christianity

Does a Belief in a God give Life more Meaning?

Time and time again, I hear from the religious that a life without belief in [a] god[s] is meaningless, or at least removes meaning from life.

I never had an issue with having [a] meaning[s] with my own life, as I see it, you make your own meanings and goals.

Now I wonder, what is/are this/these meaning[s] that believing in [a] god[s] give[s] these people, that a lack of belief in [a] god[s] cannot give you?

And are these meanings even worth it?

First I want to point out, you cannot force yourself to believe in something, I cannot turn on a “I believe in [a] god[s]” switch, by sheer willpower. So even if there are great meanings that would make belief in [a] god[s] worth it, you cannot force yourself to believe in the existence of these/this god[s].

I want to look at a typical Christian perspective and some of the arguments I hear from Christians about what they get from their belief (or relationship as they may call it too) in their god.

They want to serve their god, and share their belief with the people around them, in order for them to be “saved” too, but I ask you dear Christians who may read this, is that all?

Is the greater meaning of Christianity to be saved from sin, and to be a forever a child (never being allowed to be free and independent of the eternal parent)?

Servitude to this god of Christianity, how could that ever be considered a great or even a good meaning to adopt?

What is the point of having children, and of spreading Christianity then?

If the greatest meaning is to just serve and to be “saved”? If this is the meaning you want people to adopt?

You may excuse me, if I got it wrong, and I have somehow not seen what other great meaning there may be with Christianity.

But if I am right, and those are the great meanings of Christianity, why then have children? Why bring more “souls” to this world, and risk them not being “saved”, risk them not being Christians when growing up, not serving the god that may punish them?

Why even spreading Christianity, when you are asking people to volunteerily giving up their independency, their reason, their mental faculties, to be slaves of the Christian dogmas and doctrines, never being allowed to think outside the box, never to consider that there might be other options out there, than the theistic world view. Since that would be heretic, and would risk your immortal “soul”, as some believe.

Am I completely misrepresenting Christianity?

What is there to gain from Christianity, and other theistic beliefs that cannot be achieved by non-theistic beliefs and philosophies too?

A Response to Jeffrey

Jeffrey,

Christian… I used to be like you. I used to think God didn’t exist. I wasn’t raised that way, but as I reached early adulthood I just didn’t see how Christianity could be any different than any other religion – therefore, in my warped way of thinking – none of them could be true.

Jeffrey, Do not assume you were like me, or I am like you were. That is not helpful if you want to understand the other person’s position.
I am an agnostic atheist, I do NOT KNOW if there is any gods, but I do NOT BELIEVE in any gods. I do not categorically say that there I know that there are no gods, along with majority of the freethinking atheist community.
I was not raised as if there are no gods (I am using gods in plural, since YHWH is not the only proposed god claim out there), I was raised in a irreligious household, meaning that religion was never spoken about, it was a non-issue.
My mother is what you may call "spiritual", sort of hoping that there is an afterlife, but knows that it is most likely not true.
My father is an agnostic atheist, as I am myself, and not a member of the state church.
My brother calls himself a Christian, and a member of the Lutheran State Church of Denmark (as I was myself until March 2011, my mother is still a member too)
My sister is pagan, and used to be an active practitioner of Wicca, now she is more pantheistic, also not a member of the state church.
I lived in two countries, and both countries had state churches, and Christianity teaching and bible study were mandatory parts of primary school.
So throughout my primary school, I had Christianity Class, and in 8th grade, I had Bible study, for a whole year, 4 hours a week, in my school schedule, I was confirmed in 2000, where I also got my own copy of the Bible, and the pastor had written a verse from the Bible that fitted me.
With all that, I never believed in any gods, I had a period where I believed in ghosts, but that is another story.

Jeffrey,

Since you don’t believe in God or some sort of creator or designer – How do you think life started? How do you think the universe came into being? Science provides many theories as to "how", but the bottom line is – nobody really knows.

Are you asking me how I think life started?
Well my own guess is that an abiotic process, that we call abiogenesis, is the most likely candidate to have begun the first self-replicating process that we call life.
Which I personally also think makes more sense, than magically breathing life into dust, after having sculpted a humanoid out of it. The Golem. (If you think Genesis is all literal)

In terms of our universe, there are numerous hypothesis, where they at CERN are trying to gather evidence, to see which way it points.
There are numerous lectures by Quantum Physicists that explain how our perception of nature is almost turned upside down, as soon as we venture into the realm of quantum, where common sense is not useable.

Jeffrey,

This begs the question: if there is no God then what constitutes morality? In your world view, there is none, however you speak of the evil things that so-called Christians did over the centuries. However, how can you say it was evil? Evil by whose definition? Yours? Mine?

 

First of all, if you want to claim that God is the cause of morality, then you will run into the Euthyphro dilemma.
Which is summed up by:

  • Is something morale because God says so?
  • Is something morale regardless of God says so or not?

Both possibilities have problems with them.

I believe there is morality in our world, but I do not think it is absolute. With that said, it is not black and white. There are certain aspects of mammalian social structures where certain actions would be detrimental to the stability and survivability of a species.
We as Homo Sapiens Sapiens have a more evolved and complex form of altruism, we got the ability to reason about our choices and morality.
Amongst our primate cousins with whom we share a common ancestor, we also see a social structure, and norms within their tribes. Which you can get confirmed by asking any Zoologist who work with primates.

Things that were acceptable centuries even just few decades ago, we would today deem amoral, and vice versa.
Other things, that are detrimental for our species, behavior, actions, and likewise, we as a species have almost a universal sanction against.
Actions such as rape, murdering, and other behaviors/actions that would destabilize a society.
You do not see animals in the wild that mindlessly murder or in other ways destabilize their groups, and hindering their survivability, and the individuals that do cross those boundaries will get sanctioned by the herd.
The survivability of a human species, can be attributed a lot to our ability to work together, and solve problems.
Even long before the Bible or even the written language had been introduced.

My own personal morality is very similar to ethical naturalism, but if I fit into a particular school of ethical naturalism, I am not sure.
Personally, I am good for goodness sake, or in order to help others, not because I want to please some supernatural entity, or that I fear retribution if I did not.

Jeffrey,

Additionally, in your world view, where there is no supreme being/designer, where do the laws of logic come from? Every philosophical system must start with presuppositions—starting points or assumptions— that cannot be proven from anything more basic, but are accepted up–front as the foundation for all subsequent reasoning.

The laws of logic?
The philosophy of logic, is something that has evolved over time, so I suggest you check out the History of the school of logic.
Yes every philosophical system have presupposition, the question is then, which of them are most useful, and would provide the most productive society.
Karl Popper for example introduced into the scientific method, that all scientific theories had to be falsifiable in order for them to have any value.
Which basically also shows how supernatural (origins out of nature) are useless starting points, if you want to figure out how nature works, and how to make models of reality that are as accurate as possible.
Many of the early Christian scientists and philosophers had to provide "patches" to their ideas in order to fit their god into them.
For example Newton, had to postulate his god had to reset the solar system and now and then, because Newton was worried that the mutual forces between planets would lead to a disintegration of our solar system, such an event had to be prevented by the "hand of God" described as winding the clock back, or resetting the system.

The Universe was a mechanical one whose order was maintained by a distant God.

– Newton

We know today because of Einstein why Newton is not accurate on the macro scale.
Ironically the Franciscan monk William of Ockham came up with a logical tool, that he eventually realized would cut his god out of the picture, the Ockham’s Razor.
That if you are faced with competing hypotheses that are equal in other respects, your are generally recommended to select the one that makes the fewest new assumptions.

Jeffrey,

Hence my illustration of axioms as a starting point for the discussion as to "why" I believe there is a God and that the God of the Bible is the one and true God. This message is getting too long (I apologize). An illustration: Abiogenesis – the chemical evolution of life – scientists keep promoting this idea that life just sprang up out of the primordial soup 4 billion years ago despite the FACT that Louis Pasteur proved that "spontaneous generation" was false over 150 years ago.

Luis Pasteur who demonstrated that bacteria arrive from biogenesis, and not spontaneous generation.
But spontaneous generations is not the same as abiogenesis, where as spontaneous generation postulated that lifeforms, came fully developed into existence, the more extreme variants for example where the ideas that lice and rats were formed from trash, dirty objects.
Where as abiogenesis is the study how biological life could arise from inorganic matter through natural processes (which spontaneous generations is not, fully formed lifeforms do not come from nothing), many parts of abiogenesis can be demonstrated, such as amino acids (the building block of life) can be formed via natural chemical reactions unrelated to already existing life.
Two things have to be accounted for in any theory of abiogenesis, replication and metabolism.
Though abiogenesis is still a very young field of study, so we do not know much about it, yet.

Jeffrey,

With our current technology we know now that a single cell is infinitely more complicated than any machine man has EVER produce.

I would argue it is not infinitely more complex, measurable more complex, yes.
However we understand a lot of it, and can reproduce it in vitro

Jeffrey,

Yet despite these facts – science still makes the claim that "life" through random processes essentially formed itself into this complex "protein making" machine. I don’t know about you – but to me – this is a preposterous claim, cannot be proven and has never been reproduced in ANY laboratory

It is not random, either; it is emergent properties of physics, chemistry and biology, all driven forward by natural selection.

Science in that area is still young, and we have many dark corners that we still need to shine our light into.
But as any fields of science, we collect more and more knowledge, discard old knowledge or build upon it.
Science stands on the shoulders of giants.

Jeffrey,

Despite these facts, many scientists believe that is how life started on earth. A analogy would be to take all the material required to build a modern house: wood, nails, pipes, electrical conduit, etc. – place a bomb in the middle of these materials – blow these materials up and expect that a fully functioning house would be the result – with all the wiring and plumbing functioning properly – everything in it’s place. Does that make sense to you?

No, it does not, because you just committed Hoyle’s Fallacy, named after Fred Hoyle’s junkyard tornado argument.

"According to Ian Musgrave in Lies, Damned Lies, Statistics, and Probability of Abiogenesis Calculations:
These people, including Fred, have committed one or more of the following errors.

  1. They calculate the probability of the formation of a "modern" protein, or even a complete bacterium with all "modern" proteins, by random events.
  2. This is not the abiogenesis theory at all.
  3. They assume that there is a fixed number of proteins, with fixed sequences for each protein, that are required for life.
  4. They calculate the probability of sequential trials, rather than simultaneous trials.
  5. They misunderstand what is meant by a probability calculation.
  6. They underestimate the number of functional enzymes/ribozymes present in a group of random sequences."

Source: http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/abioprob/abioprob.html

 

Jeffrey,

One last thought: It’s obvious to me that you are a very intelligent person. I understand why you don’t believe in God. If I’m wrong and the Bible is just a book of myths and fables, so what? When I die, I will have wasted my time believing that something isn’t true. However, if I’m right and the Bible is true, when you die, you’ll have an eternity to regret your decision. Peace brother…….

Pascal’s Wager, is such a dated, and in my opinion juvenile attempt to scare people into believing.
It sets up a false assumption that there is only one god, which one first need to demonstrate is true. And that said god has those set conditions too.
As it is now, we have thousands of god claims across several religions, and even within Christianity itself, there are numerous interpretation of what is required for salvation, with a total of more than 35.000 denominations.
Also Pascal’s Wager also have to be one of the more ridicules options for belief in a god, you chose to believe, out of fear of damnation?
Where is the Omni benevolence?

List of gods

Some of the more popular gods.

pascal

Jeffrey, most of your response were arguments from ignorance, just because you do not understand how things work, or came to be, or humanity in general, does not make another proposition true.
By throwing Hoyle’s Fallacy and Pascal into the fray just grounded it to a level where you would be laughed at if you spoke with a scientist with a PhD within those respected fields.

If you want to argue against science, and for a creator/designer, I recommend you do what science does, collect positive evidence that supports the idea of a creator/designer, rather than just attacking science.
Even if science had been disproven, it does not prove the existence of a creator/designer per default, and absolutely not the Christian one.

I also have proposition, if you want to know more, about what scientists say about abiogenesis, evolution, etc., I have a friend would be more than willing to chat with you, over Skype. He is in the UK and have a BSc in molecular genetics, MSc in Protein Bioinformatics, and PhD in Protein Structural Biochemistry.

Have a nice day.

A PM I got on YouTube, that warmed my heart.

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The message below I received on YouTube from a Swedish friend, who I have had some discussions with, about his belief, and my world view.

/Tylzen

 

 

I have come to the conclusion that I am an agnostic atheist, and after having thought it through, and how I am going to feel.
That which have confused me and got me to doubt the most, were a lot of stuff.

 

1, that there are 38 000 different Christian denominations in the world, and all of them are claiming theirs are the right one, and fight with the others with who is the right one.
Paulus says that the gathering is the body of Christ, but the hand of Christ is not at war against the eye of Christ
Just look at the Catholics against the Protestants in Ireland!
The Catholics are accusing the Protestant of being heretics, and vice versa.
So many societies, but none that knows, and none who can prove that their interpretation is correct.
And, we can actually extend this thought to every Christian in the world.
If every Christian says that he/she talks with God, and God is always on the side of that person. (Regardless if it is a anti-gay, gun nut from Texas or a Greek Theologist) then logically we must draw either 3 conclusions:

 

1. God/Jesus is contradicting himself.

2. There are several versions of God/Jesus- (haha imagine 3 billion Gods who fight with each other about which version of god who is God. Where God no.1354 accuses God no.4 for leading people away from the Truth).

3. None talks with God.

2. The Bible! :D I am currently reading Leviticus and I am totally shocked by how cruel “God” is. I am an animal lover, so I feel sorry for all the animals sacrificed in the name of the Lord. Sacrificing animals for their own sake is totally immoral, but that’s what Christianity is based on, Jesus is the “lamb”. Moreover, the Bible ridiculously unscientific. The “birds” that may not be eaten include eg a bat! : D

 

4. My Bible has a lot of italic text written by Theologians. And really, some things they have written is totally sick. They threaten people to “think of eternity”, “not to be victims of the slavery of sin,” immoral nasty things about atheists and everything.

 

5. Just like my mother, who went to Sunday School in the Pentecostal church when she was little, I discovered the Christian hypocrisy. Many (not all) want to keep up a facade of being so good and pious, but in reality they are intolerant, narrow-minded people who want people who dissent to end up in hell. I mean really, many really want it, they think people “deserve” to be tormented for an eternity. . .
“God is a just God who must punish evil!” – “What you cannot accept is that God is not only a loving God. He is also a holy God.”
How can that be “holy” to torture people with eternal torment if they are not Christians?
I personally believe that evil exists. I think it’s a battle between the Enlightenment and Ignorance. If evil exists is the subjective.

 

6. Original Sin – How could an innocent little baby who has just come into the world, a little “angel” be victim of “sin?” from an ancestor called Adam that there really is 0 evidence that he even existed. That you inherit the sins are really sick.. .

 

7. Hell – Do I really need to say why?

 

8. History of Christianity and development. I have spent some time reading about early Christianity, Gnosticism and the Church’s development. When I read about the eradication of the Gnostics, Church Council of Nicaea and Constantinople, exclusion of a lot of books and letters, I was not exactly happy. Can also be mentioned the Crusades, Spanish Inquisition, the eradication of Catharists, hell sermons in churches and so on.

 

9. Christianity flimsy grounds. I can honestly say that I do not know if Jesus existed. Maybe it’s just a story …
I personally believe that a person who was like Jesus, maybe he was called Yeshua, existed. I think he’s in that case was a wise teacher who possibly went to India in his childhood to learn a lot of things and then came back and for some reason was nailed to a cross. I think what he said really was that “God” really is “The kingdom of heaven within you” – So a sense of inner peace, humility and love.
Then during the course of centuries became his message distorted by religion. . .

 

10. Because my image of Jesus was more human being who became God, a spiritually enlightened wisdom teachers who spread love and wisdom; I expected in my naivety that Christians today would be as wise and loving. Instead I experienced a group of people who often behaved like children. Total blind groping in the dark and they become “high” during church services. But as soon as you disagree with them, they behave very childish. In addition, they prayed in tongues for me. . . XD

 

11. Mental Abuse. This is seriously sad, but very much with the Devil to do. Christians are so very afraid of the devil and demons and so on. Hell comes in here too, and God, since you will be afraid and love the Lord! ;)
I remember when I was so angry with Matthias in the spring and went to my Christian landlords and said I did not want to believe in God anymore because of him. I remember how very sorry they were and they sort of looked at me as if I would go to hell.
For about a week ago I told the landlords that I wanted to go to Yoga and then the woman told  me that a Christian should beware of such as it is Oriental, and it seems innocent but it “really” is not . . .

(Fortunately, there are exceptions. I’m friends with a priest in the Swedish Church who love yoga.)

In all cases, the yoga thing was the straw that broke the camel’s back. Here I had gone a long time, for about six months, and doubted very much, and now I knew: “Nah, now enough is enough.” Now I want to leave Christianity behind me. I want to learn to think logically and rationally, I want to learn more about science and so on. I also have the freedom to study other religions such as Buddhism and Taoism, which I think is very interesting.

 

Christian (my name [Tylzen]) I feel that I owe you a bit of an apology. In my delusion, I could not really accept your sound arguments , and we fought a lot. But now I understand that you just did my best, and you were right! :) Feels really like a lot of freedom, and something very nice to be able to think logically and not base my worldview, belief and so on subjective feelings. Feels really nice to have no fear of any “God” and not to keep the commute between faith and doubt all the time, which is really hard!
It makes me almost happy to think ‘there’s probably no God’.
So thank you Christian, for being and that you are an intelligent and enlightened man! :)

/ Sorry for the incredibly long message, but was really nice to express it. From [Name removed].

Death & reversed Pascal

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