59
   

Why believe in god? The theist perspective.

 
 
George
 
  1  
Reply Fri 26 Nov, 2010 04:38 pm
@JTT,
Dang!
Why didn't I think of that?
IRFRANK
 
  3  
Reply Fri 26 Nov, 2010 05:52 pm
@Finn dAbuzz,
Marching off to war, having God on your side. Whichever god.

As opposed to marching off to war believing history, morality, justice or the virtues of your family are on your side?

As opposed to marching off to war and having only a thirst for power and destruction on your side?

Belief in God doesn't imply the belief that God favors all of one's thoughts and actions. That some who believe in God, might also believe they are favored by God is not essentially different from any other human conceit that bestows an individual with a sense of special purpose or allowance.

Sometimes it does, sometimes it doesn't. It's true it is not always the case. You are right, it is a basic and all too common human conceit. I think that taking God out of the the equation would make that conceit more obvious.


Persecuting others non-harmful actions because of words in an ancient book.
Or worse, your interpretation of those words.

Persecuting innocents for any reason is troublesome is it not?

If I am engaged in such action because of my interpretation of the words written in an ancient book, is it more troubling than if I am motivated by my interpretation of the words spoken by a living man or written in a modern book? What if my motivation is self-generated?

True enough. But again, does claiming that Katrina attacked N.O. because of someone's ungodly behavior seem reasonable?


Asking unseen powers for special favors.

How does this lead to wrong actions? Is asking for special favors the problem or is it that the request is being made to unseen powers?

Again, it's that asking special favors somehow reduces man's own responsibility for correct action. Just ask God to cure global warming, we don't have to do anything different.

Relying on outside, supernatural forces for medical help, and refusing help that is available.

Here I can see a basis for believing this might lead to wrong actions, but I believe you are assuming that "available" help will always be more effective than "outside, supernatural" help, and you may be focused on help that can benefit the needs of a loved one rather than the individual.

Yes, I guess I do assume medical help will be more effective.

If someone believes that ultimately they will be in a better situation if they rely on God rather than human medicine for their personal needs, how can this be considered a wrong action?

Because it may result in harm to themselves or a loved one? I guess the basic difference is that I don't put much 'hope' in God's intervention.


To simplify, my basic problem is the reliance on God to improve our lot or solve our problems. It somehow diminishes man's responsibility for correct action. It allows justification for heinous acts, albeit clearly not truly God's work. And yes, that is the work of man but too often man uses God for his own purposes, not the other way around. If there is a God, I'm not blaming God for this, and man does suffer for his behavior, but does not the continual reliance on God's will mask man's responsibility?
JTT
 
  1  
Reply Fri 26 Nov, 2010 07:14 pm
@IRFRANK,
Howdy Frank, if that's your first name. If it isn't I apologize.

I took the liberty of putting a bit of your reply to Finn in some quote boxes [see below] to show you how it's done. This makes it easier to read and one doesn't have to go back to see where one person stopped and the other started.

To use "quotes" check at the top of the REPLY box. If there are no headings there it'll say "Open BBCode Editor". If there are headings then just click on the Quote box and copy and paste the quoted portion you want between the initial quote and the terminating quote, for example,

Quote:
[here]


then write your reply as usual.

==============================

Quote:
Finn wrote: Marching off to war, having God on your side. Whichever god.

As opposed to marching off to war believing history, morality, justice or the virtues of your family are on your side?

As opposed to marching off to war and having only a thirst for power and destruction on your side?

Belief in God doesn't imply the belief that God favors all of one's thoughts and actions. That some who believe in God, might also believe they are favored by God is not essentially different from any other human conceit that bestows an individual with a sense of special purpose or allowance.


IRFRANK replied: ...

Quote:
Persecuting others non-harmful actions because of words in an ancient book.
Or worse, your interpretation of those words.

Persecuting innocents for any reason is troublesome is it not?

If I am engaged in such action because of my interpretation of the words written in an ancient book, is it more troubling than if I am motivated by my interpretation of the words spoken by a living man or written in a modern book? What if my motivation is self-generated?


IRFRANK replied: ...

spidergal
 
  5  
Reply Sat 27 Nov, 2010 12:28 pm
Sorry, this is a bit late in coming.

Just a little background on my situation: I live in India. I was born into Hinduism. But I'm an atheist. I'll be mainly speaking from my experiences with the people who were born in the 70s, 80s or 90s and are of Indian origin but belong to different religions that run the gamut from Hinduism to Islam and Christianity to Sikhism.

Out of all the people I've known in my entire lifetime, most of them believe in some kind of a god but are not religiously devout. They are not regular visitors of religious places, but they believe in some kind of god – that’s the important thing. Mostly, there are motivated by fear and courage. They want to do the right things because they fear there’s a god watching over them, and doing the so-called wrong things will put them in this god's bad books and lead to dire consequences. Similarly, doing good deeds will hopefully bring good luck.

And god is what gives them courage when nothing else does. I think Mame put it really succinctly: how faith provides people with strength in life.

There are a few people – and that includes my parents - who reckon believing in god and following religious rituals will bring prosperity. It is at least my mom's belief, for sure. My dad is a doctor, by the way, and his father was a staunch atheist - much to Mom's annoyance and Dad’s chagrin.

While I'm familiar with the studies that have revealed intelligent people have the propensity to be atheists, I've a few friends with above-average intelligence who're extremely pious. Some of them are engineers in high-profiles jobs; one of them works in the PR industry -- all of them have an unwavering faith in a god, follow religious rituals and associate god with courage and fear.

Barring the few hardcore theists - and atheists like me for that matter - most of the youngsters my age, I feel, are too lazy/busy/reluctant to follow religion, but they want to believe in god as some sort of saving grace, because not following god is apparently not standard practice.

I always attract the “what seriously?” look when I candidly admit I am an atheist. It’s very shocking to people that I don’t believe in as much as an infinite intelligence – the sort of surreal force that (supposedly) governs the universe, but doesn’t answer prayers, etc., unlike the stereotypical Abrahamic god.



IRFRANK
 
  1  
Reply Sat 27 Nov, 2010 02:37 pm
@JTT,
thanks
0 Replies
 
Oylok
 
  1  
Reply Sat 27 Nov, 2010 03:02 pm
@spidergal,
Hello spidergal,

There is something I have been wondering for a long time but have never asked, because I never met an openly atheistic ex-Hindu. (And apparently your grandfather was an atheist as well, so you're not all that new to it.) Do your views about our level of certainty about "scientific facts" in the world around us differ significantly from the views of a Western atheist? I mean, do Hindus tend to view the latest scientific findings with more scepticism than Westerners?

Anyway, congratulations on becoming an atheist. It must be tougher for someone with so many gods to choose from. Wink

Oylok
JTT
 
  1  
Reply Sat 27 Nov, 2010 03:16 pm
Isn't it particularly hypocritical to hold that there is a god and then support the terrorist/war crime ridden US government?

Where does that leave the US atheist or agnostic?

Oddly, it seems that the more religious one is the greater is the degree of support for these terrorist/war crime ridden US governments.
Eorl
 
  3  
Reply Sat 27 Nov, 2010 05:56 pm
@JTT,
I think its related to the death penalty support issue, in that death is merely the means by which you send them to Father who can sort them out properly.
0 Replies
 
Ionus
 
  1  
Reply Sat 27 Nov, 2010 06:43 pm
@George,
Did you really pea your mattress ?
spidergal
 
  5  
Reply Sat 27 Nov, 2010 09:10 pm
@Oylok,
Oylok:

Quote:
Do your views about our level of certainty about "scientific facts" in the world around us differ significantly from the views of a Western atheist? I mean, do Hindus tend to view the latest scientific findings with more scepticism than Westerners?


I can only speak for myself. I don't know about others. I view all scientific findings with a moderate dose of skepticism as would be expected of an educated, intellectual person. But no, it's not the sort of skepticism, I think, you mean. I have a great interest in the scientific developments in the West. I was a zoology major in undergrads - evolutionary biology was my second favorite topic (neuroscience was first).

Yes, I gun for natural selection, but I was also always naturally averse to religion and god - I could never identify with them, so that also played a role in my becoming an atheist.

Quote:
Anyway, congratulations on becoming an atheist. It must be tougher for someone with so many gods to choose from. Wink


I think, on the contrary, the tougher part was trying to like god, trying to drag myself to the temple to pray. I didn't feel like doing it, but we were expected to do it.

When I embraced atheism, it was more like liberation, like I'd escaped life sentence or something.
0 Replies
 
Finn dAbuzz
 
  1  
Reply Sat 27 Nov, 2010 09:46 pm
@IRFRANK,
IRFRANK wrote:
There are a few aspects of a belief in god(s) that I think lead to wrong actions.


IRFRANK wrote:

Marching off to war, having God on your side. Whichever god.


Finn wrote:
As opposed to marching off to war believing history, morality, justice or the virtues of your family are on your side?

As opposed to marching off to war and having only a thirst for power and destruction on your side?

Belief in God doesn't imply the belief that God favors all of one's thoughts and actions. That some who believe in God, might also believe they are favored by God is not essentially different from any other human conceit that bestows an individual with a sense of special purpose or allowance.


IRFRANK wrote:
Sometimes it does, sometimes it doesn't. It's true it is not always the case. You are right, it is a basic and all too common human conceit. I think that taking God out of the the equation would make that conceit more obvious.


Finn Nov 27 wrote:
The danger you are concerned with, it seems to me, is that individuals will engage in war with a sense of special purpose or unique authority that might work to falsely legitimize or disguise either the immorality or extreme significance of their actions. While being anointed by God may be the most grandiose expression of a common human conceit, it is by no means the only one, and therefore without belief in God, the danger which concerns you remains, and in no small measure. Belief in the existence of God does not depend upon belief in the special favor of God, and therefore any dangers or wrong actions that flow from a human conceit that incorporates the latter should not be attributed to the former.


IRFRANK wrote:
Persecuting others non-harmful actions because of words in an ancient book.
Or worse, your interpretation of those words.


Finn wrote:
Persecuting innocents for any reason is troublesome is it not?

If I am engaged in such action because of my interpretation of the words written in an ancient book, is it more troubling than if I am motivated by my interpretation of the words spoken by a living man or written in a modern book? What if my motivation is self-generated?


IRFRANK wrote:
True enough. But again, does claiming that Katrina attacked N.O. because of someone's ungodly behavior seem reasonable?


Finn Nov 27 wrote:
Personally, I do believe in God and I do not believe Katrina was sent by him to punish the wicked of New Orleans, however your original point was not that certain aspects of a belief in God are unreasonable, but that they lead to wrong actions. Perhaps we need your definition of "wrong action," but I have taken it to include a moralistic component.

The persecution of innocents doesn't invariably follow from belief in God, nor do religious texts, irrespective of their age or what they say.


IRFRANK wrote:
Asking unseen powers for special favors.


Finn wrote:
How does this lead to wrong actions? Is asking for special favors the problem or is it that the request is being made to unseen powers?


IRFRANK wrote:
Again, it's that asking special favors somehow reduces man's own responsibility for correct action. Just ask God to cure global warming, we don't have to do anything different.


Finn Nov 27 wrote:
Once again, belief in God does not require the belief that he will respond to the requests of man, and belief in the power of prayer doesn't preclude taking personal responsibility or action. It's generally quite the opposite.

I would say it's quite a stretch to blame belief in God on the negative results of men's actions, on the basis that men who believe in God also believe they can do as they please and then clean it all up with a quick e-mail request to him to snap his fingers and make it better.


IRFRANK wrote:
Relying on outside, supernatural forces for medical help, and refusing help that is available.


Finn wrote:
Here I can see a basis for believing this might lead to wrong actions, but I believe you are assuming that "available" help will always be more effective than "outside, supernatural" help, and you may be focused on help that can benefit the needs of a loved one rather than the individual.


IRFRANK wrote:
Yes, I guess I do assume medical help will be more effective.


Finn wrote:
If someone believes that ultimately they will be in a better situation if they rely on God rather than human medicine for their personal needs, how can this be considered a wrong action?


IRFRANK wrote:
Because it may result in harm to themselves or a loved one? I guess the basic difference is that I don't put much 'hope' in God's intervention.


Finn Nov 27 wrote:
We may be back to the definition of "wrong action." I've already acknowledged that there is a difference between someone refusing medical attention for themselves and preventing a loved one from receiving it, and I can easily understand how the latter might be considered a "wrong action." I see it differently, however when the consequences of the decision are limited to the decider. We definitely are back to the idea that any wrong that flows from the decision is not inherent in the belief in God.[


IRFRANK wrote:
To simplify, my basic problem is the reliance on God to improve our lot or solve our problems. It somehow diminishes man's responsibility for correct action. It allows justification for heinous acts, albeit clearly not truly God's work. And yes, that is the work of man but too often man uses God for his own purposes, not the other way around. If there is a God, I'm not blaming God for this, and man does suffer for his behavior, but does not the continual reliance on God's will mask man's responsibility?


Finn Nov 27 wrote:
If inherent in a belief in God was the ceding of all personal responsibility then I would probably agree with you that such a belief leads to wrong actions, but that's not the case.

In response to the points you originally made, I've tried to address myself to theism or the "belief in God," not God, as the former has been the topic of this thread.

Very many wrong actions have been taken by people who believe in God and many of these actions have been the direct result of or made possible by the nature of their individual beliefs about God. I reject the assertion, however, that a credible argument can be made that any wrong actions necessarily follow a belief in the existence of God. I similarly reject any assertion that wrong actions necessarily follow the belief that God does not exist.

They are both starting points from which very similar codes of conduct, both good and bad, can be developed.
George
 
  1  
Reply Sun 28 Nov, 2010 08:24 am
@Ionus,
Ionus wrote:

Did you really pea your mattress ?

OK, literally laughing out loud.
0 Replies
 
IRFRANK
 
  1  
Reply Sun 28 Nov, 2010 09:25 am
@Finn dAbuzz,
Quote:
The danger you are concerned with, it seems to me, is that individuals will engage in war with a sense of special purpose or unique authority that might work to falsely legitimize or disguise either the immorality or extreme significance of their actions. While being anointed by God may be the most grandiose expression of a common human conceit, it is by no means the only one, and therefore without belief in God, the danger which concerns you remains, and in no small measure. Belief in the existence of God does not depend upon belief in the special favor of God, and therefore any dangers or wrong actions that flow from a human conceit that incorporates the latter should not be attributed to the former.


I think we have the standard cart/horse confusion here. Is not the belief in the righteousness of one's action dependent on the source? I didn't claim that was the only cause of wars or aggression, just one of the top two or three.

Quote:
The persecution of innocents doesn't invariably follow from belief in God, nor do religious texts, irrespective of their age or what they say.


Absolutely true. But it can, and the motivation is most certainly for self promoting reasons. Why are these illogical statements not pointed out for what they are by other believers?

Quote:
Once again, belief in God does not require the belief that he will respond to the requests of man, and belief in the power of prayer doesn't preclude taking personal responsibility or action. It's generally quite the opposite.

I would say it's quite a stretch to blame belief in God on the negative results of men's actions, on the basis that men who believe in God also believe they can do as they please and then clean it all up with a quick e-mail request to him to snap his fingers and make it better.


We may have to agree to disagree on this one. If I observed only men like yourself or C.S. Lewis, I might agree with you, but all too often I see the "God did it" excuse used to avoid responsibility or more importantly corrective action. Ask the people who wander out of the church and have to light up a cigarette about their chances with lung cancer. It reminds me of a joke:

Ask people who buy lottery tickets about their million to one chances and they say " Well, someone has to win!"
Ask those same people about the one in three chances of dying from cancer if they smoke and they say "It won't happen to me."

All too often the answer is - "It's God's will."



Quote:
We definitely are back to the idea that any wrong that flows from the decision is not inherent in the belief in God. If inherent in a belief in God was the ceding of all personal responsibility then I would probably agree with you that such a belief leads to wrong actions, but that's not the case.


I would agree, it's not inherent, but it is a common trait.

0 Replies
 
Ahsanahmed Abid
 
  1  
Reply Mon 29 Nov, 2010 09:55 am
@msolga,
To control yourself from bad work , if you are a bad worker
0 Replies
 
Ionus
 
  1  
Reply Thu 21 Apr, 2011 02:39 am
@IRFRANK,
How do you know you are not already enlightened ?
0 Replies
 
schruder
 
  1  
Reply Fri 16 Dec, 2011 02:50 am
@msolga,
there is no recent proof that a god exists. all the stuff in the bible, the stuff about jesus happened thousands of years ago. for all we know the stories could have been made up by a bunch of power crazy religious freaks. the bible could have been just a way to give hope to people in times of war. the people in the stories might have started out as ordinary people with ordinary lives and then made into legends and myths over time.
0 Replies
 
roammer
 
  0  
Reply Wed 7 Nov, 2012 12:23 pm
@msolga,
msolga wrote:

I personally don’t believe in a god, but I have started this discussion thread for those A2Kers who do.

Why? : Because I have seen post after post, thread after thread, disrupted by theist A2Kers arguing against atheism. Generally on threads created for entirely different purposes. I'm surprised one of you hasn't created a thread for this purpose already.

We’ve heard any number of objections to atheism from theists, but very little, any any real detail, from those same posters about their own beliefs.
About why they believe theism is a better way. And why they hold the beliefs they do.

So here’s an opportunity for theists to state their position in much more detail. I hope you take the opportunity to.


Quote:
Theism, in the broadest sense, is the belief that at least one deity exists.[1][2] In a more specific sense, theism refers to a doctrine concerning the nature of a monotheistic God and God's relationship to the universe.[3] Theism, in this specific sense, conceives of God as personal, present and active in the governance and organization of the world and the universe.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Theism

As a starting point for such a discussion, I Googled “why believe in god?” and this is one of the first responses I received.
As reasonable a starting point for discussion as any, I guess ...


Quote:
Why Believe In God?

If someone were to ask you the question, “Why believe in God?” what would you say? Would you be able to answer his or her question or would you just answer by saying, “Because He is here”? Consider the following points.

Why believe in God? We can feel Him calling us.
Every culture throughout history has been convinced that there is a higher power that watches over them. This desire to reach for that higher power is man’s search to get reconnected to God. All of these people have the idea of God in their consciousness because deep in their hearts they know that He is there (Romans 1-2). Who put the desire in their hearts as well as our hearts that we should seek after Him? God did.

Why believe in God? The complexity of all life and of our planet
When we look to all of science, we can see that there is order and that there is a definite pattern to the layout and structure of not only the human body, but also the universe in which we live.

The distinguished astronomer Sir Frederick Hoyle showed how amino acids randomly coming together in a human cell are mathematically absurd. Sir Hoyle illustrated the weakness of "chance" with the following analogy: "What are the chances that a tornado might blow through a junkyard containing all the parts of a 747, accidentally assemble them into a plane, and leave it ready for take-off? The possibilities are so small as to be negligible even if a tornado were to blow through enough junkyards to fill the whole universe!"

Who created this universe in such a set a pattern that no man, when he looks carefully enough, can deny that the hand of God was used in its creation?

Why believe in God? Sense of right and wrong
Even from our earliest years we all have an innate sense of right and wrong. This “conscience,” as the world refers to it, keeps us in a moral as well as ethical balance and without it the world would break down into total chaos. Who put that sense of right and wrong in us? God did.

Why believe in God? The Bible
The endurance and longevity of the Bible should help us to see that there is a Creator. The Bible has existed for years, even though there have been numerous attempts to destroy or discredit it.

The Bible has existed for centuries and is still the best-selling and most read book in the world. Who made sure that the Bible would be around from generation to generation in order to ensure that His Word could still be read? God did.

Why believe in God? Jesus Christ
No other religious leader, not Buddha, Mohammed, or Confucius has ever claimed to be the Son of God. That is what Jesus did; He claimed to be God in the flesh. He not only claimed to be God, He backed up His claims through His life, death, and resurrection.

The presence of Jesus can still be felt today -- not only in all the lives that have been changed by Him, but also by the very idea that the structure and keeping of time has evolved around His birth. Who made sure that we would never forget His Son? God did.

Why believe in God? These are only five of the many reasons that point to the existence of God. Look at them carefully and you to will see that God has left evidence for us to see and to know that He is here!


http://www.allaboutphilosophy.org/why-believe-in-god-faq.htm

OK, over to you.
Go for it.




In the lenght of history to prove the existence of God, Religions according to world rubber and instructions of that time have provided different ways. That the firmer and at the same time the most hardest of them is reason, intellect and philosophy way. Islamic and Christian philosophers based on the ways with adducing some arguments which among all the firmer is that argument which revolute from existence to compulsory . If it be revoluted from existence to compulsory truth , it is called ; ontological argument and if it be revoluted from compulsory truth to existence , it is called ; syddiqyn argument.in ontological argument Ibne Sina and Sdralmotaalhyn have expressed their argument with elements like ontolog genuineness, ontolog doubtand ontolog expansion. But Allameh Tababtabai in his argument hasn,t related to any of the concessive philosophy preliminaries and directly deals with Truth.
http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/mulla-sadra/#BeiExi
0 Replies
 
plainoldme
 
  1  
Reply Thu 22 Nov, 2012 09:18 am
I often think, not about god per se, but about belief in god. My youngest brother is an extreme rightie, a fundamentalist Christian, and, as I remember from when my two younger brothers were undergraduates, a racist, but that last element is not part of the tale.

I favor the Divine Architect concept of god: that god created the world and left man to do as he pleases. My brother said that makes no sense. To which I answered that if god intended man to have free will, then no other concept makes sense.

I may or may not have written here that free will is a concern of mine. I know I wrote about my snarky god concept several times: that god just might be a group of teenaged boys playing Dungeons and Dragons with this planet as their game.

I feel that there isn't much difference between Zeus and Yahweh other than Zeus' sex drive . . . or . . . perhaps . . . his endorsement of the radical wing of the current republican party, evidence for which is his series of "legitimate rapes" which gave rise to cults all along the MEditerranean basin. But, enough snark on this Thanksgiving morning. Both Zeus and Yahweh are basically toddlers, selfish, willful and demanding.

If a god is supposed to be all powerful, omniscient, omnipresent and all good, it is an absolute contradiction that he would demand worship. Period. Had he all of those traits, he would be the divine architect, which lets Zeus off the hook as he created nothing.

I have always been an environmentalist and I have always believed in the ability of mankind to develop mentally . . . well, maybe the tea totalitarians and the candidacy of willard romney and a few others shook that belief. However, what if god never intended mankind to exploit fossil fuels? What if god is not the divine architect but the divine proctor of the SupraNational MErit Scholar test? If so, then it would be fitting for god to punish man. There was the publication this week of the notion that cancer is manmade. What does that mean? It means that cancer is the opposite of creation. It could mean that if there is a god, cancer is the punishment for not thinking deeply enough, for disregarding the consequences of our actions.
0 Replies
 
Janus D Strange
 
  1  
Reply Fri 23 Nov, 2012 03:03 am
@plainoldme,
Or a back door man?
0 Replies
 
spendius
 
  1  
Reply Fri 23 Nov, 2012 05:31 am
I think theism is like a belief in manners and etiquette. They all help us get by in a passably reasonable way. Atheists are like those people who think it's okay to break wind at either end at dinner on the grounds that it is a perfectly natural biological function which it is neurotic to suppress. And their argument is irrefutable. So they sit there all alone being right whilst the theists are all having a party and stitching up deals whilst being ridiculous.

Atheism does not help us get by which is why it has been rejected throughout history. Atheists enjoy being different in a theist society but never seem to consider how much they would enjoy an atheist society.

Has there ever been a community which is considered a society which has embraced atheism over an extended period of time? Russia and China have both back-tracked in recent years and North Korea is the only society I know of which gives an example of atheist thought in action.

Atheism seems to me to work well in the microcosm as it gives rise to opportunities to be indignant and never runs the risk of being wrong. But only so long as the macrocosm is theist. If the macrocosm is atheist the only things to whinge about are food rationing and the lifts not working.
 

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