Why Should I Need A God?

A bit of rambling here. I’m trying to work out a couple of things that differ between belief and non-belief. I welcome theists to answer if they can.

  1. Why do I need a god? I get through life just fine without a god. It does not matter whether I find any credible evidence for gods. Why do I need one? I get through every crisis just fine without a god. I don’t find need to have a fall back position. I don’t need any personal deity to rely on. I’m self reliant in at least this part of my life. I have managed to be moderately successful without a deity. I have a family that doesn’t need a deity. I’ve been through divorce, joblessness, money issues, lost a house and on and on. I never needed a deity. Why do believers think I need a god?Don’t tell me about morals. None of my family go about killing, raping (even though that might be part of your god’s plan LOL) or stealing etc. I have morals.Don’t tell me that there is an afterlife, you can’t prove it to be so
  2. If your god has a plan for me, why does it include me not believing in your god? If you are about to tell me that your god gave me free will, don’t. It’s an argument that you can’t win. There is far more evidence that we probably do not have free will than there is that we do have free will. I personally think I have free will for a number of reasons, but none of them include deities. Christians claim that their god had a plan for me before I even existed. Who knows what his plan was for miscarried babies, but his plan apparently included me being an anti-theist. Why? If your books give you all the answers that  you need, how do you interpret them to explain why your god would make me an anti-theist?

If you believers want to witness to me and others like me, you’ll have to be able to answer these questions in a way that makes sense to anti-theists. So go on, what are your answers?

UPDATE:

Here is a nice addition to this post by Too Much Pathos about prayer and why it is just wrong. To get a taste of it:

Why is it God’s will for some rape victim to get pregnant, but it’s not God’s will that some theist is infertile? The fact that Christians are having IVF treatments shows me that they care little for “God’s will” when it comes to his very clear message about not having children. If someone else can’t circumvent the reproductive process by having an abortion, why should a Christian be able to circumvent it by getting fertility treatments? I mean, if you can’t get pregnant with the stuff God gave you, shouldn’t you take that as a clear indication that this deity doesn’t want you to reproduce?

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  1. Solid points. I am currently working on the idea of why would a God, not matter how perfect, ever deserve worship? Even if you could find the credentials in a deity to make it worthy, the very demand for worship makes it undeserving. Bottom line, nothing could ever deserve worship.

    You believe that you have free will I see. I do not believe that we have free will. What are some of your reasons? I only really have myself to be critical of so more insights on the idea would be very interesting to hear.

    • Well, it goes a bit like this:

      Cogito ergo sum. I am. If I have no free will, I have no thought and I do not exist. I do exist, so I must have free will to think.

      If we live in a simulation that does not allow free will, then it is not a simulation of anything. Rather it is a nicely complex automaton. Nothing matters and we are not to be blamed for our actions. The law we give ourselves holds us accountable and to a person, we hold wrong doers accountable for their actions. Free will is therefore assumed and proscribed by all and sundry.

      If we exist in the dream of the Brahma nothing matters for when he wakes we are gone. We matter not, nor any of our actions and morality, and right thinking matters not.

      If the monotheists are right and we are controlled by a ‘soul’ then we do not exist and this perception of existence is a sham. In the sham it does not matter what we do for we do not control it. Is the puppet ever responsible for what the ventriloquist says? Nope.

      Not one of us truly believes that we are without free will. Law would not function if it treated us as having no free will. Human relations would not work and in fact would be useless. The very laws of nature would not work if we had no free will. By this I mean the following:

      If we have free will and can act on nature, the laws of nature apply. If we have no free will, we can only function by the laws of nature. That is to say that we are mere automatons of nature and it becomes impossible to actually cause harm to another. Does one brush stroke of a painting cause harm to another brush stroke? If we cannot interact with the laws of nature, they do not exist as we understand them. Free will demands that we can interact with the laws of nature.

      Lack of free will does not demand that all is written or predestined, but it does mean that destiny has no meaning at all. It is predetermined by facts long before us in a way not dissimilar to the butterfly effect. Lack of free will means that Hitler was not evil because evil does not exist. Lack of free will means that there is no good in the world, nor bad. A painting or toy cannot question its value. We question our own value. We think, therefore we exist. We are. The mere fact of existence does not demand free will, but existence without free will invalidates all our philosophies.

      In a way, death defines free will as necessary. A simulation of automatons does not require death.

      Yes, these points have weaknesses. They are however the basics of why I believe that I have free will. It is not a dissertation or proof, but the thoughts that keep me awake at night… sometimes.

      • I feel as though you allow certain assumptions to imply too much in your thoughts of free will. Before I begin, I will say that I truly believe we have no free will and yet I still believe that everything in life that you find important now, is important still.
        Lets begin with your first paragraph, the main portion I disagree with is when you say that nothing matters and we are not to be blamed for our actions. A lack of free will does not mean that nothing matters. We are still conscious observers of our experience. You would agree that there are things that are important to you, therefore things matter. But this fact holds zero weight as to whether you have free will or not. This is similar to the typical christian argument that without God, life has no meaning. You know this not to be true as the assertion does not imply the result. I personally believe that a world of understanding that we have no free will would drastically change our justice system. People must still be held accountable for there actions regardless of our free will. However, a belief (that I am almost certain is true) that there is no free will dispells one of hate. Locking someone away for murder would not be to give the murderer what they diserved, rather it would be by means of protection. Many things could come from this as well. A sophisticated knowledge of the mind could allow us to determine if the person released would still be a significant threat to society. (I must stop explaining a new justice system here as it is not the main topic of this discussion. I assure you however that any topic that appears light in my explanation, I could go for days about but am limited by time and your interest to move on to more important points in the discussion). It is to be noticed that this person IS responsible for his actions in the sense that HE/SHE committed them. There is merely a sad understanding that they couldn’t have chosen otherwise.

        I will ignore the if we exist in a dream statement or if the monotheist God is real statement because it is again irrelavent.

        You say that if we have no free will, then we can only function by the laws of nature. Yes, I agree with this statement. A solid understanding of physics, aided by an understanding of many studies of neuroscience, and quantum mechanics lead one to the conclusion that free will doesn’t even fit anywhere. Your conclusion from your assumption however does not appear to follow. How would this imply that we could not cause harm to another? Our choices arise from passed actions and influences that lead, or cause us to behave in the ways we do. Again this is nothing more than following the laws of nature. And yes, this is a support of cause and effect. I will link you to a video and a book that I recommend that goes into further detail over these matters. If you have a kindle or an equivalent of, the book can be read in just about one sitting.

        We cannot separate ourselves from nature. A common thing for us humans to do as we introspect on our awareness is to put ourselves on a pedestal above or outside of nature; a sort of disconnect. Something to remember is that we ARE nature and thereby follow the laws of nature and do nothing more, nothing less.

        Yes in some sense, things are predetermined. Even if there is no free will, and you were to accept it, this does not imply that you can see into the future. Your life will be cause and effect. Whatever happends in your life is the way things were “predestined to go”. To disagree with this is to say that you have the ability to choose otherwise in any situation in your life. Which would pretty much imply that you have the ability of time travel. But I did touch on a big thing here, that I will hit once more in conclusion. To say you have free will is to claim that any choice you have made, you could have chosen otherwise. I would assert here that close analysis of this idea would prove even more that you do not have free will, because you never could, can, or will choose otherwise to the choice you go on to make.
        Yes evil still does exist because we define evil. Evil acts occur, we are all aware of this. Hitler was evil. In the context of no free will, one can understand that Hitler’s life, DNA, causes and so forth led him to the person he became. He could not have been anything other than what he was. And if you traded places with Hitler, atom for atom, you would do the same.

        In conclusion I will say that to claim that we are automatons if we don’t have free will, this is false. We are of course humans, that die. It is not that we are robots, but it is our minds that act as the computer. Again, an understanding of studies in neuroscience would shed more light on what I am trying to say here.

        To claim that we have free will is to assert that in a given situation, you could’ve chosen otherwise. This, I believe to be untrue, with this along with much else, I conclude that we do not have free will. For more insight into ideas that I agree with, I will leave you these links. The first a video and a second a book. Both by Sam Harris, a man that can explain things with a clarity much better than myself. I strongly encourage to at least watch the video.

        Link 1:

        Link 2:
        http://www.samharris.org/free-will

        • I fail to see how things would matter if you know that you are not in control and are only ‘watching a movie’ of your life so to speak. I can see that some would get into it, but not all. Having no free will is to have no control over the directions your life takes. But I will ascede your point in as much as humans do empahize and get involved even with characters in a movie. It would not keep my attention for long.

          When you talk about holding people accountable and radical changes to the justice system – well, you lost me.

          If you do not have free will, it is not you causing harm to another. If it is predetermined that you would cause harm to another you are no more an actor in that harmful act than the shirt that you are not wearing at the time.

          If cause and effect mean to you that we cannot choose differently than we do, we have a major difference of opinion. Cause and effect in the physical world is to me a meteorite hitting the Earth due to colliding galaxies 15 billion years ago and not how I chose what to eat and where for breakfast.

          When you mention nature you seem to imply that our thoughts are part of nature or the unfolding of the universe. If, as you said, things still matter then they are not part of the unfolding of the universe in the same way that a meteor is. They are not subject to physical laws in the same ways.

          I do not understand how making a choice infers the ability to time travel. Nor do I agree that Harris’ assertions that delays in communicatios between sections of the brain infers that we are not making the decisions that we do. Not understanding how we make decisions does not infer that we don’t make them. Harris’ parlor trick with picking a city does not infer a lack of free will, only an ignorance on his part as to how the brain works. He even discusses some of the processes that affect how we make decisions but does not take this into proper account as he continues to assert that we have not the free will to choose the city we chose in his experiment.

          His assertion that we are only witnesses misses the point of how our brains are not a single process/system, but a hive of them. This hive mind has multiple autonomous functions that play into creating/analyzing and making available information for our conscious processes to make a decision with. The non-conscious portion of our brains preprocess information to make it usable in a mixed data environment where a decision can be made. In cases where there is not enough time for this, those non-conscious portions of the hive mind will act prior to conscious decisions. Such is the case with athletes who react in a fast paced situation with what many call ‘muscle memory’ to effect motions that are necessary and well rehearsed so do not require conscious decisions. This does not mean that the athlete is not in charge of their actions, rather it means that all our decisions are not made in the conscious areas of our minds.

          We are meat machines with autonomous free agency. If my next free thought is to strangle someone in front of me in the queue because they richly deserve it but I choose not to act on that thought, no matter where the thought comes from I make a conscious choice and am not destined to act out my thoughts.

          Harris also conflates consciousness with ‘us’ where ‘us’ is something other than emergent properties of our brains. Harris’ recent publications are why many scientists take a dim view of philosophers dabbling in science they know nothing about. Yes, I just implied that Harris does’t know as much about neurobiology as he should.

          To see a post in agreement with my understanding: https://www.bigquestionsonline.com/content/does-contemporary-neuroscience-support-or-challenge-reality-free-will

          In the video clip you offered, Harris does indeed play parlor tricks when he is not willfully ignoring the facts or misleading the audience about them.

          No, I may not have written this as well as I could. I have limited time to reply and I don’t want to let this sit around waiting.

          I do enjoy the discussion. Thank you.

          • I enjoy these types of discussions as well. We seem to be at opposite ends on this. Because of our differences of opinion, I fear this conversation may take far too long via messaging. I am currently very busy outside of the time I spend blogging so I am unsure I can continue this conversation for much longer. However if we moved this to an email exchange, we can converse at our own pace without continually searching the archives to find our conversation.

            I can only reply in short right now. As I read your reply, there appears to be misunderstandings in a lot of things that I said to you. I encourage to ponder some of the comments that you disagreed with to check your logical string because I feel your rebuttles to what I said left me thinking that you completely missed the point I was making.

            I know your opinions are sincere. One of the great things about discussions with us atheists is we aren’t fans of bullshit. We do appear to disagree but I know that we honestly believe our points of view based on our understanding of the subject. Nobody is trying to “doop” the other person into believing lies.

            Honestly, for me, the idea that we have free will is almost like the idea that there is a God. My understanding currently leads me to the conclusion that it’s a joke. I briefly skimmed the article you linked me to and will read it in more depth soon. I can assure you that if you are correct in this, I want to know why you are correct. My passion is in the subject of what IS, not what I want to be true. So with that I respect your thoughts and will also continue to ponder them to check my logic to see if I am missing key points.

            Again, as it stands, I still currently think that we do not have free will and for now encourage you to read over my last response to see if maybe there are some key points to be realized. At the end, what matters is what is. Regardless of what we believe about free will, we either have it, or we don’t.

            • This sounds a fair assessment and I too have time constraints. I agree to an email exchange if you agree to me posting the best ‘bits’ of it on my blog.

              • Definitely. I too may use our discussion for my blog. My e-mail is on my page. I look forward to the progression of this discussion

  2. I the one with the Christian site: robinclaire.wordpress.com. You commented something on my article called “Naked Feet”. I liked your comment because it made me think. We may have opposing views regarding “spirituality” (can I say “religion”?) but I like the way you write. You’re very bold and get your points across without mincing words. But I dare you to follow my blog.

  3. This is my argument in regards to having an eternal spirit. If our bodies are made of completely inert materials and water, then what gives us the spark which made us “animated”?

    • I think you’re referring to abiogenesis, it hasn’t entirely been figured out yet. But I encourage you to read up on it. Just because we haven’t found the answers yet doesn’t mean they’re unreachable. Just remember, we once that the world was flat until science proved otherwise – an answer once thought to be unreachable that we eventually came to with more than enough evidence to back it up.

    • The idea that there is a spark which animates us is common, but there is no credible reason to believe this is the case. To say that humans have a soul but animals do not is contradictory. Do earthworms have a spark that animates them? What about jelly fish or ants?

      I don’t think that inert means what you seem to think it does. All life no this planet has the ability to move. Even plants move in reaction to the Sun, and one variety of tree ‘walks’, though very slowly. We are not inert no matter what materials we are made of. When you dismantle anything to it’s constituent parts, they will become inert. Motion in our physical world requires a bit of movement and movement is (as far as I know) always based on cells that move or systems of ‘things’ working together.

      To infer that there is some additional supernatural force involved in humans does not make sense in light of commonalities between humans and other animals for which we do not infer a spark of supernatural force.

  4. Sure you get along without god… Lots of people do. So you might not think that you’re a bad person by not doing certain things. Also fine with me. But I’m curious as to why you think anything is wrong or morally reprehensible. You seem quick to justify yourself by what you don’t do when under materialism nothing is really wrong.

    Do you agree that if there is a god who made everything that that entity would have some claim over it’s creation? Does that seem reasonable? Obviously there are all sorts of questions like how do we know which god and what are the ways we can know if that entity exists but they are separate questions.

    The Bible to my knowledge doesn’t say anything about God having a wonderful plan for my life…at least not in a self centered kind of way people seem to use it to sell God to people. I don’t think we have free will. I can’t just walk to the moon. I can’t solve world hunger in one second. We are surely limited, constrained by physics and resources. But we can choose and do some things, perhaps we would do more if there were no consequences, or not if we prefer other things rather than the consequences.

    • Mathew,
      I do not agree that gods can even exist. That has to happen before I can agree on what a god did or did not do. I don’t wear the label materialist. I’m much happier with nihilist. There is no right and wrong, such are moral assessments and morality is always subjective and context sensitive. This makes ‘wrong’ a perception, rather like the color red. We may all see a red apple… except for the person that is color blind.

      How I perceive the world has nothing to do with supernatural beings that in all probability do not exist. My judgement of what is wrong or right morally is a subjective assessment based on my needs, wants, and beilefs etc.

      My question was ‘why should I need a god?’

      • Hey

        I said “if there is a god..” then certain things would follow.

        You responded by saying “I do not agree that gods can even exist. That has to happen before I can agree on what a god did or did not do. ”

        The second part of your question is about what a god did or did not do: “2. If your god has a plan for me, why does it include me not believing in your god?” in which you assume for a moment a god exists, but I can’t even say “if there is a god…”?

        • “If your god has a plan” does not infer that a god exists, it is a preface to the question about your understanding of your god. I am not assuming your god exists, merely questioning your understanding of your god. Yours because you answered the open question to theists.

          • Likewise “If there is a god” does not infer a god exists.

            • anyway I was hoping you would just comment on the basic logic of saying “if there is a god that created stuff, wouldn’t that god have a claim over what it had made”

              • No. Do parents have a continual claim over their children? We declare them independent at 18 or sometimes before that… at least in my country. You seem to be implying slavery. If I build a chair, I have claim over it. The question of gods and creations is not about chairs or inanimate objects. That is even ignoring the argument of creation of life in the first place.

                • If the universe was full of inanimate objects like planets and stars and clouds of gas, would the god have a claim over it?

                  • I meant to say: if the universe was *only* full of inanimate objects…

                  • A universe devoid of intelligence should be free to claim. Again, this is not addressing the issue of creation in the first place, making it merely a thought experiment about hypothetical.

  5. Free will is NOT the same as willing things to magically happen – you can’t just walk on the moon because you want to. But you want to out of free will. You WANT free hunger to be over, but you can’t just magically make it happen. That’s not the definition of free will, free will is simply being able to choose how we react to situations with our own minds. You can’t just change the definition to suit your argument.
    The problem with your first statement is that religion didn’t invent morality, there is a certain amount of morality within religion, but there is in some self-help books, too. They didn’t create morality any more than the bible did. Morality exists inside and outside of all sorts of situations. If you look up the definition, it won’t mention religion at all. Civilizations that existed before the judeo-christian religions was ever even thought of had law codes that were based off of moral standards – don’t murder, don’t steal, don’t rape. They figured it all out without the help of any of the religions we see today. Rape being an issue the bible does not say as wrong, but does that mean that it is moral since the bible doesn’t address it? No, we know it’s immoral because it harms people.
    Christianity is not unique in its teaching, there were thousands of religions that existed pre-christianity, and Christianity took from a lot of them. Religion tends to ‘evolve’ (in a very simple sense) with people, it changes with us – which makes no sense. Why would the laws of morality and the codes by which we live change if there was an all-powerful, all-knowing being – you think he’d get it right the first time. But no, religions changes, and new sects are created under them (catholicism was just catholicism once until men decided to change it and create sub-religions under the same god from it). They didn’t NEED religion, they needed a code and institution under which to keep the people in order and to keep them from questioning, so when people become unhappy with it, it changed. Kings created new divisions of Christianity so that they could divorce, again, what they NEEDED (rather, wanted very badly) was a new system that fit their beliefs rather than the other way around. But I fear I’m getting off in a tangent.
    The only real reason people would have ‘needed’ religion was before we had other methods (scientific ones) to explain the world around us. Basic forms of religion had a sun god to explain where the sun went every night, for example. They created the idea of an afterlife because they were terrified of the idea of life being all we have. Maybe it was more useful then, but they didn’t need to worship in order to be moral.
    No one needs religion in order to live morally, we know what morals are and pretending they don’t exist outside of religion just because the morals don’t decide whether or not I get to live happily in eternity or burn for eternity is ridiculous. Morals can exist without there being an end goal.

    • thecatkatie, who was this comment aimed at?

      • Matthew for the most part, and just general thoughts for anyone to respond to, really.

        • I like your thinking on the evolution of religion. I know some believers don’t like that but they will talk about the ‘new covenant’ and after that there is no change. For them the OT is superseded by the NT yet they will quote the 10 Commandments and Leviticus etc.

          They will say they abhor slavery and can’t see how the Bible condones it. So when I tell them they are creating their own religion they get indignant.

          Yet, as you indicate Judaism was evolved into Christianity and in doing so created a new religion which went on to be 30,000+ different sects.

          Some days I’m sure we evolved from sheep!

    • Hey, thatcatkatie, thanks for your response. It was fairly late at night when I wrote this. Might explain my dumb comments about free will. I think my point was to say that there are heaps of things that limit our freedom, we also limit ourselves because we may not like the consequences that might be in place if certain activities are done. The question is why are some consequences put in place for some activities but not others? I would really love to understand why you think harming people is a bad thing. Is it because people have value and worth? If so, where does such worth come from? How do you assess a human’s worth? I mean, science would tell me I consist of elements worth $160 in 2011 dollars.

      Take another situation: suppose I fire a gun at a man. Science can explain to me how the gun works, what chemical reactions are underway as the powder ignites, the velocity of the bullet, the trajectory of the bullet, an assessment of the likely damage to occur at the point of impact. But science, as a description of the explanation of the laws and relationships of the physical world can tell me nothing about the rightness or wrongness of the action of firing a gun at a man.

      Also, on the question of religion, I did not say anywhere in my post that religion invented morality, perhaps you were talking about someone else and I have misread. You will notice I said that myatheistlife seems to have gotten on pretty well without religion. So my question is not ‘can we be good without religion’. Rather I am interested in the question of whether anything is actually wrong or morally reprehensible under atheism? Or are things like rape just ‘red’ or ‘green’ depending on personal preferences.

      What is confusing about myatheistlife’s question is the inclusion of the detail that their family doesn’t rape or kill, I mean, who are we to cast judgement on what anyone’s preferences are…

  6. world hunger* haha bad typo, my brain got away from me for a moment.

  7. Freewill is defined as “Done of one’s own accord; voluntary.”
    In my opinion the lack of freewill implies predestined. This works right in with God knowing everything, as he could only know everything if it was destined to happen.
    The possession of freewill eliminates the possibility of a deity knowing everything.
    I think humans and higher order animals possess freewill, though their actions are influenced by past events. In fact I hold that anything that actually thinks has the potential of freewill.
    .

    • With my view expressed above regarding free will, I agree with your comment in that free will necessarily excludes an omniscient deity. On the other hand, the god of Abraham is shown to appear to be not omniscient in the very book he is supposed to have inspired etc.

      • http://drenn1077.com/2012/03/23/free-will-march-26-2012/

  8. First off, myatheistlife great post. Thanks for sharing it. Forgive me if I hijack your comments section for a moment but there’s a great deal to respond to in the comments that resulted from the post. Free will, do we have it? Yes, in my view we do, in a limited sense. I am perfectly free to determine whether or not to slaughter the mail man for looking at me sideways or not, or to choose one mate or another or one breakfast cereal or another. However my free will is constrained by my circumstance, my education, my rationality, my genetics, and a host of other variables that make me who I am. In this way I am partially “programmed.” We are, I agree, “meat machines” programmed by the above mentioned factors and constrained in part by that programming. However we do, quite obviously, have the ability to throw off that programming and head off in entirely new directions. It doesn’t happen all that often but the possibility does exist. In this sense we have free will.

    To say that Adolf Hitler could not have been anything but the genocidal nut job he was, as mindconscious did, is in my view overly simplistic as well as woefully pessimistic. Perhaps the upbringing, life experiences, personal biases, and (one would expect) mental illnesses of the man led him to the path of mass slaughter and devastation but he made choices, and had alternatives. The path he followed was a path willfully embarked upon. To make the claim that Hitler couldn’t have been any different than he was removes responsibility for his choices and his crimes from him. If one can’t help but make the choices they make then there is no personal responsibility, no hope of change or growth and no “evolution” of consciousness.

    Matthew, to answer your question for myself: IF there was a god, yes I suppose it would have some limited claim over it’s creations, as it created them. However it would also have certain responsibilities toward said creation. After all it would have made us, and our circumstances, therefore said deity would be responsible for our actions. This is just one more method of removing personal responsibility from the person and externalizing it. Also, in the case of the Abrahamic faiths, concerning the “eternal father” idea: the job of a father is to set clear, reasonable, and non-contradictory rules and guidelines for his children. It is his job to do all in his power to ensure that his children are safe, happy and most importantly that they understand and know him, his rules, and the purpose of those rules. If the father fails in these responsibilities he loses all moral authority over his children and all claim to care for them.

    As for why anything is wrong or morally reprehensible: Empathy is a biological function which is derived from our primate origins and allows us to create social groupings to facilitate survival. Our basic morality ie: don’t kill, steal, or hurt all derive from that source. Our more complex moralities are the result of increased intellect and understanding of the consequences of our actions on the wider world. No deity is required in this equation. The idea that morality is derived from deity makes no allowance for the fact that slavery, for example, is almost universally held to be morally reprehensible even though the (several versions of) god of Abraham have absolutely no problem with it. Morality is not a static set of strictures delivered from on high. It is a constantly evolving understanding of our impact on and place in society.

    thatcatkatie: I agree, enough said 🙂

    myatheistlife, my long and rambling comment comes to a close. Once again, sorry about the length of the comment, and again I enjoyed the post. Thanks for sharing.

    • Hey goldheathen, thanks for responding. You make some interesting points, particularly in relation to the father. “If the father fails in these responsibilities he loses all moral authority over his children and all claim to care for them. ” How about the oxygen coursing through their lungs that allows the children to continue to do as they wish? Does that not belong to the deity?

      My other question is: could we have evolved in a different way so that we don’t see things like killing and stealing as wrong?

      • In a system that requires a deity yes I suppose the oxygen coursing through our lungs would also belong to said deity. I reiterate for the sake of clarity here that there is no good objective reason to believe that a deity exists or is necessary for existence. However, assuming the plausibility of a deity for the sake of argument, if your next point is that there should be gratitude for the provision of the aforementioned oxygen I would point out that abusive and neglectful parents often provide the bare necessities of life (food, water, clothing etc) Should abused and neglected children simply be silent about abuses and grateful for that which is provided? i contend that even if you accept the existence of the god of Abraham there’s no good reason to come to the conclusion that the deity, as he is presented to us, is a benevolent and caring force for our good. Or that he is worthy of any consideration at all let alone worship.
        As for your question about alternative evolutionary paths. Certainly an alternative path was possible, but not for “us”. We are the result of the evolutionary path of primates, inherently social creatures. Certainly if our shared ancestor with animals had been other than a social creature it’s likely such concerns as building social networks wouldn’t enter our minds. Therefore considerations like the wrongness of murder and crime wouldn’t enter our thought processes. However under such a circumstance I don’t think society, or social groupings in any recognizable form, would be possible nor do I think the species as a whole would have been as likely to survive and thrive. that of course is just my opinion.

    • David
    • November 13th, 2012

    What we forget sometimes is that faith is not rational. It is not based on evidence or facts, but rather the hopeful wish that something is true. I’ve learned to hear in even the foulest rants from theists the desperate emotional connection they have to their belief in God, in the confidence they have in their “eternal security,” and in the literal divine rightness of their position. They honestly believe that God cares which parts of your genitalia you stick where, when and how you pray (and how often), who you marry, what job you have, and so on. Of course, not all theists are of the fundamentalist variety. Some even accept the theory of evolution, but they still hold on to this belief that God did it.

    I was talking with my therapist about that this afternoon, and I believe it comes down to the fear of having to think for yourself, and of the world not being black and white. The Bible lays out everything for you, while the atheist or progressive worldview is much chancier! There isn’t a verse you can turn to like a mantra to make sense of everything. So for the theist, the very thought of a world without God is like a world without your mom or dad when you’re a child. It’s everything.

    I go back and forth on this, whether to think of theists as having a form of mental illness. My boyfriend thinks it’s more like an addiction, but it goes much deeper than addition. Theism speaks to our inner child, to the part of us that wants someone to pick us up when we fall down, or explain everything when we’re confused. In short, it’s failure to grow up.

    • Safety and comfort are part of the brain’s reward system. Addiction can happen anytime something or some action triggers a reward value. Addiction can be enabled for any such trigger. There is a thought that mental illness can enhance the process of enabling the addiction trigger so that a person suffers both, at times one more than the other and vice versa. The illness or impairment might be an inability to switch out of childhood comfort triggers, or an hyper stress of those childhood comfort trigger and associations with external events. Sounds technical, but if you never ‘feel’ independent you’ll keep hold of childhood safety triggers and reward values even though you live in the adult world. It gets more complex but that is the gist of what I’ve come to understand.

        • David
        • November 14th, 2012

        You’re exactly right. And we both left out the effect that a whole group of people gathering together with the same “addiction” can do. Oxytocin is a powerful hormone, so get a congregation together every week (and even multiple times a week), reinforcing this idea of a supreme God who knows you and has a plan for your life, and that you’re in the “right” camp, and you have a self-perpetuating meme. It’s rather remarkable!

  9. Wonderful questions Myatheistfriend.

    You don’t have to need a God. If God exists it does not really matter our psychological states(desire, belief or non-belief et cetera).

    If a Christian God exists, then He does not need you. According to historical literature that recorded Paul of Tarsus claiming that “the God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man, nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything”(Lucanian Account Ac 17)

    If that God exists that is, then He had no plan for you or me, He has his own plan and you, myatheistlife, and I work out accordingly to His plan.

    My answers myatheistlife, is hypothetical. “If God exists”. You may be right, maybe He does not exist but that is another question altogether.

    Your blog follower and reader,
    Prayson

  10. Thanks Prayson,
    If a god exists, that god’s plan looks exactly like there is no god at all. A clever plan worthy of Max Smart.

    • I am curious, myatheistlife. How does it look exactly like there is no God at all?

      • We have, as a species, shown that the universe under its own laws would look like it does without any interference. Prayer to any god has been shown to be placebo effect and no more effective than chance. If any of the big 3 monotheist faiths had undeniable evidence then it would be the only one left save for that small percentage of people who are off the wall anyway – like the flat earth society etc. In short, the only evidence that gods can exist is … well, there isn’t any such evidence that is credible. There is no credible evidence that gods do exist either. Taken as a whole, this universe looks exactly like a universe that has no god interfering with or in it. The claims that there is a god are simply claims without evidence; nothing.

        • If I may challenge you myatheistlife. What evidence(s) could we offer to show that ” the claims that there is a god are simply claims without evidence” without appealing to ignorance, namely because we know not of any evidence(or good evidence) for the claim there is a god, therefore there is no evidence for the claim there is a god?

          • That was a bit convoluted. The idea that a god can exist needs a reason to be put forward. I think I hear you about to start up the argument that absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. The trouble with this defence is that there was no defensible reason for the claim in the first place, and so absence of evidence is not a counter claim as much as it is further proof that the first instance of the claim of existence was false.

            If a person claims there is a hairy big gorilla in the room, and no matter how long people wait or how earnestly they look, nobody can see the gorilla, the other people in the room are likely (and with good reason) to think there is something wrong with the person making the claim about the gorilla’s existence in the room. Absence of evidence is evidence of absence.

            There are plenty of people who have stated what they would call credible evidence, but lets go with the claims being made, shall we: An omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent being both knows what is good evidence and is capable of providing it. If your god needs your help to spread the word of its existence then it is not at all worthy of being called a god.

            Because of the contents of the claims made and the fact that there is no universal or objective understanding of god, it is evidence of absence. Every other faith than yours believes you are wrong. Your evidence of a god is not accepted by other faiths with the same or similar claims and their evidence is not credible to your faith adherents. While it is that none of the believers can actually agree what god is or how or who etc. There is no reason to believe any claims of any faith. You can’t even prove your faith to a person of faith… that’s how that works out.

            • I agree with you in many points myatheistlife, but I am interested in knowing if not knowing any evidence of a claim there is a God is a good reason to reject the case of the claim that there is a God.

              Probably you could be right that there is no God, but I think if we cannot offer evidence for the belief of non-belief then that, I think, is holding to a faith of non-belief that is without evidence.

              It is rational to think that God could exist(or not exist) even if we do not have any evidence for His existence(or non-existence). There are many rational things that we hold without evidence, example that we can trust our minds to form correct observations of reality and mostly if we hold that our mind evolved with the goal of survival and not necessarily to form true belief, or I am not a programmed machine buildt to think I am human or I am not confused aviator 🙂

              So the universe may look exactly like a universe without a God, but it takes evidence to remove the ” look like”. It is for that reasons why atheists and theists should ponder the questions. It is the reason why I love your blog, and other atheists blogs for you wrestle with this big question.

              Your blog reader and follower,
              Prayson

              • I disagree. It is not rational to assert a thing without evidence. We can assert that we feel this way or that and no additional evidence is required but to assert that some external thing is true requires evidence. You use this method in all the rest of your life but on this you wish to allow the lack of evidence to be other than you hold it in any other regard. If there is no evidence of milk being in your kitchen you do not ponder whether or not there might be, you simply go buy some more.

                So it is with our internal models of the universe. There is no reason to think a thing true without evidence. If there is no evidence that it is true and you can find no credible evidence that it is true there is no reason to continue thinking that it might be true.

                Of course, if evidence is found… things change. Without that evidence and the refutation of all evidence yet offered, it’s just a silly idea. When evidence is found that supports the notion that the first notion is just your brain playing tricks on you there is double the reason to not believe the first notion to be true. Such is the case with the existence of gods.

                • You could be right myatheistlife 🙂 but to explain my point. What evidence would you give to show that our cognitive faculty are reliable? Or that you are not a programmed machine buildt to behave the way you behave?

                  • In the end, our faculties are what they are and all we have. If this universe is a grand automaton for the entertainment of others, or a giant ball of flame slowly cooling by our perspective (God drinks scotch and smokes cigars http://wp.me/p1JG3O-eb ) my only perception is that I am, I exist and I interact and share the world around me with others. What I cannot perceive does not exist. What I do not have evidence of is not there. In the manner with which I do these things, if I am wrong then we are all wrong. It is the gamble that you must take each time your eyes open from sleep. Each of must choose the best way to do this, and we argue as to what that is. In the end it is possible that we have all been fooled. I’ll stick with what has evidence, you can choose the imagined, I wish only that you do not force it upon others. In my understanding, that is to do harm to others. So if you earnestly seek answers, mine goes much like that. I am, and from this all else is built.

                    • But my atheistlife, that you exist and you interact and share the world around me with others can not be the evidence that your faculties are reliable or that you are not a programmed machine to think that you interact and share the world around you 🙂

                      In order to show that our cognitive faculties are reliable, we would have to argue in circles since we are going to assume that they are reliable to show that they are reliable 🙂

                      Every case you give to show that you are not a programmed machine(e.g you only perception is that you are, you exist et cetera and that you are and from that all else is built), we could dismiss it by saying that you are programmed to think that way 😀

                      Please do not get me wrong, I believe we ought have evidence for what we believe but I believe we would be forcing upon other, harming them as you said, if we force it upon them that they need evidence for what they hold. No?

                      Prayson

  11. @prayson,

    Your idea then is to give up? Simply accept what is not evidenced as true? Abandon what is known because we cannot be absolutely certain that we even exist? On a philosophical idea, abandon what is known for what might possibly be?

    No, your idea is harmful because it advocates the imagined in place of what is known. The philosophy that we cannot be absolutely sure is vanity. We have what is, no more. If it is not evidenced in this, then it is not. If we are dream for the Brahma, it is not lost to be in disbelief of what is not evidenced. We do have free will. There is no other way yet known to explain what is. Without the evidence for that other, it is sheer folly to abandon what is. Though it sounds pragmatic choice over idealism, it is not. There is no evidence that we are more than I suggest. If there were but one truth of some thing without evidence, it would not be that we would have so many versions of this thing without evidence. So it is that truth must not lie there… at least not without evidence that it does.

    Run in circles as you will. Without evidence it is but an idea. An idea of no more value than fairies in the garden.

    • I believe you misunderstood me myatheistlife and not following that I attempt to show namely there are some belief that we rationally hold without evidence. In philosophy we call them proper basic belief since without them we can not function.

      We assume without evidence that “without evidence it is but an idea”. We assume that we exist, we assume that we are not programmed machine, we assume many other proper basic beliefs without evidence.

      It is a bit religious to hold that ” if I am[myatheistlife] wrong then we are all wrong.” and that “I am[myatheistlife], and from this all else is built.”. If we are to look for idea that are harmful probably advocating these would be one. Because I, Prayson may hold that you, myatehistlife are wrong in this areas but I would be out of my mind if I think that we all have to think you are wrong,well at least I know one, you, who would not share my conviction, namely that you are wrong in this area. No?

      • You make a category mistake. Proper basic beliefs are necessary or nothing is sensible. That we exist means that we must make such as these. That you think I am wrong is not necessary for existence. They are not in the same category.

        • How so myatheistlife?

  12. We need ‘god’ because we need hope, we need faith. We need it throughout our lives. Im not saying, you or me need to be religious, im saying, we need, as a race, to believe that something ‘could exist’. Its that hope wish drives us forward, regardless of whether we believe in god or not. Hope and faith after all is what the idea of god is about.

    You cant ever truly fall in love if you do not have hope that it may happen, and when it does happen, faith that it is real! I think this is a lot of what Christianity talks about, with opening yourself up to god, allowing love in, i think its code for having hope and faith in something in order for you to get the most out of your life.

    And regards to the free will topic on your post comments here:

    Well, i feel that its possible that choice may be a delusion. Thats not to say we arent accountable for our mistakes and sins, we are! Its not like we dont have free will as such, but i think ultimately we are what we are. We are our experiences, genetics and so on. I think its possible to calculate life, the future, a greater mind that exists today may be able to calculate our fate by taking into account every single human being, the planet and so on. Everything is cause and effect, its like domino’s. I make my decisions based of what i feel is right, but if i ask myself, could i make a decisions i feel is wrong? Well, that would depend on the circumstances, but generally i could only make a decision that felt right to me at that time. And if i didnt, there would be a good reason for it, one that i believe, could be calculated.

    • No, you don’t get to co-opt the concepts of hope and determination as god given. Faith with no qualifier is more properly called blind faith or belief in something that has no credible evidence.

      I nor anyone need a god for hope, or belief in what I feel reasonably is true. Implying so is silly. Supporting determinist ideals and saying god is needed for anything is contradictory.

      As for you making a decision you think is bad, how does alcohol or prescription drugs fit into your tidy plan. Will you always make a good decision under the influence? If it’s not you making the decision at that time, what is it? Does all your history and experiences have anything to do with a decision made under the influence of a drug or alcohol?

      Yes, damn it, you can fall in love with absolutely no hope of the relationship ever forming. What rock do you live under? Some of the great stories ever written were about unrequited love and love with no hope of consummation of any kind.

      I don’t think you’ve thought this through very well. Hope and faith is not what god is all about. The Christian god spent a lot of time worrying not about our hope and faith, but how we fornicate and with who, and what we eat. The Jesus story does not tell you to have hope for tomorrow, but to forget about tomorrow… leave your possessions and follow him. The ultimate message is belief in Jesus/god and don’t break any rules … not love and hope.

  13. *a few errors in my comment here, namely, ” greater mind that exists today may be able to calculate our fate by taking into account” should be a greater mind THAN exists today … etc.

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