Why do people believe in God?

Discussion in 'Religion' started by Write4U, Nov 15, 2023.

  1. Zero Point Native Registered Member

    I don't call it anything. Yeah, I've seen a decomposed body. I've also seen a decomposed car. I don't see the difference.

    I have to say that is quite amusing. Why would an "oblivionist" care about memories? What's the point of memories when everyone is going to "die"?
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  3. James R Just this guy, you know? Staff Member

    Why is that belief in the oblivion of the body important to your question? What about the atheists who don't believe in that?
    Speaking for myself, as an atheist and a humanist, I care about people's happiness. Whether I'm dead or alive, I still want other people to be happy - especially the people I care the most about.

    It's not a big mystery.
    Pinball1970 likes this.
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  5. Write4U Valued Senior Member

    Exactly. Empty hulks, slowly disintegrating back into simpler patterns. Slowly losing all imagery of its former state.
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  7. Zero Point Native Registered Member

    It's not important. I've never really interacted with an atheist before that I'm aware of so I was just curious.

    I'm not curious about them at the moment.

    I can understand caring for other people for the time being while one is alive and conscious within the current reality. That's just human nature. But for those atheists who believe consciousness ceases to exist after the physical body ceases to function, it just doesn't make sense to me why they would care about the direction society is heading in or even care about leaving a legacy behind to be remembered by after their physical body has been disintegrated. I mean, what would be the point? As far as that type of atheist is concerned, the entire Universe ceases to exist when they die. There is no Universe. There is nothing. Whether anyone remembered them or not would mean absolutely nothing to that atheist after he died. And yet, it would appear they still seem to care. That is what has me curious.
  8. Zero Point Native Registered Member

    Yep. Exactly.
  9. gmilam Valued Senior Member

    What a bizarre idea. The individual person ceases to exist, but the universe - along with their loved ones - continues.

    In fact, it could easily be turned around. Why does the person who believes in heaven care about what happens here on earth? No matter how bad things get here, they believe they still can spend eternity with their loved ones in paradise.
  10. Zero Point Native Registered Member

    Well of course they do, but not for the particular atheist in question, so again, why would one care if they knew they would completely cease to exist after they die?

    Christians and other religions believe they have the ability to look in on their loved ones and guide them in some way from the "beyond". That perspective makes sense to me as to why they would care what happens on Earth.

    Exactly. They believe they still can spend eternity with their loved ones. The "oblivionist" doesn't.
  11. origin Heading towards oblivion Valued Senior Member

    AFAIK that is not part of the Christian religion.
  12. gmilam Valued Senior Member

    I've never known any Christians who believe that... But even if they do, why should they care? Time on earth, even 100 years, is nothing compared to eternity.

    Such thoughts have been used to keep slaves in line for centuries. Just endure with a smile, paradise waits for you. The evil will be punished and the good will be rewarded.
    Pinball1970 likes this.
  13. Pinball1970 Registered Senior Member

    We have looked at cultural and parental motivation for believing in god.
    The choices we have when we have doubts about its validity are 1. Potential eternal life, seeing ones loved ones again OR 2. The same as every dead thing one has ever encountered, human and non human, death for ever then rotting in the ground.
    Option 2 has more appeal (in some ways) so it is not surprising people do chose to believe just in case, so even if they are not convinced.

    Another factor touched upon by a couple of posters. Do we as humans have some sort of propensity to believe? Genetic? If not directly then as a result of some evolutionary tribal beneficial trait?
    Dawkins touched on this in "The God Delusion," 2006.
  14. Write4U Valued Senior Member

    As I am curious to know how a theist acquires such certainty about God, Heaven, and Hell.
    Establishing your place in history.
    Because we are still alive and active in the family and community and want to be remembered when I am dead! Atheists care as much about everything as anyone else.
    I just don't fear any kind of afterlife when I die. Today I care how people regard me including myself.
    Today my conscience is clear. I like to keep it that way.

    See, atheists have no means of receiving absolution. We have to live with our sins until we die. Then there is oblivion.
    Forgiving yourself is the most difficult thing.

    But let me take this opportunity to ask you a question. Do you believe that a person must believe in God to be allowed in Heaven, regardless of how good a person was during his life?

    And which God dwells in heaven?
  15. Write4U Valued Senior Member

    Belief in a powerful threat from above started before humans split off from our common ancestor with other great apes. Today, during a thunderstorm we can see alpha chimps performing rituals that can only be interpreted as a defensive posture toward this unseen threat from above, who makes loud noises and throws fire and water at him and his troupe.
    Hence the later invention of the god Ra (sun), Thor (thunder) and Neptune (water) and Vulcan (fire, volcanoes), Hades (underworld). These are old gods. Even as we can't see them, something is causal to all that mayhem in the sky. Must be gods.

    The fight or flight instinct is even older, but it all comes from evolved survival behaviors in the wild.
    Last edited: Nov 27, 2023
  16. Zero Point Native Registered Member

    I don't recognize the existence of a "heaven" or a "hell". Those are just man-made fantasies. I also don't recognize "good" or "bad". Those are just relative terms based on a person's perception of what they define to be good or bad.

    I also don't recognize the existence of a fantasized man in a white robe up in the sky sitting on a throne surrounded by rainbows and angels playing harps in a city paved with streets of gold locked behind pearly gates passing judgement on those people he deems worthy to enter into his heaven or burn for all eternity in a lake of fire. Quite the children's fantasy tale that one.
  17. James R Just this guy, you know? Staff Member

    Zero Point Native:
    I told you before that I care about human happiness. I care about it both in general, and specifically for the people who I am closest to.

    It is probably the case that my consciousness will cease when I die. But the consciousness of other people in my family, and my friends, and the other people in the world who remain alive, will continue. I still want them to be happy after I'm dead. After all, it's not just about me. Their lives don't lose value just because I'm dead.

    I have a similar question for you. I assume you believe in an afterlife of some kind. Is it some kind of heaven? If so, I'm wondering why you care about anything that happens here on Earth. After all, this mortal existence is surely an insignificant blip, compared to your eternal life to come in heaven (or wherever). Why does anything anybody does in our material universe matter to you? Why would you care about the direction society is heading, or leaving a legacy, or anything like that?
    I'm not that type of atheist. I believe the universe will continue to exist after I die.
    You're right that, in all likelihood, nothing will mean anything to me after I'm dead, because I'll be dead. But why would you think that means nothing matters to me now, while I'm alive?

    I don't live for some imaginary future. I live in the here and now. I believe that what I do here and now matters, because it can affect the happiness of myself and other people.

    Do you think your earthly life matters? Why? Isn't the promise of an eternal afterlife far more important? Shouldn't you, in fact, be doing everything possible to get yourself to the paradise afterlife you expect, as soon as possible?
  18. Zero Point Native Registered Member

    For me, there's no such thing as an "afterlife" because there's no such thing as the erroneous concept of "death". After-life doesn't compute with me. Nothing comes before or after it. There's only life, so yes, I believe life continues beyond this physical reality in a continuous stream of endless realities.

    I like to imagine it can be whatever you choose within the limits of your imagination, perceptions, and programmed beliefs. For the most part, I imagine most transition to another reality that is very similar if not almost identical to the reality we just left because it is familiar and it resonates with our current vibrational state of being.

    Well, for myself, I don't have any concerns about some "future" of the global society and the direction it is heading in. From the looks of things just based on observation, it would appear the global society is leaning towards a complete worldwide societal collapse. However, I'd prefer not to use the word collapse either. I prefer to use the word balance, so I have no concerns about this either right now or after I have moved on. Whatever happens, happens, and whatever happens, is completely by our choice. Some global societies make it to the next level, some don't. It's not like we're the only planet in the Universe with human societies, but that's for another topic. I have no interest in leaving a legacy or being remembered. I only care about the experience in the present moment. I'm also not worried about what will happen to my friends and family when I have shifted away from this experiential reality. We're all here for the same reason. And yes, it is a tiny blip, but I don't consider it insignificant because it's still experience just the same. This world is nothing but a stage. Nothing in it is even real. It's all just an illusion. Only the experience is real. I'm just here for the ride, for the experience. I'm just passing through. Everything in this reality only matters to me as far as experience is concerned.

    I don't entertain the concept of mortality, so I don't call it a mortal existence. I think transient existence would be more appropriate from my perspective.

    I don't know. I just find it fascinating. I mean if I knew my entire existence would come to an end when this physical shell ceases to function, I just wouldn't see the point in anything. It would be no different than the entire Universe coming to an end because, from my perspective, EVERYTHING has come to an end when I "die".

    Well, that's actually great. Neither do I. The here and now is the only thing that matters considering there's no such thing as a "past" or a "future". But that's also for another topic.

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    Yep. Because it's just life. I'm still gaining experience. Before, during, after, whatever you want to call it, whether on Earth, another planet, another dimension, or wherever. It doesn't matter to me. It's all just experiencing life. I'm not interested in any promises. Whether there's a promise of continuity or not, for myself, I'm just gonna keep on living.

    Last edited: Nov 28, 2023
  19. James R Just this guy, you know? Staff Member

    Zero Point Native:
    You must surely know some people who have died. You've heard that people die, right?

    Where are they now?
    So when you're dead, you're dead. How is this different from the position of atheists who don't believe in an afterlife?
    You contradict yourself when you say both that "Nothing comes before or after [life]" and that "life continues beyond this physical reality".

    Which is it? You can't have it both ways.

    When your body dies, does nothing happen to you after that, or do you somehow continue on beyond this physical reality?

    Note, also, that carrying on after the death of your body, beyond this physical reality, would be an afterlife. That's pretty much the definition of "afterlife".
    Imagination is great, isn't it? But if you believe this is what will happen, can you tell me why you believe it?
    What makes you think there are other realities that one can transition to?

    Suppose you died at age 93. When you transition to that other reality that's identical to the one you just left, will you still be 93 years of age? Won't you just die again of old age in that new reality, then, seeing as it is identical and all?
    A complete worldwide societal collapse doesn't concern you? Why? Because you'll be moving to a different (but identical) reality? Won't the collapse still be happening in your new reality?
    A complete worldwide societal balance sounds different from a complete worldwide societal collapse, to me.
    But you're not concerned about making the right choices.
    Which ones have made it to the next level, so far?
    Very interesting! I'm fascinated to learn how you know this. Would you like to start a new thread on it?
    For what reason are we all here?
    Previously, you talked about moving to a new reality after you die. Did you really mean moving to a new illusion?
    I don't think I understand what it means for the experience of an illusion to be real. Can you explain?
    I find it hard to see the point in living in an illusion, or a series of identical illusions.
    Your alternative reality/illusion hasn't come to an end when you die, though. You said you will continue on in the new reality/illusion. So, not everything ends. Right?
    I think that's another whole can of worms. I think you believe there's a past and a future, even as you say you don't. For instance, you remember things. Did those things happen? If so, when? They aren't all happening now, are they?
    I'm not as confident about that as you are. And right now, I'm not sure why you're so confident about that.
  20. Pinball1970 Registered Senior Member

    Can you expand on that?

    Cells die, apoptosis, tissues die, necrosis, people die.
  21. Tiassa Let us not launch the boat ... Valued Senior Member

    It's like you're not even paying attention:

    Like the part where I said: I recently had occasion to recall an old formulation about "the point where their unsupported beliefs start having detrimental impacts on other people".

    And that was 1578. In 2023—

    —the bigger problem might be a thing called Christian nationalism, you know, the problem that's going on right now, instead of once upon a time in 1578.

    Just for instance.


    Yeah, but I'm not beefing with the Quakers down the street because of Joseph Kony in Uganda, or the Christian nationalists in ... oh, right.

    That's because you only allow religion to be defined in such a preclusive manner. And, let's face it, at some point that becomes bigotry. The reality is that most religious people just aren't as evil as your sixteenth-century nightmares require.

    And this is you continuing to insist on your own preclusive definition. The actual fact is that inasmuch as atheism is supposed to be some opposite or counterpoint to religion, your version is inadequate to actually fulfill such a role. The thing is that there are certain behaviors and circumstances that humans seem to need. That some of these occur in a religious context is what it is, but insofar as they can occur outside a religious context, no, atheism simply does not address those, and thus cannot replace them. This is not a new idea around here. Still, in our moment you seem to have missed some stuff: There is a reasonable question of what atheism offers, as such, and the answer is either a lot or not much; what makes that growth and sustainability precarious is the prospect that none of that other stuff has anything to do with atheism; left in the void, like that, atheism offers little existential comfort or fundamental socialization; it's not just the sociality or regularity of church culture.

    And compare that last to your huffing: "I see no benefits in religion. You can believe anything you want. Just don't come knocking on my door and tell me that I need religion." It's not necessarily a matter of whether you see any benefit; nor is it simply a question of belief. Like sociality; maybe you missed the part about strength in numbers, comfort in familiarity, and empowerment in solidarity, and that religious people are human in the same way. In fact, that last seems to be what you're trying so hard to deny.

    Do you feel better for having said that?

    Sure. Whatever. Same goes for Schwann's, Omaha Steaks, Ziply, real estate agents, and homeless folks pitching magazine subscriptions in exchange for shelter.

    Again, this is a matter of your peculiar definitions. No, one is not necessarily, as such, "atheist to 2999 gods"; that's just you making it up. Not only is your argument dependent on your own definition of an atheist or being atheist, it also depends on your own definition of God and gods.

    [Moderator note: off topic material split to separate thread, as requested by the poster.]

    Similarly, your critique against religion doesn't really care what religion actually is; you find no benefit in religion because that's how you define it. And once you go down that path, it's not so much disagreement between believers and nonbelievers as disputing between religious zealots.

    Whatever it is about believers you're afraid of, just don't pretend you're helping.
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 2, 2023
  22. Write4U Valued Senior Member

    It's making a return?
    I have no definition of Gods. I don't believe the people who use their definition to claim they exist.

    There have been more than 3000 named gods in theology and mythology. If you do not believe in all except One, you are atheist to all the rest. Nothing peculiar about that.

    This is an index of lists of deities of the different religions, cultures and mythologies of the world.
    Last edited: Dec 1, 2023
  23. Write4U Valued Senior Member

    Oh, no. I find no benefit in religion, but I certainly stipulate that many people do receive psychological benefits (as well as terrible messages).
    But when it comes down to it, there are as many Gods as there are people who believe in them. Their god dwells in their mind, and not outside the confines of the skull. That is why god has no definition....everybody is agnostic.

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