Why do people believe in a non-existent Abrahamic God?

From Gezza:


Everybody knows that in various parts of the world there have been cruelties, multiple murders, mass executions, mass shootings, beheadings, suicide bombings, sectarian killings – all carried out by fanatical followers of what is usually claimed to be severe, but utterly perverted, versions of Islam.

And they know that by far the most of their victims have been Muslims, often members of other sects, or innocent people who, for example, just happened to be there, or passing by, when an IED went off.

But many victims in the recent past have been Westerners – Christians, Jews, people of other faiths, or no religious faith. And these attack & victims often seem to attract far more attention in Western media than the multiple murders of so many other victims of the constantly currently ongoing Islamic extremist terrorist attacks & in Africa, Afghanistan, & some Middle Eastern countries, to name a few.

Many Christians & their leaders, as well as what are frequently called, these days, moderate or ordinary Muslims, claim that this is not Islam. This is not what Allah, who communicated the Quran, through the angel Gabriel, to Muhammad, & thereafter, to all believers, ever intended to happen. That these murderers, like the Christchurch mass murderer are deluded, dreadfully misguided, or just simply plain evil.

Christians & Jews & Muslims, however, all believe that their own version of the same, sole, & only Creator God, Jaweh is the true & correct one.

And, they also believe all sorts of patently untrue claims about them, including that, as God, each one – the same one in some form or other – has communicated with ancient, bronze age, iron age, & medieval age, scientifically & educationally ignorant, goat herders, shepherds, song writers, wandering prophets, kings, warriors, warlords, a Merchant Camel Caravan trader – & god knows who else (so to speak).

Communicated in all sorts of diverse ways, nearly all of them, in my view, ridiculous. To tell them how the world, and they, were created. And what this non-existent, mythical God expects, & wanted – and still wants – them to do.

Creating also phantasmal places of eternal punishment – to scare them into obeying its sometimes cruel & bizarre, originating-culture-driven, rules & commands. And creating equally unbelievable temptations of a rapturous reward in a veritable heaven on earth-type utopia after death, or at the forthcoming (completely imaginary) Last Day, the Day of Judgement, if they do so.

Throughout history, at many places & various times, all, or many of the believers in, and followers of:

The Israelites’ Jaweh – the original, Old Testament model (sticking with this spelling, for simplicity) the Jewish God

and

The Christians’ Father (Jaweh), his Son, Jesus, & the Holy Spirit entity – who popped up in the New Testament along with Jesus – the mythical 3-in-1 God; the Trinity – version 2, new & improved

and

The Muslims’ Allah, who instructed Muhammad about everything humans needed to know that mattered, & corrected all the misinterpretations & misrepresentations that had happened with the Jews & Christians over time such that they had now got his messages & information about “life, the universe, & everything” – including his requirements for humans – all screwed up

have carried out, sanctioned, or just ignored or not cared about, countless outrages, cruelties, killings, invasions, repressions, inquisitions, tortures, & resistances to reason or knowledge, by their fellow believers or leaders – simply because they, incredibly, actually believe in the existence & claimed supernatural abilities, & loving, beneficent nature of this bizarre, contradictory, confusing, confused, failure of a god; this non-existent entity.

For God’s sake! WHY?

There is NO convincing, reasoned, logical proof or actual tangible, physical evidence this god even exists. None.

They are claiming something exists that is invisible & empirically indemonstrable, & that it has wonderful properties, that it has given advice, wisdom, knowledge & ultimate rules to humans – that the very holy books & other scriptures these believers use to promote these myths as a viable theory – plus history, plus science, plus simple logic, & observation – all, clearly, utterly disprove.

Why is this “thing” needed? What on earth makes people believe in it?

Is it fear? Are they just afraid that, when they die, that’s the end of their existence? Do they need to believe there’s a way their being, their essence, personality,  consciousness, their “soul” (i.e. they) will live forever?

Are they driven by a psychological need to believe they will one day be everlastingly perfect, & see their dead loved ones, also perfect, again?

Are they convinced that without fear of a post-mortem everlasting punishment, and/or the expectation of a rapturous paradise for believing & obeying – they’d be bad, cruel, horrible, uncharitable, uncaring people, & so will everyone else?

Do they need to believe bad, evil people will one day get sentenced to everlasting torment as punishment? That “too bad, the bastards bloody deserve it – and more !”

Are their current lives miserable ones, & they can’t for some reason expect or act to change them? Is accepting their poor lot as “God’s will” making it something that can be endured more easily, because they really think there’s a mythical paradise, a beautiful, better, everlasting life – with no fears, no worries, just pleasure, satisfaction, peace, calm, no stress, no unmet needs at all to come, one day?

Are they just scared that, despite all the things we have now learnt about how the universe, the earth, plants, animals, humans – the real world, really work – there are so  many, many things we still don’t know? Can they not live with not knowing, but that it doesn’t matter?

I was raised a Christian. It’s the religion I know the most about & have read & thought & debated & argued the most about. I don’t know whether there is a single, sole creator of the universe, but I see no evidence that, if there is one, it has ANY interest in actively intervening in the operation of the Cosmos, or in human affairs, or that it has ever done so.

I know lots of people – apparently rational, sane, educated, knowledgeable, intelligent people – still believe in it. And that at least as many of the same kind of intelligent people, (maybe, hopefully, now a lot more) don’t.

I can say that I have NEVER, EVER seen ANY irrefutable, empirical evidence, or ANY convincing hint of evidence, or any truly convincing argument that the Abrahamic God does, really, actually exist.  Only tortuous attempts at arguing that it does, from the start point of doggedly-committed, already-believing followers, that it does, trying to think up & argue any thing they can to justify already believing in something that’s clearly not even there.

So, I often wonder why some people need to believe it exists? What does it do for them? What need does it meet that the rest of us who know it’s a myth don’t have?

Interested to hear from anyone what they think, and why?


This post has been added to the Your NZ menu for easy access. If there is continued interest in this it may be continued, or there may be further linked posts.

This post and discussion may be confronting for some people – if you don’t like your religious beliefs challenged then it may not be for you.

The usual rules on decent debate and no abuse apply – this is a debate on the concepts of gods and religion, and is not an opportunity for free shots at specific groups of religious followers. Comments that I think are inappropriate may be edited or deleted.

PG

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76 Comments

  1. Gerrit

     /  13th April 2019

    “Is accepting their poor lot as “God’s will” making it something that can be endured more easily, because they really think there’s a mythical paradise, a beautiful, better, everlasting life – with no fears, no worries, just pleasure, satisfaction, peace, calm, no stress, no unmet needs at all to come, one day?”

    For two reasons that quote stands out.

    One, it means that we don’t have to take responsibility for living the life we lead. It is a cop out that stops personal development into being the person we want to be in the short time frame available to us all.

    Two, it is a means to mass control a population into a compliant single entity. Who does this? Church and State. If we had 7 billion free thinkers all doing what they wanted to do there would be no control over the fluid societies that the free thinkers could create.

    Religion is a method to dumb down the population into group think with promises that cannot be proven to exist. Blind faith in a better, and non existing, after life if one is compliant with religious and state needs to control the individual. Those promises, as you say, make the lives we lead now bearable.

    So we have a conflict of interest by both differing religious and state functionaries on how to control the population, hence why the numerous conflicts between varying religions and states. The conflicts are rarely about individual people, always about religious and state functionaries for control over the masses.

    Reply
    • Blazer

       /  13th April 2019

      great post Gerrit,have to agree with the lot.

      Reply
      • Kitty Catkin

         /  13th April 2019

        It’s a gross insult to intellectuals like CS Lewis who were believers.

        Reply
        • Kimbo

           /  13th April 2019

          Oh, come on, Kitty Catkin. Gerrit’s may arguably be an over-simplification, indeed a gross caricature of the philosophical and existential problem of theodicy with which the likes of Jack Lewis wrestled

          …but I doubt Lewis would resort to piety, much less outrage and employing the “I’m offended” gambit to try and silence a contrary opinion. Indeed, he would welcome it. Good theology must be able to respond to, engage with and wrestle with current opinion, or else it loses any purpose.

          Incidentally, I’ve always found Lewis a bit over-rated, and contrary to much opinion, his cloistered prose not to my taste. But “ya pays yer money and ya takes yer pick”.

          Reply
          • Kitty Catkin

             /  13th April 2019

            Gerrit was rudely putting words into my mouth and claiming that I was saying and thinking things that I was not. Nobody likes that.

            I said ‘intellectuals LIKE CS Lewis’. Gerrit then became hung up on CS Lewis himself; I would be very surprised if he had read as much of or by CSL as I have. Wikipedia, forsooth, Spare me, I don’t know how many of CSL’s works I have and can’t be bothered to go and count, but I have more than one bio and (of course) the Narnia series.

            I don’t need Gerrit to tell me about him.

            He (G) was setting up straw men, the last resort of someone who hasn’t a proper argument.

            I think that Joy Lewis is over-rated and wonder if her work would survive on its own merit. I will admit to not having read much, and am inclined to agree with those who think that she saw him coming.

            CSL’s science fiction does little for me, but I am not enamoured of sci-fi generally.

            Reply
        • Gerrit

           /  13th April 2019

          Are you grossly insulted on his behalf? He was an atheist at one time by abandoning his childhood Christian faith and becoming an interested in mythology and the occult.
          Lewis cited that his experience of the horror of war ( he served in WW1), along with the loss of his mother and his unhappiness in school, were the bases of his pessimism and atheism. He was “angry with God for not existing”.

          Read his Wikipedia entry

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/C._S._Lewis

          His believe went from being an atheist to Norse mythology and to his native Celtic mythology. At Oxford he “vigorously resisted conversion, noting that he was brought into Christianity like a prodigal, kicking, struggling, resentful, and darting his eyes in every direction for a chance to escape”.

          If anything CS Lewis (who was converted by JR Tolkien) would well understand the argument presented. Amazingly enough Lewis with his Chronicles of Nardia books and Tolkien with Lord of the Rings sagas dabbled very much in the unchristian fairly tales written in those books.

          So why do you assume that CS Lewis would be insulted and who are you to judge his thoughts?

          Reply
          • Kitty Catkin

             /  13th April 2019

            I didn’t say that he would BE insulted, nor did I say that I was insulted on his behalf or that I was judging his thoughts. Don’t be like Corky and put words in my mouth.

            I said that it was an insult TO him and others of his ilk.

            I don’t need to look him up on Wikipedia, thank you. I own books about him as well as many of his religious works. I am fully aware of how he came to be a believer.

            Reply
            • Gerrit

               /  13th April 2019

              Well , blow me a new one. I read the “gross insult” comment wrong.

              Hard to read what you mean when your wit is but one sentence. Better explanations should be communicated so as not to get your meanings wrong..

              Why is it an insult TO him than?

            • Kitty Catkin

               /  13th April 2019

              I can’t be bothered to go through all this again, I’m sorry.

            • Gerrit

               /  13th April 2019

              That is the problem. No lines of communications.

              The “intellectuals” of the time could only reconcile their faith with the facts that they knew at the time.

              For example JR Lewis would not have been aware that the universe was and is still expanding. How would he have conceived a GOD whose work was not finished? How would he have conceived that his GOD had created a universe so large that the light from galaxies so far away has not even reached earth yet? That the universe started with a big bang and question how GOD did that?

              And would that knowledge have changed his perspective?

              Sure you cant be bothered, but that does not alter the fact that very little preached in ALL the religions marries up with the what we know about our expanding cosmos.

              All the great “intellectuals” could only theorise with the facts they knew all the time. As our knowledge expands those “intellectuals” become less and less relevant as their theories no longer match the expanding knowledge we have of our physical world.

            • Kitty Catkin

               /  14th April 2019

              CS Lewis was alive in the 1960s; they were not that ignorant then.

  2. artcroft

     /  13th April 2019

    For a variety of reasons. You may have been brought up to believe in God (that’s a weak reason easily challenged by the daily slings and arrows of life), or you may have actually encountered God in some way. Religious experiences are far from unusual and are difficult to ignore. Another reason is that the world seems best explained as the creation of an intelligence. After all to say that it’s all just an accident seems a bit of a stretch. Ultimately we are operating from limited knowledge so faith is required which ever route you chose.

    Reply
    • Gezza

       /  13th April 2019

      Another reason is that the world seems best explained as the creation of an intelligence.

      Thanks arty. I don’t think that’s true. How the earth was created is plausibly demonstrated by physics & cosmology – the scientific one, gravity being an obvious strong influence. And our universe can just as easily, and more correctly, be considered an inexplicable first creation event or a recurring event that we can’t yet understand, but one day humans might figure out & be able to scientifically prove.

      After all to say that it’s all just an accident seems a bit of a stretch.

      It’s not an accident. It’s just an occurrence.

      Ultimately we are operating from limited knowledge so faith is required which ever route you chose.

      That’s true in many – even most – aspects of our lives. For practical purposes we have to take it on faith that the sun will rise again every day, that mathematics works, that the mechanic who has to sort out “wtf’s wrong with my bloody car?” & fix it knows what she’s doing, etc. That various “authorities” on all kinds of matters are telling us the truth, and are right. And so can be believed – because what they tell us can be proven empirically to be reliable, testable, reproducible, & correct, by others, or ourselves.

      But gods, & in the case of my post, specifically THIS god – can’t. Also, if the universe has to have a unique, intelligent, creator, because nothing can come from nothing, then, that creator MUST also need to have a creator. So, we don’t understand this, yet, is really all that can realistically truthfully be said, in my view.

      Reply
      • artcroft

         /  13th April 2019

        I would agree “This God” has problems and that is why the bible is confused and contradictory in many places. The bible is the result of many different people grappling with the issues of cosmology over vast periods of time and in very different situations. The various authors often came to significantly different conclusions.

        Even themes are difficult to detect but perhaps a place to start is that the cosmos was a deliberate act of creation, that order and chaos are present in the system but that ultimately order will prevail. Though what such a system would look like the biblical authors were unable to articulate clearly.

        Reply
      • Kimbo

         /  13th April 2019

        You are too quick, I would suggest, to write off the Ancients and their literature, which are, I would suggest more sophisticated than you give credit, irrespective of what you automatically consider superstition. Lots of things may change, but human nature doesn’t. And they were fully human.

        Hence, irrespective of science explaining “how”, it cannot explain “why”. And irrespective of claims that existing religious culture “skews” expectation, it would seem that human nature has an inbuilt capacity and need to “make sense” of both itself and the cosmos. Indeed science is an expression of that need for transcendence, even though it can only explain the material.

        Sure, as per Freud the desire for a beatific after-life may result in the wish-fulfilment of religion. Nonetheless, whatever else there is something in religion, or at least the transcendent that resonates with our core being. I think that is why, say Jordan Peterson who operates from the perspective of embedded psychological archetypes is having such an impact.

        In Scripture that “something” that resonates within us is identified as “the image of God”. And no matter what they are, the Old and New Testaments purport to present the saga of the original creation of that image, it’s marring, and iys ultimate restoration. Compare that to the utopian Scientism that has its heyday in,say, the early 1960s, where technology was allegedly going to solve every human and material ill, from say (and I’ll list some of the alleged Pandora’s Box failures of that overly-optimistic era) le Corbusier’s architecture, nuclear power and thalidomide. Contrary to expectations, but unsurprisingly, religion and mysticism didn’t disappear. Indeed by the late 1960s they underwent an explosion of renewed interest in the West…and never went away in the rest of the World.

        I’ve said it before, Gezza, I’ll say it again. You have a bunch of cultural and metaphysical assumptions that are driving your perspective. Nothing wrong with that, we all do. But at present your critique of religion boils down to…it is too ridiculous for your existing plausibility structure. Not looking to “put you in a box”, but unless you start to examine and critique the box you are already in, you will continue to talk past those who are religious. And they will likely reciprocate. 😀

        Reply
        • Gezza

           /  13th April 2019

          Cheers, Kimbo. I’m glad you’ve found some time. I’m off to shop for ma & go to her place for lunch. She’s on the countdown to exiting this world, sadly. But I’ll have a good read of that & probably respond further, later.

          But at present your critique of religion boils down to…it is too ridiculous for your existing plausibility structure.

          No, it doesn’t boil down to that. That’s an unnecessary misrepresentation of my viewpoint, imo.

          Not looking to “put you in a box”, but unless you start to examine and critique the box you are already in, you will continue to talk past those who are religious.

          I am happy to do that. And I respect your knowledge & views on the topic of religion greatly. I don’t mind talking past those who are religious & don’t want to examine why & whether they should continue to believe in their religion. I am more interested in talking to those who, like me, began to have, rational & perfectly legitimate, reasonable, doubts.

          Hope you might consider a post of your own some day.

          Reply
        • Kitty Catkin

           /  13th April 2019

          I am finding that you tend to repeat yourself at length, Gezza, and are starting to sound a little fanatical.

          How do you know that God/Allah/Hashem/Shiva/Ganesh/Kali et al are non-existent ?

          It always surprises me that some non-believers have to go all out abusing the faith of those who believe (and by extension the people). It’s the mirror image of people like Mother.

          Reply
          • Kimbo

             /  13th April 2019

            To be fair, Gezza seems to say he finds the claims for any evidence for the existence of the Abrahamic (indeed any) God unconvincing. Fair enough. So much of what he then writes is rhetoric added to emotionally buttress and sell his case. Also fair enough, as theists, indeed most apologists and polemicists no matter what they are propounding do the same thing too.

            The problem is that, when pressed, Gezza has not yet told us what evidence he would consider sufficient to verify the claims of what he rightly describes as the “Bronze and Iron Age” originators. Indeed, the last time I acknowledged that “extraordinary claims require extraordinary proofs”, and then proceed to ask Gezza what would hypothetically constitute sufficient specific evidence. I received the reply:

            “It looks to me like your belief is fixed, however, & that you are very experienced in developing arguments for why it must be & explaining away the inconsistencies & illogicalities in your fundamental text.”.

            https://yournz.org/2019/03/31/a-more-tolerant-view-of-religion/

            Well, that’s one way to avoid the issue, and open up the possibility of Gezza subconsciously moving his goal posts every time a theists seeks to engage. 😁 But now we have time to kick the tyres on Gezza’s assumptions – and yours and mine too, Kitty Catkin – so let’s see what develops…

            Reply
          • Gezza

             /  13th April 2019

            I am finding that you tend to repeat yourself at length, Gezza, and are starting to sound a little fanatical.

            I might let that one go because
            1. anyone who practices a religion (& that used to include me) tends to do that, a lot, especially on Sundays
            2. thinking about someone who regularly posts here who doesn’t need to be named quite often makes similar observations about some of your comments relating to him or the things he posts about – & vice versa – & there’s some truth in rspect of each of you, imo.
            3 religous beliefs actually come up a lot here – often amounting to Islam is bad/false whereas Christianity is good/true
            4. it’s kind of a cheap shot, attacking the person; not the argument,which quite often happens in debates when people think they might be losing or that their position & argument is actually weak.

            How do you know that God/Allah/Hashem/Shiva/Ganesh/Kali et al are non-existent ?

            There’s no actual empirical evidence for any of them & lots of reasons & evidence to suggest they are non-existent, or both good & bad, & mostly wrong in their explanations of reality.

            The default position regarding some claim of unnatural or supernatural entities, or events, that hasn’t, & can’t, be repeatably & irrefutably demonstrated or proven to be true –

            especially where the claims originated from days of educational/scientific ignorance (science now explains many phenomena & “things” attributed to gods because they were commonly observed or experienced by simple folk who needed an explanation & that one was easily sold to them –

            should be non-belief, or at least doubt, until investigation provides proof of truth or validity.

            Would you just buy a car from trademe on the strength of someone’s claim it needs no fuel or maintenance ever and will never pollute or emit greenhouse gases, nor have any produced to create it, nor wear out, & that they are an angel sent by God to sell it to you for a prayer, & a sacrifice to him of a cucumber sandwich – because YOU are the special, chosen person who is destined to reveal them to the world & tell everyone how to get them?

            It always surprises me that some non-believers have to go all out abusing the faith of those who believe (and by extension the people). It’s the mirror image of people like Mother.

            Well, you can always just skip over such comments?

            Reply
            • Kimbo

               /  13th April 2019

              The default position regarding some claim of unnatural or supernatural entities, or events…should be non-belief, or at least doubt, until investigation provides proof of truth or validity.

              Agree, with some modifications and added nuance:

              As per Cartesian skepticism, it is not just claims of unnatural or supernatural entities, or events, but all entities and events. The scientific method proceeds from the basis of skepticism.

              However that does not necessarily mean that the scientific method is the best primary method to establish the likelihood of a supernatural entity and event. It may aid and assist, but it is not the same as, say, historical enquiry. I can elaborate if required, but won’t to keep this brief (by my standards!)

              Also, I’m not sure “proof” is the best goal, as, due to personal bias, we can all misjudge. Hence a jury consists of 12. A better goal I would suggest is “sufficient evidence”.

              So if those qualifications are agreeable to you, what would be suitable evidence which, if (note the hypothetical!) it was produced, would at least make you reconsider your existing opinions about the non-existence of Yahweh?

              Again, not trying to convince you otherwise, at least not in this post. Just wanting to know what the goal we are mutually aiming for looks like?

            • Gezza

               /  13th April 2019

              I’ve kind of addressed that below, our posts crossed. If you want to argue for “sufficient evidence” I’m happy to consider & critique a post from you on what is sufficent evidence for you & whether I agree that is or dhould be enuf for me (never mind other atheists or agnostics.

              I’m not trying to divert from that issue, Kimbo – I just did this post to get comments from people on WHY people who believe in this God, DO believe in this god – and suggested some possible reasons. That’s potentially a big enuf topic for me today.

              Further up, somewhere, you’ve said something about folk worldwide having an innate inborn spirituality. I want to think about, check out some definitions & respond to that because I experience often what some people would interpret as spirituality, or wairua, which doesn’t lead me to the conclusion the God of the Jews, Xtians, & Muslims is therefore as described & real.

            • Kimbo

               /  13th April 2019

              Further up, somewhere, you’ve said something about folk worldwide having an innate inborn spirituality. I want to think about, check out some definitions & respond to that…

              Fair enough although I used the word “transcendent” as it gives more breadth for expression. It is, for example, a definition that was satisfactory to the late Christopher Hitchens and why I chose it. Indeed, he insisted we must personally and collectively engage with the transcendent. So it seems a good word to achieve common ground in your quest to understand what could motivate some religious people.

            • Gezza

               /  13th April 2019

              Happy to talk about transcendant, but I’m not a fan of Hitchens. Always struck me as an angry atheist. I’m not.

            • Kimbo

               /  13th April 2019

              Hitchens certainly qualifies as one of the “new atheists”. However, unlike Dawkins and Harris, he has a good grounding in the humanities, including literature. As a result he is much better when engaging with metaphysics.

              The latter, irrespective of their undoubted expertise in evolutionary biology and neuroscience respectively, just assume their unrealised and unexamined metaphysical assumptions are self-evident truth and charge on blundering into all sorts of avoidable mistakes.

              But yeah at times Hitchens exhibited all the amusing strengths and propagandist failings of Volatire.

            • Gezza

               /  13th April 2019

              @ Kimbo

              The thing that has put me off Hitchens & to some extent Dawkins a bit, is that, I have seen them both engage in debates & launch into all the bad & oppressive, constraining things about the Abrahamic religions, whereas I was raised by parents who were Christians (certainly my natural mum was, & dad loved her, so while not really particularly absorbed by it, he went along with her for the ride until the end).

              And I was exposed to all the good bits in the Bible. ONLY the good bits – the values I still hold dear today & wish everyone did. There’s no question for me that these were good, for me, and others. Or that the whip of eternal punishment & promise of eternal happiness were crucial tools in helping instil them in me from an early age. My parents AND my belief in the transcendant God of Xtianity were formative in parts of my make up that I never want to change.

              I think this is true of many atheists & agnostics raised in Christianity. It’s not possible for us to know if we would have developed these values without this background, or without living in a society that has traditionally observed them through having got them, and refined them, from Christianity. I don’t think they gave it enuf credit for this.

              But the real world was a bit of a shock when I discovered not everybody is good, & how naive some of the beliefs I was taught were. And that there are many gods. And that nobody knows about them all. And that they all have the same lack of empirical proof. And that this god seems to have been a blundering incompetent at times.

            • Kitty Catkin

               /  13th April 2019

              Not a cheap shot at all; it’s an answer to what you’re doing, and it’s not like you. It seems to be a real obsession now, and I don’t want to see you like that. You’re better than that.

              You say that you’re an agnostic; isn’t that someone who doesn’t know if there is a God or not ?

              The used car analogy is a silly one.

            • Gezza

               /  13th April 2019

              You say that you’re an agnostic; isn’t that someone who doesn’t know if there is a God or not ?

              Back from ma’s again, now. Hang on, I’ll check. 😐

            • Gezza

               /  13th April 2019

              Agnosticism is the view that the existence of God, of the divine or the supernatural is unknown or unknowable.

              Gets into a lot more detail & categorisation than I can be bothered to meander thru at the moment. At a basic level that’s close enuf to my broad position.

              I don’t rule out there being one or more prime mover which created tne big bang & resulting universe, & which in doing so created the conditions that generated a first “spark” to animate the first self-replicating independently mobile creature, so that evolution via random mutation could take over from there.

              I don’t know. Nobody does. All we have is hypotheses & theories. I’ve thought of several possibilities as to why we have our universe & what it might be, & then discovered I’m not the only one to think of that. There’s entire religions & hypotheses built around them.

              I prefer to talk about a creator as I see no evidence that I find convincing such an entity, if it did exist, definitely involves itself in any way with us, our world & our universe. But, you know, sometimes I play with imaginary entities & evaluate outcomes & probabilities, not scientifically, just playfully.

              I have a God of Finding Lost Things who’s a bit erratic but sometimes seems to be back from lunch when I call & suddenly gives me locations or suggestions to look somewhere a second time, more carefully. Its track record’s not bad. Maybe 75% success rate? I think it’s female.,

              I also have a God of Finding Me Empty Car Parks Right Outside My Destination, who has an estimated success rate of about 80%.

              No idea how they work but they work better than just swearing or assuming there won’t be a free car park at the location I’m going to so may as well park up the street around the corner, & waok back, sort of thing.

              https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Agnosticism

            • Gezza

               /  13th April 2019

              PS: I also used to have a God Of “Oh God – No, Please No – Please Don’t Let This Happen To Me” who was always needed urgently & was flaming useless, so I’ve dropped him from my pantheon.

        • Gezza

           /  13th April 2019

          @ Kimbo

          To be fair, Gezza seems to say he finds the claims for any evidence for the existence of the Abrahamic (indeed any) God unconvincing. Fair enough. So much of what he then writes is rhetoric added to emotionally buttress and sell his case.

          No it isn’t. Well, I don’t think so, but I’m happy to examine & consider that. Can you explain how I’m attempting to use rhetoric to emotionally buttress & sell my case?

          Gezza has not yet told us what evidence he would consider sufficient to verify the claims of what he rightly describes as the “Bronze and Iron Age” originators.

          I think that’s a really big topic of its own. For now, I might just say ANY evidence that ANY event has a supernatural cause that is undeniably attributable to the Abrahamic God. And to suggest you might consider what actual evidence convinces you? Because that’s the more relevant question.

          In fact I would very much like you to. Because I’m fascinated to know & you are intelligent enough to know how to attempt a justification of your evidence, rather than just whine about me.

          Reply
          • Kimbo

             /  13th April 2019

            Can you explain how I’m attempting to use rhetoric to emotionally buttress & sell my case?

            As per Kitty’s critique, you can, IMHO, take a razor and boil your original post down to “the Abrahamic God does not exist on the basis that extraordinary claims require extraordinary proofs, so those who do believe are in some way intellectually, emotionally,, socially and/or morally deficient”.

            Instead, you took us on a highly selective (IMHO) extended tour of the alleged historical failings and motivations of Abrahamic religion. No problem with that although it could have been condensed, and you could have omitted rhetotical questions which are based on the begging-the-question presumption of God’s non-existence such as:

            Why is this “thing” needed? What on earth makes people believe in it?
            Is it fear? Are they just afraid that, when they die, that’s the end of their existence? Do they need to believe there’s a way their being, their essence, personality, consciousness, their “soul” (i.e. they) will live forever?
            Are they driven by a psychological need to believe they will one day be everlastingly perfect, & see their dead loved ones, also perfect, again?
            Are they convinced that without fear of a post-mortem everlasting punishment, and/or the expectation of a rapturous paradise for believing & obeying – they’d be bad, cruel, horrible, uncharitable, uncaring people, & so will everyone else?
            Do they need to believe bad, evil people will one day get sentenced to everlasting torment as punishment? That “too bad, the bastards bloody deserve it – and more !”
            Are their current lives miserable ones, & they can’t for some reason expect or act to change them? Is accepting their poor lot as “God’s will” making it something that can be endured more easily, because they really think there’s a mythical paradise, a beautiful, better, everlasting life – with no fears, no worries, just pleasure, satisfaction, peace, calm, no stress, no unmet needs at all to come, one day?
            Are they just scared that, despite all the things we have now learnt about how the universe, the earth, plants, animals, humans – the real world, really work – there are so many, many things we still don’t know? Can they not live with not knowing, but that it doesn’t matter?

            Yeah ok, we get the idea. But hey, my prose get’s verbose so I’m not one to criticise, more recognise what Kitty was recognising in your post.

            More to the point is why you wrote like that – because you’ve tacitly realised that we are not entirely rational beings, even when we think we are judging that way. Hence we can use loaded language to seal the deal. Please, I’m not criticising you for it, nor (take note!) saying that your views as stated here rest on emotion. But these words you wrote don’t just attempt to inform the mind, but also stir the heart (and you have assumed they are facts!).

            Reply
          • Kimbo

             /  13th April 2019

            I think that’s a really big topic of its own. For now, I might just say ANY evidence that ANY event has a supernatural cause that is undeniably attributable to the Abrahamic God.

            Sorry, I’m gonna kick the tyres a bit more here. I’d suggest that you slipped that adverb (my emphasis) “undeniably” in there without thinking it through sufficiently. If we are proceeding from skepticism, then there is a sense in which whatever we conclude is “real/existent/true” it is always to some degree provisional. So a better working model is sufficient/suggestive on the balance of probabilities. Which is how historical enquiry is conducted. Hence, for example, we seem to already agree that, irrespective of claims of divinity and miracles, Jesus of Nazareth did indeed exist.

            And to suggest you might consider what actual evidence convinces you? Because that’s the more relevant question.
            In fact I would very much like you to. Because I’m fascinated to know & you are intelligent enough to know how to attempt a justification of your evidence, rather than just whine about me.

            As per above, whatever the evidence, the methods of historical enquiry are the best tools to uncover and examine it. So before defining and considering any (at this stage hypothetical!) evidence, do we at least agree that is the best method of inquiry? And if so, do you have anything to add to further define the methods and tools before we interact with specific evidence?

            Reply
          • Gezza

             /  13th April 2019

            @ Kimbo

            Because those are all things I was taught, as a child, were why we should believe in God, & why he let bad things happen & why we should thank him when things we he did the things we prayed for, cos theyhappened, & why when they didn’t, he didn’t do the things we prayed for becos he’s good & he will have a good but humanly unknowable reason.

            Or, more likely, I eventually concluded, he’s actually irrelevant to it, because he’s not, unfortunately, actually there. Which also explains why if he’s so good, he lets bad things happen, like, I dunno, they’re endless, & pointless – say, 250,000 innocent drowned people, including Christians, on Boxing Day, 2004.

            He’s not bad, he’s not good, I reckon. He’s just not there. Shit happens. In that case because the earth ruptured under the strain of tectonic plate movement. And cool stuff happens too. But it just happens. And coincidences happen. And “if only I had got there earlier”-type stuff – just happens. It always has. To put it pop-academically. God’s not involved in what goes on down here.

            Human apes have a brain that evolved to allow them to imagine things. Concepts. And to be tricked. Magicians & mentalists & former mediums & psychologists have shown & explained how to us.

            Reply
          • Gezza

             /  13th April 2019

            @ Kimbo

            So before defining and considering any (at this stage hypothetical!) evidence, do we at least agree that is the best method of inquiry?

            No. I’m dubious. But I’m keen to see what you’ve got & to then see if that constitutes any kind of reasonable proof or at least a sufficiently large balsnce of probability to be reasonably considered more likely than not.

            And if so, do you have anything to add to further define the methods and tools before we interact with specific evidence?

            Concrete testable, demonstrable proof is the gold standard for God & anything asserted. But even in science an incredible amount of proof is based on best supported theory on the checkable, repeatable, thus reliable evidence so far.

            I’m happy to see how what you consider sufficient proof stacks up to critiquing.

            Would this possibly be better as a proper post from you? “Proof that God really exists” or similar? Something you could send to PG for uploading? It has to do with whether your god exists, rather than why people think he does.

            Reply
            • Kimbo

               /  13th April 2019

              No. I’m dubious. But I’m keen to see what you’ve got & to then see if that constitutes any kind of reasonable proof or at least a sufficiently large balsnce of probability to be reasonably considered more likely than not.

              Yeah, nah. You are right this is maybe better done as a separate post, but briefly I’d suggest that serious inquiry of any phenomena, including claims for the Abrahamic God’s existence, should be based on what that phenomena purports to be. Which then leads us to choosing the right methods of enquiry and the tools by which to asses it. These are the basics that undergird all research be it hard science like chemistry, soft science like ethnography or the humanities like history.

              So you don’t use a thermometer to measure wind speed, or a statistical questionnaire to plot tectonic plate movement, or a barometer to prove the existence of, say, Charlemagne. Which is why serious researchers nail this stuff down first rather than (to quote you “see what you’ve got & to then see if that constitutes any kind of reasonable proof”. If not, then you open the door to uncontrolled bias.

              The primary claim of the Abrahamic faiths is that a transcendent God who is therefore unproveable by the tools of hard science, intervened in human affairs. Therefore the tools of historic enquiry are the best method to test any alleged evidence for those interventions are primarily provided by…historical inquiry.

            • Gezza

               /  13th April 2019

              So you don’t use a thermometer to measure wind speed, or a statistical questionnaire to plot tectonic plate movement, or a barometer to prove the existence of, say, Charlemagne.

              No but you look at the amount of recorded evidence of his existenve & deeds which appear to have written by multiple, direct eyewitnesses, & can be reliably dated, & what physical evidence there is that reliably supports or confirms them.

              Which is why serious researchers nail this stuff down first rather than (to quote you “see what you’ve got & to then see if that constitutes any kind of reasonable proof”. If not, then you open the door to uncontrolled bias.

              Ok. I can understand that. We can try & nail it down. What sort of evidence do YOU consider should be accepted as proof of an invisible, transcendant being, and of miraculous deeds? And, as I don’t know what claims you believe in the Bible are true & what are allegorical, metaphorical etc – what properties of you god & what events and powers are your reasoned proofs / probabilites seeking to demonstrate?

            • Kimbo

               /  13th April 2019

              No but you look at the amount of recorded evidence of his existenve & deeds which appear to have written by multiple, direct eyewitnesses, & can be reliably dated, & what physical evidence there is that reliably supports or confirms them.

              Yep, based on that non-exhaustive list it seems we share common ground although your demand for “direct eyewitnesses” is not how most history has been preserved including from the Ancient World. Better would be “sufficiently reliable sources” I would suggest.

              What sort of evidence do YOU consider should be accepted as proof of an invisible, transcendent being, and of miraculous deeds? And, as I don’t know what claims you believe in the Bible are true & what are allegorical, metaphorical etc – what properties of you god & what events and powers are your reasoned proofs / probabilities seeking to demonstrate?

              No, again, and sorry to be a pedant, I’m not offering “proof”, just what many would consider sufficient evidence…to at least seriously consider. The Bible is a complex collection of varying genres, each requiring careful interpretation according to the specific genre. However, the sine qua non of the Christian faith is the physical resurrection of Christ as outlined in the New Testament. Indeed, in I Corinthians 15:12-19 the Apostle Paul freely admits that without it the Christian faith is “futile”, “pitiable” and to continue to assert it is “false witness”. So if it can be demonstrated, when examining the New Testament and other relevant historical data, that there is sufficient evidence Jesus remains dead, that for me would the “black swan” test that would nullify my faith.

              The resurrection fits within the overall logical tests for a miracle that would be necessary to verify any claim of divine revelation. I realise modern history deals with the naturalistic assumption that we are in a closed Universe where miracles do not occur.

              In this case, and as per the necessity to examine any phenomena with relevant tools I’d reject that anti-supernatural presupposition as invalid. After all, if one assumes no miracles can occur, then no evidence will convince one otherwise. Nonetheless, yet again I would acknowledge that the onus is on those who believe the resurrection occurred to demonstrate their extraordinary claim with extraordinary evidence.

            • Gezza

               /  13th April 2019

              Ok, cheers Kimbo. I think I’ve taken this far enuf for now, it’s a diversion from the topic of why people believe in this God. What makes them need to? What does it give them? I gotta head off again soon. Maybe I’ll get some time to consider your earlier comments suggesting WHY people believe it – which I think is correct, in a way.

            • Kimbo

               /  13th April 2019

              Fair enough Gezza nd have a good evening. However, one reason you may want to also consider is:

              “despite the personal preference of some that there is no God, nonetheless for them the evidence says otherwise”. 😃

            • Gezza

               /  13th April 2019

              Don’t get me wrong, Kimbo. I really wish in many ways there was one. And that it had had a much better comms strategy & not made so many cock ups.

            • Kimbo

               /  13th April 2019

              Hmm. Interesting. My wish – conscious at least, although there may indeed have been subconscious impulses to the contrary – was that there wasn’t!

          • Gezza

             /  13th April 2019

            Hence we can use loaded language to seal the deal. Please, I’m not criticising you for it, nor (take note!) saying that your views as stated here rest on emotion. But these words you wrote don’t just attempt to inform the mind, but also stir the heart (and you have assumed they are facts!).

            Sorry, I missed replying to this. It’s my position on it. But I admit, there wss a strong element of hoping some folk with a reasoned opinion on it might go (internally at least):

            “What ?? Arrogant, ignorant prick ! I’m not bloody ignoring that crap from this tosser! I’ll show him how he’s ****en wrong, wrong, wrong !” 😀

            Reply
            • Kimbo

               /  13th April 2019

              So using a sizzle to sell the sausage, eh, Gezza? No crime I that…unless there is a divine prohibition on pork. 😀🐷

  3. I am reminded of Pascal’s Wager, the thinking behind this that you make the bet with god, on his/hers existence.
    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pascal%27s_Wager
    Pascal thought you should make the bet that yes there is a God because of the infinity of his ability to reward you, everlasting life etc outweighs the chance it’s all bullshit, just on the chance it might be true.
    Personally I wouldn’t because of all bs and contradictions in the holy books.
    Surely a true god would have spread his holy word to all people, not just a few individuals and in the case of Jaweh just the Jews,

    I am reminded of a skit by Rowan Atkinson where he is god organising the new arrivals to the afterlife, adulterers to line up by the very small guillotine, and yes the Jews were right, “they are the chosen race”.

    Reply
  4. Maggy Wassilieff

     /  13th April 2019

    You would think that after being free of the yoke of organised religion for a couple of generations (at least) folks would welcome the opportunity to live their lives in a rational manner…but as soon as it was free to worship en masse Russians flocked backed in their millions to their Mother Church.

    It’s mind-blowing to go to Taiwan and see all the various temples (of goodness knows what persuasions) often located cheek by jowl around some lake, mountain or street corner.
    http://factsanddetails.com/southeast-asia/Taiwan/sub5_1b/entry-3813.html
    Looks like most people in the World seem to have (or need) a spiritual dimension to their lives.

    Perhaps thee & me are missing a soul gene.

    Reply
    • Kitty Catkin

       /  13th April 2019

      People always did worship in Russia, but in secret.

      I have been in a room when someone died. I wasn’t looking, and there was no sound, but it felt as if someone had left the room…you know how you know that someone has, even if you don’t hear them go. There was one less person there. I wasn’t expecting this to happen.

      Reply
      • Alan Wilkinson

         /  13th April 2019

        How do you know that spirit went to another room rather than just ceasing to exist?

        Reply
        • Kitty Catkin

           /  13th April 2019

          I know that there was a difference in the room.

          Reply
          • Gezza

             /  13th April 2019

            George Harrison’s wife, who was there, in a documentary on his life on Prime Rocks a coup,evof years back said the whole room lit up when George died.

            Reply
            • Gezza

               /  13th April 2019

              FIP !
              *couple of years back

            • Kitty Catkin

               /  13th April 2019

              I hadn’t heard of that one, but there is a difference when the person has died. The best way I could put it was that it was like when someone leaves the room and the room feels different even if they were making no sound when they were in it

            • Gezza

               /  13th April 2019

              I was with my wife, & I hoped for something like that, but it didn’t happen. Her brain would have died 8 hours earlier & I sat, holding her hand until her brain stem shut down & she stopped breathing.

  5. Alan Wilkinson

     /  13th April 2019

    As I’ve posted before the mystery of absurd adult beliefs puzzled me from age 12. I still haven’t solved it beyond the assumption that pretend comforts are somehow better than none.

    Reply
    • Kitty Catkin

       /  13th April 2019

      That is even more arrogant than Israel Folau’s statements.

      Do you really imagine that people suffer torture and death for pretend comforts ? Do you think that people would be racked and burnt at the stake for something they only pretend to believe in ?

      Reply
      • Kimbo

         /  13th April 2019

        To be fair to Alan Wilkinson (and he is capable of speaking for himself, indeed judged on past form he will very soon 😀)

        …if he is echoing Freud then the self-deception/wish-fulfillment of the religious for an after-life comes initially at the tacit subconscious level.

        Reply
      • Alan Wilkinson

         /  13th April 2019

        Of course they do, Kitty. Human capacity for self-deception seems infinite. Political and military leaders depend on it as do the churches.

        Why cling to obvious fallacies? Because they are comfortable. Why die for them? Because admitting they don’t exist is too terrifying.

        Reply
        • Alan Wilkinson

           /  13th April 2019

          If you need evidence of the above you need look no further than the jihadists.

          Reply
        • Kitty Catkin

           /  13th April 2019

          I wonder if you have ever met a torture victim. I have.

          Reply
          • Alan Wilkinson

             /  13th April 2019

            How would meeting one prove anything about God? (Except that He created arseholes and torturers if He exists.)

            Reply
  6. MaureenW

     /  13th April 2019

    I have a question for you Gezza. Do you think there is any order to the Universe? If so, what do you think ordered it?

    I don’t have much time for God’s and humans. Personally I don’t think humans are much more important than colonies of bees or ants – perhaps not as important – and definitely more stupid as a species. Given so called intelligence but defer to ancient fairy tales.

    Reply
    • Gezza

       /  13th April 2019

      I have a question for you Gezza. Do you think there is any order to the Universe? If so, what do you think ordered it?

      I’ve lost track of where physics & cosmology have got to on this question Maureen. Last time I tried to get a handle on it there appears to be an order to it that’s driven by uncertainty. 😐

      I guess, now that you ask, that does suggest a Committee.

      Reply
      • MaureenW

         /  13th April 2019

        So I’m picking that’s a no. Thought you’d at least have a look and get back to me on it 😉

        Reply
        • Gezza

           /  13th April 2019

          You know I luv ya like a sister sometimes, Maur, but, don’t get me started on this one. I’ve got enuf people biting me bum already today. I don’t want to turn the other cheek, so to speak. 😐

          Reply
        • Kimbo

           /  13th April 2019

          Consideration and further examination of Aquinas’ fifth way (the argument from design) may assist you both:

          The Fifth Way: Argument from Design
          We see that natural bodies work toward some goal, and do not do so by chance.
          Most natural things lack knowledge.
          But as an arrow reaches its target because it is directed by an archer, what lacks intelligence achieves goals by being directed by something intelligence.
          Therefore some intelligent being exists by whom all natural things are directed to their end; and this being we call God.

          http://web.mnstate.edu/gracyk/courses/web%20publishing/aquinasfiveways_argumentanalysis.htm

          Reply
          • Gezza

             /  13th April 2019

            But as an arrow reaches its target because it is directed by an archer, what lacks intelligence achieves goals by being directed by something intelligen[t]

            No. There are many things that do things that have no discernible goal, or whose actions are driven by biological imperatives to survive & reproduce & which show no intelligence. It is an unproven presumption that an intelligence is directing them.

            Therefore some intelligent being exists by whom all natural things are directed to their end; and this being we call God.

            Well, maybe, it’s a common theory. But assuming it did exist, it may not have directed anything to an end. It might have just caused something to happen & left it to run, like an experiment, back later to see how it worked, & if not happy, scrap the lot & start again.

            And you can call it God or Blinker or Superthing72, but it doesn’t follow it’s the Abrahamic God or has its alleged properies & did & does the stuff claimed.

            Reply
            • Kimbo

               /  13th April 2019

              And you can call it God or Blinker or Superthing72, but it doesn’t follow it’s the Abrahamic God or has its alleged properies & did & does the stuff claimed.

              Yep. And to be fair to Aquinas (for whom, as I’ve explained before, I don’t have that much time) he didn’t claim it did. Instead, he saw the natural and supernatural proofs for the existence of God as distinct…but seamlessly joined to one another.

      • Alan Wilkinson

         /  13th April 2019

        The laws of physics which include forces of attraction create order in places. Natural selection also creates order selectively. Both generate disorder in other places at the same time.

        Reply
  7. harryk

     /  13th April 2019

    ‘WHY?’

    Gezza. Because it gives them hope and makes them happy. When aggressive secularism and atheism threatens the foundation of their happiness and hope, there will be, and is, trouble.

    I’m probably similar to yourself ie Catholic who lost faith early on in supernatural explanations and was reduced to being a cultural Catholic. My wife remains an unquestioning believer and a much happier person them I am. No longer hoping for an afterlife I have to look for hope in my kids. That still leaves me, and the many like me, in the same sad position because my kids won’t have an afterlife either. Imagine a quarter of the world’s population, Muslim, who are happy and hopeful, threatened with the loss of happiness and hope by what they imagine to be a post Christian West. How could it be possible that human beings like themselves abandon faith, hope, happiness? The West must be decadent. Do you imagine they thank us for that? They don’t. For us, there’s no turning back, but I know many Christians overseas who prefer to live where the certainty of faith surrounds them, in tolerant Muslim majority countries where their kids grow up believing in an afterife and the happiness and hope that comes with it, rather than in an atheist [near] majority country like my own. We challenge other people’s hope and happiness at our own peril.

    Reply
    • Alan Wilkinson

       /  13th April 2019

      That’s odd. I find myself much happier than most believers in my family circles. They seem to be plagued by their beliefs that they and everything else should be better than they are. Whereas I just accept with equanimity that the world is full of idiots and try to avoid them and mix with good folk.

      Reply
      • Alan Wilkinson

         /  13th April 2019

        Oh, and because I’m not plagued with having to pass the after-life examination I am free and motivated to enjoy every day to the max.

        Reply
  8. Alan Wilkinson

     /  13th April 2019

    Frankly, I’m unconvinced metaphysics has earned a place in the knowledge basket rather than the entertainment basket despite its centuries of effort.

    Reply
  9. Alan Wilkinson

     /  13th April 2019

    As a side issue, I think it’s perfectly feasible and rational to be both agnostic and atheist on the basis that while a God that created and therefore is outside our universe is unknowable the attempts so far to identify one are so absurd as to be clearly false.

    Reply
    • Gezza

       /  13th April 2019

      I was a bit concerned nobody would have any interest in my post, & that it might vanish into obscurity by lunchtime, tbh. 😐

      Reply
  10. Gezza

     /  14th April 2019

    @ Kimbo

    the Ancients and their literature are, I would suggest more sophisticated than you give credit, irrespective of what you automatically consider superstition. Lots of things may change, but human nature doesn’t. And they were fully human.

    One can only go by what we have in the way of their writing that has survived. The very fact they had writing itself already indicates in itself that at the time the lore was written down they had a high level of sophistication. That human nature doesn’t change is one of my own constant refrains. And the fact we are at bottom still, an ape, explains some of our behaviours, like aggression, submission, sometimes absurd fights for dominance in domains we can transfer to abstract territories that only we can create, like intellectual debates, politics, religions, national identities, cultures.

    Hence, irrespective of science explaining “how”, it cannot explain “why”. And irrespective of claims that existing religious culture “skews” expectation, it would seem that human nature has an inbuilt capacity and need to “make sense” of both itself and the cosmos. Indeed science is an expression of that need for transcendence, even though it can only explain the material.

    Yes. To a point. Not everybody feels a need to understand the cosmos, or whether there’s even a need for a “why”, for example. I often wonder about “why” but Christianity doesn’t supply me with any useful, answer that makes any sense to me.

    Wanting to know how all kinds of things work & to make predictions to test our understanding is very much a human characteristic, I agree. Other apes, & dolphins have been observed & thought by some to show some apparent reasoning capacity. But I think we are the only animal capable of abstract thinking & the ability to create imaginary scenarios, situations & worlds in our heads, often multiple one – for comparison & evaluation.

    We can picture things & run complex movies in our minds, even imagining we are actually physically sensing them too. We certainly experience emotions in them.

    Sure, as per Freud the desire for a beatific after-life may result in the wish-fulfilment of religion. Nonetheless, whatever else there is something in religion, or at least the transcendent that resonates with our core being. I think that is why, say Jordan Peterson who operates from the perspective of embedded psychological archetypes is having such an impact.

    Fear of permanent death, the wish to continue living, I personally think is probably most the common motivator for people who believe in afterlives, although many probably wouldn’t admit it. (I hope there might be one, but currently think the probability is so crashingly low it’s better to assume there isn’t one & resolve to make the best you can of this, one, life we are certain of living, in case “This is all there is, & there ain’t no more, and that was all she wrote”.)

    These days, some people with the same fears & desire to live again turn to cryonics. One could even argue, maybe, that a genuinely kind & caring government looking to better peoples’ lives in the future should be looking for ways to build more affordable human cryopreservation facilities.

    There’s no particular type of person in my own experience who is prone or immune to the wish to live forever in an afterlife – but perhaps those not heavily exposed to a religion during formative & educative years may be more dismissive of it when presented with the notion.

    Had I never had the Bible interpreted for me constantly, with all the associated advertising & propaganda-type imagery & icons everywhere – at home, church, & at school, for as far back as I can remember (my school reports show multiple first prizes for religion, I recently discovered – up to Form 1) – & had I then been suddenly presented with a Bible to read & see what I think, at say Form 5 level, I know I would’ve gone: “Fark! WTF?” And binned it. I hated Shakespeare too. (Terrible speller.)

    Maybe scientists who deal with the physical sciences might have a higher proportion of non-believers, because they’re so disciplined in expecting & seeing empirical proofs & disproofs of hypotheses & theories. I’ve seen this claimed.

    In Scripture that “something” that resonates within us is identified as “the image of God”.

    One God? In the Abrahamic God scriptures, it is. It’s part of their foundation myth. Other cultures all have their own equivalents. Maori foundation myths are rich with the personifications / anthropomorphs of the natural world’s phenomena, structure, landforms – often tribal ancestors whose descendants live among us today. It’s an innate tendency of human psychology.

    And no matter what they are, the Old and New Testaments purport to present the saga of the original creation of that image, it’s marring, and its ultimate restoration.

    That’s where it goes all woolly & enters the realm of the far-fetched & unbelievable, in my view. But I can easily imagine why the Israelites believed it, & why it was so important to them. Like many early peoples, they were believers in the idea that sacrifices placated or pleased seen or unseen ruling gods, who would hear their requests, accept their offerings & praises, & then might show them favour – influencing the natural world to benefit them.

    It kept such a hold on the Jewish mind, the Christians obviously thought taking the human sacrifice idea & linking that to an idea that their frustrated God had shown his alleged affection for his disappointing chosen model humans, by sacrificing himself to himself , possibly to clear a problem of the depressingly bad idea of original sin forever psychologically screwing up the Jews’ & stuffing up their past, their present, unsatisfactory situation with the bloody Romans Lording it over them, & their seemingly unachievable glorious future?

    (Hey, I’m not aware of any significant discoveries in science or astronomy, or inventions such as mechanical devices, or say, engineering or construction techniques attributed to the Israelites. Do you know of any? If I get time, I might also look into the origins of their writing & when that can be dated to.

    I’m asking because I wonder if their foundation myth that one God created everything they needed, actually stopped them looking to discover & invent useful things or techniques, & studying & questioning how the physical world worked, aiming to innovate & improve their lives & conditions & knowledge.)

    Compare that to the utopian Scientism that has its heyday in,say, the early 1960s, where technology was allegedly going to solve every human and material ill, from say (and I’ll list some of the alleged Pandora’s Box failures of that overly-optimistic era) le Corbusier’s architecture, nuclear power and thalidomide.

    An pretty big overstatement there, imo. They were heady days for us teens, sure – best music of all time (pretty male sexist though, looking back) & optimistic times for our olds, sure. Great, if weren’t getting draft cards for Vietnam. But I never believed that technology would solve everything, nor were we ever taught that.

    We all worried about nuclear accidents & didn’t trust technology to be able to contain one. We worried about nuclear war breaking out & MAD happening, poisoning the planet. Vaccines were a great boon, yes. Advances in medical technology & knowledge were too. Cock ups & cover ups like thalidomide & the known adverse effects of cigarettes becoming known led us not to trust businesses & scientists blindly, though. Toffler’s Future Shock came out in 1970 & unnerved plenty, suggesting tech advances were changing the world too fast for societies to adapt, & that social disasters loomed.

    Contrary to expectations, but unsurprisingly, religion and mysticism didn’t disappear. Indeed by the late 1960s they underwent an explosion of renewed interest in the West…and never went away in the rest of the World.

    In the West it was an explosion of metaphysical alternatives to Christianity in particular that I noticed. They were better, more interesting ideas to explore. I dabbled in several. Also psychological reprogramming ideas. The Power of Positive Thinking concepts – some with metaphysical linkages. Some seemed to work way better than prayer & belief in Jesus for me. A couple gave me some interesting experiences & I still quietly sometimes try accessing a possible universal force, or intellect, while not understanding how it works, if it works. And not needing to.

    I’ve said it before, Gezza, I’ll say it again. You have a bunch of cultural and metaphysical assumptions that are driving your perspective. Nothing wrong with that, we all do. But at present your critique of religion boils down to…it is too ridiculous for your existing plausibility structure. Not looking to “put you in a box”, but unless you start to examine and critique the box you are already in, you will continue to talk past those who are religious. And they will likely reciprocate.

    No I don’t think your preferred Abrahamic God & Jesus theory, which I admit has been popular for a long, long time, is ridiculous, so much as just no longer credible. Some atheists would go apeshit at me for not ruling out or occasionally playing with other ideas they might consider God-equivalents, but I have just evolved my own personal, possible, higher power concept. I still occasionally experiment with it. I never talk about what it is, in case it’s rubbish, & I have to say results are inconclusive. But that’s ok with me. I don’t need it. I’m just still curious. As you say, it just seems to be inbuilt in many of us.

    Reply
    • Kimbo

       /  14th April 2019

      Hey, I’m not aware of any significant discoveries in science or astronomy, or inventions such as mechanical devices, or say, engineering or construction techniques attributed to the Israelites. Do you know of any?

      No. While the Hebrew creation accounts, in contrast to the surrounding Ancient Near eastern alternatives, desacrilised the world and eliminated the issue of which combination of gods in the polytheistic pantheon one had to worship to avoid the caprice of nature

      …the Ancient Jewish attitude to nature/creation is that it mediates the glory of God. So in the first instance it engenders spiritual reflection and worship of the creator.

      It was a combination of Greek inquiry (mediated via the Renaissance) and Roman pragmatism and a desire for order that saw the birth of modern science in about the 16th Century. Arguably the Judaeo-Christian view (once the Reformation challenged the assertion that the Pope and/or church was a legitimate authority to put restraints on inquiry and conclusions about the natural world) that nature is not divine, and therefore consistent and predictable, was also a crucial factor.

      Due to aspects of spiritual fatalism in their belief systems/worldviews, arguably both the Chinese and Muslim Arabs who had a head start over Europe, were unsuccessful. One’s view of the cosmos and how we operate in it are crucial. For example, I once had a lecturer who had spent some 20 years in India, loved the place and the people, but who observed that as a result of the prevailing the Hindu conception that the material world is an illusion, the Industrial Revolution could never have started there.

      Reply

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