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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?


TotallyBS Fri 01-Feb-13 22:55:43

Ninja - the Old Testament does not directly say how old the earth is. The figure comes from scholars working out a timeline based on events and people described in the Bible.

nightlurker Fri 01-Feb-13 23:11:33

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

headinhands Fri 01-Feb-13 23:13:06

Everyone loves to be complimented , how many gorgeous muslim women are out there concealing themselves because Allah told them to , when they could be getting all sorts of attention from guys and having a huge boost of confidence. They choose not to get this sort of attention as God is the one they want to impress

I find your post so offensive in sommany ways to men and women! And here are just a few.

It reduces women to something to be looked at/not looked at. It reduces men to being only interested in how a woman looks.
Why would a woman need a huge boost of confidence from a man?
What about if the woman isn't an 'oil painting', does she get less of a reward as she wasn't giving up as much attention?
Is the way a woman's genetics happen to have arranged her face the number one way she could attract praise?


cloutiedumpling Fri 01-Feb-13 23:32:05

I agree, Nightlurker, but for me I had to believe in God before I could decide to follow him.

Headinhands - I didn't want you to think I was running away from your questions but I've been a bit busy with RL today. To me, belief isn't a choice, it is something that is deep inside me that I can't do anything about. There is lots I don't understand, why there is so much suffering for example, but that doesn't mean I can stop believing. As to why I attribute things to God rather than accepting them as tricks of the mind? I'm not sure. I'll think about that one.

Can I ask what caused you to loose your faith?

headinhands Fri 01-Feb-13 23:45:27

Course you can ask Cloutie but it's nothing dramatic I can assure you, I think it was just time and thinking. And I really don't mean that to insinuate that 'theist = not thinking' as I wouldn't say I was ever thick thankyouverymuch smile oh and it was also the fact that I didn't want to give up my evil, heinous sin filled life of wanton bill paying and unbridled housework mwahahahaha (that was my evil laugh btw)

puzi Sat 02-Feb-13 00:34:26

Ellie, I think it is foolish to put all our trust the authority of Science and in prominent scientists who, I believe, still have a very incomplete understanding of life and the universe. The atheist regimes of the Third Reich and Communist Russia did just that, and were very quick to adopt their own forms of 'Natural Selection' in the last century in order to 'advance human civilisation' (eugenics). Their reasoning was rational and logical, but based on incomplete understanding... and the results were devastating.

puzi Sat 02-Feb-13 00:48:42

Headinhands, there is a brilliant verse in Isaiah which says something like 'as far as the heavens are above the earth so are God's ways higher than our ways'.Scientific discovery since the time that verse was written has shown the Heavens to be much, much bigger than early humans first thought...God gave us curiosity so we could find these things out and have a better understanding of Him... And hopefully develop a bit of humility along the way. Sadly, a lot of Scientists become quite arrogant with knowledge and lack humility which can be disastrous for us all..

EllieArroway Sat 02-Feb-13 03:24:23

Ellie, I think it is foolish to put all our trust the authority of Science and in prominent scientists who, I believe, still have a very incomplete understanding of life and the universe

Who gave you.....smallpox vaccines, aeroplanes, motor cars, the internet, television, telephones, antibiotics, heart transplants, dentistry, computers, anaesthetics, refrigerators, satellite navigation (the list, I'm sure you'll agree, is endless)? Yes, science did. What did religion provide? Sweet FA, unless you count the divisiveness and bloodshed it's promoted for millennia.

You think it's foolish to trust science? Fine. Put your money where your mouth is and pray instead of calling for a paramedic when you have a heart attack or develop sceptemia.

And no, science doesn't know everything and doesn't pretend to, unlike..."Oh, God made the world, because this book of bronze age babble says it did", which is all religion amounts to.

The atheist regimes of the Third Reich and Communist Russia did just that, and were very quick to adopt their own forms of 'Natural Selection' in the last century in order to 'advance human civilisation' (eugenics). Their reasoning was rational and logical, but based on incomplete understanding... and the results were devastating

Seriously? This crap is still being trotted out?

There have never, ever been any atheist regimes on this planet. There have been communist ones - they are not the same thing. That Stalin happened to be an atheist is no more to the point than that he happened not to believe in Father Christmas. Maybe we should call him an asantaist? Look at the harm asantaism has caused in the world hmm

Oh - and Hitler steadfastly maintained that he was acting in the name of Jesus Christ. That's how he, and others ultimately, justified the holocaust to themselves. Without centuries of Christian anti-semitism it may never have happened.

Of course, Hitler was possibly lying about his beliefs - but that he was not an atheist is without question, I'm afraid. And he knew exactly what to say to the faithful to get him to do his dirty work, didn't he? Remember, Hitler killed no one - he got a lot of Christians to do it for him. Think on that.

You have some reading to do before you attempt to call anyone else foolish.

EllieArroway Sat 02-Feb-13 03:30:57

I'm a bit embarrassed for you that you've trotted out the natural selection/eugenics crap, btw. A stupider reasoning is hard to imagine.

NS is a fact - an indisputable scientific fact. In other words, to be clear, it happens to be true and explains how life on Earth is so diverse and how we happen to be here at all.

That knowledge can be abused by bad people is well known. Doesn't make scientific discoveries any less true or valuable - so exactly what is your point?

Nah, don't bother to tell me - I already know you haven't got one. You've just paid lip service to all the Christian fundie propaganda that's lying around the internet without taking the slightest trouble to think for yourself and discover whether any of it is actually true.

How very Christian of you.

Ninjaforever Sat 02-Feb-13 04:06:47

ok I've given some bad examples I'll admit probably based more on my own experiences , it was wrong of me to generalise like that ( and dh says i never admit when im wrong :P)Just want to clarify the prison thing is not words from the Quran but a metaphor given by a contemporary Islamic speaker and their interpretation of it.

Regarding science - who gave man the knowledge to do all these things? There's a saying in Islam tawakkaltu in Allah- total faith in Allah. However it is noted not to have blind faith , an example was given to 'tie your camel and THEN have tawakkaltu in Allah. ( basically camels wander away so you should take some action to keep it there and then rely on Allah).
Same can be said for a heart attack for example- you don't need to sit there and suffer thinking God will save you - it's ok to call 999 and use the resources he has provided.

headinhands Sat 02-Feb-13 08:31:57

Ninja, there's a common saying in Christian circles that goes 'god helps those who help themselves'. It's basically the same as the camel thing isn't it. I like it because it belies the knowledge that god is pretty useless so you have to do as much as you can to sort it out. It also contains a nifty excuse for suffering. 'If god doesn't help you it's because you didn't help yourself.' If you're not already aware of it google just world hypothesis which will explain it better.

headinhands Sat 02-Feb-13 08:56:28

Sorry to go back but wanted to post some statistics in response to cheerful yanks's post re disabled children yesterday:

Disabled children are
3.4 times more likely to be abused
3.8 times more likely to be neglected
3.8 times more likely to be physically abused
3.1 times more likely to be sexually abused
3.9 times more to be emotionally abused
Sullivan and Knutson 2000)

puzi Sat 02-Feb-13 09:06:44

Ouch, Ellie! With a Biochemistry degree from a top university, I have proof enough I think in a scientific way, whatever assumptions you make. I think it is foolish to put all our trust in Science, and be humble to accept that, whilst progress in understanding has been amazing, it is still incomplete. Of course Natural Selection happens... just not good when humans take it upon themselves to control the process themselves. Nuclear physics is amazing... But also dangerous.

My personal belief is that scientific understanding combined with following the teachings of Jesus (I am quite specific about that - I don't think it is enough to say 'be a Christian' for obvious historical reasons) leads to the best in humanity. Jesus taught us to 'love your neighbour as yourself'. It is this principle that has led to the most progress in western society in terms of the way humans treat each other: the welfare state, equal rights, the NHS, aid to the developing world, charities helping the most destitute in our own society... Melvyn Bragg made a very good documentary about the influence of the Bible on modern civilisation here:

CoteDAzur Sat 02-Feb-13 09:16:57

Please share that proof with us, puzi.

CoteDAzur Sat 02-Feb-13 09:30:04

"Jesus taught us to 'love your neighbour as yourself'. It is this principle that has led to the most progress in western society in terms of the way humans treat each other: the welfare state, equal rights, the NHS, aid to the developing world, charities helping the most destitute in our own society..."

This is actually quite funny smile

Would you really dispute that all this progress coincides with a decline in the hold of Christianity in Western society? There was a time when the Church was the ultimate power, the hold of Christianity on Western society near-absolute, and that is the period we call Dark Ages - when 10000s of women were burnt at the stake and about 80000 were tortured to death in Inquisition tribunals across Europe. "Love your neighbour" - LOL! grin

Then came Enlightenment and the importance of Christianity in Western society decreased. And this is when the progress you speak of came, slowly, in Western society.

By the way, re "equal rights" - I was reading the book Significant Sisters when I realized that women had practically no rights in the UK in early 1800s - no right to earn money or keep it, no rights to divorce their husbands however abusive he may be, no rights to see their babies if husbands threw them out.

In comparison, you might be interested to learn that Islam gave women rights to inherit & keep their inheritance, rights to divorce their husbands for a variety of reasons (including, because they feel like it), earn money, and keep their small children when they divorce.

CoteDAzur Sat 02-Feb-13 09:30:49

... and that was about 1200 years before this "progress" came to the UK, with its Christian heritage.

CoteDAzur Sat 02-Feb-13 09:38:40

ethelb - re "cote but people voted in DC. That's not rational!"

Is this a joke?

How is the behaviour of you people living on a small island supposed to prove anything re nobody being rational all the time in the world.

Besides, I don't know why you people voted for your PM, but I suppose most if not everyone who did would have had their reasons. They have arrived at conclusions other than you, obviously, but that doesn't mean that their mental processes while doing so were not rational. It would probably mean that their circumstances, beliefs, and value systems are different than yours.

crescentmoon Sat 02-Feb-13 09:43:57

id say that was one of the proof's of Muhammad's (pbuh) extraordinariness whatever else you think of Islam cote. consider the misogyny in Arabic culture in 2013 and then think how did a man from the 6th century arabian desert come to argue for the rights of women in that way. it would have been something rare from a European of that time, thus even more so amongst the Middle Eastern peoples. when did British women get the right to divorce their husbands and then the Quran spoke of spousal maintenance for divorced women. The Quran invoked hell upon the people who kill baby daughters and let sons live. not relevant to british society now but still relevant in large parts of Asia where female infanticide is very common and prevalent. the muslim asians would have equalled the Indians and Chinese for those verses of the Quran.

crescentmoon Sat 02-Feb-13 09:44:46

*but for those verses in the Quran..

puzi Sat 02-Feb-13 09:49:13

Well, as doubt is faith's shadow, I have done my fair share of reasoning over the existence of God in my time. As I keep saying, knowledge is incomplete, but here is one example of why I believe in a Creator: electron transport chains in mitochondria are made up of proteins which have transition metal ions in the middle. The metal ions need to be in exactly the right place for the transport chain to work (within a few nm) which means the protein must be made up of exactly the correct amino acids, which means the mitochondrial DNA must have exactly the correct code... All eukaryotes (that is, non bacterial species) have mitochondria. Mitochondria convert the energy organisms get from food into ATP, the energy cells use to do just about anything. For life to exist the electron transport chain needs to be perfect, from the start and in its entirety. I don't believe this electron transport chain could have evolved (I would be interested in hearing suggestions about how it could have evolved). It's far too complicated. It suggests a Creator to me. (I didn't read this in Christian propaganda by the way, I learnt this when I was at university, so it is my own personal 'thinking for myself' reasoning').

That's just one small example of the way I have reasoned for the existence of God in a scientific way... but I haven't just relied on science for my faith.

CoteDAzur Sat 02-Feb-13 09:50:35

ninja - re "Would it be so easy to not date? Not mix with men? Not obtain interest in monetary terms?"

IF I thought those were necessary and morally important, I would do them for myself and not because I expect reward from some higher power. That was my point.

As it is, I don't think any of the above are necessary or morally important, so I don't do them.

"It's very easy to say if u don't like it go elsewhere"

Which I don't think anyone said here, but it is of course an option. If you think life in places like Afghanistan and Iran would be more suited to your world view, maybe you would be happier there.

"The whole point of Islam is to spread the message"

Err... no it's not, actually. The whole point of Islam is Submission (i.e. the meaning of the word "Islam") to God. The religion is supposed to be between you and Allah, and you don't get extra special rewards for bringing him more converts, over the rewards you already get for having been perfectly submissive and obedient all your life.

I kind of remember a verse in the Quran that says you can't guide anyone to Islam, it is Allah who guides whoever he wishes. I'm sure you can find it if you look.

puzi Sat 02-Feb-13 10:00:32

Also, Côte and Ellie, I find the tone if your comments (hints of ridicule, aggression and scorn) undermine the reasoned and rational debate that atheists pride themselves on.

I was quite specific about referring to 'the teachings of Jesus' as opposed to simply 'Christianity' for the obvious historical reasons you have outlined above. Melvyn Bragg comes to the conclusion that progressive secular thinking actually stems from... The Bible. So yes, a decline in Christianity has paradoxically coincided with the progression seen in western society.

niminypiminy Sat 02-Feb-13 10:02:00

CoteDAzur, Ellie, you seem to have bought into some common historical errors.

Re communist regimes: the establishment of an entirely secular society, the extermination of religious belief, the complete suppression of all religious organisation, and the persecution of believers were central aims of the communist regimes. It is accurate to call them atheist regimes, since atheism was a core part of their programme. It is worth noting, of course, that the church played a central part in the resistance to communism.

Re the dark ages: this covers a long period, roughly between the fall of Rome and the end of the first millennium. During that period it is worth noting that learning of all kinds was kept alive by Christians, particularly in monasteries, and that monasteries preserved, translated, developed and circulated the learning of the classical world.

The period of the witch trials comes much later, in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, and this is also the period associated with the inquisition. It's worth noting that the countries where the overwhelming majority of executions took place were those where the state prosecuted so-called witches. Where the inquisition was active and thus the prosecution was in the hands of the church, virtually no women (or men for that matter) was executed for witchcraft. Likewise, the record of the inquisition is more mixed than the historical myths allow. It certainly did not practice widespread execution.

It should not be forgotten that the Enlightenment was not in itself an anti-Christian movement (though it is true that certain Enlightenment thinkers, most notably David Hume, were themselves atheists). What is true is that Enlightenment thought developed ideas that were developed initially in Christian thought such as the equality of individuals and the centrality of reason in human life. It is truer to see the Enlightenment as the fulfilment of certain themes within Christianity rather than its antithesis.

Finally, let's not forget that the fact that we have hospitals and a welfare state is because caring for the sick, and helping the poor were central activities of Christianity. The idea of the inalienable worth of each person, regardless of their wealth, sex, family background or political influence led early Christians to set up the first hospitals, to feed the hungry - to love their neighbour as themselves. That we take these values for granted has everything to do with the historical legacy of Christianity, and without that legacy we would not have them, because such values were unknown in the classical world before Christianity.

TheFallenMadonna Sat 02-Feb-13 10:06:13

I believe in God. I'm not lazy, nor am I afraid. I was certainly conditioned, but no more so than my brother, who now has no religious faith.

Having done a Science degree and PhD, and latterly a psychology degree (which is where we actually talked about scientific method - don't recall that at all in my proper Science degree), I have had, and have taken, plenty of opportunities to question. My faith is irrational. But I still have it nonetheless. And I have stopped wondering why to be honest.

I accept that my upbringing influenced my moral viewpoint. As I think it does for everyone, in the presence or absence of religious belief. Interestingly,
I now find that moral outlook makes my membership of the church that shaped it rather difficult. Reflecting on how best to live a good life, and the compatibility of that with my church, has replaced reflecting on the compatibility of a scientific view of the world and a faith based one.

CoteDAzur Sat 02-Feb-13 10:08:46

"I don't believe this electron transport chain could have evolved... It's far too complicated. It suggests a Creator to me. "

Two things I'd like to say:

(1) If you consider yourself a scientist, you must know that this is not "proof". It is not even evidence. This is you reeling before a complex system and assuming that it can't have happened by itself, over millenia.

In this respect, you are no different than the early humanoids, looking up at rain, thunder, and lightning and thinking they are indications of a vengeful God.

(2) Even if your reasoning takes you to believe that we were all created on purpose, can this not mean that maybe we are an experiment of some alien life form? When a civilization reaches a certain level of technological development, it is entirely conceivable that they would want to create a life form - code their info on DNA, restrict their lifetimes through telomerase and see what happens over many generations.

If you are so sure that life on earth is created rather than evolved, why not consider other possibilities than a deity who expects obedience and behaviour control and then dishes out rewards or punishment on an abstract "soul" upon death?

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