Why is it that most people I have conversations with about God, don't even have a definition of what God is and what they believe in. I don't understand how they can believe in something so strongly and be so easily offended when those ideas are challenged. Or they have like a open minded belief of some kind of higher power that is even more vague. I think the new aged spiritual concepts are even more dishonest than the ones that are defined by the bible or some religion.
I've identified that there are two aspects to the theistic view of God: the Creator God, and God's love. It's possible to have the second without necessarily having the first. I'm talking about the urge to survive. This is a simple idea - obviously the result of evolution - but an extremely powerful one. I study it all day long in my work on morality and now, its related subject, mindfulness. If it hasn't occurred to you before then it may be invisible, but it runs through our entire existence, from the physical (healing, self-preservation) to the emotional (liking and not liking) to the ego (self-interest, and various other operations I'm still studying) to the super-ego (living successfully with other people and managing long-term consequences). This idea shows that huge parts of religion are exactly right and much better than anything atheists have ever come up with.
We're built for survival rather than happiness, which tends to leave us unhappy much of the time, and means that we have to tweak the natural order a little in order to channel the Healing Principle (as I call it) in the direction of happiness.
There are other aspects to God which people talk about, such as the natural laws of the Universe.
Here you have mentioned many different definitions which kind of brings me back to the point I was trying to make. ( perhaps not that well, I am just an average Joe who has been working most his life and have not studied much philosophy.) So why use the word God at all why not just use the modern terms and ideas we have now. Like if loving, forgiveness, empathy, honesty and all those other positive principles work, why a need for a supernatural external source. I cant speak for atheists but I don't think atheists are trying to come up with philosophies they just don't believe in the old confusing ones used by religions.
I'm just musing and trying to understand someone else's point of view. I'm a solid atheist and don't believe in God, however my atheism seems to be a rather religious variety. I use the term "God's love" because my atheist ideas exactly correspond to that.
The fact is it's impossible to either prove or disprove the existence of God. Although it's possible to disprove that somebody grew a new limb.
My Christian friend believes that God created the universe and intervenes to help people. As our resident theological professor Dr Robert (Bob) has pointed out, if God fulfilled the whims of all the people who ask for His help, the universe wouldn't work. So (hypothetically) if God is love, then God would intervene to help people in their efforts to serve love. As I've pointed out, love, or the Healing Principle, is a part of the natural order of life. So He wouldn't be screwing with things too much if He did that. People wouldn't be forced to take up the offer of help.
The funny thing is, I have some evidence that this actually happens. If you make a big effort to serve love, then you tend to be rewarded with spooky lucky breaks that come out of nowhere and can be used to help you on your way.
But this still doesn't say what God is, if He exists. What kind of being He would be is too fantastical for us to imagine.
The problems arise when people try to define the gods that they believe in. Most Christians only seem to have a vague idea of what or whom their God is. I will ask for their definition of it when they mention it to me. I refuse to debate with them until they define what they mean by the term.
It always ends up with a definition that is so self-contradictory as to become meaningless. Ten Christians will give 10 different definitions. Eventually it will come down to a definition that suits what they believe, i.e. something that mirrors their cultural ideas of God.
Of course it is nearly always a definition that comes with an emotional appeal for me to accept. To them my heart is closed to the “obvious reality” of their god’s existence. To them I am refusing to believe.
Soon they start to get confused. Their belief has so much emotional baggage attached that they start to use that as their definition and use clichés like “god is love”. Eventually when they can no longer debate me the faith card gets played.
“You see I don’t need to define god because I feel His spirit and love” and it is not based on anything an Atheist would understand. I also have a “personal relationship with Jesus”.
Then I play my “non-faith card” and hand them a small card that reads “I knew you would tell me that you have a personal relationship with Jesus”.
Serves 'em right!
I agree with you and have had similar confrontations. My niece has become fundamentalist and it worries me. She is honest and good but is falling for the bullshit of these religious charlatans. Some friends of hers that she trusts told her that they witnessed someone growing a limb because of prayer. When I laughed and told her not to be fooled, she freaked out on me. I care about her and want to find a way to show her she is being fooled. its frustrating because the rest of my family believes in god, but they don't believe in the crazy stuff. ( well its all crazy but you know what I mean) The problem is that nobody speaks up to say anything because the general feeling is religion is good. I am telling you this because i read some of your posts and i like your insight.
Hi there, any form of worship of anything whatsoever, that hasn't any concrete proof to back it up is usually a form of corruption used to gain an advantage over some person or group or country. This evil activity is now being used all over the world. This activity may or usually holds the people in fear, as it is backed up by the power base in each country which is another form of evil The present state of constant wars all over the place..So any form of religion without hard fact proof is another form of evil corruption at it's worst. Well at the moment , that the sky gods & demons are on a winning streak. I forgot to add that several experiments that are going on at this time will shock people out of there brain.
I have found that a change of environment often helps to get people to take stock of their new found (fundamentalist) faith. It is not just the change of scenery that helps but also the fact that they are away from the source of the “confirmation bias”. This is usually constant in the beginning. It prevents any chance of your niece having time to consider what she actually believes. So try to get her away from them for at least a week. A family vacation is probably a good idea. Don’t mention anything about your reason for it. No fussing allowed and no confrontation about her faith beforehand. If she flat out refuses to even consider going with her family then she is already in deep. If not the break in her routine will help. If she is thinking about going allow her to bring her Bible.
I have asked people in the past to write me a letter outlining the “Top 5” reasons about what and why they believe about their god so that I (you) can give it proper consideration. This compels them to sit down and be “rational” for a time. They will want to impress you and will do various edits of what they want you to read. This can cause them to “snap out of it” long enough to see what has changed. I have taken this approach numerous times and it has often worked. If not there and then, it will lead to a more civil debate because you are only debating 5 points (which you have both agree to keep to beforehand). Here is an old post of mine that cover this point. You might get some ideas from it.
I guess it makes sense if you believe in an evolving definition of god that changes as you do. This exists in AA and NA .God can be as you understand him and your understanding can change with time. The importance is that you believe in God. People who have difficulty with this concept might say God is an acronym for "good orderly direction" or "group of drunks". So a belief in that set of principles helps the person trying to have some sort of faith. This brings me back to what I started saying again.I think the word God is being used in many different ways by different people, but lets be honest the concept of God come from humans believing in some sort of power outside themselves that bends the laws of nature. Christians believe it is Jesus, this is not vague.The new age dishonesty comes from people like Depok Chopra who make claims and use scientific words to support their beliefs. People are told that they should believe in God and they do without knowing what they are believing in.
Then why call it God, just say that there is so much we don't know and we will constantly be learning and discovering new truths about life and the universe.