To the believers...

(308 Posts)
PedroPonyLikesCrisps Tue 29-Jan-13 23:17:16

How does one justify to themselves belief in a supernatural being with literally no hard evidence? This is something I just don't understand. Without the assumption of a god or gods, we are able to explain pretty much everything in the Universe and even those yet-to-be-answered questions are being gradually chipped away at without any need for a deity.

So what makes people believe in a god? Is it fear, conditioning, laziness? Theories of the supernatural were our first attempts at understanding the world (big yellow disc moves across the sky, don't know what it is, maybe a god carries it around up there). You could say they were humankind's first attempt at scientific reasoning. But we've moved on from these archaic theories now and we can explain all these things we couldn't before, yet for some reason, religions live on and people continue to think that some guy lives upstairs and watches over us even though there's no rational way to argue his existence.

Do Christians think Muslims are insane for their differing beliefs? Does anyone still believe in the Greek or Roman gods anymore? Do the religious find Scientology to be just another religion or does anyone else see the the words 'cult' and 'religion' are pretty much interchangable?

Discuss!!

sciencelover Wed 30-Jan-13 21:00:47

What constitutes hard evidence, OP? It would be impossible for me to prove the existence to God to someone else, but I have enough compelling evidence for me to believe.

For me, like so many others (Newton, Faraday, Galileo), the study of the sciences is religious in nature. Science helps explain the "how" and religion helps explain the "why". Both strive to understand the unknown, but the mechanisms for gaining that understanding are different.

mummysmellsofsick Wed 30-Jan-13 21:02:25

If you really want to understand this OP as opposed to starting a bun fight, then read Karen Armstrong's History of God. Interestingly she explains that 'belief' is a pretty new concern in religion. I always liked Jung's answer to the question of whether he believed in God. He said 'I don't believe, I know'. Jung's Answer to Job is also a very interesting read.

headinhands Italy Wed 30-Jan-13 21:09:13

Science, a believer in a different deity also has 'compelling evidence' for their god. How so?

sciencelover Wed 30-Jan-13 21:21:04

I believe in a God who's known by many names. IMO, anyone who believes in God who makes real attempts to live a good moral life as part of their belief believes in the same God, even when the doctrinal understanding of God's nature is different. Obviously, some are wrong in their beliefs of who God is, but, as far as I'm concerned, it's the same being.

God would be a horrible being to refuse to answer the prayers of people simply because they don't understand his nature correctly.

Can I ask about the answering people's prayers?

Do believers honestly believe that every prayer will be answered? We know they don't so who's prayers do get answered? Is it to do with volume of prayer? Number of people praying? Whether the person praying is "good"?

People often say "I will pray for you", do they honestly think non-believers find this comforting?

zulubump Wed 30-Jan-13 21:37:41

Hi OP, it's a good question and I don't often try to justify my beliefs. I feel that I had no choice but to believe in God. And not because of conditioning - I didn't have a religious upbringing. I just always have believed in a God and not to believe just doesn't make sense to me. And I am quite a sciencey person. I remember an A-level physics class when I suddenly felt sure of God's existence! I only started going to church a few years ago and found it all quite scary to begin with. But now that I've had a chance to make some friends that I can really discuss things honestly with I am feeling at peace (most of the time!) with having a Christian faith. It feels like an itch I've been needing to scratch all my life and it's a relief to finally get round to it.

I don't think people of other religions are mad. I think religion is a pretty imperfect thing given that it's run by humans. The church I chose to go to is out of convenience really (easy to get to, good facilities for kids) and not because I carefully assessed whether their beliefs are in line with mine. I didn't even think about whether Christianity was right for me as opposed to Islam or any other religion. I think when we decide to reach out to God we are limited by things such as our culture and background, our situation in life - what church we can physically get to, whether we'd feel comfortable walking into a church/mosque etc depending on our upbringing. I think God sees those things and knows when we are doing the best we can.

headinhands Italy Wed 30-Jan-13 21:46:18

Science, why would god reveal himself using different names and laws and allow people to be so misunderstood that they visit the worst atrocities upon each other? What if you live a moral life but have no belief. Or have faith but commit heinous acts?

ethelb Wed 30-Jan-13 21:54:23

@handinmyhand i think a lot of 'religious' people dont belive in a God as literally as you maybe imaginig. Not in the UK anyway.

headinhands Italy Wed 30-Jan-13 22:24:26

So you don't believe in a literal god? What do you mean when you say god?

ethelb Wed 30-Jan-13 22:29:27

I am not talking about myself. I mean that people don't necessarily beleive in a dial a prayer God in the sky. Plenty of theists just believe a God-like figure started creation, but isn't necessarily interventionist. I think a lot of religious people in the UK are actually theists rather than believe absolutly everything ever said about the reality of God by their religion.

headinhands Italy Wed 30-Jan-13 22:33:15

So a god that is hands off? Why would he say otherwise in the bible?

headinhands Italy Wed 30-Jan-13 22:33:30

Or Quran?

sciencelover Wed 30-Jan-13 22:40:02

If I were to categorize worst off to best off, this is how I would do it:

worst: someone with a strong belief in the existence of a just God, but someone who commits heinous acts regardless. The devil and his angles have very strong belief, yet they will be the worst off because they knowingly incite humanity to commit atrocious acts.
very bad: someone with no belief who commits heinous acts
good: Someone with no belief who lives a good moral life
best: someone with strong belief who allows their life to be guided by God and lives a good moral life.

Obviously, this is just a general guideline.

ethelb Wed 30-Jan-13 22:54:45

Because they pick and choose the bits they beleive.

headinhands Italy Thu 31-Jan-13 06:10:32

Can you give me an example or heinous behaviour?

puzi Thu 31-Jan-13 06:30:44

The very fact that humans are the only species who are interested in 'the origin of life' and philosophy and morality is in itself incredibly revealing. The Bible says: ' [God] has put eternity into man's heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end' (Ecclesiastes 3). This curiosity didn't evolve - it is unprecedented in the history of life in the universe... we are obsessed with finding out what happened at the beginning and what will happen at the end. Why? Because God created us to be curious.

headinhands Italy Thu 31-Jan-13 08:13:28

Actually puzi there is evidence of cultures that had no discernible belief in the supernatural. Will Durrant if you want to google.

Going back to the scale of belief etc Science. How does Jesus maintaining that he is the route of salvation fit into this?

headinhands Italy Thu 31-Jan-13 08:16:18

How come this, as you see it, god given curiosity leads so many of our most prominent scientists to reject belief in a supernatural element to the universe?

newlark Thu 31-Jan-13 08:27:41

Don't have time for a long post now but I'm a Christian because I believe it is the truth - that Jesus was who he said he was. There is plenty of evidence that he existed and around his life and death (Strobel's Case for Christ was helpful) and based on the evidence - even if not cast iron - I decided to trust him. I now have experiential "evidence" that has helped my faith grow as I've seen God working in my life and changing me - I know it might not convinve anyone else as it is personal to me (sceptics might dismiss much as coincidence) but it has strengthened my faith and brought it alive.

Ninjaforever Thu 31-Jan-13 09:51:43

Hi all, I am Muslim . Just to give you guys a basic idea in case you are not aware, Muslims believe in Jesus pbuh ( peace be upon him) and Moses pbuh as well as many other prophets . We believe our God Allah revealed the Torah and gospel . The basics of Judaism and Christianity are the same as Islam but they differ greatly due to Jews not accepted Muhammad pbuh as the final messenger of God and denying his existence which is a great sin hence why there is a lot of disagreement between Muslims and Jews . We believe Christians are in the wrong so to speak as they believe Jesus is the son of God and that Jesus dies for their sins. Muslims associate no partners or children to God as this is the most major sin in Islam and unforgivable unless repented for before death. Known as shirk.
Muslims believe that Allah raised Jesus pbuh to the heavens and replaced him with someone else God made this person look like Jesus . We believe Jesus will return sometime before the end of the world and make Islam conquer .
Forgive me for the 'we' 'they' speech - wish I had time to word it better .

Going back to the original Q it is easy to believe if one reads the glorious Quran with its proper meaning. A phrase common throughout is that the intelligent ones take heed and ponder about life creation . This is not to say whoever doesn't is dumb but I think there comes a time in everyone's life when they wonder of their purpose and how everything is so perfect.

I wish I had time to go into detail. Perhaps later inshaAllah ( if god wills).

tuffie Thu 31-Jan-13 17:21:22

Just back from work and jumping back a few posts but just wanted to say to ZULUBUMP - great post, exactly how I feel !

MadHairDay Thu 31-Jan-13 18:58:40

I believe in God because I think that faith makes sense of life.

I believe in God because I see God changing lives, setting people free from their past, from addictions, from abuse, from anxiety, from so much more.

I believe in God because there is an intellectually robust position to be argued around the evidence for the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, and if I take such evidence seriously I need to consider the claims of Jesus and to make a decision about them for myself.

I believe in God because I think that there is a kind of metanarrative around all of humanity through the ages whereby we are reaching for something more, something outside ourselves, something that makes some kind of sense of what it is this world is. A narrative of beauty, of justice, of morality, of love.

I believe in God because God has changed me and changes me every day.

I believe in God because I have experienced God's love intellectually, emotionally and physically.

And much more than that smile

zulubump Thu 31-Jan-13 20:08:00

Thanks tuffie smile. It's a challenge to put why I believe into words. Also wanted to say to Newlark and MadHair that yes I agree that I had to take the life of Jesus Christ seriously. His life as recorded in the Gospels speaks to me on a really emotional level. The idea of God humbling himself to live amongst us and to spend time with the most unloved members of society; the idea that he would not become the kind of leader that people expected - one who leads by might and force - to the extent that he allowed himself to be crucified. And then he still forgave and loved us. It makes me feel that I want to believe and have faith. And it's an inspiration in my life to be more than I think I could be on my own.

headinhands Italy Thu 31-Jan-13 20:40:10

Ninja and Newlark. You can't both be right, but you can both be wrong. People of different faiths express deep feelings of connection and talk of powerful personal experiences of their brand of god. This suggests that these feelings are human in origin and stem from the psychology of belonging. Furthermore people can experience these feelings through secular means too which again makes it more likely to be about the brain and nothing supernatural.

cloutiedumpling Thu 31-Jan-13 21:31:56

It is an interesting question. I am a Christian but can see exactly where non Christians are coming from when they say there is no objective evidence of God or Jesus. I was brought up going to church and believed in God. I went through a few years in my twenties though when I felt that since there was no objective evidence of God that all Christians must be mistaken. My head told me they were all wrong but ultimately I still believed in my heart and I still do so now. I couldn't shake off the belief and since that time I have experienced things which have strengthened it. Maybe it is due to fear or conditioning or maybe as headinhands says it is all in the brain. But I don't think so.

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