On Religion

On Religion


Good morning Hank; it’s Monday. Nerdfighters often ask us if we’re religious,
a topic we’ve been reluctant to discuss over the years mostly because the quality of discourse
about religion on the internet is…atrocious. That said, many nerdfighters know that a decade
ago I worked as a Chaplin at a children’s hospital. And I was also briefly enrolled
in, although I actually never attended, the University of Chicago’s divinity school. So
today I’m going to share everything I have to say about religion. Hopefully that will
lead to a productive and thoughtful conversation, although given the history of the internet
and conversations about religion…probably not. Okay Hank, so I would submit that almost all
human lives are usually lived in a state of, like, functional nihilism. Very few of us
believe that human life is devoid of all meaning and that all we should do is answer to our
base urges and fulfill our basic desires and try to distract ourselves from pain or fear
or unpleasantness, but almost all of us act as if we believe that. Like I have this massive
parallel processing unit that sits on top of my neck that I could use to, like, contribute
to cancer research or write a novel or puzzle through quantum mechanics. And I have this
amazing body that I could use to plant trees or fight wild fires or harvest food for the
poor. Hank, remember that time I said I have an
amazing body? I don’t mean that I have an amazing body. I mean everybody has… it’s
amazing what our bodies can do. But I don’t usually do any of that stuff.
Hank, most of my free time is spent, like, watching television, playing video games,
or searching for lols. Christians, Muslims, atheists, whatever, all
of us share this worldview; almost none of us would abandon our comforts to help others;
almost all of us would acknowledge that much of our time each day is wasted. In short, Hank, if we just judge humans by
their actions, we look like a bunch of nihilists. But we aren’t nihilists because we all feel
called to make the world better. To understand and observe the universe. To make art, to
bring beautiful things into life. To contribute in some way to the human experiment. Everybody wants their lives to matter, to
have meant something. That call to meaning is the foundation of religious worldviews,
but it’s also the foundation of successful secular worldviews which is why I don’t really
care to debate the existence of God with people. Like, Hank, imagine you wake up in the middle
of the night and your house is covered in smoke and you hear an invisible voice shout
“Your house is on fire!” Hank, in that situation I would find it, like, totally uninteresting
to have a discussion about where that voice was coming from and how it got in the house
and was it God or a fireman. I would just, you know, leave. In short, Hank, for me at least, debating
the mere existence of God is a way of avoiding the deeper and more devastating question of
how we are going to bring meaning to human life. I think that’s, broadly speaking, the point
of religion. Religion is essentially a response to revelation. And that revelation almost
always calls us to embrace meaning, or, if it doesn’t innately exist, then to create
meaning. But that’s also true for atheistic humanism. We are all facing the same question:
what are we going to do with our consciousness? Will we seek to fight poverty or climate change
or disease or war or spend all our resources ensuring that we have a beautifully manicured
lawn with absolutely no weeds? Sorry, I’m on a bit of a lawn kick at the
moment because my next door neighbor is not terribly happy with me for leaving the country
for two months during the, uh, lawn growing season. It’s just grass, dude! Actually…
it’s not just grass. That’s his problem. It’s also a lot of dandelions. So what are we going to do about consciousness
and how are we going to balance our urge to be more than nihilists with our need to blunt
the sharp edges of consciousness with funny stuff like Paula Deen riding Paula Deen riding
me or Humpy Hank? Those are interesting questions, Hank, and
Nerdfighteria has been talking about those questions for years now. Some of us through
a religious lens, some of us through a secular lens, but the lens doesn’t interest me as
much as the questions. Sorry this video didn’t contain many jokes.
To make up for it, here is a baby rhinoceros. Also, as penance, I will eat 36 disgusting
sandwiches on Friday. Hank, don’t forget to be awesome. I will see
you on Wednesday.

100 Replies to “On Religion”

  1. If you want avoid answering a question, just say "I don't want to talk about it". It'd take 2 seconds rather than 3.5 minuets.

  2. Open hypothetical question to the viewers: If we ran out of water and were near a hydration tragedy who would bring us water? Is "who" even the right word?

  3. If a religion inspires you to be a better person, by all means follow it. It is your choice. You are free to have your own beliefs. Just don't criticise others for their beliefs.

  4. Well done, well spoken. I imagine you'd dig the Australian Indigenous band the Warumpi Band's song White Fella/Black Fella – 'It doesn't matter, which religions/It's all the same when the ship is sinking.' Right on. Peace

  5. As a catholic, arguing about God lets you to find him, but the arguers must be calm, and open to change their minds.

  6. So he made a 3 and a half minute video of him dancing around a question? I would submit that most people do actually believe that their is no inherent meaning to our lives or the universe but that doesn't mean most people don't realise that during our short time here we can be kind and beautiful and make our own meaning by creating art and making people smile.

  7. I am an agnostic but when I see anyone shitting on someone else's religion, I don't tolerate it. We all have our beliefs and ways to subjectively explain our own meaning of life so we shouldn't impose our own ideology in our religious or non-religious lives onto others.

  8. so you believe THIS could make a more productive dialog?
    no, you have shown yourself as a coward and an intellectually dishonest sleazebag.

  9. People are desperate to believe something, the empty void of reality is just too horrifying. And why is simply persuing our base urges so bad? Everyone should try it, it's actually quite calming

  10. Of course this begs the question: "Why should we do anything?" If I don't see any reason in benefiting the human race, why should it be defined by society as being wrong? The main problem with not coming to an understanding about WHY our lives have meaning is that we could make up any meaning we want to DO anything we want, even if it means HARMING the human race as a whole. An interesting point that you make is that we all seem to have an inner desire to help those around us. This begs the question of where this innate desire came from in the first place and why it is innate to people. Of course there are those who do not desire to do good – also begs the question of what good universally is – and that there must be a reason for the deviation from the desire. Interesting way of looking into the issue and I appreciate your insights.

  11. I love your work, John. I am a middle level/secondary level English teacher, and I think your novels are some of the best young adult fiction I've ever read. I also love your passion for social justice and change.
    I am a Christian, and I really think that God has used you in incredible ways. I think He could use you even more if you would be more open about your faith. There are so many people who are hurting and need the light of Christ. Without Him, there is no meaning to human existence. Without God, we all fail to satisfy the longing inside each and every one of us. Remember Romans 1:16.
    I am a huge fan of you, John. I think you're so talented. And God loves you so, so much.
    Love Mary Ann

  12. there is no God & all religions are mythical…i have no problem with believers, whatever "makes" you be a good person

    Judaism, Christianity, Islam, etc. most of their foundational beliefs, holy practices & fascinating stories ORIGINATED from EITHER ancient Sumerology, Indianology, Egyptology, Astrology, Astronomy, Mythology, EVEN from other OLDER/UNPOPULAR religions/mythologies. these common beliefs & practices existed 1000's of years long BEFORE your religion/mythology was INVENTED. it may not be EXACTLY the same thing but we can see where the IDEAS came from & evolved thanks to ANCIENT HIS-STORY…out of all the religions in the world the Abrahamic ones are the WORST, they are a gigantic MESS. myths mixed myths, fabrications deliberately written into his-story & forced upon poor UNEDUCATED illiterate people

    thank "goodness" for Psychology & Psychiatry
    Spiritually is basically nonsense, its all in you head. the human brain is incredibly powerful. if you're seriously spiritual (in the divine sense) then you might be suffering from a mental illness called PSYCHOSIS or SCHIZOPHRENIA. that's fine, alot of people in the modern world suffer mentally & they themselves don't even know it…#Atheist

  13. But don't you have to get people to put aside their religious beliefs in order to even have that discussion in the first place? All religions claim to have all the answers, or at least to take their own doctrinal claims as the axiomatic foundation on which to build the answers. You simply cannot have an intelligent conversation with someone who prizes faith over reason.

  14. Decided I'd throw my two-cents about religion in.
    I grew up as a christian but realized that is not my religion. I identify as a deist, meaning that I believe there is a God or some type of higher power that created us and gave us free will, but doesn't intervene in our lives. I believe God gave us the freedom to make our own choices so we could live life how we want to. In short, I believe in God but not in religion. 🙂

  15. The quality of discourse is atrociouse mostly because too many of you fools refuse to agree w t truth that I present to yall.

  16. So are you suggesting that religion was invented from being in a state of denial for some who otherwise may think they have no greater meaning?

  17. Life will reveal truth, Participating creates meaning. We will file as we go. All resourced things are done so as a means to an end. I'm learning about God, myself ,Love, and life. For longer than my time here.

  18. I refuse to take part in any religion-oriented conversations on the internet because of how human nature is. any conversation like this is futile because it just ends in both parties becoming more entrenched in their beliefs. like I was reading the comments on some political video and I read a Hillary supporter saying how he didn't like either candidate but Hillary was slightly less idiotic, and some trump supporter typing in all caps went off on them for supporting "literally the female antichrist" instead of supporting "the god-chosen savior of our country".

    Now i'm a christian myself and when i see people like that i just want to quit religion altogether because it just gives Christianity a bad name. So I was like "hey man, stop berating her for having a different political view, you're on a pretty liberal youtube channel, go back to binge-watching conspiracy theory videos and Fox news" and he just kept commenting that I need Jesus. Like I would write a five paragraph comment saying that I have found Jesus and I personally think He would vote for someone like Bernie Sanders who actually gives two shits about other people and he just said "Ya'll need Jesus". I wanted to throw my computer out the window

  19. "Debating the mere existence of God is a way of avoiding the deeper and more devastating question of how we are going to bring meaning to human life."

    I understand the sentiment, but it really depends on what type of "meaning" you are arguing for. Under a Christian worldview, the meaning of life comes from God since men and women are, according to the Bible, created in the image of God. So the two questions are often related.

  20. I'm Christian, and I'm not a hateful, racist, sexist, bible thumping hypocrite (although I acknowledge there are quite a few of us who are). It's just how I was raised and it feels right. Doesn't necessarily mean it's right, but I believe it is, and I have faith it is. Doesn't necessarily mean I think everything in the Bible makes sense. For example, the Bible says gay marriage is wrong, but it also says that if your son disobeys you, he should be stoned (to death). But anyway, that's my two cents (not that anybody really cares) but it's really early morning here in North Carolina and I don't have anything better to do than type this. Also, I don't hate gay people. Or people of other religions. That is all.

  21. 2:45 It affects people with hay fever. 8 got killed in Melbourne due to weather circumstances causing there to be a high ppm of pollen in the air.

  22. Always take the side of secularism over religious fundamentalism, always. The second, THE SECOND you take the side of a religious FUNDAMENTALIST over a secularist position, we no longer have true civilization. We have theocracy. Islam is not immune from this, nor is Christianity, Buddhism, Hinduism, Judaism or any other religion. And let me drive this point home, ISLAM IS NOT IMMUNE FROM THIS!!!!!

  23. Personally, I find that religious belief establishes a culture where beliefs do not have to be justified with logic or evidence resulting in problems like a disbelief in climate change or evolution. However, if you have a religious belief and you have no harmful unjustified beliefs and you're not 'teaching' that religious belief to young people thus perpetuating the aforementioned culture, no harm done.

  24. To answer everyone's question. John is a christian. Hank is an atheist. I am Roman Catholic although I dabble in buddhism.

  25. Can we all just agree that the only right answer is "we CAN'T know," and that anything past that in either a pro or anti God direction is based in faith alone?

  26. You could make sure you have an outdoor electricity outlet (with proper separate circuit breaker) and pay one of the younger neighbours some small cash to do the lawn halfway through your time away. Also makes for a nicer home coming. 😉
    I like the shows! especially Sci-Show, great work! x

  27. Just admit it, that you belief in ridiculous nonsense for no good reason,
    or that you are a lost soul full of emptiness and devoid of any meaning in life!

  28. I believe that life is meaningless, but I don't think that's any reason to go around fulfilling out primal urges. If anything, it gives us the freedom to give life meaning.

  29. I just loved this video. I'm sort of teary eyed.

    (I grew up having to walk into a church every time it's doors were unlocked. "Fellowship" was written on the doors. That's what religion is. We are fellows together on a blue marble ship. Hi. We're different but we're definitely on board this together so … Hi <3)

  30. the idea of a higher power with as much human traits as in all religions is contradictory and doesn't answer three basic question of why we exist here in the first place (it might replace it with a bigger question but still), there is no such thing as a point of creation (like how time was warped by quantum effects in the early universe or the potential of an infinitely large multiverse(or even universe)) and there are many contradictions in all the books (e.g.saying that they are the all clear and then proceeding to bring up some vague bull Shit). Religion will, when the human race stops growing, start to become a small, false, stupid, hindering, destructive belief in the long history of human civilisation

  31. Stephen Fry quoted a guy who's name I forget and I'm going slightly badly misquote that quote but here goes: "I love Sam and John and George and David, but I loathe that race called Man." Penn Jillette also said something to the effect of "You can hate ideas, but you can't hate people." Get mad at eachother, disagree with eachother, criticise eachother, but remember to love eachother more.

  32. this is all fine and dandy but you fail to answer the question, do you believe in a god? and if so is it the god of a specific faith or you're just a deist or what

  33. I like how here on this side of YouTube religious an non religious are not name calling or saying mess we act all civilized and we act like rational men( comment on this however you like, it will not affect me)

  34. Me: I'm atheist
    Person: Why do you say "bless you" when people sneeze?
    Me: because I was raised to be polite and acknowledge that your heart just stopped
    Person: but if you dont believe in god then you have no morals and shouldn't care,
    Me: fine, if that's what you want, go sneeze yourself.

  35. Is he dodging the question? Oh hell yeah. But I'm not mad, as much as I am sad. John isn't lying in this video. He's presenting us the lies he knows he has to believe. Because truth doesn't matter to him as much as happiness, and this thin knot of apologetics keeps him from existential crisis.

  36. God does not equate religion. The age of the papacy during the Medieval Ages was an age where religion dominated all aspects of life, not God. I believe all religions to not be from God. If you stop to think and consider, ALL religions originate from man's own imagination (Catholicism, Protestantism, etc.) They make up things that God does not desire for man to do. My point is, don't put religion and God on the same footing when they most certainly are not.

  37. what I find amusing is that my Muslim friends are light-years more excepting of my atheism than anyone I've ever met that's Christian

    that's just me but it's kinda odd given the media's 'hatred' for Islam

  38. We are born nihilists. We have to be taught from childhood how to not be self-centered. Suffering seems to be the only real cure. There is nothing more humbling than a good dose of hardship. It can clear the mind and purify the soul – if you can overcome the bitterness.

  39. When did religion make you not do good stuffs for the world?

    Also, who created big bang?
    Then you'd ask who created God..
    God/ an UNCREATED BEING is UNCREATED that's why it/he/she demands worshipping/reverence and is the ultimate form of morality.
    Be a good human. And find that Creator because you are someone's creation.

  40. I don't understand the active reference to Hank Green he makes like with Michael Stevens as he refers to his audience as vsauce which might an arbitrary word to describe the mere non directionalism or diversity of his audience or might have an extrinsic meaning which I do not know aaahh

  41. 1:33 Nihilism is the rejection of moral and religious principles, with the conclusion that life is inherently meaningless, claiming that there is no objective purpose handed to us by the universe or God. That doesn't prohibit a nihilist from creating their own principles, which might revolve around doing good unto others. Nihilism allows people to create their own identity and purpose based upon subjective principles.

  42. Religion is the ultimate Milgram experiment.
    Situations like 9/11 are simply the logical end game for society when you combine blind adherence to authority with holy books that constantly prod it's followers to start wars, enslave people, and kill people, among other benign requests. Eventually, someone, somewhere, reading some holy book, whether right or wrong in his interpretation, adheres to the books requests to kill (and yes, most if not all holy books request people to kill) and flies a plane into a building, or straps a bomb to his chest and walks into a mall.
    This is why religion is dangerous. This is why the planet is better off without it.

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