I really can't understand where the confusion lies. Why is there a belief in a god amongst so many? What is the issue? The Bible is a book written by many different people, over many years—typically decades after “the facts” actually occurred. There is absolutely no provable evidence of any kind to back up this book of nonsense and fairy stories, explaining the (at the time) UN-explainable. And yet belief in it, like the Qua-ran, or The Book of Mormon, still IS despite such evidence to the contrary. What makes them so believable despite such evidence to the contrary?
I used to believe. For many years I believed, without question—as to question was to doubt, and that could not happen. So why did I change my mind? I like to think of the time that my brother told me he didn't believe. And this was at church! It may have been then that I started to wonder. Years passed with me being an agnostic-theist, until I read THE GOD DELUSION by Richard Dawkins. Once I had finished and put it down, I had put down a book about me. I read GOD IS NOT GREAT by Christopher Hitchens, I watched many, many videos on YouTube, and I started to think.
There were so many questions, and especially “whys” about what was written in the Bible, what was prompted at Sunday School, and the great chunk of the Bible that was never mentioned in church. The stuff about rape, cannibalism, incest, genocide, murder. While it is directed somewhere in the Bible that incest is wrong, it still occurred.
While the Bible does contain mention of cannibalism, it is rarely a followed practice. If it were a practice that was followed, then starvation would not be as issue on the planet. After some time, neither would overpopulation or pollution.
Religion is offered on the streets, in the guise of “What Does The Bible Tell Us”, people with CHURCH OF JESUS CHRIST OF LATTER-DAY SAINTS displayed on pins on their chests, and your occasional “Can I pray for you?” person. Someone on YouTube had the balls to say “If there is no god, then who wrote the Bible?” “God” didn't obviously. Not only are there named chapters in the book, it isn't written in the present tense as it would be had someone written it as a guide to life.
It's not like I have done no research of my own. The Bible is a hard read, even harder when your mind already tells you that you are reading shit. The Bible, the Qua-ran, the Book of Mormon. I have all three but have been unable to finish the Mormon book or the Qua-ran.
One cannot just be a good person. One must BELIEVE or go to hell. That seems to be the underlying message, despite all of the preamble. All arguments FOR religion can be broken, destroyed on the lack of evidence.
Now, even though there are many who think that God is still hanging around, managing everything, proof is (if he exists) that he's a cruel bastard, someone not to invite to tea. So many starving, tortured, dying from a horrid disease, victim of an incurable ailment about which nothing can be done.
I believe that Jesus—if he even existed—was a cult leader who managed to sway 12 or so people to his own distorted beliefs or some con job that he was pulling on those around him.
One of the big issues for the bible-thumping morons is the issue of gay marriage. Because the bible has something negative to say on the issue of homosexuality, the religious flock to it like it's bread to a bunch of geese.
The more I see and read, the angrier I get at the religious. Especially the fundamentalists. The Muslims are deluded by the rubbish in the Koran, the mormons the Book of Mormon, the Jews and Christians the Bible. When is atheism going to be able to convince the religious that they are wrong? That their beliefs are nonsense conveyed to them by ancient books of fairy stories?
The militant pedophile Mohammed, one of Allah's cronies, manages still today to run the Islamic cult, no-matter the fear or worry it causes. Jesus was a cult leader. Joseph Smith was a con man. Unlike some who believe that others can think, believe what they like, I see it as a form of self-delusion. Having “faith” in fiction just makes no sense and makes me tired.
I have seen a Muslim who left the faith of Islam tell people to keep the notion a secret fro their families—or even the wife—unless they think as you do. It is possible to lose families, houses not to mention your life if you leave the faith. What kind of blackmailing is that? Sounds like the penalty for leaving an ultra-secret club or deadly cult.
This “Let people believe what they want” attitude sounds fine, but a huge deprogramming is needed to be done by atheists. I am not so much against Muslims (unless they a faithless) (italics mine) so cannot be called a racist. I am wholeheartedly against their religion, but the people are fine. Wearing a Hijab or a Burka should be banned also. At least in this country. Not only do the Koran not enforce it, but it is impossible to trust a person whose face you cannot see. Canada cannot fold to others, allowing the people of other religions to dictate how things should be. “Islamophobia” keeps many from complaining and shows what a suck-up to Islam those in authority are. In fact, I have a couple of things to read—apart from the Koran—which may very well spread some negative light on the Islamic faith. We'll see.
There is no confusion for any person who is the least bit analytical and educated. But there is no denying the power of indoctrination to dissuade adherents from thinking. And your cool green frog art is blasphemy in a pope's eye. It is not really an issue of conceptually or substantively what is blasphemy and how absurd it seems to us in the 21st century.
Rather it is an issue of power. The pope is simply playing his role in maintaining power. It is what dictatorships do. They endeavor to maintain and augment their power. The church had an index of books that were verboten. All of it is an effort to keep dupes duped, indubitably so....
When life expectancy was a lot shorter and the physical labor was mind numbing, it was alot easier for the "holy" ones to get the majority to buy in. Things are changing, but should a global catastrophy interceede (and I believe it will) people will become more religious than ever, I fear.
One cannot just be a good person. One must BELIEVE or go to hell. That seems to be the underlying message, despite all of the preamble.
Mankind is puny insects...who cannot work out right and wrong on their own. No, they need a blind faith test! Pick a door and if you get the right one...enjoy...if you open the many wrong ones...oops. But it makes a whole lot more sense than letting mankind rationalize morality with dangerous use of evidence and arguments and theories.
So most people don't go through the trouble that you did to investigate religion vs non-religion. I believe (whoops... careful what I say!) that peer pressure in human beings trumps logic and reality. Our need to fit in to our group and play an acceptable "role" in it is evident in the vast majority of human beings on this planet.
You never "chose" the religion you started to believe in in the first place! It was your group environment that got you to play your religious role. Such peer pressure is powerful enough to make people stay in cults. Take scientology... a new, "modern" science fiction like cult. They hold secret everything they want you to eventually learn from them 1) so they can keep their minions paying them year after year to learn the whole shebang and 2) if people knew up front what they taught, they'd know it was crazy from the beginning. Then over years of training and making friends and family with other cult members, there's no going back to the reality (including old friends and family) one left behind.
Scientology was completely made up by a prolific science fiction writer. Ancient scriptures were also completely made up, although it took hundreds of years to work them into the social systems at wide scales. People had questions and wondered about mysteries of life, and literate people with scriptures filled in their gaps. Most importantly, they finally settled on just one God for all humanity... or at least that was their intention for one or two millennia.
Whatever you believe (or not) about Jesus, just remember when and how the "history" of him (and of God) was written. It all came from the minds of human beings, speculating and experimenting with what ideas will or won't work with the uneducated masses.
I do believe in tolerating religious freedom, and freedom from religion. The biggest problem I see with religion is the peer pressure behind it. All scripture is really just an amateur human's guide to ancient personal questions, with lots of woo added for dramatic affect.
One of the things that explains your conundrum is simple indoctrination from birth.
If you teach something as a "given" from birth, and, everyone agrees its true, the vast majority of people will grow up with that belief as a given, never thinking to question it.
Ask yourself if you have heard the advice to "feed a cold and starve a fever".
Have you ever questioned it, did research to see if that WAS what you should do for colds or fevers?
Or, did you simply "know that" and can't even recall when you "learned it"?
That's the concept in a nutshell.
Now, ADD to that, the extra information that you cannot be a good person unless you believe it.
Everyone you know puts such a high value on that being true that if you even SEEM to doubt its veracity, you can be ostracized.
Are you willing to risk the relationships with friends, family, coworkers, who might shun you if you are not of the same opinion?
That is how scientologists keep the members in the fold after they reveal the batshit insane backstory of the religion...they have worked for many years by that point to make you VESTED in the belief system.
You have so much to LOSE by not believing any more, that some people simply won't LET themselves consider that they have been duped.
Some DO realize they've been duped, but, "don't want to have wasted" all of the time and money they put into the religion...AND don't want to LOSE the relationships that were forged....even if forged in the fires of quackery.
So, that's why you see so many sheep in their respective familial flocks.
Scientology was completely made up by a prolific science fiction writer.
I would argue that the difference between Scientology books and Christian scripture is slight. They are both based on a few facts and a whole lot of manipulative fiction. Some books were written as thought experiments and then took on an identity of its own. Scientology is not completely made up, it does talk about human psychology at length and it gets some things right. The whole cosmic grand beings narrative is also not entirely made up. Some of it is a near copy of Japanese and Greek themes (like the Titans and the Kamis). One of the few actual original elements of the story is the "melting the frozen beings in a vulcano and the atmosphere keeping them from escaping". I have to admit that is pretty original. The rest though, is just a bunch of variations on a theme by a writer gifted in presenting narratives that also express convincingly a world view. You can be sure entire books of the bible were written by one or two authors chronicalling things that they had never witnessed nor had reliable sources for (which was all made-up recently or some time earlier) and surely a few books (perhaps Job) was entirely made up by a creative author. Now that Hubbard is gone, there are new authors to the various texts (especially those hard to reach texts you get for a price).
Overall, if you take the "chronicalling" parts out of the bible and early Christian texts (some of which is reliable) you get a hodgepodge of text that was either made up on the spot while it was written (a fictional game or with the intent on changing peoples views or even taking advantage of them), written by someone who heard it from the guy who made it up, written down from someone who heard the story change after a few generations, someone who wrote down what someone made up some time ago and most people accept as true. Much of it inspired by either supernatural stories from neighbouring and distant cultures and world views or hallucinations and bouts of mad creativity...or someone unable to distinguish claims from fiction etc.
The only thing notable about Scientology is that it is new. The made up as written part is not.