Research on Belief in God

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Mar 13, 2009
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I am currently reading "The God Delusion" by Richard Dawkins. Though parts of it are dense, in a whole it is very readable and I can only recommend it. I can safely say that I learned a lot about Darwinism, evolution and natural selection.

Personally, I have been an atheist pretty much for as long as I can remember. When I was in first grade, it was the first year that "Religion" (that is to say Catholicism) was not an obligatory class anymore. Having found out about this, I handed back the text book to the teacher on the first day and told her I would be joining the "Ethics" class. From there on, once a week I would join refugees and adopted kids (who were of a different religion and therefore could not attend a class teaching catholicism) in a group of around 5 for a "class" that the crafts teacher pretty much made up as she went along. I have to say though that, by the time I finished elementary school (which lasts until 6th grade in my country), there had been considerable improvements in terms of program and schooling of the teachers responsible for "Ethics" class.

So pretty much my whole life I have grown up looking at evolution as a scientific fact, and regarding everything else as either ridiculous superstition or metaphorical texts with poetic value. However while reading "The God Delusion", I came to realize how little I actually knew about evolution, which is partially due to my lack of talent in biology, physics, chemistry and math. Basically, I only had a very vague idea of what evolution entailed. Thanks to this book I feel that I now have a much better understanding of it, albeit still very basic.

Out of the many interesting aspects that Dawkins describes in his book, one that I can personally relate to very well, is that for some reason, it is generally seen as "disrespectful" and "offensive" to question someone's faith. Tolerance towards religious beliefs is seen as a virtue. Therefore I would like to share with you the following passage of Dawkins' chapter "How 'Moderation' in Faith fosters Fanaticism", which has struck me as particularly interesting.

"Christianity, just as much as Islam, teaches children that unquestioned faith is a virtue. You don't have to make the case for what you believe. If somebody announces that it is part of his faith, the rest of society, whether of the same faith, or another, or none, is obliged, by ingrained custom, to 'respect' it without question; respect it until the day it manifests itself in a horrible massacre like the destruction of the World Trade Center, or the London or Madrid bombings. Then there is a great chorus of disownings, as clerics and 'community leaders' (who elected them, by the way?) line up to explain that this extremism is a perversion of the 'true' faith. But how can there be a perversion of faith, if faith, lacking objective justification, doesn't have any demonstrable standard to pervert?"
- Richard Dawkins


Good night :)
 
May 5, 2011
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Do not like religions effect on humans and how it tends to destroy what little we got of reasoning skills. A good example of this might be Kambodia where i 07 thousand upon thousand of hindus did not want some of Pol pots main men (If I remember correctly) to be judged because that the pepole they had been killing had sinned in their previous lives.

I also find that teaching children that they might go to hell an act of cruelty and evil... :mad:
 
Christian said:
I am currently reading "The God Delusion" by Richard Dawkins. Though parts of it are dense, in a whole it is very readable and I can only recommend it. I can safely say that I learned a lot about Darwinism, evolution and natural selection.

Personally, I have been an atheist pretty much for as long as I can remember. When I was in first grade, it was the first year that "Religion" (that is to say Catholicism) was not an obligatory class anymore. Having found out about this, I handed back the text book to the teacher on the first day and told her I would be joining the "Ethics" class. From there on, once a week I would join refugees and adopted kids (who were of a different religion and therefore could not attend a class teaching catholicism) in a group of around 5 for a "class" that the crafts teacher pretty much made up as she went along. I have to say though that, by the time I finished elementary school (which lasts until 6th grade in my country), there had been considerable improvements in terms of program and schooling of the teachers responsible for "Ethics" class.

So pretty much my whole life I have grown up looking at evolution as a scientific fact, and regarding everything else as either ridiculous superstition or metaphorical texts with poetic value. However while reading "The God Delusion", I came to realize how little I actually knew about evolution, which is partially due to my lack of talent in biology, physics, chemistry and math. Basically, I only had a very vague idea of what evolution entailed. Thanks to this book I feel that I now have a much better understanding of it, albeit still very basic.

Out of the many interesting aspects that Dawkins describes in his book, one that I can personally relate to very well, is that for some reason, it is generally seen as "disrespectful" and "offensive" to question someone's faith. Tolerance towards religious beliefs is seen as a virtue. Therefore I would like to share with you the following passage of Dawkins' chapter "How 'Moderation' in Faith fosters Fanaticism", which has struck me as particularly interesting.

"Christianity, just as much as Islam, teaches children that unquestioned faith is a virtue. You don't have to make the case for what you believe. If somebody announces that it is part of his faith, the rest of society, whether of the same faith, or another, or none, is obliged, by ingrained custom, to 'respect' it without question; respect it until the day it manifests itself in a horrible massacre like the destruction of the World Trade Center, or the London or Madrid bombings. Then there is a great chorus of disownings, as clerics and 'community leaders' (who elected them, by the way?) line up to explain that this extremism is a perversion of the 'true' faith. But how can there be a perversion of faith, if faith, lacking objective justification, doesn't have any demonstrable standard to pervert?"
- Richard Dawkins


Good night :)
If you liked TGD i would reccomend Sam Harris's book against religion, which i think is by far the best of the 4 to come out in the middle of the last decade.

Its called "the End of Faith". If you cant be bothered, his follow up "letter to a christian nation" is a short pocket sized piece that can be read in about an hour.
 
Jul 31, 2012
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Christian said:
"Christianity, just as much as Islam, teaches children that unquestioned faith is a virtue. You don't have to make the case for what you believe. If somebody announces that it is part of his faith, the rest of society, whether of the same faith, or another, or none, is obliged, by ingrained custom, to 'respect' it without question; respect it until the day it manifests itself in a horrible massacre like the destruction of the World Trade Center, or the London or Madrid bombings. Then there is a great chorus of disownings, as clerics and 'community leaders' (who elected them, by the way?) line up to explain that this extremism is a perversion of the 'true' faith. But how can there be a perversion of faith, if faith, lacking objective justification, doesn't have any demonstrable standard to pervert?"
- Richard Dawkins
I am not a biologist, so I don't know if Dawkins science is good or not, i read conflicting reviews, but I am willing to give him the benefit of the doubt.

However, I am a theologian, and can state pretty confidently that his knowledge of God and Christianity is woeful. Even that quote above starts from a completely false premise, and then moves from Xianity to terrorist bombings, as if that were a logical and clear path!

The list of critiques on Dawkins and his crusade against religion (as if all faiths are exactly the same) are astounding. I think the debate may be already done, and it seems the result is Dawkins is a theological and philosophical pygmy. But it's not his fault - he just evolved that way. :)
 
Mar 13, 2009
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The Hitch said:
If you liked TGD i would reccomend Sam Harris's book against religion, which i think is by far the best of the 4 to come out in the middle of the last decade.

Its called "the End of Faith". If you cant be bothered, his follow up "letter to a christian nation" is a short pocket sized piece that can be read in about an hour.
Thanks Hitch, I will try to read them!

CharacterFirst said:
Even that quote above starts from a completely false premise, and then moves from Xianity to terrorist bombings, as if that were a logical and clear path!
What do you mean by "false premise"? When he says that "faith" means you don't have to explain why you believe in something? Personally I find this accurate - but I'd be interested to hear your thoughts on it as well. Of course my knowledge of religion is somewhat restricted but IINM certain concepts like the holy trinity are deemed inexplicable and dogmas are not to be questioned.

As for the way from Xianity to terrorist bombings, I should note that this is just a small extract from a larger chapter where he makes the case that "Moderation in faith fosters fanaticism". The isolated quote might seem to jump to the conclusion pretty fast, but the chapter in a whole explains it much better.

One thing he said was that people often assume religious fanaticists to be crazy/insane/deranged, when really a lot of them are not crazy at all, they just really believe whatever their faith tells them. He gives the example of a Christian who murdered a doctor at an abortion clinic in Florida (I forgot the name). Dawkins later met with one of this guy's (for lack of a better term) "disciples", who struck him as a well-spoken, intelligent, logical and even likeable person. The only problem was that he really believed that his friend was right to kill the abortion doctor.

Then people say that the faith of these people is not the real faith, but a perverted one. Again I must agree with Dawkins - if there are no discernable standards as to what constitutes a real faith, then how can there be a perverted one?


Just yesterday six people were killed at a Sikh temple in Wisconsin. Not yet many details have emerged, but I heard on the radio today that the shooter had possibly mistaken the Sikhs for Muslims. I then had to think of Dawkins and his "wave of disavowings from religious leaders" which might soon arrive, claiming that the shooter had a "perverted" faith. (But of course I do not want to jump to conclusions in this case since we don't know much about it yet, there might have been compltetely different motives than religion)
 
I tried to read "The God Delusion", I got about two pages in and found it to be horribly condescending. I quickly gave up.

I do not believe in God, or many Gods, but I understand some people will. As long as it has no effect on how I live my life that is fine. I expect the separation of Church and State and the main worry I have is that this is not the case.

A god quote from Ricky Gervais:

"Since the beginning of recorded history, which is defined by the invention of writing by the Sumerians around 6,000 years ago, historians have cataloged over 3700 supernatrual beings, of which 2870 can be considered deities.

So next time someone tells me they believe in God, I'll say "Oh which one? Zeus? Hades? Jupiter? Mars? Odin? Thor? Krishna? Vishnu? Ra? ..." If they say "Just God. I Only believe in the one God," I'll point out that they are nearly as atheistic as me. I don't believe in 2,870 gods, and they don't believe in 2,869."
 
Oct 30, 2011
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I was raised a liberal Quaker, since my mum is one. Quakerism in the UK is a lot less religious than it is elsewhere, I believe, but I still had to go there every single Sunday. When I was about 10, I stopped having to go there and got to stay home on Sunday mornings with my dad, which I much preferred. Since that age, until quite recently, I've always been an atheist who sort of wished that there was a God. The idea of a God seemed a comforting thought and I was slightly unhappy with my own belief that there was not one. However, a short while ago, just after his untimely death, I read and watched a bit of the late great Christopher Hitchens. His portraying of the idea of a God as one of an ecclesiastical tyrant made me far happier with my own views in religion. I wish that I could have had a chance to thank him for that.
 
Mar 13, 2009
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King Boonen said:
I tried to read "The God Delusion", I got about two pages in and found it to be horribly condescending. I quickly gave up.

I do not believe in God, or many Gods, but I understand some people will. As long as it has no effect on how I live my life that is fine. I expect the separation of Church and State and the main worry I have is that this is not the case.

A god quote from Ricky Gervais:

"Since the beginning of recorded history, which is defined by the invention of writing by the Sumerians around 6,000 years ago, historians have cataloged over 3700 supernatrual beings, of which 2870 can be considered deities.

So next time someone tells me they believe in God, I'll say "Oh which one? Zeus? Hades? Jupiter? Mars? Odin? Thor? Krishna? Vishnu? Ra? ..." If they say "Just God. I Only believe in the one God," I'll point out that they are nearly as atheistic as me. I don't believe in 2,870 gods, and they don't believe in 2,869."
That's a funny quote, thanks for sharing! I can see that one might find The God Delusion condescending at times. However I found that it was never overly mean or ridiculing towards others.

What I really found most interesting was how Dawkins tried to explain religion using Darwin's theories. His main theory is that religion is a "by-product" of certain behaviour that has proven to be evolutionarily valuable to humans. Of course some people have pointed out that Dawkins' science may be flawed in several aspects but it is certainly a thought-provoking hypothesis
 
Jun 8, 2010
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Christian said:
That's a funny quote, thanks for sharing! I can see that one might find The God Delusion condescending at times. However I found that it was never overly mean or ridiculing towards others.

What I really found most interesting was how Dawkins tried to explain religion using Darwin's theories. His main theory is that religion is a "by-product" of certain behaviour that has proven to be evolutionarily valuable to humans. Of course some people have pointed out that Dawkins' science may be flawed in several aspects but it is certainly a thought-provoking hypothesis
Dawkins is just restating work done by others on evolutionary theories of religion (google cognitive science of religion for links).

FWIW, these sorts of discussions would do well to distinguish between theism and religion. They are distinguishable (religion does not need theism and vice versa), likely have separate origins (one in hyperactive agency detection, the other in costly signaling). Most of the criticisms derive from the institutional structure of religions, though similar criticisms apply to many other institutional structures.
 
Mar 13, 2009
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mastersracer said:
Dawkins is just restating work done by others on evolutionary theories of religion (google cognitive science of religion for links).
Yes that is true, he quotes others and provides sources. My previous post made it sound like he came up with this theory, when really he didn't.
 
Jan 14, 2011
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holy moly....

King Boonen said:
A god quote from Ricky Gervais:
Yikes! I don't think we ought to be quoting jokes from comedians when it comes to theological matters, especially one as low grade as RG, whom I have never found at all clever.

I believe in Santa Claus, The Easter Bunny, The Tooth Fairy, Bigfoot, Alien Abduction, The Burmuda Triangle, Heaven's Gate and that cycling has never been cleaner than it is right now.
 
Jul 10, 2011
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I believe in God, Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit

I only have to look at our Earth, our universe and see it's wonder. It is no accident of nature and neither are we.

If we study Jesus, he is either a nut or the Son of God. I choose to believe that he is Christ, the son of God who came to us to show us the way to live and the way to heaven. All else is folly.
 
May 5, 2011
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bikebottles said:
I only have to look at our Earth, our universe and see it's wonder. It is no accident of nature and neither are we.

If we study Jesus, he is either a nut or the Son of God. I choose to believe that he is Christ, the son of God who came to us to show us the way to live and the way to heaven. All else is folly.
Interesting, If I may ask you how you got to this conclusion? I mean "just by looking at our earth" is not really a justification is it?
Then you say that you choose to belive that Jesus is god son, why?
 
Jul 10, 2011
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Vino attacks everyone said:
Interesting, If I may ask you how you got to this conclusion? I mean "just by looking at our earth" is not really a justification is it?
Then you say that you choose to belive that Jesus is god son, why?
Please excuse me if this repeats, my original post didn't take.

The Earth. When we use our science, intellect and sight to see the Earth, we see the infinite balance, the things given to us for our survival and the beauty, it is all a gift. The living things of this earth were made by God to evolve for survival, evolution is from God.

Jesus, the Son of God. Here is where faith comes in. I believe that the Bible was given to us for our understanding and knowledge and it explains why Jesus came here and who he is. If you believe you have a soul, you need to understand where it came from and what to do about it.
 
rickshaw said:
Yikes! I don't think we ought to be quoting jokes from comedians when it comes to theological matters, especially one as low grade as RG, whom I have never found at all clever.

I believe in Santa Claus, The Easter Bunny, The Tooth Fairy, Bigfoot, Alien Abduction, The Burmuda Triangle, Heaven's Gate and that cycling has never been cleaner than it is right now.
It's not a joke, is fairly easy to check.
 
Mar 13, 2009
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bikebottles said:
The Earth. When we use our science, intellect and sight to see the Earth, we see the infinite balance, the things given to us for our survival and the beauty, it is all a gift. The living things of this earth were made by God to evolve for survival, evolution is from God.
It is all infinitely beautiful and infinitely complex. So how did it all come about? Something even more beautiful and even more complex must have created it: God. But how did God come about?

Does this really costitute an answer or does it only push back the question?
 
bikebottles said:
The living things of this earth were made by God to evolve for survival, evolution is from God.
Whats the point?

Why go through a couple billion years of nothing, 500Ma of bacteria, another few hundred of sea life, land life before plants even, those big things with the small brains, early mammals, a few million years of ancestors living in the trees, and everyhting else that ever surrounded it, all in the struggle for survival, the game that lasted 1 thousand million years, all so that me and you could be discussing this on this forum now (because only humans have aferlife right?)

Why not just create humans and be done with?
 
bikebottles said:
Please excuse me if this repeats, my original post didn't take.

The Earth. When we use our science, intellect and sight to see the Earth, we see the infinite balance, the things given to us for our survival and the beauty, it is all a gift. The living things of this earth were made by God to evolve for survival, evolution is from God.

Jesus, the Son of God. Here is where faith comes in. I believe that the Bible was given to us for our understanding and knowledge and it explains why Jesus came here and who he is. If you believe you have a soul, you need to understand where it came from and what to do about it.
Who made God?
 
Mar 16, 2009
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The Hitch said:
Whats the point?

Why go through a couple billion years of nothing, 500Ma of bacteria, another few hundred of sea life, land life before plants even, those big things with the small brains, early mammals, a few million years of ancestors living in the trees, and everyhting else that ever surrounded it, all in the struggle for survival, the game that lasted 1 thousand million years, all so that me and you could be discussing this on this forum now (because only humans have aferlife right?)

Why not just create humans and be done with?
Put yourself in God's place. Going to be around forever, are you going to create something that is to endure a while or something that is a flash in the pan. Natural laws must be obeyed. The rules of nature are in place and must be obeyed.
 

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