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Why would a reasonable person believe in God?

Underseer

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Simply calling theists stupid or ignorant is too simple. Sure, we're a dumb-ass species. But we're not that stupid. I refuse to believe that belief in God isn't psychologically useful somehow. I'm talking use. Not a crutch. The belief acting as a tool in order to strengthen the believers life somehow. If not, I can't see how this belief could have possible survived.

Is it the community surrounding religious faith?
Is it the rituals and traditions giving a sense of security?
Is it the fear of eye of God in their supposed Godly police-state keeping them focused on what is important?
Are prayers a way to help the believer formulate goals in their lives?
Does the illusion of Godly love give the believer a genuine feeling of love?
Something else?

I'm talking about belief in a false God in purely functional terms. What is the function of theism? No, I'm not talking about it as a tool for those in power. I'm talking about religion in the bottom up sense.

Just to make it clear here. This is not an opening for apologetics. I still think the God hypothesis is stupid. It's just all out ridiculous, retarded and preposterous. I posit theists don't spend much time thinking about the existence of God since it's not important for them. They jump straight to whatever boon they get from the faith itself, without bothering about whether the hypothesis is true or not. We have plenty of evidence for that in this forum. Whenever a theists comes and tries to argue for the existence of God, they without fail fall back on arguments they could have dismissed themselves if they spent a couple of minutes googling ancient Greek philosophers. So they didn't. Ergo, they don't really care.

So what is the benefit from holding this false belief? The actual benefit.

There is actually quite a bit of research that has been done recently on the topic of why we believe in gods.



The above mostly covers neuroscience and evolutionary psychology.

There are other explanations, of course.

For example, Dawkins has pointed out that belief in gods creates a free "police" that monitors people's behavior from within their own heads, so societies with belief in gods might have an advantage over societies without belief in gods, at least back in the days before philosophy and sociology were able to provide concrete reasons why moral behavior is preferred over immoral behavior.

Wait, did I already post this video in this thread? It's 31 pages and I'm too lazy to read the whole thing because I'm a lazy bastard.
 

Underseer

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Some Hollywood actors such as Michael Douglas, Charlie Sheen, Warren Beatty are said to have a sex addiction. In my younger days, I would sometimes get painful testicles unless I had sex, or at least an orgasm every couple of days minimum.
Sex is an addiction to some.

That's not sex addiction, that's just blue balls. :p

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Where have you heard of this? 50 years in sweden and never heard of it...

I don't remember and can't find it again. I was researching Paganism for a book I was writing. I collected massive amounts of data on similar activities. It's not just Sweden. All over Europe they had similar things going on. People with various congenital handicaps were often revered or used in various ways in rituals.

BTW, I was initially researching when Paganism died out in Europe. The answer is that it never did. Which I thought was cool. I didn't know that before.

Are you sure you weren't thinking of berserkers rather than "retards"?
 

lostone

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Paganism did not die in Europe. It was murdered. Brute force. By the usual religious zealots, who destroyed the Greek and Roman religions in similar fashion.
 

SIB

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depends on what we mean by god. Deity is not reliable, Things like a living universe are possible so I can understand that kind of belief. A biosphere described as alive as opposed to not alive is reasonable even if we don't agree. And the belief in some thing more is more reliable than the reverse belief to me.

So it gets down to what are we talking about for me.
 

T.G.G. Moogly

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egalitarian
I don't buy the lack of education bit.

Certainly, those who are less educated are more likely to buy into religion...but there are certainly plenty of intelligent, well-educated people who are religious. My brother is one of them. He is a Professor in Engineering. From our talks, his belief comes down to...it makes him feel good to believe in God.

That's it in a nutshell to me. People believe because it makes them feel good. It is a crutch against an uncaring, harsh reality.
Is it a crutch?

I keep a garden because gardening and orcharding make me feel good. The better question imho is whether a person choses to be reasonable wrt religion. In the case of your brother I would say he chooses to be unreasonable when it comes to religion. It just makes him feel good, there isn't anything illegal about it and so he does it. Is that choosing reason over being irrational or is that choosing to be irrational because its comforting?

I can go out and buy everything I need, don't need a garden or fruit trees. But I toil and grow them nonetheless because it makes me feel good. I believe it is a scientific decision ultimately because in doing so I get to avoid lots of pesticides and other chemicals, stay fit, and get to eat fresh produce. Some people build decks, grill and have a three car garage. I have a garden.

Choosing to believe in god probably doesn't happen consciously. There is certainly a degree of social advantage to being religious, generally speaking, and that entices lots of people. Plus it's very traditional and a common experience. Maybe we can say that about a lot of things.
 

No Robots

Maykkerz
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It's pure mathematics. Once you cancel out all relativities, all you are left with is the Absolute. You can then work back from the Absolute to the relativities.
 

DrZoidberg

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Paganism did not die in Europe. It was murdered. Brute force. By the usual religious zealots, who destroyed the Greek and Roman religions in similar fashion.

Not in Northern Europe. The kings converted the nobles by force. But the people were left alone to do their thing. And even the nobles were treated with a fairly soft hand. Sweden's main annual religious festival is Midsummer. Still. There's not a trace of Christianity in that. Sure, we don't know what any of the rituals symbolize anymore. But the ritual has survived these thousand years, pretty much intact.

Over time Christianity took a choke hold over society and imposed their will. But it wasn't so much brute force as Stockholm Syndrome. And life was pretty brutal back then, in general. So it's not like the Christians were uniquely horrendous.

Fun fact is that the last pagan shaman of Lithuania died in 19'th century. He took the secrets of pagan mystery cults with him. But they may have survived within families. Written down. And it might still resurface at some point. There's surviving pagan cults in Russia that have roots back thousands of years.

The more I read about Christian conversions the less I buy the brutal conversion story. The Christian beliefs have always spread with soft power. The wars fought in the name of Christ wasn't about spreading religion. It was about gaining territory and wealth. The popes restrictions on Christians fighting each other meant that aggression was directed outwards. But that doesn't mean there was more fighting. Only that targets were non-Christian.

The biggest difference between pre- and post-Christian Europe is because of the plague. 541 bubonic plague showed up. This shaped Christian Europe way more than what Christianity did. Instead of urban centres being magnets for capable ambitious people, they turned into death traps sensible people avoided. Nobles hid away in their castles. Baths closed. Brothels were closed. Not for religious reasons. But to contain the spread of plague.
 
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