Saturday, February 28, 2009

Why Do People Think God Exists?

This a further bit of Q and A from Yahoo! Answers. The question is again unchanged from its original form, although for people to make the claim that it is stupid to believe in God, they should, at the least, think about doing it with better grammar and punctuation. But who am I to judge. Enjoy!

Q: i have such a hard time understanding how someone could blindly believe that a magical man with a long white beard lives in the cloud and grants us wishes. i feel like god is like the tooth fairy and santa and the easter bunny but instead of just kids believing in it adults are stupid enough to do so. it just doesnt make sense!! like, do we really need an imaginary friend to blame when things suck and praise when BY ABSOLUTE CHANCE something good happens?? please explain!

A: By your language in the question I don't think you really want to understand. It seems you have your mind made up about why people believe in God. Or something like it. But I will bite anyway.

People believe in God for any number of reasons. To give meaning to their life, to feel loved and accepted, to put a name on what they don't understand, to try to describe the transcendental, etc. Those are some the personal reasons, and then there are the reasons that unscrupulous types claim to believe in God for. Anyway, I don't believe in a magical man with a long white beard that lives in the clouds and grants our wishes. I believe in a something that gave rise to the universe. Believing in a magical man is kind of like believing in Santa, but you know, some people just like to believe in those sorts of things because it is comforting. And many people don't believe in God blindly. I am fully aware of the implications of my belief and fully prepared to accept responsibility for my own actions. I don't blame God for the bad, nor do I blame God for the good. I thank God for all of it because without it I don’t believe I would be here writing this answer. And are you sure it is absolute chance? I think a great deal in life is caused by planning, and every action has a reaction. I don't leave much to chance. It isn't stupid to believe in God. It is many times ignorant to believe in many things that people claim is/are God. It is rarely stupid. It is just putting a name to the things we don't understand, looking to something else to maybe give us a little wisdom and for a little guidence. What you describe as chance is something that everyone faces. But to the praying people it is their accepting that chance and saying "I don't like it, but if it has to be, let it be." I think we do need an imaginary friend. Many of the people that claim to be able to handle the pressures of life, without even the most fundamental belief that something is greater than our understanding in the universe, tend to self medicate so much they kill themselves off. Nihilism just isn't practical my friends. Atheism can be practical, and I do in fact have Atheist friends that live quite well. They do so on a very researched and founded lack of belief in God. However, militant atheism is no better than militant/fundamentalist anything. There are just as many stupid questions, and stupid, unfounded answers as any other fundamentalist group would give. Therefore, I urge you to find out what you truly believe and quit letting people on the internet tell you what is cool or not cool to believe. Because that is pretty much what it sounds like. If you had a basic grasp of the idea of God you wouldn’t fall into logical fallacies of vast oversimplifications and you would be able to discern the difference between God and the Easter bunny. But of course everybody is allowed to have an opinion, no matter how good or bad it might be.

So, even if you can't understand the human need to ponder why life exists, and to hope that it has a reason, that is alright. However, you will just have to accept that not everyone can be like you, and be thankful they aren't because your life would suck into oblivion.

Hope this helps.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Faith and Inaction

Q: How is "having faith" any different than not bothering to do anything?
Isn't it like saying "it's out of my hands... whatever will be, will be"?
How is "faith is accepting something in the absence of fact" any different than not doing anything, in fact. One is simply accepting fate, but using a different word for it. ?

A: Tough question. Having faith is different from not doing anything because by having faith you are doing something. You are believing that the universe is bigger than you, that there are things that you can't control. This is a pretty healthy belief as it tends to be true. If you can control the weather, by all means, give Cali some rain to stop the fires. It is partly a realization that humanity doesn't control everything. It is similar to believing in luck.

The people that use faith as an excuse not to do anything are doing exactly that. Excusing themselves from doing anything. In many religious faiths, God or gods can kill someone where they stand. They better believe and do whatever God commands them to do until that day. That is why religions have rules. Religious ceremony, quite often, is acting to appease or obey a god. It is doing something with faith. It is an attempt to find meaning and purpose in the seemingly random happenings in a person’s life. Fate, if you believe in it, is pretty much saying that something must happen no matter what you do. And that is partly true. People still die in car crashes despite being careful drivers and wearing seat belts. Their precautions did nothing to make them escape their “fate.” They acted and what they were attempting to prevent still happened. Would you have everyone stop driving because they might die? We have no real control. And that is where faith comes in. It gives meaning to the things we can’t control and tells us that they may not just happen for no reason. And even if there is nothing there to have faith in, it gives the person a chance to find the meaning themselves and they may act differently or change something strictly by that faith.
We can't tell everyone else what to do. We can't tell the world it should work this way or that. It just doesn't make sense and it doesn’t work. However, faith can either give us comfort and help us realize that though we aren't in control, somebody may be, or that we may petition a controller to give us a little control. No one likes absolute chaos. And if they say they do it is because they have no idea what that is.

Monday, February 2, 2009

A new series

I think I am going to start a new series that will be of questions I have been asked and my answers to them. The questions are taken precisely as they were given to me as they were all asked online, so I ask you to please ignore spelling and grammar. Here is the first one though:

Q: If religions claim that God is good and just, why are all their books full of mass murders,holy wars andso called Divine laws(sharia,halakha,etc.)which impose death penalities for risible things and inhuman treatment in criminal "justice"such as stonings and hand choppings?Where is the goodness of God in all this?

A: You need to learn the difference between all religion and one religion. Religion is an umbrella term that encompasses Judaism, Islam, Christianity, Hinduism, Buddhism, etc. etc. etc. Not all religions believe in just one good god, or any good god at all. Not all religions have scripture.

As far as God being good, Laws were made:

In a different time and culture. Killing was often considered to be for the good of the tribe, etc. There was no modern medicine to protect against disease, or a common police force to protect against crimes or vengeance for those crimes. Therefore, it was left to the people to have a certain law, and be expected to uphold it. Also, as many were nomadic, prison was out of the question. (Specifically in Islam.) Killing was the best way to get rid of a criminal and make sure they didn't repeat the crime. To some extant we still believe in this kind of thing in some places with capitol punishment.

Not only as a law, but also as a means of self preservation for a certain group. Such as ancient Israelites. They were surrounded by people who would gladly take them over and assimilate them. They needed a law that separated them from those other people, and so the laws of the OT came into being. Babylonians, Greeks and many others liked pigs and ate them. Therefore, to keep Hebrew people as the Hebrew people they needed a way to keep separate. Food laws came into being.

The "goodness" of these laws isn't what we consider good. To these people, the ends justified the means. Now, that is not as acceptable, because there are usually other means to an end. We have the luxury of the time and resources to live by more "comfy" laws. They didn't. There was no Geneva Accord, and there wasn't much in the way of technology. Laws were as good as they could be. They were usually effective.

Hope this answers the question well enough.