Why did we believe in the first place?

 
ew1
 
Avatar
 
 
ew1
Total Posts:  129
Joined  30-11-2005
 
 
 
31 January 2006 09:30
 

i just thought i would take a stab at making some arguments against the existence of god.  my methodology though is not to show that the believer's idea of god is faulty. rather it is to show that the birth of the idea of god in the collective conciousness was in error.  tell me what you guys think, or add to it, or subtract from it… i realize its a barbaric attempt, so be nice.

Case Study: The Bible (though this might apply to others)

how do we know god exists?  or more importantly: why did we come to believe he existed in the first place?
 
either one of the following is true for the believer:

(1) A person subscribes to the idea that his holy book is the infallible word of god, in which case they believe god exists because their book tells them it is so.

(2) A person does not believe that his holy book is the infallible word of god, in which case the book offers no evidence for the existence of god, as it is written by men for men.

if (1) is the case, then we have two responses:
the person is employing circular logic:
    - "i believe that the god in my book exists because the book tells me so."  obviously this is not rational and does not prove the existence of god.

the person is obligated to believe that everything in the book is correct:
    - this can EASILY be proven wrong, as there is NO evidence for the story of creation, the world-wide flood associated with noah, and many other purported historical events told by God himself.  We can even go as far as to say that the story of creation and noah's flood are scientifically impossible! 

So this leads us to (2), where after proving that the bible is not written by an omniscient being, as his apparent accounts of history are FALSE, we arrive at the assertion that the bible was written by men from men. 

 


if (2) though the only reasons a person would have for asserting the existence of an omniscient, omnipotent being now are the following:

a personal experience has led one to believe that god exists
    - if all ostensibly unexplainable events (like miracles, etc) act as evidence for the existence of god, then it MUST follow that all explainable events (like tsunamis, hurricanes, lightening, cancer, the plague, etc) are evidence AGAINST the existence of god, at least the god that is supposed to be All-Good—The evidence against outweighs the evidence for, by any measure!

    - an analogy to illustrate the faults in this person's line of thinking: "suppose that i were standing near Kennedy's grave at Arlington Cemetery, and the ground suddenly opened up revealing a coffin. i see the casket opening and a man who looks exactly like JFK sits up and walks away. even under these bizarre circumstances, it is STILL more probable that:

    a) i am mispercieving what is occurring
    b)someone is playing an ingeneous trick on me
    c) i am witnessing the filming of a movie
    d) i am dreaming
    e) the man i saw was not actually JFK
    f) someone slipped me a hallucinogenic drug
    g) i have fallen victem to psychosis
    h) i am completely fabricating this story

    Any of these explanations is infinitely more plausible than the assertion that JFK genuinely rose from the dead. these explanations are more plausible EVEN WHEN I CLAIM TO BE AN EYEWITNESS TO THE EVENT. whenever miraculous tales are secondhand or, like scripture, are handed down from generation to generation, the veracity of the original stories is forever untestable and is thus unworthy of serious consideration."  (David Mills, Atheist Universe)
 
they want to believe he exists because it offers them comfort
    - no reply is necessary, as it is obvious that this does not imply that god actually exists.
    - analagous to believing that a diamond the size of a refrigerator is buried in your backyard. this belief might offer you comfort—you might even spend every sunday morning digging for it with the family, but your comfort does not imply the diamond exists! (Sam Harris, End of Faith)
 
there had to have been a creator, aka the First Cause argument
    - this argument has been shown unsound, philosophically and scientifically many times over.

the universe exhibits design, thus requires a designer

    - Another unsound argument that can be countered with a simple reply: "why do you presuppose that the 'natural' state of the universe is disorder?"
    - this is similar to presupposing that grass should be red, then showing it is green and citing divine intervention.  (David Mills)

Pascal's wager (it is wise to believe, because benefits outweigh the costs)

    -  Sam Harris argues intensely against this idea.  Religion has been the source or cause for much of the violence and ignorance seen in the past and to this day.  In other words, we would be better not to believe that 72 virgins awaits us in the hereafter if we kill infidiels.  Also, how much more would one value life if they KNEW this was the one chance they had.  enough said.  But if you stil need convincing, read End of Faith by Sam Harris.

i guess the idea is that, at one point humanity had a reason to believe in something greater than themselves, as there was "visual evidence" for this being's intervention in their everyday lives, at least according to their ideas about god.  now though, we know that god is not slinging thunderbolts at sinners, so we have no evidential obligation to believe in his existence… hmm?

 
snakechic
 
Avatar
 
 
snakechic
Total Posts:  326
Joined  16-06-2005
 
 
 
31 January 2006 10:11
 

Hi Ted

I liked your post.

so we have no evidential obligation to believe in his existence… hmm?

Now I think you hit my nail on the head. I felt I had exactly that ‘an obligation’. Through family ties! For me, the easy bit is to disproved the bibble and so on…but its the family coehesion or cohersion that’s the sticky or hard part.

The family tend to get a bit upset with a person if they say..‘god is dead’ at the dinner table.

I don’t mean to sound trite….the family connection and also how knowledge is passed on from one generation to another is (i think) the main reason god continues to exist.

 
mudfoot
 
Avatar
 
 
mudfoot
Total Posts:  1038
Joined  22-12-2005
 
 
 
31 January 2006 10:28
 

Try epilepsy.

Many (if not most or all) religious innovators—from Zoroaster to the guy ranting and raving on the street corner—come about their beliefs through direct experience of something which to them is so profound and tangible that it must be inspired by the very underpinnings of the universe itself (cymbals crashing).  Even though nobody else perceived it.

The logical gyrations you’re trying to unwind come after the fact either by the innovators to explain their experience or by their followers who are trying to justify it all, but probably haven’t a clue as to the actual experience.

Cases in point:  Moses & the burning bush, Jesus in that valley where the devil tried to convert him, Mohammed’s visions, Buddha under the bo tree, etc.

One hypothesis is that there’s a special strain of epilepsy which causes these experiences—Dostoyevsky experienced it, and had this to say about Mohammed:

[quote author=“Dostoyevsky”]
Mohammed assures us that he saw paradise and was inside… He really was in paradise during an attack of epilepsy, from which he suffered as I do. I do not know whether this bliss lasts seconds, hours, or months, yet take my word, I would not exchange it for all the joys which life can give.

 
ew1
 
Avatar
 
 
ew1
Total Posts:  129
Joined  30-11-2005
 
 
 
31 January 2006 11:32
 

[quote author=“snakechic”]Hi Ted

I liked your post.

so we have no evidential obligation to believe in his existence… hmm?

Now I think you hit my nail on the head. I felt I had exactly that ‘an obligation’. Through family ties! For me, the easy bit is to disproved the bibble and so on…but its the family coehesion or cohersion that’s the sticky or hard part.

The family tend to get a bit upset with a person if they say..‘god is dead’ at the dinner table.

I don’t mean to sound trite….the family connection and also how knowledge is passed on from one generation to another is (i think) the main reason god continues to exist.


thats definitely a good point… though one i took for granted.  you are right though, many people i have talked to use the reasoning: “well i was brought up to believe this…” 


[quote author=“mudfoot”]Try epilepsy.

wow. thats definitely interesting.  to be honest, i wasnt aware of that.  thanks for sharing.

 
nv
 
Avatar
 
 
nv
Total Posts:  7998
Joined  29-04-2005
 
 
 
31 January 2006 16:55
 

The etiology of Deistic adherence is a topic that’s been explored thoroughly on these forums. But I suppose it would be pretty daunting to try to get an overview of what’s been said by reading all the millions of words collected here.

Temporal-lobe epilepsy is purported to be one of the chief causes of godly revelation. I seem to have had one when I was 17. I was in my bedroom, lying in bed. I had a vision, and it was not a dream. I’d prefer not to go into the details of the vision here, but I suppose I could. The details of my particular TLE seizure, if that’s what it was, don’t really matter. It was Deistic-based. I’ve read that others are alien-abduction based.

Rod, if you’re watching this thread, can you tell us anything about the prevalence of TLE? It only happened to me once, and I’ve heard that it’s not unusual for a teenager to experience one or two seizures, then never have another one again. I realize you’re probably not a neurologist, but you’re obviously more qualified than most to speak to this issue.