A serious, yet hilarious controversial (to some) post by Scott Adams: Could Science Eliminate Religion? (Link no longer works so I removed it – jc).
As readers of my blog know, I believe that given the right conditions, anyone can be made to believe any damned thing. That’s why there are so many different religions.
I wonder if a team of well-funded atheists could devise a legal and ethical method of reducing people’s religious faith.
The first thing I would test is context. If you expose highly religious people to the history of other religions, they will make the connection that prophets come and go all the time. And it would be obvious that (other) people are easily fooled. At first, the believer would think he was lucky that all those others got fooled and he didn’t, because his prophet is real. But this is just the start of the process.
And the pièce de résistance:
Eventually you could create a book that is the sum of the best methods. Then all we need to do is air drop about a billion of them on the Middle East, close all of our embassies, pull out and wait a generation.
The book would immediately be banned by the authorities, but that would make them all the more popular with the young.
It’s worked for others.
Update (Feb 21, 2008): The above link no longer works. Bummer.