Can someone with faith explain something to me please?

(198 Posts)

This isn't intended to be offensive or goady, I'm asking out of curiosity.

I was on the thread about atheists posting on believers' threads the other day. Someone commented that having their (Christian, I think) faith compared to believing in Thor, Zeus, Apollo etc was offensive.

It made me wonder - what convinced you that your faith is the true one and all others are false? I mean, the Romans and Ancient Greeks were convinced of the authenticity of their pantheons (and I know someone who believes in the Norse pantheon). So why is the comparison offensive? (Obviously I understand that 'sky pixie' and 'imaginary friend' are offensive because they imply a degree of childishness).

Gingerdodger Sun 24-Mar-13 11:41:03

That's really hard to answer to be honest. Personally I prefer to see all faiths as a manifestation of how God is revealed to that individual. So my faith is based upon how God has revealed himself to me and what I am called to follow.

The concept and mystery of God is way beyond the comprehension of any individual so I guess we all see from a perspective, a bit like us all being given torches and shining them on our own particular bit and seeing what that reveals.

So, for example, I have a friend who is pagan. Her faith is all based around nature and I cannot pretend to understand it all but I don't see it as me being right and her being wrong or vice versa, we are just both following what we are called to do based upon how God has revealed him?self to us.

That sounds very woolly I know but it makes sense to me!

DeepRedBetty Sun 24-Mar-13 11:46:25

I heard a voice telling me not to worry, that everything would be alright, when things were very very bad. I knew the voice was God.

Things did sort themselves out as God said they would, and I've been saying thank you regularly ever since.

I feel no need to be in a church to say thank you though!

That’s really interesting, thank you! I like your analogy Ginger, that makes a lot of sense.

PedroPonyLikesCrisps Sun 24-Mar-13 11:49:04

DeepRed, how did you 'know' it was God?

Ginger, what do you think of people to whom a god has not revealed itself?

RandomMess Sun 24-Mar-13 11:49:19

The Christian faith teaches through the bible that all other religions are false and therefore from satan (hugely simplified!) so comparing our God to other Gods is comparing him to satan.

RandomMess Sun 24-Mar-13 11:51:54

I have to say God revealed Himself to me in a similar (I wasn't brought up with a faith etc) and I just "knew" it was Him.

"What do you think of people to whom a god has not revealed itself?" someone who has not yet been saved from an eternity without God. I certainly don't think anything less or bad of them?

PedroPonyLikesCrisps Sun 24-Mar-13 11:53:29

"Obviously I understand that 'sky pixie' and 'imaginary friend' are offensive because they imply a degree of childishness"

Honestly, I think most atheists would agree that the concept of 'nanny god' is far more childish than that of an imaginary friend. Only in childhood could a rational human being accept that there's a being who listens and answers all their prayers (except of course, sometimes that happens in 'mysterious' ways, just so we can't argue).

PedroPonyLikesCrisps Sun 24-Mar-13 11:55:14

"someone who has not yet been saved from an eternity without God."

That's quite patronising.

PedroPonyLikesCrisps Sun 24-Mar-13 11:58:22

"I just "knew" it was Him."

I actually get a little fed up of answers like this. How can you possibly know? Most religionists will use the argument against atheists that they cannot prove the non existence of god, which is true. But to then use as evidence FOR that existence a statement like, "I just knew", is quite pathetic.

Gingerdodger Sun 24-Mar-13 11:59:26

I don't think anything of those people Pedro, most atheists or agnostics I know are living their lives according to their personal moralities and consciences. I believe, personally, that God is present within those moralities and consciences even though he may not be actively revealing it to that individual in that way (I know atheists will not see it that way at all).

I just see individuals living their own lives.

PedroPonyLikesCrisps Sun 24-Mar-13 12:08:49

Thanks Ginger, best answer I've heard on here in a long while!

Personally, although I'm raising my children as Catholic, as I was brought up, my own belief is less rigid.

I believe there is a spiritual force in the universe, and that all human faiths are simply interpretations of that force. None are necessarily 'right' or 'wrong' and as long as they provide comfort to their believers, and do not incite hatred and violence, all are of equal worth.

So I see little difference between belief in the Norse gods or the Christian god and don't believe there to be any offence in such comparison.

Polyethyl Sun 24-Mar-13 12:12:05

I don't know there is oxygen in the air I breath. I haven't tested it for myself. I can't see the oxygen, nor smell it. But I know it is there and keeping me alive. I feel that way about God. He's there. I've tried to explain this to atheists before, and been met with a barrage of insults. So I generally don't join in debates like this as atheists and believers never persuade each other, so the debates are often juat unpleasant wastes of time.

Although he commands us to have no other God but him, I remind myself that God is Omnipotent, omniscient and omnipresent, so he has rather a better understanding of followers of other faiths than I do. (Oh ... and one of my daughter's godmothers is a jew.)

WreckfestAtTiffanys Sun 24-Mar-13 12:19:02

but the simple difference there Polyethyl is that the oxygen content of air can and has been tested, along with it's need for our survival.

headinhands Sun 24-Mar-13 12:24:43

Oxygen is a testable gas that can be detected with the necessary equipment. It behaves in predictable ways wen tested and is in no way an adequate analogy for god. Neither is the wind for the same reasons.

headinhands Sun 24-Mar-13 12:26:25

Don't want to be disparaging thought as I myself used to cite similar analogies when I was a Christian.

TheFallenMadonna Sun 24-Mar-13 12:29:26

I don't find the comparison offensive.

Do I know that my faith is the one true one? No. I just believe. I've tried really hard not to, but it doesn't work.

There will never be an answer that satisfies non believers. How can there be? I have no idea why non believers still ask, and believers still offer "evidence" that is not and cannot be objective.

Groundhog day...

PedroPonyLikesCrisps Sun 24-Mar-13 12:35:06

Because just "knowing" is such a childish and ignorant way of thinking. It is human nature to question things, but it is juvenile nature to accept what were told.

Children are programmed to accept what their parents or guardians tell them because it is beneficial to survival and as such is a trait which has evolved. But as adults, we should be thinking for ourselves, yet so many of us seem to be stuck in childhood.

JoTheHot Sun 24-Mar-13 12:40:02

I had understood that my believing there are no gods was down to me having a low religious IQ. I had never considered the possibility that they were actively choosing not to reveal themselves to me. Why would they do this to me? And if we're all shining our torch on the same guy, how come I see a morality which is diammetrically opposed to large chunks of mainstream christian morality?

In reply to the OP. The old gods were interventionist. People invented them to explain stuff, bad harvests etc. We can now explain the world without these gods, thereby pretty much refuting their existence. In turn, modern religions have been forced to hone themselves back to their irrefutable rumps. The offended christian thinks that believing in something irrefutable is superior to believing in something which has been refuted.

Polyethyl Sun 24-Mar-13 12:41:26

Yes. I know atheists hate my oxygen analogy. They invariably reply about being able to scientifically test for oxygen. So I clearly need to find a way to express how faith feels some other way. But in all honesty I don't think anything I say will make an atheist understand how faith feels. They just have to feel it for themselves.

Gingerdodger Sun 24-Mar-13 12:43:29

I think polyethel's oxygen analogy was more about saying that she hasn't personally done a test to demonstrate oxygen exists so from that perspective she is reliant upon the fact that it is there as the carries on breathing, this would have been the case even before we knew what oxygen was, we just know there is something there
that keeps us breathing so that is how it feels to have faith. It just feels right to that individual.

For those looking for scientific, absolute proof that God exists that is not going to happen.

I can never prove to anyone proof of what I believe. All I can ever say is that it feels right to me, that feeling is far too strong for me to ignore, I didn't seek it out, it found me and, therefore, the strength of that feeling leads me to believe that it is the truth.

Anyone who is looking for belief based on absolute proof only is going to see that as me being delusional and we are just going to have to agree to disagree on that point.

headinhands Sun 24-Mar-13 12:48:28

I don't hate it poly it just doesn't work because you're equating something that has no evidence to something that has shed loads. As I said I used to use similar arguments and but can now see they're counter productive and too easily dismantled.

headinhands Sun 24-Mar-13 12:54:23

But ginger strength of feeling is a poor indicator of the veracity of those beliefs no? If I say to myself 'wow, ginger feels so strongly about her faith so it must be true' I then have to believe anything anyone believes in strongly which would include millions of diametrically opposed and mutually exclusive beliefs.

TheFallenMadonna Sun 24-Mar-13 12:54:34

I find it odd when people assume I haven't questioned my faith. I am an intelligent woman. A scientist. I know how to question. I know about evidence, and I know there isn't any. Still believe. God knows why...

Polyethyl Sun 24-Mar-13 12:55:16

Thank you ginger. Eloquently put.

Headinhands- the thing is I do see evidence of God's existence. It is everywhere. It is his creation. I see it in my newborn daughter. In the tree outside my window... and since god is omnipresent I also see him in the rubbish stuff about me, from the washing up I haven't done to the snow preventing me from going to church this morning.
But you probably think that's daft or childish or illogical.

PedroPonyLikesCrisps Sun 24-Mar-13 12:55:41

Whether you have personally done a test for oxygen is irrelevant, the tests are there to be done, they are often easy and very predictable. There are many, many ways to test for oxygen and they are always consistent with atomic theory. This is about as far removed from having a feeling that there's a god that you can get. It's not testable in any way, it's not predictable, there's nothing whatsoever you can do to link the two.

Until relatively recently we had no concept of quantum mechanics and subatomic particles, we didn't sit there thinking, "well, it just feels right so there must be something there". Most of us just didn't even think about it and those who did sought to understand it. Religionists seem happy just to accept that sometimes things happen and sometimes they don't but as long as they believe that God is in control, there must be a reason and that fuzzy feeling they get now and again is 'obviously' god trying to tell them something, except they don't really know what it is and so the message doesn't mean much anyway.

PedroPonyLikesCrisps Sun 24-Mar-13 12:58:57

"Headinhands- the thing is I do see evidence of God's existence. It is everywhere. It is his creation. I see it in my newborn daughter. In the tree outside my window... and since god is omnipresent I also see him in the rubbish stuff about me, from the washing up I haven't done to the snow preventing me from going to church this morning.
But you probably think that's daft or childish or illogical."

You obviously don't understand what evidence is. I could tell you that I look at a tree and see evidence of the magical tree pixie who makes all the trees, it would hold as much ground. In fact, I might even write it in a book to make it all the more credible.

But - and this is a genuine question - if you truly believe you've 'heard a voice' in your head, how do you know that it's the voice of God and not that you are suffering from some kind of psychosis? I don't know how to ask that without it sounding offensive, but it's not meant that way!

I should have realised this would turn into an atheists vs believers thread hmm although that wasn't my intention.

Some interesting replies to my OP, thank you.

Pedro you seem to be saying that believers are childish for believing, have I understood you correctly? What about those who come to faith later in life, or who overcome a crisis of faith and still believe?

TheFallenMadonna Sun 24-Mar-13 13:02:05

There are religionists who are scientists pedro. Fewer than the atheists certainly, but there are still some. And many, many more in the past who have both believed in God and sought to explain the world/universe in which we live.

Polyethyl Sun 24-Mar-13 13:03:49

And here we have another example of an atheist and a believer being unable to explain to each other. Debates like this happen again and again and get nowhere.

headinhands Sun 24-Mar-13 13:04:43

So you're a creationist Poly? The main problems I have with seeing nature as evidence for a personal loving god are a, how do you know which god did it? Is not like there's a label on it. b, you have to be very careful where you look, its all very well looking at pretty things but how do you explain stuff like that African eye worm that survives by eating a human eye from the inside out. That's just as much a part of nature no?

PedroPonyLikesCrisps Sun 24-Mar-13 13:08:23

"Pedro you seem to be saying that believers are childish for believing, have I understood you correctly? What about those who come to faith later in life, or who overcome a crisis of faith and still believe?"

It's still a childish trait regardless of when you come to it. Most are indoctrinated in childhood and end up just continuing to blindly believe. Others come to religion for comfort because it feels nice for someone to convince you that whatever you have been through is just god's way of saying he loves you rather than actually facing up to realities of life. This comfort factor is also something you find in children, DS asks me to kiss things when he's hurt them, it doesn't make it better, but it comforts him. But this is temporary. Of course we all need comfort now and again, but we shouldn't let this run our lives.

Polyethyl Sun 24-Mar-13 13:10:50

Badtasteflump asks an interesting question I would like to know more about. Scientists have looked at nun's brainscans, and they are different. Why? What does this mean? Also I've read that people with brain injury can become very religious. Also in my experience I've been surprised by how many of the very religious people I know have aspergers.
I am interested by the idea that religiosity might be linked to differences in the brain.

zzzzz Sun 24-Mar-13 13:13:04

You can't test for love either and yet those who are "in" love or "feel" loved know it is there. Those who have never felt loved or been in love, find the concep difficult to understand/comprehend/prove.

PedroPonyLikesCrisps Sun 24-Mar-13 13:13:25

"There are religionists who are scientists pedro. Fewer than the atheists certainly, but there are still some. And many, many more in the past who have both believed in God and sought to explain the world/universe in which we live."

Of course there were more in the past. Almost everyone followed a religion in the past. That's completely irrelevant. We haven't quite eradicated religion from science but we're getting there. Plus it really depends what branch of science you are studying and what your religion is as to whether they conflict.

There is no denying though, that there is a direct negative correlation globally between IQ and religiosity.

PedroPonyLikesCrisps Sun 24-Mar-13 13:15:17

Badtasteflump asks an interesting question I would like to know more about. Scientists have looked at "nun's brainscans, and they are different. Why? What does this mean? Also I've read that people with brain injury can become very religious. Also in my experience I've been surprised by how many of the very religious people I know have aspergers.
I am interested by the idea that religiosity might be linked to differences in the brain."

Instances where this is the case are usually attributed to reduced brain function and a restriction on rational thought.

Polyethyl Sun 24-Mar-13 13:16:11

No I am NOT a creationist and I am perfectly aware of sir david Attenborough's quote about all the unpleasant things in creation. Which is why I specifically included unlovely things in my examples. The lord god made the lot- as the monty python gang sing.

I don't understand either - I don't find it an offensive comparison.

I'm not convinced all other faiths are false. I think that we are all probably seeking after the same thing. This is something that's doctrine in a lot of faiths - for example, lots of Christian denominations believe other Christians are not entirely wrong. The 'religions of the book' have a lot of mutual acceptance, though it's not perfect. And so on.

With Thor and Odin specifically - I have a friend who works on the early Christian writings in Old Norse, so writings coming from a culture where Thor and Odin were still gods people very much believed in. She finds a huge amount of crossover between how people interpreted what Christ mean, and how Odin and Thor were presented in their culture. Effectively people were translating this God from a Middle-Eastern culture, into a Northern European idiom, they same way languages translate. So you get Christ being presented as more of a Norse warrior type.

I think that sort of thing must have to do with how our imaginations are able to grab onto an idea. Everyone, including (especially?) some athiests I've known, is fascinated by concepts that are outside our conceptual reach. Eternity, or the nature of time, or where we come from. I think it's all part of the same thing.

For me, personally, being C of E just fits best. But I couldn't pretend to 'know', because that is not in the nature of faith. I like the idea that religion is not about passively 'being faithful', but about actively praying, meditating, attending services - doing the things that put you in the right frame of mind. You don't always have a certainty 'yes, I believe', but you don't have to have it all the time, either.

Gingerandcocoa Sun 24-Mar-13 13:19:18

I think this thread has taken a different direction...

Going back to the original question, I second the answer that the Bible teaches us that there is only one God and only one way to God (Jesus), and if you take that as your truth -please note, IF you take that as your truth, I know most of you don't- then you will not like to have God compared to, say, faith in spiritualism or other religions. You want to defend what you love so it's a natural reaction to not like that comparison.

Btw: 'The Christian faith teaches through the bible that all other religions are false and therefore from satan (hugely simplified!) so comparing our God to other Gods is comparing him to satan.'

This isn't just simplified, it's untrue.

Not all Christians are Biblical literalists. Not everyone who reads the Bible interprets the commandments about 'one God' in the same way as you do.

Not everyone interprets 'Satan' the way that statement does, either.

TheFallenMadonna Sun 24-Mar-13 13:26:53

If you are going to say that "Religionists seem happy just to accept that sometimes things happen and sometimes they don't but as long as they believe that God is in control, there must be a reason and that fuzzy feeling they get now and again is 'obviously' god trying to tell them something, except they don't really know what it is and so the message doesn't mean much anyway" in the context of scientific advances, then the fact that in the past (and indeed in the present) people with a religious faith have made such advances is entirely relevant. Because clearly they did not think it didn't matter much that they didn't understand.

Writing off religious belief as a function of low IQ is a bit questionable really. Objectively.

HotCrossNaanAndRessurectiOn Sun 24-Mar-13 13:27:21

There is actually a field called "neurotheology" where studies have discovered passing electrical pulses through certain parts of the brain they are able to induce experiences that some may describe as a religious experience. (This is a massive précis of the whole thing).

The link to the brain and also mental health is an interesting one for me. For those with mental health issues, believing that you are seeing signs from god, that there is something controlling life etc. etc. is called psychosis. In religion its called faith.

PedroPonyLikesCrisps Sun 24-Mar-13 13:28:12

"Not all Christians are Biblical literalists. Not everyone who reads the Bible interprets the commandments about 'one God' in the same way as you do."

And this interpretation problem is exactly why most, if not all religions are wrong. At the very best there might be one interpretation of one religion which turns out to be correct, of course the likelihood is slim. So much more rational to dismiss them all and ask for some evidence before you carry on.

Even if it were true that religious belief were a function of low IQ, one would have to doubt the intelligence of someone who accepts IQ as a good measure. Should you not be questioning and interrogating? wink

(Actually, seriously, IQ is a dubious measure of intelligence, it really is.)

If religious belief were a function of some kind of intellectual lack - would that make it ok to mock it or question it? I'm not sure it would, for me.

pedro - how do you mean? What's wrong with saying there may be several correct interpretations?

You are assuming that there can only be one right answer. I don't believe that.

hiddenhome Sun 24-Mar-13 13:30:25

My father was an ordained Catholic priest (he left the priesthood before he met my mother before you all start) so no matter how hard I fought it I was always destined to be a Catholic. I was baptised after his death when I was five. From then on I felt a pull towards God.

Gingerdodger Sun 24-Mar-13 13:30:40

badtaste I can't prove that what I believe isn't delusional. I can only state that in my experience it feels absolutely real. That is what faith is, it isn't based on the need to prove it in a scientific way.

That said it is also impossible to prove God does not exist.

PedroPonyLikesCrisps Sun 24-Mar-13 13:31:33

"Writing off religious belief as a function of low IQ is a bit questionable really. Objectively."

Unlike religion, there are actual studies and evidence for this.

pedro - but would it not be morally a bit suspect to write something off, even if it were correlated with IQ, and even if IQ were not a questionable measure of intelligence, just because it's a function of low IQ?

I mean ... would it not be more humane (not to mention more interesting) to try to work out why it was a function of low intelligence? And what it was that people of low intelligence were thinking when they believed?

I know a woman of low intelligence who believes all sorts of complicated little rituals about luck - but I wouldn't feel the need to 'write off' what she does. I'm fascinated by it.

TheFallenMadonna Sun 24-Mar-13 13:34:50

Faith isn't rational.

But then, lots of the things all of us do aren't rational. We are surely all a bunch of cognitive biases.

I like 'a bunch of cognitive biases'. We should introduce that instead of 'nest of vipers'. grin

TheFallenMadonna Sun 24-Mar-13 13:38:33

A correlation between low IQ and religiosity would not demonstrate a causal link. And I doubt a good study would suggest it.

The undebateable existence of people with a high IQ and a high religisiosty would suggest that it wasn't quite that straightforward.

And you'll get no argument from me wrt evidence for God. I've said in several posts that there isn't any.

BuddyButters Sun 24-Mar-13 13:45:55

Two main things bother me, make absolutely no sense and contradict each other. I'd be interested to hear how Xtians explain them.

1) if heaven is somewhere I'm going to be perfectly happy, how can I possibly be, knowing that at least some of my friends and family are in hell??

2) either Adam and Eve were created perfect or they weren't. If they had been they wouldn't have sinned.

buddy:

1) Search me, but I'm not sure I believe in a heaven like that.

2) 'Sufficient to have stood, yet free to fall'. Adam and Eve were created with free will (so the myth goes), so they were able to make a choice. Like a vase can be perfect, but still get smashed on the floor, I think. It's fragility doesn't mean there are imperfections in the glass - they're two different things.

Its

BuddyButters Sun 24-Mar-13 13:50:33

Just read the God/oxygen analogy. Seriously? Do any Xtians REALLY think that's a valid comparison?

Yes, an interesting one. Why not?

For centuries people didn't know why they could breathe air and not, say, water. Perhaps it feels the same?

BuddyButters Sun 24-Mar-13 13:54:31

Well most Xtians I know are pretty clear on point 1. If you worship god you go to heaven. If you don't you go to hell. Heaven is lovely. Hell is very much not.

I can't actually imagine anything worse than being in heaven, knowing my loved ones were in hell. That's a worse torture than anything old nick could dream up.

I think we know different Christians, then. I know few who think of it like that. But it's a big religion with lots of brands.

What you say is why I couldn't believe in a heaven like that, it makes no sense to me.

TheFallenMadonna Sun 24-Mar-13 13:56:10

I think you mostly know one type of Christian perhaps?

Trinpy Sun 24-Mar-13 13:57:18

I've read this thread with interest.

I was brought up as a Catholic and until I started secondary school all my friends and family were Catholic - I didn't know any different. But even from a very young age I never believed in God and I stopped going to church when I was about 11. My view from the age of 5 up until my late teens was similar to what has already been expressed in this thread - that those who believed just blindly followed what their families did, were too stupid to question their beliefs or used religion like a comfort blanket. I honestly couldn't believe that intelligent, rational adults could believe in something so silly.

As I got older I met people with other beliefs and studied other religions. I realised that my attitude to religion had been immature and ignorant. Sometimes people just believe in things that you don't; there aren't any sinister reasons behind it, they just do. I strongly believe in things which other people can't understand but that doesn't mean that my beliefs are not valid.

Sorry to continue making this thread go off topic.

BuddyButters Sun 24-Mar-13 14:01:37

Yes they do tend to pick the bits they fancy believing in, don't they? Lol!

I actually have far more respect the ones who say "I believe in god and follow the bible, even the more unpleasant bits" than the ones who go "I like all the flowery bits about loving everyone but I don't like the bits about stoning and homophobia so I shall choose to ignore those. Or else I shall try to sound knowledgeable and explain how some things - ie the bits I don't like - are open to interpretation".

BuddyButters Sun 24-Mar-13 14:03:31

Different types of Xtians? Explain please. Surely the bible is pretty clear on the whole "who gets into heaven" thing?

Well, I think we all do that (choosing what to believe in).

Why do you respect Biblical literalists more, though, I'm curious?

It is an odd deviation from older forms of Christianity, isn't it, the idea that you'd take one particular version of the Bible, throw the rest out of the window, and then slavishly insist on following it to the letter?

What is it about that that attracts you more than the older ideas about Christianity?

buddy, not all Christians take the Bible literally.

Go wiki about it, it's really useful if you're unaware of the basics.

TheFallenMadonna Sun 24-Mar-13 14:05:12

Yep, but not all Christians are completely bible-based...

BuddyButters Sun 24-Mar-13 14:13:55

Because choosing to believe anything that doesn't have any evidence to back it up is silly. Basically.

I don't choose to believe my DH loves me. All evidence points to it.

I don't CHOOSE not to believe in god. There's no evidence he exists.

People who take the bible literally at least have the courage of their convictions.

People who pick and choose..... well it's sort of like hiring a house sitter and leaving a list of instructions and getting back and the house sitter going "Right I watered the plants and followed your instructions about feeding the cats but when you said no parties I didn't like that bit so I thought you probably meant no parties with more than 200 people. Sorry about the mess".

BuddyButters Sun 24-Mar-13 14:15:03

"Not all Xtians take the bible literally" - why not?

plaingirly Sun 24-Mar-13 14:16:17

If all the facts and proof were there then we wouldn't need faith and it would be easy.

runningforme Sun 24-Mar-13 14:16:37

pedro you accuse someone of being patronising then go on to say things such as

'Because just "knowing" is such a childish and ignorant way of thinking. It is human nature to question things, but it is juvenile nature to accept what were told'

and

'There is no denying though, that there is a direct negative correlation globally between IQ and religiosity'

I find this highly offensive. You are basically calling anyone who believes in God childish, ignorant and of having reduced IQ.

You can question why someone believes without being so disrespectful of other people of whom you know no practically nothing. You are the biggest example of why I despise debates like this and rarely get involved. You can't seem to have a rational debate without resorting to hurling insults just because someone chooses to live their life different to you. How does this prove that your way of thinking and non-believing is better?

Why is it silly? confused

I don't think people choose on no basis whatsoever - people choose based on lots of deliberation and reading and (some would believe) guidance. What's wrong with that?

People who take the Bible literally are making choices too, are they not? It's not as if 'the Bible' isn't something you have to choose in the first place - becuase as you know, everyone disagrees about which books should make it in there in the first place.

So, it's simply about which choices people make, isn't it?

I choose to believe, for example, that pale grey is a nicer shade on my wall than pale pink. I also choose to believe that rape is wrong and that gay people should be able to be married.

There are different levels of 'evidence' for all of those choices, as well as different extents to which they matter, but what is wrong with that?

buddy - cross posted.

Why do you think all Christians should take the Bible - or any version thereof - literally? confused

BuddyButters Sun 24-Mar-13 14:18:31

So what it comes down to is whether you're the sort of person to believe in things that aren't there.

So since god created me, it's HIS fault I don't believe he exists.

BuddyButters Sun 24-Mar-13 14:19:36

Um because isn't it supposed to be the word of god?

TheFallenMadonna Sun 24-Mar-13 14:22:11

You've already heard that not all Christians think that the Bible is the literal word of God...confused

Yes, it's supposed to be the Word of God. And?

Biblical literalists still have to choose which books get to be in the Bible - there's no single approved text. And we all have to decide how to interpret it, because we can't comprend God directly.

People who are not Biblical literalists tend also to believe in other forms of guidance. This is much, much, much older as a form of Christianity, than the idea of Biblical literalism. Both are obviously forms of choice, but motivated by different aims.

I think it is only confusing if you've got the idea that Christianity is only about the Bible, and the Bible is a book you buy in Blackwells for 12.99 which comes ready bound. This isn't actually how it came to be! grin

LRD I like 'a bunch of cognitive biases'. We should introduce that instead of 'nest of vipers'. grin Love it.

Jo said In reply to the OP. The old gods were interventionist. People invented them to explain stuff, bad harvests etc. We can now explain the world without these gods, thereby pretty much refuting their existence. In turn, modern religions have been forced to hone themselves back to their irrefutable rumps. The offended christian thinks that believing in something irrefutable is superior to believing in something which has been refuted.

But surely all the different Roman gods (for the sake of argument, could easily be Greek or Norse) could be seen to merely represent different aspects of a monotheistic god? When I was at school we were taught to thank God for the rains and harvest and so on - how is this different?

And as for us having greater understanding of the world around us, that doesn't mean that it hasn't been created. Some people see the complexity of quantum physics as evidence for God, some as evidence against. Neither can be proven right or wrong.

Btw, because I'm off out now, I think that what fallen said about the Bible not being the 'literal' word of God was a much more precise and quicker way of saying what I was getting at with the interpretation/choice bit. smile

I really am off out - but since you've just posted - puddle, loving this as an idea for a thread, thank you! Really interesting to think about.

BuddyButters Sun 24-Mar-13 14:35:31

Thanks for trying to explain smile

TBH though it seems that the whole thing is based even more on guesswork, cherry picking and interpretation than I thought it was!

BuddyButters Sun 24-Mar-13 14:36:19

You might just as well invent your own religion :D

RandomMess Sun 24-Mar-13 14:37:53

What really gets me thinking is that we discuss the world we live in as 2 dimensional, I believe in a 3 dimensional world that we really don't understand and often don't consider.

To me heaven is eternity with God vs Hell eternity without God, I think it is a spiritual eternity with a different awareness that we have now.

I also believe that anyone truly seeking to find God will find Him just as people could lead a life in relationship with Christ and not really knowing that they are.

TheFallenMadonna Sun 24-Mar-13 14:41:57

You don't mean two dimensional really? Or there'll be flat Earth accusations flying around grin

RandomMess Sun 24-Mar-13 14:42:26

grin

BuddyButters Sun 24-Mar-13 14:42:47

Who discusses the world as 2D??

RandomMess Sun 24-Mar-13 14:44:39

Not the Earth I mean our lives we talk about now and after death and rarely mention about the spirit world that I believe there is

PedroPonyLikesCrisps Sun 24-Mar-13 14:52:49

"Some people see the complexity of quantum physics as evidence for God, some as evidence against. Neither can be proven right or wrong."

The difference is that you don't need to assume the existence of god to find ways to explain quantum physics. And actually, it's not complex. It's difficult to comprehend because things work differently on a subatomic level, but the science itself is remarkably elegant and fundamental.

headinhands Sun 24-Mar-13 15:04:44

So Random, as someone who doesn't hold any belief in a spiritual dimension, are you saying it will be less satisfying? How is my life likely to be much different to yours?

Polyethyl Sun 24-Mar-13 15:09:45

The bible was written by humans. With humans deciding which books and letters to include and exclude. You can't believe it all literally as in contradicts itself occasionally, as Henry VIII discovered!

And to return to the original OP's question ... whilst I respect the beliefs of Christians, jews and muslims - I do think very disrespectful thoughts about people who believe in crystal healing or horoscopes. Aethists are probably now howling at me as a hypocrite. But hey ho, she asked the question and that's my answer.

RandomMess Sun 24-Mar-13 15:15:31

Hmm that isn't what I meant at all I believe there are spiritual being that inhabit the earth as well that most of us (myself included) are pretty oblivious to.

How satisfying individuals find their lives is up to them.

If you are walking close with God it is different to when your not, or certainly for me that is the case but perhaps it isn't for other believers. Life can much harder and more difficult and challenging when you are walking closely but I felt much calmer and content in those times.

headinhands Sun 24-Mar-13 15:27:09

So there are spiritual beings on earth but we're not aware of them. How do you know then? What do they do all the time? I'm sorry to press you on this but you're making claims but not showing how you could possibly know this.

So some people have difficult times when trying to follow god but you are calm and content when you follow god. Don't you see that that's just the case for everyone regardless of beliefs. Some people have lives with many heartaches and some have long and relatively content lives with or without god. According to your criteria there's no way to discern between the two groups as it all looks the same.

I would have hoped that being in communication with a all powerful omnipresent omnipotent omniscient creator deity would have some disernable difference than someone who isn't. But you're admitting that it pretty much makes no difference.

DioneTheDiabolist Sun 24-Mar-13 15:33:58

Joyful, WRT sky pixie etc, these were invented to offend, so there should be no surprise therefore when offense is taken.

References to ancient gods are a bit different. To many (believers and non-believers alike) Zeus, Apollo etc. are 2dimensional characters. For so long ours has been a monotheistic approach to religion and we miss many of the nuances of pantheistic worship.

For many believers god is not a 1D invention intended to offend, nor is she a 2D representation from the past (although this was not how believers in ancient times saw them either). God is multidimensional. A massive concept that can be difficult for the believer themselves to understand, never mind explain.

Therefore to draw likenesses between the two can be seen as an insult to the intelligence of believers.

And speaking of intelligence: Pedro you link IQ and religiosity. It has also been linked to Race. The IQ system is based primarily on Western education standards. It is a flawed measurement when applied internationally. A more accurate comparison would be to compare the IQ of believers to non believers in a particular country. Do you have any statistics showing perhaps lower IQ in faith schools in the UK, compared to state schools which do not have such a high level if believers? What do they show?

RandomMess Sun 24-Mar-13 15:34:33

You're asking what I believe in, what my faith is - it's not about proven facts it's about conviction of faith. If it was a proven fact then it wouldn't be a faith?

I focus on what God wants me to do, who He destined me to be. There are things about God I wish were different!

I believe in eternity for everyone and I want spend it in Gods presence, I believe not everyone will.

Yes some people are content with their lives, but perhaps they would have been even more content had they known Christ in their lives - you can't walk 2 similataneous paths in life and compare them.

I am a member of the church of Jesus Christ of latter Day Saints (Mormon) and while I believe in God I don't feel I have to prove it to anyone other than myself. Not everything we do in this life requires proof. I have faith in him and trust in his word. I will not receive a knowledge of his existence until I die but until such a point I have decided to live my life in accordance with the theory that he does. Obviously I am not perfect in doing this.

I believe that God created us with the ability to choose and think for ourselves. He gives us commandments to follow and it is up to us to decide what we wish to do with those rules. He is not going to force us into Heaven or Hell.

I do believe that God will punish anyone for living a good life and hell is reserved for those who have been truly wicked. It would be unfair to punish someone who never heard of God but left a blameless life and likewise it would be unfair for the person who believed in God but lived a life full of wickedness to escape simply because of belief.

I think we will be judged according to the knowledge we have received in life whether that be Christianity, Islam and atheism.

specialsubject Sun 24-Mar-13 15:50:30

I don't think those with faith and those without it can ever feel how the other party does. there is no analogy that makes sense (certainly not the one about oxygen)

I don't find it offensive that other people believe in something. So believers should not find it offensive that I don't believe, nor should they find it offensive that others believe in something different. There are still plenty of pagans so the 'old gods' still have a following.

believe in what you want. No-one should tell you that you are an idiot for believing, but if they are clearly thinking it, you just have to accept that.

KansasCityOctopus Sun 24-Mar-13 15:59:33

The bible isnt the word of god.. it might have been originally, but the old testament is stories passed down from word of mouth until someone decided to write them down, and most of the new testament is full of Pauls teachings, which were NOT what Jesus taught, infact if you study it, much of what paul preached is in direct conflict with what Jesus taught.

And before i get shouted down, yes i have read the bible, word for word, cover to cover, several times.

As to the OP's question, people find it offensive because they're bigots, and thats about it.

headinhands Sun 24-Mar-13 16:03:41

But Random how did you decide to believe in what you do as opposed to all the other things people believe in. I assume someone told you about it or did god speak to you directly? How did you decide that what you were hearing was the truth and how did you decided the other beliefs weren't the right path?

D'you know what ... I went away and thought about it, and actually, terms like 'cherry picking' do offend me. And so does the idea that someone on the wind up, which I think you are, buddy.

I have no issue with atheists who feel the whole thing is a load of rubbish, but if you are going to argue that it's rubbish and get into the details of why, it is plain rude to refuse to educate yourself in the very basic details, and to take the piss based on your own ignorant position.

RandomMess Sun 24-Mar-13 16:09:34

I felt led to the Living God, one who is alive and present, none of the other faiths have a living god.

headinhands Sun 24-Mar-13 16:12:16

Yes some people are content with their lives, but perhaps they would have been even more content had they known Christ in their lives - you can't walk 2 similataneous paths in life and compare them.

No but wouldn't you expect to see a fairly hefty difference in general between the people who have the benefit of being in contact with god and those that don't? As far as I know people who have faith aren't particularly discernible in terms of wisdom, contentment and so on. We all seem to smudge along together making the best of the life we have. It's not as if, as a person not in contact with god that I'm spending my life lurching from one disaster to another with no means to cope with any of it. I'm doing the same as you without god. Caring for those around me and the wider community. Not wanting to hurt people and feeling dreadful when I mess up. I don't see any outward difference in the two groups which is remarkable when some claim to have a hotline to, not only the most powerful and wise entity in the universe, but one who happens to love them deeply?

headinhands Sun 24-Mar-13 16:14:34

I felt led to the Living God, one who is alive and present, none of the other faiths have a living god.

I think they might beg to differ! How do you know your god is alive and present? How come people of other faiths claim all the feelings and sense of god's presence as you do? Maybe you've got the wrong god?

RandomMess Sun 24-Mar-13 16:15:31

I think most of us don't harness the power God makes available to us to live differently - myself included

DioneTheDiabolist Sun 24-Mar-13 16:17:03

Or maybe it's all the same god filtered through our individual cognitive biases? I don't know any two people whose faith and relationship with god is the same, regardless of the fact that they follow the same religion or denomination.

Interesting posts about contentment/differences between believers and not ... personally I don't think faith for me is about feeling content. I think some religious people are deeply un-content because of it, too (I'm not that, either).

headinhands Sun 24-Mar-13 16:17:47

Can you tell me about someone who has harnessed the power of god? What benefit does the power afford?

PedroPonyLikesCrisps Sun 24-Mar-13 16:19:10

STUDIES OF STUDENTS

1. Thomas Howells, 1927
Study of 461 students showed religiously conservative students "are, in general, relatively inferior in intellectual ability."

2. Hilding Carlsojn, 1933
Study of 215 students showed that "there is a tendency for the more intelligent undergraduate to be sympathetic toward… atheism."

3. Abraham Franzblau, 1934
Confirming Howells and Carlson, tested 354 Jewish children, aged 10-16. Found a negative correlation between religiosity and IQ as measured by the Terman intelligence test.

4. Thomas Symington, 1935
Tested 400 young people in colleges and church groups. He reported, "There is a constant positive relation in all the groups between liberal religious thinking and mental ability… There is also a constant positive relation between liberal scores and intelligence…"

5. Vernon Jones, 1938
Tested 381 students, concluding "a slight tendency for intelligence and liberal attitudes to go together."

6. A. R. Gilliland, 1940
At variance with all other studies, found "little or no relationship between intelligence and attitude toward god."

7. Donald Gragg, 1942
Reported an inverse correlation between 100 ACE freshman test scores and Thurstone "reality of god" scores.

8. Brown and Love, 1951
At the University of Denver, tested 613 male and female students. The mean test scores of non-believers was 119 points, and for believers it was 100. The non-believers ranked in the 80th percentile, and believers in the 50th. Their findings "strongly corroborate those of Howells."

9. Michael Argyle, 1958
Concluded that "although intelligent children grasp religious concepts earlier, they are also the first to doubt the truth of religion, and intelligent students are much less likely to accept orthodox beliefs."

10. Jeffrey Hadden, 1963
Found no correlation between intelligence and grades. This was an anomalous finding, since GPA corresponds closely with intelligence. Other factors may have influenced the results at the University of Wisconsin.

11. Young, Dustin and Holtzman, 1966
Average religiosity decreased as GPA rose.

12. James Trent, 1967
Polled 1400 college seniors. Found little difference, but high-ability students in his sample group were over-represented.

13. C. Plant and E. Minium, 1967
The more intelligent students were less religious, both before entering college and after 2 years of college.

14. Robert Wuthnow, 1978
Of 532 students, 37 percent of Christians, 58 percent of apostates, and 53 percent of non-religious scored above average on SATs.

15. Hastings and Hoge, 1967, 1974
Polled 200 college students and found no significant correlations.

16. Norman Poythress, 1975
Mean SATs for strongly anti-
religious (1148), moderately anti-religious (1119), slightly anti-religious (1108), and religious (1022).

17. Wiebe and Fleck, 1980
Studied 158 male and female Canadian university students. They reported "nonreligious S's tended to be strongly intelligent" and "more intelligent than religious S's."

RandomMess Sun 24-Mar-13 16:21:37

Head - why do you want to know? I am confident that my belief in God is correct, why do you want me to justify it?

PedroPonyLikesCrisps Sun 24-Mar-13 16:22:43

"I don't know any two people whose faith and relationship with god is the same, regardless of the fact that they follow the same religion or denomination."

Yet I know tons of people who agree on the same scientific facts which gives it some credibility rather than billions of people all thinking slightly differently but deciding to clump together under the same banner so they can enjoy safety in numbers and tax relief......

Wow, those are amazing.

Are there any within living memory (sorry, born in 1984 ...) that replicate the old results, do you know?

I'm interested that many of these studies seem to be looking at US populations, and they're bringing in 'liberal' and 'conservative' as well as 'religious' as categories. Really interesting.

I wonder, too, how easy it'd be to demonstrate whether this is religion itself, or religion without our society? I mean, it's hard to believe (snurk) that intelligent people c. 1400 were all athiests, because it was so much less of an option. Do you think they sort of secretly were? Or that they sort of channelled their brilliance onto theology and so on, just because it was too hard to avoid religion?

pedro - you don't really mean you think scientific facts gain 'credibility' according to the number of people who agree? confused

PedroPonyLikesCrisps Sun 24-Mar-13 16:26:15

No LDR, my point was that when nobody actually agrees on anything, the credibility of the idea is seriously threatened.

Why so?

I'm serious: I don't follow that one at all.

The idea is that God exists and, if you belong to every religion I know of, is unknowable.

Surely it would be a contradiction in terms if everyone then say 'yeah, we all agree on the unknowable God', wouldn't it?

PedroPonyLikesCrisps Sun 24-Mar-13 16:28:00

Although, credibility IS obtained in science when more and more people perform experiments which match the original findings. So in a way, yes, more agreement in results, DOES add credibility, assuming the experiments are performed properly.

That's not really the same thing, though (but obviously, true, and one of the ways science differs from religion).

headinhands Sun 24-Mar-13 16:32:16

Random you made a claim in a public space. Am I not allowed to ask for clarification? Why would it be a problem for you to answer? Either you know someone who has harnessed this power or you don't. How was their life different?

I think comparing religious faith with scientific knowledge is utterly pointless tbh. And if, as a non-believer, your sole argument is "Believers are silly to believe because they can't prove their deity exists" then frankly I don't think much of your position. 

Someone mentioned people who believe in the power of crystals and horoscopes. I view them with the same bafflement that I view people of faith. It makes absolutely no sense to me and seems utterly illogical - but that doesn't mean that I'm right and they're wrong.

I feel like that too - that science and religion are just totally different kinds of thought. But I can see why people do it.

RandomMess Sun 24-Mar-13 16:40:34

Yes you can ask for clarification, I just find it a huge topic and it would mean getting into the realm of people being miraculously healed of things, I can say yes I know people who have been healed etc you could still argue against that and it goes around in circles and it seems pointless?

PedroPonyLikesCrisps Sun 24-Mar-13 16:43:53

You know what, I really want to hear about the miraculous healing stories!! They are always good fun smile

FWIW, my cousin was a nun and she was an extremely calm and very peaceful person who had a really special effect on people. I couldn't ever tell whether that was simply the effect you get from someone who is doing exactly what they wanted to do with their life (because I've felt like this around people who're not religious), or whether it was to do with her being a nun. Who knows? It is fascinating though (to me at least). Even my dad, who's an atheist, commented on it.

I don't know if this is similar to what random is thinking of or not, but it's what struck me when I read your post.

Yes LRD, like comparing cheese with knickers. They are in no way comparable or related (although I bet there's a website somewhere that'll prove me wrong!).

grin

I'm not googling ...

PedroPonyLikesCrisps Sun 24-Mar-13 16:48:33

Here you go Joyful, as is so often the case, Victoria Coren comes up trumps!

grin Go on, I dare you!

I like sexy knickers. sad

I don't think I like Victoria Coren.

headinhands Sun 24-Mar-13 17:05:03

Ah, so it's mainly healings that they can do. How do you explain people from other faiths and no faith sometimes having spontaneous recovery? And then there's the amputated limb thing? How come the statistics on disease can be predicted by wealth/country etc. For example if your god can heal it appears he cares a lot less about people in the developing world than he does in the UK. Wouldn't he even it out a bit?

Notes on those studies..

Correlation is not causation.

Faith does not make people have a lower IQ. Let us also remember that IQ is only a measure of potential, you can have an IQ of 160 but be incapable of independent living. While someone can have an IQ of 100 and be a doctor.

PedroPonyLikesCrisps Sun 24-Mar-13 17:30:15

I never said that religion causes lower IQ. I'm suggesting that those with lower IQs are more likely to have religious tendencies. Not causal either way.

The usefulness of the IQ test can be debated (although I've never heard anyone with a high IQ score saying it's not a good test!) but what can be said is that it's an excellent measurement of literacy, rational thought and mechanical reasoning.

plaingirly Sun 24-Mar-13 17:36:24

I have a reasonably high IQ and I think it is pretty much useless. I was tested at school so have probably become dimmer since then.

Well, guilty as charged, my IQ has been tested three times (dyslexia assessment, not vanity), and each time it's come out lower. I thought it was a crap test even when it was coming out high, though. smile

I think what I have a slight issue with is this, though: you're saying you think people with low IQs tend to have religious tendencies. The implication of this is to suggest that, amongst the people on this thread who're defending religion, a fair few of us probably have low IQs. Which we may.

What I don't understand is, if this were really true, why would you talk to us the way you do?

I know a woman who is of pretty low intelligence (needs assisted living, etc.). When I used to see her often, I would on occasion try to explain to her gently that x or y that she believed she needed to do wasn't actually necessary, because she was getting caught up in it. But I wouldn't start out by saying 'it's all a load of bullshit, lol, loads of people who believe what you believe have really low IQs, it's not credible at all'. Because that would be a crappy thing to do to someone who has low intelligence and knows it, but who is also a human being with emotions.

Now, I suspect in reality that you wouldn't do that either.

It feels to me as if, for all you're saying, it's not actually that you believe religious people often have low IQs - it's that you'd like to think they did, because it would make it so much easier to rationalize your dislike of religion and/or the fact that seemingly normal people believe in stuff you feel to be bullshit.

Btw, I have ishoos with IQ tests being a good measure of 'rational thought'. That's not really true - I mean, seriously, it's flawed, that's not me saying that to make a point about religion.

There's bits of the IQ test where I score badly, not because I can't do what the test is asking, but because the test requires a certain minimum of visual memory, and I don't have it. I know - because I've been told by people administering these tests - that if you have some extremely low scores in some areas, that will inevitably impact on other scores that are supposed to be independent. It is phenomenally difficult to design a perfect test.

PedroPonyLikesCrisps Sun 24-Mar-13 17:53:45

I believe what the studies show, which is that there is a general trend of lower IQ and higher religiosity. I'm not saying that religionists can't have high IQs and I'm not saying that people with lower IQs are necessarily religious in nature, but there is a correlation between the two which has been shown in a not insignificant number of studies.

It has nothing to do with how easy the argument is. I also don't tend to start conversation with an exchange of IQs, nor do I make an assumption on someone's IQ based on their behaviour. However, it is a test which is designed and used to measure intelligence (or at least some kinds of intelligence) which definitely correlates with what we know about smart people (e.g. Einstein had a high IQ) and it would appear that, in general, those with higher IQs are less likely to have faith. Now, I know that the IQ test is not the only way of measuring how smart (or not) someone is and certainly people with low IQs can be excellent at other skills, but it does test some fairly fundamental elements of brain development such as pattern recognition.

Yeeees, I see that, pedro, but I'm slightly wondering about the way you use that very out-of-date 'evidence' in this particular debate, is all.

I didn't know Einstein had a high IQ, I admit. I had no idea he'd even been tested. blush But, I certainly agree it's not an awful test ... just saying, there needs to be acknowledgement of the issues with it, rather than blind faith in its use.

BertieBotts Sun 24-Mar-13 17:56:56

I am not religious.

But surely this argument "Well you can't prove it" and "I just know is a stupid answer"

There are lots of things, that, as humans we can't prove and we just "know". How do you know that you love your husband, your children, your parents? You can't prove it - you just know it. How do you know if you're straight or gay? It's a feeling. I don't think that belief in god or faith is any less valid.

PedroPonyLikesCrisps Sun 24-Mar-13 17:56:56

"There's bits of the IQ test where I score badly, not because I can't do what the test is asking, but because the test requires a certain minimum of visual memory, and I don't have it."

That's the point of the test. I didn't get full marks on my A Levels because I couldn't answer some of the questions, but I don't take issue with the exam because I was lacking somewhere. I accept that this was my ability on that particular test.

pedro, no, that's not the point of the test. I'm sure of that, because that is what people who research how IQ tests work reckon, too.

If I couldn't manage a A Level essay because I couldn't hold a pen, it would be a poor test, because the exam is not trying to determine the level of my manual dexterity.

PedroPonyLikesCrisps Sun 24-Mar-13 18:00:31

"There are lots of things, that, as humans we can't prove and we just "know". How do you know that you love your husband, your children, your parents? You can't prove it - you just know it. How do you know if you're straight or gay? It's a feeling. I don't think that belief in god or faith is any less valid."

That's just wrong, if I wanted to, I could measure my neural responses when I come into contact with my wife and son and prove that there are certain pools of activity consistent with the components of attachment. It's completely different to belief in god.

Seriously ... if you are going to come into this arguing that science is superior, you probably need to bone up on how science (and how testing) actually works, because it is nowhere close to as simple as you seem to believe.

The idea that a test is something in which you can have blind faith, without questioning accuracy, is - I would suggest - remarkably naive for someone who doubts blind faith in other areas.

Are these the same neural responses you can measure in dead salmon, by any chance? wink

BertieBotts Sun 24-Mar-13 18:05:52

There might be neural responses which relate to faith too though - has anyone ever done that as a study? I've never heard of any study which claims to prove whether someone is in love or not.

PedroPonyLikesCrisps Sun 24-Mar-13 18:05:54

The IQ test measures some very specific things, again, I'm not saying it's perfect, but it's one of the best measures we have of relative intelligence in humans.

People who can't do well on tests will almost invariably take issue with it and claim that there are other, better ways of measuring whatever it is that they are measuring. I've done it myself. But we have to make do with imperfect tests as a guideline because they are the best we have.

But LRD, what are the visual memory parts that come into play? I can't remember anything like that in any IQ test I've ever taken which wasn't directly related to testing memory (genuinely curious).

PedroPonyLikesCrisps Sun 24-Mar-13 18:13:31

"There might be neural responses which relate to faith too though - has anyone ever done that as a study?"

Yes they have. Although I'm not sure what you would expect to be tested or what results you would hope to get which would prove god exists (which is exactly why it's not the same as love or homosexuality). You could (and can) show that individuals engaged in prayer use the same brain function as when interacting with other humans. So you can perhaps demonstrate that a religious person at least believes that they are communicating with god.

Well, my point only was that it's not perfect, you notice.

I'm not taking issue because I don't do well on IQ tests. Nor am I defending religion because I am really stupid.

I do think the way you're arguing is a bit ... well, sneaky, isn't it?

Plenty of people take issue with IQ tests without being stupid, and indeed without having any vested interest in them. Plenty of intelligent people are religious. I don't doubt that the reverse is true, but I think you're bringing these things up in order to try to trick us in order to suggest people who disagree with you are less intelligent, in lieu of a real argument. That's a bit off, surely?

Visual memory - I'll check, but I'm mostly passing on what I've been told when they tested me (you tend to find you pay attention to the test, not what you're doing). But after the first half hour of each, I had visual-aura migraine, and it is surprisingly hard to read and concentrate with those, so that was the big thing. It'd be nice if they could spread the test over several days, but they can't, and if they could, it wouldn't be accurate compared against someone else's.

The idea of the test isn't to see how susceptible I am to thinks like that, but that's how it ends up working, do you see? Lots of tests have elements like that. I believe it is extremely difficult to get accurate results for people whose IQs are very low, as well.

PedroPonyLikesCrisps Sun 24-Mar-13 18:30:03

"Plenty of people take issue with IQ tests without being stupid, and indeed without having any vested interest in them. Plenty of intelligent people are religious. I don't doubt that the reverse is true, but I think you're bringing these things up in order to try to trick us in order to suggest people who disagree with you are less intelligent, in lieu of a real argument. That's a bit off, surely?"

Nothing sneaky about it, I've merely passed on some evidence regarding the issue of the correlation. They are not my tests and if they said differently, I wouldn't be trying to make any point on the matter. I agree that the test is not perfect and that some people may have problems taking the test reliably, but this isn't about single individuals, it's a general trend globally. Similar tests have been performed the world over and got similar results. It is in fact the USA which have the biggest outlier in terms of their overall score as they have an unusually high (and I don't mean very, very high, just higher than the global average) IQ vs their religiosity. There is definitely something unique about the USA in that they are unusually religious in a number of other categories too, including global development, education availability, relative salary, etc.

If you say so. I do think it is rather sneaky, though. You don't seem to have an argument against religion itself, only rather shaky data to imply (tenuously) that, in the past, there may have been some correlation between some religious people and low intelligence (as tested by an imperfect test).

If that is all you have to say, fair enough. But I am surprised that you advance the 'science' without displaying the same rigorous scepticism you apply to religion - until pushed for it, at which point you admit the limitations. Do you see why that makes me a little suspicious?

Surely if you are a sceptic, you are capable of proper interrogation across the board? Or, you are grinding an axe.

I could be getting it quite wrong, but that's the impression I got.

BertieBotts Sun 24-Mar-13 18:39:13

"So you can perhaps demonstrate that a religious person at least believes that they are communicating with god."

Then surely brain tests which display attachment only demonstrate that that person believes they love the other person.

Some things you just can't measure with science no matter how hard you try.

PedroPonyLikesCrisps Sun 24-Mar-13 18:42:38

If you can tell me how I could present that particular piece of evidence without insinuating what you are suggesting, then I'm all ears. It just happens that this is exactly what the studies are measuring. Sorry if it's not what you wanted to hear. I understand the limitations of the test, I also know that it works to enough of a degree over a massive population (over which it has been used) to be genuinely useful. No, it's not perfect, very few things are, but it does work. Those individuals we consider to be highly intelligent tend to have high IQs, studies show that leading scientists tend to have high IQs, Lawyers tend to have high IQs, Surgeons tend to have high IQs and, as it happens, studies also show that religionists tend to have lower IQs. That's just what the studies show and I'm presenting that as evidence to back up what I assume was my original claim somewhat earlier in the thread.

I would think the way to do it would be to apply the same rigorous scepticism (which is normal with science) to science, as you do to faith.

I'm sure you do understand the limitations of the test, but my point is, you're not admitting to these things, and it does tend to come across as if you're intending to pull the wool, really. You must know that the point you made about A Levels was both condescending and irrelevant. I know you know, because you say you understand the limitations of tests, and I believe you. Why then make that point, if not to put others down?

I'm sure this is all unintentional, but do you see where I'm coming from?

BB - FWIW, I am very curious to know what tests could possibly demonstrate that someone loves someone else. Or even, what reliable tests could correlate brain activity with love (cf. dead salmon).

Surely, all these tests tell us is the brain's activity, not the human interpretation of that activity that results in emotion? In the same way, I don't believe it would be possible to isolate 'faith' and test is in the same way you'd test for chemicals. As puddle says, we're comparing things not on the same page when we do. IMO.

Btw, what you said upthread was 'There is no denying though, that there is a direct negative correlation globally between IQ and religiosity.'

Yet you have not begun to demonstrate such a thing. And indeed, you surely accept that it would not be scientific to claim there is 'no denying' of such evidence as you have advanced. It would indeed be possible to deny such evidence. It may be (and I don't know) that more recent studies have done so. Or it may be that people have confirmed the older studies in more recent work. But these things are not undeniable, and I don't see how they could be so.

PedroPonyLikesCrisps Sun 24-Mar-13 19:00:33

"Surely, all these tests tell us is the brain's activity, not the human interpretation of that activity that results in emotion?"

That's exactly right, and then you do this lots of times and you also test the subjects in other ways to determine their affiliation with things they love and things they don't and make correlations between the brain activity and what you know about the individuals.

As subjective as you feel this might be, theories have been put into practice where scientists have stimulated certain parts of the brain they believed to be responsible for certain things and actually initiated precise responses in their test subjects. It's a fascinating subject if you look into it and the science behind it is genuinely incredible.

PedroPonyLikesCrisps Sun 24-Mar-13 19:04:02

And back on the IQ side. I've told you, I'm aware of the limitations of the test, but I don't feel that those limitations are relevant in such a wide ranging study of metadata because it is reliable enough and not just someone's belief that it works.

FWIW, not all the studies of this kind use the IQ test, some have used other forms of intelligence tests which, I'll say up front, will all have similar limitations, however, they also get the same results.

Yes, I'm familiar with the way the tests work. I think it's a really interesting area of study (dead salmon notwithstanding, which is a bit of a joke).

The science behind that particular bit is certainly incredibly - in the funny way. smile

I'm sure there are also bits where people haven't been left with egg on their faces, and I don't mean to mock, only to say that I do believe this is a branch of science that is very much in its infancy. And to say there's a big difference between understanding brain architecture (which is amazing), and understand what big concepts like love, or faith, actually are. That's something I don't think any current test could possibly show.

Fair enough about the IQ tests. I am aware you told me - when I asked you.

But you see, that's my point.

You cite the science as if it were cut and dried. We both know that it is more complex than that. Now, when you talk about faith, you are sceptical and interrogative. But when you talk about science, you were - at least initally - keen to make out it's all simple. "There's no denying'' ... well, yes, obviously there must be, right?

I'm asking why you'd apply such very different attitudes to science and faith? It's strange, surely?

PedroPonyLikesCrisps Sun 24-Mar-13 19:08:25

As it happens there are experiments which do exactly that. Not saying that this is the best example but just one I found quickly from looking.

My main issue with the studies Pedro cited is that the samples are so small - the largest was around 1400 people. You can't possibly claim any kind of statistically significant correlation with such small samples.

No, that is not what that study is doing. Honestly, it's not.

puddle - would you not think that it'd be true, though? That there was a correlation between intelligence and religiosity in, say, 1930s America? I would think there would be.

PedroPonyLikesCrisps Sun 24-Mar-13 19:30:34

My apologies, I was asked about intra-country stats, that's all I could find that was readily available to quote without digging too much and spending all day on it! There are plenty more stats which cover larger populations and show the same trends.

LRD tbh I know very little about 1930s America! Sorry. The idea that religious belief is correlated with lower intelligence just doesn't sit well with me though. Probably because everyone I know who has faith is also very intelligent (I know, anecdote doesn't equal data etc smile).

PedroPonyLikesCrisps Sun 24-Mar-13 19:44:19

Joyful, how do you measure their intelligence?

Their conversation, jobs, level of qualifications, the fact that several are members of MENSA etc.

Oh, lord, neither do I joyful!

I am also uncomfortable with the idea that religious belief is correlated with lower intelligence.

But I most certainly believe that 1) it might have been in a specific time and place and, 2) it might have appealed to the unconscious biases of researchers to find it did, in a specific time and place.

It seems to me that 1930s America was a time when most people were assumed to be religious. I doubt anyone spent much time trying to explain to people with limited intelligence, why Church might not be all that. sad I mean, they didn't spend a huge amount of time educating people with learning disabilities! Equally (though it's less sad), I would expect that, in a society where most people accept a concept, bright people will challenge it.

I don't think that has a bearing on how true the concept is. It might be an indicator - but it might not.

The intelligence of the person who believes in a concept is no measure of the truth of that concept. That is very, very, very basic logic. If you think it is a measure of the truth of that concept, I'd submit you're not understand logic, which is precisely what is being suggested about people of faith here.

In short, it's an argument that shoots itself in the foot, IMO.

PedroPonyLikesCrisps Sun 24-Mar-13 19:49:49

However well it sits with you, there is a strong case for it being true and not much evidence against it. In fact, part of the problem with religion is that people prefer what sits nicely with them and try to avoid things which they don't really want to accept. But it is fundamental to scientific research that you follow the evidence, not the heart. I don't really like what these studies show either if I'm honest. But, consider this, intelligent people tend to associate themselves with other intelligent people. So if you are intelligent, you are very likely to have friends who also are. If most of the people with faith that you know are intelligent, then that's great (and it says something about you too), but that's a very isolated account in an intelligent area of a Western country.

Btw, I should say I do think there are loads of really strong arguments why people shouldn't be convinced of their faith, and certainly why people shouldn't be convinced their specific brand of faith is better than another ... but this isn't one of them. To me.

pedro - but you're not following the evidence, are you? confused

That's the issue here.

PedroPonyLikesCrisps Sun 24-Mar-13 19:51:53

Also, we're not just talking about 1930s America by the way, studies are continuously done and run well into the 21st century.

HolofernesesHead Sun 24-Mar-13 20:17:11

Interesting conversation. I am always slightly sceptial about comments like Pedro's about continuous studies of religion and IQ (i.e. 'most Christians are thick'), until I actually read the studies for myself. Just call me a doubting Thomas!

Oh, sorry, I was thinking of the studies you cited - that's why I asked about others.

But I'm sure you're right. If you think about it for a moment, is it not what you'd expect? confused

If we lived in societies where everyone believed the moon was made of green cheese, you would expect that some intelligent people would question - and would be taught and expected to question - and, sadly, less intelligent people would not?

That has no bearing on whether the moon is or is not made of green cheese. It is simply an illustration of how intelligence and social conditioning work.

To me, the fact that pedro (and others) apply the same sort of unquestioning faith to 'science' that once, most people applied to religion makes me wonder: is there some kind of fundamental human need to cling to something in this way?

PedroPonyLikesCrisps Sun 24-Mar-13 20:52:12

Science is not about faith. It's about testable evidence, there's a huge difference. And I don't have an unquestioning faith to science. There's a lot of bollocks out there too, like the MMR scare and homeopathy, for example, but as long as you can see the experimental evidence, you can identify those experiments with flaws in their method.

Yes, of course - did anyone suggest that science was about faith? confused

I didn't.

But I did suggest your attitude was at odds with what you're claiming.

If you think science is about testable evidence (and it is), where is the questioning on this thread? You aren't questioning evidence until people (including me) push you to do so ... and even then you seem strangely reluctant to question, and keen to accept things at face value, on something that - forgive me - looks awfully like a trust (I won't call it faith if you don't like) in science.

To me, I'm afraid that trust is difficult to share, rather in the way that it is difficult to share faith I don't feel.

If you had a scientific argument - or any other argument - that was directly relevant to the question, I cannot help feeling you would have more support for it than this trustful lack of questioning.

I should go and do some work ...

It just seems to me that there is a really basic, important issue here.

Some people are saying that if you're scientific, then the way you know things are true, is because there are studies to show this. Others are saying that if you're religious (specifically Christian), you should believe in the literal truth of the Bible.

Both of these views seem to me to avoid the actual question in the OP, which isn't asking 'what texts do you look at to justify your beliefs', but rather why do people believe as they do?

A scientist who is asking why he or she is convinced by scientific studies should be interrogating those studies, using all the tools science and reason provide.

A religious person should be using all the tools of his or her faith.

If we only concentrate on 'well, this is what the text tells me and I believe it without question', then aren't we all giving exactly the same kind of justification, and isn't it rather shallow?

PedroPonyLikesCrisps Mon 25-Mar-13 05:24:14

Not at all, I question science and research all the time. The evidence in terms of IQ is a little different because it's actually more of a social study than a scientific experiment per se. But you are making an assumption that because I haven't written a paper and pasted it here that I haven't looked at the evidence.

The big difference is that I made a statement and then I backed it up with some evidence. When I hear religionists come out with crap like "I just know" they offer nothing of evidence whatsoever. The answer is always "well, it says this in the bible", or "I know someone who got better from being sick", it literally means nothing.

However, the lovely thing with science is that you can take someone's experiment and actually go and do it yourself. And people do. And that is how it gains credibility. So in actual fact, trusting the results of an experiment which is published in a respectable scientific journal, whilst not fool proof, is a far more reliable thing than believing a text written thousands of years ago that contains no method for testing.

Gingerdodger Mon 25-Mar-13 08:15:15

Reflecting on the studies above which suggest that there may be a tendency for people of 'lower intelligence' to be religious I cannot see that that is necessarily a problem if it is true.

Jesus was quite clear in his teachings that he was there for the poor, the humble, those who society shunned etc so it wouldn't surprise me if this was true. Particularly as 'intelligence' is so hard to measure, takes so many forms and is representative not only if our capacity to learn but also our upbringing and education.

So, even if this is true I would see this as outward manifestation of Jesus's teachings rather than a sign that 'clever' people reject religion due to their deeper level of thinking, but again that is because I see religious views as rooted in faith rather than being driven or curtailed by our ability to be think. No matter how much I critically think about it my faith remains with me.

Gingerdodger Mon 25-Mar-13 09:00:54

To think not to be think. No matter how much I critically think my phone inserts random words! grin

PedroPonyLikesCrisps Mon 25-Mar-13 09:13:18

And that's a perfectly valid point. Indeed the IQ test may just happen to be a good test of someone's scientific reason. Perhaps there's a test for religious intelligence we could use. No doubt that would find that those who do well are more likely to be religious.

All I was showing was that there is a negative correlation between IQ and religiosity. That's the fact, how you interpret that evidence is open to debate.

My personal interpretation of it is that those who score highly on the IQ test have a more logical mind, they are better at recognising patterns, better at manipulating 3D objects in their mind, better at lateral thinking than those who don't score as highly. This is based on the content of the test and the tasks which the testee is asked to perform.

What I draw from that is that if you apply sound logic and reasoning to your thoughts on god and religion, you are more likely to dismiss them as concepts by which you would allow your life to be controlled.

But that's just my interpretation. The facts remain.

pedro - I'm not making any assumptions. I was questioning the way you put forward your views on, respectively, science and faith, so the way you put your views forward is pretty important, and the things you undoubtedly know, but choose not to say, are kinda important too, right?

Science does not work because 'you can take someone's experiment and actually go and do it yourself'. It would indeed be lovely if that were true, but of course it is utter nonsense. Studies have to be carried out by experts in controlled conditions. What you are describing is anecdote.

This misrepresentation of how science works is actually quite important IMO, because you either don't know how science works - but have a trusting faith in its power for some inexplicable reason - or you know, but choose to provide a rather dubious account of it, because you feel it will be more rhetorically convincing.

And surely, trusting faith and rhetoric are what you're accusing religious people of employing?

Your argument is shifting slightly every time someone takes issue with a point - at which time you say oh, yes, I knew that, honest, I just didn't feel the whole truth was really important here, what with religion being a load of crap. But that invalidates your whole argument, that you are advancing a rational attack on religion.

It always surprises me, btw, how many people (religious and not) have an extremely low opinion of what scientists do, despite claiming to support them. It's as if they think scientists are manual works down the fact mine, bringing up solid lumps of fact ore, doing a job the rest of us could easily replicate if we chose.

DioneTheDiabolist Mon 25-Mar-13 11:29:20

Thanks for those studies Pedro.

PedroPonyLikesCrisps Mon 25-Mar-13 12:20:08

Now you're just being silly. The point is that when a proper experiment is done, the methods and materials, etc. are written down so you can see how the experiment is performed. The results are also provided as is the conclusion. This you can use to a degree to ascertain whether it was a good experiment. It also means that, should you have the facility, you could go and perform the same experiment yourself. Not all experiments are so far beyond everyone you know. There are plenty of simple experiments which you can do at home.

Now, with the more complex ones which you won't do for yourself, I can be confident that the results and the experiment are rigorously checked, especially when the result suggests a massive change in thinking. You might remember recently that a group of scientists had measured particles exceeding the speed of light. After much checking it was determined that there was a problem with the measuring equipment. But, you'll have also noticed that the scientific world didn't all jump around cheering, they knuckled down and examined the evidence to check if it was really true.

Even if you can't do these experiments for yourself, if you understand the science, you could always go and look at the results for yourself. This is EXACTLY how science works. I also notice that you've run out of all of your own ideas and have resorted to picking holes, which incidentally, is EXACTLY how religion works.

No, I'm not being silly. It is a crucial point. Science is not about everyone pitching in and doing experiments for themselves, or advancing anecdotes.

I know why it's an attractive idea that we could all verify experiments for ourselves. I think that is a huge part of the appeal of learning science, isn't it? But unless we are trained, we can't actually do anything very complicated.

It is - IMO - crucial to acknowledge that science is complicated, and requires us to be constantly interrogating what we take as 'fact'. I honestly didn't take from your posts that you were doing this. I feel that this presentation of science is both falsifying what scientists do, and a cheap argument against faith, because it's based on a simplified image of science.

I'm sorry you don't agree, and I absolutely accept it's your right not to agree, but please don't tell me it's 'silly'. If you have an argument, you need to make one.

I'm 'picking holes' - as you put it - because I think these are really important things. If interrogating and not accepting things on face value is 'how religion works', why is that a bad thing?

PedroPonyLikesCrisps Mon 25-Mar-13 12:48:48

You and I might not pitch in, but scientists do. Before a theory can really gain any ground, it has to be corroborated by other scientists. And, like I said, all of the proper experiments are available for anyone to read up on to see how they were done and look at the results.

If you don't understand the experiments, then I guess you'll just have to have a bit of faith(!)

Anyway, the point you seem to be making is that I don't write EVERYTHING about EVERYTHING in a single post, we'll, I could say the same about every single post on Mumsnet, it's a ludicrous statement and one very typically made by a cornered religionist.

Btw, if you're interested in my ideas, or if the OP is, I would love to share them, I just didn't realize you were interested - if you repeat the question?

I do genuinely think it is fascinating why some people have faith, others don't, and lots of us seem to have faith but also believe other faiths may be right too. I would love to talk more about it, but if we're constantly talking about 'why religion is wrong and science is right', I think we need to do that properly, instead of simply listing insults. It must get a bit boring after a while.

pedro - I think we are talking cross purposes.

I am interested in why you are presenting a particular, rather simplified and twisted, view of how science works, because I think the way you misrepresent science has a lot to say about why you are so very anti-religion.

You are interested in insulting religious people and advancing no argument.

Perhaps instead, we could start again?

PedroPonyLikesCrisps Mon 25-Mar-13 13:27:42

A gracious handshake moment has occurred!

I think part of the problem is that it is very difficult to properly cover everything you want to say in a short post. I guess that's why many, many books have been written on this subject.

I do understand the scientific method very well, I also understand religion pretty well too and I've made a point of learning about it because what's the point in trying to debate if you have no knowledge. I'm also not simply insulting religious people. I apologise if that's how it came across. It can be very frustrating though, when someone just quotes chapter and verse (so to speak) as fact and evidence when it quite clearly isn't. That's the reason why atheists get so heated, because it can be like talking to a brick wall sometimes (not suggesting this conversation has been like that, but many are).

I must admit, I forget what the argument was in the first place......so yes, let's start over!

I'm sure that's true, that it's hard to cover everything you want to say.

All I can say is ... it seemed to me that the way in which you were arguing was important, that's all. I promise it wasn't nit picking for the sake of it. It was me trying to get across that I do feel there is something important going on.

I don't think I have quoted chapter, or verse, or cited anything as fact or evidence, though.

The one thing I do think is an absolute truth, that I'm happy to put my hand up to, is that faith is not rational, nor does it claim to be. I really think that's the point here.

All of the explanations people put forward for why they have faith - like, say, the one about oxygen - well, to my mind they are analogies, they're not 'evidence' and they couldn't be. In the same way, that study about brain imaging and love is not trying to speculate on what love is, but only on how its actions might be detected in the brain. Don't get me wrong, that is absolutely fascinating in itself! It really is. But I think it's really important to keep in mind the differences.

If you are looking for rational evidence of God, or of the rightness of one faith over another, IMO, you will never find it. There is absolutely no point looking.

But to take a really small example ... is it maybe a bit like, say, the fact I love a bunch of flowers on the table? I could claim I like them because the scent is known to have a calming effect, lowering my heartrate, or because the colour is restful and raises this or that hormone, or whatever. And you could argue back that the flowers will most certainly die soon, and they're giving off pollen that is a known irritant, and the leaves of this particular one can cause toxic reactions, etc. etc.. But surely, if we had that argument, both of us would kinda know that it's a funny argument to have, because TBH we know that it basically comes down to something very simple: some folks like a bunch of flowers, others don't, and neither can explain the emotion behind it all, really.

thegreatestMadHairDayinhistory Mon 25-Mar-13 15:58:57

To answer the OP: I believe that there is in the person of Jesus Christ a unique and compelling representation of who God is. I think that his life, ministry, death and resurrection have a depth of explanation to the human condition that surpasses anything else I have explored.

I don't think all religions are just a 'different way up the mountain', and actually think that's a fairly arrogant view in itself - basically surmising that all those religions are in fact wrong in their claims to be unique or the only way. If I took that view, I'd need to widen it to say all worldviews are just another explanation for why we are here and who God is/isn't - I'd have to validate Pol Pot and Amin as much as the ABC and Chief Rabbi. Or I could say that only some worldviews/religions lead to the same thing, but again that would be claiming something out of intolerance and arrogance - how could I say that some do but not all? So people may think I am arrogant to believe that Jesus is the way to God - but I could say atheists are arrogant to say nothing is the 'way to God'.

But in saying that I believe Jesus has pointed the best way to God, this does not mean that I am condemning everyone who is not a 'christian' to 'hell'. Not at all. Part of my experience with God is that God is just, the most just of the just.

I think that religions are too different to be lightheartedly lumped together in a kind of relativistic soup. As the poet Steve Turner puts it, 'we believe that all religions are basically the same, at least the one we read was. They all believe in goodness. They only differ on matters of creation, sin, heaven, hell, God and salvation.'

And so therefore I have come to think that there is one way which has the answers to the awfulness of the human condition, the broken world and broken us. No other religion - to me- comes close to the ultimate freedom we can find in reconciliation with God through Christ - in turning from living for ourselves to living for a different purpose.

And yes, I'm more than aware that none of these words are sufficient to convince anyone of anything, and that great big holes can be picked in them for the purpose of trying to prove I'm wrong/deluded/thick/arrogant. But the OP asked grin

PedroPonyLikesCrisps Mon 25-Mar-13 18:43:44

You qualified your whole post by suggesting that it's full of holes to be picked at... which is true, but I was especially interested in the way that you say atheists can be called arrogant for saying there's no way to God...... How is that arrogant?

Also, genuine question because I hear it a lot and I don't understand what it means. "Find reconciliation with God through Christ", what does that mean? One is a supernatural force and the other is a (probably fictional but for argument's sake we'll assume he was real) guy who has been dead for nearly 2000 years. I don't understand why you should have to go through the one to get to the other when, if anything, god is the one who can hear you.

'I don't think all religions are just a 'different way up the mountain', and actually think that's a fairly arrogant view in itself - basically surmising that all those religions are in fact wrong in their claims to be unique or the only way.'

But all religions don't claim to be the only way. Lots of religions claim that other religions also have a point, don't they?

'If I took that view, I'd need to widen it to say all worldviews are just another explanation for why we are here and who God is/isn't - I'd have to validate Pol Pot and Amin as much as the ABC and Chief Rabbi.'

confused Why? I don't see that at all. Surely, saying you don't think your faith is the only possible right one is not at all the same thing as saying every possible faith or cult is equally valid. They're clearly not.

LRD I would be very interested in a thread to discuss faith as a phenomenon, I find religion and theology fascinating. Not sure how you'd stop it degenerating into a believe vs non-believers bunfight though; these threads always seem to no matter what the OP is. hmm

I'm really sorry. I didn't mean to derail it, and I can see that I did. blush

Sorry.

I wasn't getting at you, sorry if it came across that way! Oops. blush

DioneTheDiabolist Tue 26-Mar-13 10:38:57

Pedro, what was the reasoning behind your learning about religion?

greencolorpack Tue 26-Mar-13 10:47:01

I don't think the comparison is offensive, it makes perfect sense to wonder why you pick this religion when there are others on offer.

If you didn't think your religion was true it would make it difficult to motivate yourself to follow it, that to me is why syncretism is problematic. You kind of have to believe it is true or else why bother at all?

I am convinced of the truth because I made that leap of faith that meant I put my trust in God being there and that was a long time ago and he has been there ever since.

I know that argument won't sway you. I don't like arguing so you can disagree as much as you like.

Not at all - but I realized I'd done it when you said, is all.

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