What do people really mean when they say they believe in God?


gcarth Plus
14 3.0k 1 United Kingdom
30 Aug 2018 3:46PM
We see many debates on religion on TV discussing atheism, agnosticism and religion and yet there rarely seems to be any real attempt to establish what or who God is supposed to be.
What happens is that debates get over-heated over a subject (the nature of which means different things to different people with little agreement) and are consequently a waste of time.
Even ancient Greeks like Epicurus could see inconsistencies in the general concept of the nature of God.


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Chris_L Plus
4 4.9k United Kingdom
30 Aug 2018 5:14PM
Only consistent things that I can think of are that they think that God caused them to exist. Whether by creating the universe and they evolved or creating them after creating the Earth or some combo.

People who believe in God tend to believe there is an afterlife and that they will meet God or be more involved with him in the afterlife.

Some think that God is a puppet master and they are on his stage or he is merely an observer or that sometimes he chooses to do things (give cancer to kids for example) sometimes he causes earthquakes, he has mysterious ways.

A hotch potch of beliefs dreamt up by people a couple of thousand years ago who didn't know about atoms or germs but were incredibly superstitious.
Carabosse 15 41.2k 270 England
30 Aug 2018 7:00PM
You have to define "God" before you can say whether or not you believe in the definition. Therein lies the problem: we stumble at the first hurdle

Our definitions are limited by our little human brains. More advanced species than homo sapiens, existing in the universe (or indeed multiverse), may have a way of looking at these concepts that we could hardly begin to grasp at.

What if we, our planet/galaxy/cosmos are all actually part of God? In the way that the cells of our bodies are part of us without having sufficient - or indeed any - consciousness to realise it?

Actually that could make a good sci fi story! Tongue

keithh 14 25.4k 33 Wallis And Futuna
30 Aug 2018 7:23PM
It's those who choose to believe in God who say that I have to have a reason not to believe- like I'm purposefully disobeying some law.

God as an omnipresent spirit who created and controls life.
God as some 'superhuman' being.
God in a part human-part animal form.
God as the sun or moon.

Put that way, then yes, I don't believe. Of course as CB has demonstrated, you can always invent another idea of God which is very similar to why we have the idea of God in the first place.
dark_lord Plus
14 2.2k 552 England
30 Aug 2018 7:23PM
God is an excuse for people's ineptitude and lack of (mental) strength and receives the blame for those people's actions such as starting a war or other atrocity.
Tianshi_angie 3 2.2k England
30 Aug 2018 7:33PM
In my experience of people who believe in a 'God' it is a faith - the clue is in 'believe'. It has nothing to do with science or knowledge, the modern day discoveries made through research etc. play no part whatsoever in their belief. Others can suspect the whys and wherefores of such a belief, but personally I do not try to persuade them they need to think again (although they frequently 'believe' that I ought to think again) as what they choose to believe is entirely up to them - except when it becomes dangerous to others' safety. This can be due to extreme views or the sort of brainwashing such as is seen in the followers of cults. For many a 'god' is a great path to contentment.
gcarth Plus
14 3.0k 1 United Kingdom
30 Aug 2018 8:10PM

Quote:A hotch potch of beliefs dreamt up by people a couple of thousand years ago who didn't know about atoms or germs but were incredibly superstitious.
Yes. A couple of thousand years ago people could be excused for their superstitions because science and enlightenment hadn't yet developed.
However, I find it strange that people in the modern world still accord so much reverence to the Bible because of its many contradictions and the fact that it was clearly not written by God but by a fair number of scribes over a period of time.
Many believers (not all) say God is omnipotent but when it is pointed out to them that it can't be so because he allows so much evil to be inflicted on innocent people, they come up with some infuriating and pathetic answer about God punishing us for our sins or testing our strength, etc.
Then of course, there is the question of perfection: Why would a perfect, omnipotent God produce a world full of imperfections (albeit there are also many examples of perfection). What possible motive could a perfect God have to produce any imperfections. A man might be smitten with the beauty of a stunning young woman who is without a blemish and perfectly formed but, like all humans, she has an imperfection in her eyes - as any biologist knows.

Of course it could be argued, what is perfection? Is it a human construct?

My own feeling is that nature - or a blind and unstoppable 'life force' - over time by the law of averages, produces both perfection and imperfections - together with both successful and unsuccessful adaptations to the environment it produces.
gcarth Plus
14 3.0k 1 United Kingdom
30 Aug 2018 8:20PM

Quote:For many a 'god' is a great path to contentment.
Yes, I agree and I find there are lots of decent, intelligent people who are believers but have the sense to reject at least some of the teachings of the Bible.


Quote:You have to define "God" before you can say whether or not you believe in the definition. Therein lies the problem: we stumble at the first hurdle
Exactly my sentiments, Carabosse. I think it is because debates stumble at this first hurdle that they get so heated and finish up as slanging matches.
Toobi_Won 7 42 4 England
30 Aug 2018 8:36PM
I had my belief in "god" beaten out of me by nuns whilst a child. Suffer little children they would cry, too thick to know that suffer in the gospel sense meant allow!
Since time immemorial, man has not wanted to believe that he (and having no knowledge of natural occurrences like disease, weather systems, plate tectonics, volcanism, etc.,) could be the author of his own misfortunes. He chose instead to lay the blame on the displeasure or vengeance on some supreme, capricious creator, be it the sun, moon, sea, or bearded dude sitting on a cloud throwing thunderbolts. Not just the one god either but any number of them, usually knocking seven bells out of each other as well and man suffering the fallout.
Things went downhill when a new group of people got in on the act. No longer was it allowable for simple men to plead to god(s) for a successful harvest etc., so the priestly class was born, born to intercede to the god(s) on man's behalf.. This intercession usually led to an improvement in the priestly classes living standards and even proved to be a nice little earner for those running the operation and little has changed for those at the top. Yet countless peoples take solace and comfort in believing in a higher authority and should not be knocked for it, good luck to them.
I prefer Von Däniken's view.
gcarth Plus
14 3.0k 1 United Kingdom
30 Aug 2018 8:43PM

Quote:He chose instead to lay the blame on the displeasure or vengeance on some supreme, capricious creator, be it the sun, moon, sea, or bearded dude sitting on a cloud throwing thunderbolts.
Yes. Man created God.
JackAllTog Plus
9 5.3k 58 United Kingdom
30 Aug 2018 11:31PM
I find it hard to prove or disprove as your'd need to disprove beleif.

I'd say believing in God is believing in something greater than you that brings understanding to your life, believing in a thing that is outside of time and therefore not subject to change or decay lest your belief be temporary or limited. Religions were great at bringing order to communities and norming behavior patterns such that we mostly all got along. Then in some cases people built power bases out of 'religion' and either abused that position over those around them, or used their religion to motivate/justify wars.
As all the worlds religions get closer they bump against each other we feel defensive of those attacking our childhood beliefs and our norms of society; So we can often make religion ever more extreme and fractious against others and more strict than it ever was - these hard-line views certainly exploit weak or vulnerable people.
I'd say a lot of peoples belief is a protective resistance to change and a fear of looking at something new. But also I'd say for some religion is a massive comfort for those that have invested in it for much of their life believing.
God is certainly not a rational scientific concept for me, yet i have a vocabulary of belief in the western christian version of God - Yes, the two co-existent views don't match up.
So perhaps God for me is an irrational crutch that i keep on hand for times when life is challenging.

What i think is important in a global society is watching how religiously aligned language is used to shame people in to coercive behavior patterns that divide us.
Instead let God/Religion teach us that de-humanising other humans until we hate or devalue them is wrong, and that if God is really that great it/he/she does not need us to follow any historical traditions to help it/he/she along.
If i could choose a new religion or code of conduct for life it might be based on my interpretation of a friends visible Jainism beliefs - Work hard together, love your family & friends, teach good & fun behavior, follow religious guidelines until you see them harming people; Reach out, help others and don't damage things where you can find a better way to do something.
I also look as some of the photographs of the northern lights and the celestial galaxy shots and wonder how in awe of 'God' i might have been had i been a Viking a long time ago.
No wonder God does not make complete sense to me.
Carabosse 15 41.2k 270 England
30 Aug 2018 11:44PM
We are afraid of the phrase "I don't know". Even more scary, for some, is the possibility that we shall NEVER know and that humankind will come to its (sadly inevitable) end not ever having ever discovered the answers to the really big questions.

Even scientists, according to some studies, are split 50/50 on belief in God. Albert Einstein was a believer as was Charles Darwin although they both had reservations.

Chris_L Plus
4 4.9k United Kingdom
30 Aug 2018 11:56PM
The beauty of mathematics, the wonders of physics, the incredible achievements of science and the ways in which we've learned about our world and about our species and about our universe from this tiny little rock dwarfs the religious rubbish that shrugs and tells us that God has the answers, the religious stuff that doesn't bother trying to explain anything other than to say that "God did it"

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Carabosse 15 41.2k 270 England
31 Aug 2018 2:15AM
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Chris_L Plus
4 4.9k United Kingdom
31 Aug 2018 6:58AM

Quote:Albert Einstein was a believer as was Charles Darwin although they both had reservations.
Einstein wasn't - in his dice and "God" quote, "God" was used metaphorically as one might say "Mother Nature".

Darwin had a real crisis of conscience. His heart was telling him he would upset his family and friends. His head was saying that God hadn't gone to the trouble of making 37,000 slightly different species of fungi or 120 slightly different species of newts or whatever but the variants could be explained as mutations that had dominated as they were more adapted to a particular location's food source, predators and climate.

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