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Troy
16-08-2006, 08:56 PM
I do not believe God* exists. However, I know many people who do.

I always ask them, “Why do you believe that?”, because to me that’s the most interesting question. I figure the default state is to not believe, and that something happens in ones life that makes one a believer: Tragedy, some desire, some miracle... Most of the time the answers I receive are illogical, meaning that the stated reason for the belief does not justify the belief.

So my question is, to the believers... What has happened in your life to cause you to believe that at God exists? And just to be clear I am not trying to cause trouble or be a jerk. I am genuinely curious.

* “God” being defined as some intelligent being outside of our natural world, who judges and makes things happen and such. And I am not saying that he definitely does not exist, I am just saying I have never found evidence or reason to believe, just like I don’t believe a purple bunny lives in my freezer, though I guess it could be true...

Melchior
17-08-2006, 10:59 AM
As much of a committed atheist as I am, I'm pretty sure that the default position is to believe myself. I read an interview with a guy, Daniel C. Dennett, who was explaining the evolutionary usefullness of belief (he didn't himself) and it made for a compelling case. He wrote a book called Breaking the Spell: Religion as a Natural Phenomenon which looked fascinating but I haven't bought yet.

DigitalDjigit
17-08-2006, 12:42 PM
The default state is belief if only because the majority of the world are believers and so their kids will be too.

It's the easiest explanation for why things happen. As humans we tend to see motives behind everything. So if you win the lottery it's because someone wanted you to win.

People feel their special and there must be someone out there to recognize their specialness so they create a God to believe in.

swears
27-08-2006, 03:15 AM
"Why in a world trembling with faith and fear, should you want things to be more theological rather than less..."

Martin Amis on Bush's fundamentalism and Saddam's secularism.

W A T C H (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h-Ngy1hlh3w&mode=related&search=)

mistersloane
27-08-2006, 05:35 AM
For me, because the space exists for God to exist, and as much as I was an atheist, it came down to the idea that that the space ( in my head, in the universe, either/both ) for that concept, that belief, that thing, was actually there, so I saw no reason not to go 'oh well, there we go then'. It's much harder work - and much less real - to not believe in it, somehow. I don't think about it much though and certainly don't think about it being a great beardy white man wot created the universe. No sirree.

DJ PIMP
27-08-2006, 08:55 AM
I am a great believer in belief.

swears
27-08-2006, 12:08 PM
It's much harder work - and much less real - to not believe in it, somehow.

What's real about believing in something that doesn't exist?

gek-opel
27-08-2006, 01:40 PM
The question I ask is what level of belief do the billions of "religious" people have- in two senses...

Firstly: In terms of a revelatory relation with the sublime (in many cases God or Gods)

Secondly: In terms of an active participation in scholarly existence (ie- a proper understanding of the "texts" of their religion)

In essence whether people are generally culturally religious, or religious in a more interesting sense-- as outside of these factors it would appear that it is little better than laziness that people hold on to beliefs... its not belief that is the problem but belief without an actual foundation in either form of understanding (of what they purport to believe).

Eric
27-08-2006, 03:43 PM
God (stupid version):

Who is the Author? Is it me? Is it HIM? Is it Ghostface?

(Sorry Michael, had to post it. Drunk God!!!!)

mistersloane
27-08-2006, 11:58 PM
What's real about believing in something that doesn't exist?

Damned if I know, and not really interested in the comment or the argument.

budub
31-08-2006, 05:35 AM
The question I ask is what level of belief do the billions of "religious" people have- in two senses...

Firstly: In terms of a revelatory relation with the sublime (in many cases God or Gods)

Secondly: In terms of an active participation in scholarly existence (ie- a proper understanding of the "texts" of their religion)

In essence whether people are generally culturally religious, or religious in a more interesting sense-- as outside of these factors it would appear that it is little better than laziness that people hold on to beliefs... its not belief that is the problem but belief without an actual foundation in either form of understanding (of what they purport to believe).

i wouldn't say it's laziness

i think that many people have the need to believe in a higher power. to believe in an existence more infinite than all else. they need to be reassured that there is some type of order among chaos, even if that order is that there is no order. many people need the higher power to resemble human form so that they can relate. organized religion provides structure. it also often designates places of worship for people to share their spirituality with likeminds, where their values and beliefs can be richened and reinforced.

i think that at the end of the day, people want to wash themselves of misgivings, take the world off their back, and put their faith in something stable yet unworldly profound. people need somewhere to invest their faith. and because one human being with no supernatural powers is vulnerable to so very much on this earth, the faith is placed with a higher power. people need to believe in a universal order, and if they do not choose organized religion, they are often likely to choose some other form of spirituality or faith. whether that is faith in humanity, mathematics, nature, or some other form of universal structure.

budub
31-08-2006, 05:46 AM
* “God” being defined as some intelligent being outside of our natural world, who judges and makes things happen and such. And I am not saying that he definitely does not exist, I am just saying I have never found evidence or reason to believe, just like I don’t believe a purple bunny lives in my freezer, though I guess it could be true...


if you are interested, you may want to look into the ideas behind Pantheism [think Walt Whitman, maybe even Transcendentalism ] and non-western religions. you'll find that God is not often viewed as some single entity or "intelligent being outside our natural world", and is actually a significant part of the natural world.

Woebot
31-08-2006, 08:48 AM
one of my big problems with believing in the christian god (short of the whole submission/patriarchy thing) is that it necessarily entails believing in the devil. that seems counter-productive....

IdleRich
31-08-2006, 09:02 AM
"So my question is, to the believers... What has happened in your life to cause you to believe that at God exists?"
For Christianity at least the problem here seems to be that faith - by definition - demands belief without proof. To search for proof as a believer is against the tenets of the religion. This leads to utter frustration in dialogue between believers and unbelievers because the former begin from the position that God exists (and says that he does) and it it a sin to challenge this whereas the unbeliever (or agnostic) asks for proof or at least rational argument towards this position which is something that the believer is fundamentally unable to give. Discussions therefore degenerate to exhortations to believe without proof and a refusal to accept negative argument on the one hand and a demand for proof and refusal to accept faith on the other. I do not see how these positions can ever be reconciled.

Grievous Angel
31-08-2006, 03:38 PM
if you are interested, you may want to look into the ideas behind Pantheism [think Walt Whitman, maybe even Transcendentalism ] and non-western religions. you'll find that God is not often viewed as some single entity or "intelligent being outside our natural world", and is actually a significant part of the natural world.

Quite right. One of the tenets of "paganism" is the immanence of "deity" (the experience of the divine, within / without and going back and forth between) in the fabric of the natural world, hence the universal evocation of deity within landscape.

Or to put it another way, deity is in Malkuth and in Tipareth.

Gek contrasts accurately different typologies of relationship with deity:
> Firstly: In terms of a revelatory relation with the sublime (in many cases God or Gods)
> Secondly: In terms of an active participation in scholarly existence
Or firstly, gnosis, as opposed to secondly, belief. Naturally I'm much more inclined to prefer the former. Islam is interesting in that it has historically emphasised scholarship and shariah over gnosis, principally because it is at its root such a pragmatic religion. Not that it entirely lacks gnostic tendencies - sufism is full of it, even mainstream Islamic sufism. However, apparently, the iranian revolution was much inspired by gnostic / sufi-inspired islam, not that that lasted long under the mullahs.

To address IdleRich's (quite accurate) point, the gnostic does not require faith, since their subjective experience is authentic (and, I have to say, replicable - you do the exercises, you get the results). The emotional and spiritual depth of that experience determines what level of subjective, personal attachment one has to the changed sense of reality that results. But there's a good side to "faith", I think, it doesn't always equate to fear.

[edit] Woebot - I think that if you want to pursue a christian spirituality, you can fairly easily find one that doesn't require belief in a discrete "Devil" figure. Or you can choose a non-Christian path. Or just enjoy a fulfilling spiritual life without necessarily submitting to a particular belief system.

IdleRich
31-08-2006, 04:21 PM
"the gnostic does not require faith, since their subjective experience is authentic (and, I have to say, replicable - you do the exercises, you get the results)"
I'm not at all sure that you can say that so categorically. What exercises do you mean here? If I didn't already believe that they were going to work why would I do them?

john eden
31-08-2006, 04:38 PM
I'm not at all sure that you can say that so categorically. What exercises do you mean here? If I didn't already believe that they were going to work why would I do them?

I think he means you can get results from "the exercises" (whatever they are) without necessarily believing in the entire cosmology.

[For example, you can achieve a certain amount of insight from meditation without believing in buddhism or whatever.]

Which in my book means that the cosmology is bollocks, but there you go.

I would dispute that the results are always "replicable" as well because "you can never walk into the same river twice". Plus I doubt we are going to see any controlled experiments under laborotory conditions which have been peer-reviewed.

But y'know - Malkuth and Tipareth! Er, innit? :confused: :slanted: :p

IdleRich
31-08-2006, 04:53 PM
"I think he means you can get results from "the exercises" (whatever they are) without necessarily believing in the entire cosmology."
OK, got you (him).

"I would dispute that the results are always "replicable" "
So would I, quite strongly.
Anyway, when I was talking about how difficult it is for believers to argue with rationalists I was speaking specifically about Christianity - I've certainly never heard of any replicable exercises in that religion. My point was that you either start from a position of faith which then means that everything follows from that, or else you don't and you want something to convince you which the believers will always be unable/unwilling to supply. You are therefore likely to remain an unbeliever - unless of course you have some kind of transcendental Damascene excperience, which is something I personally consider fairly unlikely.

ome
01-09-2006, 12:11 PM
I would dispute that the results are always "replicable" as well because "you can never walk into the same river twice". Plus I doubt we are going to see any controlled experiments under laborotory conditions which have been peer-reviewed.
From an entheogen perspective results are very replicable
Harvard Psilocybin Project (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harvard_Psilocybin_Project)(1962) i.e. Leary giving convicts lsd25 in a church/non-church and seeing how many had numinious experiences.
Practicing this for spiritual/personal development seems is becoming popular in the uk and several groups have sprung up.

Although other studies have been done:
Religious Experience Research Centre (http://www.lamp.ac.uk/aht/Research/research.html) (previously at Oxford 1969-2006) Has produced some intresting reads inc.
Dr. David Hay's book looking at common factors in language, and cause. Describing such experiences in the UK and concluding that action is often not motivated by the experience.
William James Varieties of Religious Experience (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Varieties_of_Religious_Experience) (1901) Classic text
Spritual Neurology - Economist article (http://www.economist.com/science/displaystory.cfm?story_id=2478148) looks at the dificulty of these experiments (from quick google as I havent resarched this in 10 years)


Gek contrasts accurately different typologies of relationship with deity:
> Firstly: In terms of a revelatory relation with the sublime (in many cases God or Gods)
> Secondly: In terms of an active participation in scholarly existence

Personally this is an intresting struggle for me, and to it I would add a third type that would be something like participating in cultural ritual.
In my opinion I believe in god because he is experienced by myself. But... I dont believe in a male diety. I understand that my interpretation is subject to the context of my culture and its language. The experience ranges from the subtle to the sublime. We(me & god) have gained so much from this that an active part of my childrens education is teach them to able to respond to a variety of experiences and value them as real. Its all about choice. Love is real!!

dogger
01-09-2006, 11:12 PM
Its all about choice.

oh yes, religion is all about choice. especially monotheisms.

DJ PIMP
02-09-2006, 08:58 PM
Pantheism
In an early Christian tradition the story goes that when Christ was born there was a deep groaning heard throughout Greece as Pan died.

ome
03-09-2006, 10:21 AM
oh yes, religion is all about choice. especially monotheisms.
oh I thought religion was about sacrificing ones own first born male - wheres the choice in that

tryptych
03-09-2006, 05:27 PM
Plus I doubt we are going to see any controlled experiments under laborotory conditions which have been peer-reviewed.



Actually, there's quite a bit of interest in doing experiments with experienced meditators in a lab setting - see people like Evan Thompson and Antoine Lutz.

Evan Thompson, Neurophenomenology and contemplative experience (http://individual.utoronto.ca/evant/OxfordHanbook.pdf)

and

Lutz, A., et al. (2004). ‘Long-Term Meditators Self-Induce High-Amplitude Gamma Synchrony During Mental Practice’, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (USA) 101: 16369-73. (http://brainimaging.waisman.wisc.edu/~lutz/Lutz_et_al_Meditation_gamma_EEG_2004.pdf)

tryptych
03-09-2006, 05:37 PM
if you are interested, you may want to look into the ideas behind Pantheism [think Walt Whitman, maybe even Transcendentalism ] and non-western religions. you'll find that God is not often viewed as some single entity or "intelligent being outside our natural world", and is actually a significant part of the natural world.

Is pantheism nontheistic? Certainly some "non-western" religions are non-theistic, and in their cases I think it's more correct to say that "there is no God" rather than "God is viewed not as a single entity but part of the natural world".

budub
06-09-2006, 07:40 AM
Is pantheism nontheistic? Certainly some "non-western" religions are non-theistic, and in their cases I think it's more correct to say that "there is no God" rather than "God is viewed not as a single entity but part of the natural world".


it is difficult to make any broad ascertions regarding the acceptance of a God in any religion, considering the controversies among the schools of thought within the religions themselves.

i claim no expertise on either eastern religion or Pantheism, though I am, at the most basic level, a curious student of Buddhism and of my own spirituality

these may be helpful readings [gotta love the wiki]
http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/pantheism/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pantheism

the need to ascertain whether there is or isnt a God seems to be missing the point to me

in this instance, it might be more correct to say that there is God, but maybe not necessarily "a" God [a distinctly separate one at least]

in the case of pantheism, there is agreement that there is God and that it is in all things. but from what i can gather there is a split between the classical pantheists ['spiritual' and more likely to associate with a religion] and the naturalistic pantheists [contemporary individuals who do not place emphasis on a personal God]

regarding deities in eastern religions, youre also likely to find disagreement among the schools



the question of God is largely irrelevant in Buddhism, though some sects (notably Tibetan Buddhism) do venerate a number of gods drawn in from local indigenous belief systems.


i may be talking out of my ass. im exhausted from riding in a car all day and felt the need to form some sort of utterance of a response

rob_giri
11-09-2006, 06:43 AM
Well, my friends, let me explain thusly,



God, the concept that you have in your heads when such a term is used (be it, as you say, an intellgent being existing outside our natural world that JUDGES) of course does not exist - that goes against all the laws of common sense that has been the natural function of the human. The only thing that will cause someone to believe in something like that is of course fear - Fear of being alone in an alien world, being isolated, alienated etc etc etc

so in other words you all are quite justified in not believing in this 'God' - because it goes against your common sense, your reason, and everything of who you are....


However,


This concept of God, is in actual fact completely contradictory to the true origins of that 'Supreme Being' that has been talked about in every major tradition the world over for the past 50,000 years or so...

The reason it has been distorted is quite simple if viewed from hindsight - it is pure ideology that has been coerced and distorted and spat out as a form of Ideological State Apparatus - a term i'm sure you are all familiar with....

Ie. people have walked the Earth and have experienced and understood logically and empirically the true nature of the Universe and Reality (Jesus Christ, Mohammed, Siddartha Gautama, etc), and then there are some fellas down the street who've all said 'Hey! We can use this guys belief system to control people and lock them into a limiting ideological system! That means we can take over the entire of Europe/Middle East/Asia!'

"But how are we going to do that?"

"Well, take out all the parts of this belief system about individual freedom and how we're all the masters of our own reality and replace it with control systems - oh yeah - AND let replace love with FEAR! Then the entire populas will be afraid to do anything without the states consent! Then we can just control people! Fuck yeah!!

Two Thousand years later, people are still getting over it all....

So now that has been covered, we can move on. i'm sure you are all quite aware of how fucked up Dogma is, and how fucked up relgiious oppression is - and i'm sure you are all aware that religious fundamentalism and fanaticism and the very nature of believing too strongly in your own opinion is the scourge of the planet and our mortal enemy....


So, what is God?


God = Great Spirit = Godhead = Void = Source = Wu Chi = Brahman = Ram = Allah = The Beloved = The Supreme etc etc etc

All these concepts, carried by virtually every culture on Earth since the dawn of humanity, are all imaginative METAPHORS for something that has been observed experientially...

It is basically the Infinite Holographic Intelligence of the Universe operating as a singular energetic entity. I, for instance, am made of trillions of subatomic particles, atoms, cells, blood, lymph, organs, veins, arteries blah blah blah - yet, I am a singular human being, am i not? The universe then is trillions of seperate things, yet there is a whole that we can call the universe. Consciousness as we know it, is all made of energy, and there are levels of consciousness - rocks, earth, trees, animals, humans etc etc. What humanity has observed as 'God' or 'Spirit' is the entire universe as a 'singular infinity' - operating harmoniously together.

So when people refer to 'God' or 'Spirit' - they are really refering to subatomic particles interracting - the same as how when i refer to 'I' i am referring to subatomic particles. Every is energy in vibration, and there are differing levels and different 'dimenions'.

I could keep going but i'll leave it as that for now. Let it been known that this is what one observes when one studies the ancient Esoteric traditions of Yoga, Taoism, Sufism, Kaballah, Gnosticism, Alchemy, tribal 'Shamanism' and then looks at modern quantum physics. There is an underlying unity - all these things were dealing with the same reality that you and i are experiencing right now. The next installment maybe concerned with this: How does one quantify emotions, feelings and what we call 'Love' in this light? That fits into the picture too. You know many cultures had figured it all out for their simple ways - but this day and age we are incredibly complex beings with very well developed left-cerebral hemispheres and we NEED the rationale behind all this stuff.


Interesting, hmm?

swears
11-09-2006, 12:17 PM
I'm a very strict atheist, none of this pantheist malarkey for me. Or discussing "Jesus the philosopher."

sherief
16-09-2006, 10:02 PM
In an early Christian tradition the story goes that when Christ was born there was a deep groaning heard throughout Greece as Pan died.

I was under the impression that said groaning was a collective groan in anticipation of all the nonsense in store for the next 2000 or so odd years.

swears
16-09-2006, 10:44 PM
There was a born again Christian loudly preaching in Liverpool yesterday lunchtime, and various cheeky Scouse teenagers were shouting abuse, calling him a "knobhead" and a "meff" amongst other things. But I suppose these sort of hardcore Jesus fans are immune to critisism, they can always tell themselves that the devil is working in the minds of the non-believers, persuading them to reject Christ and shout "bellend" at a man of God.

rob_giri
19-09-2006, 04:03 AM
I was under the impression that said groaning was a collective groan in anticipation of all the nonsense in store for the next 2000 or so odd years.

haha! Gold

Martin Dust
25-09-2006, 09:38 PM
I once spent 6 month worshipping a garden gnome, totally got into it and long story short it worked. Also used one of the fortune fish to answer all questions for a couple of weeks as well, that fucked with my head a lot :) I think it hated me...

sherief
27-09-2006, 09:59 PM
I once spent 6 month worshipping a garden gnome...

What are you, a Unitarian?

Martin Dust
28-09-2006, 09:02 PM
What are you, a Unitarian?

No, I'm just very interested in belief system and at the time it was the silliest thing I could think of using to prove a point.

zhao
28-09-2006, 10:00 PM
books on my to-read list:

the goddess and the alphabet

the magic mushroom and the cross

DJ PIMP
29-09-2006, 05:36 AM
All god wants of man is a peaceful heart.

- Meister Eckhart

ome
29-09-2006, 08:11 AM
books on my to-read list:

the goddess and the alphabet

the magic mushroom and the cross
I have mm&x(1st print - found it in Watkins Bookshop 15 years ago), but found it a bit heavy going with the ancient language translation stuff.
Whats the goddess and the alphabet like - anyone read it? It seems to have mixed reviews online.

---

Last night I had some Shri Mataji friends over and I hooked them up to HRV(heart rate variability) & GSR(galvanic skin response) monitors.At first they were suspicious, but as soon as the bio-feedback sensors (specifically the HRV) showed that they had far more control and stamina to sustain more 'relaxed' states (as opposed to others in the room that had little medative experience) they got quite into it. I was impressed how their techniques (variation of kundalini yoga) got the more experienced meditators into medatitive states in less than 10-30 seconds, where others with more traditional Vipassana styles took 3-5 minutes. After the session the Shri Mataji lot expressed their envy at those people that achieved 'thoughtlessness' without being dependent on a technique.

What forms of medative practice do people use here?
I like drawing from real life.. really switches me on and my HRV drops.

tryptych
29-09-2006, 03:05 PM
^ I'm sure you realise that pretty much any "flow" state, i.e. skilled practice of a discipline can produce physical states very like meditative mindfulness - sport, art, even working out math problems or digging the garden.

Did you look at those links I posted about the lab work done with meditators above?

budub
04-10-2006, 06:42 AM
ome, whether you realize that any sort of disciplined practice produces meditative states or not, i think its pretty sweet that you have the HRV and GSR monitors

tryptych has a point about the biofeedback, ive just never known anyone personally other than researchers to possess these machines

ome, may i ask what business you have with the monitors other than personal use?

ome
23-10-2006, 03:23 PM
^ I'm sure you realise that pretty much any "flow" state, i.e. skilled practice of a discipline can produce physical states very like meditative mindfulness above?Yes,a medative state is not a special thing or place but part of ordinery life particularly when applied in a outwardly directly pratical manner like drawing.


ome, may i ask what business you have with the monitors other than personal use?just personal use, and wanted too see if my disabled sister-in-law wanted to use it.
-previous exposure to bio-feedback: my old man joined some cult in the 70/80 and had to use a GSR monitor and had i had some contact with doctors into the whole lilly/shulgin thing who liked putting EEG electrodes on your head. lol
-you can get a cheapish(100ukp) HRV/GSR monitor from 'wild divine'. The software is ok if your a child (my kids like it) or enjoy a Deepak 'i'm so light i cant see my own shadow' Chopra enema. There is openSource and 3rd party software to use with it, and i've also noticed people trying to intergrate it with SecondLife for online avatar meditation gaming, but dont know how far that project got.

The Evan Thompson / Lutz links were great, but by there own addmission lacking in context of a bigger picture in the varieties of medative experience. The only non- 'wisdom tradition' stuff i've read that has tried to create a comparative study of 'other' experience is ken wilbers Spectrum of Consciousness or Stanislav Grofs Realms of Human Unconscious that are not a 'scientific' studys, but inspiring nevertheless.
--
ome