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Why do you believe? Is it because you've been brought up to believe or have you had some kind of experience?

(66 Posts)
surprise Sat 30-Aug-08 00:06:07

I just don't get it. It's a load of mumbo-jumbo, might just as well believe in fairies. So what makes you believe in god/gods? Would love to know.

AMumInScotland Sat 30-Aug-08 11:12:32

Experience - I am aware of a presence which is outside of myself. It's something benevolent, and powerful, but does not pressurise me to do or believe anything. Because I grew up nominally Christian, and those are my main influences, I interpret it in Christian terms, as being the Holy Spirit. But I realise that if I had a different background and experienced the same thing I would probably describe it in a different way.

I guess if I grew up in a culture that genuinely believed in fairies, I might even describe it in those terms grin.

SqueakyPop Sat 30-Aug-08 11:17:10


nickytwotimes Sat 30-Aug-08 11:22:06

Experience. also, like AMumInScotland says, I am a Christian specifically because of the context I grew up in. Well put btw, AMIS!

DutchOma Sat 30-Aug-08 13:36:02

Experience and exploration. if you come at it from an "it's all mumbo jumbo" point of view you'll never 'get' it. But if you try to explore what the Bible says (and I can only come to it from a Christian point of view) then you may find that there is an echo in your heart, something that begins to speak to you, somthing that makes sense. To me the Christian faith, as outlined in the Bible, is the only thing that does make sense in a confusing world.

Podmog Sat 30-Aug-08 14:38:16

Message withdrawn

beansmum Sun 31-Aug-08 10:53:58

I experience a presence which I describe as God, but I suspect most athiests do too and manage to ignore it or explain it away. I can't explain it away. It makes sense to me to believe that there is a creator God who is active in all our lives. It doesn't make sense to me to believe that I am imagining this very real presence and to believe that the universe came from nothing completely by chance.

beansmum Sun 31-Aug-08 10:57:27

I can't spell, sorry.

Martha200 Sun 31-Aug-08 11:09:50

I was brought up as a Catholic, at 7, I knew this wasn't for me.

Decades later, I feel I have a spiritual side,that I suppose has come from a lot of reading, living among other cultures and discussion with many, all kinds of people.

I know I don't have the answer, but for me I am happy with what I believe, and I do think there is a non physical presence that is around, I am also ok about thinking that not all things have to make sense, why should they, might be nice if they did, but not something I worry too much over!

KayHarker Sun 31-Aug-08 16:47:42

Certainly wasn't brought up to it. Atheist background, although my mum was a teensy bit superstitious about her RC/high church anglican background, but never said anything to me about it.

So, a mix of study and experience for me, too. And I know the atheist MNers will jump all over my hide for this one, but I honestly think a divine being is the most logical explanation for existence as we know it. grin

cornsilk Sun 31-Aug-08 16:52:54

I think some people are more inclined to believe in religion depending on their personality rather than on their environment. My ds is in Y6 at a RC school that he has always attended. He thinks the whole idea of god is doubtful and some ideas he finds quite funny - for instance he laughs his socks off at the idea that God is omnipotent. This usually goes along the lines of, 'God!Get out of my lunchbox!' or I can't see the TV - God's sat on my knee again.' Despite 6 years of catholic education there is no way he is going to be a 'spiritual' person.

nervousal Sun 31-Aug-08 16:59:55

was brought up in very christian household. When finally was given space to consider what I really beleived I came to conclusion that it is all a load of mumbo jumbo and I have absolutely no reason to believe in any form of supernatural powers.

procrastinatingparent Sun 31-Aug-08 19:50:31

Brought up to it. Tried very hard in my teens to argue myself out of it so did lots of reading but I couldn't make any other explanation for life, the universe and everything make sense, even though I would have been rather relieved if it had. grin

And then after I reluctantly admitted I thought it was true, my experience has confirmed it to me.

cornsilk Sun 31-Aug-08 21:39:52

what experience was that pp?

procrastinatingparent Mon 01-Sep-08 13:46:54

Sorry, 'experience' implies something wierd and supernatural and I didn't mean that at all. In fact, I'm not sure I have ever had anything I would consider unequivocally supernatural happen to me. I would certainly never try to defend Christianity or convince people of the existence of God by telling them about being aware of a presence or of an unusual event.

I guess what I mean by experience is that having been convinced that Christianity made sense intellectually - as a logical explanation for existence, and in the sense of being coherent in itself - I found that it started to make sense personally as well. Having decided that there was someone out there who was interested in me, pp, I found that my character and my relationships and my goals were all affected. More and more I see people in situations that seem hopeless and impossible and awful who are able to behave in ways that I can only attribute to having 'outside help' grin. I see people from incredibly different backgrounds and of different personalities sharing deep bonds. And I see my own character changing, and I often feel that God has helped me to act wisely or well when I knew it was beyond my own resources.

I must emphasise that I would never use my own experience of these things to try to convince someone else - because they are proof of nothing other than my own opinions. Just because they are real to me - and they feel pretty real! - does not make them evidence of anything.

But I do actually believe there is quite a lot of good evidence apart from my experience that there is a God, and that that hypothesis makes sense of a lot of otherwise baffling things - and creates quite a few questions of its own.grin

allgonebellyup Tue 02-Sep-08 19:04:49

how can this "presence" explain itself for letting all the suffering in the world happen?

AMumInScotland Tue 02-Sep-08 20:34:36

Because people have free will (and natural things happen for their own "reasons") it is not possible for God to control the things which happen in detail. If God were to intervene, we would just be puppets and our actions would not have consequences.

abitdoubtful Tue 02-Sep-08 21:13:20

You can tell god exists because he helps, but he can't help people because that would invalidate freewill. You have a contradiction there.

If you believe he secretly 'pushes' you into certain decisions then that is even worse. Like slipping rohypnol into someone's drink to get them to do what you want and just as much a violation of free will.

Beansmum, Atheists don't get that feeling and deny it. We are immune to it in the first place.

AMumInScotland Tue 02-Sep-08 21:25:21

I don't believe God secretly pushes me into anything. I believe that sometimes God suggests that something would be a good idea. I can then choose whether to do it or not.

I agree, making someone do something would invalidate free will. But I don't believe that God makes people do things.

KayHarker Wed 03-Sep-08 09:47:36

Being a Calvinist, I believe you were always going to say that... wink

AMumInScotland Wed 03-Sep-08 10:11:07

Predestination... just one of the reasons I slid away from Presbyterianism. But then I was probably always going to do that too..... grin

solidgoldbrass Wed 03-Sep-08 10:16:14

I quite like the idea that the Great Spaghetti Monster or whatever you call it is the only 'logical' explanation for everything. Yeah... if you smoke a lot of crystal meth, maybe there's logic in it.

Though I think some experiments have shown that there is a genuine physical difference between the superstitious and the rational: certain areas of the brain, if stimulated in a certain way, will respond by making the person feel that there is a 'presence' or some such.

IN other words, religious people are brain-damaged grin.

KayHarker Wed 03-Sep-08 10:25:30

AMiS, grin

solidgoldbrass, yes, no doubt I'm an absolute moron.

AMumInScotland Wed 03-Sep-08 10:43:11

TBH, I don't find my religious faith is a way of making sense of how the world is - I have science for that. For me, God is the answer to "Why is the universe here?" rather than "How did it get here?" Or "How does it work?"

I'm interested in the scientific experiments about how people react to religion, but the fact that you can stimulate parts of the brain to cause them to feel it doesn't surprise or bother me in the least. Of course parts of the brain are firing when we experience something - that's how we work. You can stimulate the brain to give the impression of lots of things, like pain, but that doesn't prove that no-one ever actually feels pain because something hurts. So, showing how the brain can be stimulated to fake a religious experience doesn't mean that someone can't have a religious experience for another reason, like God actually existing.

IorekByrnison Wed 03-Sep-08 10:46:30

Having been quite religious as a child and quite fervently atheistic later on I am now entirely without any belief either in God or no-God.

It is no more logical in my view to say that the universe sprang from nothing and nowhere than it is to say that it was created by a divine being.

There is no answer to the question of why anything exists at all. Science can deal with how but not why. It is outside logic. Both religion and atheism come down to subjective experience in the end. The religious person "feels" the presence of God. The atheist doesn't.

Solidgoldbrass, I am sure you are right about brain stimulation and the sense of "presence". I also fairly sure the same is true of all those other useless moronic emotions like love, compassion etc. Let's ditch them all and become properly rational human beings eh?

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