Why do you think people believe?

Cpt_pineapple
atheist
Cpt_pineapple's picture
Posts: 5486
Joined: 2007-04-12
User is offlineOffline
Why do you think people believe?

Simple question:

 

Why you think people believe?

 

 

 

[edit]

If you're a Theist why do you believe?

If you were once Theist why did you believe?

[/edit]


I AM GOD AS YOU
Superfan
Posts: 4793
Joined: 2007-09-29
User is offlineOffline
   crap

   [edit] deleted my reply, .... plastered me read the question as "what", not why. Idiot me, again.


stuntgibbon
Moderator
stuntgibbon's picture
Posts: 699
Joined: 2007-05-17
User is offlineOffline
Believe what?

Believe what?


latincanuck
atheist
latincanuck's picture
Posts: 2036
Joined: 2007-06-01
User is offlineOffline
    Well my view is that

    Well my view is that people believe in religion/deities for various reasons. If we look back throughout the ages, the main reason was based on ignorance, there have been various deities in regards to nature, from river and sea gods, to wind, lightening/thunder, earth, fire, etc, to more towards society and hierachy, such as the greek/roman gods, babylonians, egyptian, chinese (which is more or less a buracracy set up). As we evolved socially/culturally so did the deities, and the reasons why to believe, from again ignorance (for the most part), to reasons of power (appointed as king by god[s], or as a direct descendant of a deity). But the real reason behind it all, I believe, to answer the unanswerable, why are we here, what comes after death (comfort), how did it all come to be etc etc etc.

 

    Many deities, actually all deities have evidences of their locations (islam, christianity and judasim for example heaven is usually described as a better place than were they reside, which is a harsh enviroment of the desert), chinese which their deities where set up in hierachy as was set in their time with emperores, lords etc. But in the end it really is just to answer the unaswerable due to ignornace, desire for power, or delusions (the prophet mohammad and the disciple paul are examples). That's my take of it all.


magilum
Posts: 2410
Joined: 2007-03-07
User is offlineOffline
Because ignorance and

Because ignorance and confusion are uncomfortable, but inevitable, states.


Textom
Textom's picture
Posts: 551
Joined: 2007-05-10
User is offlineOffline
 I agree with Scott

 I agree with Scott Atran.  Belief in religion and/or the supernatural is either a side effect or adaptation that results from intelligence "modules" that evolved originally for other purposes.

I find his argument most persuasive because, even though humans have all kinds of complex cultural variation, religion is so historically and globally pervasive.  That suggests it is predisposed by instinct, rather than purely cultural.

"After Jesus was born, the Old Testament basically became a way for Bible publishers to keep their word count up." -Stephen Colbert


CrimsonEdge
CrimsonEdge's picture
Posts: 499
Joined: 2007-01-02
User is offlineOffline
I'm not too sure about it

I'm not too sure about it being instinct. In fact, I know it isn't instinct simply from experience. I had no idea about peoples belief in a god until I was 16. My only experience with the idea of a god was in games like EQ, D&D, EVO, Black and White, etc.

Before the concept of god was introduced to me the concept simply did not come up. It wasn't something that was 'obvious' nor was it instinctual. In fact, I remember the first time I came across somebody who believed in god. It my first day of school at a new school.

It was a complete shock to me. I was 16 at the time.

Anyway, I think people believe because they are born into it. Because they are born into it it is very hard to let go of, much like thinking you're the son or daughter of your mother and father while actually being adopted.


Textom
Textom's picture
Posts: 551
Joined: 2007-05-10
User is offlineOffline
Ah, but you must have

Ah, but you must have believed, CrimsonEdge, in some kind of superstition or other non-causal, irrational phenomena without being told about them?

Atran's book is about how the instinctive tendency to attribute experiences to supernatural causes (which is a side-effect of adaptations in human brains)  becomes anthropomorphized into various supernatural entities, which then sometimes get converted into formal religions. 

"After Jesus was born, the Old Testament basically became a way for Bible publishers to keep their word count up." -Stephen Colbert


CrimsonEdge
CrimsonEdge's picture
Posts: 499
Joined: 2007-01-02
User is offlineOffline
Textom wrote: Ah, but you

Textom wrote:

Ah, but you must have believed, CrimsonEdge, in some kind of superstition or other non-causal, irrational phenomena without being told about them?

No. I've always been rational. Even when I was a kid everything I did or thought had a rhyme and reason, even if wrong. The only thing that is remotely superstitious would be me thinking I would get a critical hit in earthbound by hitting X right before an attack scored. Of course this wasn't true, but when you get 4 crits in a row by doing this you rationalize that it is.


HC Grindon
High Level DonorModerator
Posts: 198
Joined: 2007-05-11
User is offlineOffline
I think a better question

I think a better question is: "Why do modern-day people in non third-world countries still embrace religion?"

1. Indoctrination - One poster already touched on this, i.e. one is "born into it" or rather "brainwashed at an early age".

2. Fear of Death - Others who "find god" later in life typically experience some life-threatening incident that brings them face-to-face with their own mortality.  Unable to cope with this, they embrace religion to avoid the thought of their mortality.

3. Hopelessness - Of the "depression" variety, not the starving-in Africa variety.  Religion can sometimes provide a Prozac-like placebo for those who have given up on life.

 4. Elitism - "Conciousness of or pride in belonging to a select or favored group."  i.e. the "Holier-Than-Thou" mentality.

 

I'm sure there are more reasons, but it's lunch-time.  :^)

 

-HCG 


Nero
Rational VIP!
Nero's picture
Posts: 1142
Joined: 2007-05-22
User is offlineOffline
Stupidity, Fear, and more

Stupidity, Fear, and more stupidity.


Textom
Textom's picture
Posts: 551
Joined: 2007-05-10
User is offlineOffline
These answers are really

These answers are really too easy, guys.  It's tempting to villify or dehumanize people you disagree with by labeling them as stupid, cowardly or weak-willed.  But this is just a way of making yourself feel better and doesn't contribute to dealing realistically with the problem of getting people to change their minds.

The fact is that even smart, brave and strong people adhere to religions.  George Orwell, who was one of the smartest people around with regard to the dangers of 20th century indoctrination, fear and propaganda, was a lifelong Anglican.  C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkein, Carl Jung, just off the top of my head, all demonstrably smart, corageous, independent thinkers who believed in religion.

The "they are stupid/deluded" argument isn't a complete enough explanation. 

"After Jesus was born, the Old Testament basically became a way for Bible publishers to keep their word count up." -Stephen Colbert


HC Grindon
High Level DonorModerator
Posts: 198
Joined: 2007-05-11
User is offlineOffline
Quote:

Quote:

The fact is that even smart, brave and strong people adhere to religions. George Orwell, who was one of the smartest people around with regard to the dangers of 20th century indoctrination, fear and propaganda, was a lifelong Anglican. C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkein, Carl Jung, just off the top of my head, all demonstrably smart, corageous, independent thinkers who believed in religion.

The "they are stupid/deluded" argument isn't a complete enough explanation.

 

Yet these otherwise smart, brave, and strong people chose to willfully suspend these attributes for delusion. Odds are, each one falls into one or more of the categories I listed above. Just because a person is smart and/or successful doesn't mean they aren't capable of idiocy, which is why I cringe when people bring up otherwise smart, famous historical figures who deluded themselves with religion. Their accomplishments do not validate their delusions.

[Edit] - On the flipside, their delusions do not invalidate their accomplishments, so saying they are "stupid" is wrong without a qualifier (delusion).  -HCG 

 


magilum
Posts: 2410
Joined: 2007-03-07
User is offlineOffline
Textom wrote: These

Textom wrote:

These answers are really too easy, guys.  It's tempting to villify or dehumanize people you disagree with by labeling them as stupid, cowardly or weak-willed.  But this is just a way of making yourself feel better and doesn't contribute to dealing realistically with the problem of getting people to change their minds.

The fact is that even smart, brave and strong people adhere to religions.  George Orwell, who was one of the smartest people around with regard to the dangers of 20th century indoctrination, fear and propaganda, was a lifelong Anglican.  C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkein, Carl Jung, just off the top of my head, all demonstrably smart, corageous, independent thinkers who believed in religion.

The "they are stupid/deluded" argument isn't a complete enough explanation. 

Even smart people don't generally have smart reasons for believing. I agree with your general principle, though, but I don't know if finding the answer can start with asking us.


LosingStreak06
Theist
LosingStreak06's picture
Posts: 768
Joined: 2007-05-22
User is offlineOffline
Cpt_pineapple

Cpt_pineapple wrote:

Simple question:

 

Why you think people believe?

 

Because a good deal of us are irreparably insane.


latincanuck
atheist
latincanuck's picture
Posts: 2036
Joined: 2007-06-01
User is offlineOffline
Textom wrote: These

Textom wrote:

These answers are really too easy, guys. It's tempting to villify or dehumanize people you disagree with by labeling them as stupid, cowardly or weak-willed. But this is just a way of making yourself feel better and doesn't contribute to dealing realistically with the problem of getting people to change their minds.

The fact is that even smart, brave and strong people adhere to religions. George Orwell, who was one of the smartest people around with regard to the dangers of 20th century indoctrination, fear and propaganda, was a lifelong Anglican. C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkein, Carl Jung, just off the top of my head, all demonstrably smart, corageous, independent thinkers who believed in religion.

The "they are stupid/deluded" argument isn't a complete enough explanation.

 

    I am not saying they are stupid, i never made a mention of anyone being stupid, i said ignorant, stupid cannot be resolved, ignorance can be resolved, for reasons of comfort (this one a major one i find, especially when it comes to the death of loved ones) for reasons of power yet another common one throughout history, people believe for a varity of reasons, and the most common are those, and to have an answer for the unanswerable, why are we here, instead of I don't know, it is easier to say because god wants us here, to give a reason to something that may not have a reason at all, and yet again a comfort reason as well, makes us feel comfortable that we are here for a reason, even if in reality there is no reason, there is a how we came to be, what we are, but there may never be a true WHY we are here.


RationalDeist
Theist
Posts: 130
Joined: 2007-11-12
User is offlineOffline
HC Grindon

HC Grindon wrote:

Quote:

The fact is that even smart, brave and strong people adhere to religions. George Orwell, who was one of the smartest people around with regard to the dangers of 20th century indoctrination, fear and propaganda, was a lifelong Anglican. C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkein, Carl Jung, just off the top of my head, all demonstrably smart, corageous, independent thinkers who believed in religion.

The "they are stupid/deluded" argument isn't a complete enough explanation.

 

Yet these otherwise smart, brave, and strong people chose to willfully suspend these attributes for delusion. Odds are, each one falls into one or more of the categories I listed above. Just because a person is smart and/or successful doesn't mean they aren't capable of idiocy,

ok, now you are just being an idiot.  He said that there had to be something more signifcant than "meh, their all idiots" to which you reply "just because they are smart doesn't mean they are not an idiot!"  How stupid can you be? (see how my insult points out your own preconcieved notions?  You are calling an entire group of people stupid, and then when asked to clarify why they are "stupid" you say "because they are stupid" like a retard repeating a broken record.  See how I, yet again, used an insult?  Did it have anything to do with this argument?)

 If they are inteligent, obviously they are not an idiot and there is something that you are missing--and your calling them an idiot proves that you are, in fact, deluding yourself into believing that there is not something else.


Textom
Textom's picture
Posts: 551
Joined: 2007-05-10
User is offlineOffline
And I have to qualify that

And I have to qualify that I think some religious believers believe because they are stupid (and/or deluded).  I just find Atran's explanation more persuasive about why smart people are so readily and completely deluded, and why stupid people tend to be deluded by default.  Here's a quick summary:

Primate brains have three important adaptations that allow us to deal effectively with the environment:

-Theory of mind: we are aware that other beings have minds like our own, and that they have desires, knowledge and intentions that aren't necessarily the same as our own.

-Agent detection: it's important to figure out whether things in the environment are happening because somebody is doing it, or if it's a natural phenomenon, because if somebody is doing it, they might be a threat.  It is more adaptive to assume that everything unexplained that happens around you is being caused by an intelligent agent* because, if you're wrong, no big deal.  On the other hand If you assume the bush is moving over there because of the wind and it turns out to be a jaguar, you won't be passing your poor agent-detection skills on to any offspring.

-Cause-effect reasoning: it's adaptive to be able to figure out that you got sick because you ate the red berries, so you can avoid eating the red berries.

 These three reasoning modules, that operate somewhat independently of each other, are all evident to a greater or lesser extent in a variety of animals, especially social primates and some of the smarter birds.  Nobody seriously questions that these mental operations are at work in everyday dealing with reality.

But, these three components of intelligence, that evolved for different reasons, can combine to create a side-effect: assigning responsibility for an unexpained event to a supernatural cause, a supernatural being, who has powers and knowledge beyond our own understanding.

So in a sense, humans may be hardwired to conceive of a divine or supernatural cause/being in the same way that humans are hardwired to do language or hardwired to respond to the same facial expressions the same ways.  It's only by retraining and reason that this natural tendency to assume a supernatural god can be overcome.   

 

*This also explains the emotional prejudices surrounding Intelligent Design that make processes of natural self-assembly like natural selection so counter-intuitive.  Humans are evolved to automatically think that anything that looks intentional is intentional. 

"After Jesus was born, the Old Testament basically became a way for Bible publishers to keep their word count up." -Stephen Colbert


HC Grindon
High Level DonorModerator
Posts: 198
Joined: 2007-05-11
User is offlineOffline
RationalDeist wrote: HC

RationalDeist wrote:
HC Grindon wrote:

Quote:

The fact is that even smart, brave and strong people adhere to religions. George Orwell, who was one of the smartest people around with regard to the dangers of 20th century indoctrination, fear and propaganda, was a lifelong Anglican. C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkein, Carl Jung, just off the top of my head, all demonstrably smart, corageous, independent thinkers who believed in religion.

The "they are stupid/deluded" argument isn't a complete enough explanation.

 

Yet these otherwise smart, brave, and strong people chose to willfully suspend these attributes for delusion. Odds are, each one falls into one or more of the categories I listed above. Just because a person is smart and/or successful doesn't mean they aren't capable of idiocy,

ok, now you are just being an idiot. He said that there had to be something more signifcant than "meh, their all idiots" to which you reply "just because they are smart doesn't mean they are not an idiot!" How stupid can you be? (see how my insult points out your own preconcieved notions? You are calling an entire group of people stupid, and then when asked to clarify why they are "stupid" you say "because they are stupid" like a retard repeating a broken record. See how I, yet again, used an insult? Did it have anything to do with this argument?)

If they are inteligent, obviously they are not an idiot and there is something that you are missing--and your calling them an idiot proves that you are, in fact, deluding yourself into believing that there is not something else.

 

And you obviously didn't comprehend what I was saying, in fact, you completely mangled what I said in your response.  Have you ever known an otherwise intelligent and/or successful person that, despite the smarts and/or success, acts in an idiotic manner or holds idiotic beliefs?  

The point is, the intelligence and success exhibited by Carl Jung, George Orwell, and C.S. Lewis in their respective fields does NOT validate their idiotic religious notions.  Am I saying they are COMPLETE idiots?  NO.  I'm saying they are capable of idiotic beliefs despite their intelligence and successes.

Jeez! 


RationalDeist
Theist
Posts: 130
Joined: 2007-11-12
User is offlineOffline
HC Grindon

HC Grindon wrote:
RationalDeist wrote:
HC Grindon wrote:

Quote:

The fact is that even smart, brave and strong people adhere to religions. George Orwell, who was one of the smartest people around with regard to the dangers of 20th century indoctrination, fear and propaganda, was a lifelong Anglican. C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkein, Carl Jung, just off the top of my head, all demonstrably smart, corageous, independent thinkers who believed in religion.

The "they are stupid/deluded" argument isn't a complete enough explanation.

 

Yet these otherwise smart, brave, and strong people chose to willfully suspend these attributes for delusion. Odds are, each one falls into one or more of the categories I listed above. Just because a person is smart and/or successful doesn't mean they aren't capable of idiocy,

ok, now you are just being an idiot. He said that there had to be something more signifcant than "meh, their all idiots" to which you reply "just because they are smart doesn't mean they are not an idiot!" How stupid can you be? (see how my insult points out your own preconcieved notions? You are calling an entire group of people stupid, and then when asked to clarify why they are "stupid" you say "because they are stupid" like a retard repeating a broken record. See how I, yet again, used an insult? Did it have anything to do with this argument?)

If they are inteligent, obviously they are not an idiot and there is something that you are missing--and your calling them an idiot proves that you are, in fact, deluding yourself into believing that there is not something else.

 

And you obviously didn't comprehend what I was saying, in fact, you completely mangled what I said in your response. Have you ever known an otherwise intelligent and/or successful person that, despite the smarts and/or success, acts in an idiotic manner or holds idiotic beliefs?

The point is, the intelligence and success exhibited by Carl Jung, George Orwell, and C.S. Lewis in their respective fields does NOT validate their idiotic religious notions. Am I saying they are COMPLETE idiots? NO. I'm saying they are capable of idiotic beliefs despite their intelligence and successes.

Jeez!

yes yes, I understood all of that.  You, however, didn't comprehend what I said at all.  Perhaps you should re-read it.

 The second time you read it, put special emphasis on the "something else that you are missing."  Maybe there is something that could cause the most inteligent people, in any field (i.e. not idiots) to believe in a God.

 But you won't consider this, because you are just an idiot (see how I, yet again, used that word?  Does it really have any place in reasonable discussion?)


CrimsonEdge
CrimsonEdge's picture
Posts: 499
Joined: 2007-01-02
User is offlineOffline
Allow me to clarify what I

Allow me to clarify what I said earlier.

I believe that there are 4 possible reasons why people believe in a god. 

1. Nurture. People who are brought up in a religious home are religious. People who are not brought up in a religious home are not. This would count for the majority of theists and atheists. Even a one time visit to a church at a young age can evoke life-long unshakable theism.

2. Mental disorder. This can include anything from alzheimers to schyzophrenia. Even a slight mental disorder that otherwise does not effect the person in every day life can result in the belief in god.

3. Reading comprehension. People with poor reading comprehension will generally find things hard to understand. What I mean is that they may read something and possible take something different out of it. This is why you see people toting around their KJV's and spouting out nonsense that nobody else on Earth has ever thought.

For those who go into the stickam, think of Butch.

4. Comfort. These people generally only give lip service to their god, not actually believing but hoping and pretending to believe as if this will get them beach front property next to their god. This is the second most common form of theist.


HC Grindon
High Level DonorModerator
Posts: 198
Joined: 2007-05-11
User is offlineOffline
Quote:But you won't

Quote:
But you won't consider this, because you are just an idiot (see how I, yet again, used that word?  Does it really have any place in reasonable discussion?)

Of course I've considered "something else", read my original post where I listed 4 possible reasons for otherwise intelligent people to delude themselves with religious nonsense.  Did I say it was a comprehensive list?
My second post simply pointed out that the "something else"causing the delusion is NOT their intelligence, which theists love to trot out in an idiotic effort to validate their ridiculous beliefs.


geirj
geirj's picture
Posts: 719
Joined: 2007-06-19
User is offlineOffline
So far we seem to have had a

So far we seem to have had a bunch of atheists speculating on reasons for belief. How about some theists chime in on your reasons for belief?

Nobody I know was brainwashed into being an atheist.

Why Believe?


RationalDeist
Theist
Posts: 130
Joined: 2007-11-12
User is offlineOffline
geirj wrote:

geirj wrote:
So far we seem to have had a bunch of atheists speculating on reasons for belief. How about some theists chime in on your reasons for belief?

So that I can live my life happily and to its fullest, without fear of death. I believe in the Deist God in particular so that my belief does not cloud how I observe the universe and so that I may understand the truths surrounding it.

Quite reasonable in my opinion. I live my life happier because I loose my fear of death while still wanting to live it to its absolute fullest--since I acknowldge that it is the only life I have.  At the same time, it does not effect my judgement in regard to the natural phenomina of the universe and the atom.


latincanuck
atheist
latincanuck's picture
Posts: 2036
Joined: 2007-06-01
User is offlineOffline
RationalDeist wrote:

RationalDeist wrote:

Quite reasonable in my opinion. I live my life happier because I loose my fear of death while still wanting to live it to its absolute fullest--since I acknowldge that it is the only life I have. 

 I don't get it.....you don't need god at this point, you acknowledge you have only one life and live it to the fullest, why fear death? if you only have one life to live there is no afterlife, if you believe in an afterlife, then you have more than one life, maybe one life on this earth, but I don't get it, I know that I have one life, i do not fear death and yet still have no need for a god to comfort me, it is merely accepting that I will die one day and it will be no different than the time before i was born.


Archeopteryx
Superfan
Archeopteryx's picture
Posts: 1037
Joined: 2007-09-09
User is offlineOffline
    There are probably a

 

 

There are probably a lot of different reasons why one person will believe versus why another person will believe.

 

But I would wager that it generally boils down to the god-believer simply not liking the atheistic explanation.

In short, because they like to.

Why do they like to? That's where the believers will begin to differ. 

A place common to all will be maintained by none. A religion common to all is perhaps not much different.


RationalDeist
Theist
Posts: 130
Joined: 2007-11-12
User is offlineOffline
latincanuck

latincanuck wrote:
RationalDeist wrote:

Quite reasonable in my opinion. I live my life happier because I loose my fear of death while still wanting to live it to its absolute fullest--since I acknowldge that it is the only life I have.

I don't get it.....you don't need god at this point, you acknowledge you have only one life and live it to the fullest, why fear death? if you only have one life to live there is no afterlife, if you believe in an afterlife,

you misunderstood.  There is only one of this kind of life.  I do not know exactly what the afterlife will be like, but  my guess is that it will be different.  In any case, even if it is good, I am in no haste to find out.  I will live this one as long as I can.

 However, I have hope that in the case of death, I will still have a life.  Not this life, but some form of life none-the-less.


latincanuck
atheist
latincanuck's picture
Posts: 2036
Joined: 2007-06-01
User is offlineOffline
    so you use it for

    so you use it for comfort then, no other logical reason than fear of death, instead of accepting death, deny death and use there is another life after this one to comfort yourself.


magilum
Posts: 2410
Joined: 2007-03-07
User is offlineOffline
Not this shit again.

Not this shit again.

I'm going to lurk around on BeliefNet and see whether the reasons have become more sophisticated than I would imagine.

http://community.beliefnet.com/forums/


latincanuck
atheist
latincanuck's picture
Posts: 2036
Joined: 2007-06-01
User is offlineOffline
your right, it should be a

your right, it should be a topic on it's own really. Although it does answer a question of the OP


Watcher
atheist
Posts: 2326
Joined: 2007-07-10
User is offlineOffline
I have often thought about

I have often thought about why some people believe in religion and others, even after being indoctrinated from birth, lose religion.

My mother is extremely intelligent and very well educated, and she is a fundamentalist christian. I believed in the Bible until I was 30.

What made me lose my faith?

What made the difference?

Why, how, what? I've pondered it, thought on it, lost in thought...

How did I lose my religion?

I was taught to believe one tiny detail among many in my particular denomination of christianity. Once you are saved (You accept Jesus christ as your personal saviour and really believe and accept his sacrifice for your sins) no matter what you will always be saved. You belong to god. I was taught that growing up. I never subjected this...premise...assumption...to any rational thought. I was raised to believe in it so I took it at face value with NEVER questioning it.

What started me on my path to atheism was an argument with another protestant that was raised to believe that you could fall from grace(apostacy). I had doubts. I mean we both believed in Yahweh and Jesus, but we both devoutly ASSUMED something we were taught from birth.

Well...small thorn in the side there...what if you could fall from grace? Well then I had been led astray, and despite my good intentions, I would end up in hell.

So I stopped ASSUMING what I was taught from birth was factual and put it up for skeptical thought.

Oh fuck. Once you put religion up for skepticism, once you stop assuming something that you have NEVER questioned, well, then religion is screwed.

All these well meaning theists that come here and debate us, even the intelligent ones, why do they still believe?

Because they are basing their ideas on ASSUMPTIONS that they have never critically looked at but accepted at face value from the moment an authority figure told them it was true.

"I am an atheist, thank God." -Oriana Fallaci


Thandarr
Posts: 117
Joined: 2006-12-15
User is offlineOffline
My ten reasons

This is a good question. I think there are numerous answers that apply to some or all believers. People are very different, and the reasons that people believe or do not believe are different as well.

Here's a list I've come up with.

1. Default religion. Many have not thought too deeply about religious beliefs. For those people, whatever beliefs they were raised with will remain their beliefs. In America, Christianity is the default religion.


2. Market forces. There is a strong financial incentive for people in the religion business to convert non-believers and support believers in their faith. There is no corresponding financial incentive for disbelief. Atheists have yet to think of a good reason that someone should give us 10% of their earnings for convincing them that there is not a god.


3. Social incentive. Churches are great places to make connections. Fellowship is a powerful incentive for people to maintain religious faith.


4. The Lottery Effect. Have you ever noticed that far more lottery tickets are sold when the value of the prize gets high. People would rather spend a dollar on an infinitesimal chance for a multi-million dollar payoff than a modest chance at a modest award. The reward offered by religious proponents is likewise great, luring people who might otherwise never be interested. Atheists cannot offer eternal life. The best we can do is help people reclaim the rest of this life, the only real life they'll ever have. But even that is not altogether positive. Life without the comforts of religion and the community it brings may appear to be less enjoyable than life with religion. We cannot even offer the satisfaction of being able to say, "I told you so." The lottery effect is not the same as Pascal's wager, but it has some characteristics in common. The Lottery Effect does not provide an incentive to believe. It just explains why some people reap a great psychological reward from belief.


5. Entertainment value. Sometimes we atheists fail to take this into account, but religion can be entertaining. The music is good. Many preachers are very good storytellers. For many, the pomp and dignity of Roman Catholic or Greek Orthodox services can be very moving.


6. The God-Shaped Hole. It seems to me that ther is an innate human tendency to seek communion with the divine. The existence of that tendency does not necessarily mean that the target that we seek exists. There is a yearning that seems to be universal among human cultures, although not among individuals. Like numerous other human characteristics, (e.g. height, intelligence, and happiness), this yearning probably occurs in a standard bell curve like distribution among human beings. There have been numerous theories as to why evolution would lead to such a yearning. At this point I think the correct answer is that we don't know why it's there. (See, e.g. The God Gene by Dean Hamer.) But I think there is good evidence that it is. It is easy to observe it in others. Perhaps atheists are simply those who are two deviations from the mean in yearning for the divine.


7. Educational Failures. The American education system does a poor job of teaching critical thinking. We have poor science education.


8. Pascal's wager attracts a few. I think this is a minor one, but it explains it for a few.


9. Cognitive Illusions. People are superstitious about a lot of things. Huge percentages of Americans believe in things like astrology, reincarnation, ghosts, and so on. We are subject to many cognitive illusions that lead to superstition. There is a lot of work on cognitive illusions out there. I'm an eternal beginner in studying the subject, but some good references are:

  • Inevitable Illusions, Piatelli;
  • Don't Believe Everything you Think, Kida;
  • A Mind of its Own, Fine;
  • Why People Believe Weird Things and How we Believe by Shermer;
  • Calculated Risks, Gigerenzer;
  • Mistakes were Made, but Not By Me, Tavris and Aronson;
  • How we Know What Isn't So, Gilovich, and
  • Innumeracy, Paulos.

In a TED lecture (www.ted.com), Daniel Dennett suggested that religion can be analogized to an evolving organism. it changes to fit better in its environment and compete with its competitors. The "environment" for religion is the human mind in which it exists. The religions we see practiced today are honed by competition to be most fit to take advantage of our cognitive illusions, fulfill our desires, and survive in the environment of the fallible human brain.


10. Self-Deception. For some people, probably a pretty small minority of believers, there is such a strong desire to believe that they can actually make themselves believe. I think the capacity for self-delusion over the long term is limited. Otherwise we could self-delude ourselves into ecstasy and all be deliriously happy.

This is really just a beginning. I am certainly wrong about a few of these. Unfortunately, I have no way of determining which of these I'm wrong about. I could be wrong about every one of them.

Thandarr


LovE-RicH
LovE-RicH's picture
Posts: 183
Joined: 2007-01-18
User is offlineOffline
Cpt_pineapple

Cpt_pineapple wrote:

Simple question:

 

Why you think people believe? 

 


RationalDeist
Theist
Posts: 130
Joined: 2007-11-12
User is offlineOffline
magilum wrote: Not this

magilum wrote:

Not this shit again.

I'm going to lurk around on BeliefNet and see whether the reasons have become more sophisticated than I would imagine.

http://community.beliefnet.com/forums/

don't cry magilum, momies gonna give you a dimond ring.  And if that dimond ring don't shine, mommies gona... not argue with people about this topic on this thread.


RationalDeist
Theist
Posts: 130
Joined: 2007-11-12
User is offlineOffline
Watcher wrote: All these

Watcher wrote:

All these well meaning theists that come here and debate us, even the intelligent ones, why do they still believe?

Because they are basing their ideas on ASSUMPTIONS that they have never critically looked at but accepted at face value from the moment an authority figure told them it was true.

I think this is much too simplistic.  You are applying your experience, but your experience is not universal.  I have thought very critically about religion, and have determined that most of the bible is moral bullshit.  But that doesn't mean I threw the baby out with the bathwater.


magilum
Posts: 2410
Joined: 2007-03-07
User is offlineOffline
RationalDeist

RationalDeist wrote:
magilum wrote:

Not this shit again.

I'm going to lurk around on BeliefNet and see whether the reasons have become more sophisticated than I would imagine.

http://community.beliefnet.com/forums/

don't cry magilum, momies gonna give you a dimond ring.  And if that dimond ring don't shine, mommies gona... not argue with people about this topic on this thread.

Oh, sorry, I really am interested in hearing your view again. I mean, I read it in your intro thread, then again in a couple other threads you shoehorned it into, but it really is fascinating enough to cover repeatedly. You fear death, but you delude yourself not to, so it's OK -- man, so many layers there. So do go on, and don't feel dejected by my vain attempt to steer the thread away from the mind-numbing repetition of atheists speaking for theists and your deist view.


Cpt_pineapple
atheist
Cpt_pineapple's picture
Posts: 5486
Joined: 2007-04-12
User is offlineOffline
CrimsonEdge wrote: 3.

CrimsonEdge wrote:

3. Reading comprehension. People with poor reading comprehension will generally find things hard to understand. What I mean is that they may read something and possible take something different out of it. This is why you see people toting around their KJV's and spouting out nonsense that nobody else on Earth has ever thought.

 

I have reading comprehension problems, but don't see how that would lead to Theism by 'taking something different out' of reading something.


CrimsonEdge
CrimsonEdge's picture
Posts: 499
Joined: 2007-01-02
User is offlineOffline
Cpt_pineapple wrote: I have

Cpt_pineapple wrote:
I have reading comprehension problems, but don't see how that would lead to Theism by 'taking something different out' of reading something.

Yeah, I should have specified. This was in reference to religions with religious texts.


Cpt_pineapple
atheist
Cpt_pineapple's picture
Posts: 5486
Joined: 2007-04-12
User is offlineOffline
geirj wrote: So far we seem

geirj wrote:
So far we seem to have had a bunch of atheists speculating on reasons for belief. How about some theists chime in on your reasons for belief?

 

I'll add that to the OP along with 'If you were once Theist why did you believe?' 


Watcher
atheist
Posts: 2326
Joined: 2007-07-10
User is offlineOffline
RationalDeist wrote:I

RationalDeist wrote:
I think this is much too simplistic.  You are applying your experience, but your experience is not universal.  I have thought very critically about religion, and have determined that most of the bible is moral bullshit.  But that doesn't mean I threw the baby out with the bathwater.

No.  I think your overcomplicating it.  Like a fat girl with a fancy hairdo for the homecoming dance.  You think the fancy hairdo makes you something more than a fat girl.

There is no baby in the bathwater.

You are assuming there is a baby in there.

Religion is just a tub of dirty water.

"I am an atheist, thank God." -Oriana Fallaci


RationalDeist
Theist
Posts: 130
Joined: 2007-11-12
User is offlineOffline
Watcher

Watcher wrote:

RationalDeist wrote:
I think this is much too simplistic. You are applying your experience, but your experience is not universal. I have thought very critically about religion, and have determined that most of the bible is moral bullshit. But that doesn't mean I threw the baby out with the bathwater.

No. I think your overcomplicating it. Like a fat girl with a fancy hairdo for the homecoming dance. You think the fancy hairdo makes you something more than a fat girl.

There is no baby in the bathwater.

You are assuming there is a baby in there.

Religion is just a tub of dirty water.

Alright.  It is obvious that this forum has a very large amount of very intelligent, logical, and rational people.  Then there are the dumb shit jocks, and others, who make ridiculous fat jokes and spew absolutely nothing of importance inside their posts.

Seriously, I wasn't even necessarily talking about my beliefs.  I was talking about anybodies belief (and using myself as an example) of the thousands and millions and billions of people who have thought about it, who  have been skeptical of the bible, but have not gone to atheism.  If you are unwilling to accept even the glimmer of the possibility of a good reason to believe in God, then you are the one who has closed his mind to reason my friend.


Watcher
atheist
Posts: 2326
Joined: 2007-07-10
User is offlineOffline
RationalDeist

RationalDeist wrote:
Alright.  It is obvious that this forum has a very large amount of very intelligent, logical, and rational people.  Then there are the dumb shit jocks, and others, who make ridiculous fat jokes and spew absolutely nothing of importance inside their posts.

Seriously, I wasn't even necessarily talking about my beliefs.  I was talking about anybodies belief (and using myself as an example) of the thousands and millions and billions of people who have thought about it, who  have been skeptical of the bible, but have not gone to atheism.  If you are unwilling to accept even the glimmer of the possibility of a good reason to believe in God, then you are the one who has closed his mind to reason my friend.

lol.  I'm a "jock" now?  How odd.  I've never been into sports.  I've never been good at sports.  I'm a bookworm.  Definetly not a jock.

I agree that most all theists have somewhat thought about the validity of their religion.  The big difference is that they ASSUME something to be true when they think about it.  (IE God actually exists) and then rationalize from there.

If they stop assuming anything and look at all of it critically they most likely will eventually realize that the possibility of a god not only existing but one that gives a shit what we do is practically nil.

So stop assuming I'm a jock and stop assuming there is a god.

"I am an atheist, thank God." -Oriana Fallaci


Venkatrajan
Theist
Posts: 71
Joined: 2007-09-21
User is offlineOffline
Magilum - Because ignorance

Magilum - Because ignorance and confusion are uncomfortable, but inevitable, states.

No. You are trying to put your assumptions onto others here. It is just assumption and therefore worthy of rejection only.

 

Textom - I agree with Scott Atran.  Belief in religion and/or the supernatural is either a side effect or adaptation that results from intelligence "modules" that evolved originally for other purposes.

I find his argument most persuasive because, even though humans have all kinds of complex cultural variation, religion is so historically and globally pervasive.  That suggests it is predisposed by instinct, rather than purely cultural.

 

Is Atran a theist or atheist ?  If he is an atheist , it is just his assumption to satisfy his curiosity. Likewise a Dennet or a Dawkins will not be ever to explain or justify this , because their minds are prejudiced with atheism.

CPT - Pineapple  - An atheist shall not be able to explain this, since he hasnt experienced grace of God. But if he were to once, he will turn into a theist and should be able to provide the answer.

 

Crimsonedge - I'm not too sure about it being instinct. In fact, I know it isn't instinct simply from experience. I had no idea about peoples belief in a god until I was 16. My only experience with the idea of a god was in games like EQ, D&D, EVO, Black and White, etc.

Before the concept of god was introduced to me the concept simply did not come up. It wasn't something that was 'obvious' nor was it instinctual. In fact, I remember the first time I came across somebody who believed in god. It my first day of school at a new school.

 

 Wrong again. Lost of people have got the instincts at various stages of lives and have become ardent believers then onwards. Also unlike what another poster says , the situations leading to God belief werent life threatening or comprising a crisis.

 

HC Grindon - Thnaks for your assumptions on why people believe in God. Again very simplistic and prejudiced because you are an atheist.

None of you atheists will be able to find why someone else believes. However you may try something. Believe in God with all sincerity without 'rationalising'. You dont need a crisis situation at all. Just do it.  Chances are you will turn a theist quickly and the answer to this post shall be answered.

 

Nero - Stupidity, Fear, and more stupidity.

 

Reveals simplistic assumptions on your part.

 

Textom - These answers are really too easy, guys.  It's tempting to villify or dehumanize people you disagree with by labeling them as stupid, cowardly or weak-willed 

Agree with you.  

However with respect to the adaptations that you mentioned in another post , again an atheist' view.  Also the reasoning sounds flawed. The same adaptations could have lead us to all sorts of completely bizarre beliefs of different kinds. Why stop at God belief ?

 

HC Grindon -  I'm saying they are capable of idiotic beliefs despite their intelligence and successes.

 

These people had deep insights , which probably you lack, so you dont look very good attributing and clubbing this to idiocy.  Or maybe your insight is much greater than all these people together ?

 

Watcher - I agree that most all theists have somewhat thought about the validity of their religion.  The big difference is that they ASSUME something to be true when they think about it.  (IE God actually exists) and then rationalize from there.

 

I fail to see a big difference here. Not much different from Science. Evolution was also theory and later new discoveries strengthened it. So someone believed that we all evolved and then started rationalizing it , till they got further proof.

Better still : 

If you start believing in God with all sincerity (so you see, you dont need a reason at all, the OP doesnt have an answer ) , sooner or later you will become a complete theist. Infact you dont need to rationalize at all. All you need is to take few  steps towards God. However if you start with doubts , you will not get it easily dear.  The word "easily" is important. God is also revealed to skeptics who believe for some time even with some doubts.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I am looking for Atheists to increase my belief in God


HC Grindon
High Level DonorModerator
Posts: 198
Joined: 2007-05-11
User is offlineOffline
Quote: Then there are the

Quote:
Then there are the dumb shit jocks, and others, who make ridiculous fat jokes and spew absolutely nothing of importance inside their posts.

You forgot to mention us idiots.  I'm hurt.  
:^)


RationalDeist
Theist
Posts: 130
Joined: 2007-11-12
User is offlineOffline
Watcher wrote: lol. I'm a

Watcher wrote:

lol. I'm a "jock" now? How odd. I've never been into sports. I've never been good at sports. I'm a bookworm. Definetly not a jock.

I was speaking more about your state of mind than your affiliation for sports.  Your choice of attacking an argument by associating it with fat people reminded me of a jock--who would find being fat to be extremly degrading.

 

Quote:
I agree that most all theists have somewhat thought about the validity of their religion. The big difference is that they ASSUME something to be true when they think about it. (IE God actually exists) and then rationalize from there.

well of course, everyone assumes SOMETHING to be true every time they think about pretty much anything.  Heck, scientists are even assuming that everything in the natural world can be quantified through mathematical concepts.  Assuming can be good.

Quote:
stop assuming there is a god.
I don't assume there is a God.  I decided there is a God.  But keep on thinking what you want to think, whatever.


HC Grindon
High Level DonorModerator
Posts: 198
Joined: 2007-05-11
User is offlineOffline
Quote:HC Grindon - Thnaks

Quote:

HC Grindon - Thnaks for your assumptions on why people believe in God. Again very simplistic and prejudiced because you are an atheist.


Sorry to burst your righteous bubble V, but I came up with my four examples of "Why" from people I know in real life, i.e. empirical evidence, something theists can't seem to grasp.
And regarding your comment on the Jung et al "insights", thank you for once again proving my point: theists love to trot out successful people who share their delusion in an attempt to validate the delusion via association.

Pineapple - As much as I love looking at Dr. Cameron, I miss your pineapple avatar.
-HCG


latincanuck
atheist
latincanuck's picture
Posts: 2036
Joined: 2007-06-01
User is offlineOffline
umm what is I don't how the

    umm what I don't understand is how the following list is simplistic?

    Out of ignornace of the facts: The list of gods that are created by humans to understand or to explain a natural phenomenas is a huge list, the thunder gods (here is a small list: Thor, Zeus, Jupiter, Indra, Ukko, Thunderbird, xolotl, Chaac, Shango, Uira), List of Earth Gods (Gaia, The horned God, Earth Mother, Papatuanuku, Odin, Jumis) List of Wind Gods (From the greeks Boreas, Notus, Zephyrus and Eurus, and then the other regions, Amanuet, Anzu, Njord and on and on and on, this list can be quiet large) and add any other natural phenomena.

    Again as knowledge in a society expanded it's reasons for believing expanded and it's god or gods changed as well. For reasons of comfort is another HUGE one, fear of death (a very common fear all humans have at one point or another in their lives or hold on to their entire lives), it is especially more prominent when a loved one or a child dies, in order to deal with the grief many use the belief that they are alive somewhere else helps them deal with it, everything from Heaven to Vahalla. Appointment of power due to god or being a decendant, oh how many kings, rulers, dictators, emperors and many a priest have used this one, and it is common throughout history. The Kings and Queens of England, Egypt, Babylonian, Israelits, even Hitler used this one, oh and think how many so called prophets that lead their followers to death in cults.

    Now this is not due to stupidity, it is out of ignorance of the facts, comfort, and power. The next one of course is what you have said to be TOO simplistic. To explain the unexplainable, why are we here, why do people suffer, why why why why. Things that we cannot explain we use god for, hence the term the god of gaps. Again this is also very common (creationlists anyone?) seriously people believe sincerly due to this common and simplistic reasons, the reasoning behind it does not have to be some complex reasoning. Sometimes the most simplistic reason is the right answer. people can believe sincerly in a god due to these reasons, even very bright and intelligent people can fall under one of those categories, as rational deist showed.


Cpt_pineapple
atheist
Cpt_pineapple's picture
Posts: 5486
Joined: 2007-04-12
User is offlineOffline
I didn't actually intend

I didn't actually intend for this to turn into a debate, but meh 

 

 

HC Grindon wrote:


Pineapple - As much as I love looking at Dr. Cameron, I miss your pineapple avatar.
-HCG

 

O RLY?

 


HumanisticJones
HumanisticJones's picture
Posts: 159
Joined: 2007-02-07
User is offlineOffline
Venkatrajan wrote: If you

Venkatrajan wrote:

If you start believing in God with all sincerity (so you see, you dont need a reason at all, the OP doesnt have an answer ) , sooner or later you will become a complete theist. Infact you dont need to rationalize at all. All you need is to take few steps towards God. However if you start with doubts , you will not get it easily dear. The word "easily" is important. God is also revealed to skeptics who believe for some time even with some doubts.

So your argument is...

1) Believe in God.

2) Therefore you believe in God.

Its not that easy Venk.  Its like starting a logical argument with "Assume P" and concluding with "THEREFORE P".  I have no doubt that if you start to believe in god then you believe in god.  Its the getting to the believe part that I have a problem with.  Many of us here did believe in a God at one time or another.  Some of us without any doubt on the issue because we didn't put God in the same bubble as the rest of our skepticism.  I had unquestioning faith in the Christian god for most of my childhood.

Sure I read the science books and accepted evolution as the best fit model for the origin of biological complexity.  I read about the Deep-field pictures and how, through light analysis we had determined the age of the universe to be over 13 billion years old.  I had also read the bible and thought that Genisis is exactly what happened.  I didn't put "Believe in God" and "Accept based on evidence" in the same column.  Looking back it was probably for the same reason I didn't require evidence for "Fork in light socket will kill you", "Santa Claus brings you presents on Christmas", or "Touching stove eyes while on will remove layers of your skin with a painful burning".  I was told by my parents who, I could only assume, knew better than I did, that such things were true.

In a general case, parental advice taken as is helps children survive.  Makes sense that such a tendency would be selected by pressures and become prevalent.  That isn't to say that I didn't later look for safe ways to test many things I was given as Authoritative.  Information in books about the effects of electricity on the body and actual cases of death by shock through a fork in a socket is enough to show that such advice was true.  Getting a phone call from my neighbor who didn't realize who I was explaining that he would have my Roll-cage welded onto my go-kart (a gift from Santa the next day) was all I really needed to test that as false.

In CrimsonEdge's case, as he claims to not have had any superstitions as a child, I would assume that the authority figures in his younger days didn't tell him superstitious things as if they were just as important to know as say avoiding electrocution.  I was, and I can honestly say that's probably the main reason I believed it.

Now as I progressed from childhood to being a young adult I began to find myself with more opportunity to ask questions of the Iron cast rules set out by my parents.  Such a thing for me took the form of pulling things out of the Non-questionable column and put them into the "Needs evidence" column.  Eventually religion got into that column, and what do you know, little bits of it started to fall off.  Tiny things at first, literal "day" in genisis, literal interpretation of many parts of the bible.  Then larger and larger chunks began to make less sense.  Finally I find myself here, an Atheist by way of there being no evidence for the existance of a god.

I started from belief and began looking at evidence with the sincere "knowledge" that the evidence would show my religion to be true when the two were put together.  As an honest person, I've come to admit that I believed some very inane things in my life and pushed them on others out of a feeling of obligation to "spread the good word".  The evidence only leads back to God if you aren't willing to approach looking at your beliefs with the idea that, no matter how right you KNOW you are, you might still be wrong.

The Regular Expressions of Humanistic Jones: Where one software Engineer will show the world that God is nothing more than an undefined pointer.


Hambydammit
High Level DonorModeratorRRS Core Member
Hambydammit's picture
Posts: 8657
Joined: 2006-10-22
User is offlineOffline
I used to be a theist, so

I used to be a theist, so I'll do my best to explain why I believed.

My first memory is of my mother using a needle to get a splinter out of my finger while I cried at the top of my lungs.  My second memory is of being in church.  From the time of my second conscious memory on, god was a part of my existence.  I didn't even know there were other religions until I got out of baptist grade school.  I didn't know there were atheists until I got to high school.  I'm not kidding.  It's worth noting that my mother was extraordinarily protective, and wouldn't let me play with the "bad kids."  I was scared enough by the threat of hell and demon possession that I wouldn't go within a playground's length of them if I didn't have to.

Here's the kicker to the story.  My dad was an atheist.

My dad and I had exactly one conversation about religion.  I asked him some mundane question or another about god, and he said, "Go ask your mother."   As a side note, if I harbor one grudge against my father, it's that he never mentioned to me that I could make my own mind up, and that not everyone believed in god.

I had many moments of profound confusion.  I was a pretty damn smart kid -- one of those little bastards who cries if they make less than a 98 on a test.  So, when I encountered something that didn't make sense about god or religion, I noticed.  The thing was, it never occurred to me to ask the question, "Might this all be wrong?"  I simply revised my theory of god to make sense of the cognitive dissonance.

I was in church at least twice a week my entire childhood.  Until I got out of high school, I never read a single book about religion written by a non-Christian.  To put a simple conclusion on a long winded story, I believed because I was indoctrinated and sheltered, and because I was never exposed to the alternative.

 

Atheism isn't a lot like religion at all. Unless by "religion" you mean "not religion". --Ciarin

http://hambydammit.wordpress.com/
Books about atheism


BobSpence
High Level DonorRational VIP!ScientistWebsite Admin
BobSpence's picture
Posts: 5809
Joined: 2006-02-14
User is offlineOffline
RationalDeist

RationalDeist wrote:

Quote:
I agree that most all theists have somewhat thought about the validity of their religion. The big difference is that they ASSUME something to be true when they think about it. (IE God actually exists) and then rationalize from there.

well of course, everyone assumes SOMETHING to be true every time they think about pretty much anything. Heck, scientists are even assuming that everything in the natural world can be quantified through mathematical concepts. Assuming can be good.

But some people are prepared to re-examine and modify, or even throw out, assumptions which don't seem to accord with newly acquired insights and/or information.

Quote:

Quote:
stop assuming there is a god.
I don't assume there is a God. I decided there is a God. But keep on thinking what you want to think, whatever.

There's your problem. Actual knowledge is not about 'deciding', it's about assessment of likely truth based on balance of evidence, subject to change if you evidence is encountered. Unless your decision was based on such an assessment, it is purely an assumption, as stated.

EDIT: And remember, assessment allows at least three conclusions, likely true, likely false, or insufficient evidence to base important further conclusions on.

Favorite oxymorons: Gospel Truth, Rational Supernaturalist, Business Ethics, Christian Morality

"Theology is now little more than a branch of human ignorance. Indeed, it is ignorance with wings." - Sam Harris

The path to Truth lies via careful study of reality, not the dreams of our fallible minds - me

From the sublime to the ridiculous: Science -> Philosophy -> Theology