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Why I don't believe. Why do you?

  1. Aug 19, 2004 #1
    As of late, I have been running into the God issue often. Many of the people who I interact with daily are ardently religious, they can barely stand(read:can't) to have their beliefs challenged, yet feel no compunction in summarily dismissing mine without a thought.

    I realize that in nearly every case, this is what they have been indoctrinated to do since they were very little, but for some reason I can't help myself feel optimistic about humanities ability for objectivity, which is rather foolish when I think about it.

    For me, faith does not come into the picture. Faith is a tool that has used to use on me since I was child. Countless people and organizations have been asking me for faith ever since I was born . Businesses asking for me to have faith in their product, the government asking me to have faith in their benevolence, countless people have asked me to have faith in their selfish motives, and my pastor asked me to have faith in god.

    If one has faith in every business, in their every claim, if one follows their words without thinking or hesitation, it would be disastrous. If one has unwavering faith in their government and takes everything the government tells you as fact, it would be disastrous, there would be no checks for corruption or tyranny. If I gave my faith to every person who asked for it, I would turn up used, broken, poor and probably in jail in no time.

    My pastor, as I was a small impressionable child, asked that I have faith in god. Even as young as I was when I had my first contact with religion, I had to ask myself: What separated this faith from all the others, what made this true by default. There was no sort of evidence except for works by other humans. It wasn't god preaching to me at church, it was just another person like me.

    And thats of the crux of it, there is no difference. Religion is not taught by god or anything of that nature, it is taught by human beings. For me, the question is not "Do you have faith in god", its "Do you have faith in guy that told you about god". The simple answer: no.
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  3. Aug 20, 2004 #2


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    Be careful, this thread should stay in the "philosophy" realm otherwise it will be kicked out :eek:
    So let us add quickly some philosophy. I think one should try to define what is "religious". If religious means, having a conviction that "there is more to this world than meets the eye", especially of what happens after death then that is slightly different than "belonging to a group that ascribes to certain declared dogmas with an inherent agressivity towards those that do not ascribe to it".

    Three points.
    The first one is "that there is more to this world than meets the eye". If you think you somehow know what is more to it, and more specifically if that what is more is some "being out there", then I guess you are religious. My personal view is that I'm agnostic towards it: I simply don't know.

    The second one "what happens after death" is of course THE central issue ! I think death causes such fear, that you can accept many things if you think you can avoid it some way. Personally, I think that "simply the light goes out", but... I have to admit that in fact I don't know, and that something MIGHT be there after. The funny thing is that I'd prefer that the light simply goes out !
    This after-death thing is of course the main lever arm to get people behave the way you want them to behave. And to convince even people like me who would prefer no afterlife over virgins, well, they promise you torture if you do not get into their way of thinking.

    Third point:
    How did it get this way ? It must have been a mixture of different things, and the main point is natural selection, in 2 different ways. I think that in early civilisations, religion was a way to organise society. The boss was the boss because the gods made him the boss (or he was a god himself), and you had to act according to a certain way because otherwise the gods got angry.
    And if you didn't obey, well, first of all you were at merci of the wrath of all your co-members who DID believe, and second, you'd "burn in hell" or the equivalent. Result: most people behaved as they were told to behave.
    This was probably prosperous for the whole group: a socially organized group had probably better chances of survival than a group of "wild animals" contesting leadership, doing individually what they wanted etc...
    Also, you can ask more efforts from people who are religious (we'll compensate this later), such as being heroic in battle, blowing yourself up, crashing airplanes into buildings etc... which makes the group a military more powerful group than if their members weren't. And the historical value of military power doesn't have to be illustrated.
    The other side of natural selection is between religions. The most efficient way to transmit religion to the next generation is parent-child. So you can almost say that religion is part of the genetic material :-) But you can also convert people. So it is clear that those religions will survive that have strong conversion policies, and if conversion doesn't work, that try to eliminate non-converts. After a few millennia of selection, we got it quite tuned :devil:

    Finally, a comment: I have the impression that the US is a much more "religious" nation than most European nations, where religion is considered much more a private thing and in the public it is usually deemed improper to openly talk about it if you're not with people of the same religion.
    Religion is very seldom part of a political speech, which cannot be said in the US. Then, the US is also military much stronger :biggrin:

  4. Aug 20, 2004 #3
    Yes perhaps my topic title did slant this slightly more religious and less philosophical as the idea in my head that it was trying to express.

    My main thesis is that god is not a representation some metaphysical being, but a tool used by man. Not exactely a new idea, just doesn't seem to get much aknowledgement for how evident it is.
  5. Aug 20, 2004 #4


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    I think that's because a large fraction of earth's populace is stooopid. I define the subtle concept of "stooopid" as "only able to have opinions because a) others told you so or b) base them on 'gut feelings' without being able to develop an argument from premises to conclusions and/or critical attitude to one's own opinion".

    VOTE BUSH !! :cry:

    The reason why I say so is that the older I get, the more I notice that I run into such people, socially above, under or next to myself! I do not say so in a condescendent way ( :biggrin: :biggrin: ), to raise myself above it, because it scares me actually to death !

    Ok, I had to say this :redface: :redface: It's part of my therapy :shy:

    I feel better now :rofl:

    Last edited: Aug 20, 2004
  6. Aug 20, 2004 #5


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    i would have to agree with you...as far as faith is concerned, i have found it useful to have faith in yourself, otherwise you never achieve and grow...
  7. Aug 20, 2004 #6
    It is very healthy to question the source of any statement asserted as fact. However, it is also important to remember that even if every individual spouting their concept of God lacks credibility, this in no way excludes the possibility of the actual existence of a God.

  8. Aug 20, 2004 #7

    I would wholeheartedly agree with you, however, the science in me says that the inability to exclude the possibility of something is meaningless if we also have an inability to confirm the possibilition of said something.
  9. Aug 20, 2004 #8

    I don't think he is suggesting otherwise. I think he's just saying that you shouldn't use the credibilty of the proponents as the means to make conclusions.
  10. Aug 21, 2004 #9
    You should no more accept what your pastor or Jesus or Albert E or anyone else has said. Accept nothing. Only here will you find truth. Without that commitment to truth or nothing, you will lead a self consoling life of belief yes or belief no, but you will not understand either way. All you have done is make a commitment to one side or the other. I understand so much and yet here I am, on this forum, writing these words and yet where else should I be? Life does not fit into neat boxes, it is infinitely enmeshed. Me I am going on a vision quest or at least I think. Sometimes I know and sometimes I do not. This time I do not know.

    Just remember, if you need someone else to understand for you, you never will. The world needs heros, 6 billion of them. Start with a commitment to the truth. That truth you will know when you find it and not need anyone to confirm it for you. It is beyond convinced and takes no sides. For this truth has no sides, no top or bottom. It does have a center, you may find it anywhere. I the midst of being lost I am found.
  11. Aug 21, 2004 #10
    My belief of God both includes and exceeds all logic.
  12. Aug 21, 2004 #11
    Thats great, I wasn't questioning your belief, just how belief is so often used as a tool to control or otherwise influence people.
  13. Aug 21, 2004 #12
    Religion, i. e. belief in God, has a long history of love and war, control and liberation, or influence and asceticism. Nowadays more people are questioning these tenets, either as individuals or members of organized religion. It seems that the "Other" is presently the scapegoat for being too controlling, or misusing influence, while one's own belief system is legitimized. Questioning values has become more of a denunciation than a vital, personal reassessment.
  14. Aug 21, 2004 #13
    The questioning of faith is nothing new. And your right, now days more people are questioning their faith although I do not believe it is because they are using faith as some sort of scapegoat. Education is most likely the greatest factor.

    Oh yeah, the "Other" may be presenting religion as being too controlling and misusing their influence because it is, and has been so for thousands of years.
  15. Aug 22, 2004 #14
    For what it's worth... I believe strongly there is a God.

    If you think about it, everything I know of can have a theory, an explanation, a mathematical solution or just plain ole basic observation except for one thing.

    Everything I know of that happens, happens because of something. You hit hit a nail with a hammer it goes in wood, worlds collide and creates moons, atoms do this and that, and whatever happens, happens. I mean EVERYTHING in the universe has some kind of explanation or will have once we have better ways to understand it all. Again, except for one thing.

    With that said, I think we are just scratching the surface of what God has knowledge of.

    Of all the things in this universe, they all have some sort of action that take place to make things happen the way they do, except for one thing. Can you name that thing? Once you can, you will believe. If not, you will never believe, so why are you here searching? Just think about it, what is the one thing in this universe that has no reason for happening? Include everything you know of, even try to find out about things you don't know of.... but the answer is already in your mind...
  16. Aug 22, 2004 #15
    Because we do not know the cause of something, does not give us the liberty of making up its cause. For thousands of years man has been contributing things to the acts of god. Before science knew what causes lightning, it was the gods, not charge differences in the atmosphere and earth. Before humanity knew that bacteria and virus caused sickness, it was thought to be the vengeance of god that caused people to get sick. Before we knew the causes of eclipse, they were god's warning of impending doom. I could go on all day with examples like these.

    So throughout history we have found many things that we once had attributed to supernatural are really just expressions of the natural world we live in. I see no reason for this trend not to continue.
  17. Aug 22, 2004 #16
    I disagree, that trend is over. And while there are still alot of things scientist don't have figured it out, most are on the right track. Or we don't have the understanding fully of it yet. But still, we know that there is a cause, and reactions and reasons and explanations for everything.

    Except, for one thing... this one thing isn't explainable nor will it ever be. There is no cause for it. There is no reason, there is no physical occurence, it just happens... I't really can't even be measured. It can't be observed scientifically, but it happens constantly. Some may even argue it doesn't exist as something real....but it is. Not in a physical sense, but the fact that it happens. And in the end, effects us and things around us.
  18. Aug 22, 2004 #17
    Well if your could provide support of your view that that trend is over, and proof of this one thing, I'd be more inclined to believe you.
  19. Aug 25, 2004 #18
    I got quite a laugh out of dcbobo's vague discription of a pseudo-important "thing". We do not care for "beating-around-the-bush", either get to the point, or privately torment yourself. Thanks
  20. Sep 1, 2004 #19
    Vanesch, why do you prefer nothingness after death?
  21. Sep 1, 2004 #20
    Please consider a working example of the supernatural. If there is no such supernatural/natural distinction for us, the possibility exists that for others Deity is indeed a Universal being.
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