One of my favorite people of all time is Cornel West. Two of his most well known books are Race Matters and Democracy Matters where his views on society are for the most part, incredibly on the mark. I've heard him live a couple of times and he is wonderful to listen to. He is also a frequent quest on Real Time with Bill Maher where he rails against the right yet at the same time has been known to call out Obama. Anyway as I was listening to him the other day, I started to think, how could a man of such intelligence, hold onto something as unintelligent as religion? He is a man of deep faith. Expanding on this idea, why is it that many people of incredible intelligence are people of religion? What is it about what they get from religion that allows them all to suspend reason on one day a week and give themselves to the land of the make-believe? One of the main doctors who is treating Hitchens is a man of faith. This is a guy who has studied science in depth and has seen cells divide. He knows there is no scientific basis for his beliefs. Yet he believes. Is it because all these people need to religion to deal with death? Is because it is what is expected in our society and to be otherwise is too difficult? I just don't understand.
If I may interject, We don't start with different beliefs, we all started without a belief in gods until it was introduced to us, some added this feature in and kept it others added it then subtracted it others like myself never had it or simply never accepted it. I suspect the feeling you had when in communication with jesus was much like the first time a person hears a truly wonderful song or reads and exceptional poem sometimes these things seem to speak to us though not literally. I believe you when you say these things happen, by that I mean (to borrow from Hitchens) in the same way I believe someone when they say their wife is beautiful and their children smart, I believe they actually believe it. With that said I really don't mind your belief in such things with one exception, that you don't suggest that since it works for you it should be taught in schools as well. This has always been the bigger problem for me as a belief is seldom willfully open to inquiry or debate. Imagine for a moment if Scientology was on the ballot for inclusion in school curriculum.
One thing I might add (and I truly mean no offense and to borrow from another author) when a person says god or jesus has spoken to them it is considered something worthy of praise and respect amid the religious groups, however were you to suggest god spoke to you through your pancakes, you would quickly be marginalized by even the most pious of the flock, I fail to see how the inclusion of pancakes makes it less believable.
Robert as a person of faith I simply do not believe that science or reason have not proven that god does not exist.
And religion hasn't proved god exists. Also, even if there is a god(creator, controller or both) then there is no telling which religion the god belongs to, if any. With so much uncertainty its pointless to waste time & put so much effort into worshiping something that is most likely an imaginary entity. Unless you do it for spiritual reasons. But then it should be private & should't be such a force it is in the world right now. And it definitely shouldn't be something that is used to govern people & something that is taught in schools.
However, that personal encouter I had along with many others in the past ten years is so real to me that I interpret science in light of that.
So you're saying you talk to yourself and interpret things on the basis of what you & you talked about?
Humans are very good at spotting signs & patterns, but most of the times its just our head playing tricks with us.
Regardless, I don't believe because it does something for me but because I know him.
Oh no. Believing that you have a personal relationship with Jesus gives you peace, contentment or something else. I have a friend who is like that. Its not just about *sic* knowing Jesus, its about what you get out of believing that.
Anyways, getting back on topic.
Religion, or a belief in god is not just about belief, its about community. You would have to be a rebel to openly say you're an atheist. Most people can't do that. And its not just about religion. In India, many people follow the career path their parents want them to follow or marry the person their parents have chosen for them even if they don't want to. Most people don't have the guts to rebel from their family or their community. And so they suppress their own desires & fall in line with whatever is the social norm.
I didn't say religion did prove the existence of god.
But religion asserts it. Without god(s) religion is nothing more than a cult or a philosophy.
you don't believe there is one so you have to believe I talk to myself.
There is no proof, not even a single shred of evidence for the existence of a god. So believing in a god is like believing in fairies, unicorns, elves, dragons... In the absence of any evidence for god someone claiming to be talking to god, specially the god of a religion which is riddled with so many holes & contradictions, is either delusional or a liar. Take your pick.
It would be much easier for you just to say I'm either highly confused or a liar instead of using circular arguments.
Just did that. Happy now?
If you start with the assumption there is no god then everything I say can never be right and the same goes for me.
I didn't make any assumptions. I did some thinking, over many years, applied some logic & came up with the conclusion that a god isn't a likely being. There is a difference between that and making an assumption.
@ Jared - I think I may have had a similar experience as you did in regards to feeling certain I had a fulfilling relationship with Christ.
Maybe you would consider this: IF your experience with Christ is (in reality), your own emotional reaction to the faith placebo effect, (which is what I think it is), and all your perceived comfirmations are in actuality, biased, then you are basing a lot of your life and your actions on something that does not exist.
What I am about to say is an assumption and I realize I may be off the mark, but I am going to give it a go.
It is pretty much all well and good since this placebo effect (as I see it) gets you through any rough spots and gives you positive emotions. It may even be keeping you from destructive behavior. It may motivate you to do great acts of kindness and inspire compassion for others BUT.. I strongly believe these things can be achieved without having to proclaim faith in Jesus Christ.
I think what we, as atheists, are saying is we strongly question the role of faith when it comes to the advancement of our species. Many atheists are convinced that faith is detrimental to the future of man kind and our descendents. We are all linked to these non existent (as of yet) decendents, by our love for our current families (whether biological familes or not). This is why we care about the future, not because we were ordered to by an imaginary friend.