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  #1  
Old 06-28-2002, 01:07 PM
dreamer dreamer is offline
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Why is it so hard to believe in God?

Before I go on let me say that I respect all of you who stand up for your beliefs or non-beliefs, and I am in no way putting anyone down for what their beliefs are. Maybe some of you will think I'm being "holier than thou," but that's truly not the case here. I'm just curious to know why, if there really is a loving God - why you wouldn't want to believe in or know him?


I hear people say all the time how they wish they had "inner peace." And those are the very people who don't understand when I say I have it. Some may laugh at that or just roll their eyes, but wouldn't it be nice if you could really have it too? Or maybe you do have it already, can you explain where it comes from and what you do to keep it alive?

I know there's tons of reasons why many people think they have to change their lives to become "believers." Do any of you feel that way? And if you did decide one day to believe in God do you think he would love you any less for the things that you do?

I have no idea how this thread is going to go and I did hesitate many times before posting it, but the truth is I'm really curious to know how you feel about this and why.

Thanks,
~dreamer~
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  #2  
Old 06-28-2002, 01:13 PM
dalovindj dalovindj is offline
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I require this cute little thing called "proof" before I accept something as a given. Feelings of inner peace can come from a pill, so I don't see this as evidence of any one god. The Christian text "The Bible" seems to be just legends and myths with no basis in reality. Doesn't qualify as proof. Other people witnessing? Well we have theories like "The God Module" which could easily explain mystical experiences.

In short, I'm looking for truth. Your religious view requires faith, which to many effectively translates into stop looking for the truth - only look for truth which backs up this version of things. I'll take my truth unbiased thank you very much.

DaLovin' Dj
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  #3  
Old 06-28-2002, 01:19 PM
Gaudere Gaudere is offline
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Quote:
. I'm just curious to know why, if there really is a loving God - why you wouldn't want to believe in or know him?
It's not that we don't want to beleive or know God, it's that we really don't think he exists. Really. Truly. It's not that we think there's Somebody up there but we don't like him so we refuse to believe. It's not that we know he's there but don't want to learn anything about him. We don't think anyone is there at all.

Quote:
Or maybe you do have it already, can you explain where it comes from and what you do to keep it alive?
I know my place in the world and I do not fear to face what my intellect and reason tell me to be true. I love and am loved. I try to do the right thing by my fellow man. I try to make the world better for my having existed.

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And if you did decide one day to believe in God do you think he would love you any less for the things that you do?
It's not like I woudl just sit down one day and think, "You know, these God people seem pretty cool, think I'll beleive in God". If the evidence convinced me that God existed, I would beleive. Whether my life would change depends entirely on what sort of God I determined existed. Right now asking whether I think God would love me or not is like asking whether, if dragons existed, if they would be named Herbert or George. It really is not applicable. Of course, I am utterly lovable anyway, so how could any being not love me?* It not fear of rejection that "keeps [me] from God", if that's what you mean.

*Certain inexplicable young men nothwithstanding.
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  #4  
Old 06-28-2002, 01:25 PM
David Simmons David Simmons is offline
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Re: Why is it so hard to believe in God?

Quote:
Originally posted by dreamer
I'm just curious to know why, if there really is a loving God - why you wouldn't want to believe in or know him?



Thanks,
~dreamer~
Aye, there's the rub, "if there really is a loving God." The concept of God as espoused by all the organized religions that I know of is so incredible and contradictory that it simply is beyond my belief.
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  #5  
Old 06-28-2002, 01:26 PM
Earthworm Jim Earthworm Jim is offline
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It's difficult to put into words. I simply don't believe in many of the things you accept as undisputable truths.

IMO, there is no such thing as God. However, I've found that believers are not able to comprehend this state of mind. They feel that atheists 'know deep down' that there is a God, yet refuse to acknowledge Him for some unfathomable reason. This is why the invisible pink unicorn is so often brought up. You know what it's like to not to believe there is an IPU standing next to you. Similarly, I don't believe there is a God.

WRT the christian God specifically, there is only one source of information about Him. But, I find it to be inherently flawed for many reasons (which I will not elaborate upon here).

As for this "inner peace", well I feel peaceful enough. Where does it come from? I feel that I understand my place in the world pretty well, and I'm comfortable with life as I understand it. I don't need the idea of God watching over me or eternal life in the hereafter to provide me peace.
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  #6  
Old 06-28-2002, 01:27 PM
Dangerosa Dangerosa is offline
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Funny thing about faith - it is very hard to make yourself believe in something that makes no sense to you.

I have inner peace. I used to be a practicing Catholic. Had inner peace then to. Doesn't seem to have required God in the equation. I have inner peace because I am comfortable with myself and who I am. When I lack inner peace it is because I have become uncomfortable with who I am. I either change, or I change my expectations for myself.

Of course God would like me for who I am...I strive to be a decent good person. Seems like that should be the litmus test for God, not whether I show up in church on Sunday and sing songs for him.

I kind of see God like a country club. I wouldn't belong to a country club that won't admit Jews or Blacks (or give women the crummy tee times). And I'm not going to buy into a God that runs a heaven where "non-believers need not apply". So I figure I win either way. Either God lets me in for being a decent person - no matter how much or little faith I have, or I've won over God on the moral high ground. Or I get eaten by worms like everyone else.
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Old 06-28-2002, 01:31 PM
Eve Eve is offline
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Pretty much ditto on what Gaudere said. I kinda envy some of my religious friends, who believe that they'll see their loved ones again in an "afterlife," that they are being Looked Over, that there are set rules that we [i]must[/i[ live by. But as Gaudere said, I can't "convince" myself to suddenly start believing in something that—deep down inside—I have never had the slightest suspicion is true.

It would be like saying to you, "the Greek gods were so much more entertaining, and they communicated directly with you. Why don't you start believing in them instead of the Christian god?" It just doesn't work that way.
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  #8  
Old 06-28-2002, 01:33 PM
Guinastasia Guinastasia is offline
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That's right-you can't make yourself believe or have faith. It has to come to you. And that's all right.

I believe in God, because, well, if I try to tell myself there ISN'T one, for some reason, I can't do it. I just can't believe it.
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  #9  
Old 06-28-2002, 01:33 PM
erislover erislover is offline
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It is so hard to believe in God for the same reason it is so hard to not believe in God. I more or less agree with the other opinions presented so far, but that is pretty much the only way I can respond.
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  #10  
Old 06-28-2002, 01:37 PM
Eve Eve is offline
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On the other hand, I do believe in the Greek God Italica, who curses those who screw up their coding . . .
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  #11  
Old 06-28-2002, 01:39 PM
minty green minty green is offline
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Why is it so hard to believe in God? Apparently, it's not, since a whole lot of people manage to believe just fine. I do not, for I see no persuasive evidence in support of that belief. Simple, eh?
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  #12  
Old 06-28-2002, 01:43 PM
gobear gobear is offline
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It also depends on what you mean by "belief." Do you mean to acknowledge His existence, in the same way that I believe Australia exists? Or, given an affirmative answer on my first question, to put one's faith and trist in Him, as I put my trust and faith in Roger Ebert to steer me away from crappy movies?

On the first question, I have to say, no, I don't believe that God exists. I see no evidence that a loving, all-powerful, all-benevolent deity has any influnce on the world or its inhabitants. However, the universe I see around me is consonant with the blind workings of a random universe. Take, for example, the ichneumon wasp. When the urge to reproduce hits it, it looks for a certain species of caterpillar. It stings the caterpillar, rendering it immobile, and then lays an egg on it. The egg hatches, and the emerging larva devours the helpless, still-conscious caterpillar. I don't see the hand of a kind god in that.

But let's say that I have incontrovertible evidence that the Christian deity exists. I STILL would not put my faith and trust in such a vicious and malignant deity. If we take the Old Testament as a literally ture account of His behavior, then He ordered the Israelites to commit genocide against the Canaanites, He tried to kill Moses after revealing Himself to him, he struck down Uzziah for trying to save the Ark of the Covenant from falling, he approved of a man who offered his daughters to be raped by a crowd of men, and he visited hideous plagues on a believer just to settle a bet.

Sorry, but I just can't buy it.
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  #13  
Old 06-28-2002, 01:47 PM
Stuffy Stuffy is offline
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Former theist here...

I never had inner peace when I was a theist (or maybe I did, but couldn't feel it). I seemed to acquire it when I stopped looking for it, coincidentally aroud the same time I stopped believing in God. I have no doubt that if a God existed, that I am behaving as good to my fellow man as can be expected, so I have no fear of rejection. I simply don't believe.
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  #14  
Old 06-28-2002, 01:56 PM
Regina Regina is offline
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Quote:
dreamer asks:
I know there's tons of reasons why many people think they have to change their lives to become "believers." Do any of you feel that way?
No. I have not considered changing my life so that I may become a believer, however that's supposed to work. I have not considered not changing my life and becoming a believer. I simply have not considered "becoming a believer." There have been many times that I heartily wished I could believe in a God, especially that afterlife part.
Quote:
And if you did decide one day to believe in God do you think he would love you any less for the things that you do?
Your question sounds like it assumes all us nonbelievers really would be believers if we just didn't have to change our sinful ways and if we could only be sure God was going to forgive us for all "the things that [we] do." As if we're afraid to believe in or admit belief in a God, even though we really really want to, because then we'd be called to the carpet for our sins. Would you care to clarify what things I do (other than refusing to believe in Him, out of sheer perverseness, surely) which would cause your God to love me less?
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  #15  
Old 06-28-2002, 01:57 PM
BlackKnight BlackKnight is offline
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I am an atheist, and sometimes quite an obnoxious one. (Although I've mellowed out quite a bit, thanks to this message board.)

I do not have what you call "inner peace", but that is not the result, so far as I can tell, of my lack of religious beliefs.

If there is a god, of course I would want to know that fact. However, if there is not a god I certainly don't want to believe that one exists. I try to keep my beliefs as accurate as possible.

I don't know if my life would change if I began to believe in a god or not. It would depend very much on the nature of the god I began to believe in.
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  #16  
Old 06-28-2002, 02:03 PM
Drastic Drastic is offline
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Peace (inner or outer) and belief (religious or otherwise) are not the same thing.

Sometimes they dance lovingly together.

More often, they slap the crap out of one another.

As a couple, they're pretty dysfunctional.
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  #17  
Old 06-28-2002, 02:05 PM
photopat photopat is offline
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I grew up in a catholic household and used to accept the idea of god, but over time, starting at about age seven I started to doubt it more and more. The universe makes perfect sense without it, and there are so many contradictory ideas about what god is that I decided none of them can be right. It just doesn't make sense.

Plus, I really abhor the notion of a judgemental being that condemns people just because they didn't follow a very arbitrary and specific set of doctrines, which is what every christian sect professes, even if to be tactful they don't always come right out and say so. I just don't believe that there's a "heaven" that only certain people can get into. Sounds like a bad country club to me.
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  #18  
Old 06-28-2002, 02:05 PM
Rib Eye Rib Eye is offline
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Believing is easier than thinking. ;j
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Old 06-28-2002, 02:07 PM
rjung rjung is offline
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On a related tangent, I wonder if one can really say that it's "hard" to believe in an omnipotent dietiy (or dieties) who will take care of all your troubles and eventually set things right. I mean, that's a very comforting idea, and believing in that should be easier than being skeptical and requiring some proof. Shouldn't it be harder to be a nonbeliever?

(But still, despite the burden, I go on non-believing. Curse me for having such an analytical mind. )
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  #20  
Old 06-28-2002, 02:14 PM
JThunder JThunder is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by Rib Eye
Believing is easier than thinking. ;j
Unfortunately, that's what some people believe.
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  #21  
Old 06-28-2002, 02:17 PM
ultrafilter ultrafilter is offline
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Well, dreamer, turnabout's fair play, so how about it: why is it so easy to believe in God? Whatever you say will be as alien to us as what we're saying to you.
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  #22  
Old 06-28-2002, 02:20 PM
ResIpsaLoquitor ResIpsaLoquitor is offline
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There's two connotations to "believe": one suggests an internal affirmation in the existence of something (i.e., God, Martians, Elvis sightings); the other suggests an ability to trust something (your parents, your spouse, Matt Drudge). In the theological context, the two tend to overlap.

I think people tend to be result-oriented, illustrated by the fact that so many people require proof in order for God to exist. Which is not to say that they're toying with God, so much as they can't trust in an almighty being (much less his church) without some validation of his existence.

Me, I've been struggling with the "trust" issue. Like Guinastasia said, the issue of God's existence isn't an issue for me anymore. The concept of no-God just feels wrong. But I DO struggle with the ability to trust in God, because when things get sucky, I wonder where the almighty and I stand in relation to each other. Given that, I think it WOULD be easy for me to toss aside my recognition of his existence. In other words, but for the fact that I'd know/believe I was wrong, it'd be easy for me to credit bad things in life to God's non-existence.
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  #23  
Old 06-28-2002, 02:33 PM
Revtim Revtim is offline
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Why do people talk of belief as if it is a conscious choice? Does anybody *really* choose to believe anything? It's out of my control whether or not I believe in a god. The concept just seems very fairy-tale-ish and contrived and in conflict with how the world seems to work. Even if I decided my life would be happier if I believed in a god, I couldn't MAKE myself believe. I could pretend to believe, but what would be the point?
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  #24  
Old 06-28-2002, 02:43 PM
käse käse is offline
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Before I go on let me say that I respect all of you who stand up for your beliefs or non-beliefs, and I am in no way putting anyone down for what their beliefs are
Thank you! dreamer

I'm so relieved.

I respect you as well, though I feel kind of sorry for you.

What if......All those atheïsts are right? You've spend your whole life praying to something that doesn't excist.
Hoping you'd go to heaven.
Fearing you'd go to hell.

Why is it so hard not to believe in a god?
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  #25  
Old 06-28-2002, 02:44 PM
blowero blowero is offline
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I have never understood this idea of "choosing" what you believe. Shouldn't the criterium for believing a given thing be whether you think it's true or not (i.e., if there is evidence)? I can think of lots of things that I could believe that would make me happier, but they aren't true. I don't just "choose" to believe them - I would be deceiving myself.

Shoot - Revtim just made almost the exact same point as mine while I was waiting for my slow computer. Oh, well - I'll bore you all with it anyway.
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  #26  
Old 06-28-2002, 02:56 PM
JThunder JThunder is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by Revtim
Why do people talk of belief as if it is a conscious choice? Does anybody *really* choose to believe anything? It's out of my control whether or not I believe in a god.
Not for me. I went through a phase wherein I consciously chose to question my beliefs, and to investigate their historicity. That ended in my leaving the church I belonged to, and becoming an evangelical believer.
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  #27  
Old 06-28-2002, 02:59 PM
vanilla vanilla is offline
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Belieivng in God (and Jesus)
is easy.
If its all benn untrue, then its really made my life so much better anyway.
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  #28  
Old 06-28-2002, 03:02 PM
EchoKitty EchoKitty is offline
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God, as defined by Christians (and most other religions) is not a loving, caring, nurturing being. He is mean, heartless, and in my opinion, not worthy of worship, even if he does exist (which I don't think he does).

But suppose there is a being that actually created everything and then just sits back benignly and watches. No control over our behavior, our future, or an afterlife. What if you are worshipping something that doesn't even know you worship it? How can you just think that there is a controlling power out there that has the will to care what you do? And why would he let good people live horrible lives and die horrible deaths? Why would you want to associate with a monster like that? Just askin', cuz I don't get it.
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  #29  
Old 06-28-2002, 03:09 PM
grendel72 grendel72 is offline
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I find all man-made religions to strike a false note with me. Specifically, no religion of man treats God as being better than his creations- God is always an angy vicious brutal bastard with absolutely no sense of reason.
Also, no man-made belief system, including hard athiesm can explain where "it" all began. If you believe in a creator, where did the creator come from. If you believe science has all the answers, where did all the matter originally come from (I've never heard an answer that satisfies me on that one...)
Aditionally, I would be remiss to ignore the point that many religious people are obviously not at peace, and take their rage out on their fellow man- many of the worst bigots I've ever met claim to be Christian, the KKK claims to be a Christian organisation. If god could smite Sodom and Gomorrah why hasn't he wiped the PTL off the map.
I chose to believe that there may be a creator, but it doesn't belong to any human faith.
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Old 06-28-2002, 03:11 PM
burundi burundi is offline
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My father is a devout Christian and, without doubt, one of the best people I know. I truly admire his faith. It brings him peace and comfort in a way that I sometimes wish I could have.

I was raised in the Presbyterian Church and met lots of really good people there, who were striving to lead a Christ-like life. (I met some total schmucks, too, but that's another story.) But as I grew up, I found it harder and harder to believe in the divinity of Jesus or the presence of a loving God--or a God at all for that matter. Without wanting to sound condescending, it's a little like Santa Claus. It's a great story; it contains a message we can all learn from; and it would be nice if it was true, but I just can't believe it.

I wouldn't call myself an atheist, but I'm not exactly a Christian either. I do try to seek justice, love kindness, and live an ethical and meaningful life. Much as I sometimes crave the comfort that comes from deep faith, I don't need it to be a good person.
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Old 06-28-2002, 03:19 PM
gobear gobear is offline
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If god could smite Sodom and Gomorrah why hasn't he wiped the PTL off the map.
He did. Surely you remember the Jim Bakker scandal, Jessica Hahn, the air-conditioned doghouse? PTL was wiped out.

Now if God could arrange something nasty for the hosts of Trinity Broadcast Network, Paul Crouch and his plasticized wife, Jan (I swear she looks like a deranged Pomeranian!)
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Old 06-28-2002, 03:24 PM
vanilla vanilla is offline
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  #33  
Old 06-28-2002, 03:30 PM
ResIpsaLoquitor ResIpsaLoquitor is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by käse


Thank you! dreamer

I'm so relieved.

I respect you as well, though I feel kind of sorry for you.

What if......All those atheïsts are right? You've spend your whole life praying to something that doesn't excist.
Hoping you'd go to heaven.
Fearing you'd go to hell.

Why is it so hard not to believe in a god?
I'm paraphrasing this from Kevin Smith's Daredevil run:

Basically, there's a wealthy knight and an impoverished monk traveling down the road. The knight starts to tease the monk about how his entire life has been in the gutter, while the athiestic knight has had fame, fortume, women, etc. So he asks the monk the same question you just asked: what if you're wrong?

The monk responds: "then I would be very sad. But praytell, sir knight...what if it turns out you were wrong?"

I hope this doesn't come off as one of those obnoxious Christian stories that gets ranted about in the pit. I often think Pascal's wager(1) wasn't intended to make athiests appear irrational so much as to say that there is a rational basis for theism.


(1) Paschal's wager states that it's mathematically better to be a theist than an athiest, because the outcome of faith never loses. If you believe and there is a God, you go to heaven. If you believe and there's no God, you die in blissful ignorance.
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Old 06-28-2002, 03:33 PM
dreamer dreamer is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by ultrafilter
Well, dreamer, turnabout's fair play, so how about it: why is it so easy to believe in God? Whatever you say will be as alien to us as what we're saying to you.
What you are saying is not alien to me. I understand completely how and why you feel that way and I don't deny that everything everyone has said is the truth for them. I can't begin to explain why I believe in God and why it's easy for me to do so. I can remember far back when I was a kid and I got in trouble for something and cried out that if there was a God out there, would he please help me out. Nothing happened. And it wasn't until I was 21 years old that I decided to investigate what this "God" stuff was all about. I still don't know many things. But what I do know is that I know God exists. I know (and can't explain) in my heart and mind that whenever I think of him, he's there, and when I'm not thinking about him, he's there too. I do my best to be kind, loving and respectful of others (though I wasn't that way before), and I do it because I know God loves you all too. I know there's a lot of Christians out there who push their beliefs on others and do a lot of crazy things, but there are also many who genuinely care for others, even strangers .

I'm really glad you all responded to this thread and I am enjoying reading it. I won't say I'm glad to know how some of you feel, but I will say I understand and (you knew it was coming) I will keep you all in my prayers
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  #35  
Old 06-28-2002, 03:43 PM
käse käse is offline
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ResIpsaLoquitor Pray tell ; What would I care if I die in blissfull ignorance or with all my wits intact?

I'd be dead.

dreamer I believe you're one of those who genuinely care.

Thank you for that.
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  #36  
Old 06-28-2002, 03:59 PM
Cervaise Cervaise is offline
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The more I study the world and the people in it, and the more I know about the various belief systems that people hold, the more obvious it becomes that all of these belief systems have been formulated as a means of providing a "why" to the great unexplainables.

As humans, we put things into categories and figure out explanations for things because those skills are extremely useful for getting by in the world. "Why did those people get sick and die? They all ate this one plant. Let me watch for anyone else eating that plant. Okay, that person got sick and died. I can conclude that one shouldn't eat that plant." This is a valuable and necessary trait of the human intellect.

But sometimes things happen for absolutely no fathomable reason. Look at that baseball player who went to bed one night and stunned everybody by failing to wake up. The autopsy explained what had happened, but consider that event ten thousand years ago. Healthy guy just up and dies. Why? The human response is to explain the event, because we have to know in order to prevent it. Sometimes, there just isn't an explanation. Why did a piece of blue ice just happen to break off the passenger jet at that moment, fall 30,000 feet, and kill a guy riding his bicycle? Dumb luck. Pure chance.

I don't think it's a coincidence that all religions (at least the ones I've seen) center on the fundamental questions that would have been unanswerable until very recently, or indeed are still unanswerable: Where did we come from? Why are we here? What happens after we die? Seriously, can anybody name a religious system that isn't basically about those three issues?

That, to me, is very telling, beyond even the remotest possibility of coincidence: Every single human culture on Earth has a belief system that provides answers to those otherwise unanswerable questions. Every single one. And the fact that these belief systems vary so widely in their details, ranging from reincarnation to polytheism to animism and on and on, but all center on the same essential questions, is compelling evidence to me that the belief systems were manufactured in response to a need. If there really were some sort of supernatural force at work in the world, it beggars belief that it would have permitted such wildly divergent philosophies to have developed in order to explain it.

Or, to put it more pithily: All I see when I look at the range of religious systems in the world is a whole lot of people who are willing to kill each other over their absolute and unyielding belief that their explanation of the utterly unknowable is superior to the thousand-and-one other explanations.

Don't make the mistake of equating my lack of belief (which, to me, is more accurately stated as an inability to accept a fantasy) with any sort of hatred or superiority. I fully understand that the human mind requires an explanatory structure, a belief paradigm, in order to function, and that religion serves this purpose for people. Most folks aren't willing to spend the time on comparative anthropology or sociology or whatever other disciplines are necessary to form a deeper view of human behavior. Most people simply freak out when confronted with the idea that life has no meaning, that when we die that's it, and that we didn't come from anywhere particularly special. It's counterintuitive on an almost genetic level, contradicting our most basic mechanisms of thought and understanding. Everything has a "why," we know in our bones, and Life Itself, we believe, must be no exception.

"Why was my beautiful six-year-old daughter run over by a drunk driver?" wails the distraught parent. "No reason, just dumb luck," is not at all comforting, even though, as seems obvious to me, it's the truth. It's much more pleasant to imagine that "God has a plan" and that the daughter is "in a better place" and that "we'll see her again in the afterlife." I don't believe that any of that is true, because it flies in the face of everything I know about the world -- but only the most cold-hearted bastard would be unable to see why those sorts of beliefs, really, do no actual harm, and can make the survivors feel better about the loss. Yes, it's a fantasy, but really, what does it hurt?

(There's a whole debate here about whether our indulgence for "magical thinking" with respect to God allows us to accept all sorts of other counter-rational claptrap, like laundry balls and astrology and magnetic bracelets and John Edward. Suffice to say that while I can see that point of view, I honestly don't think the human species is capable of strictly rational behavior. Indeed, in many ways, that could prove to be significantly limiting, and have undesirable side effects. Our ability to imagine alternative realities, I think, has been the driving force behind -- or at least contributed to -- much of our cultural and technological progress. But that discussion would be a major hijack, probably better suited to a separate thread.)

Sometimes being an atheist is like living in a world where everybody got to adulthood without ever being told that Santa Claus isn't real -- but then Santa Claus does, after all, serve an important social function.
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  #37  
Old 06-28-2002, 04:01 PM
EchoKitty EchoKitty is offline
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Dreamer, I don't want to sound disrespectful, but as a skeptical agnostic, I believe that the existence of a god is unknowable. You may have FAITH that a god exists, but you cannot KNOW. Just as I cannot KNOW that one does not exist. You can hope, you can pray, you can even THINK there is a god, but you cannot know. By the way, you sound like a very thoughtful, nice person.
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  #38  
Old 06-28-2002, 05:05 PM
photopat photopat is offline
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No disrespect intended to anybody's religion here. I figure, whatever helps a person through tough times is fine, as long as he/she doesn't try to foist it on me.

One thing to consider is the Taoist idea of the unnameable. "The Tao that can be named is not the true Tao." I remember reading that once and it makes sense. If there is a "god" it is infinitely beyond description. God isn't "good" or "loving" or "just" or even "wrathful" or "jealous." Those are human terms used to describe attributes we see in each other. To use them to describe an omnipresent force that was capable of creating an entire universe is to limit it to a finite personality. I don't believe in that at all.

I don't KNOW there's no god, but if there is, I'm certain in my own mind that it isn't anything like God, Jehovah, Allah, Yahweh or any other humanified deity.
If it does exist, to me it's just life.
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  #39  
Old 06-28-2002, 05:11 PM
pepperlandgirl pepperlandgirl is offline
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But let's say that I have incontrovertible evidence that the Christian deity exists. I STILL would not put my faith and trust in such a vicious and malignant deity. If we take the Old Testament as a literally ture account of His behavior, then He ordered the Israelites to commit genocide against the Canaanites, He tried to kill Moses after revealing Himself to him, he struck down Uzziah for trying to save the Ark of the Covenant from falling, he approved of a man who offered his daughters to be raped by a crowd of men, and he visited hideous plagues on a believer just to settle a bet.
This is exactly how I feel. I don't believe God exists, but if I had perfect proof and evidence that he does exist, I still would not worship him. Sometimes the relationship people have with God has very disturbing similiarities to relationships between abused women and their husbands. "I know he does really bad things to me, but it's because he loves me." or "I know he threatens me if I don't do what he tells me, but only because he loves me."

Some of the esteemed Dopers (especially the ones who spend a lot of time in GD) may remember when I joined the board? I was very much the faithful "Molly Mormon". I believed in God in heaven, I had moral absolutes, there were no shades of grey, and I even had my now husband convert to the church because I wouldn't marry a non-Mormon.
And then something...happened. I can't exactly put my finger on what, or even when it happened. But one day things were just different. I personally blame the SDMB----and thank the SDMB.
The more I thought about it, the more I evaluated my beliefs, the more I debated, the more aware I became of the fact that God simply does not exist.
So in the course of two years I went from active Mormon, to inactive, to agnostic, to atheist. And I've never been happier. This inner peace you speak of? I found it after I was finally able to make my own decisions without the constant weight of Jesus hanging over my head.
As a matter of fact, nothing has really changed, except I'm being honest with myself.

Quote:
know there's tons of reasons why many people think they have to change their lives to become "believers." Do any of you feel that way? And if you did decide one day to believe in God do you think he would love you any less for the things that you do?
If I all of a sudden started believing again tomorrow, the only thing that would change is that I would start going to Church. If God exists, than there is no reason why he shouldn't love me, because I'm a good person. Just because I don't have a Sky Daddy handing down morals and instructions doesn't mean I lack morals. If doen't love me because he's so insecure and petty that he needs to be worshipped, then I don't want to know him anyway.
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  #40  
Old 06-28-2002, 05:13 PM
dreamer dreamer is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by käse
[B
dreamer I believe you're one of those who genuinely care.

[/B]
Thank You kase, that is very kind of you to say.

Cervaise - I just want to say that your post does make a lot of sense and I can see where your coming from. But it still does not disprove that there is not a God and why there couldn't be one. Life is all about unanswered questions and maybe some of us make things up to cope with that, but the human mind and heart are incredible things that expand to places we just don't know or understand. Nothing can be proved physically beyond reasonable doubt, so all our beliefs come from inside ourselves. We are all alone in our thoughts (without God) and we can't share those knowing feelings we have about what we believe or what faith we have and how or why, without being able to prove it. So we continue to search for ways to show/tell others about what we believe to be the truth. Thus the neverending debate continues.

Echo Kitty - you cannot say that you know that what I know in my heart is not true. I don't want to sound disrespectful to you either, but you have not lived in my shoes and felt what I have felt nor experienced what I have experienced. I know what I know and I know it to be true. If you only thought that a God didn't exist, but didn't really know, wouldn't you want to search for the truth and know for sure that he wasn't real? Just to be sure your making the right choice and all.

Thank you also for your kind comments
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  #41  
Old 06-28-2002, 05:24 PM
grendel72 grendel72 is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by gobear
He did. Surely you remember the Jim Bakker scandal, Jessica Hahn, the air-conditioned doghouse? PTL was wiped out.

Now if God could arrange something nasty for the hosts of Trinity Broadcast Network, Paul Crouch and his plasticized wife, Jan (I swear she looks like a deranged Pomeranian!)
I can't believe I said that, I meant the 700 Club the home of religious bigotry and taking the lord's name in vain. Jim and Tammy were crooks, but they weren't mean spirited which is what I was trying to get at.

DAMN
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  #42  
Old 06-28-2002, 07:59 PM
dalovindj dalovindj is offline
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Nothing can be proved physically beyond reasonable doubt, so all our beliefs come from inside ourselves.
My favorite. Soon you'd have us trying to prove the existence of lawn furniture, I'm sure. This argument comes up time and time again. How do you know ANYTHING is real. You assume I exist but can you PROVE it absolutely!

It's a terrible argument. It somehow implies that my belief "if I get up and go to work, the building I am expecting to be there will be there" is equal to a belief in a specific god. Horrible logic. I will concede that one cannot be absolutely sure of anything other than the fact that one exists. The classic "I think therefore I am" cannot prove the existence of anyone except ones self (and the pesky kids who like to throw around the word Axiom will debate you on this point). I could be abrain in a vat, so all of this could be fake.

But surely it is not pure black and white. There are levels of degree. My knowledge that the trains are real is certainly better than the incorrect knowledge that I could fly magically to work.

Which of these statements are reasonable compared to the other sentence? :

There is a grocery store on the corner.
There is an eleven foot purple moster that eats dogs on the corner.

Airports exist.
The Loch Ness Monster exists.

The chair I am about to sit on is real.
The tooth fairy exists.

I can fly.
If I jump off of a 30 story building I will die.

You see, just because people accept things based on experience and fact does not mean that reaching equal levels of conviction through incorrect information is just as reasonable. All beliefs are not equal. Those based on facts and tangible evidence are superior. They offer predictive capabilities and allow things like the internet and space shuttles.

Religion mostly just gives people a reason to be conceited. They feel that their opinions are perfect and infallible cause they JUST know! All beliefs are the same so my non-proven beliefs are just as good as your proven time and again beliefs! I MUST be right. I KNOW I am right.

Here's a cool word: Hubris.
Quote:
I know what I know and I know it to be true.
This is conceit, really. Ask yourelf how come different people can come to this same level of conviction, and both disagree. How can two people both know things with absolute certainty which contradict each other? The answer is that at least one of them has to be wrong. Maybe both of them. Convictions like this are worthless and offer nothing to the discussion.

Saying you can't be wrong is one of the most foolish conceits a human can have in my book. I may be wrong.

DaLovin' Dj
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  #43  
Old 06-28-2002, 08:13 PM
HubZilla HubZilla is offline
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For me, I'd like to believe there's a god, especially if the promises of heaven turn out to be true.

However, I cannot "just believe". I cannot make myself believe without evidence or supporting arguments. I've tried everything that's been asked of me: praying, baptism, reading, etc. Nothing happened. Nada. Zip. Zilch.

It may work for others, but not for me. But, of course, they tell me it's my fault for not being "sincere". So I honestly try. Nada again.

I'm told God will make it so I'll "just know in my heart". He hasn't. Why is this valuable knowledge being withheld from me? I can say I have faith and put my trust in him, but if my mind rejects all attempts, where does that lead me?

If I say "I believe" without being able to honestly and intellectually do so, wouldn't God see past that ploy?
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  #44  
Old 06-28-2002, 08:30 PM
dreamer dreamer is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by dalovindj


Saying you can't be wrong is one of the most foolish conceits a human can have in my book. I may be wrong.

DaLovin' Dj
Hi there dalovindj . I know your there. I know you will read this. I know that I know that God exists FOR ME. Maybe he doesn't exist for you or anyone else, but for me he does and I am not wrong about that.

btw what book is yours?
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  #45  
Old 06-28-2002, 08:34 PM
MrO MrO is offline
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Originally posted by Revtim
Why do people talk of belief as if it is a conscious choice? Does anybody *really* choose to believe anything? It's out of my control whether or not I believe in a god.
Others have made similar points, but I'll take this quote as representative. And I agree--no one chooses what they believe. Not if it's really belief. I can choose to exert faith in something, but that's pretending to believe. Real belief is spontaneous, and for those with a somewhat analytical frame of mind, it's based on evidence. Our beliefs change as the evidence changes, or as our understanding of the evidence changes.

Having faith is a choice. Believing is not. Of course some disagree--this was a response to Revtim's statement:

Quote:
Originally posted by JThunder

Not for me. I went through a phase wherein I consciously chose to question my beliefs, and to investigate their historicity. That ended in my leaving the church I belonged to, and becoming an evangelical believer.
JThunder, while I respect the fact that you've examined your beliefs--a rare enough thing among believers, in my experience--I still don't think you chose to change them. You chose to examine, you found more or different evidence, or you came to understand the evidence differently, and your beliefs changed. Could you choose to revert to your old beliefs? I doubt it. Sure, you could return to your old church, but your beliefs have changed. I submit that it was not your choice. It was your choice to question and investigate, to open yourself to the possibility of finding new evidence, but once that evidence was understood, your beliefs changed spontaneously.

At least that's what I believe.
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  #46  
Old 06-28-2002, 08:42 PM
dreamer dreamer is offline
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Originally posted by HubZilla
I can say I have faith and put my trust in him, but if my mind rejects all attempts, where does that lead me?

If I say "I believe" without being able to honestly and intellectually do so, wouldn't God see past that ploy?
I'm just trying to help you out here so please don't take this the wrong way (or anyone else for that matter).

You can say you have faith, anyone can do that, but faith is the belief in the unseen and the unknown and if your mind rejects believing in God how can you possibly do it? It sounds like your fighting with yourself where you want to truly believe, but for some reason you can't let go of whatever it is you don't believe. It's no easy thing to let go of all the questions and mysteries about life and believe in a God whom you've never seen or spoken to. A God who leaves things unanswered and unexplained. But if you are able to look past all the emotions and intellectual stuff and pursue his word and talk with others who have been where you are, maybe you can find your way. I can't promise that you will, but I sincerely hope you do
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  #47  
Old 06-28-2002, 09:03 PM
Dieter Dieter is offline
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"Why is it so hard to believe in God?"

Because god doesn't want me to believe in him. Otherwise, I would.

That or he just isn't there in the first place.
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  #48  
Old 06-28-2002, 09:28 PM
BlackKnight BlackKnight is offline
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Originally posted by dreamer
I know that I know that God exists FOR ME.
What does this mean?
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  #49  
Old 06-28-2002, 09:31 PM
Phoenix Dragon Phoenix Dragon is offline
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Originally posted by dreamer
It sounds like your fighting with yourself where you want to truly believe, but for some reason you can't let go of whatever it is you don't believe. It's no easy thing to let go of all the questions and mysteries about life and believe in a God whom you've never seen or spoken to. A God who leaves things unanswered and unexplained. But if you are able to look past all the emotions and intellectual stuff and pursue his word and talk with others who have been where you are, maybe you can find your way. I can't promise that you will, but I sincerely hope you do
Well then you've got the little problem of picking one out of the hundreds of gods out there. If you can "discard your disbelief," you've got a lot of choices that all have just as much (Or just as little) speaking for them. It always seems like people who say stuff like this try to promote one specific god. I doubt they'd be too happy with it if the person replied with something like, "Why, thank you! I feel so much better, I can see everything clearly! I'm going to go worship... Anubis! Thanks!" (I've been so tempted, sometimes... )
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""GUNNER, SABOT, SNIPER" is not an appropriate use of ammunition." - Murphy's laws of armored combat
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  #50  
Old 06-28-2002, 10:09 PM
dreamer dreamer is offline
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quote:
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Originally posted by dreamer
I know that I know that God exists FOR ME.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------


Quote:
Originally posted by BlackKnight

What does this mean?
It means I, me, dreamer, knows that God exists.
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