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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?


headinhands Thu 31-Jan-13 22:21:25

So Cloutie, you feel your experiences are more than the brain. What about the experiences of those who believe in a different god, or those that get the same sense of deep connection else where?

sciencelover Thu 31-Jan-13 23:07:24

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

EllieArroway Thu 31-Jan-13 23:54:35

Amazing, isn't it?

Of course people are free to believe whatever crap they want, but it's when they seek to justify it to others it becomes increasingly apparent just how fatuous & rather childish those beliefs are.

"I believe in God because he changed my life". And this is justification/evidence? My life has changed many times over, for better and for worse, and I don't believe in God & certainly never asked him/she/it for help. I managed by myself - I'm a grown up.

The most astonishing claims are those about prayer - which manifestly does not work. Ever. "Oh, but God always answers, he just doesn't always give us what we want - his answer can be yes, no or maybe". That, yes, that is how they justify prayer hmm

Think about it - yes, no, maybe. So whatever happens, God wins.

Please can I win the lottery, God?

I do - he says yes.

I don't - he says no.

I do - but in 6 months time - he said maybe!

All of these scenarios mean that God has answered the prayer! You would get the same possible yes, no, maybe results praying to a washing machine.

I suppose it's as Dr House said...."If religious people understood reason, they would be no religious people". I agree with him.

I don't respect religious beliefs themselves - they are simply unworthy of my respect so they don't get it. And if that offends then I'm not sorry.

headinhands Fri 01-Feb-13 05:46:16

Why do more African babies die than Welsh? Some African countries
boast highest % of Christians in world but god still persistently cares less about their suffering than he does about developed countries. It's blatantly clear that there isn't an intervening god at work.

Ninjaforever Fri 01-Feb-13 06:15:36

I really hate this whole if there is a God why does he let bad things happen argument.
Muslims believe this life is a test in fact there's a famous saying that for the believer this world is a prison and the nest life is paradise but for the disbelievers the prison is in the next life and this is their paradise cos they can do as they wish.
Re: babies dying . There are a few reasons this may happen , Allah says that wealth and children are the attractions of this world, it is he who gives so he can take as he pleases. This may even be as a punishment for sins. This is why we should always pray for forgiveness and guidance and for our children to be among the righteous.
Having said that, a child dying before puberty automatically goes to paradise- into sure if disbelievers defo do but as they are innocents and haven't matured enough to find the guidance themselves I would think so.
Anyway the point I'm trying to make is on the day of judgement if a child sees his parents not in paradise he will try to pull them in hence helping the parents cause .
Easier said than done but if parents truly believe they should be happy that the test is over for their child. Having said that one shouldn't wish for all our children to be taken from us just to make it easy as there are 2 purposes of pro creation for religious reasons- one to spread the message 2. To glorify Allah. 3. Leaving righteous children behind after our own deaths is something that will continue to help us beyond the grave.
Another point I want to make, if a disbelievers child died he would most likely look for comfort / answers etc this may lead into looking at Islam which could be what guide him to the religion . Allah guides who he wills.

Ninjaforever Fri 01-Feb-13 06:28:08

The lottery example would only be acceptable if someone bought a ticket for first time and constantly prayed to win - which is unlikely in terms of probability, more chance of losing. So if he did win he'd say it was because of God but if he didn't , he'd accept that this win wouldn't have been good for him. ( he shouldn't be gambling anyway as a believer!)

If you believe u will always attribute the good things in coming from God and the bad things as either punishment , evil eye, devil . Those who do not continually pray can transgress and make it easy for the devil( I hate that word shaytan is the arabic ie satan) to tempt you to do things you shouldn't. Not seeking Allah's. protection can lead to jealous envious people causing you harm.

DioneTheDiabolist Fri 01-Feb-13 11:39:01

Headinhands, many of our most prominent scientists do not believe in god. Many of them do. Belief in god is not necessary nor is it essential to scientific study and discovery.

DioneTheDiabolist Fri 01-Feb-13 11:41:26

Ellie, are you saying that people of faith are incapable of reason?

TotallyBS Fri 01-Feb-13 11:46:52

There are so many religions in the world. If one day the Christians are proved right, for example, then a lot of muslims, Hindus, scientologist etc are going to look pretty stupid.

DioneTheDiabolist Fri 01-Feb-13 11:49:05

Headinhands, I had a wee look at Will Durant, but I couldn't find anything regarding cultures without faith. I would be really grateful if you could remember the names of any.

I'm fascinated by this sort of stuff.grin

headinhands Fri 01-Feb-13 13:33:21

H Dione, google Will Durrant Primitive Atheism or something of that ilk and it should throw up some resources.

DioneTheDiabolist Fri 01-Feb-13 13:34:32

Will do. Cheers for that.

headinhands Fri 01-Feb-13 13:44:40

Dione my statement about the number of atheist scientists was in response to Puzi's assertion that our desire for knowledge is that ^god created us to be curious'. It appears god shot himself in the foot when he gave us a thirst for understanding.

headinhands Fri 01-Feb-13 13:54:00

Ninja, you said ^ for the believer this world is a prison and the nest life is paradise but for the disbelievers the prison is in the next life and this is their paradise cos they can do as they wish.^

There is so much wrong with that! What about the countless non believers who live and die in the worst conditions imaginable. And then they go on to prison as you call it? I'd like to know how radically different your life is from mine. I doubt it's much different at all. You probably pray but other than that we both care for people, want to be of benefit to the world and cause as little hurt to people as we can. You say as a non believer that I can do what I want? I say we can both do what we want but that we both want to be kind and peaceable on our journey through life.

niminypiminy Fri 01-Feb-13 14:56:32

Headinhands, I've met quite a few research scientists in my time, working as I do as an academic. It may be that the ones who are atheists (not all scientists by any means) are so because of their scientific curiosity. However, an equally likely one is that scientists are influenced in their thinking by the culture they live in quite as much as the rest of us are. Atheism is now the default mode in the liberal-intelligentsia, and it is currently very unfashionable to be a Christian in that circle. (I know this to be true -- it's the world I work in.) And talking to the research scientists I've met, they are just as able to be sheep as anyone else, and just as likely to view recieved ideas as unchallenged truths.

Just sayin'.

momb Fri 01-Feb-13 15:13:30

I have no hard evidence that emotional love exists but I still believe it to be true. There is no bioplogical reason why a human parent would continue to feel a need to care for an adult child, but I believe that many parents care for and love their adult children.

There are lots of 'gut feelings' that we all have which cannot be explained, and for me my faith is one of those things.

'So what makes people believe in a god? Is it fear, conditioning, laziness? ' Definitely not laziness. As a senior scientist I am a very analytical person and during my life I have questioned my faith many times. The bible and the Q'ran do not sit comfortably with all I know about the world but I am pragmatic that a book written by believers is not the same as a book written by God. What makes me believe in God is knowing, beyond doubt, that God is there. I know it as surely as I know that I love my children and that the sun will rise in the morning. It isn't something I need to analyse or consider, I just know it to be true. I would go as far as to say that it doesn't matter how one experiences God, because that has more to do with the individual and less to do with God, but that it is the ability to believe without proof is a very great gift.

I think that your question is phrased rudely, and that you would have received more useful replies if you had shown respect for those with faith just as you would want those with faith to show respect to you.

headinhands Fri 01-Feb-13 15:31:58

Momb, your post contains too many logical fallacies to deal with in one Friday afternoon but here's a brief stab at it:

how would you explain animals caring for their young? What about the humans that don't care for their young? What about people that don't find faith a gut reaction?

HolofernesesHead Fri 01-Feb-13 15:34:15

What's happened to the OP? I'm slightly hmm at people who start off these big-question threads then are seen no more.

momb Fri 01-Feb-13 15:47:51

Oh bless you headinhands, I'm going to presume that you really don't understand the concept of belief in anything and that is why you are not understaninding what I am writing.

My point is that I can believe in things that I cannot explain. It is my personal decision, but does not require an intellectual choice from me because it is a gut feeling; something I know at a level I do not need to analyse.. You are quite correct in that there are logical fallacies in this position. That is the faith does not require logic to its ultimate conclusion.

I am sorry that I am failing to make myself clear. I am not trying to justify my faith to you. I was merely answering the OP.

headinhands Fri 01-Feb-13 16:06:20

Momb people who believe in gods/belief systems completely different to yours do so with all the same gut feeling and fervour that you do yours. Doesn't that suggest it's about you and nothing outside of your own brain? Would you at least try and address some of the points I raised about your post?

headinhands Fri 01-Feb-13 16:15:51

Again Niminy my post was addressing puzi's claim that our curiosity is from god.

I can see how it might be explained by it being more expected to be atheist in those circles because it's increasingly seen as the norm (why has this happened?) so long as you agree that the flip-side is as valid in that before recent times more people professed to a belief because it was 'the done thing'.

momb Fri 01-Feb-13 16:29:46

*'Momb, your post contains too many logical fallacies to deal with in one Friday afternoon but here's a brief stab at it:

how would you explain animals caring for their young? What about the humans that don't care for their young? What about people that don't find faith a gut reaction?'*

Faith is not born of logic. To quote my favourite Humanist:
'Science adjusts it's beliefs based on what's observed. Faith is the denial of observation so that Belief can be preserved' (Tim Minchin, Storm, 2009). I think that's overstating my own position slightly but I have not observed anything which makes me doubt my faith: lots to make me doubt organised religion, lots to make me doubt the letter of the holy texts (that's all of them, and I have read most of them), but nothing which shakes my belief in God.

1) Animals, including man, whose offspring are not born independent, have a biological imperative to care for their young. A desire to care for a non-dependent infant is born of love (presumably) and although there is no biological imperative I believe that it still exists.
2) Humans who do not either care for their young or ensure that there young are cared for are generally behaving against nature. This is not an issue of faith, but one of extreme circumstance/illness.
3) People who don't find faith a gut reaction either go looking for it to make their own decision or they don't. I have been through periods of my life when I wasn't sure, particularly when I was a teenager and my life was black and white and all about me. How (or even whether) one experiences God is a personal thing.

'Momb people who believe in gods/belief systems completely different to yours do so with all the same gut feeling and fervour that you do yours. Doesn't that suggest it's about you and nothing outside of your own brain?'

Yes we do all have different beliefs, born of coming to faith from different circumstance, experience, culture for example. How we all experience God is a personal thing. It does not follow however that God does not exist.

headinhands Fri 01-Feb-13 16:39:25

Which god Momb?

CheerfulYank Fri 01-Feb-13 16:54:29

I just do. Always have (except for a brief episode when I had pnd). I wasn't raised to believe really. My parents do/did, but never talked about it or prayed or took us to church. My brother is an atheist. I've always been the most religious member of our family and the only church going one. I've just always been aware of "more", a sense of God's presence, since I was a very small child. Now I mostly attend Catholic churches as DH is Catholic, but if I had to put an actual name to what I am, it would be Red-Letter Christian. It's sort of a movement where people concern themselves mostly with the words of Jesus, i.e. help the poor, don't be hypocritical, etc.

This guy is fairly rational.

As far as Scientologists go, I always think of Anne Lamott, who is a nutty liberal Christian writer I love. She said something once about having a bad night and deciding it was totally nuts to believe in Christ, no different than Scientology. And then her priest friend said calmly "Scientologists are crazier than they have to be." grin

But really I agree with whoever said up thread that cults tend to be secretive about their beliefs.

CheerfulYank Fri 01-Feb-13 16:56:38

Animals don't often care for their disabled young, do they?

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