Benefits Of Believing In God?

As I think through my theory of mind, I try to work out how odd things could be explained – that is to say can my theory of mind make sense of oddities of human thinking and action.

If you are not aware, you can scoot back and read it by searching for the phrase “My World View – Free Will”

Go on, I’ll pause while you read … it’s a lot of reading.

 

Okay then, all caught up?

We all live in the simulation of the world that we run inside our brains. As children we learn the rules of how objects behave along with how our bodies work. By puberty we generally have that sort of stuff figured out to some level of confidence, and we have been solving problems for 7+ years or learning to. Religion teaches children the pat answers to some questions before they have a chance to ask them

  • Why are we here?
  • How did we get here?
  • What is the purpose of life?

That means that these children have been given rules for their simulation that relieve them of having to solve difficult problems. Their simulator has been ‘trained’ to accept magic as an answer for some problems which go outside the scope of day to day activities. Their simulators treat ghosts, demons, angels, gods as real objects, as real as cars or trees and places they’ve never seen but know are real.

Learning new things gets difficult as you get older. The longer a rule is in place, the more difficult it is to change. For ease of explanation lets call the effect of changing a rule an Equivalency of Pain or Stress (EoPS) except it has no physical sensations. It triggers the same responses though. For that reason we are often reticent to change our minds where a rule change is required. It is easier to compartmentalize or ignore facts that are contrary to our simulator model rules than it is to change the rules.

This is why dramatic experiences are often associated with leaving religion. Such events cause us to reject a rule or several because observation does not match the rule(s) we built.

This acceptance of magic rules attributes causes a lot of problems. Magic is not localized or temporal, it can happen anywhere and any time. Before long, all good things come from the good magic and all bad things come from the bad magic. That is how the rules work in the simulation in the brain. Odd justifications can happen as we try to account for observation against our rule sets. We need good in schools, so we must need good magic and thus we need god in schools. Those who have these magic rules can’t think otherwise without having to change their rules which in turn will cause them pain (EoPS) so they avoid it until it is more painful to not change the rules.

Those of you who were devoutly religious once, think about the journey you took that changed the rules in your head. The ways that you slowly dismantled the rules and rebuilt them with new rules so that you had the answers to the same questions, perhaps more answers or better ones, but you had to rebuild the rules of how the world works to do it.

This mechanism of change is commonly known. We’ve all seen stories about boot camp where they try to break the recruits, right? That is an intense period of changing rules and creating new rules in the minds of the recruits. When they are done with boot camp, they have new ways of thinking. Higher education does this also, just slower and with more information being added.

What does this mean for how we can stop magical thinking? Stay tuned. I’ve got some studying to do.

What do you think?

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  1. I could write a book about how I think religion cripples independent thinking and accountability (not just in ourselves but others, we’re taught, through religion, not to question authority figures, not just that good things come from god rather than ourselves and same with bad things coming from the devil).
    I never believed in god or the devil or heaven or hell (I still don’t, I’m more spiritual now, but I don’t worship or believe in deities), it never made sense to me. Even when I was a kid I found it rather hypocritical for adults to tell me the stuff in the bible was real, but the stuff in my other books were just make believe (I loved unicorns when I was little lol). So I can’t really provide any feedback on what might help people along the path of realization from personal experience.
    Oddly enough though, the majority of atheists I know who are former Christians lost their faith after actually sitting down and reading the bible.

    • Reading the bible presents contradictions that force us to rethink the rules we built as kids. Eventually the rule that god/magic exists is thrown out.

      Congratulations on always being non-believer. I wish I had been.

      • My boyfriend was a very devout Christian in his teenage years, went to church every sunday, worked with the youth ministry, helped teach Sunday school. He lost his faith when he actually sat down and started reading the bible and there were things that contradicted one another, things that just didn’t make sense, and some things that he simply didn’t like (he uses the story of Job as an example, he says “God sure is a dick if he’s real”). And when his pastors and parents and others just basically kept telling him to shut up when he’d try to ask about them, he eventually came to the realization that it was a bunch of bullshit. He’s an atheist now.

        And I actually thank Sunday school for not being a believer. My parents had a LOT of flaws and bad habits as parents, but one thing they didn’t do was treat my sister and I like we were stupid just because we were kids. I got used to being talked to like, you know, I was a person, but at Sunday school they talk to you like you’re a moron. I found it demeaning, and I can distinctly remember looking around at the other kids like “you don’t really believe this nonsense do you?”. Also my parents were borderline neglectful and basically left my sister and I to form our own opinions. It sucked at the time, but now I’m glad of it.

        • I too lost faith starting with how I was treated by other believers. I’m glad the facade fell away fast for you. For me it was a long time deciding that it was all bullshit. One rule at a time till eventually I came to understand that god did not exist.

            • preacherontheweb
            • September 27th, 2013

            It is unfortunate that some people in a congregation will treat others as if they are inferior. This however does happen because it happens in amongst human beings whether it be in the church or at the altar or non-belief or for that matter during the normal day to day life that everybody leads.
            I will however comment that if a person (Christian or not) allows others to intefere with his or her worship belief or non-belief, then he or she was not really that committed to that belief, non-belief or worship in the first place.
            If you are a believer or non believer, then you will believe and have faith in what you believe or don’t believe in, irrespective of what happens around you, you will not look for excuses not to believe or for that matter not believe.

            In another comment on this topic a person said a boyfriend gave up on his belief because he found the Bible contradictory.
            Well HELLO, of course the Bible is contradictory. Each part of the Bible was written by different human beings with different thoughts and views.
            The Bible is NOT an absolute rule book or a plan for your salvation. The Bible is a story book which can be used as a rough guidline, nothing else.

    • preacherontheweb
    • September 26th, 2013

    Are we saying that the simulation of the world you talk about is like the Matrix?

    All of us at some time in our life ask the questions
    Why are we here?
    How did we get here?
    What is the purpose of life?

    For those who are religious, they get their answers from their faith and the religious teachings.
    For those who are not – science has some answers for them, the rest are searched for until an answer is found.

    As a devoutly religious man I refer all of my queries to my faith, however I am also an intelligent person (or so I think) and do not blindly accept everything that is presented. That being the case I do search all avenues to get answers to my questions and thus far I find more comfort in the answers that I get from my faith, however interesting the other answers turn out to be.

    I think that the people that believe (in whatever) do so because they feel they have the need to do so, they want to have something that they can believe in……. Just my thoughts

    • The matrix was imposed, this is the natural way of how we perceive the world and our place in it. The questions we ask are normal and necessarily the result of being able to perceive the world around us.

      I attempt to describe what you say in mechanical means of rules of the simulation. I work to test its explanatory power. You give an overview or executive summary of what truly happens in your simulation. Let me try to expound.

      They want to have something they can believe in – read that as they want to have something that fits the rules they know rather than change the rules to fit observation. Your ‘faith’ is nothing more than a set of rules with which you simulate the world around you. When you say you defer to your faith, it means you refer to those rules in understanding the world around you rather than accept new rules or different rules. It is more comfortable to use rules you know than to make changes to the rules. That some answers are interesting is indication that your rules are not fixated, and you question some of them as to their veracity or ability to predict accurately. They seem right, but they conflict with the rules you already have in place.

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