I thought this was quite the interesting thought. I was gonna write this
as a response to one of a other discussions, but thought that I'd like
to get a bigger audience in on this one.
Many, if not all, good atheist believe that God simply does not exist. But I beg to ask the question: "If he doesn't exist and nothing in creation lends to the existence of God, why do we have so many thoughts about God? Are not our thoughts shaped by our environment? If our environment does not support the existence of a God, why do so many of us rule him into the equation? Is it that we are inclined to desire a god. Are we naturally inclined to think about one irrespective of our environment?"
The light bulb was created based on something that already existed, light! So I imagine Ben Franklin was inspired by the sun. Even the delusional has inspiration of thoughts based on things that exist. So why do we think about God if he doesn't even exist?
To that extent the boogey man exists because he was concocted to exist. If he did not exist, there would be no reason for us to concoct him. The boogeyman has revealed himself to us through different means, but mostly through dark places and under beds.
There is no correlation between a superstitious belief, and an inherent "validity" of that belief simply because it is being held. We work with evidence and reason here grant, when a God has been found we will support one. Until then we refer back to tangible, provable, things that exist in reality.
Thousands of years ago, those suffering from delusions approached sane people. When the sane people did not accept their delusions as real, the delusional killed them. Over many generations, delusional disorder has been chosen for and sanity is being eliminated from the gene pool.
I didn't have a concept of god until my parents sent me to RE and they deposited it into my brain. After that, I was made to continue to receive reinforcement programming until my freshman year in high school. I think that's adequate reason to explain why god was part of my psyche for the next 30 years.
Alright...so what about the first humans. Who programmed them? If there was no God and no concept of one, then where did the idea come from? hypothetically...
God revealed himself to humans long ago and he still does. Sometimes we receive the knowledge about God in bad ways, but that doesn't change his character. For some reason, we humans, saw the grandeur, beauty, and natural order of things and thought..."there must be someone of great power and a beautiful heart who create all this." God reveals himself through creation. Of course, that's not his only means, but it is one way he chooses.
Well, I believe religion probably evolved the same way species do. It probably began as an attempt to answer simple questions, or by experience. The History Channel, in their history of the universe, when they examined the rise of man, acknowledged that religion could have sprung from something as simple as a tribal experience of death. . . how they illustrated it in a reenactment:
A child in the village is partially mauled, or otherwise killed by some animal. When they're fussing over the body they've brought back to the village, a simple deer is espied off on the edge of the wood grazing peacefully. The hunter takes the opportunity to slay the deer, because funeral moment or not they still need food. As the deer passes away from blood loss, the child suddenly stirs and opens his eyes. He was not dead, only knocked unconscious and bloody and bruised. But the tribes-people lend it to some sort of metaphysical miracle that escapes their understanding. This credit eventually evolves into a concept of a soul and its influence over life or death.
Now, whether that's a true scenario or not, Dawkins at least comprehensively addresses why we have religion and the concept of God in the middle of his The God Delusion book, where he separates an entire chapter to explain where religion came from and why we have it. Some believe it's simply a natural part of evolution when dealing with a cognitive being that we resort to unreasonable conclusions such as the belief in a higher power, but it's a phase that will pass in time (and indeed its hold does seem to be slipping on the human mind). Dawkins examines a lot of theories as to why we have religion in that section of the book. It's definitely advisable that you open it up and take a look because he does make a strong argument for his position on it.
We invented very comforting answers to the big questions, where do we go when we die? etc. Well I wouldn't imagine serving the Lord Jesus Christ was very comforting in the first century. When Nero hung Christian in his garden and lit them on fire to use them as lamps. When Christians were fed to lions in the Colosseum as other watched and cheered on. I don't imagine that was very pleasant. And yet, regardless of all the persecution, Christianity grew. If there wasn't some dept or something of great worth to Christ, I don't believe many would have stuck around. Yes many did leave, but more stayed than those who left. Comforting?...hardly!
In a situation like that, where persecution is imminent, if God didn't exist and the church father's faith was built on fanciful thinking, would they not have concocted more fanciful thinking to live life more comfortably. If faith is built on fanciful thinking, then fanciful thinking would most certainly be plentiful. Because more and more would come to make life more comforting. But the fact that Christians have stuck to the traditions, even in the hardest times proves that faith is not built simply on imagination. Yet it is revelation about a God who exists.
This answer actually shows some ignorance on your part about the history of your own sect.
The ideal of martyrdom represented a new ideology of Christian suffering that inverted and subverted the Roman concepts of civic duty, honor, and justice. The martyrs' willing embrace of an ignominious death was perceived by the Christian audience as a heroic victory over the persecutors. For these reasons, some early Christians sought out and welcomed martyrdom. Some Roman authorities tried to avoid Christians because they "goaded, chided, belittled and insulted the crowds until they demanded their death." A group of people presented themselves to the Roman governor of Asia, C. Arrius Antoninus, declared themselves to be Christians, and encouraged the governor to do his duty and put them to death. He executed a few, but as the rest demanded it as well, he responded, exasperated, "You wretches, if you want to die, you have cliffs to leap from and ropes to hang by."
Secondly the persecution of Christians was pretty desultory during the first century - no worse than they had already suffered during the Jewish Revolts, and hardly worth leaving their new religion.
Thirdly - you are making a fallacy of equivocation in your use of the word "comfort" compared to Bulldog's usage of the word. In the first post the term was used to denote emotional or intellectual comfort, as in "I am comforted that there is a god watching over me and I will go to heaven when I die". Your usage implies physical comfort as in, "I am not comfortable being nailed to this cross".