Why is religion still such a big part of the world?

OK, and how does some fairy tale–some fantastic story about virgin birth and rising from the dead, etc.–explain everything? Couldn’t people at least use some imagination and make up something a little more plausible?

Why do we have explain everything anyway? I am perfectly content in admitting that I’ll never know the answers to these questions. I’m much happier admitting that I cannot explain the wonders of nature that believing in some ridiculous fantasy.

It seems so much more plausible to me that a bunch of matter was floating around, some big explosion happened, some chemical reactions happened, so on and so forth, and eventually some molecules bumped into each other in such a way to create living things. That is so much more plausible that any religion’s “explanation” I have ever heard.

I’m with CurtC on this. Given the pervasiveness of religion (or belief in the supernatural) throughout all cultures, it’s only reasonable to assume that that belief is somehow built into the way our brains work. We’re not good at accepting the fact that we might not be able to understand some things. When we don’t, we assign a supernatural meaning.

Wow, Lobsang, I couldn’t have said it better myself. I totally and utterly agree. You rock!

Although I have no religious beliefs myself, it is important to realize that many, and probably most, of the greatest scientific thinkers also believed in God. exhibit A: Albert Einstein.

I think it is short sighted to lump all religious believers in the “gullible” camp, Lobsang.


John Mace: Although Einstein is famous for talking about dice and god and being a jew, the fact remains that in the first place, he was a Humanist:


I heard that Einstein was a dues-paying member of the New York Chapter of the Humanist Association.

Humanist books like GREELEY E. ROGER’s “The Best of Humanism” had contributions from Corliss Lamont, Robert Ingersoll, Julian Huxley, Bertrand Russell, Clarence Darrow, and yes, Albert Einstein. THAT crowd was not what I would call a “god fearing one.”

One definition of humanism: “Humanism believes in a naturalistic metaphysics or attitude toward the universe that considers all forms of the supernatural as myth; and that regards Nature as the totality of being and as a constantly changing system of matter and energy which exists independently of any mind or consciousness.”

It looks to me that Albert was not a hard atheist, but I definitely would not put him in the believer’s column.

Lobsang, When I look at the wording of your question, I am really amazed at how much flack I got for mine in “dear atheist”. “Believer” here, but only in God, not in religions(as a whole). Although your beliefs or non-belief and your odd perceptions of some things were not logical to me, I still(on the whole) didn’t think that made you un-intelligent and if anything, my respect grew for your strength of your convictions, your morality and the effort you all made to “set me straight”. I did determine that many atheists don’t have a sense of humor. The answers here came from atheists at about a 2:1 ratio. I suspect there are a lot of “religious” people who don’t willingly subject themselves to taunting. I’m blonde, so I can take a hit now and then without causing pain. You can’t get your answers about why people still believe from people that don’t believe. This thread mostly succeeded in all of you cheering each other on for your superior peception and intellect.

I was raised in a household where myself and my two siblings knew our parents believed in God, but they took us to dozens of churches and told us that we had to decide what was true and right for ourselves. My sister after exploring many “religions” in her adulthood is a bizarre combination of Budhist, Wiccan, born-again, I lost track. I do know that she believes in God in her own rather strange way and my brother is probably agnostic. I haven’t found a good label for myself. Same religion as God’s, I guess. All raised in the same household being exposed to a core belief in God, but somehow not brainwashed. Able to think for ourselves. Many people are “religious”, which by the way doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with God; for the same reason they pick a political party. They feel the need to belong and pick a religion that seems to fit or that they were raised with. Some people are atheist for the same reason. What I do know is that when you truly believe in God, it’s because you know him, you feel his presence, a sense of profound peace and gratitude, a sense of everything fitting together, a sense of awe. What is so hard for an atheist to understand is that it’s not necessary for a true believer (not necessarily a religious person) to have all the answers, that a profound sense of trust goes with all of those other feelings. Does it occur to me that it’s an elaborate story? No, I know it’s not, but yes I’ve stepped back and aknowledged to myself that it is a bit wacko sounding. I had to laugh at GIGObuster’s masturbation example. I don’t think most males let a little admonishment about that stop them, but isn’t prostate cancer increasing? Shouldn’t it be decreasing since we have become so knowledgable about “the cure”? I think physical and mental masturbation were and are discouraged because it is better for our world if people spend more time helping people and less time helping themselves. And yes I’ve heard the hard-wire theory for God belief, but believe that God was the electrician. I also believe that some of the scorn and taunting has to do with fear. That some non-believers at a “hard-wired” brain level are afraid someone knows something they don’t and it’s human nature to not like that scenario. No God is not rational, provable, doesn’t fit in with any of our arrogant ideas that lead us to belief in our superior knowledge and reasoning powers. Many believers have had experiences that have left them no doubt. You can’t talk someone into believing with experiences or feelings. We all take that road on our own. There is always more to learn. Don’t get the mistaken idea that you are there. None of us are. IWLN

Interestingly, I was raised as an atheist. My grandfather, grandmother, and father openly ridiculed any expression of religion while my mother just ignored all types of religious exercises except for a bitter hatred of the Catholic Church. Both my grandparents were highly concerned with justice, however rather unconcerned with individual people. I was taught that all religion was foolish and the people who believed in any form of it deluded.

So, how does one rebel against liberal parents? My brother became a much better political conservative than I could have ever hoped to be, however I got the “God thing” nailed by becoming a Christian. During what I now can see as teenage rebellion conversion to Christianity, I started to notice something. These people didn’t talk about justice much at all, however they did care about people. These people actually worked with the homeless, visited the elderly in nursing homes and visited people in prisons. This was different than rasing money for political candidates, lobbying people in office and having demonstrations which is how my parents and grandparents worked for justice.

The other thing that happen to me is the real reason I have stayed a Christian. I found that I could have a relationship with an unseen Being. I felt, and still feel, the Lords love for me. I have seen my own and other peoples prayers answered (although not always as we wanted them answered) No, I can’t give a tangible explanation for my feelings. However, my experiences both as a teenager and continuing into my 40s reinforce my faith.

You’re probably right, but I think a similar argument could be made about many other things simply on the basis that it is more difficult for adults to learn anything, regardless of its veracity.

Well, I actually touched (albeit obliquely) on this idea in my post up above, to wit:

I do think that it is very possible that there is something “hard-wired” into our brains that makes people believe all sorts of illogical, absurd notions, but I wouldn’t go so far as to say that it had to do with “religious” beliefs per se. Religion is wholly the invention of man and I doubt it has to do with our genetic structure or brain chemistry. A need to find explanations for the unexplained (or unexplainable), on the other hand, might just be a natural byproduct of our innate ability to reason in the first place.

When early man saw the sun going across the sky and imagined that it was a golden chariot pulled by horses, I don’t think that their first instinct was to worship the sun. I think that they were simply trying to explain what that glowing light was and why it moved across the sky. Once they decided it was a “god” of some sort, however, they decided they had better worship it just in case. Religion, in other words, is just a corrupted form of reason.


His “god doesn’t play with dice” was a metaphor. Many in the religious community were demanding Einstein explain himself. One Cardinal described his “general theory of relativity” as a “ghastly apparition of atheism.” Finally a rabbi Herbert Goldstein sent him a cablegram bluntly demanding to know, “Do you believe in God?” He replied, “I believe in Spinoza’s God, who reveals himself in the orderly harmony of what exists, not in a God who concerns himself with the fates and actions of human beings.” [The Unconscious Quantum, page 215-Stenger] Victor Stenger replies, “This was sufficient to get him out of trouble with the good rabbi.” In “Ideal’s and Opinions, Eistein says “the Jewish God is simply a negation of superstition, an imaginary result of its elimination. It is also an attempt to base the moral law on fear, a regrettable and discreditable attempt. Also this latest quote I got here says this:“It was, of course, a lie what you read about my religious convictions, a lie which is being systematically repeated. I do not believe in a personal God and I have never denied this but have expressed it clearly. If something is in me which can be called religious then it is the unbounded admiration for the structure of the world so far as our science can reveal it.” [1954, from Albert Einstein: The Human Side.]

I hope you’ll reconsider the part about it being admirable. Each parent should wish their child to grow and to think for themselves regardless of where that opinion leads them, and how contrary to thier own. Think were civilization would be today, if each previous generation, going back thousands of years preferred loyalty to their ancestral beliefs.


You do realize, I hope, that “it seems more plausible to me” is a highly subjective argument; and that there are people who believe in a Creator because it “seems so much more plausible to them” than that the universe “just happened.”

To me personally, there’s no theory of Life, The Universe, & Everything, religious or irreligious, that isn’t pretty incredible, mind-boggling, hard to wrap my mind around, and at least little wacked-out, if you stare at it long enough, and think about all the implications.

AFAICR the study found that those that did little or shall I say: the ones that most closely followed of the “designs” of the church, have a bigger chance of prostate cancer.

“but isn’t prostate cancer increasing?”
I think this has more to do with the fact we are living longer.

“Shouldn’t it be decreasing since we have become so knowledgable about “the cure”?”
Ahh! There is the rub! :slight_smile:
Remember: we became knowledgeable just recently; benefits will only appear years from now, that is, if the churches learn. However, the Catholic Church -for example- waited almost 100 years to accept evolution. I am not holding my breath for the church to change their teachings soon regarding masturbation.

I also say that taking into consideration what modern medicine and psychology say about masturbation, that your church was already wrong regarding why masturbation is discouraged.

It cannot be said any other way: in the church you belong, they do not have a clue regarding this issue, and any pretence from church leaders that they got that info on masturbation from god, is a sick joke.

John Zahn: I knew Einstein was a Humanist, but I was not sure if that made him closer to a hard Agnostic. Reading what you found, I feel now closer to Einstein.

Of course, to be real close, I would have to take math and physics courses for 10 years!

GIGObuster, Now I’m just giggling. So that was the part of my post that stood out the most. All righty then.:stuck_out_tongue: One thing I can guarantee you is that a man who is church going is probably way more likely to lie about the whole masturbation issue. Sad, but true. I’m not sufficiently motivated to try and look up the studies, but did they take into account the age issue and whether or not they were having frequent sex with their wives, which replaces the other? I have to admit I don’t know the wording of my church on this issue, but there’s no AHA there. I think the Catholic church is wrong about many issues. Joined the day before I married my husband, because of his preference/beliefs. They almost didn’t let me in because of “the test” I had to take. I was asked if I felt comfortable with all of the churches teachings and I said, “absolutely not”. They let me in anyway, but not without a good talking too.:frowning: The church I attend has very little to do with my relationship with God. But thanks for the info. I will try to make sure my husband stays healthy.:smiley: IWLN

Only to officialize it. But it didn’t officially actively oppose it for long, unlike some Protestant denominations; the 1909 Catholic Encyclopedia (quoted elsewhere in this Board) quotes c. 1900 documents calling it a valid topic for research; priest Teilhard de Chardin was a major writer/researcher on evolution in the 1920s thru 40s (OK, so his theories were a bit unusual, and he was heavily involved in the Piltdown shenanigans); a 1950 proclamation by Pope Pius said it was the most favored among the theories available (and a 1994 letter by J.P.2 pretty much stated it was a settled fact).

Hey – back when I was “church going” I never once lied about masturbating!

Of course, I am lying now…