The Flexible “God Hypothesis”

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Discussion by: petermead1

I've been wondering something lately. Out of the many different ideas that have been brought forth into existence by the human mind, why has the concept of God not only survived, but thrived exceedingly? It is true, after all, that this belief has permeated human civilization like a plague. Innumerable gods have been created (and died) by many cultures throughout the span of history. Even today, some version of this idea still holds its sway over the vast majority of the world's population. From a psychological point of view, what makes this "God Hypothesis" so incredibly powerful and infectious? People are willing to structure their entire lives around what they believe their god(s) wants and does not want. Some are even willing to die or to kill others for their belief, if necessary. They do all of this without questioning. I find it difficult to think of a more potent or dangerous force in the world. Can you?

53 COMMENTS

  1. People don’t pick up the god idea spontaneously. It’s embedded in cultures and taught to children as part of their identity. It’s a matter of slogans, catchphrases, rituals and habits which signal your membership of the group. Without the pressure of social convention, I doubt if religious belief would survive in a world where everybody was educated to Shanghai standards.

    • That is not true. Some people do just that in later life, pick up belief “spontaneously”.

      In reply to #1 by aldous:

      People don’t pick up the god idea spontaneously. It’s embedded in cultures and taught to children as part of their identity. It’s a matter of slogans, catchphrases, rituals and habits which signal your membership of the group. Without the pressure of social convention, I doubt if religious belief wo…

  2. Religious belief is emotional, not logical. It is a security blanket. It’s why logic rarely works against true believers. Religious belief is strongest in populations that lack economic security and certainty. It’s one of the reasons that sub-saharan Africa is uniformly religious and Scandinavia is among the most secular places on Earth.

    • If belief in God is “emotional” then so is atheism. Both serve a purpose. They both make sense to the individual. As for the rich poor argument, that can be argued many ways.

      In reply to #2 by SelfAwarePatterns:

      Religious belief is emotional, not logical. It is a security blanket. It’s why logic rarely works against true believers. Religious belief is strongest in populations that lack economic security and certainty. It’s one of the reasons that sub-saharan Africa is uniformly religious and Scandinavia…

      • In reply to #28 by Robert-Evans:

        If belief in God is “emotional” then so is atheism.

        I fail to see how a conclusion made from examining all available evidence, or lack of it, can be an emotional response. My atheism is based on logic. My political views are also based on logic but I would concede there is an amount of emotion in them as well.

        • In reply to #30 by Stephen Mynett:

          In reply to #28 by Robert-Evans:

          If belief in God is “emotional” then so is atheism.

          I fail to see how a conclusion made from examining all available evidence, or lack of it, can be an emotional response. My atheism is based on logic. My political views are also based on logic but I would concede…

          Atheism, like theistic beliefs can be emotional.

          However logic will generally lead one to atheistic or deistic beliefs, given that the vast bulk of theistic scripture and philosophy is either contradictory to itself or other historical or scientific discovery, or fallacious. So it’s far more likely for someone to be atheist for logical reasons rather than emotional reasons, than it is for someone to be a theist for logical reasons.

          That said, everyone one will come to their conclusions based on some ratio of both emotion and reasoning. The difference is whether you allow your emotions to override your reasoning, or for your emotions to sit benign in the back seat while you reason honestly.

          In reply to Robert-Evans:

          I suppose the easy answer would be to say that it was true, hence the reason the belief in God is still around. If not, then it takes some explaining.

          Do you mean that if God exists then that explains why people still believe in him?

          To say that’s an easy answer is a common religious cop out, the buck stops at god and needs no more explaining. The problem is that doesn’t actually provide any explanation, it simply delegates the problem to the will of god which nobody could possibly comprehend, replacing the issue with an emotive acceptance that it’s been answered but you can’t know the answer.

          What about Allah or Vishnu?
          If people still believe in God because he’s real, then why do people believe in other gods that aren’t real? And it’s not because they’ve just chosen the “wrong” gods, they all fervently believe in their gods as much as Christians do.

          See? The problem still exists.

          The religious like easy answers, but unfortunately don’t stop to think whether the easy answer is the correct answer.

          In reply to Robert-Evans:

          Belief in God does not make you kill any more than None belief in God does.

          The evidence suggests otherwise.

          Secular countries with a low religiosity have much lower levels of crime, such as northern European countries, Canada, Japan, etc.
          While the highest levels of crime are found in countries with high religiosity, Africa and the middle east for example.
          Also, religiosity is far more common in prison than it should be if there was no correlation between religion and crime.

          There’s a similar correlation with education and standard of living. Those better educated or living in countries with better livings standards and economies are far less likely to be religious.

          This indicates that education tends to counteract the effects of religion, and/or that religion could be an emotional response to struggles in life.

          In reply to Robert-Evans:

          Some people do just that in later life, pick up belief “spontaneously”.

          Yet when they do pick up religion later in life or are “born again” it generally tends to be the same religion that they were brought up in as a child but previously rejected. That or they tend to be people who were never previously exposed to religion and became indoctrinated at a later stage in life, which is never really “spontaneous”.

          In reply to Robert-Evans:

          Why would you believe though in something you can’t see, and if it did not exist, could not therefore help you?

          You tell me.

          • In reply to #31 by Seraphor:

            Atheism, like theistic beliefs can be emotional.

            No, that’s antitheism. I am also an antitheist.

          • In reply to #32 by Peter Grant:

            In reply to #31 by Seraphor:

            Atheism, like theistic beliefs can be emotional.

            No, that’s antitheism. I am also an antitheist.

            Oh dear, here comes the semantics.

            I consider antitheism to be the active rejection of theistic beliefs. Which means anyone who is an antitheist is by necessity also an atheist. Atheism is the personal belief or lack-thereof, antitheism is the projection of that lack-of-belief onto others.

            You could be an atheist because you feel betrayed or rejected by religion, which could also make you an antitheist. So in that case both could be true.

            You could also be an atheist because you don’t identify with religious doctrine but have never actually considered what is logically possible, perhaps you just weren’t exposed to religion growing up but have an open mind. Therefore you would be an atheist but not necessarily an antitheist, but it would still be for emotional reasons, not logic.

          • In reply to #33 by Seraphor:

            I consider antitheism to be the active rejection of theistic beliefs.

            No, antitheism is just a moral judgement. One may believe that God exists and simply conclude that He is a bastard.

          • In reply to #34 by Peter Grant:

            In reply to #33 by Seraphor:

            I consider antitheism to be the active rejection of theistic beliefs.

            No, antitheism is just a moral judgement…

            I don’t see the difference, but either way, that doesn’t negate atheism from being an emotional response.

          • In reply to #35 by Seraphor:

            I don’t see the difference, but either way, that doesn’t negate atheism from being an emotional response.

            Sure it does, I’d much rather believe there was someone to blame.

          • In reply to #36 by Peter Grant:

            In reply to #35 by Seraphor:

            I don’t see the difference, but either way, that doesn’t negate atheism from being an emotional response.

            Sure it does, I’d much rather believe there was someone to blame.

            You’ve lost me.

            You believe in god, but hate him, which means atheists can’t be atheists for emotional reasons?

            Atheists who are atheists for emotional reasons are actually antitheists, who actually believe in god, so they can’t be atheists?

          • In reply to #37 by Seraphor:

            You believe in god, but hate him, which means atheists can’t be atheists for emotional reasons?

            If God did exit I would hate Him. I think “God” is a stupid idea.

          • Have you considered that the idea of “God” being a “stupid idea” might well be because you have not the total facts? Do we not all base our ideas on what we know?
            In reply to #38 by Peter Grant:

            In reply to #37 by Seraphor:

            You believe in god, but hate him, which means atheists can’t be atheists for emotional reasons?

            If God did exit I would hate Him. I think “God” is a stupid idea.

          • In reply to #39 by Robert-Evans:

            Have you considered that the idea of “God” being a “stupid idea” might well be because you have not the total facts?

            And you do? LOL!

          • Clearly by your response your are “emotional” and not open to any reason. One would suspect that your are an atheist, and therefore your mind is closed. The ‘reasoning’ you therefore claim to have as atheists, is sadly lacking
            In reply to #43 by Peter Grant:

            In reply to #39 by Robert-Evans:

            Have you considered that the idea of “God” being a “stupid idea” might well be because you have not the total facts?

            And you do? LOL!

          • In reply to #45 by Robert-Evans:

            Clearly by your response your are “emotional” and not open to any reason.

            I’m not the one claiming to know the mind of God.

          • There is no reason to think that “logic leads on to atheist or agnostic beliefs”. This is an assumption based on a lack of knowledge.
            In reply to #31 by Seraphor:

            In reply to #30 by Stephen Mynett:

            In reply to #28 by Robert-Evans:

            If belief in God is “emotional” then so is atheism.

            I fail to see how a conclusion made from examining all available evidence, or lack of it, can be an emotional response. My atheism is based on logic. My political views are also…

          • In reply to #41 by Robert-Evans:

            There is no reason to think that “logic leads on to atheist or agnostic beliefs”. This is an assumption based on a lack of knowledge.
            In reply to #31 by Seraphor:

            In reply to #30 by Stephen Mynett:

            In reply to #28 by Robert-Evans:

            If belief in God is “emotional” then so is atheism.

            I fail to see…

            Care to demonstrate that logic?

            It’s actually an assumption based on a pre-existing foundation of logic and plenty of experience of faulty “christian logic”.

            You also misquoted me, I said logic leads to atheistic and deistic beliefs, because logic refutes any extant religious scripture as fantasy, leaving only room for the deist god, or none at all.

            That is to say logic that takes into account all of the facts, as you say. Scientific facts, such as evolution, the expansion of the universe, quantum fluctuation, etc. There is no more room left for a theistic god.

            If it is an assumption based on a lack of knowledge, and this assumption differs from yours, care to tell me what knowledge I’m lacking?

          • You said “That is to say logic that takes into account all of the facts, as you say. Scientific facts, such as evolution, the expansion of the universe, quantum fluctuation, etc. There is no more room left for a theistic god.
            If it is an assumption based on a lack of knowledge, and this assumption differs from yours, care to tell me what knowledge I’m lacking?”

            What makes you think that Evolution, Inflation, Quantum Physics, means that there is no Consciousness behind it? I fail to see the “logic” in that. All I see is a prior assumption. You believe that you know what Origin is, but clearly by your comments, you don’t. I only wished to draw your attention to it, I don’t expect for one moment your views will change.

            In reply to #42 by Seraphor:

            In reply to #41 by Robert-Evans:

            There is no reason to think that “logic leads on to atheist or agnostic beliefs”. This is an assumption based on a lack of knowledge.
            In reply to #31 by Seraphor:

            In reply to #30 by Stephen Mynett:

            In reply to #28 by Robert-Evans:

            If belief in God is “emotional”…

          • In reply to #44 by Robert-Evans:

            You said “That is to say logic that takes into account all of the facts, as you say. Scientific facts, such as evolution, the expansion of the universe, quantum fluctuation, etc. There is no more room left for a theistic god.

            Theistic gods have asserted supernatural properties which have been progressively refuted as scientific knowledge reduced the gaps in available human knowledge.

            You would seem to be lacking an understanding of the historical origins of theistic beliefs, the psychological basis of them, and of the science which debunked them.

            Modern scientific knowledge does not claim to know everything, but both known science and logic can debunk the claims made for Abrahamic and other theistic gods. There is no evidence to support theistic god-claims – Just blind faith of belief that does not rest on logical proof or material evidence. The ill-defined shuffling of deist god-descriptions, to tries to evade refutation of the existence of gods in the material world – outside of the god-delusions in believers’ brains by simply remaining too vague to pin down.

            What makes you think that Evolution, Inflation, Quantum Physics, means that there is no Consciousness behind it? I fail to see the “logic” in that.

            You have produced no evidence for conscious designers, the existence of which would produce the paradox of infinite regression, and be vastly more complicated, than the simple operation of the known laws of physics, which explain the development of the universe from the big-bang onward.

            Logical deduction starts with evidence, or it simply leads to fanciful “castles in the air” detached from reality!

            All I see is a prior assumption.

            Then look at the evidence instead of your own assumption that a god must exist,

            where you try to shift the burden of proof from those making that assumption, to those asking you for the missing evidence needed to support such a claim.

            Your inability to understand the science is not proof of a magic god!

            @45 – Clearly by your response your are “emotional” and not open to any reason. One would suspect that your are an atheist, and therefore your mind is closed. The ‘reasoning’ you therefore claim to have as atheists, is sadly lacking

            You should perhaps learn to recognise psychological projection!
            “Reasoning” is a process of logical deduction, not the arrival at your preconceived unevidenced conclusions.

        • But the very fact that your atheism is based on logic, is just the same for theism. What do you think is the difference? Sure there may be some who think about it more and go into it more. But it is not illogical to think that we have an origin.
          In reply to #30 by Stephen Mynett:

          In reply to #28 by Robert-Evans:

          If belief in God is “emotional” then so is atheism.

          I fail to see how a conclusion made from examining all available evidence, or lack of it, can be an emotional response. My atheism is based on logic. My political views are also based on logic but I would concede…

  3. For many, it is ingrained into you at a young age. Just check out this video of “pint-sized preachers” (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mDzJ7R8MH-g) Do you think these 4 year olds really chose to preach for themselves? No way/ If you are grown up seeing that the particular religion or idea..whatever it is…is good so naturally you follow that to reach goodness and truth. It is hard to think for yourself when you grow up believing exactly what is told to you without looking into other things (such as science or experimentation) first because those things refute many religions, so they choose to look at those things as flawed practices.

  4. I think that underlying the belief in gods are the very tempting ideas of dualism and teleology.
    People have always wanted to know ‘why am I here’? And ‘what is mind’?

    These are not easy things to reconcile and it is trivial to answer them simply by positing the existence of souls and saying ‘god did it’.
    If you look at the works of Plato, Aristotle, Descarte, Kant, etc, you will see that these are difficult issues to resolve, especially when you do not have advanced scientific knowledge to back up a position on them. I don’t blame people for getting wrong ideas about
    what can be deep philosophical issues. As SelfAwarePatterns said it is hard to use logic against believers. I think you need to cut past the symptoms, God/souls, and get to the root issues of dualism and teleology.

    All the above is pure hypothesis based on what I have seen in the world. It would be nice if I could find a study to back up my viewpoint. :)

  5. What I think, if it matters: “gods” arise because they name something real, and they take the forms they do because it makes us feel good. The real thing is the unknown something that exists to cause things to be the way they are–the god of the gaps if you like. Since no one knows what it is, by definition, the only way to describe it is via simile and of course people choose similes that give them a feeling of control or power over their environment. Questioning, or not accepting them as explanations, forces one into painful self-examination a lot of people lack courage to do. [As a side note, a lot of people cannot understand anything very abstract so they take the similes literally, with predictably ludicrous results.]

    In reply to #4 by Stuart Coyle: Here’s one study.

    http://www.scipie.net/docs/2007/Kelemen_PS_2004.pdf

  6. People like the idea of a ‘Big Daddy’ who looks after them? Its probably built into our psyche to want to belong to the most powerful tribe around. The imagined ‘God Tribe’ makes up for meagre reality.

  7. The majority of the thousands of religions that have been created over history do not have the one all powerful god that created everything, most of them have been Polytheist and therefore a bit more flexible and less dogmatic. Why the classic sheep herders religion of Islam and Christianity have come to dominate so much of the world in recent years is another story. I personally think it is survival of the meanest. Christians have the pitch to young children of seeing mummy and daddy in heaven or burning in hell for eternity. Hard to imagine any child able to resist a threat like that and childhood trauma is not something you easily get over.

    • In reply to #7 by Catfish:

      Why the classic sheep herders religion of Islam and Christianity have come to dominate so much of the world in recent years is another story.

      It’s a story written in the blood of conquered peoples as the invaders built their empires on the ruins of other cultures. Nothing strange about the spread of Islam in North Africa or Christianity in the Americas.

  8. Just look at the comments and behaviour of people who fervently believe in modalities such as homeopathy and acupuncture as medically effective therapeutics and explain to me the difference from those who fervently believe in a god. It seems that once the (unspeakably fallible) individual human mind has decided on something as “truth” it tends to cling to that “truth” regardless of sparklingly clear evidence to the contrary.

    The most successful beliefs become reinforced by the formation of ever larger groups of believers and, once something becomes clearly structured, it can ultimately become an acknowledged culture. Even atheists need to keep this in mind: I always worry about atheist “movements”. BTW I don’t think I said anything in this comment that isn’t already there in Richard Dawkins’s development of the concept of memes.

  9. The belief in a deity throughout human existence may have been passed at a genetic level.

    In groups of animals we see a ranking system based on the dominant male especially in primates. The group exist because it enhances the survival rates of individials within the group and the dominant male get the pick of the best (genetically) females and food sources. We all live in much larger groups now (whole countries for example).

    Could this information have been passed at a genetic level via our DNA, to crave a dominant leader, weather that be a man or a god ?

    • In reply to #10 by Apeshit:

      The belief in a deity throughout human existence may have been passed at a genetic level.

      In groups of animals we see a ranking system based on the dominant male especially in primates. The group exist because it enhances the survival rates of individials within the group and the dominant male get…

      While I certainly agree that a tendency to religion, or something like it, has been hardwired by evolution, I do not think it actually is religion, but rather superstition. Religion simply being the final, and possibly even logical, extension of superstitious thought.

      And we are all subject to it. Even the rational, educated, and non god deluded sophisticates who inhabit this and similiar fora. Even, I bet, Richard Dawkins himself.

      ‘Fess up now, Friday the 13th? I doubt it affects us, but the old superstition inevitably comes to mind on such a date. Black cats? I saw one this morning. It did not stop me going to work, but the old superstition flashed into my mind, albeit only to be dismissed, with mild amusement at my frailty. Throwing a pinch of spilt salt over ones left shoulder? My grandmother told me that would bring luck, I never do it, but whenever I do spill salt, I remember her saying it.

      Yes, we know better than to take any notice of it, and in particular to rail against the bloated superstition on steroids that is religion, but that does not negate the receptors in our brains that are perfectly capable accepting utter rubbish. It actually takes mental effort to override them, and as we see all too often, it takes more than facts and proof. There has to be a desire to clear the crap out, and without that, no ammount of sanity can prevail.

      “I’ve made up my mind, don’t confuse me with facts.” is the mindset that is the real obstacle to overcome.

      • In reply to #15 by Sheepdog:

        While I certainly agree that a tendency to religion, or something like it, has been hardwired by evolution, I do not think it actually is religion, but rather superstition. …

        Superstition seem to me to be a spandrel that emerges from Evolution as a byproduct of organizing neural networks to find patterns. It happens when that pattern finding capability finds patterns that aren’t really there. That was demonstrated by Skinner long ago in his famous ‘Superstition’ in the Pigeon paper. The same thing happens in computer simulations of neural networks as you can see if you do an academic Google search on “superstition in neural networks.” The point is that Evolution need not have any selection pressure for superstition, the selection pressure to be able to find patterns is enough to bring it on (i.e. not “wired for superstition” but it happens in our wiring, anyway). Once you have the capability for superstition, religion can use it (“Oh, that’s good. I can use that …”).

    • In reply to #10 by Apeshit:

      The belief in a deity throughout human existence may have been passed at a genetic level.

      I tend to doubt that, especially since are plenty of cultures today that do not share such a belief.

      If anything has been passed down at a genetic level, it would be those particular traits that often, but not always, lead people to believe in a deity, not the belief in a deity itself.

      For example, one of those traits may simply be a strong desire to have an explanation for observed phenomena (and this trait may be inextricably linked with our existence as rational beings). If we cannot immediately discover an explanation for something, thinking that it must have been caused by some sort of powerful being is preferable to having to dwell on the fact that we just don’t know.

      Another trait may be an ingrained fear of the unknown. This trait likely kept our early ancestors alive millions of years ago when anything unknown could be (and frequently was) lethal.

      Another trait may be an ingrained herd instinct. Following the rest of the herd is usually safer than striking out on your own, and it can be dangerous to rebel against what everybody else believes to be true. After all, if everybody else in your tribe believe a particular plant is poisonous, it would be foolish to go against the grain and try it for yourself.

      And this list goes on and on. Put together, we may very well be genetically primed to believe all sorts of nonsense, including (but not limited to) God, alien visitations, chi energy, sympathetic magic, etc., etc., etc. A belief in God may be the most common and long-lasting simply because it is often so nebulously defined as to defy any attempts at being disproved.

    • Why would you believe though in something you can’t see, and if it did not exist, could not therefore help you?
      In reply to #10 by Apeshit:

      The belief in a deity throughout human existence may have been passed at a genetic level.

      In groups of animals we see a ranking system based on the dominant male especially in primates. The group exist because it enhances the survival rates of individials within the group and the dominant male get…

    • What does that even mean? To believe in a government? Yes, I’m sure most people in Scandinavia (I included) believe the government exists, offers us different services and upholds certain structures of our society. But, it sounds like you claim people in Scandinavia believe in their government like religious people believe in their gods. That sounds quite absurd to me. In reply to #11 by 78rpm:

      Reply to Comment 2 Scandinavia is among the most secular places on Earth. Indeed it is, but like all welfare and socialist states they BEE-LIEVE in their government.

  10. I think people are so ready to believe in gods because we have evolved to expect complex phenomena to be the work of other humans, or other living beings.

    If your stone axe disappears from your hut, you expect that someone else took it. You fear violence from other humans and some other relatively intelligent animals, but you don’t expect a rock to leap off the ground and strike you. Wherever there is misfortune, we are predisposed to attribute it to another human or intelligent being, because that’s usually the right answer.

    Unfortunately, that means that where a misfortune occurs, like the ruination of crops by rain, or something very unusual like lightning and thunder, our psychology leads us to expect a human origin. In the absence of an obvious human culprit, we hypothesize something similar but more powerful, to explain how it was able to produce the havoc it did.

    I think gods are actually a pretty decent deduction, just unfortunately completely wrong.

  11. It is indeed a confusing time in history to be present. Only the non-impoverished have access to scientific fact, and even among this minority, childhood indoctrination persists. A red herring is to pursue the malice of the indoctrinators. When investigating the construction of a lasting institution based upon scripture and backed by wealth, there’s a commonly overlooked basic truth.

    The malice, the system for financial or political gain died with the first generation of the propagators of any religion. Following generations are merely upholding the religion based on what they felt for their parents, and their success (albeit independently) gained whilst conforming to the religion. Authorities within them, pass on the obvious benefits of position.

    How can gods end then? Well they do. Historically via war, when the victors impose their preferred doctrine upon the defeated. So why do we still have people running their lives around deities with no evidence? Other than innate respect for parents or elders, humanity’s decrease in propensity to make war. The sheer numbers of our globe-drenching species render historical god-ending events impossible. Such events still occur on the “smaller” scale, of course, with any subsequent humanitarian aid paid for in bills labelled “In God We Trust”.

    The war we now must enlist in is education, reversal of population growth, climate destruction and poverty. It took our species 200,000 years to reach 1 billion. In the last 80 years we’ve added over 5 billion. The unsustainable, detached horde must be taught to strive towards an earth which lives. Lives in terms of biological diversity, and more personally, one which hasn’t two members of the same species existing as mental and functional opposites.

  12. Religion thrives upon ignorance and poverty.

    When you look at the supposed “sophisticated” theologians of Christianity. like Craig, Plantinga, Swinbourne, Lennox and Ray Comfort, you realise that their artistry relies upon sleight of mind, where an alternative reality to the one of our senses, is conjured out of the magician’s hat like a white rabbit !

    Talking of rabbits, don’t ever let the dog see the rabbit ! “That’s not the God I believe in !” they cry, when its failings are there for all to see ! Bloody charlatans, the lot of them. Do they consult God when deciding when to cross the road ?

  13. As a student of Thanatology (Sociology of Death), I would think the first logical reason for the “God Hypothesis” being so popular would be the avoidance of death and chaos. Both of which are unavoidable. If you think about it, just about every action we take in our culture (and pretty much any other society) is in avoidance of becoming nothing, which is essentially what death is if you don’t believe in a soul. We are denying our creatureliness because we’ve watched animals die before our very eyes constantly. So, we pretend that we are not animals by keeping our corporeal bodies clean and free of what we deem as excess hair or odors, we wear clothes and hide when we remove our bodily wastes or during intercourse … because after all, we AREN’T animals, right? (Wrong!) Animals die and decay and disappear. But we are humans and thus, special (Not so much). The same can be said of the delusion that we can control future events. Tomorrow, we could be hit by a bus, fired from our jobs, someone may fall out of love with us, etc. People will do and believe just about any insane thing to avoid death or to deny that they don’t have any real control in the future events of their lives. These activities, rituals, and beliefs that some hold to avoid death fall under what Thanatologists refer to as Terror Management Theory (TMT). It’s really very fascinating. But, we’re all going to die and it’s best just to not waste precious time conduction stupid rituals and believing in fairytales. I’d rather make art, music, love, enjoy life, make amazing discoveries because I have an open mind, and experience a rich sharing of ideas with others before my toes are sticking up.

  14. What makes this hypothesis so powerful and infectious? I think a possibility to get rid of responsibility for your own actions. God is a surrogate parent. In the past church was a synonym for state, nothing could be done without permission of church. Religion generated fear among people, with their rules what you can or can not do,… a person is not free. But in the same time they give you a way out, so to speak. They give you to make “choice”, they offer comfort if you want, and a forgiveness of your sin (as a parent would to a child), a safety among group of people who think the same way. This mechanism of fear and comfort is very effective. As I see human beings have been looking for safety in whole evolutionary process, even today we seek safety. One can get this feeling if can get enough money, one through they love partner (they can be different – same or different sex from you, taller, smaller, uglier, more beautiful,…never mind but important is that they give you a feeling of safety). :) So in my opinion feeling of safety is a key. What is paradoxically is that people are ready to give up of their freedom in order to feel safe. A great amount of people seek for surrogate parents, where they could not be responsible for their actions.

  15. Interesting question and one many of us have probably asked ourselves at some point in our lives. It is certainly safe to say that of all the religions that have manifested throughout time, for arguments sake, the last two to three thousand years, Christianity is certainly the most prominent. In saying that it is well known that the Muslim religion is almost a ‘spin -off’ from the early Christian teachings as the Koran gives reference to many stories within the bible but adopts its own prophets. That said it would seem that this religion is growing and expanding at a worrying rate within western societies and I am increasingly concerned that this indoctrination is on the increase. However my personal thoughts as to the reasons for the almost exponential growth of Christian based religion early on, is the root of the stories and the medium by which these stories were spread. Bearing in mind that whatever you believed happened or didn’t happen two thousand years ago, it took place in a region which was dominated by the largest empire that ever existed, the Roman Empire. The Christian teachings could go no other place other than global, though it was the main threat to the Roman multi-god belief system in place at that time. Whatever the the old testament stories offered, they were clearly reinforced by the story of Jesus and as an Atheist this was nothing less that a brilliant propaganda mechanism. So much so that Constantine prospered as a powerful Christian leader and promoting the export of the Christian teachings from the then Constantinople.

  16. Interesting question and one many of us have probably asked ourselves at some point in our lives. It is certainly safe to say that of all the religions that have manifested throughout time, for arguments sake, the last two to three thousand years, Christianity is certainly the most prominent. In saying that it is well known that the Muslim religion is almost a ‘spin -off’ from the early Christian teachings as the Koran gives reference to many stories within the bible but adopts its own prophets. That said it would seem that this religion is growing and expanding at a worrying rate within western societies and I am increasingly concerned that this indoctrination is on the increase. However my personal thoughts as to the reasons for the almost exponential growth of Christian based religion early on, is the root of the stories and the medium by which these stories were spread. Bearing in mind that whatever you believed happened or didn’t happen two thousand years ago, it took place in a region which was dominated by the largest empire that ever existed, the Roman Empire. The Christian teachings could go no other place other than global, though it was the main threat to the Roman multi-god belief system in place at that time. Whatever the the old testament stories offered, they were clearly reinforced by the story of Jesus and as an Atheist this was nothing less that a brilliant propaganda mechanism. So much so that Constantine prospered as a powerful Christian leader and promoting the export of the Christian teachings from the then Constantinople.

  17. I think a large part of it could be due to the history of technology. Improved ships and navigational technology had been developing soon enough to enable overseas colonialism for Europeans about 600 to 500 years ago. Before then, Christianity was confined to Europe, the Mediterranean, and parts of West Asia, while Islam dominated North Africa, the Middle East, and Southwest Asia through to India, and other beliefs such as Hinduism and Buddhism were most prominent in East and Central Asia. Once the Americas, South Africa, and Australia were invaded and overrun by the technologically more powerful European settlers and conquerors, there were grounds for expansion of the religions they held, either because they converted local peoples or just exterminated them. That’s also presumably why there are so many Spanish and English speaking people on the planet today, dwarfed only by the number of people who speak Mandarin Chinese (but who are geographically isolated by comparison).

    Basically, my idea is that, once the technology developed, whoever happened to be holding it when it became suitable for long-distance conquest would be the ones whose culture would spread furthest. Had the Chinese been the ones holding the ball when that happened, we’d probably now have a thread asking why traditional Chinese medicine or Mandarin Chinese is so widespread.

  18. Humans are the dangerous force. I believe it was Sam Harris who mentioned our “Collective Psychosis” in his recent study on guns in the USA. We have a collective fear that something will happen if we don’t …buy a gun to fight evil; pray to god to fend off evil. Except for rare catastrophic events, evil is entirely man made.

  19. Imagination is rich. And it will reach as long as we can imagine or beyond our imagination. As long as we think our imagination…..delusion…..or illusion is real, there is alot of ways to cook it. Only the sight of suffering would be on par to challenge it. Someone should setup a statistics billboard. Show the world the number of kids suffering from cancer. Number who died. Number of people suffering from other illnesses…..etc. Ask this world where is the god you speak of. Let the numbers speak for themselves.

  20. The god idea thrives simply becos theists love to consult mediums. They love to idolize something. As monotheistic monotheism may sound, monotheism is in fact the highest form of idol worship where one propound one’s faith as more superior than the rest. By conversion, what they sheepishly did to other faiths is to simply replace one idol with another. The idea of them consulting mediums is pretty obvious. If a relationship with god is so important, why then do we see books and books of theism, all sharing about another man’s experience with god which acts as references to clone another experience when one should be trying to establish that relationship oneself to have a unique experience that is totally one’s own. It’s a obvious proof alot of theists are clueless. When one read about how god spoke to someone, isn’t that experience no different from seeking answers from spiritual mediums. The only thing is we have no proof if the very source of these references are written by people who are in a trance or going through a seance. Theists are equally guilty of all the malpractices they accuse others of.

  21. I suppose the easy answer would be to say that it was true, hence the reason the belief in God is still around. If not, then it takes some explaining. As for saying it is dangerous, I don’t see why you think so. Belief in God does not make you kill any more than None belief in God does. Its the ideology that comes after that which is the problem, as others have pointed out on other posts.

    • In reply to #26 by Robert-Evans:

      I suppose the easy answer would be to say that it was true, hence the reason the belief in God is still around. If not, then it takes some explaining. As for saying it is dangerous, I don’t see why you think so. Belief in God does not make you kill any more than None belief in God does.

      That claim is comical!

      You haven’t studied the history of the crusades, or sectarian terrorism????
      Millions have been killed in disputes and wars between religions, and between sects within religions!

  22. As we all know political ideology can be very potent if not more so than religion, and the two together? well, what a cocktail for misery that is. Once religion embedded itself into early and now mainstream culture, with all the permutations that we see, it has evolved into a very sophisticated tool of power, not to mention and without which it could not survive, a wealth generating machine. Very hard to shake off when it mirrors everything humans regard as important to the moral good and quality of life. Status, self esteem, sense of belonging, security of body and soul, even low blood pressure can be attributed to faith in God, I can imagine in a hunter gathering society a crude form of belief had major benefits (especially for the individual doing the talking) and can explain in part to it’s persistence to this day. It helped form cohesion in a group and explained a lot when things went wrong. When a soldier goes to war.. who ya gonna call, God! to MY side! about now would be good, yes indeed, and if the 1st and 2nd World Wars and those thereafter are anything to go by, He failed, but of coarse he had his reasons.. but I digress, the longevity of religiosity for me is a lack of inquisitiveness, intellectual rigour and something as simple as not seeing the beauty of our natural world, the power of natural selection and what lies beyond this planet, no religion can compete and there are no short cuts, mores the pity. Our brains and underlining ‘programmes’ have been under construction for millions of years, (stops me in my tracks thinking about that ) patience, resilience, understanding and reason are part of the armoury to smothering this outmoded way of thinking.

  23. To err is human, to forgive is divine. Religion thrives simply becos humans are prone to errors and some cannot forgive themselves for the error that they did. So having a religion and cooking up this imaginary almighty….creator of all who forgives oneself for the error helps one overcome that psychological barrier. It’s like I cannot forgive myself but the ultimate super duper creator forgive me….he has the final word……what can you say about that enables one to move on. If indeed this is the case, who then should do justice to wrong one does to others. It’s really wishful thinking but there is no better way to lie to oneself with a placebo called GOD.

  24. What has permeated human civilization is the exploitation of man by man. So long as we have that, we will have religion, which facilitates the control of the exploited by the exploiters. We did not, actually, have “God” in his modern form until about 400 A.D., when authoritarianism rose in the eastern part of the Roman empire. Authoritarian societies are facilitated by authoritarian religious concepts.

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