I've had thoughts on why many cling on to religion, even after constant debunking and debating. I think I may have a possible reason why some do not give them up.
Most religions all have some system of an afterlife. People practicing the religion believe that, if they follow their specific book and appease to their specific God, they get to go to a magical place where nothing bad happens and they get to live out their wishes and desires that were either impossible in their mortal life, or there life was too short to live it.
When someone suddenly suggests that such a concept does not exist, the believer becomes defensive. Death is a bitter result of life. We dread the day we where we breathe our last breath, or if our life was suddenly cut short. To us, the concept of an after-life is comforting, a God protecting us like a Dad telling his son everything is going to be alright, even though he knows the bitter end is near.
I think, while not the sole reason for many that hold on to their faith, a denial of a mortal death being a permanent death is what keeps them from swallowing the bitter pill of reality that life is not fair, and that shit happens and you may not get to do everything in life or you could drop dead the very next day.
I was born in Mississippi, and raised Baptist, although, my family was mostly lazy Christians who only went to church on around the Holidays. I had the hope as a small child to go to Heaven and be with Angels and no kids there would ever be mean to me again. The thought that I couldn't have any of that would probably have scared me back then.
I came to realize that it's for the best that there is no afterlife. Imagine what exactly you would be doing in an afterlife. As the eternity went on, you would grow tired of the same mundane things. Would you truly want to spend your mortal life appeasing some God, only so you can appease him the rest of your life? I can't think of anything else that would be so...well, boring.
In a way, I feel more confident in this life. It won't be okay if I skip out on opportunities, because I may not get the chance again. This is my one shot, and I don't want to blow it on wishful thinking.
How about you? If you were once religious and now Atheist, how did you overcome the hurdle of accepting there is no afterlife? Or, do you not believe in an afterlife, but in some way, wish/hope there is one? Has any of this changed your perspective on how you live your life than how you lived your life beforehand?
Who created god? Who created god's god? Who created god's god's god?
Bless, my six year old asked that question. Philisophically its kind of at that level. It doesn't take a lot of thinking about when you consider that time started at the big bang. That means the law of cause and effect was not in operation before hand. There was no before. Mind bending I know - but wonderfully so. God is a necessary self existent being.
We may not have the aparantus, intelligence or methods to get our heads around that, may be we will one day.
It's nothing philosophical, that's an excuse to be ambiguous. What, there must have been something before the big bang, because nothing cannot come from nothing? Ok. Where did god come fr-- oh yeah sorry he was always there. God did come from nothing.
Big bang needs a creator, god doesn't. What a convenient bias you got there.
Btw, can you tell me again why you do not believe in Allah?
"You may not like the second option and I am not layering with all the probability stuff etc which makes it more likely - but obviously and I mean obviously - the science is better explained by theism than atheism"
What you are saying is essentially: we don't understand it so God must have done it. That's not science. That's the end of it.
No, no my friend. I do not beleive in the God of the gaps, that wont do. I am saying that the best inference from science is theism. Given a lot of other factors, like personal experience etc. then I have a solid rational basis for my faith.
Science on the other hand does not in anyway infer evolution when it comes to beginnings - it positively mitigates against it. So to hold to it is irrational. Atheists wrongly try and hold the high ground intellectually - but its just smoke and mirrors. Everything points to God - and God is philisophically not only a viable person but a necessary one. Atheists have nothing in their corner except the desire for there not to be a God. Wishful thinking I am afraid.
My point was is that saying that God is the origin means that there is no reason to even look for a natural origin if a supernatural origin is assumed to be and assumed to be correct. There are some interesting experiments into a natural origin for life that have created organic molecules (http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/aso/databank/entries/do53am.html) needed for DNA. Experiments in a cold origin theory have led to creating strands of RNA as long as 400 bases and longer (http://discovermagazine.com/2008/feb/did-life-evolve-in-ice/article..., Page 3).
There is also evidence that viruses may have played a significant part in the formation of life.
"With Mimi, we've captured by chance a picture of an organism that was undergoing such a reduction, evolving toward fewer genes," says Claverie. "This guy just retained more ancestral features than others." Biologists, Claverie says, can no longer view viruses as random assemblages of genes. "We have to confer to these guys a nobility, a genealogy. Not only a genealogy. They are very ancestral, and their ancestors are at least contemporary with ours and those of all present-day life-forms. Mimi is like the missing link."
With the aid of advanced gene sequencing, comparative DNA analysis, and endless cross-referencing of the genomes of organisms from the three—or perhaps four—domains of life, a fuller concept of viruses and their role in evolution has begun to coalesce. In the mere year and a half since Bradfordcoccus's true identity was revealed, more genetically distinct and extremely ancient viruses have been found. All of them lead scientists to the same conclusion: Evolution's archvillain looks more and more like its vital and formative force.
Even as Darwinism has come under attack from the theology of the intelligent design movement, scientists have never been closer to divining life's origins. With DNA evidence as solid as that used to convict criminals, researchers can trace the shared genetic lineage of life's different branches back to the very base of the tree, some 4 billion years ago, when the interaction between primordial bacteria and viruses culminated in the "mother cell," the common ancestor of all life on Earth. Although the remoteness and complexity of those events makes them difficult to piece together, viruses like Mimi are emerging as the key players in the picture.
"We are now able to draw a tree of life for the first time that includes viruses as their own branch," says Patrick Forterre, a molecular biologist at the University of Paris-Sud.
http://discovermagazine.com/2006/mar/unintelligent-design/article_v..., Page 3)
I'll take smoke and mirrors over fables and fabrication any day.
Trevor - RE: "the science is better explained by theism than atheism" - allow me to translate that for those of us who may not quite understand your British accent (Oh, that's right - WE'RE the ones with the accent! But having read Chaucer and your posts, and seeing little similarity, I contend that, comparatively speaking, we both have accents.): "the science is better explained by belief in magic than by rational thought"
Quantum mechanics has proven that things pop in and out of existence, from nothing, all of the time.
We don't know what came before the Big Bang, or if there ever was anything earlier, but we're willing to admit we don't know and continue to search for answers.
Ken Harding once wrote, and though he uses the term, "philosophy," it could as easily be substituted for the word, "science":
"Philosophy consists of questions that may never be answered. Religion consists of answers that may never be questioned."
Trevor here is the problem with the Kalaam argument. The problem is that it is terribly abused to arrive at the notion that it is the most reasonable thing in the first place.
Something is eternal. That is abundantly obvious. So I do disagree with some people here when they make the "who made your god" argument.
However, when you use Kalaam, you are not using deductive logic. You are using apparent probability based logic/inductive. With deductive, the answer is either true or false. With inductive logic it isn't as simple. It just means most of the evidence suggests this is more reasonable.
Kalaam, or Unmoved Mover/First cause is one of those. Kalaam simply says the most probable first cause is an eternal sentience. It doesn't say Jesus, it doesn't say the fall, it doesn't say any of that.
So to judge the merits of Kalaam, you can't use Jesus or the fall, or any Christian or Jewish argument to support the apparent lack of evidence of this unmoved mover's presence. Otherwise you have just put the cart before the horse.
Stand-alone, Kalaam makes sense. But philosophical contemplation is not all the data we have at hand. We have a ton of real-life data and historical data. All of this data seems to contradict the kalaam hypothesis.
It is not more reasonable, because nothing supernatural has been validated any more than the golden plates of Joseph Smith.
And then there is the problem with Kalaam concerning how an infinite consciousness can be anything other than static. Change is a product of being finite.
You mention that there would be no cause and effect before there was anything other than God. Yes, because God would be purely static. How could anything static ever "do" anything. How does this make sense?
Now remember, this is an argument above Christianity, so all you have to work with is Kalaam on this level. You can't dip down to arguments built on this base which exist tiers up from this foundation such as christian doctrinal explanations.
I am sorry but a static being is not a good rational explanation for a cause of the finite universe. A static being can't do anything. From a purely philosophical stance, Kalaam is not a clear winner.
An eternal consciousness makes no sense, nor does an eternity without a cause. It just doesn't make any sense for any of them. Existence itself makes no sense. Saying it is most reasonable that God is the answer is just disordered thinking. Thoughts follow the same orderly structural principle that holds the universe together. One thing must be directly connected to another. Saying God is the most sensible when nothing is sensible on this level is just special preference.
What a wonderful and thoughtful piece of logic, I do appreciate it, the best I have seen here so far.
Please be sure that I am not arguing for Jesus from the Kalam argument, it is just a piece of the jigsaw. I said to someone else that it was pointless talking about which religion unless theism is first seen as possible, or even likely.
I will give your post some thought before I reply.
An excellent reply. I'll have to save it for later use.
Hi John, I may need a couple of bites of the cherry, but here is how I see it.
1. We agree that something has to be eternal, a first cause of some kind.
2. Kalam is only used to show inference to whats probable. There is no certainty in this. You mention a ton of historical data that goes against Kalam, you would need to give some examples here.
3. You say that nothing supernatural is validated. There are atleast two problems here. Firstly, modern science only has the tools to measure things that are natural, it is not equipped, have the language or anything else for things other than that. So absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.
Secondly, going with the most common modern theory that the universe did have a beginning at which time, space and matter began, it is completely necessitated that the cause was super-natural, i.e different to nature, as nature did not exist.
4. A static God. I don't see the force of this argument as God in His nature is static and unchanging, but it does not follow that He cannot do something. He is still static in his character and nature. Of course it does dictate the kind of God that would need to exist, an omniscient one that does not have discursive thoughts in the same way we do as he knows all perfectly in one single intuition etc. It has implications also for whether God is timeless or in time now, which after the point of creation I would say in time, though I haven't thought a lot about it.
I will think it over more, very interesting. Thanks.