a question about religion + belief

Discussion in 'Politics, Religion, Social Issues' started by shecky, Aug 31, 2007.

  1. shecky Guest

    shecky

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    #1
    i ask this question with the utmost respect, sincerity and genuine curiosity. and i apologize in advance if anything i say sounds derogatory or berating, its really not intended to be so.

    i never understood how people can base their lives on an arguably fictitious book and irrational beliefs about supreme beings and so on. I guess the part that i just cannot seem to understand, as an example, is how people say "homosexuality is wrong because the bible says so," and act on these beliefs to the point of denying gays rights of marriage, etc.

    i really genuinely thought it was mostly limited to people too stupid to think for themselves who would rather just be led. i now realize that intelligence is irrelevant and an equally moronic assumption on my part; plenty of highly intelligent people live and die by the church/mosque/temple/wiccan hut(?)/whatever

    i figure you can believe in anything, ANYTHING you want so long as it hurts no one else. but religious beliefs hurt a LOT of people.

    why? really. am i missing something that could be just amazing? am i the one who is misguided here with my lack of beliefs?
     
  2. Queso macrumors G4

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    #2
    It's nothing to do with intelligence, but IMO humanity is so successful because essentially we are lazy creatures. This laziness has its advantages, because it has resulted in us creating advanced societies so it isn't necessary for everybody to know every basic skill. This gives certain amongst us more time to advance their particular speciality for the benefit of all, thereby meaning we no longer need to know another skill etc. etc.

    However, the downside of this laziness is that we can in the main be quite gullible creatures. We're genetically programmed to look for the easy path, whether that means driving to the shop rather than walking, or just accepting what we're told rather than thinking through our own answers.

    IMO there was once a time for religion, maybe even today there is still a need for the majority, but a lesser one than before. You couldn't expect ancient societies to know about plate tectonics or the mechanisms of a thunderstorm, so attributing them to a god or gods was a valid response. But as the gaps in human knowledge have decreased there is less and less requirement for a deity. Most of the questions can be answered at least partially, and for those that can't you just have to remember that we don't yet know everything. I fully believe that one day the answers to how the universe was created will be answered as other scientific mysteries have been. Religion will from that point on be seen for what it is, an attempt to fill the cracks in what we know with tales of the supernatural.

    Some will argue we will still need to know "why?" but for me "How?" pretty much sums up everything we need to ask. As Richard Dawkins asks "When you think about it, is there actually such a thing as a why? question?"
     
  3. adrianblaine macrumors 65816

    adrianblaine

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    #3
    You ask some good questions, which deserve good, detailed answers, however that would take a really long time to get down into the "heart" of the matter, so I will try to give my brief point of view...

    I grew up in a Christian household, so I've been exposed to "religion" my entire life. That does not mean I've believed in that religion my entire life. For many years I don't think I would have been able to tell you what I believed.

    First off, I think there is a big difference between religion and spirituality. Religion refers to practices and traditions, but doesn't really get into the depth of what spirituality can be. This means that someone can be religious, but not spiritual.

    Many people follow a particular belief, but have not studied for themselves why they believe a certain way, and the Bible is often misquoted or references are given out of context. Like I mentioned in another thread:
    "The Bible is against sexual immorality, which means sex outside of marriage. The Bible clearly states that the sex was meant to be shared between 2 people and to never leave the confines of those 2 people. Therefore, a heterosexual person with multiple partners is committing the same sin as a homosexual person with multiple partners."

    Christians "follow" the example set by Christ, however many have not read what that really means. How often have you heard this text quoted?

    Luke 6:37
    "Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven."

    I personally came to the conclusion that I should not let hypocrites get in the way of such good advice. I understand hesitation in accepting things based on faith. I've been there. But when I pray, I feel that I'm listened too. When I look at the complexity of humanity and nature, I can't help but feel it was created and not came about by chance.

    Reading the Bible is a big key, even if you aren't a Christian. If more Christians read the Bible, it would be a different place...
     
  4. atszyman macrumors 68020

    atszyman

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    #4
    It's all about trying to find some way of coping with the seemingly random events that life likes to throw at you and somehow put meaning to the chaos of the universe.

    I have no problem with the overall message of most religions (love and help one another). However, people seem to get hung up on details in the rules that were written thousands of years ago and try to apply them to modern life, even to the point of ignoring the rules in the same passage that they themselves don't follow.

    I'm recently finding the discrepancy in the whole "God's plan" and free will. When something bad happens in peoples lives they take comfort that it is all a part of God's plan. However when a bad person does bad things he's exercising free will. This is an impossibility. The drunk drivers who killed my cousin and dad, were they exercising free will? or doing God's work? If it was their free will to go drinking and driving then those deaths weren't part of God's plan, if the deaths were part of the plan, the driver's weren't exercising free will, which is it?

    Most religions try to sell the personal relationship with God and that God loves us all individually, and that He has a plan for us as individuals. If the plan is by individual then we don't have free will and if someone kills me they were executing God's plan, not exercising free will.

    If the plan is bigger than the individual and guided loosely that means most deaths are not a part of the "master plan" and the random chaotic nature of humankind and the universe is still dictating 99% of my life and praying/not praying offers me no protections against the dangers in life.

    Most people simply use their faith as somewhere to draw strength from. They do good works and don't try to convert everyone who does not share their faith. However the vocal minority have given religion a bad name by using it as a foundation to justify their dislike of certain people/groups. This vocal minority is managing to give most religions a bad name in the eyes of non-believers. What those who have issues with religion need to realize is that this vocal minority represents religious people about as well as KKK members represent all caucasians.
     
  5. adrianblaine macrumors 65816

    adrianblaine

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    #5
    I was confused about this for a long time as well. I think the idea of "God's plan" is a little more broad than being a specific action/reaction series of events. God's "plan" is to "save" as many of us as possible while we exercise our free will.

    I'm not here to preach or debate theology. I believe that should only be done by those who believe in relatively the same thing, I'm only sharing my point of view.
     
  6. atszyman macrumors 68020

    atszyman

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    #6
    I can accept the idea that the "plan" is bigger than the individual (much like a military campaign) but that also means that using God's "plan" as a comforting thought in times of sorrow or stress is erroneous, as comforting as that thought may be.
     
  7. adrianblaine macrumors 65816

    adrianblaine

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    #7
    I don't know if I would call it erroneous, but comfort should be a deeper feeling than "it's all ok, I'm taken care of." Comfort is a complicated feeling, and can almost create selfishness and complacency if someone is too comfortable.
     
  8. Macky-Mac macrumors 68030

    Macky-Mac

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    #8
    obviously because they DON'T believe that their religious texts and beliefs are "arguably fictious and irrational beliefs...." Perhaps identifying other peoples beliefs in such a manner says more about your own prejudices than anything else?
     
  9. SMM macrumors 65816

    SMM

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    #9
    Some individuals go through life, thoughtful of the world around them. They may not blindly accept anything which requires it being just 'taken on faith'. These people may be religious, but it is usually a personal spirituality they feel.

    Other people have little interest in contemplating things beyond their immediate sphere. They find a comfort zone and defend it. These people are easily led by those 'with the answers'. They are subject to 'group think'. Many will set aside the moral teachings of Jesus (as written and taught in Sunday school), for whatever their shaman tells them to think, or how to behave. Watch some of these televangelists sometime (as close as I would get to one). They are preaching love, but their body language is obviously saying the exact opposite. Anyway, that is why you can have a moral based religion engaged in hate.
     
  10. invasian macrumors regular

    invasian

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    #10
    Your question is a bit too broad in terms of religion. Each religion is going to give you slight variation. And I would say that if you were truly interested in an answer, perhaps you should direct your question to a group more focused on religion, rather than a Mac/tech based site.

    A complete answer to your question is almost impossible because it is too broad. It would be easier and more manageable to take one aspect of religion that you don't understand and then go on from there. Discussions will branch out, raising more questions, at which point, a separate thread can then be devoted to that particular question. But like I said, Macrumors is not a place to do that.

    You ask this question to satisfy your curiosity, but I believe you won't really find what you're really looking for.

    I will give you my opinion on the matter, nonetheless. I'm a practicing Catholic and try to be devout. I believe that God revealed himself to us in the form of Jesus Christ and showed us the way to heaven through the Bible and Church. Why do I believe? The answer is a simple one for me. I want to be in heaven and in all the research that I have done, I believe being Catholic gives me the best chance at it. At some point though, you have to take a leap to believe, and that is why it is called faith. Do some of the teachings of the Church seem to be harmful, etc. to society as you put it? I can understand some of the arguments put forth by secular society, but many also fail to properly understand what the actual teachings say (and instead, only believe what they think it says) and why it is taught.

    There is just so much more to say, but I'll end there. I'll reiterate, that if you really want answers from a religious perspective, there are more appropriate forums for this, although it's not a bad idea to get different viewpoints (ie., here) as well.

    Good luck in your search.
     
  11. mduser63 macrumors 68040

    mduser63

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    #11
    I think this is right on. I'm a religious person, but I am definitely not someone who blindly accepts things or takes things solely on faith. That said, there are many people I know who share my religion but make a radically different (and I think wrong) interpretation of it in they way they live their lives and treat others. My own religious beliefs are precisely what lead me to believe that I should be tolerant and understanding of others beliefs and behavior. I may not agree with their beliefs or behavior from a religious/moral point of view, but it would be very wrong for me to force my view on them. I'm responsible for myself, no one else.
     
  12. Macaddicttt macrumors 6502a

    Macaddicttt

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    #12
    I thought this would be an interesting topic to reply to, and I hope I can add another angle to an answer to this question.

    For me, religion is a lot about finding what is right. I think most people can agree that there is such a thing as right and wrong. Murder is bad. Saving a life is good. Etc. But how do you know what is right and what is wrong?

    Religion fills that role. It helps you find what is right and what is wrong. A lot of people use this to bad ends, but it can help tell you what is right.

    A lot of people would throw out religion in favor of some sort of moral relativism, but I think it's equally plausible that there is an absolute right and wrong. If there was no such thing as an absolute right and wrong, than society could never change, it's morals would never change. In moral relativism, a society's morals are relative to that society, and so as long as that society exists, it's morals are by default right. This is silly in my opinion. A good example is slavery. There must have been some sort of absolute to appeal to in argument against slavery, otherwise, there would be no reason to deem it immoral when it had been accepted by society for so long. Also, without any universal ideals, documents such as the Declaration of Independence are meaningless because they appeal to such absolutes as freedom and equality that are dependent on some sort of higher power, whether it be a god or otherwise.

    And you can say, "Do whatever you want, so long as you don't hurt anyone," but that is too vague a statement for me. A very good example of this is the abortion debate. Here we don't have a consensus over what is "anyone." If your moral philosophy is to not hurt or harm anyone else, you don't know whether a fetus is "anyone else." There's a gap here that can't really be filled by such a philosophy.

    So religion is an attempt to find out what the absolute is and to live our lives according to that absolute. And that absolute is greater than anything on Earth, greater than any individual, greater than any society, that could possibly set morals.

    (I hope this is clear, but it's a terribly difficult thing to explain in a forum...)
     
  13. Aranince macrumors 65816

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    #13
    Thats because you misquoted what the Bible says.

    Rom 8:28 And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to [His] purpose.

    God did give us free will, we are either for Him or against Him. You can't explain God giving us free will and Him knowing the future because He is God. He is beyond anything we can fathom and more.
     
  14. solvs macrumors 603

    solvs

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    #14
    Your problem is thinking "God" has to come from some book.
     
  15. Shotglass macrumors 65816

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    #15
    The argument that Christians blindly believe what other people tell them and are therefore stupid is not really foolproof. I know loads of atheists that try to convince me by citing 'various studies' and 'scientific evidence' that they haven't even looked at themselves. They can't even prove their existence. Loads of people, religion or no religion, believe what people tell them without questioning it, simply because they grew up around this stuff. For example, if I told you the earth was a cube, you would tell me it wasn't without ever having looked at it from space or just without being totally sure that you weren't tricked into believing it is a globe. You just do it because for all your life, it was a fact that the earth is a globe.
    I don't really like to look at religion as a means of finding comfort. Of course people find comfort in religion, but for me, that is a minor side effect. I don't believe in God because some people say he exists. I believe in God because I see and experience too many 'coincidences' every day. Little things. Personal things. Random stuff that just happens and when it's done, I know exactly why it happen and I'm certain that someone who knows me very well is responsible for that. It's like when a friend makes a joke about something the two of you were talking about the other day in front of a group of people and you're the only one who's laughing because you're the only one to understand.
    A big problem with organized religion is that so many wicked people who do wicked things call themselves devout Christians. I mean sure, people are evil (free will and whatnot), and they do evil stuff, but for crying out loud, don't do it in public and then say the bible says it's right. That's just ruining the whole religion. By the way, the media isn't helping here, either.
    Prejudice is also a big factor when you talk to atheists. There's so much misinterpreted scripture around, and then there's those wonderful examples of Christians like that pastor in the other thread, and so on and so forth. Basically, you probably can't convince other people because they think they've seen it all. Like with PC users who hate Macs because they tried them one time and couldn't find the task bar.
    I could go on for a while about this topic, but I don't want to bore you. Tell me what you think about what I said, I'd like to know.
     
  16. Queso macrumors G4

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    #16
    I think the Mac/Windows parallel is quite an interesting point. However, the way I see it having a particular religion is the default choice due to our upbringings, just as Windows is the default choice for computers because it's what we're told. It's only when you look beyond the default that other choices become available.

    But just as in computers it isn't simply a case of the default Windows and one alternative (the Mac), it's the same in the way you view the world. There are a broad spread of possibilities in philosophy, atheism being just one. It's just takes a bit of thinking for yourself, even if you do end up deciding the default is the best for you anyway.

    The point you make about the corruption of religion by the prejudiced is also a strong one, although personally that isn't the sole reason that I have rejected the concept of a deity. Using your own example, if the Earth were a cube there would be verifiable evidence for that to be the case. Having flown high enough to see the curvature of the surface, my own eyes tell me that some form of sphere is far more likely.

    And that what it comes down to. Atheists accept some of what we're told providing there is evidence to back up the claim. I won't dispute there are some studies that are based on bad data, but against the massive void of any scientific proof for the existence of God (or any other gods) I'll take the option that appears to be likely until proven otherwise.

    However, I'm glad your religion makes you happy. That after all is the most important thing.
     
  17. Shotglass macrumors 65816

    Shotglass

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    #17
    True, and one of the reasons why religion is so easily abused. I wouldn't generalize that, though. Despite having grown up in a Christian household, I needed some time to believe myself, and my parents weren't involved in any of this. Both of them are converts and had atheist parents, by the way.
    [/quote]
    There are a broad spread of possibilities in philosophy, atheism being just one. It's just takes a bit of thinking for yourself [...][/quote]And religion doesn't? The 'for yourself' part sounds like a hint to religion being used as a tool of manipulation.
    Then that's what seperates you from loads of other atheists. At least in this metaphor.
    True, but evidence can be a bit shaky if you haven't actually looked at it. Kinda frustrating to talk to atheists who actually have no idea what they're talking about.
    Well, sure, but I'm not religious to be happy. I'm religious because I firmly believe it's the right way. Happyness is just a side-effect (not a very minor one though).
     
  18. Sdashiki macrumors 68040

    Sdashiki

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    #18
    Reading and just had to quote this in case someone missed it.

    Let me ask people who think like this above:

    If God is on our side, who's on theirs?

    You sound like the coward guy from The Mummy, who, when confronted by the possibility of death, prays to every religion he can think of and pulls out ever artifact from his neck to prove his devotion. Just in case he finds solace in the wrong one before he dies.

    Best chance? Are you serious? Like Heaven is a gate with only a Catholic key.

    Wow, just wow.
     
  19. kainjow Moderator emeritus

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    #19
    I'd be curious to know then, what are the other reasons for your rejecting the concept of a deity?
     
  20. Swarmlord macrumors 6502a

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    #20
    Yes.
     
  21. Queso macrumors G4

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    #21
    It's a combination of things really. There doesn't appear to be a need for a deity once knowledge can explain how things work; Prayers don't gain results above and beyond natural statistical outcomes; The complete lack of evidence for God contrasted with both actual and empirical evidence backing scientific alternatives; The propensity of the human mind to mistranslate sensory input. All pieces that taken together lead me to conclude that the entire idea is created by humans and perpetuated by fear of our own deaths and as a method of organising society.

    On a side note whilst I'm thinking about that, this eternal life thing sounds absolutely horrible. Think about what that means for a minute. No thanks!
     
  22. shecky thread starter Guest

    shecky

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    #22
    care to enlighten me?
     
  23. adrianblaine macrumors 65816

    adrianblaine

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    #23
    This reminds me of something I've been thinking about these last few weeks. The idea of eternity and worshiping any sort of god does not appeal to a lot of people and will continue to think that way even if it turned out to be true.

    Just to point out, Christ performed probably hundreds of miracles in front of countless people, but even some of those who witnessed first hand still didn't believe.
     
  24. jczubach macrumors 6502

    jczubach

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    #24
    I am "the reluctant atheist"(I just like the sound of that). No not an agnostic. Religion is what it is, to each and everyone of us. I fear those who use it as a shield/weapon for their prejudices. Too many in power doing just that. In the same breath i cannot begrudge those who take some genuine solace and insight from it. I go to a United church occasionally, which happens to be pastored by a wickedly funny and intelligent man who also happens to be openly gay, and the congregation has not a problem with it. I go with a friend who is a believer, and we often use the sermons as a springboard for after-church brunch(beer included) discussions. Still, i am an atheist. The real reason i attend, tho' not religiously, is that the experience somehow manages to reset my 'hard drive', as it where. Bigger perspective, re-evaluation of priorities, community, friendship, fellowship, compassion, belonging (even if i don't really think that i belong in this place specifically) and perhaps most importantly, gratitude. (sorry to get Oprah on you) Believer or not, this Life we live, in an otherwise uncaring universe, is precious, and as far as i can tell, most who practice this religion thing, are celebrating that fact and all that they cherish. For the profiteers and maimers, 'A Pox on the Lot of them'. My grade 12 english thesis was on the (un)necessity of religion, and that was some 1/4 century ago. So i've spent a bit of time with the subject. Heck, i quit believing in God before i quit believing in Santa Claus. Don't throw the baby out with the bath water. Religion is an expression of a value system that is millennia in the making. Those who would corrupt it, subvert it or rationalize with it, are not a justification for completely disregarding it. and i say this without sarcasm, Godspeed and good luck!
     
  25. Swarmlord macrumors 6502a

    Swarmlord

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    #25
    Yes, you are missing something about the origin of faith that has transcended thousands of years if you believe that it's based only on the book you called fictitious.
     

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