".

    It has never been difficult for me to separate fantasy from reality in such cases. I may use some poetic metaphors to characterize a very profound and life-changing experience, but at the back of my skull there is always the understanding that this is all part of life, and that millions of humans before me have had similar experiences. But I am a mathematician and a physicist, and to-the-point thinking is in my bones. Most people do not have a program on this kind constantly running on the background and correcting their irrationalities.

    I have met more to-the-point people than me. People to whom you say, "This landscape is really unbelievable, is it not?", and they will respond, "It is a product of the laws of physics. It does not require a belief". I think that this is an unhealthy extreme, the kind of thinking where every second of your life is subjected to a harsh microscopic analysis. There should be a lot of room for what I call "healthy irrationality", where you express your feelings of awe and wonder in a language other than that of mathematical equations.
    However, as much as you can indulge in this "healthy irrationality", there always must be something running on the background that keeps quietly telling you: "Enjoy yourself, but do not forget what the reality is". Those who shut down this program are the ones most prone to religious conversion.

    It is okay to have a fun friendly conversation where you claim that 2+2=5, just messing around and enjoying yourself and your friends. What is important is that at the end of this conversation, when it is time to pay for your order, you revert back to 2+2=4. Some people instead get trapped in that "messing around" state and never come back to reality. And when they spend enough time in that state, they start confusing it with reality and thinking of it as something profound, only accessible to the selected few.
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