Advanced search

To genuinely wonder how or why anyone believes in God?

(1000 Posts)
ChaosNeverRains Thu 15-Mar-18 10:13:26

Genuine question.

I was until fairly recently I think probably agnostic rather than anything else, having been brought up in a very church oriented school where the emphasis was all on sin and retribution and the need to worship this higher being and that if you lived every day then it was through God’s will - you get the picture. Until recently though I was prepared to believe that perhaps there was a higher being out there somewhere, and even now I can see that some could believe that there is a higher being out there or that there was at some point.

But what I don’t understand is why people seem to believe that there is a God who looks over them individually when everything points to that not being the case. People talk about the power of prayer when actually no such power exists. The man dying of cancer is no more or less likely to die if you prayed for him than if you didn’t. I know of some very devout Christians who have fallen victim to the most horrific illnesses and where the church have genuinely believed that praying for them means God will heal them, which of course he hasn’t. But when they die those same people are thought to be up there eternally worshipping the lord. Why?

I can see that a belief in God might somehow make people feel comforted that this isn’t the only life we will have, but what I can’t see is that a God who allows the amount of bad and suffering that goes on in the world, even on an individual level should be so worshipped. If a father treated his children in the way that the supposed Heavenly Father treats his, no-one would want anything to do with him. Yet worshippers of a God go to all and any lengths to ensure that they continue to do things in the name of the father and to not upset him for fear of the retribution they will receive.

I’m not one for dismissing belief as believing in the fairies and what-not (with the possible exception of the dinosaur deniers,) but I am becoming more and more curious as to how it is that people can believe in this individual God and actually believe that it is true when there is no evidence to suggest anything of the sort.

PS: I am talking about any and all religion not just one. My thought process being that if there were one God it would be the same God whether you are Christian muslim or Jewish but that the scriptures are defined by humans to make for the individual religions.

Oooeeeerrrrrindeed Thu 15-Mar-18 10:15:52

You can't just do the whole one god, different books thing. It is massively dismissive of cultural aspects.

RoadToRivendell Thu 15-Mar-18 10:18:26

People talk about the power of prayer when actually no such power exists. The man dying of cancer is no more or less likely to die if you prayed for him than if you didn’t

Actually, that's not true. People who know that someone is praying for them actually benefit from it.

Back to your question: I suppose it's because some people still believe that the world is a mysterious and beautiful place.

Camomila Thu 15-Mar-18 10:20:06

To play devil's advocate...
Worldwide most people believe in God, I do not think I'm cleverer than most people, so I don't think there's anything illogical in believing in God.

For myself I like Pascals Wager, I can never really 'know' but I think I benefit from religion (liberal/pick and mix Catholic) so I carry on.

I think that all the different religions Gods are human interpretations and if there is a God/force/something it's likely beyond our comprehension.

Purplerain101 Thu 15-Mar-18 10:20:35

I’m not religious but my mum is and her belief is that we are reborn many different times and go through completely different experiences (some horrible and some amazing) each time to learn different lessons. Once we have learnt all the lessons then we go to the afterlife. I don’t believe this at all but it makes her happy to think about things that way so I leave her to it

QuiQuaiQuod Thu 15-Mar-18 10:25:02

I know what you mean.

I belive there is a God, the Creator of the universe, I believe in Jesus and the Holy Spirit, and I and DC are blessed in many ways, yet mostly not.

Compared to an earthly parent, as you rightly did, what father would see their child treated and killed so brutally, even knowing hed resurrect? no parent want their child to suffer.

10 people have terminal cancer . prayers are said for all of them. 2 recover. Miracle. But what about the other 8? were they so bad they deserved to die? What made these 2 different?

and no parent would 'test' their childrens loyalty or love for them (Book of Job, Old testament.) hate that book. God takes away his Kids yet at the end gives him more. no 'new' kids' make up for the other ones. WTF? what was their sin?

But just as earthly parents sometimes favour one kid above another, i cant help thin king, and I hate thinking this, that God does the same. he has his favourites. some are blessed more than others yet Ive seen for myself so called Christiand who call themselves that yet deny it by their lifestyles, there are others -religius or not- who live moral ethical decent lives yet are persecuted in some shape or form.

and if God is a God of healing, why are there so many disabled people in chronic pain all the time? (Me and DC for starters)

why did he create deformed disabled knowing they wouldnt be able to treated properly in this world?

why let Hitler/Bin Laden/Gengis Khan and all other despots be born, knowing full well what theyd do?

And if the Jews are the chosen few and seemingly loved by God more than non Jews, why are Jews so persecuted and allow them to be ,
especially during the war , treated that way?

Same for Black people and the slave trade, Oh I could go on.

Im ranting cos we are going through a terrible time and Gods just not listening.

basically I totally agree with you.

MedicinalGin Thu 15-Mar-18 10:27:50

A very loved family member of mine died from cancer just last week. I have been sort of toying with the idea of Christianity ever since I had my children but never felt I quite ‘got’ it- for me, there have always been doubts just as you have expressed. However, thoughout my relative’s awful illness, I have found myself praying for him and I still do now. The penny has dropped for me with regard to prayer during his illness- it feels like an active, useful thing to do where practically, I knew that there has been nothing I have actually been usefully able to do. I had never really comprehended that before. There is still a part of me that thinks surely that he has just ceased to exist and has gone completely. However, through prayer and a sort of emerging faith, I can still feel a connection to him and that’s hugely comforting to me. I find it so much better to believe that he has gone to a place where is no longer suffering and be free of his illness. I think that’s a massive part of organised religion and why people can believe in a God- it enables you to find solace and solidarity and comfort when terrible, frightening and uncontrollable things surround you. Sorry if this is a ramble - as you can probs tell I am still very muddled by the whole thing! I am hoping someone can be along soon and post some wiser, more coherent thoughts.

Herbalteahippie Thu 15-Mar-18 10:28:40

I think people just pray just to get out of doing anything practical. I don’t understand why people believe in god either!

God is just dog backwards.

MercedesDeMonteChristo Thu 15-Mar-18 10:29:13

I think it has a lot to do with comfort - for individuals, I know one of my friends who had a horrific few years sought solice abd guidance in her faith and her belief in God and I do believe that it helped her. I also agree that it can bring comfort to know people are praying for you.

If I had to label myself I would say I am an agnostic cultural Muslim. I don't turn to God in times of need or seek comfort but I enjoy the sense of community and cultural aspects. Weirdly I pray on aeroplanes - always - but I pray to my grandmother who was religious and even though I don't quite believe in Heaven I assume she is there.

I had a very weird reaction to being in a cathedral in Russia where I became a ridiculous emotional mess which has made me think about the power of belief.

In short, I think the belief in God is not rational so trying to understand is futile.

GettingStuffDoneInSlippers Thu 15-Mar-18 10:30:34

Medicine But surely that's that then - People to great comfort in thinking there's a better place and a God.

But really, it may well just be something to take comfort in that isn't necessarily true at all?

Sorry if I'm coming across as rude, I come from a family of Catholics

Herba Hello Neil wink

latebreakfast Thu 15-Mar-18 10:30:54

Christianity actually has some really reasonable answers to your questions if you read up on it - including the "why does God let X happen ones" - and they're not always the answers you'd expect.

Despite that I'm a remain an atheist - mainly due to a Christian upbringing that centred around guilt and fault. Even so I look at the world around me and there remains something inside that says "can all of this amazing stuff really have come about by accident? I can't even flip a coin 5 times and get 5 heads, yet somehow things like DNA and the brain just came about through probability..."

ItsBeenAHellofaDay Thu 15-Mar-18 10:31:01

I don't really understand it either OP. I do know people who question their faith, but fear prevents them from outwardly doing so - fear of others around them disowning/distancing themselves/seeing them badly and/or fear of god's retribution if he (and he's usually perceived as 'he'!) actually does exist and they've dared to doubt.

If everyone around you said the grass is blue, and was passionate that it was and looked down on you or disowned you if you thought otherwise (e.g. That it's green), would you say anything? or try to see it as others do? Maybe you would question if there is something wrong with you for not believing what others believe and seeing what they do? If seeing the grass as blue is rewarded, valued and seen to make you a witty person - perhaps you wouldn't say you didn't see it that way. However, you might not realise that everyone else is also questioning the colour of the grass but keeping quiet, just as you are.

Not sure that analogy works, but hope it's clear what I'm trying to say?

(By the way, I'm a bit agnostic about these things myself, and although I dont believe, I acknowledge I might be wrong. Maybe he/she does exist (I doubt it though!))

ChaosNeverRains Thu 15-Mar-18 10:31:14

@QuiQuaiQuod flowers in truth I think that it’s organised religion that is the problem and that has no place in today’s society. People shouldn’t need to declare themselves as x or y religion and go to worship to prove it, along with being subjected to whatever judgements and retribution’s said scriptures bring. If people just believed in a God if that was what they wanted, then the world would be a much more peaceful place.

MercedesDeMonteChristo Thu 15-Mar-18 10:31:50


Goodness what a rambly post.

ItsBeenAHellofaDay Thu 15-Mar-18 10:32:27

'Worthy' not 'witty' !!

QuiQuaiQuod Thu 15-Mar-18 10:32:49

Medicinal so sorry for your loss.

I was going to add to my post-posted too soon- that even so, afetr all Ive said, I still pray, i still try to find a crumb of comfort somewhere.

Yes, Belief can help people and give them peace too, example.

terrble things happening to us at the mo yet i suddenly found I had a random hymn going in my mind, ''be bold, be strong, for the Lord your God with you''.

somewhow it made me calm down a bit.

and yes, I believe that when soemone dies they should be in a better plce, if theyve deserved it.

Elementtree Thu 15-Mar-18 10:33:57

I'm an atheist. I get it. Religion appeals to our sense of hope and fairness. It's a soothing balm for the injuries in life.

TheClaws Thu 15-Mar-18 10:34:27

It is human nature to want to find a reason for our existence. Without a reason, why get up in the morning? Why love? Why have children? Religion is the dogma of our existence in its many shapes and forms.

Ragwort Thu 15-Mar-18 10:34:38

I don't 'over think' it.

I have a faith, I am comforted by my belief that this is something 'more' to life than work/family/hobbies. But I don't over think it - I enjoy going to Church as an 'activity', I meet like minded people, I have never been 'lonely or isolated' as I always have Church friends for support - our Church is very involved in social justice issues so I feel I am making a contribution to society.

I can't 'prove' there is a God, I just feel that my belief (and I was not raised in this way) adds 'something' to my life.

Personally I can't understand why anyone would want a pet - but I can see for a lot of people having a pet adds something to their lives - perhaps we all need that 'something' - whether it is faith, pets, music, whatever smile.

CaoNiMa Thu 15-Mar-18 10:36:03

Surely it depends on what you mean by "god".

An interventionist god, who answers prayers and performs miracles? Cos this requires a huge leap of faith.

But a god who is more like a force of nature - the cosmic reasoning behind the way the world works? I can see this making sense. It certainly does for me, and I'd count myself as quite a religious person.

MammieBear Thu 15-Mar-18 10:38:07

I think we could all benefit from a little faith now and again

Nesssie Thu 15-Mar-18 10:38:18

I believe in God mostly because this world is shit. So if I didn't think there was a master plan I don't think I could get through it!

I firmly believe that whatever an individual thinks about life after death, happens. So those that think death is the end, heart stops etc. - that happens. Those that believe in reincarnation - will be born again.
I am happy to believe that when I die I will be reunited in heaven with everyone that passed away before me (I am especially excited to see my past pets and my great-nan again!)

Of course my belief does waiver with every murder/injustice that occurs and it does make it hard to believe that everything happens for a reason.

But I do think that every time something bad happens people are quick to say 'where is your god now?' and use it to 'disprove' him, but they rarely thank him for the good that happens.

For now, I am content to believe my prayers are being heard (whether or not it is in Gods plan to help in the way I ask) and that by praying for someone, I am helping. (So I will pray for you Qui )

ChaosNeverRains Thu 15-Mar-18 10:39:28

Yeah I could reckon with the cosmic force of nature god. Not with the answers prayers and performs miracles god though.

And I do think that most of us hope for a better place for those who have been through hard times when they pass on, and conversely, for a not so good place for those who have done wrong/evil in their living times. Although I quite like the idea of reincarnation where the evil-doer gets to come back as a frog. grin.

crazycatgal Thu 15-Mar-18 10:39:40

My Gran was a Christian, didn't stop her having a long battle with dementia which led to her looking like skin and bone, being bed bound and unable to eat and drink before she passed.

Why would I worship any God that lets this happen? I'm unsure if there is or isn't a God but either way I'm going to live my live without religion.

ohfortuna Thu 15-Mar-18 10:41:27

Absolutely it does depend what you mean by god
people talk about God without first specifying what they mean by God

Anyway what about the problem of Evil?

This thread is not accepting new messages.