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 Post subject: WHY DO PEOPLE BELIEVE IN GOD?
PostPosted: Sat Jan 31, 2009 10:51 pm 
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I thought this was an interesting topic to post since it contains observations about both believers and non-believers.

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If there is no God, what is morality, where does it come from, and will it work without God? What is spirituality? How is it different than religion? Does it have value if God is a mere myth and legend? Why are there atheists? Why gods, and then a God? Why is monotheism successful in some societies and not in others? Why is belief more prevalent among some groups and cultures than in others? Why are we willing to kill and die for this particular idea?


Why Do People Believe in God?

by Larry Beinhart

(About author
Larry Beinhart is the author of Wag the Dog, The Librarian, and Fog Facts: Searching for Truth in the Land of Spin. All available at nationbooks.org. His new novel is: Salvation Boulevard. Website: http://www.larrybeinhart.com. Responses can be sent to beinhart@earthlink.net
)

Many people continue to clutch to their belief in God, even though there's no evidence of a higher power. Why?

We're doing that because if we start with the idea that if God does exist, then we have to explain why there are so many versions of Him (her or it) and why we can't figure out the right one. Historically, that's a dead end, stuck in the same battle as Saladin and Richard the Lionheart in the Crusades.

The agnostic position -- either we can't know, or let's wait until rocket ship (real or metaphorical) finally lands in heaven or some place of infinite vistas from which we can see there is no God -- leaves like Samuel Becket's two tramps, eternally Waiting for Godot.

So we start with "God does not exist," which demands that we come up with a theory that will explain why we believe, why belief is so popular, and so strong that people will kill and die for their own particular brand of it.

There are other false beliefs for which the evidence is stronger and more easily seen, that people have readily given up.

Such beliefs include: the earth is standing still (it certainly looks like it), that the sun rises and sets (you see it every day), the earth is solid (it has a hard crust over a molten center), that the earth is flat and you can fall of the edge, that matter is solid (atoms are mostly empty space), that something can't be both a wave and a particle (electrons are apparently both), that all the species were created separately and simultaneously (give or take a day).

Our theory has to explain why belief in God is more tenacious, with less evidence, than those.

It also has to deal with The Atheist's Dilemma.



MORE AT THE LINK.

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 Post subject: Re: WHY DO PEOPLE BELIEVE IN GOD?
PostPosted: Sun Feb 01, 2009 5:18 am 
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Catherine wrote:
. . . It also has to deal with The Atheist's Dilemma.


My point of view has a lot more to do with Pascal's Wager than the Atheist's Dilemma. My problem with most believers is the limitations they put on God. Any definition that doesn't allow for infinite differences in infinite combinations limits the nature of a Higher Power. A real God CAN be all things to all people. This is something that can only be determined in one's own heart. Giving that power to another human, only makes the other human a god.

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 Post subject: Re: WHY DO PEOPLE BELIEVE IN GOD?
PostPosted: Sun Jul 17, 2011 12:21 pm 
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The Bible: History or Myth?

By Jeffrey Small

When you hear the word "myth" associated with the Bible, what is the first thought that comes to your mind?

Many use the term myth in a pejorative sense to mean that the stories described are not factually true. Others define myth as non-historical tales that contain a moral message. Both of these definitions miss the richness of the term. Mythology is a form of literature that expresses fundamental truths in a way that ordinary discourse is inadequate to describe. The stories that make up the myths are often anchored in some historical reality, but this need not be so. Mythology adds a richness of detail and a concreteness to metaphorical language. Reading Biblical stories as mythology gives me the freedom to understand their underlying meaning in a way I never did when I was taught as a child that these stories were factually true.

Why do most modern scholars reject a reading of the Bible as history much less as literal fact?

1. In an age of science and technology, too much of the Bible is simply unbelievable to today's mind and turns people away from the underlying messages. From a scientific standpoint, many of the "facts" in the Bible are simply wrong. One of many examples: according to Genesis, the universe is just over 6000 years old. According to physics, the Big Bang occurred 13.7 billion years ago.

2. Many of the stories are also scientifically impossible, like the tale of Joshua stopping the sun moving across the sky. This story assumes (as was the thinking then) that the earth was flat and was at the center of the universe. We simply know this to be false. Second, for the sun to stop would mean that the earth would have to cease rotating on its axis -- an event which would destroy the planet.

3. For many of the miracle stories, natural explanations exist. The authors of these stories lived in an age when people believed that solar eclipses were divine omens, disease was divine punishment, and mental illness was caused by demon possession. In the case of Jesus, healing was an important part of his ministry. However, today we can find faith healers in Haiti who practice voodoo and in tribal Africa who practice witchcraft. Many of these modern-day faith healers have patients who are actually healed by these practices. Doctors call this the placebo effect, an effect so powerful that drugs must undergo double blind experiments.

4. Some of the mythological stories in the Bible are not original, but were borrowed from other traditions. The Epic of Gilgamesh -- a Sumerian poem detailing the creation of the universe that predates the writings of Genesis by many centuries -- contains a flood story whose plot points are almost identical to the story of Noah.

5. The other world religions also contain rich histories of mythology and fantastical sounding (to us) stories. On what basis can we Christians claim that our miracle stories are legitimate, yet theirs are flights of fancy? The mythology surrounding the Buddha, who lived 500 years before Jesus, includes tales of how he healed the sick, walked on water, and flew through the air. His birth was foretold by a spirit (a white elephant rather than the angel Gabriel) who then entered his mother's womb! At his birth, wise men predicted that he would become a great religious leader. Twentieth-century scholars Mircea Eliade and Joseph Campbell wrote that certain archetypal religious myths are found across cultures, histories, and religions. Examples include the Cosmic Tree, the Virgin BIrth, and The Resurrection.

6. The Bible itself is full of inconsistencies. How can it be an accurate historical record, when the various books contradict each other? Here is UNC Religion Professor Bart Ehrman:

"Just take the death of Jesus. What day did Jesus die on and what time of day? Did he die on the day before the Passover meal was eaten, as John explicitly says, or did he die after it was eaten, as Mark explicitly says? Did he die at noon, as in John, or at 9 a.m., as in Mark? Did Jesus carry his cross the entire way himself or did Simon of Cyrene carry his cross? It depends which Gospel you read. Did both robbers mock Jesus on the cross or did only one of them mock him and the other come to his defense? It depends which Gospel you read. Did the curtain in the temple rip in half before Jesus died or after he died? It depends which Gospel you read ... Or take the accounts of the resurrection. Who went to the tomb on the third day? Was it Mary alone or was it Mary with other women? If it was Mary with other women, how many other women were there, which ones were they, and what were their names? Was the stone rolled away before they got there or not? What did they see in the tomb? Did they see a man, did they see two men, or did they see an angel? It depends which account you read."

7. Reading the Bible as a literal historical account of events from the past limits the power of these stories. Rather than expressing universal truths, a literal interpretation limits the actions of God to certain events in history. God's actions in the world become finite, confined to certain historical events: like the chess master making individual moves on a chessboard frozen in time two thousand years ago. Reading these same stories mythologically, however, can bring forth their universal qualities.

8. A literal reading of the Bible alienates much of our society. The stories were written in a different age with different views on social justice -- an age in which slavery was legitimate, an age when discrimination based on gender, race, ethnicity, and sexual orientation was the norm. Too often because of this history, the Bible is used to justify intolerance today.

Reading the Bible as mythology is not a new concept. Two of the early Church Fathers, Origen (185-254 AD) and Augustine (354-430 AD), both interpreted Genesis metaphorically, rejecting literal interpretations. Early in the 20th century, German theologian Rudolf Bultmann called for a "demythologizing" of the New Testament for many of the reasons given above. Rather, the movement in many fundamentalist circles today to read the Bible as inerrant (an extreme form of literalism, in which every word of Bible is viewed as true) is a late development from the 19th century as a response to the chipping away at the historicity of the stories since the Enlightenment.

I fear that an insistence on a literal or historical reading of the Bible will ultimately lead to the irrelevance of Christianity in our society. By throwing off the shackles of having to believe in the historicity of the Bible, we are free to interpret the stories as a testament to the religious experiences of people from a different age -- a testament that communicates a meaning about their experiences of Ultimate Reality, of God. I understand that their experiences of the divine ground in their lives were interpreted through the lens of a pre-modern view of the world, and my own religious experiences will take on a different form today.

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"Behind every great fortune lies a great crime."
Honore de Balzac

"Democrats work to help people who need help.
That other party, they work for people who don't need help.
That's all there is to it."

~Harry S. Truman


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