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Religion and Spirituality, Science and Philosophy Use this forum to discuss what you believe in. This is a place where everyone may share their views freely.

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If God isn't real then... - March 20th 2012, 05:51 PM

I have an honest question, this isn't meant to question or offend anyone at all. I'm not really looking for a debate either, but rather I just want to hear opinions on this...

If God isn't real, then why do so many civilizations throughout human history believe in one? Egyptians, Greeks, Romans, Mesopotamians, us. I mean if the entire concept of any God is bogus, then why have we continued to turn to it? God is a reoccuring theme throughout our history, so why would he be if he never really existed?

I just want to see what you guys have to say about this.

- Justin



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Re: If God isn't real then... - March 20th 2012, 06:55 PM

Appeal to the masses is pointless. It has no basis whatsoever.

So many people believe in God because they've been taught that god exists from a very young age so they assume it to be true and never really think about it for themselves.

Also, believing in god acts like emotional masturbation. It just 'feels so good knowing that the person who created you will always love you' etc etc etc. Also it sort of works as a safety net when people do bad things. Furthermore, it makes the loss of life a lot more easier to handle. Instead of thinking that they are just no more i.e gone forever, they can think that they can remain happy in the afterlife and it gives people something to live for (even though i've found more meaning in my life without god).

It also helps that religion was created when we knew nothing about the world. We're pattern seeking people, if we see a gap we want to fill it so we generally use god.

I think the best thing to do is to ask yourself this; if all of these religions (Islam, Judaism, Hinduism etc) came about today, in the age in which we know so much about the world, would they still be taken as seriously? I think the answer is a big no.

So yea, religion spreads because of the age people are influenced it at, the threat of hell (or death if you're a hardcore "I love the hadith's" Muslim) and it feels good.


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Re: If God isn't real then... - March 20th 2012, 07:04 PM

See, that's the thing though, not all are modern religions. I mean the Greek, Romans and Egyptians all had differents dogs, from Zeus to Mars to Ra. That's the part I don't understand. All these different societies have all come up with the idea of a God on their own accord.

- Justin



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Re: If God isn't real then... - March 20th 2012, 07:08 PM

Personally, I believe that the tendency to believe in a higher power or something of that sort is naturally encoded in our brain. It's evolutionary psychology. Let's see if I can explain this clearly

So the first of all we need to think about things in the context of how they would have been useful to our ancestors. One very useful ability that we humans have is that we are naturally very good at detecting agency, or " the capacity of an agent (a person or other entity) to act in a world." This was important to the survival or our ancestors (and to our survival today) because it allows one to notice things that might be a threat. For example, you might notice that a lion is an agent with the ability to act and harm you. Then from there you are able to react to the situation and keep yourself safe.

Humans are great anthropomorphizers though. We attribute agency to a lot of things that are not in fact agents. For example, you may get angry with your computer and say that it is choosing not to work. Obviously the computer itself has no agency. It is unable to act without some sort of outside instruction or interaction from humans. Essentially, our "agency detector" is hypersensitive.

Now at first glance having a hypersensitive agency detector might seem like a flaw. Why was it never fine tuned by evolution to be a bit more discerning? In fact, the hypersensitivity is actually part of what makes it so useful. Imagine that you're one of our ancestors and you're sleeping outside in the dark. If you hear leaves rustling, the best reaction would be to assume that it is something dangerous and be prepared, even if it's just the wind. Anyone who heard that noise and ignored it was much more likely to be caught off guard by a predator. So the hypersensitivity is actually a positive trait.

Now before we can see how this applies to deities and religion, there is another faculty of the mind that we need to consider called "Theory of Mind (ToM)." Basically, the idea behind this is that when your brain perceives an agent, ToM is the ability to perceive that agent as having plans and intentions. For example, a lion may be perceived as having the intention to eat you. This allows us to guess what the agents we perceive around us are going to do and plan accordingly for it.

Together, our ability to detect agents and infer their intentions is what gives us the tendency to believe in a deity. We perceive agency in things such as the wind and the waves of the ocean and in other natural events throughout our life. And ToM allows us to give the agents we see intent. Eventually this will naturally lead to some sort of system of Gods or God or spirits or something of the like. things that are or were hard to explain naturally were accounted for by this extra agent or agents, whether they were actually there or not.

Though, to be fair, this doesn't necessarily prove anything for either theists or atheists. It could easily be argued that religious belief is a useless artifact caused by other, more useful mental characteristics of human beings. On the other hand, it could be argued that if there were some sort of God who created us, perhaps they created us in such a way so that we had the tendency to believe in them as we do now. So it's not really a winning argument for either side.

Sorry if I explained any of that in a way that was unclear. Kind of tired and trying to get this written before I have to leave for class. Let me know if anything didn't make sense.


~Cody

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Re: If God isn't real then... - March 20th 2012, 07:11 PM

I know they have. Religions spread based on the amount of people that join and the amount of people that leave. All the big religions introduced the idea of hell and what not and enforced it. They ended up controlling education and exerting that they had the word of god.

Also, you've got to remember that religion has spread through war too. In addition, Britain had a massive empire before the 1900s and their religion was Christianity so it was boosted through that too.

It's easy to spread stuff like that when you stop people thinking for themselves and threaten them with eternal torment after they die.

Anyway, which God are you talking about? There have been thousands.


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Re: If God isn't real then... - March 20th 2012, 07:33 PM

TheNumber42: See, that's what I was referring to, obviously we have some kind of tendancy to create the idea of a deity, because in the past we've gravitated to the idea. That's exactly the kind of response I wanted to see to help me further understand why we do what we do.

Chickenonsteroids: Another good point about war and the longevity of certain religions. I'm talking about the idea of deity in general, as many ancient societies have turned to one.

Another I got thinking about was the Celtic belief in mother nature as a god-like being, to add to the list.

- Justin



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Re: If God isn't real then... - March 20th 2012, 10:41 PM

Because Gods/God are an easy way to explain things we don't understand. With the Romans, Greeks and Egyptians it was there is a fire up in the sky that keeps us warm and creates light, must be some reason for it. The seas were especially rough today, but not yesterday. must be some reason for it. And with the lack of science in the time they created Gods to answer the questions. And when actual scientists and philosophers started to come around and give better and more likely reasons they were punished for it (ex. Socrates). God started as a way to give us answers to questions we had no other way of answering, and now people are so used to it that even though we have answers now they can't see them.


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Re: If G-D isn't real then... - March 21st 2012, 12:57 AM

I think people believe in G-D(s) because they find comfort in the rational that because there is a Creation, there must be a Creator. Everything in existence had a cause, so, some people rationally assume, "Someone created us."

However, there is some flawed logic in this. We, of course, have Kalam's law which would make G-D the uncaused cause, but I don't care to get in this. People find it so perplexing that we exist, so, they say, "Well it's because of G-D." Ironically, they don't realize that G-D does't really solve anything.

My question would better be placed, "Why does ANYTHING have to exist?" In other words, instead of just asking why we exist, why does G-D exist? So, existence isn't really solved by a deity, but, to some people, they find comfort in it.

The other thing I see at hand is that people will say, "It's so stupid to believe in G-D." But, really, I don't find it less rational than any other belief. Why? Because, whether we are atheistic, monotheistic, polytheistic, etc., we all believe in a sort of G-D. That is, atheists don't believe in a Being, but they still believed something caused us.

My point to showing you this, is that your question is somewhat flawed. People want a reason for existence. Some just believe in G-D, others believe in science, some believe in multiple G-D's. But, the root of this issue is because people want a reason for existence. G-D gives people a reason. Just as the big bang and the big crunch gives other people theirs.

But, let's look beyond G-D, let's look beyond the big bang. Something existed before the big bang, likewise, something could have existed before G-D. I don't personally believe that, but it is completely rational to assume.

But it isn't that people through the ages have believed in G-D. It's that people through the ages want the cause for their effect. And it is my belief that the big bang is just another version of G-D. Not in the traditional sense of the word. I.E. it's not a Being. But a G-D in that it is the cause of our existence. And that seems to what people believe G-D is. It's just secularists shy away from the term G-D to define the big bang, because it's not the traditional understanding of G-D.


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