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Author Topic: Do You Believe In God?  (Read 6673 times)

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Offline Sabby

Re: Do You Believe In God?
« Reply #75 on: June 18, 2014, 05:18:46 PM »
I didn't say all faith, I said Religious faith. The word faith has multiple usages. It can be a synonym for trust, and that usually comes up when this question is asked, but it's not the use of the word I'm referring to. Trust is based on observation. The kind of faith required to believe in a Deity has no such observation to be based on.

If you believe that summary is wrong, by all means, provide evidence for a Deity.

Online Vergil Tanner

Re: Do You Believe In God?
« Reply #76 on: June 18, 2014, 05:19:21 PM »
Well, by definition, faith is belief without evidence. I believe the question was merely that many theists claim that such faith is a good thing, and Sabby is curious as to why it's a good thing. As for the "in spite of evidence," there are a lot of cases in which complete faith in the religious text leads people to believe something that is obviously contrary to all available evidence (EG, Young Earth Creationists). If I read the question correctly, the question is more "Why is religious faith (belief without evidence) a good thing?"

Online MiraMirror

Re: Do You Believe In God?
« Reply #77 on: June 21, 2014, 02:18:49 PM »
My situation is...I'm not necessarily saying "no" to the idea that there are deities. As it stands, there is a lot of science backing up the opposite, but the entire "religion vs. science" bit is something I tend to ignore as a whole.  As strange as it might sound, my opinion is that while I could sit around picking my mind, it doesn't particularly bother me at this point in time.  There's far too much stress going around for me to add more by wondering about this sort of thing.  I understand both sides of the debate.  I'm aware that nearly everyone needs something to believe in to make life easier, whether it's a deity, an idea/belief, or facts.  Personally, I choose to believe in people as a whole.  I like to believe in what people as individuals and as groups can do, and that's about it. It's naive to an extent, but I accept that.  I figure I've got enough time to figure myself out when I get older, anyway. ^^

Offline SweetSerenade

Re: Do You Believe In God?
« Reply #78 on: June 22, 2014, 09:22:38 AM »
I mean no offense when I say this, but I do not have to prove my Gods exist. They are my Gds, and I will not tell someone else that they have to worship them. I do not do so, so you do not get to tell me to prove my Gods exist... that is pretty much my stances on that.

Offline Sabby

Re: Do You Believe In God?
« Reply #79 on: June 22, 2014, 09:27:31 AM »
I mean no offense when I say this, but I do not have to prove my Gods exist.

You do if you want to make the claim God exists.

Offline mia h

Re: Do You Believe In God?
« Reply #80 on: June 22, 2014, 09:44:01 AM »
You do if you want to make the claim God exists.

Why is Religious Faith a good thing? I don't mean as another word for trust (for instance, faith in your spouse), I mean the absolute blind faith in spite of evidence and reason required to believe in a Deity.

You claim to have evidence of the non-existance of God, so lets see it. Otherwise how can you make that claim?

Offline Sabby

Re: Do You Believe In God?
« Reply #81 on: June 22, 2014, 10:21:59 AM »
I never said I had evidence of Gods non-existence. What I said was that a belief can be formed that goes against what we accept as true, and that was the specific kind of belief I was targeting with that question. Example, prayer. It's patently obvious that prayer simply does not work, yet people still believe that it does. This is belief held in spite of evidence.

Now, prayer not walking isn't really solid evidence that God does not exist, merely evidence that prayer doesn't work, but I'm only using it as an example of the kind of blind faith I was asking about.

Besides, it's not on everyone else to disprove someones claim. That's completely backwards. The burden of proof is always on the one who makes the claim, no one else.

It's perfectly fine to say "I believe in God". That is a completely true statement, because it only speaks of what the person believes. It's on par with "I like pancakes" and "I think I'm good at tennis". It's just a simple, mundane statement about the person. To say "God is real" is to make an extraordinary truth claim. It requires extraordinary evidence to be accepted. No one is exempt from this.
« Last Edit: June 22, 2014, 10:26:22 AM by Sabby »

Online Vergil Tanner

Re: Do You Believe In God?
« Reply #82 on: June 22, 2014, 10:31:21 AM »
I agree with Sabby; you're shifting the burden of proof. As Atheists, we are simply say "We do not believe your claims that a God exists, where's the evidence to support you?" That isn't the same as saying "We think no Gods exist." Were we to make that claim, then we would have to demonstrate it...the simple truth of the matter is that neither Sabby or myself are saying that no gods exist, just that the existing claims of God or Gods have not met their burden of proof. In a criminal court, you do not try and disprove the prosecutions assertion of guilt, it is up to the prosecution - the ones making a claim - to prove that their claim has merit.

As for Sweet Serenade, I can understand where she is coming from, but if she makes the claim that a God/Gods exist and wants us to believe her, she needs to prove it. Evidence isn't necessarily required for personal belief (though I think it should be) but you should be prepared to give evidence if you want to convince other people....and if you bring up in conversation that you believe in God, you are not - in my mind - justified in getting offended when somebody asks you why. Assuming, for a moment, that you're Christian (I'm using the royal "you" here, this isn't directed at any specific person), your own holy book tells you that you have to give a reason for your Faith if somebody asks (1 Peter 3:15). Now I personally don't believe the bible, but Christians obviously do, so the "I don't have to justify it" goes directly against your faith. *shrug*. If you believe in God and somebody asks why, why get offended? It's a sensible and reasonable question to be asked.

As for Faith and Prayer, it has been demonstrated that intercessory prayer has no impact on peoples wellbeing. I can't remember the name of it, but there was an experiment done where there were a few groups of patients in a hospital within the same ward, and the group that was prayed for and not told (to attempt to account for the placebo effect) showed no noteworthy differences to the non prayed-for group. The group that was told that they were being prayed for, amusingly, did slightly worse. Probably a coincidence due to tiny difference margin, but amusing nonetheless. Of course, there's the problem of them possibly being prayed for outside of the experiment, but that makes the prayer claims unfalsifiable, which therefore makes them meaningless. In any case, the question was "why is faith - here meaning belief without evidence - a good thing?" Nobody has yet answered this question, and has instead tried to divert the conversation....which tells me, personally, that nobody has an answer because unquestioning belief without evidence isn't a good thing.
« Last Edit: June 22, 2014, 10:37:14 AM by Vergil Tanner »

Offline Sabby

Re: Do You Believe In God?
« Reply #83 on: June 22, 2014, 10:39:36 AM »
Were we to make that claim, then we would have to demonstrate it...the simple truth of the matter is that neither Sabby or myself are saying that no gods exist, just that the existing claims of God or Gods have not met their burden of proof. In a criminal court, you do not try and disprove the prosecutions assertion of guilt, it is up to the prosecution - the ones making a claim - to prove that their claim has merit.

To be fair, my wording did imply such. I was referring to blind faith when I used the words 'in spite of evidence', but upon rereading, I see where Mia is coming from. Apologies Mia, I hope I've clarified.

Online Vergil Tanner

Re: Do You Believe In God?
« Reply #84 on: June 22, 2014, 10:46:17 AM »
Ah, I see now. I understood what you meant, but then, that's because we're of the same opinion. ;-) Rereading, I too can see where the confusion arose. So yes, Mia; we're not claiming that God does not exist, we're referring to the evidence that, for example, prayer doesn't actually work and that the bible is wrong on quite a lot of things (rabbits don't, for example, chew their cud). We weren't referring necessarily to God when talking about "in spite of evidence." :D

Offline vin26m

Re: Do You Believe In God?
« Reply #85 on: June 22, 2014, 02:06:52 PM »
You claim to have evidence of the non-existance of God, so lets see it. Otherwise how can you make that claim?

If something exists, evidence of it must exist.

If something does not exist, there is no evidence of it.

It is logically impossible to have evidence that something does not exist. 

I do not think that God exists, because I have not seen evidence that God exists.  If there is no evidence of the existence of something, I am not going to think it exists.

I cannot say that God does not exist.  No one can say that.  No one can say something does not exist. 

But I can say that there is no evidence that God exists, so I have no reason to think that God exists.

Why do kids believe in Santa Claus or the Easter Bunny or the Tooth Fairy?  Because that's what they've been told.  Eventually, they figure out that a judgmental fat guy in a levitating sled with flying reindeer is not coming down the chimney because they've been good.  But when it comes to God, believers don't have the same skepticism anymore.

I kind of wish god or gods existed, like they do in fantasy worlds, where characters who worship deities gain powers from those deities.  But that doesn't happen.

I find that people believe what they have been told to believe while they were growing up.  I think that following a religion is like being a sports fan.  A person likes a certain team because he watched them growing up.  A person likes a certain religion because he was rewarded for "believing" with parties and gifts while growing up.  With sports teams and religions, the specifics are arbitrary, based solely on location, timing and what the immediate surroundings dictate.  If someone is born in India, they're probably Hindu.  If someone is born in Northern Africa or the Middle East, they're probably Muslim.  If someone is from Western Europe or anywhere from Mexico to South America, they're probably Catholic.  If religion is so circumstantial, how can any of it be true or real?

Offline Elzith

Re: Do You Believe In God?
« Reply #86 on: June 22, 2014, 05:14:29 PM »
I do not believe in any God or deity.  If there is one, then I think they must of left us to our own devices long ago. I don't believe in him for a variety of reasons.

- A lack of evidence.  This is the big one for me; I have looked for some form of God in my life and in those of my parents (Very religions family) and I've seen nothing that could reassure me to the point of giving over so much freedom to live as however it was that religion demanded.

- So many religions seem to lean on the ones that came before it; borrowing concepts and ideas from other religions in their cultural area. That seems a little suspicious to me..

-  Why does a God in today's world demand worship with all of the terrible pain and hurt in the world? I can't believe that any form of divine being that put the world into motion would simply let such things happen. I certainly don't want to. I see nothing to be thankful for.

All said and done though, I have enormous respect for those comfortable enough with their own minds that can believe a God exists and is looking over them. That sort of reassurance must be wonderful and whilst I don't hold any beliefs to a deity;s existence, that does not mean I do not want to.

Offline SweetSerenade

Re: Do You Believe In God?
« Reply #87 on: June 22, 2014, 05:42:38 PM »
I am not saying you have to believe in my Gods, I am saying you have no right to ask me to provide proof for your lack of Faith. I respect your right to be an Atheist, because as a Druid we are of the belief that belief is what the true power is. We do not care what you believe in, so long as you believe in something. If you want to believe in science, good on you. You want to believe in nothing, more power to you! You want to believe in One God and one God alone, that is your choice.

But do not ever claim I have to provide Proof because you disbelieve. I have my beliefs for a reason. I have encountered what I feel to be personifications of my Gods. Just because they do not exist for you does not mean they do not exist for me.

I will not restrict your right to your beliefs, so long as you do not make claims that make me believe you feel I am lesser for my beliefs.

I generally try to make sure to be understanding and accepting of others, so long as they do the same of me. But the moment you cross the line of making me feel like you believe you are superior because of YOUR beliefs - that is when you cross the line. So try to be a respectful adult and not perpetrate such actions, please.

Online Vergil Tanner

Re: Do You Believe In God?
« Reply #88 on: June 22, 2014, 05:55:17 PM »
I think you're putting words in my mouth, Serenade. I never once said that you were inferior for holding beliefs that I do not share, I only stated that if you say that you believe something, it is a fair, reasonable (and expected) question to be asked "why do you believe that?" I do not require evidence for my lack of belief, and your terminology makes me feel like you're trying to shift the burden of proof. And I'm sorry, Serenade, but if you're making the claim, it's up to you to provide evidence if you want others to believe as well. I'm not saying you want us to believe; I'm saying if. HOWEVER, if you post on a religious-themed thread "this is what I believe," do not get offended when people presume to ask why you believe something. If you don't want to be asked why you believe something, don't post on a topic such as this. I'm not asking you to provide proof for my lack of faith. We were asking - well, we didn't, but we would have - why you believe as you do. If you state an opinion, be prepared to justify it, or don't state it. You can't have it both ways; you can't say "this is my opinion and if you ask why I think this, HOW DARE YOU!" I NEVER said that you were inferior, and if people asking you why you believe something makes you inferior, that's YOUR problem and not theirs. If I state an opinion, I quite rightly expect people to ask me to justify it. Asking why you believe something is NOT the same as saying you're wrong....and if you feel like that, don't post your opinion. Simple as that. Point to the part of this thread that you think I was being disrespectful. Go on (excluding this post, because I'm irritated and that can sometimes come across as disrespectful; I want it on record that I don't mean to be disrespectful, I'm just typing off the top of my head so my phrasing may be off), quote the bits where I was being disrespectful or condescending. I have only ever asked why people believe what they do...if asking questions is disrespectful, then I'm disrespectful. However, if you state an opinion, any reasonable adult will not be offended if somebody asks why they believe something or challenges their position with a conflicting one. What right do I have to ask you why you believe? What right do YOU have to tell me that I can't ask questions?

As for your "But do not ever claim I have to provide Proof because you disbelieve," sorry, but if you make a claim, the burden of proof is on you to provide it. I never stated that just having an opinion means you have to prove it, only that if you want to convince me, you should have proof. Are you saying that asking for proof before believing a claim is unreasonable? Because I think it's extremely reasonable to ask for evidence before deciding that I agree with your position. *shrug*
« Last Edit: June 22, 2014, 06:00:10 PM by Vergil Tanner »

Offline SweetSerenade

Re: Do You Believe In God?
« Reply #89 on: June 22, 2014, 06:33:56 PM »
My comments were more directed at Sabby because I found him to be highly offensive.

I have stated before why I have my beliefs (if you go back several pages) And I am MORE than happy to explain more in detail why I believe in the Gods I do. But that involves a lot of life that happened to me, that I am not comfortable speaking about openly, as they are still things I have issues with IRL. If you truly wish to know, please feel free to PM me - but you will be hearing a life story that most people shy away from.

Online Vergil Tanner

Re: Do You Believe In God?
« Reply #90 on: June 22, 2014, 06:42:32 PM »
Well, to be fair on Sabby, from what I can see he's acknowledged that he didn't phrase things as well as he could have, and he appears to me - I haven't met him before now that I can remember, so going off of first impressions here - the sort of person who can acknowledge when he may have made a mistake. I'm sure he meant to offence. That being said, I do apologise for the tirade up there (I would put the up arrow here, but my six key is broken, somewhat annoyingly), and perhaps it was jumping the gun somewhat. No offence meant :-)

Offline Sabby

Re: Do You Believe In God?
« Reply #91 on: June 22, 2014, 07:10:49 PM »
I'm being called offensive for pointing out truth claims come with a burden of proof? Yeah, I don't want to be involved in this conversation if that's how things are going to be. There's already been too many strawmen then I care to address anyway.

I'm out.

Offline Iniquitous

Re: Do You Believe In God?
« Reply #92 on: June 22, 2014, 11:45:31 PM »
I agree with SweetSerenade. I do not expect everyone to believe as I believe. I respect everyone's choice to believe or not believe. If someone tells me they are an atheist, my response is not "so tell me why you do not believe." Why? Because I am not out to change their mind. I really do not care WHY they do not believe. What I care about is what kind of person they are. Are they kind, trustworthy,  compassionate, loyal, honest, hard working, etc.

And if someone was to come up and ask me what I believe in and then follow it up with "prove it" I would have no qualms with calling them rude and walking away. I do not seek to convert people and I owe no one an explanation or proof of my religious beliefs. Simple as that.

Online Vergil Tanner

Re: Do You Believe In God?
« Reply #93 on: June 23, 2014, 04:44:44 AM »
So it's automatically rude to ask people why they hold a certain belief? I'm a curious person. If somebody tells me what they believe, I will ask them why because I genuinely want to know. It doesn't mean I'm out to convert them, it means that I'm curious as to how they arrived at a particular belief. As I stated before. If you are going to give an opinion, be prepared to justify it. There's a difference between saying "What do you believe....NOW PROVE IT!" and you saying, for example, "I'm a Christian" and me saying "May I ask why you believe as you do?" No opinion is above criticism, reproach or disagreement. You are right in that asking somebody straight up "What do you believe and why?" is somewhat invasive, but if you bring the subject up, you better be damn ready to give reasons for your beliefs. If you say "I think this," then you should expect the first question to be "Why do you think that?" or saying "I don't want to talk about it," rather than getting on your high horse and acting morally superior because they asked a damn question.

Offline Oniya

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Re: Do You Believe In God?
« Reply #94 on: June 23, 2014, 09:53:12 AM »
There's a difference between saying "What do you believe....NOW PROVE IT!"

Which is exactly what was being said upthread.  People who have said 'I believe such-and-such is real.  I don't ask you to believe the same thing, but I do.' are being told 'You have to have proof to make the claim.'

[Y]ou saying, for example, "I'm a Christian" and me saying "May I ask why you believe as you do?" No opinion is above criticism, reproach or disagreement. You are right in that asking somebody straight up "What do you believe and why?" is somewhat invasive, but if you bring the subject up, you better be damn ready to give reasons for your beliefs.

Talking about those reasons is a lot easier when the conversation hasn't already been shown to be semi-hostile.

I am also going to take this opportunity to remind people on all sides of this conversation about our civility rules.
« Last Edit: June 23, 2014, 09:54:41 AM by Oniya »

Offline Dhi

Re: Do You Believe In God?
« Reply #95 on: June 23, 2014, 10:15:43 AM »
There's a difference between saying "What do you believe....NOW PROVE IT!" and you saying, for example, "I'm a Christian" and me saying "May I ask why you believe as you do?"
There is a difference, but when the question is "Do you believe in God," the implication is preloaded that a dissenting opinion had better come with a compelling argument. It's the same as asking "Do you agree with our president" or "Do you oppose abortion". You have a choice whether to accept someone's natural response at face value, and leave the conversation polite. When you press for reasons, it is going to be assumed by anyone not living under a rock that you are probing for a vector of attack. Don't fault people for assuming you mean them harm when you aim a loaded question at them. It is a natural assumption.

My answer to the question of whether I believe in God is best given in terms that are relevant to me. Theravada Buddhism in Thailand is layered atop old folk traditions which revere spirits. I believed in spirits as a child, and the conditioning to treat inanimate objects with human dignity endures into my adult life. My local temple is Vietnamese Mahayana, which also celebrates bodhisattvas, a transcendence similar to sainthood. The idea therein, that improvement comes from within rather than without, is antithetical to the teachings that Jesus loves the meek, heals the sick, and waits to usher the poor into eternal paradise. But, the concept of mystical and immortal self is there, and the qualities of what makes a God exist in these premises I've rejected.

Is this a satisfactory answer? If the question comes from a place of genuine curiosity in my beliefs, then it should be, since this is the answer that is relevant to me.

But since Christianity's influence on western thought penetrates us all and cannot be erased through a disbelief in its national bird, the question "Do you believe in God" is nonsense to me. We needn't believe in God. We are building a house for Him and setting a place at the table on instinct. We hold ourselves as culpable only to a supreme moral compass, above our fellow creatures- a divine right. We treat this world as a testing ground, a temporary state, whether or not we believe in eternal life elsewhere and an omnipotent caretaker. We cling to the illusion that against all odds we will come from destitution and become powerful through no special effort except righteousness, because that is the Christian myth, and the enduring story of all western civilization.

So, do you believe in God? Perhaps you say you don't, and yet you still set the table. It's actions, not words, that count.

Online Vergil Tanner

Re: Do You Believe In God?
« Reply #96 on: June 23, 2014, 10:30:41 AM »
@Oniya; no, not exactly. What was being said up-thread is that if you assert that a God exists, then you should have evidence if you want other people to believe it. That is not the same as saying "What do you believe NOW PROVE IT." I would like to point out that I never said "What is your proof," I said "why do you believe as you do?" There's a difference. As for it being hostile, well, that's how you feel. I don't think I personally have been that aggressive (besides where I have admittedly gotten a tad annoyed, but I did type out an aside apology for those instances), but you're free to interpret my word as you will.

@Dhi: I don't see how "Do you believe in God" is a loaded question....the answer is either yes or no, and that's really it. And really, whilst I can see why people would feel like it's "probing," you shouldn't instantly assume the worst of everybody you meet. Don't assume they're assholes just because somebody else you met before was an asshole. It may well be natural sometimes...but it's also wrong, and I won't apologise for something I had no intention of doing. Why should I? And yes, that answer is satisfactory to me, since my "why" was asked out of curiosity. You don't want a debate on it? Fair enough. No debate coming from me.

As for your last paragraph...no. Sorry, but no. I don't believe in God. I don't pray to him, I don't "set a place" for him, I fully expect to just stop existing when I die, and I do not treat this world as a testing ground. I want to make the most of my life because it's the only one I know for certain that I'll get, and I know full well that unless I put the effort in, I will never get anywhere worth being in this life. I do not cling to a "divine right" or a "higher moral compass." I rely on what I can sense and what I can test, and I base my actions on a careful balance of possible harm vs possible good. I would appreciate it if you don't try and tell everybody else what they personally think or why they do it without asking them. That is your opinion, but when it comes to me, that last paragraph is complete nonsense and I have to say I disagree completely with it. And yes, this might come across as aggressive, but it seems to me that you're trying to tell me that everybody believes even if they say they don't, and that's wrong, as far as I am concerned. I do things for me and mine, not for some maybe-could-be invisible man in the sky.

Offline Jusey1

Re: Do You Believe In God?
« Reply #97 on: June 23, 2014, 10:35:08 AM »
I am Christian but I do not believe in everything... There are things which makes me uncomfortable to believe in and question said things. But in the end, I'm a Christian. I do believe in God, Jesus, and many other things.

For example, there is a common belief that homosexuals go to hell. I do not believe that at all as it makes no sense to me why God would do such a thing to a specific group of people, simply because they are different from the normal... Especially to homosexual people who followed his love greatly and were amazing in this world, doing great deeds for others.

I also not very trusting of the church system either honestly... So I don't go to church.

Offline Dhi

Re: Do You Believe In God?
« Reply #98 on: June 23, 2014, 10:39:18 AM »
It isn't that you necessarily believe, but that the actions of belief are trained to us as members of a Christian society, and even if they become hollow gestures- such as my treating unfeeling, inanimate objects with respect- they endure and guide our behaviors. Even when we don't believe in God, we are the product of a society which believes in God, and so the question of whether we share that belief is irrelevant.

These precepts, the Christian values I've outlined, drive decisions in the modern western world from the lowliest man to the highest office. You consider it nonsense, but have you ever looked from the outside in? Many would also say that their way of speaking is without accent. None of us is an island, cold, rational, unaffected by the world in which we were raised.

Online Vergil Tanner

Re: Do You Believe In God?
« Reply #99 on: June 23, 2014, 10:48:38 AM »
Jusey: I can agree that the Catholic church is, by and large, not to be trusted. There are obviously churches that do good things and haven't hurt anybody, but I agree that the organisation as a whole is certainly not a force for good in the world.

Dhi: Except we aren't necessarily. I mean, I live in England. I was born into a society that is effectively a smelting pot of various beliefs, non beliefs and cultures, and no one has an obvious majority. I am a member of society, but I am a member of a secular society that just so happens to include Christianity. The thing is, there is no such thing as "Christian" attitudes. Christianity is so fragmented that each little splinter has its own unique ideals and attitudes. I act in a way that is, I hope, logical and does more good than harm. Christianity doesn't impact any way of how I act or think or feel. And I would argue that the belief in God is irrelevant; what you believe and why has a huge impact on how you act and why you act a certain way, and how people react to you. You may see it as irrelevant, but I do not. I agree that we are affected by the world in which we are raised, but I do carry any "Christian" habits with me. I may say "God damn it" every now and then, but that's because there are very few socially acceptable alternatives. A more common phrase in my dialogue is - perhaps stereotypically - "Bloody hell."


Long story short:

Yes, society guides our actions, but the question of belief is seriously relevant, especially when religion can, has and continues to do great harm in this world. If we just shrug our shoulders and say "Eh, who cares?" then that is letting a lot of parties get away with doing whatever they want....and the point of a secular nation is to maintain church/state separation, and the debate as to whether a God exists or not is key to that position.