On why we believe or disbelieve (theists and atheists)

Discussion in 'Comparative Religion' started by wegs, Mar 29, 2021.

  1. Seattle Valued Senior Member

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    I've never been a believer although as a kid I had to go to church and "Sunday School" from a small kid until I was about 15 when I was allowed to not go anymore.

    My mother was religious, most people in my area(N.C.) were religious (most were moderate by Southern standards though). I learned all the stories. I just never bought into any of it even as a kid.
     
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  3. James R Just this guy, you know? Staff Member

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    Thanks, wegs. Likewise.

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  5. wegs Matter & Pixie Dust Valued Senior Member

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    Apparently, there is a character limit on posts, here?

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    So, I'll split my responses into two separate posts.

    So true. I’m truly not “looking” for ways to be offended. Lol Different world views make life interesting and I believe in respecting someone’s opinions/views as long as they aren’t harming others, of course.

    Of course, totally agree. It’s all in the tone and delivery - if you’re simply disagreeing without mocking and scoffing at another’s views, that should leave no room for someone to react defensively. This isn’t to say that there aren’t super sensitive people out there who may get offended just by mere disagreement. I have seen this go both ways though where sometimes atheists become antagonistic, as though looking for a fight with theists, and that could be why some theists go on the defense. I remember when I “deconverted” from Christianity like seven years ago, and went on the offense against my theist friends. At the time, I was angry with my Catholic upbringing and felt duped, for lack of a better word. So, theists became targets for me to take that bitterness out on.

    For a healthy exchange to happen though, would you agree that you sharing why you find belief in God irrational is as relevant as why believers find it rational? In other words, does a believer owe you an explanation but you don’t owe them one? In the Bible, Jesus speaks about how believers should always be ready to share why they believe what they do, to show others where their hope comes from. But, I think sharing one’s views and trying to convert others to thinking a certain way, is a weakness that both atheists and theists struggle with, sometimes. Maybe this has to do with our egos and sense of pride?
     
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  7. wegs Matter & Pixie Dust Valued Senior Member

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    An experienced arguer. Hmm. Yea, there is a “right” and “wrong” way to argue points I suppose, but what is your "end game" so to speak, when you enter into discussions with theists? For me, so you know, I hope to just be “heard,” and that we both come away with understanding. So, no ''end game'' per se, other than to understand and stretch.

    Agree.

    Agree. I can attest to that, but outside influences can play a role in deconversion and I would say one’s overall experiences within faith circles, churches, etc can play a role. But we can expand on that later.

    I don’t think “flip” is the right word, it’s more of a slow fade, either way. When I abandoned Christianity, I had stopped attending church, stopped praying, stopped hanging around my theist friends etc, started reading books written by atheists, and eventually (then), I concluded that there is no god. It’s rare that as humans, we are never influenced by any outside factors when developing world views. (my opinion)

    Ah, I posted too soon above lol Agree here.

    I think too that it comes down to - do I see the need to believe that something higher than me exists? Interestingly, this is what led me both to atheism and also away from it back to belief, albeit my beliefs are different than when I was Catholic. (I’m non-denominational, if I had to label it.)

    Same.

    Agree, and that can be true for atheists, as well. I left faith because I was disillusioned with the Catholic religion, not necessarily with God. I had been taught to view God through the lens of the RCC, and now that I view God through the lens of Jesus’ teachings, I feel solid in my beliefs. I’m not sure I made a good atheist lol - perhaps as much as I didn’t believe for a time, it didn’t seem comfortable, for want of a better word. We shouldn't govern our lives by emotions, but we have them, so they must be somewhat relevant to the quality of our lives, imo.

    Do you ever come away changing your mind? I have seen your posts in the UFO section so I’m thinking no? lol

    But some things in life are grey, would you agree? For example, you may love pizza. I may hate pizza. You could spend months laying out so many convincing reasons why I should love pizza. If I never agree with you about pizza, did you fail? Does that mean pizza is awesome or disgusting? See, not every point of view has a probable reason that will satisfy everyone. I’m thinking faith is like that.


    Absolutely! It’s never been a style I’m attracted to when it comes to joining discussions. Some may call me a “snowflake” but I just feel that there is a way to have a thorough, healthy discussion without the discussers berating one another.

    I hear you. What’s funny though is on religious/Christian forums, many believers are pretty awful to atheists so...it’s sad that meaningful dialogue is being lost due to ego and pride. (my guess)


    I do believe you (now) lol Thank you for saying this.

    As mentioned, I didn’t know you were once a theist. Do you think that critical thinking and faith are incompatible? Would you consider yourself a materialist when it comes to your views? I’m not a fan of labels, but I’m just curious why you may feel that the Bible isn’t a decent enough piece of evidence for Jesus’ existence? Like if you feel it was a made up book, filled with made up stories that have no historical value, I would ask how do you know that? Having said that, faith isn’t a provable thing, in terms of why I enjoy believing or the peace that I feel it brings to my life. But, I can tell you that it does, with certainty. Kind of like my pizza reference above.
     
    Last edited: Apr 6, 2021
  8. wegs Matter & Pixie Dust Valued Senior Member

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    I think this is so interesting and have a few friends who weren't brought up in religious households (differ from you) but never believed. Never had an interest in ''exploring,'' and still don't. Have you ever been interested in world religions, at least from a discovery/exploration perspective? I'm rather fascinated as to why people believe what they believe, faith and non-faith related.

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  9. Seattle Valued Senior Member

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    I'm interested in most everything, mainly how things "work" though so I've had some background in political science, law, economics, engineering, etc. In collage, in the summer, when I had plenty of electives to take I did take one course in comparative religions which was of course about world religions.

    I've never had any interest in the sense of looking for a religion to follow. I even "get it" regarding what I perceive a lot of people to get out of religion. The sense of something greater than yourself or the "awe" or uplifting environment of church with the stained glass windows, classical music, lofty ceiling, etc.

    When the actual preaching begins I'm also turned off however. When I was a kid I went to Sunday School every week. When very young we learned the biblical stories, as we grew older it wasn't about religion and was just discussion about how our week went at school and how we treated the new students from out of town who were in our school. Or it was talking about what would be wrong and how we would handle it. So it was more about teaching morals I suppose.

    When it was time for "confirmation" (this was a Methodist church) around age 13 we had to go to classes at night. I went to only one and when I came home I told my mom that I wouldn't be going to any more. She said, "Ok, I just thought you might like to go through confirmation with your class/age group but maybe when you are a bit more mature next year you'll be interested".

    I knew that wouldn't be the case and I never went through confirmation and within a couple of years when I asked to not have to go to Sunday School that was finally granted.

    The adults who ran the confirmation class were largely ones that I knew and who had taught Sunday School but it was always just friendly discussion. When the confirmation class started it became "religious" all of a sudden, repeating pledges to God and it all seemed so mind washed like a cult. That was it for me.

    The other thing that I should point out is that the Methodist Church is mild and everyone I met was nice to me. I never had any bad experiences. I never had any bad experiences with religion at home or among neighbors either. For most people in my area it was more of a personal belief and there wasn't a lot of proselytizing.

    The nice people and people that you respected were religious and no one admitted being an atheist. Some just didn't go to church and didn't talk about religion. That was just the culture and the times.

    There was no light bulb moment for me. If I was ever a "believer" it would just be in the sense that when you are very young, you believe in everything...God, Santa, the Man in the Moon, it seems possible that Aladdin could fly on a magic carpet, etc.

    My mom read all those stories to me and I loved them all. About the time I started to figure out what was real and what was just a good story that's when I just lumped the Bible into the just a good story category. So it's always been that simple for me.

    Later I read a little about what were the world's religions and what the basic framework was for each religion. Not because I was looking for something to believe in. I just wanted to know what exactly was being referred to when those religions where brought up.

    It was no different than wanting to understand the basic framework for Quantum Physics when that subject was brought up.

    I saw your comment about pizza. I agree that religion seems to have several components and one is subjective (like pizza). If you feel peace from religion I wouldn't argue with that. The other component is different though IMO. As they say, "Facts don't care whether you believe them or not, they are still facts".

    So IMO there is Evolution and it's as close to a fact as anything we consider to be facts and it's a fact whether you "believe" it or not. That's a component of religion that I don't think is comparable to pizza.

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    The only other thing that I would add is that I have no issue with most of the big picture Jesus teachings. I suppose no one does and that's why it's popular. It's good to think of others, to step outside yourself, to have compassion for the less fortunate.

    To me though, that's not a religious thing and it doesn't take Jesus for me to feel that way. For some religion was be about "letting go" and that can result in not taking personal responsibility for one's actions. "It's God's plan" or "surrender your life to God"...these are no helpful to the individual, IMO, for the most part. It may relieve stress but so would getting drunk every weekend but the downsides of that are apparent and maybe less so with religion.

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    Last edited: Apr 6, 2021
  10. Dennis Tate Registered Senior Member

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    I would term Evangelist Garner Ted Armstrong a "Christian Comedian" so he grabbed my attention in a way that was altogether different from the majority of Christians who managed to make it to TV.

    His church had a very "humane" teaching about the afterlife but.... NDE accounts proved that he was almost certainly incorrect about his version of "Soul Sleep."
     
  11. wegs Matter & Pixie Dust Valued Senior Member

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    Thanks for sharing, Seattle. Just thinking out loud, but ''organized religion'' is not for me, either. So much of what you share here, resonates with my childhood upbringing with ''religion.'' I'm not sure that I'd say believing in God requires a religion, but many attach various labels to it, for whatever the reason. I think that for some, feeling like they are a part of something, a group, fitting in, etc becomes more important than reflecting on God, and what the concept of God might actually mean in real time for them. But, nonetheless, I appreciate your post, here.

    By the way, my pizza reference wasn't to compare actual pizza to religion lol

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  12. Seattle Valued Senior Member

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    A lot of people mention that they aren't really into religion (the organized aspect) and I get that. On the other hand without the organized part one wouldn't know about God unless you feel that it's something that you would innately be aware of anyway.

    Which also brings up, to me, that it can almost be just a matter of semantics. When I'm trying to figure out what to do, what would be right, or just dealing with a tough situation I'm basically talking to myself (not out loud of course) but our brain processes hundreds of thoughts every minute.

    Might not someone else just refer to this as "talking" to God or praying?

    Or to put it another way, if you had never heard of the Bible you might still "feel" that there is something out there greater than ourselves but you would have to leave it at that. You wouldn't be aware of any Jesus or Jesus teachings.

    Do you think you would still label this as God? And if you would, what would you do/think next?

    In other words you wouldn't have any evidence of any thing other than a feeling so even if you still had that feeling how would you develop it to be any more complex than that?

    You could pray to this God but you couldn't say how you should act because anything that you came up with would obviously just be you making it up.

    How would taking the Bible out of the equation change things for you? Or would it change anything?
     
  13. Michael 345 New year. PRESENT is 71 years old Valued Senior Member

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    Shortcut answer

    Theist believe because they get what I call a warm fuzzy feeling about what they believe in

    Atheists don't believe because they want / require evidence

    They get warm fuzzy feelings from other sources

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  14. wegs Matter & Pixie Dust Valued Senior Member

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    **Note - I didn’t create this thread; it was split from the “Near Death Experiences” thread.**
     
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  15. gmilam Valued Senior Member

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    I was raised in the Methodist church... but never really "believed". I tried. At around 6 years old I asked my mom how we know God really exists. She said I would have to decide that for myself. In my mid 20's I embarked on a period of Bible study. After several months of reading and study, I realized that I simply did not believe it. It just seemed like a convoluted way to "save" a creation. Jesus's purpose hinged on Genesis being true, (Romans chapter 5) and we know Genesis is a myth. That means Jesus's purpose is based on a myth.

    As for the deeper question of why there is anything at all, I don't have a clue.
     
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  16. Write4U Valued Senior Member

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    There is a hypothesis that in view of the relational values and potentials released during the BB, "it was neccessary that something should emerge". In short, that something was the table of elements and evolutionary processes did the rest.
     
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  17. Dennis Tate Registered Senior Member

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    Since beginning to research several important branches of the paranormal in 1990 I was rather impressed by those NDE accounts where the person who reports an out of the body experience feels that they must have met Jesus.... and some of them are absolutely convinced that it was Jesus who they met during their NDE. Some others like former Atheist Howard Storm admits that he thinks he met Jesus.... but Jesus did not exactly give Howard his name.
     
  18. James R Just this guy, you know? Staff Member

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    wegs,

    My own "deconversion" was a gradual, gentle process, I guess you might say. I was never really angry about my religious upbringing, or at the religion itself. Part of the reason, maybe, is that I was exposed to several different denominations of Christianity growing up, but none of them was "hard line" in the way that Catholicism can be - all were Protestant, and (perhaps importantly) none were evangelical. In the United States, I guess I would have been labelled as something like a "mainline protestant".

    I don't think religion did me any long term damage, so my gripes about my religion - the time I wasted on prayers and attending religious services, worrying about sin, and such things - are, you might say, at the less harmful end of the scale.

    When I finally admitted to myself that I was an atheist, it took me quite a long time to admit it to other people, - other than close friends - mostly because I didn't want anybody I cared about to feel offended, or to worry about me. Later on, I did have fully honest and open conversations with my family, and even though some of them remain theists we can all agree to differ and it doesn't cause friction, for the most part. That's because we respect each other's points of view on matters of religion, even though we disagree.

    On sciforums, for a long time, I didn't "come out" as openly atheist, because I wasn't really interested in participating in an "us vs them" dynamic. Nevertheless, I always consistently promoted a message of critical thinking about all things - religion included - and was a keen promoter of the scientific method and of skepticism.

    I think what changed my mind about being more open about my atheism was a combination of factors. One was probably the emergence of the so-called "new atheist" movement, following the publication of books such as Harris's The End of Faith, Hitchens' God is not Great and Dawkins' The God Delusion, which started me questioning whether I should continue to be as "respectful" to religious people who, themselves, show little to no respect for people who do not share their views. Another factor was that I became more aware of the "collateral damage" harms that religion is so often associated with, from religiously inspired hate and terrorism to child abuse and general prejudice and bigotry. I decided it was important to be more open about what I stand for, as an atheist and, more importantly in that context, as a humanist (which is an appropriate label for my moral beliefs, even though I'm not overly fond of the term itself).

    I think that explaining why you believe what you believe - whatever the subject - is very important. Mere declarations of belief are not that interesting to me - that's just planting a flag in the ground. It is only by digging down to find the reasons given for the belief that we can hope to find common ground or mutual understanding.

    I think it is legitimate to try to "convert" others, in the sense of trying to make a persuasive argument to bring them around to your way of thinking. If nobody tried to do that, then a lot more people would believe all sorts of things on very shaky grounds. In matters of religion, I completely understand why somebody who honestly believes that Jesus Christ is the Lord Our God, or whatever, would feel almost compelled to try to spread the Good News. After all, if it were true, then few things could be more important for everybody to understand and believe. But it also works the other way around. If there are no gods, it's important that people come to realise that, for all kinds of good reasons.
     
    Last edited: Apr 10, 2021
  19. James R Just this guy, you know? Staff Member

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    I share your goal to come away with a better understanding of the person I'm having the discussion with, and of their position. But with theists, I also usually enter discussions with the aim to provoke the theist to critically examine his or her own beliefs, because in my experience there are many theists who never really do that, and for whom the methods of critical thinking - at least as they apply to religion - are largely unfamiliar. From time to time, theists also provoke me to more closely examine my own beliefs and the reasons I hold them, and I'm very open to that, as well as to trying to answer questions about them honestly.

    Any honest and open discussion must be a quid pro quo, though. On this forum, for example, I have come across a number of theists who are unwilling to share almost anything real about their own deeply held beliefs. Instead, they just come for an argument with atheists, based on what they read on Answers in Genesis, or on various religion sites - they only really bring to the table what other people have told them, and nothing of their own. There are also those who come unwilling to examine anything; those people just assume they already have access to the Absolute Truth about their God and his Creation, so they are just here to preach and not to have a real discussion. With those people, any sharing of personal views is seen as a sort of weakness to be exploited or ridiculed.

    What all this means is that my responses to people here often mirror the style that people choose when they interact with me. If there's no give and all take from them, then that tends to reduce my desire to give them much, and at the limit at which further interaction with them becomes a tiresome chore, my responses can be brusque, or I'll sometimes just leave the discussion. On the other hand, I'm always up for a good, honest sharing of views, in an atmosphere of mutual respect.
    I agree.

    At the time I realised I was atheist, it was already a couple of years after I stopped regularly attending church, which I had only really done previously because my school required it, anyway. At school, I attended optional bible study at one stage because I wanted to find out more about the foundations of Christianity; at that stage, looking back, I had already started questioning the truth of the religion. I had been reading books written by atheists from a very early age, without even realising it (because the books were about science, and didn't specifically talk about atheism). My interest in reading more of the literature specifically about religion and atheism only really developed after I was already effectively an atheist - which is one indicator that nobody ever specifically argued me into atheism, at least not with that specific intent.

    I'm aware that the universe is mindboggling enormous, and that in the big scheme of things Earth and human beings are insignificant as far as the universe goes, which is not to say at all that there's no significance that we attach to our own lives and to other people; other human beings are fundamentally important to us.

    I think that there's a very human desire we all have to feel special, or cared for, and I think that's one motivation for seeking out "something higher"; maybe there's a "something higher" that cares about us, even when other human beings disappoint us or let us down, or just aren't there. Although that is a very attractive idea, I just don't see any good evidence that it's true, so I don't believe it.

    I can completely understand that, for some people, the idea of living in a vast universe that is, for the most part, indifferent to us, might be a frightening or unhappy idea, but personally I prefer to accept the uncomfortable truth than believe in the comfortable fantasy.

    Having said that, I recognise also that the teachings of religion are not always a net comfort for everybody. Religions can bring with them their own set of fears. For Catholics, for instance, there's the ever-present fear of being punished for an eternity in hell for finite sins, which must be a terrifying prospect for anybody who actually believes in that. Still, even the presence of a "higher power" that cares enough to cast you down into hell can provide a sort of weird, twisted sense of comfort, I suppose.

    There's also the fear of death, and the desire for some part of us to persist after death, which is tied into most religions.

    As with religions, people come to atheism in different ways. Some people call themselves atheists and yet haven't really arrived at atheism through any process of reasoning. They might be rebelling against a strict religious upbringing, or maybe they are angry at God for failing to help them in a time of need, so they sort of shout at God and say "Well, if you're going to be like that, I won't believe in you!" But those types of atheism are built on shifting sands; after getting away from the strict environment, or after something good happens, God is allowed to creep back into the picture, because the belief that God exists was never truly abandoned in the first place.

    By the way, I find that this perception of atheism is not uncommon among theists: the idea that atheists are rejecting God, or denying God, as opposed to really, honestly, not accepting that God is real. Those theists just can't seem to get their heads around the idea that a person might actually not believe that God is real.

    It sounds to me like you had issues with the teachings of Catholicism, more than with the idea of God, as such.

    This might not apply to you, but there is an identified trend in the United States at present for people to move away from organised, institutional religions, towards identifying themselves as "spiritual but not religious". For some people, that means retaining belief in a monotheistic god while not identifying with any particular religious institution or organisation (church). For others, it can mean de-emphasising the importance of god, but retaining a belief in a more abstract, but still accessible "higher power". At the far end of that scale come New Age believers, who tend to believe in impersonal "spiritual" forces that affect human behaviours or destinies.

    Do you attend a church, or follow any particular group's or person's teachings about Christianity, or do you just interpret the bible for yourself?
    I can remember from when I was a teenager, at times almost longing for God to step in and help me to deal with things in my life. At those times of emotional upset or despair, if I'm honest about it, I think I probably had an ulterior motive - I thought I could use help from God and my religion taught me that God cared about me. I guess I really wanted some sign that God was real, too. But when good things happened - even after one of those emotional low points - I don't think I ever really credited God for them. If I was a different person, maybe I would have, and maybe I would have taken it as confirmation of the truth of God's existence.

    These days, I'm less self-centred that I was as a teenager (and let's face it, if you can't be self-centred as a teenager, when can you be?), and I have a much better calibrated idea of how unimportant my petty concerns would be in the grand scheme of things (if there was one). I also know that it would have been completely unjustifiable for me to give God credit for the good, or for me not to blame him for the bad, in my life and more generally in the world.
     
    Last edited: Apr 10, 2021
  20. James R Just this guy, you know? Staff Member

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    (continued...)

    When I was a kid, I was into science fiction in a big way. (I still like it.) I also had a much less developed "baloney detection kit" than I have now. I thought the idea of aliens in spaceships visiting Earth was cool, and I thought that maybe it was really happening. I read more than a few accounts of UFOs and aliens that were promoted as being "true", including a lot about famous UFO sightings, alien abductions and the like. I didn't know for sure if the stories were true, but they were presented in a way that seemed quite convincing to me at the time.

    On the other hand, at the same time, I was also reading stuff about real science, including stuff about the possibility of alien life, the size of the universe, the chances of life emerging on other planets, and more. It didn't take me too long to realise that the stories of alien abduction were very unlikely to be true.

    So, it might be fair to say that at one time I was a "believer" in aliens, then after reading up on the topic I came away with my mind changed about that.

    Once I started reading things about the scientific method - the skeptical movement was really my introduction to that, with writers like Carl Sagan being especially influential on my thinking - I quickly changed my mind about many other things as well - like the existence of ESP, the existence of ghosts, the possibly that there might be something to astrology, and much more.

    In conversations on sciforums, I have changed my mind on a number of topics, typically about things I didn't previously know much about or understand properly, prior to having a particular conversation. Often, a conversation has prompted me to go off and research a topic further on my own, as well, to learn more about it, and sometimes that has contributed to my changing my mind.

    I guess that, like everybody, I am more confident about some of my beliefs than others, and I'm very confident indeed about some things - especially things that I have spent a lot of time studying and thinking about. It would take something extraordinary to change my mind about certain things. I would say that is especially likely to apply to areas that I have already been motivated to research and think about, such that it has changed my mind about the topic or issue, previously.

    Whether you like pizza is subjective. It wouldn't be sensible to argue that "pizza is delicious", and assume that is going to apply to all human beings everywhere all the time. There's no objective measure for "deliciousness". Different people find different things delicious (or not).

    On the other hand, the question "Does God exist?" must have one of two answers, objectively. Either there is a God, or there isn't. That fact, whichever way it goes, exists separately from anybody's individual belief about what the answer might be.

    If I ask you "Why do you love pizza?", you're going to give me a subjective answer that involves your perception of the taste, the smell, the convenience, etc. All of those things will relate to you. Many of them might well be shared by lots of other people, too, but that doesn't mean they are objective facts.

    If I ask somebody "Why do you believe in God?" and they tell me that the idea of God makes them feel cared for, etc., then I'm not going to question that, because it's as subjective as the reasons they give for liking pizza. On the other hand, if they tell me "I believe in God because God answers prayers" then that is something that I can objectively test, at least in principle. Either God really does answer prayers, or he doesn't, and we should be able to arrange for studies to see the difference. If it turns out that the objective evidence - i.e. stuff that is not just a matter of personal opinion - shows that prayers aren't actually answered*, then we can confidently say that believing in God because God answers prayers is not a defensible reason to believe. "I believe in God because it makes me happy to think that there's a God who answers prayers" might be closer to the mark, but then we're back in subjective territory again.

    I've covered this quite extensively in the thread "Is faith a reliable path to knowledge?"

    Briefly, people use the word "faith" in at least two different ways, without realising it. One kind of "faith" is a sort of trust, based on evidence of actual past behaviour (objectively verifiable). That kind of faith is not incompatible with critical thinking; in fact, it's more or less an expression of it. The other kind of "faith" is a belief in things that haven't been - or can't be - verified. That's deciding to believe that something is true despite having insufficient evidence to justify the belief. I think that kind of faith throws critical thinking under the bus.

    People also use the word "faith" to refer to a hope or a wish. Usually they say things like "I have faith that the rain will stop..." or "I have faith that my team will win the Grand Final" or "I have faith that you'll recover from Covid 19". That usage can incorporate either of the two previously-discussed usages, or a little of both.

    Are you asking whether I believe that the only things that exist (or can exist) are the things we can detect with our usual senses (sight, hearing, touch, etc.)? I think I would lean towards saying "no", if that's the question, because I believe that things like ideas and emotions and concepts exist. But I'm not 100% sure that's what "materialism" means, anyway. Can you be more specific?
    I've used this example before, but imagine if archeologists 2000 years from now, after World War III had erased many of the records from our time, found many ancient copies of a set of books about a boy wizard called Harry Potter. They conclude from the many thousands of identical copies of the text that they found that knowledge of this "Harry Potter" person was commonplace in many separate locations around the world. They also find that the texts largely agree that there was a place called Hogwarts, and that Harry Potter could perform various magical "miracles" with his wand.

    Would it be reasonable for those archeologists to conclude that Harry Potter was a real boy wizard who actually existed in around the year 2000? Suppose that, apart from copies of the "core texts" of the "Potter religion", they also found fragmentary references here and there to the "Harry Potter phenomenon" and various other pieces of historical data - an ancient website called "Pottermore", references to a "J.K. Rowling" as the compiler/author of the core texts, something called "cos play" which could be interpreted as a ritual re-enactment or ceremonial celebration of the Potter religion, and so on. What then? Would that help to make the case that Harry Potter and his magic were real?

    The archeologists note that certain historical "facts" from the Potter texts can be independently confirmed. Ancient building fragments and artifacts seem to confirm that around the year 2000 there was actually a Kings Cross Station in a place called London, for instance. Does that affect things?

    Is the bible in a fundamentally different position than this?

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    * Some controlled studies have been done on this. Results: praying for ill people doesn't improve their chances of a positive outcome, above what we would expect from chance alone.
     
    Last edited: Apr 10, 2021

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