1. Do you consider yourself spiritual?
2. Do you think it is wrong to harm and oppress others?
3. Do you think the current world would be better off with no religions?
Do you have a Moral Compass? If so what determines the points on the compass?
Can you not see how patronizing and insulting it is to say that a true act of faith does not require reason and judgement?!?
Faith means to belive in something without proof. Depending on circumstances, such belief can be irrational. I suppose some people do think about religion and chose one based on, among other things, value judgments. But I dare say the vast majority simply stick with the religion they were raised in.
Anyway, if I put forth a reason not to belive in a god, such as lack of proof and lack of any reasonable supposition fur the exitence of such a being, and I'm answered "that's faith!" I'm being told my judgment doesn't matter.
If, on the other hand, you assure me believe without proof, meaning faith, requires reasoning and judgment, I ask "How so?"
These choices we make as human beings to believe in God or not are fundamental to our worldview and can change our life's perspective if they are handled with the seriousness that they deserve. You make it sound like the decision to believe in God is like taking a leap of faith done on a whim and motivated by nothing other than wishful thinking. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Read above. For most people it isn't a choice, it's the way things are. You look both ways before crossing the street,a nd you go to the Mosque on Fridays, the Synagogue on Saturdays or the Church on Sundays. A whim at least takes effort.
Now, wishful thiking is another matter, as you so aptly demonstrate later on.
Why would anyone say that there is not evidence in history or evidence found in literally millions of people some of whom we call saints and have no reason to doubt them, who have experienced God and believe in him? Granted you might not see this this evidence or be able to put it under a microscope but evidence of the types above is a valid basis for an act of faith.
Testimony does not equal evidence. But I ask you again, what about the testimonies regarding other gods? granted it's not as extensive for various reasons, but how about it? The Maya talk about their gods in the Popol Vuh. the Greek gods make appearances in the Illiad, and their legends say they frequently interacted with mortals. What about the Koran? What about the Book of the Dead? What reason, logical, provable and reasonable can you offer for me to rationally believe in the Biblical god rather than in, say, Huixlipoxtli or Thor or Poseidon or Rah? What makes your Jehova so special?
To me it heightens the insult you levy against not hundreds or thousands, but billions of people, many of whom are much smarter than you and I will ever be, who looking at the evidence and using reason and judgement made the act of faith to believe in God.
Do you know how many astronomers in the past believed in astrology and even cast horoscopes they took seriously? Need I say more?
However, what about the physical evidence that is all around you?
What about it?
My belief system gives me an answer as to why and how it all exists.
Can you prove that empirically?
Where did this stuff come from and why is it here;
Where and how? I don't know, not fully. No one know, not fully.
An admission of lacking knowledge is just that. it is not carte blanche to fill in the blanks with whatever you want, so long as it cannot be proven or disproven.
Why? Well, thats' simple: since the universe is largely a colelction of inanimate matter, energy and well-defined forces, it just happened this way. Had it happened some other way, perhaps different types fo beings would be having a simialr discussion; or perhaps no beings of any kind would be possible under different conditions. Any competent physicist, and many laymen as well, can come up with all kinds of scenarios for the universe. You may wnat to look up Asimov's novel "The Gods Themselves" (a little irony never hurt anyone) for a look at a universe where something as prosaic as the strong nuclear force is a bit different. Warning, it has sexual scenes involving weird aliens.
and a corollary to that question, where did I come from and why am I here?
I know that. from Monterreya nd mex City and Poland and Lithuania and I know just who my aprents and grandparents and one set of great-grandparetns were. That's where I come from and how I came to be.
Why? That's up to me to determine. My life, which is mine and mine alone, is mine to do with as I choose.
An atheist might be able to answer the why by saying there is no reason and no purpose to existence,
There is no reason as in there is no design that brought me or you or pests like Jerry Logan into being, noe that you can prove. Purpose is every person's choice.
but how do you answer the where did it come from question? I've heard it said, just give science time and it will figure it out. Where is the evidence for that act of faith?
Don't you just love loaded questions?
Give scientists time and they may figure most of it out. No faith needed. Scientists have figured out, with tons of evidence gained from observation and experiment, literally millions of things. Those scientists fortunate enough to build up on the work of previous scientists can go farther than tehir predecessors, too. So we know, for certain, that they will keep on finding things and figuring them out. We cannot know how far they will go or how long it will take. Fidning a grand unified theory is a more intractable problem than first thought, it may not even be possible to solve, but we're trying.
It turns out that the physcial world around us can be another piece of evidence in favor of beliving in a god and makes not beliving in God seems like a crapshoot.
Show me. Show me god's signature on a mountain. Or god's blueprints for the Moon. Or a photo of God sculpting the contours of the Baja Peninsula. Something.
Saying "God did it all" is as valid as saying "A wizard did it." Where's your proof? Better yet, how did god do it?
I'm not done.
I wont' say a word :P
I believe another evidence for God then could be our feelings.
Your feelings are proof or your state of mind. They are not, and they cannot be, proof of anything outside yourself, except perhaps about people similar to you. I may learn a lot by knowing and analyzing your feelings, but all I would learn about is you (and perhaps about others simialr to you in some respects)
In our guts when we are honest we long for someting better. We demand something more from ourselves and from our world. This is why it seems to make intuitive sense to us that there should be something more after we die.
And that's not wishful thinking?
It makes intuitive sense to wish for, or to belive in, an afterlife because it's very hard to imagine non-existence. It's incerdibly difficult to come to terms with the notion that your life will end. That after some time you will simply cease to be. But all the evidence says that's so: once you're dead you're gone.
It seems to me you can do two things about it. One is to build as good alife as you can for yourself. A life you'll enjoy living and which will bring you satisfactiona dn pelasure. The other thing is to leave a legacy behind. You won't live through it, but it may bring you comfort to know some part of you, physical, genetic or intellectual, will endure after you're gone.
You can also wish for an afterlife. I do, but I don't expect one. I'll tell you truthfully I hope my expectations are wrong. I wich to be pleasantly surprised. I love life and I would love it more if I were to live forever. But I can't rationally expect it. Doing so, agaisnt all evidence and against all reason, is wishful thiking.
As you've stated every culture that has ever existed has felt a need to come up with some type of religious expression. I think this is because we yearn for something more and we have a natural distaste for the idea that this is all there is. This would seem strange as we would have no experience or evidence of something perfect yet we strive after perfection and nothing seems to be able to stop us for yearning for something more from this life and making ourselves better. Where does this innate desire come from, my guess is God.
Oh, there are a number of desires and yearnings and developments common to all cultures. Aside from religion, all cultures have developed politics, science, art and engineering, to name a few elements. Of course this happens in varying degrees. But no culture can be successful without them. Most importantly, all cultures also develop philosophy. Only too many of them wound up marrying it to religion, to the point that one was indistinguishable from another. In Greece this didn't happen. Instead philosophers wound up serving as scientists as well. This created its own problems, especially before the value of empirical proofs in science was properly understood, but the Ancient Greeks were among the first to carry out massive advances in knowledge and the arts.
Now, what does the development of science, engineering, art, philosophy, military arts, medicine, politics, et al prove the existence of?
But let's trakc back a bit, too. You claim religion, in all cases, came from god, meaning the particualr deity you belive in (whichever of the three it is in your mish-mash of a theology). How, then, did a single source produce so many widely different religions? How does it say "eternal reward and eternal punishment" in one instance, vs "repeated rebirth and ultimately oblivion" in another?
I just want to stop you from keep going on and on until you fairly deal with the naive assertion that there is no evidence or reason behind a decision to believe in God.
That is well beyond your powers, I'm afraid. As it is, you've shown no evidence nor a reason behind the idea that there is some sort of supernatural deity extant in the universe
I think Face or someone else said a more important question might be why we do or don't believe in God, maybe that would be better than outright dismissing one choice as stupid. Again can you not see how insulting and patronizing that is?
That doesn't sound like Face.
Anyway, I dind't say believing in a god is stupid. I said it has no reasonable basis. You can disagree, but until you can convince me otherwise, I can't say I'm either patronizing or insulting anyone.
And I'm still not done.
Who or what is God is secondary to the first question, does it make sense to believe in God, Divine Intelligence, creator, and I guess we should even include possible spaghetti monsters if you would like? The answer to the first question is yes. It is a reasonable choice to say that based on the evidence that God exists. The evidence is the reality of the physical world around us, the testimony of billions and billions of people throughout history, and don't forget a natural inclination in all of us that seems to long for belief in something greater or perfect.
I renew my request for an explanation. I will add this:
Given the nature of the universe, which means the laws that govern it and the matter/energy it contains, stars, planets, life and human beings are emminently feasible. So much so that there are actually stars, planets and human beings in existence right now in the universe.
Were the laws different, then things would be different. Imagine if the strong nuclear force were much, much, much, weaker. Then there would be fewer stars, since it would take much, much., much more gravity and pressure to ignite a fusion fire. As a corollary, heavier elements would be much rarer, as there would be less stars to forge them, and maybe there wouldn't be as many, as perhaps supernovas would not be possible in such a universe.
Would planets exist? Undoubtedly. But they would be different. Gas giants could grow much bigger without becoming stars. Imagine a gigantic gass-ball bigger than the Sun but only a bit warmer than Jupiter. Rocky worlds would be rarer as there would be less heavy elements available for their formation.
Would life exist? That is hard to say. It could be, if enough carbon, oxygen and nitrogen ever got togethere in the same place. Or if some other elements could form the basis of life. As far as we know, no other elments can.
Would intelligent life exist, assuming life did? Harder to say. Life requries more than carbon, oxygen nitrogen and hydrogen, after all. But maybe.
If such intellignet life did exist, do you think some of them would marvel that the universe is made so their existence is possible? I'm willing to bet they would.
But so far all you've done is gloss over the question that it is reasonable to suppose a deity may exist, much less offered any proof that one does.
Nareed- Follow up question.
Do you have a Moral Compass?
Nah. I traded it for a moral GPS :P
Nareed- You obviously spend a lot of time thinking about this.
Oh, no. I've better thigns to do with my time. I'm just good at integrating and I'm fast on my fingers.
1. Do you consider yourself spiritual?
By my own reckoning, I am.
2. Do you think it is wrong to harm and oppress others?
These are two questions and they lack context. Oppression is never right. Harming others depends on which others and under what circumstances. If, for example, someone wants to kill me, it's not wrong for me to kill him first or to harm him in some other way in order to keep myself alive. It also depends on your definition of harm. I know it hurt my father a lot that I do not believe in god, adn that I dind't practice Judaism even to the limited extent he did. I don't hitnk that was wrong of me.
3. Do you think the current world would be better off with no religions?
Yes. But it's not attainable. For one thing, when deist religions fade they tend to be replaced by secular ones like Communism; largely because they preach similar values and virtues. Marx had a point when he called religion the oppium of the masses. It's too bad he did not recognize he was inventing the crack cocaine of the masses.
I will answer "I said I'm an atheist, not a Christian," just to watch them fume. If jew asks, I'll say "I said I'm an atheist, not Orthodox" For some reason no Conservative Jew has ever asked me that. No Reform Jew, either, but I suspect they don't see atheism as contrary to their faith anyway :P
5) Prayer makes no sense to me at all. I'm talking only of Jewish prayers, because they're all I know (and thank god for that!) Orthodox Jews used to pray only in Hebrew. They used to regard bilingual prayer books as sinful, if not outright treif (Spelling Yiddish in english is an adventure all by itself, it means "not kosher") Anyway, I was brought up in a Conservative Jewish hosuehold, at least as far back as I recall. Conservative Jews are more liberal, ironically enough, and use bilingual prayer books. They also assume an omniscient god will understand prayers in Spanish. So I had a running translation of the prayers.
All of them, or near enough, are either flattery directed at god, or requests and directions for god to follow.
Now, why does an omnipotent being need anything, especially flattery? There's praise. I know what praise is. What I heard in shul can be more propperly called, if you'll pardon the vulgarity, ass-kissing. A passage I vaguely recall refers to god as "the King of Kings, the Holiest One, Blessed be He." That's about seven light years past being praise.
And why would an omnscient being require direction? Requests I understand, or I can make an argument. but surely he knows what to do, if he knows everything and can do anything, and does not need to be told.
6) People who are religious develop the unhealthy habit of attempting to get everyone they know to get as interested and commited to religion as they are. For Chrisitans and Muslims, this is particularly so of people not of their own faith. For Jews, curiously enough, the targets are other Jews. There are three cousins I used to be close with I can't stand to be around with now, because they won't talk of anything other than religion. It's too bad, really, seeing as I really liked one of them.
Of coruse not all of them are like that. The office manager where I work is the complete opposite. He's a good-natured, easy-going, live-and-let-live kind of guy. We get along perfectly well, even if, as I told him once, we can't even have coffee together.
7) A lot of believers, but particularly Christian ones, tend to speak as if they were their god. You know, things like what god wants from me, generally or specifically, and urging me to do them. To this I always reply "If God has something to tell me, he can talk to me in person."
8) the list is just too long, but I'll conclude by explaining somethign I said earlier: the Biblical god is a badly conceived fictional character.
Really, in the Torah alone he changes his mind and contradicts himself every third page or so (or so it seems). I pity my poor Torah teacher back in fifth grade. I've always been interested in hisotry, and that class was taught as though it were history (well...) I'm afraid I had a habit of driving her up the wall demanding consistency, or merely asking for clarification on inconsistencies.
Item: In the book of Exodus Pharaoh's minions display supernatural powers I gather were provided to them by their gods. Moses bests them every time, naturally. Later in the book, though, god proclaims as his first commandment that "I am the Lord thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. Thou shalt have no other gods before me." So, given we see the powers of the Egyptian gods pathetically demonstrated, and that God says "do not ahve other gods before me," doesn't that mean the Bible acknowledges the existence of many deities?
My teacher, bless her heart, was very patient, but she just kept repeating "No, it doesn't."
From what I understand the god depicted in the Old Testament is quite different from the one in the New Testament. And both instances of the character sometimes contradict themselves and each other.
So, if I were making up an omnipotent and omniscient character, especially one I wanted to be taken seriously, I'd have made him consistent (and female, but that's beside the point). In fact I've tried just that. I could handle omniscience, it's not hard at all becasue authors are omniscient within their stories. But I couldn't make a believable omnipotent character. When I tried, the poor dear came off as being cruel or capricious.
Anwyay, what seems more likely, an omnipotent, omniscient deity who contradicts himself, or perhaps that the different parts of the Bible were written by different people for different reasons? So even if there is a god, clearly the Bible is not his word.
Now I'm done (yay!)
So, DJ, to asnwer your question, in the event that it hasn't been answered by this long laundry list of a rant (and surely with more to come): is it right to mock people for their beliefs?
Let me answer like this: would it be okay for me, Nareed, to mock people for beliefs which have caused me and mine untold missery and anguish, and further should I freely mock for their beliefs people who, for reason of their belief, wish to contrain or limit me?
But is it all right for me to mock their beliefs?
You bet it is.
Let's try to agree on a definition of faith so that we can at least be talking about the same thing. Faith is an act of reason where assent of the will is given to a religious truth presented to us with probabilities and evidences. Let's break it down.
Again a lot of this is coming from my hazy memory of Cardinal Newman. An act of reason is a process of the mind by which we move from knowing one thing to knowing another. A simple way to say this is we learn something new based on something we already knew and the way we do that is through reasoning. Knowledge builds on itself and moves forward by using reasoning to grasp something we did not know before.
Reason requires evidence to give proof of something being true or not. We often get this evidence in simple things by our senses or our memory. We prefer this type of evidence but we often give it too much credibility. We say things like I have to see it to believe it. However, our sight is so often mistaken by optical illusions or our own physical limitations. We depend heavily on our memory and even that goes pretty quick and can mislead us at times. There are other evidences out there our mind can use to give us access to things we would never be able to see with our senses. Can you imagine if we really only believed what we could see? It would be a crazy mixed up world with no one talking or teaching about foreign lands, quarks, or the moon except for a select few who had actually seen it, but we wouldn't believe them.
By the way, you seem to have a real problem with testimony, but it is a very valid type of evidence that mounts up on itself the more you have of it. If one shady character saw you commit the crime that is one thing, but if a billion people who are credible and upstanding people witness something you would be foolish to discount it. A not every helpful type of evidence is going off into imaginary worlds with gas giants and strange beings to prove your points. Stay with reality and not imaginary worlds that don't exist to reason with.
Okay now we should talk about this assent of the will thing. You see religious truths are not like mathematical truths which impose themselves upon us based on unprovable first principles. Religious truths present us with probabilities and evidence (some types of evidence using our senses, some not) and we have to make a decision for ourselves. Very often our will or our desires are bound to influence how we interpret religious truths. With faith it does come down to a "wanting it" for both sides of the debate. My will predisposes me to see the evidence as leaning towards beliving in God, your will pushes you the other way. I'm cool with that (at least for the sake of our discussion here on the forum). My only point is to try and show you that faith (or no faith) is a reasonable decision made using evidence that is interpreted based on a real choice we make using our free will.
Now, we could keep going further as to why we are making the choices we are, but it seems in your well written posts you make it kind of clear. I am willing to submit and accept control of me by God. You are clear that submit and control are not what you are about. It makes sense to me than that I am predisposed to belief and you don't want anything to do with it and don't understand it. Peace.
I think I know what the problem is Nareed, we need a better definition of faith. You defined it as "to believe in something without proof." That is not faith!
Sorry, but that is the definition of faith. Furthermore, that is how people use the word. So if you're going to change a definition because it doesn't suit you, we have nothing to discuss.
Reason requires evidence to give proof of something being true or not.
Right. But I've never seen, heard or read of any evidence, even equivocal, about the existence of a deity. Only arguments.
Now, you say:
We often get this evidence in simple things by our senses or our memory. We prefer this type of evidence but we often give it too much credibility. We say things like I have to see it to believe it. However, our sight is so often mistaken by optical illusions or our own physical limitations. We depend heavily on our memory and even that goes pretty quick and can mislead us at times.
By the way, you seem to have a real problem with testimony, but it is a very valid type of evidence that mounts up on itself the more you have of it. If one shady character saw you commit the crime that is one thing, but if a billion people who are credible and upstanding people witness something you would be foolish to discount it.
Given your first statement, it seems to me it would be foolish not to discount it.
Besides, do you know how many available testimonies there are for, oh, fairies, unicorns, the Loch Ness monster, UFOs, ghosts, witches, aliens, spirits, astrology, tarot and betting systems? Would I be a fool to discount them?
Can you imagine if we really only believed what we could see? It would be a crazy mixed up world with no one talking or teaching about foreign lands, quarks, or the moon except for a select few who had actually seen it, but we wouldn't believe them.
I believe in what can be sensed. Eyesight is one sense. There are others. Often you hear morons lamenting the limits of human senses, when humans have augmented their senses through technology far beyond what nature and evolution have provided or could ever provide. We can see well beyond the limits of sight, down to the level of atoms All those things you mentioned, and more, can be sensed, either directly, remotely, through instruments, recordings, etc etc etc.
A not every helpful type of evidence is going off into imaginary worlds with gas giants and strange beings to prove your points.
It's called an analogy. It's an exercise in logic. Quite often it's useful to see things from a different perspective, to imagine situations both remarkable and different, things as they might be, that point to similarities with things as they are.
Religious truths present us with probabilities and evidence (some types of evidence using our senses, some not) and we have to make a decision for ourselves.
Then, stop arguing and show me this evidence. Not more arguments, but actual evidence.
My will predisposes me to see the evidence as leaning towards beliving in God, your will pushes you the other way. I'm cool with that (at least for the sake of our discussion here on the forum).
I like Ronald Reagan despite his religious views: "There you go again."
My will doesn't predispose me or push me to anything. Rational thought, which is under my will, and critical thinking and evaluation about the available facts as best I know them, tell me there is no kind of god or deity and there never has been. If you're not willing to accept that, then we should end this argument now.
I am willing to submit and accept control of me by God. You are clear that submit and control are not what you are about. It makes sense to me than that I am predisposed to belief and you don't want anything to do with it and don't understand it.
Hey, you want to submit to control by people long dead who made up the rules of whatever religion you follow, that's fine by me. you want to mortify yourself, fast, walk for miles on your knees, spend your money on flowers for the Virgin, light candles, wear a hairshirt, it's all the same to me.
But perhaps I do understand and you do not.