Monday, October 13, 2008

The Real Reasons for Belief in God.

Atheists have a new trick--which is actually their original trick but dusted off. They seem to be on a tangent of arguing that "there's no proof for your God." Of course, they have never really stopped saying that. But perhaps a new generation is coming up. I find more of them more often arguing that there is not "one single piece of scientific evidence..." When I put out several posts on the CARM atheist board similar to the previous post here, Kuhn, science is a social construct, they just went ape. One of them was saying "you are making such a fool of yourself to say these things..." Of course it takes real ignorance no to know that no so long ago (mid 90's perhaps) Kuhn was hot stuff. He was a major force, considered a major thinker in the world for about four decades. But I'm making a fool of myself! When I told them we should not expect to find scientific of evdience of God because God is not a scientific question they just sort of blinked their eyes (in writing so to speak) and said "that's why you shouldn't believe in him." Before it was all said and done one of them had made several pronouncements to the effect that "science tells us everything that is worth knowing and if something isn't given in science it's not worth knowing." Moreover, "the only meaningful questions are scientific questions because that's what makes them meaningful." I bet that guy is magic in a relationship.

What can one say? Everyone likes a booster. When confronted with the challenge to prove that science is the only valid form of knowledge--with scientific data only--of course they responded with philosophical arguments and logic. Naturally they never tried to offer one single piece of evidence from science, and when I put up the post defending religious experience with 300 studies they just poo pooed and said it wasn't science. So science is the only valid knowledge, but you can't prove that with science, and when it supports religion it's not science. Of course the real problem is its impossible to really tell people why we believe in God. No one actually comes to believe because of some fact or argument. It's so ultra foolish to expect scientific proof because belief is a world view, it's not based upon any one fact, but upon thousands of fact, upon the way we look at ourselves and the world. It's important to make God arguments, not to prove the existence of God, but because you can't say "I have reasons, they are supported by lots of things and deal and junk and stuff." God arguments help us to focus on detailed reasons that support belief, but they are not meant to prove anything.




The real problem is, on the one hand, the believer really doesn't have a single cogent provable reason for belief, on the other hand, the atheist doesn't understand the nature of world views. Atheists don't understand their own unbelief. They can't get it that they are touting an ideology. They think all the have to do is say "it's the absence of a belief" and that's suppose to make it real simple and clear it of any ideological connotations. But its' not that simple. Belief is a world view.It's foundational, that is is serves as the basis for everything else you think and the ways you view the world. You can't just take out the centerpiece of a world view and not replace it with something. Its' absurd to say "atheism is just the absence of a belief" there is no such thing. The absence of a belief is the presence of unbelief and that is an ideology. This is what Derrida teaches us: absence is presence and presence is absence. It's easy to be a skeptic all you have to do is just keep doubting things and demeaning that no evidence is of any value until it lines up with the ideology. But they have a very clear ideology to fill in the blank left by God and it is based upon reductionism. Nothing short of absolute scientific proof will do becasue the absence of the foudnation requires the presence of a replacement foundation.

atheists can only see the primitive misunderstanding, they can't see the sense of transcendence behind it.



Maslow talks about the psychological necessity of being able to maintain a tranformative symbology. He is not merely saying that we should do this, but that we do it, it is universal and through many different technqiues and psychological schools of thought he shows that this has been gleaned over and over again. What Jung called the Archetypes are universal symbols of transfomration which we understand in the uncoscious, and we must be able to hold them in proper relation to the mundane (the Sacred and the Profane) in order to enjoy healthy growth, or we stagnate and become pathological. It is crucial to human psychology to maintain this balance. Far from merely being stupid and not understanding science, striving to expalin a pre-Newtonian world, the primatives understood this balance and held it better than we do. Religious beleif is crucial to our psychological well being, and this fact far more than social order or the need for examplianation exaplians the origins of religion.

Quote:

"For practically all primitives, these matters that I have spoken about are seen in a more pious, sacred way, as Eliade has stressed, i.e., as rituals, ceremonies, and mysteries. The ceremony of puberty, which we make nothing of, is extremely important for most primitive cultures. When the girl menstruates for the first time and becomes a woman, it is truly a great event and a great ceremony; and it is truly, in the profound and naturalistic and human sense, a great religious moment in the life not only of the girl herself but also of the whole tribe. She steps into the realm of those who can carry on life and those who can produce life; so also for the boy's puberty; so also for the ceremonies of death, of old age, of marriage, of the mysteries of women, the mysteries of men. I think that an examination of primitive or preliterate cultures would show that they often manage the unitive life better than we do, at least as far as relations between the sexes are concerned and also as between adults and children. They combine better than we do the B and the D, as Eliade has pointed out. He defined primitive cultures as different from industrial cultures because they have kept their sense of the sacred about the basic biological things of life.

"We must remember, after all, that all these happenings are in truth mysteries. Even though they happen a million times, they are still mysteries. If we lose our sense of the mysterious, or the numinous, if we lose our sense of awe, of humility, of being struck dumb, if we lose our sense of good fortune, then we have lost a very real and basic human capacity and are diminished thereby."

"Now that may be taken as a frank admission of a naturalistic psychological origin, except that it invovles a universal symbology which is not explicable through merely naturalistic means. How is it that all humans come to hold these same archetypical symbols? (For more on archetypes see Jesus Chrsit and Mythology page II) The "prematives" viewed and understood a sense of transformation which gave them an integration into the universe. This is crucial for human development. They sensed a power in the numenous, that is the origin of religion."


He is saying that the reductionist can only see a flimsy superstition in such primitive doings, but the real knight of faith sees in it the sense of the numinous the way religion really affects people on in daily life. In the words of Thomas Indinopulos:

I think this is a healthy development. When emphasis shifts away from what a Christian believes or does not believe, we can begin to understand the power and meaning of Christianity in a given culture, at a certain time. In other words, I should say that a better way to ascertain Christian belief is to focus on how Christians actually live their lives. I say this on the basis of years spent with Greek villagers who, when asked what they believe, can hardly answer in any precise way. But ask them how they would identify themselves as Greek Orthodox and you will hear a recital of ritual observances and traditional acts of faith that leave no doubt that their faith is not a matter of what is believed or thought about, but rather what is done or felt or imagined. For such villagers the daily life of faith is not reducible to or equatable with a set of formal beliefs. The academic or pedagogical implications here are enormous. When professors teach Christianity as a matter of beliefs, ideas, and institutions, they may be teaching something that is not at all equivalent to the religion practiced by the people who claim the Christian religion as their own. But if they were to teach Christianity as practiced, they would have to pay attention to that which is not so easily categorized as doctrine -- the unspoken, often emotional undertones of faith on the part of ordinary believers.



My point being that real belief is faith, not words on paper. The reasons people relay believe in God have to do with the way they sense their presence in the world and the relation to that sense of God which they also intuit in the world. A good example of this came out in a message board discussion I had on CARM recently:

I don't remember who the other party in the discussion was, I'll just call him "friendly atheist."

Quote:
Originally Posted by Metacrock View Post
the studies show believers are less depressed. you should encourage her faith even if you dont' believe in it. I'm not saying it's your fault but obviously it's very damaging to someone who fervently believes to have that crushed. Please don't think I'm accusing you.



FA:Many of us who are no longer believers have dealt with the transition. I'm not sure that 'damaging' is the correct word. Sometimes growth is hard. Sometimes realizing that what you believed for a long time is false can be hard to deal with. It requires a commitment to intellectual honesty and a desire to know rather than to believe.


Meta: a lot will depend upon why the loss of faith. If one outgrows the Provencal nature of one's faith context, then it's not damaging it's actually a form of growth. Unfortunately due to the fundies and other religious people a lot of people never find the more progressive style of faith so they don't go on with it. But to lose faith due to personal tragedy or just being worn down and not having a chance to cultivate it is deadly. it's killing.





Quote:
FA:My wife and I don't argue about it. I'm not 'anti' about it.


Meta: that's good. what do you hope for? The best you can do is momentary happiness and not really that if you have hard times.

FA:Even in hard times there are things that can be hoped for. I hope for ease, happiness, love, the same as anyone


Meta:Yes but I have someone to trust in hard times. I know from personal experince I can trust God to me through anything. I'm not the least bit worried about the backing collapse. I expect to die in the gutter but I'm looking froward to a lot of republicans learning something!

more than just beyond life. It's the hope that some force of love cares about you.

FA:I prefer to be loved by someone rather than think that I am loved by a 'force'. Perhaps being loved by a force is sufficient for many people but 'love' to me is an active thing.

Meta:I understand why it would be hard for you to think of god as real, but It's not all hard for me. In fact the opposite. it's nearly impossible for the to deny God's reality, becasue the experinces I've had cannot be denied.

even in times when I thought God abandoned me I was still not wiling to give up the concept, I was willing to think of God as impersonal before I was willing to say there wasn't one. Then he came through and I knew I just needed to trust.

I know it's hard for you think of that as a reality since you have not experienced it. but I have and i know it's real. I know it as well as I know I exist myself.


Meta:It's not the hope of getting money because you pray for it anything like that. But meaning in life gives hope.

FA:I agree. I would rather have real meaning than imaginary meaning. But either way, whether one believes that God has a purpose or if one gives credit to something else for their purpose, ultimately it all comes from the self. WE determine our purpose, our meaning.


Meta:meaning that I get from God is a priroi. IT is real and it doesn't depend upon the existence of a God with a mind who knows who I am. Just the attitude to being that undersatnd from studying theology gives me a rock solid meaning that can't be deneied. It is real and I prove it's real (the meaning that is not the being named God who thinks and knows who I am).

Now I believe God is mind and knows who I am but even at a default of an impersonal ;God who si just being itself and nothing ore the meaning that comes from that is undeniable.

but the experinces I've had lead me to have a major hope because I know God is real and is more than just being.

Quote:
Quote:
Atheists can only have localized small letter meaning, meaning that is related to the immediate context. Believers in God can have big capital letter meaning.

FA:Atheists and believers are no different here, the 'meaning' in our lives comes from the same place, ourselves. Some just have the need to put the cause on something else.


Meta:I disagree. I've been both. I was a Sartean atheist so the idea of making youkr own meaning was crucial to my thinking. it was total revolution when I got saved. It was day from night.


repentance is not just saying words. It means "turn from sin" so you are changing your thinking and your behavior. if one really repents one does not want to do the same things again.

FA:Did the thief on the cross do more than just say the words?


Meta:Yes, he sure as hell did. His words were not empty they were backed by the attitude of the heart, which is true repentance. He did more than say words, he repented, he turned his heart toward God!

8 comments:

J.L. Hinman said...

this post was sent by Mike but it was screwed up by me in positing to I'm doing it for him.


Blogger Mike aka MonolithTMA said...

"Of course the real problem is its impossible to really tell people why we believe in God. No one actually comes to believe because of some fact or argument."

And therein lies the rub.

I'm beginning to think it must be biological to believe, for I can see no other reason that I went from believing so fervently to not belief at all. Somewhere a switch was flipped, and now the more I read for or against a belief in God, the more I do not believe.

5:45 AM

J.L. Hinman said...

Mike I see why. It is transparent to me, because I went through it myself.

you outgrew the providential nature of the Christianity you knew in churches an you are ready for more, for a higher level of spiritual knowledge. but your turn off from churches has led you to be turned off from all of God.

same thing that happened to me when I became an atheist.

Mike aka MonolithTMA said...

I saw both posts and picked the wrong one, oh well, I guess I shouldn't buy a lottery ticket today. ;-)

Mike aka MonolithTMA said...

"but your turn off from churches has led you to be turned off from all of God."

But I'm not turned off from churches. I love the people at the church that I used to attend, I think they are good people and the pastor gives a wonderful, scripturally based sermon.

I am more open to God now than ever before in my life, because I shrugged off the shackles of exclusivity. Are you there God? It's me, Mike. Hmmmm...that could be a book title. ;-)

J.L. Hinman said...

I am more open to God now than ever before in my life, because I shrugged off the shackles of exclusivity. Are you there God? It's me, Mike. Hmmmm...that could be a book title. ;-)

it does sound like a book. Ok I said I thought you were more open well I said that before.

so go for it. start praying and meditating.

tinythinker said...

I have been in a similar situation as Mike, but it isn't really about biology (for me). It is about the way one tries to "think about" God - what ones "expects" God to be. I think the book NEW SEEDS OF CONTEMPLATION by the late Fr. Thomas Merton would be good people in such a position. I read the first 5-6 chapters when I was out of town at a bookstore, but it isn't at the local libraries so I will have to wait to read the rest.

J.L. Hinman said...

hey Tiny. I read Merton not long after I got saved. He was a good influence on my early christian days. I highly recommend him.

Mike aka MonolithTMA said...

I'll add him to the list. Once I get settled in the new house I hope to do tons of reading.