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To the believers...

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

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

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

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


thegreenheartofmanyroundabouts Wed 30-Jan-13 09:29:43

Why bother discussing as you have already made up your mind PedroPonyLikesCrisps.

MissyMooandherBeaverofSteel Wed 30-Jan-13 09:36:33

A belief requires no rational explanation. I don't intend to argue His exsistance either. I believe, you don't, lets just leave it at that.

worldgonecrazy Wed 30-Jan-13 11:08:59

Yes I still believe in the Roman/Greek gods and there are quite a few people who do, we just don't get much publicity. Google reconstructionist/neo-paganism if you want to find out more.

hiddenhome Wed 30-Jan-13 12:22:36

I can feel that there is something within me that comes from God. I know that sounds idiotic, but I don't mind. It makes me happy and keeps me on the straight and narrow. I'm also a sucker for a mystery. I would find life unbearably dull if everything could be explained smile

ethelb Wed 30-Jan-13 12:26:15

I believe my partner loves me and we will stay together with me until we die. I have no 'hard evidence' that this will be the case.

"Do the religious find Scientology to be just another religion or does anyone else see the the words 'cult' and 'religion' are pretty much interchangable?"

A general rule to live by is that religions are fairly transparent (you probably know what the core beliefes of each religion are) but cults are not transparent, for example scientologists aren't open about what their beleifes are.

headinhands Wed 30-Jan-13 14:23:15

Hi Pedro

Being an ex believer I can tell you how I think I was able to maintain my beliefs.

I was exposed to Christianity through society quite frequently and I think seeing trusted adults believing in god normalised it. I was also terrified of death and a belief in an afterlife was comforting. I think it also made life seem more interesting to imagine there was a hidden realm all about me. (I sometimes wonder if thats why some hold onto a belief in ghosts?) As I grew older I questioned it more, and to such a depth that it fell apart under the glare of my critical analysis.

Can I just add that rejecting the notion of the supernatural doesn't deny me the ability to marvel at and appreciate the awe and wonder of the cosmos.

Isn't it enough to see that a garden is beautiful without having to believe that there are fairies at the bottom of it too? Douglas Adams

headinhands Wed 30-Jan-13 14:27:10

Ethelb, your belief in your marriage is hardly comparable seeing as you can physically see, touch and hear your dh. You have evidence that he values you and is committed to the relationship. Maybe you didn't meant it that way but I can't see how your beliefs about your marriage are relatable to religion. Maybe you could expand it for me?

ethelb Wed 30-Jan-13 14:29:40

I am not married. So I do have to have a little faith.

I'm not saying it is related to religion.

I just don't agree with the idea that anyone is 100% rational, all the time.

But you obviously have very strong beleifes so why are you coming on here to ask "questions"? I am a scientist in my soul, but you do come across as sneering and sarcastic in your OP.

headinhands Wed 30-Jan-13 14:47:38

But that's faith in the continuance of a two way relationship that you can physically experience. There is no evidence for a two way relationship with god so I'd say that your belief in your relationship has some basis as opposed to none.

headinhands Wed 30-Jan-13 14:50:19

I don't think the op claimed they were 100% rational all the time?

HolofernesesHead Wed 30-Jan-13 17:28:47

I guess, to answer the OP, I'd say that my religious faith (I am a Christian) isn't ultimately about 'explaining pretty much everything in the Universe.' It's not really about giving answers to a set of questions, that could equally be answered by 'science' (e.g. how did the universe originate?)

For me, faith is much more about the belief that beyond the universe, outside of time and space and therefore beyond the reach of 'science', God is, and the only way we can know this is because a) all that is, comes from God, including us, so we have it in us to reach out for God (that's what religion is), and b) God became human in the person of Jesus and talked and lived so as to show us who God is.

I know that athesists in the Dawkins-esque mould get very frustrated by this answer, and say it's 'special pleading', but there you go. It is what it is. I don't think it's possible to assess religious truth-claims alongside scientific truth-claims and get any sensible answers. They are just two very different lines of human enquiry (Thank you, Emmanuel Kant! That's about the only thing I agree with you on!)

HolofernesesHead Wed 30-Jan-13 17:30:44

And no, Pedro, I don't think that Muslims are insane. I think they are reaching out for God, the same as Christians. Tell us about yourself - have you come from a religious background?

greencolorpack Wed 30-Jan-13 17:32:30

Re Muslims, and do Christians think they are insane, i would say no. I believe they are wrong about their religion but not insane. I have a Muslim colleague on Facebook and she posts about her beliefs about being pro life etc and I'm always surprised by how much we would have in common if we ever discussed our beliefs, although we never do.

Jesus Christ is the way the truth and the life, but Christianity isn't the only religion that has some of the truth. Other religions may be wrong but they can be right about some things, like the sacred value of human life, and belief in marriage as a building block for a stable society etc.

HolofernesesHead Wed 30-Jan-13 17:36:55

Green, I agree that all religions have good and truth in them - all religions are a reaching out for God, including the Greco-Roman religions that Pedro mentioned. Even Scientology, even though I personally find it a bit bewildering....

ethelb Wed 30-Jan-13 19:03:36

@headinhands but if people aren't 100% rational 100% of the time, then what is wrong with a little bit of irrational religion?

Oh and I do need faith that the relationship will continue into the future as that is the unknown. Building plans aroudn that assumption is a bit irrational.

ethelb Wed 30-Jan-13 19:04:31

@green the Abrahmic religions all have fairly similar beliefs on the sanctitiy of human life.

headinhands Wed 30-Jan-13 19:43:24

Ethelb you have grounds for believing your relationship with your dh will continue based on other couples being in longterm relationships and seeing how you thus far manage to problem solve together. You have none of that with god. You have no verifiable data beyond 'what you feel' which incidentally is what believers of completely different deities would say.

DioneTheDiabolist Wed 30-Jan-13 19:53:57


No. I did my a-levels a long time ago, I'm not doing yours for you.hmm

tuffie Wed 30-Jan-13 19:54:07

I don t think believing is due to conditioning, as my sister and I both had the same upbringing and yet I believe and she doesn't.
I don t know why I believe. I've had a go at trying not to believe, but the belief is just there. Simple as that.
And I always say that if it all turns out to be a load of baloney (spelling?), then I ve had a wonderful and fulfilling life believing in it!! I know it sounds cheesy ( pass the sick bag round ),but my faith makes me so happy and fulfilled and (pass a bigger bag) is what makes me wake up and say I want to make someone else happy today.

ethelb Wed 30-Jan-13 19:58:22

@head he might be hit by a bus tomorrow

Maybe a better analogy is beleiving a particular, untried political ideology will work.

@dione grin

headinhands Wed 30-Jan-13 20:31:01

Okay seems like we're getting our wires crossed Ethel. The upshot is your relationship with your partner already exists. You have no evidence that such is the case with any deity.

ethelb Wed 30-Jan-13 20:43:21

Perhaps a relationship is a bad example. I think the point remains that humans believe things irrationally. It is not the sole preserve of people who are religious.

headinhands Wed 30-Jan-13 20:49:59

I recently 'read' a book called Irrationality a few months ago. Was a bit heavy going but dipped in and out for a while.

My main beef with religion is discrimination. And then there's the fundies but that's a whole new thread. I appreciate many get round this with the whole pluralism thang but find that interesting as knowing the scriptures, it doesn't seem to support an 'all faiths lead to god' theory. And many of it's followers agree, heck you even have followers of the same religion knocking the crap out of each other.

YourHandInMyHand Wed 30-Jan-13 20:50:41

I also genuinely don't understand why people believe in a deity.
Have never had the courage to openly ask though as I realise it can sound like a snippy question.

To be honest I see it as being on a par with a child believing in santa! I really don't mean to offend and therefore have never said this outloud before.

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