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    Posted: 04-Jun-2009 at 16:43
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The premise for many theological and philosophical discussions seems to be that there is a God (or gods or godesses). But why should there be a God? Is there any tangible, convincing, unambiguous proof that there is such a thing?
 
What makes people in todays world, with it´s scientific worldview, still believe in a God (s)?


Edited by Seko - 14-Jan-2010 at 20:25
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Post Options Post Options   Quote Parnell Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 04-Jun-2009 at 19:23
To put it simply, there is little reason to believe in God.

In the days when science was unable explain the existence of the sun, or the moon, or Volcanic eruptions, or oceans, or anything else, it all seemed so very clear and simple - There simply must be an all powerful being that created all this. Religion has always struggled against science, and as science slowly begins to explain all the things religion takes for granted it kills religion.

Religion is man made, just like any philosophy. We needed clarity, now we have it, and we no longer need religion.


Edited by Parnell - 04-Jun-2009 at 19:23
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Post Options Post Options   Quote xristar Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 04-Jun-2009 at 21:14
Originally posted by Parnell

To put it simply, there is little reason to believe in God.

In the days when science was unable explain the existence of the sun, or the moon, or Volcanic eruptions, or oceans, or anything else, it all seemed so very clear and simple - There simply must be an all powerful being that created all this. Religion has always struggled against science, and as science slowly begins to explain all the things religion takes for granted it kills religion.

Religion is man made, just like any philosophy. We needed clarity, now we have it, and we no longer need religion.

I disagree. Science cannot explain some things. These things are perhaps things that do not NEED an explanation, for example a unique coincidence. Of course you can call it a coincidence, someone else may call it divine intervention.
Science may take fear of the unknown away from human hearts, but it also takes hope. Often there is no logical reason to hope, so one turns to the non-explicable unscientific for hope. That's what's happening when you are in desperate situations.
I think religion is part of the human spirit. It may change form, but won't die.  

Defeat allows no explanation
Victory needs none.
It insults the dead when you treat life carelessly.
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Post Options Post Options   Quote Akolouthos Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 04-Jun-2009 at 22:24
Originally posted by Parnell

To put it simply, there is little reason to believe in God.

In the days when science was unable explain the existence of the sun, or the moon, or Volcanic eruptions, or oceans, or anything else, it all seemed so very clear and simple - There simply must be an all powerful being that created all this. Religion has always struggled against science, and as science slowly begins to explain all the things religion takes for granted it kills religion.

Religion is man made, just like any philosophy. We needed clarity, now we have it, and we no longer need religion.


At the most basic level, there is something to what you have said here. We can, indeed, explain many things that were once considered divine mysteries. Still, I think it all depends how deeply you wish to question. For instance, if you are satisfied with a rather superficial understanding of the physical happenstances in the universe, bravo; you may never even think about questions having to do with the divine. If you wish, however, to question the contingency of these events, the idea that there might be a sort of pattern to it all, etc., then you will have to turn to questions dealing with God and other theological concepts. The more abstract -- and consequently the more penetrating -- your questions, the more they will inevitably lead to things that are difficult to categorize and quantify.

-Akolouthos
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Post Options Post Options   Quote es_bih Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05-Jun-2009 at 05:11
Originally posted by Akolouthos


Originally posted by Parnell


To put it simply, there is little reason to believe in God.In the days when science was unable explain the existence of the sun, or the moon, or Volcanic eruptions, or oceans, or anything else, it all seemed so very clear and simple - There simply must be an all powerful being that created all this. Religion has always struggled against science, and as science slowly begins to explain all the things religion takes for granted it kills religion.Religion is man made, just like any philosophy. We needed clarity, now we have it, and we no longer need religion.
At the most basic level, there is something to what you have said here. We can, indeed, explain many things that were once considered divine mysteries. Still, I think it all depends how deeply you wish to question. For instance, if you are satisfied with a rather superficial understanding of the physical happenstances in the universe, bravo; you may never even think about questions having to do with the divine. If you wish, however, to question the contingency of these events, the idea that there might be a sort of pattern to it all, etc., then you will have to turn to questions dealing with God and other theological concepts. The more abstract -- and consequently the more penetrating -- your questions, the more they will inevitably lead to things that are difficult to categorize and quantify.-Akolouthos


Good read Ako!

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Post Options Post Options   Quote Akolouthos Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05-Jun-2009 at 06:13
Originally posted by es_bih

Originally posted by Akolouthos


Originally posted by Parnell


To put it simply, there is little reason to believe in God.In the days when science was unable explain the existence of the sun, or the moon, or Volcanic eruptions, or oceans, or anything else, it all seemed so very clear and simple - There simply must be an all powerful being that created all this. Religion has always struggled against science, and as science slowly begins to explain all the things religion takes for granted it kills religion.Religion is man made, just like any philosophy. We needed clarity, now we have it, and we no longer need religion.
At the most basic level, there is something to what you have said here. We can, indeed, explain many things that were once considered divine mysteries. Still, I think it all depends how deeply you wish to question. For instance, if you are satisfied with a rather superficial understanding of the physical happenstances in the universe, bravo; you may never even think about questions having to do with the divine. If you wish, however, to question the contingency of these events, the idea that there might be a sort of pattern to it all, etc., then you will have to turn to questions dealing with God and other theological concepts. The more abstract -- and consequently the more penetrating -- your questions, the more they will inevitably lead to things that are difficult to categorize and quantify.-Akolouthos


Good read Ako!


Why thank you, es_bih. Smile

By the way, would you mind swinging by the "what makes a god a god" thread and clarifying the Muslim concept of Allah? I tried to explain the idea a bit as it relates to Christian apophatic theology, but I might have been woefully mistaken.

-Akolouthos
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Post Options Post Options   Quote docyabut Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05-Jun-2009 at 06:21
In my opinion if man does`nt have something to worship he worships himself that can be seen through out history. but still there is the univisable  that all in a quest to find.

Edited by docyabut - 05-Jun-2009 at 06:24
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Post Options Post Options   Quote Northman Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05-Jun-2009 at 16:05
Sometimes I wish I could believe more than I do - one part of me say yes, but the other part won't negotiate.
 
There can be many reasons to believe, and maybe even more reasons not to believe.
For me - there are overwhelming many reasons not to belive - though, let me share an experience I had 3 years back during one of my visits to friends in US.
 
A family member, an aunt of my friend, an old woman was very close to the end (old age) - and we went (a 20 minutes drive)  to visit her a few days in the morning for half an hour or so. They have tight family bonds.
Two days in a row she told us, that her past parents and brother had come during the night to take her "home". She was eager to go with them, but she told them she wasn't ready - her son had to come home first to say goodbye.
He came the second day at noon, and after he left, she called my friend and said there was no reason to come tomorrow morning - she was all set to go.
She died that evening.
 
So yes - if we believe as strongly as auntie did - there might be a reason to believe.
I'm sure auntie came "home".
 
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Post Options Post Options   Quote Parnell Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05-Jun-2009 at 18:39
Originally posted by Akolouthos

Originally posted by Parnell

To put it simply, there is little reason to believe in God.

In the days when science was unable explain the existence of the sun, or the moon, or Volcanic eruptions, or oceans, or anything else, it all seemed so very clear and simple - There simply must be an all powerful being that created all this. Religion has always struggled against science, and as science slowly begins to explain all the things religion takes for granted it kills religion.

Religion is man made, just like any philosophy. We needed clarity, now we have it, and we no longer need religion.


At the most basic level, there is something to what you have said here. We can, indeed, explain many things that were once considered divine mysteries. Still, I think it all depends how deeply you wish to question. For instance, if you are satisfied with a rather superficial understanding of the physical happenstances in the universe, bravo; you may never even think about questions having to do with the divine. If you wish, however, to question the contingency of these events, the idea that there might be a sort of pattern to it all, etc., then you will have to turn to questions dealing with God and other theological concepts. The more abstract -- and consequently the more penetrating -- your questions, the more they will inevitably lead to things that are difficult to categorize and quantify.

-Akolouthos


While I have the greatest respect for what you are saying, I dislike your suggestion (Or implication perhaps?) that I haven't thought it through properly. I am not prepared to tell a person of religious belief that I think 'you simply haven't thought it through' and I expect the same courtesy in return. We each have our own path in the cosmos, don't think that just because I'm following a different one that I'm missing out.
"Neither apathy nor antipathy can ever bring out the truth of history" Eoin Mac Neill.
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Post Options Post Options   Quote Constantine XI Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05-Jun-2009 at 18:59
The best work on answering this question is Richard Dawkin's The God Delusion. It provides the most comprehensive review of the topic which psychology and evolutionary biology can provide us. And the most convincing I have yet read of any book.

It is not convenient for your ordinary person to carefully evaluate a scientific explanation of the world. The story of the Garden of Eden and Adam and Eve will take less than an hour or so to read through. Compare this to understanding the theories of evolution, our understanding of the human genome and the role of DNA in determining traits and mutation, the Big Bang, the formation of life on early earth where radioactive compounds developed from self replicating molecules into active life forms as we know them. Seriously, one form of analysis takes only hours, the other takes years of intensive study to grasp.

So one reason we believe in God is because it is more convenient than the alternatives in term of grasping the basics.

Another reason is the comfort and social inclusion we receive by accepting a commonly held ideology. Religions have had A LOT of time to compete with eachother and experiment through trial and error in order to make themselves appealing and attractive. As the centuries (many many many of them) progressed, they had the opportunity to hone their marketing, PR and compensation policies (to put it in corporate terms, as I am inclined to do). So you have a religion such as Chrisitianity, for example, which became very appealing during the later Roman Empire. It appealed to people because of its promise of forgiveness, paradise and rebirth - even for the most downtrodden ( in fact, especially for the most downtrodden). It provided hope and solace for many, and even extended its reach to material benefits in the form of charity and almsgiving (no small contribution in the absence of any form of secular welfare). Religions also encouraged people to be nice to eachother and develop a sense of community and shared values. Again, this was no small achievement. Simply getting people to behave and treat eachother nicely despite many incentives to the contrary has actually proven very challenging throughout history.

Another reason is that religions have often found a place within established power structures, to be used as a control mechanism by the establishment. The Romans understood its power to control a deeply disenfranchised populace, and used it in the form of Christianity. Arab leaders understood the electrifying power of Islam on the Bedouin tribes, and used it to rapidly conquer one of the most impressive landholdings in all history. Atheism, on the other hand, cannot be used to unite or control people. It is simply the belief that there is no God, which in itself cannot be used as a source of inspiration or fear to motivate. It is not a belief system, merely a single belief, and as such has no utility for powerbrokers in getting people to do what they want them to do.

That is basically a summation of the most important points, which I find myself agreeing with.


Edited by Constantine XI - 05-Jun-2009 at 19:27
It is not the challenges a people face which define who they are, but rather the way in which they respond to those challenges.

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Post Options Post Options   Quote Menumorut Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05-Jun-2009 at 22:14
Believers live a more complex and pleasantful life than atheists.

But believing should not be the goal. You should check what you believe, you should ask God to show you if he is or is not existing.

A proof for the existence of a living Absolute Being is that humans are self-conscious rational beings. Such thing could not appear from hazardous material evolutions. We have free will and that is one of the proofs that not everything is mattery, because we chose between ways of acting.

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Post Options Post Options   Quote Cryptic Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05-Jun-2009 at 22:21
In a practical sense, religion is needed. As Constantine alludes to, religions offer common cultural reference points and provide for a stable society. They also set limits (sometimes very broadly interperted) on human authority. Past secular alternatives such as communism to religious systems have failed badly and have led to huge loss of life once religous limits on authority were discarded (Pol Pot's year zero, cultural revolution etc). 
 
The progressive secularism advocated by President Obama and many European countries is functioning, but it has not been subject to extreme stress yet. The various religious systems have been subjected to stress and have survived. Abandoning them for an unproven system is very risky.
 
 
 
 
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Post Options Post Options   Quote Omar al Hashim Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 06-Jun-2009 at 03:18
Originally posted by Parnell

In the days when science was unable explain the existence of the sun, or the moon, or Volcanic eruptions, or oceans, or anything else, it all seemed so very clear and simple - There simply must be an all powerful being that created all this. Religion has always struggled against science, and as science slowly begins to explain all the things religion takes for granted it kills religion.

That's just faith in science.

Religion is man made, just like any philosophy. We needed clarity, now we have it, and we no longer need religion.

Men have never required clarity. Nor has religion tried to provide it. (Well, thats not really true, some men do require clarity, and will happily invent whatever they please to satisify themselves. But those people do not descrimate their "skills" to either the religious or non-religious, and are happy to provide us with mind destroying disinformation no matter which field that grace)
Originally posted by Ako


At the most basic level, there is something to what you have said here. We can, indeed, explain many things that were once considered divine mysteries. Still, I think it all depends how deeply you wish to question. For instance, if you are satisfied with a rather superficial understanding of the physical happenstances in the universe, bravo; you may never even think about questions having to do with the divine. If you wish, however, to question the contingency of these events, the idea that there might be a sort of pattern to it all, etc., then you will have to turn to questions dealing with God and other theological concepts. The more abstract -- and consequently the more penetrating -- your questions, the more they will inevitably lead to things that are difficult to categorize and quantify.

Well said Ako.
I think it also needs to be pointed out that humans have learnt very little about the universe in comparision to what is available, and nearly all of that information is not available to people who aren't researching that field.
The ordinary person is simply star-struck at what a handful of people can do with a couple of materials. The ordinary people then get the idea that there is more benefit ascribing supernatural powers to that handful of people (mostly Physicists, Engineers, Chemists) than ascribing supernatural powers to their previous belief. That's what Parnell said when he said science kills religion. People who have no understanding of either science, technology or religion simply shift their belief from what theologians tell them to belief in how good man is.
Of course, now there are plenty of "atheist-science" theologians, so people are simply shifting from one group of theologians to another. The athesit theologians take technology as their miracles to impress the masses.
Originally posted by Northman

A family member, an aunt of my friend, an old woman was very close to the end (old age) - and we went (a 20 minutes drive)  to visit her a few days in the morning for half an hour or so. They have tight family bonds.
Two days in a row she told us, that her past parents and brother had come during the night to take her "home". She was eager to go with them, but she told them she wasn't ready - her son had to come home first to say goodbye.
He came the second day at noon, and after he left, she called my friend and said there was no reason to come tomorrow morning - she was all set to go.
She died that evening.

Great story North.
Originally posted by Parnell


While I have the greatest respect for what you are saying, I dislike your suggestion (Or implication perhaps?) that I haven't thought it through properly. I am not prepared to tell a person of religious belief that I think 'you simply haven't thought it through' and I expect the same courtesy in return. We each have our own path in the cosmos, don't think that just because I'm following a different one that I'm missing out.

Its easy enough to take that implication out of what you wrote too. I think that implication is impossible to avoid in this discussion.
So I hope you know that whatever I say I mean you know ill feelings, and I'm sure Ako didn't either.
Originally posted by Constantine XI

It is not convenient for your ordinary person to carefully evaluate a scientific explanation of the world. The story of the Garden of Eden and Adam and Eve will take less than an hour or so to read through. Compare this to understanding the theories of evolution, our understanding of the human genome and the role of DNA in determining traits and mutation, the Big Bang, the formation of life on early earth where radioactive compounds developed from self replicating molecules into active life forms as we know them. Seriously, one form of analysis takes only hours, the other takes years of intensive study to grasp.

So one reason we believe in God is because it is more convenient than the alternatives in term of grasping the basics.

Given the massive amount of scientific ignorance in the general community. I can easily say that people fail to believe in God because it is more convenient than the alternatives in term of grasping the basics.
People generally fail to grasp the basics of both religion and measurement, regardless of which they believe in.

Your last sentence relies on the assumption that intelligent people are more likely to be atheist. Which is obviously false. Dawkins himself is guilty of what he preaches.
Atheism, on the other hand, cannot be used to unite or control people. It is simply the belief that there is no God, which in itself cannot be used as a source of inspiration or fear to motivate. It is not a belief system, merely a single belief, and as such has no utility for powerbrokers in getting people to do what they want them to do.

That is true for atheism in the strict dictionary definition, but it is not true for modern western atheism.
It has its preists (like Dawkins), its adherents, and its religious duties. It certainly both unites and controls people, and most certainly is a source for both inspiration and fear to motivate. It has prophets (Darwin), its places of pilgrimage (Galapagos, Natural History Museum), its body of religious knowledge, and it is completely detached from science. I mean, how many people have ever heard of Lamark?

People don't change because their beliefs change.
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Post Options Post Options   Quote Emperor Barbarossa Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 06-Jun-2009 at 04:08
Originally posted by Omar al Hashim


That is true for atheism in the strict dictionary definition, but it is not true for modern western atheism.
It has its preists (like Dawkins), its adherents, and its religious duties. It certainly both unites and controls people, and most certainly is a source for both inspiration and fear to motivate. It has prophets (Darwin), its places of pilgrimage (Galapagos, Natural History Museum), its body of religious knowledge, and it is completely detached from science. I mean, how many people have ever heard of Lamark?

People don't change because their beliefs change.


Nice to see you guys again, Omar Northman, and Ako.
Also, never really saw you before Parnell (kudos to your name, Charles Parnell is one of my favorite figures in Irish history), but you seem to be pretty cool Irishman. You remind me a lot of Paul.

There is no religion of atheism. Sure, some atheists like to think that we are some sort of club, but we are not. Alright, there are some trendy people who think atheism is the new "cool" fad. But the mainstay of us don't believe because we don't believe. We don't believe because God was never actually proven to us, He was taken for granted. We believed in God because our friends did, our families did, basically because we were taught to. Why complicate things? People believe in religions because they want answers to questions that mankind might never know the answers to. It's easier, and it's more comforting thinking that you have an omnipotent guy up the sky on your side. I can understand why people believe, but that's why I don't believe. It's simply the easier way out. It's harder to say you don't know than it is to say you do.

We don't look at the world looking to know the answer, we just look at the world and cherish it for all its worth. We don't want a religion to replace our old one (I was raised Catholic). You have to be joking when calling Darwin a religious prophet, or the Galapagos a pilgrimage. Darwin was a brilliant scientist first, and never actually wrote a book about religion. But he did write two great books about science. Atheism is not Islam or Christianity. We do not even meet on a day of the week. What would we worship? Dawkins? Heck, most atheists have come up with half of his arguments on their own, they just aren't cashing in for it. Most of us really do not care what other people believe, and unlike other systems of belief (or for this one, the lack thereof), we are not starting wars over it. I have a couple of friends who are atheists, but about 80% of my friends are Christians. I just cannot see the connection between a religion in which you are a confirmed member where you meet with people every week for the sole purpose of talking about your religion and worshipping a supreme being, and a rag tag group that doesn't meet, have any sort of bureaucracy or hierarchy structure, and is only connected by their disbelief/dislike of something. It's like comparing Star Trek haters to Trekkies.


Edited by Emperor Barbarossa - 06-Jun-2009 at 04:20

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Post Options Post Options   Quote Akolouthos Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 06-Jun-2009 at 04:27
Originally posted by Parnell

Originally posted by Akolouthos

Originally posted by Parnell

To put it simply, there is little reason to believe in God.

In the days when science was unable explain the existence of the sun, or the moon, or Volcanic eruptions, or oceans, or anything else, it all seemed so very clear and simple - There simply must be an all powerful being that created all this. Religion has always struggled against science, and as science slowly begins to explain all the things religion takes for granted it kills religion.

Religion is man made, just like any philosophy. We needed clarity, now we have it, and we no longer need religion.


At the most basic level, there is something to what you have said here. We can, indeed, explain many things that were once considered divine mysteries. Still, I think it all depends how deeply you wish to question. For instance, if you are satisfied with a rather superficial understanding of the physical happenstances in the universe, bravo; you may never even think about questions having to do with the divine. If you wish, however, to question the contingency of these events, the idea that there might be a sort of pattern to it all, etc., then you will have to turn to questions dealing with God and other theological concepts. The more abstract -- and consequently the more penetrating -- your questions, the more they will inevitably lead to things that are difficult to categorize and quantify.

-Akolouthos


While I have the greatest respect for what you are saying, I dislike your suggestion (Or implication perhaps?) that I haven't thought it through properly. I am not prepared to tell a person of religious belief that I think 'you simply haven't thought it through' and I expect the same courtesy in return. We each have our own path in the cosmos, don't think that just because I'm following a different one that I'm missing out.


I'm sorry for giving offense, as it was not my intent. I certainly didn't mean to implicate that you hadn't thought things through -- although, upon reflection, I do see how one could take my post that way; mea culpa. Please accept my apologies for the poor phrasing.

What I was suggesting, rather, was that whether or not one has all of their questions answered -- by the physical sciences, or any other field -- depends on what sort of questions they are asking. If you are asking questions that can be quantified -- let us call them the "whats" of the universe, although this doesn't capture entirely what I am speaking of -- then the physical sciences suffice. If you are asking the "whys" of the universe, they do not. Of course there is some overlap between the "whats" and the "whys" -- and here we have not even discussed the "hows" -- but I hope this clarifies my earlier comments somewhat.

I do have the greatest respect for you, Parnell, as you are aware from our other discussions. Smile I apologize, once again, for the unintended offense. Please feel free to ask me to clarify anything I have written above.

-Akolouthos
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Post Options Post Options   Quote Akolouthos Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 06-Jun-2009 at 04:44
Originally posted by Constantine XI

It is not convenient for your ordinary person to carefully evaluate a scientific explanation of the world. The story of the Garden of Eden and Adam and Eve will take less than an hour or so to read through. Compare this to understanding the theories of evolution, our understanding of the human genome and the role of DNA in determining traits and mutation, the Big Bang, the formation of life on early earth where radioactive compounds developed from self replicating molecules into active life forms as we know them. Seriously, one form of analysis takes only hours, the other takes years of intensive study to grasp.


And here, I think, is a prime example of an invalid assumption we make in the postmodern era. Certainly, if one wishes to take the events recorded in the Book of Genesis as a simple storyline and look no further, I suppose it could be gone over in several hours. The same is true of any scientific textbook; the basics of any system are easy enough to pick up. If, however, one wishes to understand the fallen state of Man, the purpose of the Creation to begin with, etc., going through Genesis, and the thousands of pages of commentary that have been written on it down through the ages, takes a bit more work. One of them most popular subjects of commentary in the early post-Nicene Church was the Hexaemeron. Once again, it all depends what sort of questions one seeks to answer.

Another reason is the comfort and social inclusion we receive by accepting a commonly held ideology. Religions have had A LOT of time to compete with eachother and experiment through trial and error in order to make themselves appealing and attractive. As the centuries (many many many of them) progressed, they had the opportunity to hone their marketing, PR and compensation policies (to put it in corporate terms, as I am inclined to do). So you have a religion such as Chrisitianity, for example, which became very appealing during the later Roman Empire. It appealed to people because of its promise of forgiveness, paradise and rebirth - even for the most downtrodden ( in fact, especially for the most downtrodden). It provided hope and solace for many, and even extended its reach to material benefits in the form of charity and almsgiving (no small contribution in the absence of any form of secular welfare). Religions also encouraged people to be nice to eachother and develop a sense of community and shared values. Again, this was no small achievement. Simply getting people to behave and treat eachother nicely despite many incentives to the contrary has actually proven very challenging throughout history.


Largely valid, although to take the various periods of persecution into account would bear some fleshing out. I don't know that one could view embracing religion today as a way of gaining wide acceptance and inclusion in Western culture.

Another reason is that religions have often found a place within established power structures, to be used as a control mechanism by the establishment. The Romans understood its power to control a deeply disenfranchised populace, and used it in the form of Christianity. Arab leaders understood the electrifying power of Islam on the Bedouin tribes, and used it to rapidly conquer one of the most impressive landholdings in all history. Atheism, on the other hand, cannot be used to unite or control people. It is simply the belief that there is no God, which in itself cannot be used as a source of inspiration or fear to motivate. It is not a belief system, merely a single belief, and as such has no utility for powerbrokers in getting people to do what they want them to do.


It does not become a powerful motivating factor or system unless the issue is cast in terms of "us vs. them", which is precisely what individuals like Dawkins, and in a more deliberately humorous way Hitchens, are seeking to do. When a group of individuals is united against another group, they achieve a stronger group identity. In this sense, the system -- or even "religion" -- of atheist prosyletizers bears a strong resemblance to that of the most narrow-minded religious dogmatist.

-Akolouthos
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Post Options Post Options   Quote Akolouthos Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 06-Jun-2009 at 04:49
Originally posted by Emperor Barbarossa

Nice to see you guys again, Omar Northman, and Ako.
Also, never really saw you before Parnell (kudos to your name, Charles Parnell is one of my favorite figures in Irish history), but you seem to be pretty cool Irishman. You remind me a lot of Paul.

There is no religion of atheism. Sure, some atheists like to think that we are some sort of club, but we are not. Alright, there are some trendy people who think atheism is the new "cool" fad. But the mainstay of us don't believe because we don't believe. We don't believe because God was never actually proven to us, He was taken for granted. We believed in God because our friends did, our families did, basically because we were taught to. Why complicate things? People believe in religions because they want answers to questions that mankind might never know the answers to.


Great to see you again too! It's been too long. Smile

If your beliefs are still the same as they were when last we discussed the topic, then yes, I do understand where you are coming from here. I would generally characterize your position, for the purposes of simplification and wider understanding, as "agnosticism", but I do understand the sense in which you use the term atheist. Indeed, I believe you use it validly, when reflecting back on our conversation several years ago; I just don't know that it would be understood in the proper sense by someone who hadn't discussed the issue with you previously. My criticisms above are directed more at the people who do view it as a sort of club.

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Post Options Post Options   Quote Constantine XI Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 06-Jun-2009 at 06:14
Originally posted by Omar

Given the massive amount of scientific ignorance in the general community. I can easily say that people fail to believe in God because it is more convenient than the alternatives in term of grasping the basics.
People generally fail to grasp the basics of both religion and measurement, regardless of which they believe in.

Your last sentence relies on the assumption that intelligent people are more likely to be atheist. Which is obviously false. Dawkins himself is guilty of what he preaches.


I think most people fail to grasp the basics in most, because most people don't care enough to investigate either option.

You are incorrect in your second praragraph though. I never made any assumption about intelligence. The key word there was convenient: it is simply more convenient and easy to go along with a book you can read in under a week than spend many years taking the classes, exams and practical experiments in the natural sciences which refute claims of the existence of a divinity.

Originally posted by Omar

That is true for atheism in the strict dictionary definition, but it is not true for modern western atheism.
It has its preists (like Dawkins)...


Please explain how Dawkins is equivalent to a priest. I disagree that he is the equivalent to one.

its adherents


So do rock bands, McDonalds and the nice designer shirt I wore out today. Those things are as comparable to religion as orange juice or facebook.

and its religious duties


Please name them. I certainly can't think of any enforced duties that I am required to undertake. I disagree here.


It certainly both unites and controls people, and most certainly is a source for both inspiration and fear to motivate.


But in a way comparable to a force which permeates the whole of society and dictates what we eat, who/when/where/how of the sex we have, our personal hygiene? As a force which dictates and justifies the type of government we have? (no, Communism does not count, as that is based on Marx's theory of material inevitability, not on the need for Atheism). Nope. Virtually no one takes it that seriously. Maybe some like to imagine a great big regiment of militant atheists scheming in their amphetamines dens, but it is simply untrue. There is virtually no atheist sub-culture (this fantasy is instead an invention fo conservative individuals who believe an us vs. them world simply must exist), and atheism has virtually no scope to control, unite or inflict fear on people in a way comparable to theist belief systems.

It has prophets (Darwin), its places of pilgrimage (Galapagos, Natural History Museum), its body of religious knowledge, and it is completely detached from science. I mean, how many people have ever heard of Lamark?


How is Dawkins a prophet? Is the man who reads me the news everyday also a Prophet, for stating observed facts?

Galapagos is not a place of Pilgrimage. Darwin came up with something important there, but no one venerates the place compared to the Ganges, Jerusalem or Mecca. It is just a place where a landmark theory was developed. Nothing more, nothing less.

What makes its body of knowledge religious rather than just regular knowledge?

Atheism itself is just the one belief that there is no God. So it isn't really related to anything. But justification for it as an alternative to theist belief systems is abundant in the natural sciences. It is no coincidence that Dawkins is an evolutionary biologist.

I studied Lamarck's theory, and while it would appear logical to a 19th century mind it does not stand up to what we know about DNA sequencing, mutations and the genome of species. Darwin's theory, on the other hand, complements our 20th century understanding of the role of the genome beautifully. So what if Lamarck's less convincing theory is less well known.



Edited by Constantine XI - 06-Jun-2009 at 09:26
It is not the challenges a people face which define who they are, but rather the way in which they respond to those challenges.

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Post Options Post Options   Quote Menumorut Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 06-Jun-2009 at 06:25
Religions and the atheist doctrine are all belief systems. Religious people believe in what they don't see, atheists believe only in what they can touch.

For this reason, atheists are more limited and biased because they reduce the sources of knowledges at the posibilities of their five senses.

Why should we believe in the atheist doctrine?

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Post Options Post Options   Quote Constantine XI Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 06-Jun-2009 at 06:36
Originally posted by Akolouthos

And here, I think, is a prime example of an invalid assumption we make in the postmodern era. Certainly, if one wishes to take the events recorded in the Book of Genesis as a simple storyline and look no further, I suppose it could be gone over in several hours. The same is true of any scientific textbook; the basics of any system are easy enough to pick up. If, however, one wishes to understand the fallen state of Man, the purpose of the Creation to begin with, etc., going through Genesis, and the thousands of pages of commentary that have been written on it down through the ages, takes a bit more work. One of them most popular subjects of commentary in the early post-Nicene Church was the Hexaemeron. Once again, it all depends what sort of questions one seeks to answer.


You could also argue that the Mona Lisa is more complex than all the books on physics ever written, or any religious text. Not because this is true, but because the substance and nature of the Mona Lisa is determined esoterically and can be reinterpreted so many times as to mean almost anything. The same is typical of religious belief systems (hence the vast number of them which exist and compete with eachother). Sure, we could reinterpret the same passage over and over again until it means anything and everything. But people will generally go for the literal meaning of what they read.

This is what happens in the natural sciences which compete in providing evidence for creation and the existence of divinity. Plenty of complicated jargon, but the literal meaning of the text is what is important, not whatever esoteric interpretations we wish to attach on extra after we have read it. So at the end of the day we do have two bodies of knowledge, and one is simply more vast than the other, and hence requires more patience and sheer work to properly understand even at the basic level. Of course if we each started ascribing our own personal esoteric non-literal 'takes' on passages written by Darwin and Dawkins, then we could be here until the end of time.

Originally posted by Akolouthos


Largely valid, although to take the various periods of persecution into account would bear some fleshing out. I don't know that one could view embracing religion today as a way of gaining wide acceptance and inclusion in Western culture.


The transition from primate hunter gatherer to civilised human being was never going to be easy. Hence, even a good belief system would make errors. And in any case, persecution was a feature of a strong and successful belief system. The Abrahamic religions were especially big on persecuting heretics and enforcing dogma, which is one of the reasons they simply defeated the less strict pagan belief systems around them.

As for the modern era, well if you go to church you then have an especially well disposed sub culture to welcome you and make you feel part of something. If you are an atheist.... well, so what? No one hosts atheist dinner parties, or gives random strangers a hi5 when upon learning they are also an atheist. The incentive to be part of a group is still here in today's world, perhaps even stronger since most people in your church are likely true believers rather than simply dragged along by their families to conform as has been more common the case in the past.

Originally posted by Akolouthos


It does not become a powerful motivating factor or system unless the issue is cast in terms of "us vs. them", which is precisely what individuals like Dawkins, and in a more deliberately humorous way Hitchens, are seeking to do. When a group of individuals is united against another group, they achieve a stronger group identity. In this sense, the system -- or even "religion" -- of atheist prosyletizers bears a strong resemblance to that of the most narrow-minded religious dogmatist.


No, we do not need an us vs. them complex for this to work. You want to create stable family units which are cohesive households (easier to tax in ancient times) - tell people god will kill them for adultery. Your enemies are attacking you and you can't raise the cash to equip an army - tell people they will go to heaven if they die fighting for a god given mission. You want to remain in power even though you are a languid and unattractive ruler - tell people that god put you there and defying you means also defying the divine.

So you see a control system does not need an adversarial competition going on, it just needs someone who is imaginative and really wants to get people to do things they ordinarily won't do.
It is not the challenges a people face which define who they are, but rather the way in which they respond to those challenges.

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