Why do people believe in god?

Discussion in 'Religion Archives' started by LuckAse, Feb 22, 2010.

  1. arfa brane call me arf Valued Senior Member

    Not for me either.
    Sure you do. Everyone believes they have a mind and experience it directly. What's extraordinary, or metaphorical about that? But you can't prove it and nor can anyone else.

    Does that make your claim extraordinary?
    God is directly experienced; no external proof is required.

    You are in fact claiming that your dreams and consciousness exist independently of whether or not you believe they exist, I think.
    Last edited: Oct 1, 2011
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  3. Billy T Use Sugar Cane Alcohol car Fuel Valued Senior Member

    NO. I stated in my post that the existence of my consciousness is NOT extraordinary for me.
    I don't have that direct experience, but even it I did, I could not claim god existed out side of me - outside of my mental creations and beliefs. That is what you have been claiming. I.e. That God exists even if you do not. It is that totally unsupported claim which is extraordinary. Many things can exist in you experiences - for example, pain, but that does not mean they exist independent of you in the the universe, or before it, like is claimed for God.

    I find it hard to conceive of not believing I have a pain, if I am experiencing one just as can't conceive of my believing I am not conscious when being conscious or not dreaming when dreaming. Thus, what you "think" here is false.
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  5. Dywyddyr Penguinaciously duckalicious. Valued Senior Member

    With the slight proviso that, since not everyone has this experience (unlike the belief in consciousness etc) then YOU have to accept that "god" is a function of your mind only.
    And also stop telling the rest of us about your aberration.

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  7. nirakar ( i ^ i ) Registered Senior Member

    People believe in god for three reasons:

    1. They are genetically programmed to believe in God because the belief in god enhances the probability of them passing their genes into the future.

    1A.Belief in god enhances seemingly futile perseverance which helps pass genes into the future because sometimes a little extra perseverance makes the difference between survival and death. Belief in God creates this extra perseverance by giving hope or purpose in objectively hopeless and purposeless situations.

    1B. Communal belief in God restrains anarchistic selfishness and promotes more sharing within the community. Fear of hell, desire to please god.

    1C. Believers can think they are special and entitled to privilege over non-believers. This enhances will to live and enhances living at the expense of others.

    1D. Majority or empowered religions can take land or wealth from non-believers and give it to believers thus enhancing survival for belief in group at the expense of belief out groups. Of course social structures as simple as street gangs can play the same role. Also this is about being part of a group more than it is about belief in God.

    1E. Belief in God or rather the superiority of the group's relationship to god allows the belief group to maintain the benefits of maintaining order and suppressing crimes within the group while justifying taking the advantages of doing crimes to non-group members.

    2, Belief in god is a side effect of an aversion to the unknown, an aversion to complexity, and an aversion to disorder/chaos/freedom. If you look at a sky with many well defined clouds how many objects can you see some clouds as shaped like common land objects if you choose to. The stimuli that can be formed into physical and conceptual shapes by a human mind is infinite and the number of potential shapes that could be named and identified is infinite, Intelligence has two parts, seeing and understanding what you need to see and understand, and not seeing what you need to not see and need to not understand. The aversion to the unknown, an aversion to complexity, and an aversion to disorder/chaos/freedom is part of limiting knowledge to what is usable and practical and part of saying no to observation in order to say yes to action. This aversion correlates with cultural conservatism. The concept of daddy God enables intellectual closure. You could say "but what created god" and "why does god want that" but people who use daddy god as a tool to close of unwanted observation so they can stop being distracted and get to work don't ask these questions. Rather than torturing themselves with unsolvable puzzles in a difficult situation they pray to god.

    3. Consciousness is not in time, space and matter but rather time, space and matter are formed to be witnessed by consciousness in the same way that clouds can be formed by our minds into shapes we are familiar with. Seek and ye shall find. The direction and perspective and rhythm in which you look limits what you see and enables what you see. What you see defines you. What you see is what you are. When we reach out to see beyond what we are without allowing a significant change in what we are we sometimes attribute the sights we get back to god. We could use daddy god, Jesus, Buddha or a sacred stone or any idea to which we attribute supernatural power as our window to the infinite. The usefulness of a defined doorway to the infinite is that it allows us to have access to information from outside of our box without destroying ourself the box of our perspective, direction and rhythm of focus which defines us and is us. Focus is constriction; understanding happens in relaxation. Focus stops wrong understanding. Wrong understanding is counterproductive understanding, Productivity is subjective because it is defined by "THE GOAL" which is some alleged previous understanding that is shaping our focus/restriction. So God is a useful construct to be securely in our mental box and at the same time be out of our metal box when we invoke god.
    Last edited: Oct 1, 2011
  8. Billy T Use Sugar Cane Alcohol car Fuel Valued Senior Member

    I am inclined to agree with (1) but not for the reasons you postulate.* Instead I think man's natural quest to explore, understand and control his environment is a survival assets IF he can without being totally occupied in the effort. When he cannot, even after considerable but fruitless effort, it is a survival benefit to abandon the effort, move on to some more productive thoughts, like how to reduce crop losses to rats, etc. Thus in earlier times many fruitless efforts at understanding mysteries were abandoned by saying: Thor threw the lightning bolts, or Diana was angry is why the hunt failed to get any meat, or the rain god needed a sacrifice, to end the drought etc. I.e. any explanation is better than none if one otherwise remains preoccupied on the mystery.

    Although science has now provided more rational explanations to many of these prior mysteries, some profound ones still remain. Which we also should not be continuously preoccupy with fruitless efforts. Better to abandon wasting more time in speculations and simply say "It was God's will that bad thing X happened" etc. and get on with more productive efforts. I.e. belief in a powerful, kind, God does, as you suggest, have survival benefits which may be built into our genes or just instilled by our culture (like don't sleep with your sister is).

    On (2) yes that is it but with the Freudian idea of ‘transference" added. A new born has some crude “belief that his Mother is all powerful" – can supply his every need and wish. Later that often expands to include the father, but finally those beliefs are recognized to be false. A good and loving, all powerful, God nearly all are telling the youth about then takes over that role to reduces aversions / fears to his now recognized "unprotected state.”

    On (3) I don’t think it has much effect on beliefs about god. I do, however, agree that man makes god in his own image. Although back in earlier times, when there were many gods, some might take the form of a bull to show their power, etc.

    * This argument of yours:"Belief in God creates this extra perseverance by giving hope or purpose in objectively hopeless and purposeless situations."

    for (1) seems exactly backwards if the religion you follow promises a better life after your death. I.e. why endure pain, struggle to live and pass on your genes, when paradise awaits you?
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 2, 2011
  9. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

    Then forgive me for not having read this entire thread and lumping you in with theists in general. But the topic is about theists in general, and theists in general do believe in the miracles, the oxymoronic "life after death," etc.
    Again, the consensus of theists clearly places gods outside of nature. The God of Abraham, for example, can cause absolutely anything to happen, making a mockery of natural laws. For example, he is claimed to have once raised the sea level on this planet to an altitude that would require about four times the mass of water as the planetary total.
    Not because I can't explain it, but because it violates too many natural laws.
    And nobody has found any evidence that the existence of dreams and consciousness violates any natural laws or in any other way threatens to overturn science.
    Then either you don't believe in one of the standard models of God, or else you don't know very much about the scientific method. The two are quite incompatible.
    But what is it, a little more specifically, that these people experience? Only a few actually hear his voice talking to them. Most just attribute a new sense of purpose, calmness, forgiveness, etc., to the influence of God working in mysterious ways, rather than to having worked it out unconsciously or semiconsciously themselves, with the help of all of their natural acquaintances.
    There's something terribly inconsistent about that sentence. If a person claims that something exists, is that not equivalent to believing that it exists?
  10. arfa brane call me arf Valued Senior Member

    No I haven't. But don't you believe that consciousness exists even if you don't? You believe that other people are conscious as well as you, that there are independent consciousnesses apart from yours?

    How can you do that, when all you have is your own?
    So then, this awareness of pain, or of dreams, is independent of your belief in them as I said?
    That is, they exist independently of your belief in their existence, as I said? Perhaps you're confusing an experience with whether you believe or disbelieve an experience is real.
  11. arfa brane call me arf Valued Senior Member

    And I personally haven't found any evidence that the existence of God violates any natural laws.
    This is consistent with the existence of dreams and consciousness which don't violate any either. And I don't believe what I'm talking about can be found in a book, or a church, or a sermon. I don't believe the explanation for the existence of dreams or consciousness can be found in a brain scan either.
    I could describe what I'm experiencing at the moment. But that would only give you, and others, more things to doubt.

    I don't doubt that I'm awake at the moment, or that I'm thinking. I don't doubt that I can hear and see.
    "Hear and see what?" you ask? Well, it's what a lot of people would characterise as God. Probably not if they were devout believers in an Abrahamic version of God. Perhaps if they were Buddhists, or Hindus. The characterisation means as much to me as what I dreamed last night--it's irrelevant.

    So is whether or not you believe the thoughts and dreams you experience are something you have to claim you have, that you have to believe really exist. But you will still have dreams and thoughts regardless, they aren't dependent on you claiming they exist.
    Last edited: Oct 2, 2011
  12. Billy T Use Sugar Cane Alcohol car Fuel Valued Senior Member

    But that is false. I have other reasons in addition to my own experience for believing consciousness and pain etc. exist in other creatures but no reason to think that they exist when creatures do not as you postulate that God does.

    I.e. there is an OBSERVABLE great similarity in humans, including several distinct EEG stages, which are well identified with conscious state, deep dreamless sleep, dreaming while sleeping, and some other more pathological states; so yes these OBSERVABLES do strongly suggest that all humans and many of the higher non-humans have these same stages of consciousness (as does their behavior).
    No. Although I cannot be sure,* I strongly believe that when you are subjected to an external stimulation, say lite cigarette pressed against your arm and you yell, scream, try to remove it, etc. (as psychologists say "exhibit pain behavior") then I do conclude you are experiencing pain, - Note however, I do this on the basis of OBSERVBLES.
    Very probable they do IN all normal humans , the apes and monkeys, dog, cats and quite a few other creatures, which exhibit "pain behavior" when external stimulae are applied to them that I know cause pain in me.

    However, I do NOT believe that pain exist in the absence of any of these creatures. If you go quite far down the stages of evolution, say to the amoeba, I tend to think they do not experience "pain" even though they do exhibit some "pain behavior" (move away from water region where a drop of acid has been placed, etc.) but I could be wrong about this. That belief does make it less disturbing for me to kill much more complex creatures like a fly.

    That is the huge difference in our point of views. You think God exist even if there were no creatures who can individually experience him or pain. I don't. I think God is a creation of humans, not the other way around. Perhaps something like "god" is also created by some non-humans - those that do have ritual they perform for their dead like burying them with some food.
    Thus, as things with zero evidence for existence (like ghosts) are believed to exist by ever smaller fraction of humans, do you think it possible that god would not exist when no one believes he does. Or when some virus kills all humans?

    * "Psychological Zombies" have been discussed in the literature and no one has proven they are impossible to exist but no one believes they do.)
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 2, 2011
  13. Pineal Banned Banned

    So if only some minds experience something, that something cannot be something external to those minds.

    Thank goodness. This will help me in my ongoing divorce proceedings.
  14. Dywyddyr Penguinaciously duckalicious. Valued Senior Member

    I have no idea what you're trying to say here.
  15. Pineal Banned Banned

    Oh, no. Now you are going to take back the argument I needed.

    You said:

    I bolded the words indicating logical force.

    Since not everyone has experienced X, then X is a function of the individual's mind.

    (and not something external).

    Don't take it back. Please.
    Last edited: Oct 2, 2011
  16. Billy T Use Sugar Cane Alcohol car Fuel Valued Senior Member

    Focus on that. You don't have a clue about this subject and are not even making an understandable point about the subject.
  17. arfa brane call me arf Valued Senior Member

    Well, that makes sense. The experience of pain, or any neurological phenomenon, implies the existence of brains, or at least neurons--do worms experience pain?--and the existence of creatures with brains. It's unlikely that an amoeba experiences the same thing as an animal with a neurological system.
    No, I don't. I haven't said that I think that either.
    I think God is a function of animals with brains, and hence consciousness. It might be that we're the only animal concerned about this question: does God exist?

    Perhaps for animals the question is irrelevant, or they don't ask the question.
    Perhaps we're the only animal concerned about the question of consciousness--the existence of mind--and why we can't "find" it, but instead we find brains and brain activity, and conjecture that the two are somehow connected. This appears to be the case, since we can map patterns of internal brain activity to specific mental or physical activities. But we can't tell if someone is listening to Mozart instead of the Beatles. We can't tell if someone is reading a book they've read before, or how often. There isn't really much detail; but sure, there seems to be a definite correlation between patterns of activity in the brain and generalised states of consciousness.
    Last edited: Oct 2, 2011
  18. Dywyddyr Penguinaciously duckalicious. Valued Senior Member

    Not at all.

    No need to take it back.
    Please read my entire post. Including what I was responding to;
    I.e. IF someone is is going to claim that X occurs AND there is no external proof THEN X, (if not experienced by everyone) occurs only in X's brain.

    I'm reasonably sure (based purely on my own divorce I'll admit [not having checked the internet - sue me]) that there is external proof available for the experience.

    Plus, of course, a divorce isn't a "direct experience" in the way god is claimed to be by some believers.
  19. Dywyddyr Penguinaciously duckalicious. Valued Senior Member

  20. arfa brane call me arf Valued Senior Member

    It's much the same kind of definition as consciousness, or dreams. That is, it isn't an external phenomenon, it isn't something I can show anyone else--except indirectly--and it isn't something I can prove "externally".

    It's something personal, like thoughts are personal, pain is personal. However, we believe we can tell when someone is thinking, because we also believe it's a "common experience"; we believe that we can tell when someone is experiencing pain for the same reason.

    But what we mean is we can project our own experiences onto other "external" minds, even onto animals who aren't human and don't have brains like ours.
  21. Dywyddyr Penguinaciously duckalicious. Valued Senior Member

    Then, to paraphrase Epicurius, why call it god?
    What makes it "god-like"?
    What does it do that fits the/ any definition of god?
  22. Pineal Banned Banned

    Last edited: Oct 2, 2011
  23. arfa brane call me arf Valued Senior Member

    To paraphrase me, why not call it god?
    It isn't thought, it isn't dreams, and it isn't consciousness. However it's something I'm conscious of.
    Nothing. I'm the one who is conscious of its existence. It doesn't write screenplays or books, it doesn't make sculptures or draw diagrams.

    It "fits" certain descriptions in certain books however. I can't deny that it fits quite closely, and that since these books have been around for a long time, that other people must have known about it for that long, and been able to describe it accurately.

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