There are plenty of atheists in foxholes, thankyewverymuch

Just when I thought pop psychology couldn’t be any dumber, there comes an blog post like “When the going gets tough, the atheists start praying.” I have no idea why Raj Raghunathan, a marketing professor, is blogging on Psychology Today‘s site, but I hope somebody gets a clue and gets rid of him, because…wow. This is seriously dumb.

Oh, and offensive. Did I mention offensive? You wanna know how offensive? Get a load of this:

The idea that even hardcore atheists will, beyond a threshold level of stress, believe in God may sound unlikely to the die-hard atheist. But, perhaps that’s because you haven’t been put under a sufficiently high level of stress.

Uh-huh. Lemme see, nearly drowned in my own body, baby tried to come out at 23 weeks, spent three months on terrified and uncomfortable bed rest wondering if that was the day my daughter would die, then an emergency c-section and a baby who came out with a 1-minute Apgar score of 1. Nah, not nearly enough stress.

But wait! What about a second child who tried to come out early, terrifying and painful medical procedures to keep him in, a c-section, and nearly dying on the table due to blood loss? Is that good enough for you, Mr. Smug?

I will say most emphatically that I had two terrifying pregnancies and at no time did I pray to any deities. I didn’t pray to God, Allah, Buddha, or the Invisible Pink Unicorn (praise be her horn). And this marketing dude hasn’t the faintest understanding of why not!

And it’s also because you have faulty intuitions about human nature: You believe that your identity (as an atheist) is set in stone, and can’t be changed. However, findings show, for most traits, there is no such thing as a stable personality.

::snort:: Um…I don’t think you actually know what those findings mean. Yes, researchers often find that some people become, for example, more extroverted over time, or more conservative, or less anxious, or whatever. But they don’t claim that every aspect of your personality has to change!

I will grant that many of the atheists I know have changed their mind about the existence of a deity…in the process of becoming atheists. And maybe our minds will continue to change…by becoming even more sure that deities don’t exist. Either way, dude is el wrongo.

As researchers like Pyszinski, Greenberg and Solomon have argued, the thought of death terrorizes us and is an important reason for believing in God.

Uh…not all of us. I’m not afraid of death at all. Afraid of the process of dying? Yeah. Afraid of pain and suffering and tears while I’m dying? Absolutely. But I’m not afraid of being dead in the slightest…because then I won’t care anymore 😀 I’m a hell of lot more afraid of my kids dying before me, because then I’d still be alive and suffering.

This guy cites a lot of research, but as far as I can tell, he doesn’t actually understand what any of it means, or how it relates to actual real atheists. Like me. (Dude, I would love to hear what Phil Zimbardo thinks about the use of his research here.)

I recommend reading “Rebutting more outlandish statements about atheists” for a nice explanation of the wrongness of the above article. I don’t recommend reading the counter-response “Is atheism just another faith?” if you have brain cells you’d like to hang onto. I got to the bit where he was comparing God to the placebo effect and my brain tried to explode.

::shakes head:: Honestly, if this God person exists, I’m surprised he/she/it hasn’t smited (smote? smitten?) all the believers just for the sheer insult of how they describe their petty, irrational, obnoxious deity.

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About mamamara

I'm a 40-year-old, work-at-home mother of two. I'm pro-vaccine, pro-medicine, pro-science, and an avid reader of information about all of the above, and I want to combine my love for my children with my love for science. So here we are!
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