Author Topic: Can someone explain why I still believe in God?  (Read 1866 times)

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Offline Bluecolour

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Can someone explain why I still believe in God?
« on: January 25, 2013, 07:17:01 PM »
'Hello, my names Bluecolour and I'm a Christian'
Why do i believe in God?
The reason i brought this question here and not to some Christian forum is because atheists are logical than most of the Christians you find online.
I find it very interesting that for some reason many Atheists seem more interested in God and religion than most of the Christians i know.

You see growing up i was made to believe that atheists were mournfully ignorant, morally blind and/or possessed by Satan. I had to discover for myself that this was not the case.
When i came to understand your stance, i believed that perhaps the strictest of you lacked information, but then i started listening to the arguments and i realized that also was not the case. I could say in fact that the stricter the Atheist, the more information he/she would seem to have [Sad that the opposite can many times be said for Christians].

To be honest, I personally spent many years teetering on the fence between the two positions. I was forced to keep my doubts private because i didn't want to be ostracized and i became mostly silent concerning my beliefs because they weren't truly beliefs so much more than they were just more doubts.
It was very frustrating because i had so many questions. If i opened up to my family or to people at school, i immediately met their anger. They, for some reason, were determined not to ask themselves these questions. I on the other hand couldn't get them out of my mind.
I was told there was something wrong with the way i though, evil in fact. I was cautioned and advised but never answered and as my frustration grew i knew (and this because i had heard the story many times before) that despite all my religious perseverance and retaliation that i was bound to one day completely leave the faith.

While in college i entered that phase many of you probably know where you begin to openly challenge God. It begins in jest at first: snide remarks about prayer, faith, Christians, anything i felt might get me in trouble with his royal highness.
Slowly however it got more serious. I went on this sort of crazed power-rush with it and in time my life had turned into this barefaced moral disregard for God as anything more than an idea or a guideline for human living. The very mention of God could set me off, i didn't care. The religious indoctrination had collapsed and i was loving the freedom.

What happened next is that i met what some men call 'the uncommon Christian'. A roommate in my fourth year i wont mention his name. He was very interested by my ideas and my views on life. His of course were very different from mine and so we hardly ever agreed on anything. The point though was that he listened, he reasoned and he rebutted. He found my ideas fascinating and listened much in the way that one listens to a child. At first of course i found this extremely frustrating. This was my life, my doctrine after all; they were the questions that had made me what i was and yet sometimes he would just laugh and shake his head.
Others had refused my questions because it shook their beliefs, but that never bothered him.
He didn't shrug them off either; I would watch him handle the statements, reason through them carefully, and yet even when he had no answers you would never see the slightest hint of doubt in him. This may not be so amazing to you but to someone who had lived his entire life filled with questions and doubts, i can looking back understand why i was so drawn to him.

I began to look closer at his life, i noticed the way he spoke to others and the way they moved around him. I began to hear about the things he did, the way he seemed to know things he shouldn't. I grew curious, i wanted to see for myself and when i didn't i grew cynical.

I was his roommate remember, i saw his flaws, he was no less human than i was. And yet, hunched over my laptop in the middle of the night and hearing him snore, i still couldn't tell myself that there was nothing there different about him.
Part of it I'm sure was his assurance in his beliefs. He handled all atheistic conversation the way one might discuss a good book or movie: interesting, enlightening perhaps but ultimately fiction. Suggest otherwise to him and he would begin to have this smile as if you were seriously suggesting that trees were made out of candy-canes and the rain from lemon-drops.

One time a bunch of us followed him out somewhere and something happened then that completely changed my life. It was as if i all of a sudden had this revelation of who i was standing next to.
When i went to sleep that night i knew i was a believer but i still didn't know what faith was. Back then i thought i believed because of the experience i had but with time, even when i began to doubt the experience, i still never doubted God. It was as if the belief had all of a sudden been grafted into my DNA.

I still have questions and i still have doubts, but despite everything i seem sure, you could say inside myself, that God is.
Sometimes i tell myself that i shouldn't be so sure, i lay down for hours considering all my doubts and reasoning how there are so many conflicting religions with no evidence. Sometimes i reason that Atheism of neutrality is the only bright choice, but once i get up and take a few steps, my thoughts float, carrying only so much weight as a brilliantly conceived fiction.

I haven't heard of this phenomenon before in Christianity, and i want you to know that I'm being perfectly honest about it. I want to examine this critically rather than settle for 'God did it' as an answer, that's why I'm placing this here.
I've heard alot of the arguments, when i look at my mind and consider how i think it seems like i should be joining the Atheist camp but I'm just not. Can anyone relate to this or explain this in a way that is rational?

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Re: Can someone explain why I still believe in God?
« Reply #1 on: January 25, 2013, 07:37:21 PM »
I'll probably have more thoughts later, but don't mistake belief for knowledge. It sounds like you believe, but don't know. That's natural and healthy to acknowledge. Some people claim to believe and to know. This is where people get in trouble, because knowledge of something that is, merely by its definition, unknowable, is questionable at best. Most atheists I know are agnostic atheists. That is, they do not believe in god, but don't claim any knowledge one way or the other about god.

You had an experience that you've interpreted in a certain way, and it informs your beliefs. I can easily argue that there are many other possible interpretations for your experience, but for now I've got to get back to work or I'll miss a deadline.  :(
If we ever travel thousands of light years to a planet inhabited by intelligent life, let's just make patterns in their crops and leave.

Offline Nick

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Re: Can someone explain why I still believe in God?
« Reply #2 on: January 25, 2013, 07:44:15 PM »
Wow, the hook is deep in you, man.  You are almost there several times and get pulled back in.  Even with rational thought it seems hard for you to "really" let go.  Over history there have been over 3800 different gods.  Man seems the need to invent these gods.  They must fill some kind of void in our cultural development.  But do you think the other 3799 are real?  Evidence, my man, evidence.  There is none.  Religion has been used as a form of control and power the whole way thru.  Look at the world around you...poor, hungry starving kids around the world, mass shootings in elem schools, storms and earthquakes.  Would a loving god do these things to its creation and the little ones?  No.  Do you really think billions of us are all going to an afterlife? No.

Many here can go into much more detail and present more alternative things for you to consider than I can.  You are unlike most who come here.  You have already taken the 1st step...several times...keep looking and questioning.  The truth is so full of life.
Yo, put that in your pipe and smoke it.  Quit ragging on my Lord.

Tide goes in, tide goes out !!!

Offline Quesi

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Re: Can someone explain why I still believe in God?
« Reply #3 on: January 25, 2013, 07:54:11 PM »
First of all, thank you for sharing your personal story.  And welcome to the forum.

I was raised in a secular family, and so I cannot personally relate to your experiences, but there are lots of former believers here who can probably share some personal insight with you.  This is certainly a time in your life in which you are seeking answers to your many questions.  And that is a positive thing. 

May I ask why you self-identify as a Christian?  What is it about the Christian doctrine that feels so true to you?  Have you read the scriptures carefully?  That might be a great activity for you, if you have not done so already.  And you will certainly hear a lot here about contradictions in the scriptures. 

Please understand that this "atheist camp" that you refer to is not a single world view, in the way that a religion is.  I think that you will find that there is a huge degree of diversity among those of us who self-identify as atheists.  I identify as a secular humanist, and because I do not believe there is an afterlife, I feel driven to improve the plight of members of the huge percentage of humanity who, by chance, were not born into the circumstances that I was born into.  Those who have known hunger.  Those who live under oppressive regimes.   Those who have not had access to literacy or education.  Other atheists focus more on the wonders of science, than the plight of humanity.  And there is a subset of atheism that adheres to a bizarre laissez faire capitalism with hierarchies of privilege based on "innate" skills or "hard work." 

Keep asking good questions.  There is no urgent need for you to pick a label or abandon another.  Consider yourself on a journey of exploration. 

And may the discussions on this forum be a fruitful part of your journey. 

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Re: Can someone explain why I still believe in God?
« Reply #4 on: January 25, 2013, 08:26:18 PM »
Welcome to the forum, Bluecolor.

He didn't shrug them off either; I would watch him handle the statements, reason through them carefully, and yet even when he had no answers you would never see the slightest hint of doubt in him. This may not be so amazing to you but to someone who had lived his entire life filled with questions and doubts, i can looking back understand why i was so drawn to him.

-snip-

Part of it I'm sure was his assurance in his beliefs. He handled all atheistic conversation the way one might discuss a good book or movie: interesting, enlightening perhaps but ultimately fiction. Suggest otherwise to him and he would begin to have this smile as if you were seriously suggesting that trees were made out of candy-canes and the rain from lemon-drops.

Your ex-roommate sounds like a thoroughly indoctrinated, rather patronizing Christian. You're right: I don't find it remarkable that such a person would be unmoved by things that challenged his beliefs. I've seen many come and go on this forum. Their minds are quite made up, regardless of what arguments and evidence is presented that makes their view of the universe logically untenable.

One time a bunch of us followed him out somewhere and something happened then that completely changed my life. It was as if i all of a sudden had this revelation of who i was standing next to.
When i went to sleep that night i knew i was a believer but i still didn't know what faith was. Back then i thought i believed because of the experience i had but with time, even when i began to doubt the experience, i still never doubted God. It was as if the belief had all of a sudden been grafted into my DNA.

I vividly remember the epiphany I felt when I became a Christian (and remained so for 15 years): an emotional rush similar to falling in love, or even sex. I was depressed and lonely at the time; the idea of a perfect friend / parent who would never leave me (despite being invisible and intangible) was an irresistible draw. It took the better part of two decades to fade.

I still have questions and i still have doubts, but despite everything i seem sure, you could say inside myself, that God is.
Sometimes i tell myself that i shouldn't be so sure, i lay down for hours considering all my doubts and reasoning how there are so many conflicting religions with no evidence. Sometimes i reason that Atheism of neutrality is the only bright choice, but once i get up and take a few steps, my thoughts float, carrying only so much weight as a brilliantly conceived fiction.

I haven't heard of this phenomenon before in Christianity, and i want you to know that I'm being perfectly honest about it. I want to examine this critically rather than settle for 'God did it' as an answer, that's why I'm placing this here.
I've heard alot of the arguments, when i look at my mind and consider how i think it seems like i should be joining the Atheist camp but I'm just not. Can anyone relate to this or explain this in a way that is rational?

To quote Robert Heinlein, "Man is not a rational animal, he's a rationalizing animal." Still, I'll take a stab at it.

You're struggling with a pretty profound question, so it's not to be wondered that resolving it to your satisfaction is taking awhile. Leaving religious faith behind is different for everyone, but rarely without some degree of difficulty.

It sounds as if you grew up in a fairly religious household, if I'm understanding your background. That has both good and bad aspects with regard to becoming an atheist: good, in that constant exposure to the irrationalities of religion often provides opportunity to recognize and question them; and bad, in that early, pervasive indoctrination is hard to completely escape. Your ex-roommate provides, perhaps, an example of the latter.

It sounds to me that you are moving towards atheism but aren't ready to quite abandon your old beliefs, or at least feel some guilt / fear at doing so. I can sympathize: though my deconversion was easier than many, it wasn't entirely painless. I encourage you to read a bit on the topics of atheism and religion. Even before I deconverted, I found Carl Sagan's Demon-Haunted World and Karen Armstrong's A History of God very interesting.

I've also found this forum itself helpful and supportive. Many of us atheist regulars here have gone through what you're experiencing, and can offer our perspectives. 
Live a good life... If there are no gods, then you will be gone, but will have lived a noble life that will live on in the memories of your loved ones. I am not afraid.
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Re: Can someone explain why I still believe in God?
« Reply #5 on: January 25, 2013, 09:36:47 PM »
your second sentence said it all

 Most Christians don't spend time thinking (about God),if they stopped to think they may be in trouble
There's no right there's no wrong,there's just popular opinion (Brad Pitt as Jeffery Goines in 12 monkeys)

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Re: Can someone explain why I still believe in God?
« Reply #6 on: January 25, 2013, 09:59:32 PM »
It was very frustrating because i had so many questions. If i opened up to my family or to people at school, i immediately met their anger. They, for some reason, were determined not to ask themselves these questions. I on the other hand couldn't get them out of my mind.
I was told there was something wrong with the way i though, evil in fact. I was cautioned and advised but never answered and as my frustration grew i knew (and this because i had heard the story many times before) that despite all my religious perseverance and retaliation that i was bound to one day completely leave the faith.
There is something about being taught that your thinking is 'evil' that should send up a warning sign in your mind.  When one side of an argument can't win the logical battle, the only thing they have left is to demonize the other side.  Remember, they couldn't answer you.  They couldn't answer you. 

While in college i entered that phase many of you probably know where you begin to openly challenge God. It begins in jest at first: snide remarks about prayer, faith, Christians, anything i felt might get me in trouble with his royal highness. Slowly however it got more serious. I went on this sort of crazed power-rush with it and in time my life had turned into this barefaced moral disregard for God as anything more than an idea or a guideline for human living. The very mention of God could set me off, i didn't care. The religious indoctrination had collapsed and i was loving the freedom.
Actually, it wasn't a crazed power rush... it was your first taste of freedom. 

What happened next is that i met what some men call 'the uncommon Christian'. A roommate in my fourth year i wont mention his name. He was very interested by my ideas and my views on life. His of course were very different from mine and so we hardly ever agreed on anything. The point though was that he listened, he reasoned and he rebutted. He found my ideas fascinating and listened much in the way that one listens to a child. At first of course i found this extremely frustrating. This was my life, my doctrine after all; they were the questions that had made me what i was and yet sometimes he would just laugh and shake his head.  Others had refused my questions because it shook their beliefs, but that never bothered him.
He didn't shrug them off either; I would watch him handle the statements, reason through them carefully, and yet even when he had no answers you would never see the slightest hint of doubt in him. This may not be so amazing to you but to someone who had lived his entire life filled with questions and doubts, i can looking back understand why i was so drawn to him.
That's called confidence (or maybe arrogance), and has no bearing on whether or not he's right about God.  Don't you think we have confidence as well?  You took his attitude for wisdom.  Maybe that was wrong of you to do.  A great quote here is one from Bertrand Russell... "The trouble with the world is that the stupid are cocksure and the intelligent are full of doubt." 

Imagine your roomate did the same thing every day, only with the belief in Santa Claus instead of God.  Every day, he comes over and asks you about your life without Santa and how you see the world as an a-Santa-ist.  Then, when you talk with him, he listens, fascinated and curious, childlike even, but always rebutting you with unprovable assertions that never really answered your questions.  Every so often, he'd laugh and shake his head, but nothing you said could ever get through to him.  You'd be frustrated as hell, because you know he's wrong, but he's real confident he's right.  How could that not be exactly what you experienced with this guy?  It doesn't matter how confident one is in their position.  It matters whether or not they have the logically superior position.  Atheism is a logically superior position than Christianity.  By a long shot. 

Don't mistake confidence or arrogance for superior knowledge. 

One time a bunch of us followed him out somewhere and something happened then that completely changed my life. It was as if i all of a sudden had this revelation of who i was standing next to.
When i went to sleep that night i knew i was a believer but i still didn't know what faith was. Back then i thought i believed because of the experience i had but with time, even when i began to doubt the experience, i still never doubted God. It was as if the belief had all of a sudden been grafted into my DNA.
Notice how it's always some sort of experience?  You didn't come to God through reasoning and evidence; you came to it through an emotional experience of some kind.  Your emotions are NOT a good barometer for truth, however. 

It sounds to me like you had a bit of hero worship going on because he seemed so sure in what he thinks.  Maybe you wanted to be sure like he was.  Again, none of that has any bearing at all on what's true.  You can't arrive at truth through emotional experiences.  That's not the way to get there.   

I still have questions and i still have doubts, but despite everything i seem sure, you could say inside myself, that God is.
Maybe because you want to believe it?  To be like your roommate who seems so secure?  Trust me... beyond any reasonable doubt, God is not real.  The Christian God is mythology.  You're roommate, for all his confidence, really could be (and is) wrong. 

Sometimes i tell myself that i shouldn't be so sure, i lay down for hours considering all my doubts and reasoning how there are so many conflicting religions with no evidence. Sometimes i reason that Atheism of neutrality is the only bright choice, but once i get up and take a few steps, my thoughts float, carrying only so much weight as a brilliantly conceived fiction.
Agnostic atheism, to me, is the only smart choice to make.  I don't know if god exists, but I don't believe it does.  Not for a second.  There is no reason to think so, even if there are others who are wholly confident that God is real. 

I've heard alot of the arguments, when i look at my mind and consider how i think it seems like i should be joining the Atheist camp but I'm just not. Can anyone relate to this or explain this in a way that is rational?
When your reasoning takes center stage, God will die.  Right now, it seems you're caught up in that hero worship.  This is how cult leaders like David Koresh and Jim Jones and L. Ron Hubbard work their magic.  People fall into those cults for a reason.  The same reason you were so impacted by your roommate.  You probably would have followed him anywhere if he asked you.  But he's wrong, Blue.  God isn't real.  Think it through. Use your reason instead of your gut.  What does your reason tell you?  Your gut is often wrong when it comes to true versus false.   

If you haven't read "Misquoting Jesus" or "Jesus Interrupted" by Bart Ehrman, I think you should.  Not because of what they say about the bible (which is extremely enlightening in itself) but because at the beginning of both books, he talks about a situation exactly like yours that got him into Christianity deeply.  A very charismatic person in his life made him see things a certain way and he became a 'born again' Christian.  He came out of it, and you can too.  You just have to think intelligently instead of with your emotions. 
Whenever events that are purported to occur in our best interest are as numerous as the events that will just as soon kill us, then intent is hard, if not impossible to assert. NDT

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Re: Can someone explain why I still believe in God?
« Reply #7 on: January 25, 2013, 10:05:03 PM »
'Hello, my names Bluecolour and I'm a Christian'
Why do i believe in God?
The reason i brought this question here and not to some Christian forum is because atheists are logical than most of the Christians you find online.

Yes, a number of us have attempted to discuss & debate on xtian forums, but their trigger response is to ban.  That is telling.


 
Quote
I find it very interesting that for some reason many Atheists seem more interested in God and religion than most of the Christians i know.

Probably for mostly two reasons:  1)  We have to share this planet with all these people who believe in an invisible father in the sky, and we care about the well being of humanity.  2)  A lot of us  were xtians (me included).

Quote
You see growing up i was made to believe that atheists were mournfully ignorant, morally blind and/or possessed by Satan. I had to discover for myself that this was not the case.
When i came to understand your stance, I believed that perhaps the strictest of you lacked information, but then i started listening to the arguments and i realized that also was not the case. I could say in fact that the stricter the Atheist, the more information he/she would seem to have [Sad that the opposite can many times be said for Christians].

Thanks for that.  Again, speaking for myself, I was steeped in the xtian faith, so know the terrain fairly well.

Quote
To be honest, I personally spent many years teetering on the fence between the two positions. I was forced to keep my doubts private because i didn't want to be ostracized and i became mostly silent concerning my beliefs because they weren't truly beliefs so much more than they were just more doubts.

That is one area where most theists just don't get it.  Rejecting a claim (a supernatural one in this case) is not a "belief".


Quote
If i opened up to my family or to people at school, i immediately met their anger. They, for some reason, were determined not to ask themselves these questions.

I see that all the time, and the rage.  I would like to recommend a book which will really turn the lights on.  It's called "The God Virus" by Darrel W. Ray.  He displays how the infection of faith in the mind behaves much like a biological virus - railing against attack.



Quote
What happened next is that i met what some men call 'the uncommon Christian'.  He found my ideas fascinating and listened much in the way that one listens to a child. At first of course i found this extremely frustrating. This was my life, my doctrine after all; they were the questions that had made me what i was and yet sometimes he would just laugh and shake his head.

......Suggest otherwise to him and he would begin to have this smile as if you were seriously suggesting that trees were made out of candy-canes and the rain from lemon-drops.

He sounds condescending, smug and arrogant to me.





Quote
I still have questions and i still have doubts, but despite everything i seem sure, you could say inside myself, that God is.

I think it's helpful to define ones terms.  What exactly do you mean when you say "god"?

 
Quote
Sometimes i tell myself that i shouldn't be so sure, i lay down for hours considering all my doubts and reasoning how there are so many conflicting religions with no evidence.

Question:  If no other human on the planet had god belief, would you?




The idea of god was not a lie but a device of the unconscious which needed to be decoded by psychology. A personal god was nothing more than an exalted father-figure.  Desire for such a deity sprang from infantile yearnings for a powerful, protective father; for justice and fairness and for life to go on forever. God is simply a projection of these desires, feared and worshipped by human beings out of an abiding sense of helplessness. Religion belonged to the infancy of the human race; it had been a necessary stage in the transition from childhood to maturity. It had promoted ethical values which were essential to society. Now that humanity had come of age, however, it should be left behind.  (Sigmund Freud)
« Last Edit: January 25, 2013, 10:15:05 PM by Star Stuff »
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Re: Can someone explain why I still believe in God?
« Reply #8 on: January 25, 2013, 10:15:36 PM »
Personally I don't understand how one goes from being religious to flat out being an atheist. Didn't happen to me. Though I was younger, pre-teen to early teens, it wasn't that I came to the conclusion of being an atheist from being a Southern Baptist. I knew I didn't care for a lot of what the SB taught, and I think I tried other alternative protestant Faiths before at around 14 +/- that I was an atheist. But it didn't stop there because I even questioned that. I went from agnostic-atheist to Ignostic-atheist and now I am between an Ignostic-atheist and something else, like Idontcare-atheist.

Perhaps it's just me.

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A god is like a rock: it does absolutely nothing until someone or something forces it to do something. The only capability the rock has is doing nothing until another force compels it physically to move.

The right to be heard does not automatically include the right to be taken seriously.

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Re: Can someone explain why I still believe in God?
« Reply #9 on: January 25, 2013, 10:20:35 PM »
Nam, I think that's because when we are young, we haven't the experience & maturity that we have as adults, and we are still somewhat influential.  But I agree, it was over a period of a few years that I peeled away from the church and its belief system.  And it too was not "easy" given a life of indoctrination of hellfire.
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Re: Can someone explain why I still believe in God?
« Reply #10 on: January 26, 2013, 12:21:46 AM »
Welcome to the Forum Bluecolour.  Thank you for sharing your story, and for your open-mindedness.

'Hello, my names Bluecolour and I'm a Christian'
Why do i believe in God?

I think that the more fundamental question to ask is not "why," but "what:"  What, specifically, do you believe?  Make a list of your top ten truth-claims, things that have to be so out in reality in order for your concept of Christianity to be valid.  Then: what is the evidence--for and against--that relates to your truth-claims?  Try to focus on the most crucial elements of your Christianity, the things that, if shown to be false, would send the whole edifice tumbling down like a Jenga tower.  Why do this?  Because, if you want to know if your hypothesis is accurate or not, the thing you have to do is make it vulnerable to testing.  If your beliefs are accurate, reality will leave them unscathed.  If not, well, then you'll know.  "That which can be destroyed by the truth should be." 

Take the theory of evolution, for example.  It's incredibly vulnerable to facts.  Fossil bunnies in the Cambrian, a fossil dinosaur with a saddle and a human rider, different species having wholly unique genetic codes rather than traceable lines of common descent that match the evolutionary trees derived from fossils and morphology--any one of those things turns up in reality, and KAPOW!  SPLAT!  Back to the drawing board.  The great strength of evolutionary theory is that despite the many and various ways it could be falsified, observable reality continues to validate its predictions and leave its vulnerabilities to falsification untouched.  Or take atheism.  Just one real god or goddess comes along, and atheism is false, period.  An angel or a djinn or a faerie would do the job just about as well.

So, if the validity of your beliefs requires something like "Jesus lived as a man on Earth and was resurrected bodily from death on the third day after his crucifixion" or "The Cosmos was created thousands of years ago rather than billions, as described in the Book of Genesis," then include that in your list.  "God is a Trinity consisting of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit" may or may not be "required" for Christianity to be true (depends on who you ask), but it's not testable, even by believers, otherwise there would be unanimous agreement among them.  So, that wouldn't go into your list.  Don't pick something which, if falsified, you could just shrug off.  "Well, OK, Jesus might not have resurrected physically and miraculously, but there was something in his presence and person that awakened in the hearts of the disciples afterwards, and turned them from cowards into champions for Christ."

What happened next is that i met what some men call 'the uncommon Christian'. A roommate in my fourth year i wont mention his name. He was very interested by my ideas and my views on life. His of course were very different from mine and so we hardly ever agreed on anything. The point though was that he listened, he reasoned and he rebutted. He found my ideas fascinating and listened much in the way that one listens to a child. At first of course i found this extremely frustrating. This was my life, my doctrine after all; they were the questions that had made me what i was and yet sometimes he would just laugh and shake his head.
Others had refused my questions because it shook their beliefs, but that never bothered him.
He didn't shrug them off either; I would watch him handle the statements, reason through them carefully, and yet even when he had no answers you would never see the slightest hint of doubt in him. This may not be so amazing to you but to someone who had lived his entire life filled with questions and doubts, i can looking back understand why i was so drawn to him.

Our ability to analyze your experiences with this person are naturally quite limited.  From your description, I tentatively note two things: 1) The appeal of this man and his beliefs seems to center on his charisma and "way of being," the way he smiles, shakes his head, laughs, etc., his assurance, serenity, and so on.  2) He does not appear to have actually provided answers.

1) I have known people who said the same kinds of things about Hindu gurus they have met.  The guru seems to know them deeply on first sight, to have a "presence" that stands out from other people, and so on.  I have read about Ayahuasca shamans with the same kind of presence and seemingly superhuman perceptiveness when it comes to people.  I don't know of any religion or spiritual tradition that can't point to "holy" men and women with the kind of stand-out "spirituality" you describe here.  It could be that people who spend years practicing meditative contemplation get good at it, and this gives them a degree of serenity that people who don't do the practice don't have.  Or perhaps some people are just talented at being "spiritual" or "enlightened" (having deep serenity, charisma, an aura of knowing, and so on) the same way some people are talented at composing music (e.g. Mozart) or mathematics (Einstein, Stephen Hawking) to degrees that, in a previous age, could easily have been thought of as supernatural.

2) The fact that you're here asking why you believe in God seems like pretty good evidence to me that, whatever "rebuttals" your roommate offered between the smiles, the knowing head-shakes, and so on, do not constitute a body of evidence and logic sufficient to convince you of the validity of Christianity.  Otherwise, you'd be coming here with that, instead of what an amazing person your roommate was.

Aside: I gotta come right out and say that this roommate story trips one of my skeptic alarms.  It's not uncommon for us atheists to get various "just-so stories" featuring characters who have no names or locations in space and time, but whose stories "prove" Christianity.  There's the college professor who would issue a rant against God and faith to his class, finishing up by holding up a wine glass and saying, "If there's a God, when I drop this glass, it won't break!"  This continued until one day, there was a Christian in his class who prayed, and when he dropped it, the glass bounced off his foot and skittered across the floor, remaining intact.  CHECKMATE, atheists!  Or the one about the underground church service in Soviet Russia.  The congregation was in the middle of their worship service when Russian soldiers busted in, machine guns at the ready.  Their leader said, "Anyone who is willing to renounce belief in Christ may go.  Those who refuse will be shot."  Some did, and the soldiers released them.  "Anyone else?"  The remainder of the congregation stayed, silent.  Then the soldiers put down their weapons.  "Now that the hypocrites are gone, may we join you?"

Given how pivotal this person has been in your life, and how close you apparently were to him, it seems a bit odd that you speak of him without a name, and in the past tense.  In today's internet-connected world, it is not difficult to remain in contact with someone, and odds are good they can be Googled or looked up on Facebook even if you have lost contact.  Do you still have a relationship with this person?  Is there any chance he could be persuaded to join this Forum? 

I began to look closer at his life, i noticed the way he spoke to others and the way they moved around him. I began to hear about the things he did, the way he seemed to know things he shouldn't. I grew curious, i wanted to see for myself and when i didn't i grew cynical.

I was his roommate remember, i saw his flaws, he was no less human than i was. And yet, hunched over my laptop in the middle of the night and hearing him snore, i still couldn't tell myself that there was nothing there different about him.

This is all too vague for people who weren't there (i.e., us) to do anything with.  What, specifically, did he know that he "shouldn't."  Even you, who were there, can only say that he "seemed" to know things a human being shouldn't have been able to, not that he demonstrably did.  People can do some pretty freaking amazing things:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A6XUVjK9W4o

The examples there are physical, but I can also point to things like Mozart churning out Classical music when he was six years old, or "Rain Man" type savants.  For a very on-point demonstration of how it's possible for someone to "know things they shouldn't" and seem like they have supernatural insight and powers, watch this:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MT3izBQfh5M

Part of it I'm sure was his assurance in his beliefs. He handled all atheistic conversation the way one might discuss a good book or movie: interesting, enlightening perhaps but ultimately fiction. Suggest otherwise to him and he would begin to have this smile as if you were seriously suggesting that trees were made out of candy-canes and the rain from lemon-drops.

When it comes to the question of how accurate a belief is, a person's assurance in their beliefs is irrelevant.  The question that matters is, what is the basis for their beliefs; what evidence do they have that their beliefs correspond to reality.  The "con" in "con man" is an abbreviation for "confidence."  A person can go a long way toward convincing others to believe what they want them to just by exhibiting over-the-top levels of confidence.  I'm not necessarily saying this person is a con man (I don't know him), but that seems to be his general technique: to act as if atheist arguments are saying that trees are made of candy canes, give a knowing smile and the like, while...managing somehow not to actually answer them in any evidential or logical manner.

One time a bunch of us followed him out somewhere and something happened then that completely changed my life. It was as if i all of a sudden had this revelation of who i was standing next to.

And who were you standing next to?
 
I still have questions and i still have doubts, but despite everything i seem sure, you could say inside myself, that God is.

OK, but do you have any reason to think that God is outside yourself, out there, in external reality?  I don't doubt that people can have, or even deliberately generate, the experience of a "god" or "spirit" or other presence inside themselves.  I have several books that include techniques for experiencing, and even deliberately creating gods and goddesses.  I haven't yet taken the time to go through the process myself, but in reading the techniques, I don't doubt that they work--for generating the inner experience of a deity.
"The question of whether atheists are, you know, right, typically gets sidestepped in favor of what is apparently the much more compelling question of whether atheists are jerks."

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Offline The Gawd

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Re: Can someone explain why I still believe in God?
« Reply #11 on: January 26, 2013, 10:25:41 AM »
@Bluecolour

The others have made some fantastic posts that should help you along the way. As you can see many of us were some form of Christian as well. What I can say from my observation it usually begins with some sort of doubt. Then all the learning after that confirms the doubt.

I remember what triggered my doubt in Jr High (although I didn't outright reject until after HS). I had a pet guinea pig as a youngster named Broccoli, I don't know why I named him Broccoli, but that was his name. Anyways, he had become very sick and it was obvious he could die at any time. One morning I woke up to go to school and I dropped some lettuce in his cage and noticed he was looking particularly deathly but I had to go to school. Man, I prayed all day that I could just make it home before he died because that was my little homey. I also had a detention to serve that afternoon after school so I had to stay late and also miss the bus. So I run as much as I could the nearly two miles home praying the entire time to try and see the buddy one last time.

Obviously the point of this story was that he died before I got back. This would've been an ambiguous prayer answer as there would've been natural explanations for me making it home in time. I was a mere child at the time and hadn't even done that much wrong even by the unreasonable standards that Christianity tries to use to paint us as evil creatures. I wasn't thinking about sex and all that stuff they use to guilt trip us. My detention was likely for talking. I had already accepted that Broccoli was going to die that day. All I wanted was to get home before he passed. Seems like an easy, reasonable, un-life altering request from an innocent child. I couldn't understand why Yahweh wouldn't grant me that simple request.

That I could never rationalize even with apologetics. Why? Because my earthly father did what he could including taking Broccoli to the vet to get checked. So if my earthly father who I knew loved me did what he could, why wouldn't this all powerful heavenly father find it within himself to allow a couple more hours of life for a guinea pig, since his eye was on the sparrow? Anyways I went on believing while gaining a wealth of knowledge and experience that continually was along the lines of that anecdote I just told. And with everything thing I learned and experienced including good things when I felt I didn't deserve them according to my religion the answer became clear.

A) there was no Heavenly Father looking out for me
B) shit happens and shit doesn't care

Theres a lot of resources (people on this board) that know and have looked at a lot of things that can be helpful along your journey. These threads here are wonderful tools to help understand some of the things you may be struggling with. The kcrady thread at the top of this forum is one of them, and its rather entertaining as well. I literally read it for joy sometimes.

Welcome!

Offline Tero

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Re: Can someone explain why I still believe in God?
« Reply #12 on: January 26, 2013, 10:42:46 AM »
Short explanation: religion is all about feelings. We tend not to ignore feelings. It's difficult to marry a person you do not love. Unless one is unable to love.

Offline hickdive

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Re: Can someone explain why I still believe in God?
« Reply #13 on: January 26, 2013, 12:25:08 PM »
...While in college i entered that phase many of you probably know where you begin to openly challenge God. It begins in jest at first: snide remarks about prayer, faith, Christians, anything i felt might get me in trouble with his royal highness.
Slowly however it got more serious. I went on this sort of crazed power-rush with it and in time my life had turned into this barefaced moral disregard for God...

From this I deduce that you're a christian who cannot really grasp what atheism actually is and has confused his adolescent/early adult experience of rebelling against his theistic upbringing with actual atheism.

Atheist don't openly challenge god any more than they openly challenge the tooth fairy. There isn't a 'royal highness' to get into trouble with and god has as much to do with morality as a bag of M&Ms. I don't know of any atheist who gets a crazed power rush from their atheism as if they were suddenly in a moral vacuum.

An atheist simply doesn't believe in god(s). Usually the reason for not believing is that there is no evidence for the existence of god(s). Some atheists go further and say that, as well as there being no evidence, god(s) are a logical impossibility. Atheists are not simply people who are in 'rebellion' against any specific deity, they just don't believe they exist.

The language used in your post suggests to me that you were simply using the 'atheist' label as a way of justifying rebellion against a god you still believed in.
Stupidity, unlike intelligence, has no limits.

Offline Traveler

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Re: Can someone explain why I still believe in God?
« Reply #14 on: January 26, 2013, 05:56:16 PM »
hickdive makes some good points. So do many of the others, but I want to address the rebellion aspect. I have never believed in any god or gods. I simply grew up thinking the concept was silly. There is nothing to rebel against except the believers who try to stifle my rights. I have no more belief in a god or gods than I have in Santa, the tooth fairy, or that there's a unicorn in my back yard. They are equality improbable to me, and equally unproven. Quite frankly, when I see people praying or fighting about religion (wars and such) I can't believe that anyone could be so gullible. If people didn't let religion harm the world so much (homophobia, human rights violations, religious wars, etc) I would think of religion as a somewhat quaint custom that simply hasn't quite died out yet.

On the other hand, I imagine that if I had lost a god belief, I'd feel like I'd been lied to all my life. THAT I would rebel against. I would feel cheated by my friends and family who taught it to me.
If we ever travel thousands of light years to a planet inhabited by intelligent life, let's just make patterns in their crops and leave.

Offline Nick

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Re: Can someone explain why I still believe in God?
« Reply #15 on: January 26, 2013, 06:16:37 PM »
Traveler, I don't think there is a unicorn in my backyard either but how do you explain the piles of rainbow colored horse dung there?
Yo, put that in your pipe and smoke it.  Quit ragging on my Lord.

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Re: Can someone explain why I still believe in God?
« Reply #16 on: January 26, 2013, 09:33:46 PM »
Traveler, I don't think there is a unicorn in my backyard either but how do you explain the piles of rainbow colored horse dung there?

Hmm, I'll be right over to investigate the matter.  ;D
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Re: Can someone explain why I still believe in God?
« Reply #17 on: January 26, 2013, 10:10:18 PM »
Traveler, I don't think there is a unicorn in my backyard either but how do you explain the piles of rainbow colored horse dung there?

Don't panic. That's where leprechauns mark where they've buried their gold.

Unicorns! How silly...
Not everyone is entitled to their own opinion. They're all entitled to mine though.

Offline Bluecolour

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Re: Can someone explain why I still believe in God?
« Reply #18 on: January 26, 2013, 10:38:58 PM »
Thanks for making me feel welcome, you've all given me alot to think about.

NICK
I'm familiar with the Atheistic arguments, they make strong points. The problem being that I'm also familiar with the arguments raised against them. Those that truly question know that there are no sure answers. In most of these cases what serves as evidence is only what one takes as evidence.
Absolute certainty is impossible. We don't reason to know, we reason to challenge what we believe. What we believe is decided truly not by what we know, but by what we can understand.
Even still, everywhere people live with the lesser degree of doubt and a far greater amount of certainty in their beliefs. (I know this because i copied the last sentence of your text and posted it on a Christian network.)
Quote
The truth is so full of life.
They all agreed.

QUESI
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May I ask why you self-identify as a Christian?  What is it about the Christian doctrine that feels so true to you?  Have you read the scriptures carefully?  That might be a great activity for you, if you have not done so already.  And you will certainly hear a lot here about contradictions in the scriptures. 
It's not so much the Christian doctrine that feels true as it is the Christian God. That above everything is what draws me in.
This might likely not make any sense to you but God really changes the way you understand the Bible. The book itself arguably contains some of the most inspired writings in human history. Even if I were to one day abandon Christianity, I would still read it. Ironically, to disbelieve I would have to first stop reading it.
Thanks for the comment.

JeffPT
You've been very reasonable and supportive. I would rather not disagree with you, but taking your advise would make me guilty of self-contradiction.
You mentioned the demonization of opposing sides as a tactic used by Christians. No offense, (because i agree) but I find many Atheists to be guilty of that same fallacy.
Look at it: the common Atheist mind is indoctrinated (yes indoctrinated) or at least conditioned to the nearly spontaneous assumption that any held religious position is irrational and in some way inferior to his Atheistic position. Adherence to this false assumption gives him the confidence to go on stating his beliefs as if he were right rather than merely in doubt.
As you rightly said however, a persons confidence in their beliefs should not be mistaken as evidence of superior knowledge (this includes yours).
I believe that God exists, I am in fact confident of this. I however do not take my own self-confidence as an assurance that I am right, nor can I take my doubts as proof that I am wrong.
In truth every statement has to it a degree of uncertainty, this means that it must be tested by something other than itself. For the sake of reason alone, nothing is true and every argument is permitted.
At this point I'd like to thank WRIGHT for that incredibly insightful quote by Robert Heinlein.
You do not come to truth by any logically firm conclusion, you pick the idea that is best suited to your understanding and then you rationalize it. When your reasoning takes center stage, the truth dies.

STAR STUFF
I like everything you've said so far so I want you to consider some other things:
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Rejecting a claim (a supernatural one in this case) is not a "belief".
No, it isn't. And yet while the rejection of a claim is not a belief, the rejection itself must be made on the premises of a separate and contrary belief system.
For example: You reject Christianity, that is not a belief. The fact that you reject Christianity however immediately shows that you have some other ideas you have taken as true that Christianity goes against. If not, you would have no reason and basis to reject it.
Next, while my roommate might sound arrogant to you now, consider that had you been a Christian you probably would have thought him very wise. In the same way many Atheists who might seem informed, intelligent and insightful to you, come across to many Christians, Buddhists and the like as vexatiously arrogant.
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What exactly do you mean when you say "god"?
My ideas on God are long and complicated, I would rather not discuss them now. Now, I am more worried  by the apparent disposition I find in myself to believe those ideas.
Basically though I'm talking about Yahweh.
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Question:  If no other human on the planet had god belief, would you?
I can't say.
What i can say though is that if every human on this planet including myself had no conception of god at all it would make my decision infinitely easier.

KCRADY
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When it comes to the question of how accurate a belief is, a person's assurance in their beliefs is irrelevant.  The question that matters is, what is the basis for their beliefs; what evidence do they have that their beliefs correspond to reality.
A worldview is as the name implies a point of reference. It refers not to data that I as a person receive but to the preset statements that will determine how i interpret that data.
This being said, what is crucial (you suggest) is the degree to which a persons worldview/belief corresponds with reality. The problem still is that when reality itself is what is under question the situation becomes much more complex.
Therefore you should know upfront that when you enter into any logical debate with a Christian, you will not be arguing the existence of God so much as you will be the Reality of God.
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I think that the more fundamental question to ask is not "why," but "what:"  What, specifically, do you believe?
I've tried as much as possible to reflect several of my views. As for what i believe concerning my religion, i think the Nicene creed pretty much covers all the basics.

Thank you all for the time. Its really nice to be able to get this stuff out.

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Re: Can someone explain why I still believe in God?
« Reply #19 on: January 27, 2013, 12:09:54 AM »
Thanks for making me feel welcome, you've all given me alot to think about.

You're quite welcome; that's more acknowledgement than we often get from theist visitors here.

NICK
I'm familiar with the Atheistic arguments, they make strong points. The problem being that I'm also familiar with the arguments raised against them. Those that truly question know that there are no sure answers. In most of these cases what serves as evidence is only what one takes as evidence.
Absolute certainty is impossible. We don't reason to know, we reason to challenge what we believe. What we believe is decided truly not by what we know, but by what we can understand.

Absolute certainty is a rare thing, agreed. Still, it's also true that reasonable certainty is capable of guiding our decisions in most cases. Thus, the titular question of this site.

QUESI
Quote
May I ask why you self-identify as a Christian?  What is it about the Christian doctrine that feels so true to you?  Have you read the scriptures carefully?  That might be a great activity for you, if you have not done so already.  And you will certainly hear a lot here about contradictions in the scriptures. 
It's not so much the Christian doctrine that feels true as it is the Christian God. That above everything is what draws me in.

How are you separating doctrine from god, as the second (according to biblical scripture) dictates the first? The bible is supposedly directly inspired by your god.

This might likely not make any sense to you but God really changes the way you understand the Bible. The book itself arguably contains some of the most inspired writings in human history. Even if I were to one day abandon Christianity, I would still read it. Ironically, to disbelieve I would have to first stop reading it.
Thanks for the comment.

Can you really not see how circular that is? Even when I was a believer, I found certain things in the bible nonsensical no matter how hard I prayed or studied them: God permitting Satan to torture Job, for instance.

I still find certain passages poetically lovely, and even morally relevant. But those are hardly exclusive to Christianity, and most of them predate it by millennium.

JeffPT
You've been very reasonable and supportive. I would rather not disagree with you, but taking your advise would make me guilty of self-contradiction.
You mentioned the demonization of opposing sides as a tactic used by Christians. No offense, (because i agree) but I find many Atheists to be guilty of that same fallacy.

So do I. You need look no further than the current misogynist shitstorm in the atheist / skeptic community; being an atheist is no guarantee of being civil or logical. I've had my lapses too.

Look at it: the common Atheist mind is indoctrinated (yes indoctrinated) or at least conditioned to the nearly spontaneous assumption that any held religious position is irrational and in some way inferior to his Atheistic position. Adherence to this false assumption gives him the confidence to go on stating his beliefs as if he were right rather than merely in doubt.

Careful, Blue. The one commonality atheists have is their disbelief in god/s. While I admit to seeing religious belief as irrational, I have clear memories of my own irrationality in that regard. I also do not hold such beliefs as inferior unless they clearly have a negative impact on someone's life. And disbelief is not belief, anymore than a vacuum is a solid.

As you rightly said however, a persons confidence in their beliefs should not be mistaken as evidence of superior knowledge (this includes yours).
I believe that God exists, I am in fact confident of this. I however do not take my own self-confidence as an assurance that I am right, nor can I take my doubts as proof that I am wrong.
In truth every statement has to it a degree of uncertainty, this means that it must be tested by something other than itself. For the sake of reason alone, nothing is true and every argument is permitted.

In societies where dissent is permitted, statements should be argued, agreed. However, this does not mean every statement and argument is equal to every other. How well they are supported by actual evidence is the ultimate criterion.

At this point I'd like to thank WRIGHT for that incredibly insightful quote by Robert Heinlein.
You do not come to truth by any logically firm conclusion, you pick the idea that is best suited to your understanding and then you rationalize it. When your reasoning takes center stage, the truth dies.

Which is why rationalization by itself can't go very far. I would say when your prejudices and assumptions take center stage, truth dies. Or rather, remains obscured. That's why we have empirical reasoning, and its refined form, the scientific method.

STAR STUFF
Quote
What exactly do you mean when you say "god"?
My ideas on God are long and complicated, I would rather not discuss them now. Now, I am more worried  by the apparent disposition I find in myself to believe those ideas.
Basically though I'm talking about Yahweh.

No offense Blue, but if you're here for insight into how to resolve your worries, discussing your god-beliefs will be unavoidable. Additionally, such reluctance can be seen as deliberate evasiveness to avoid having potential weaknesses in those beliefs pointed out to you. Theists being evasive causes many of the regulars here to bare their fangs. Just sayin'.

STAR STUFF
Quote
Question:  If no other human on the planet had god belief, would you?
I can't say.
What i can say though is that if every human on this planet including myself had no conception of god at all it would make my decision infinitely easier.

Again, your honesty is appreciated.

Thank you all for the time. Its really nice to be able to get this stuff out.

NP, Bluecolour. Theists who stick around aren't that common here, and you are one of the more honest and thoughtful ones in awhile. I hope you find some of our feedback helpful.
Live a good life... If there are no gods, then you will be gone, but will have lived a noble life that will live on in the memories of your loved ones. I am not afraid.
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Offline Disciple of Sagan

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Re: Can someone explain why I still believe in God?
« Reply #20 on: January 27, 2013, 01:12:37 AM »
NP, Bluecolour. Theists who stick around aren't that common here, and you are one of the more honest and thoughtful ones in awhile.

I'd like to second that. As wright has mentioned, the majority of theists that come here are of the "recite bible verse x:xx" variety in response to any request for evidence to back up their claims.

Speaking for myself as an agnostic atheist, I feel it would be intellectually dishonest for me to claim with absolute certainty that god(s) do not exist, but what I can do is adopt an... for lack of a better term "educated stance" based on existing evidence, or lack thereof.

However, while I cannot prove that, say, Yahweh does not exist, the actions and events directly attributed to him in the bible and other holy texts can and have been tested against what we now know... through scientific methods... to be true about our human history and the physical universe we find ourselves a part of.

So far, to the best of my knowledge, the religions of the world have repeatedly failed these tests. As wright has already stated, you cannot separate the doctrine from the god, so if the doctrine proves to be false or unsubstantiated by any viable evidence, the concept of that god is no longer valid.

Anywho, welcome, Bluecolour, and I look forward to following your conversations here.
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Offline Star Stuff

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Re: Can someone explain why I still believe in God?
« Reply #21 on: January 27, 2013, 01:23:02 AM »
....while the rejection of a claim is not a belief, the rejection itself must be made on the premises of a separate and contrary belief system.

Respectfully, that common assertion is incorrect (aka: wrong).  It is the theist who has "beliefs"; they are ladled on top of observable reality.  Now if I were to assert some other supernatural unobservable god or religious claim, then you are correct, my "belief" is as good as yours, but both would be lost in the fog.  For example, we hear it all the time: "Do you believe in evolution?"  This is erroneous, as evolution is not something one "believes" in, rather, it is something that ones accepts based on the evidence.  I'm reminded of the adage, "Only lies require faith".


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For example: You reject Christianity, that is not a belief. The fact that you reject Christianity however immediately shows that you have some other ideas you have taken as true that Christianity goes against. If not, you would have no reason and basis to reject it.

Utter nonsense (respectfully).  It is its complete lack of evidence which makes christianity, astrology, tarot cards, unicorns etc dismissible right out of the gate.  Theism has this ugly old habit of assuming that its position is correct and that it is the non-believer who must "dis-prove" it, when, as I'm sure you know by now, it is the claim maker who is saddled with providing the evidence.  Burn this into your mind:

"Gods are the finish line which are drawn at the start."

 
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Next, while my roommate might sound arrogant to you now, consider that had you been a Christian you probably would have thought him very wise.

I guess you missed the part where I said that I was a christian, a very "real" christian, for a quarter of a century.  I know the delusion quite intimately.


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In the same way many Atheists who might seem informed, intelligent and insightful to you, come across to many Christians, Buddhists and the like as vexatiously arrogant.

How some non believers come across is irrelevant. I suggest that one reason that the religious are quick to accuse atheists as arrogant, is that they have been coddled & pampered for far too long by a protection from criticism.  I think it's a good thing that that is changing.


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What exactly do you mean when you say "god"?

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My ideas on God are long and complicated, I would rather not discuss them now.

That's a shame, for I feel that it is key, and if you can't define what it is you believe in, that's a recipe for trouble (so to speak).




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Basically though I'm talking about Yahweh.

Gah.  I was afraid of that.  You mean that silly old cartoon character of a god - the god who makes Hitler, Stalin and Pol Pot look like rookies?  Of the thousands of gods man has fabricated, why would you pick this one?


I've always maintained that reasons of anger, rebellion, hurt, disappointment, etc, are not good reasons to abandon christianity, for if said issue(s) are later addressed and patched up, the delusional beliefs coming rushing back in place.  No, the reason to jettison such nonsense, is because it's patently NOT TRUE.



« Last Edit: January 27, 2013, 09:44:24 AM by Star Stuff »
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Re: Can someone explain why I still believe in God?
« Reply #22 on: January 27, 2013, 02:10:58 AM »
No, it isn't. And yet while the rejection of a claim is not a belief, the rejection itself must be made on the premises of a separate and contrary belief system.
For example: You reject Christianity, that is not a belief. The fact that you reject Christianity however immediately shows that you have some other ideas you have taken as true that Christianity goes against. If not, you would have no reason and basis to reject it.

Welcome Bluecolour.

I pulled the above quote out of your last post. Star Stuff, for whom your words were intended, has already responded, but I'd like to add a little more.

My atheism does not need any alternative to gods. I am an atheist because the idea of any sort of god seems so unlikely that the idea is not worth considering. I don't replace the concept of religion with anything else. I simply don't include it in my repertoire of thoughts and ideas. Those thoughts and ideas, which seem to adequately provide me with a workable explanation as to why we are here and how we function and why bad things happen, are not an alternative to religion. They are religionless.

In the above quote, you said "If not, you would have no reason and basis to reject it". You seem to assume that religion itself has enough innate legitimacy to require purposeful repudiation. In my view, it doesn't. It is merely a philosophical stance held to be true by some for no obvious reason. I don't have to allow for it and compensate simply because I rejected the notion. No void is left behind that requires filling, no darkness is left behind that demands new a new light source.

It is simply like loosing an extra hair out of my balding head. I don't have to wear an extra hat to compensate for it. The loss is too trivial.

I didn't reject religion. I shrugged it off. And there was no need to replace it with anything when it was gone.
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Offline Jontom10

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Re: Can someone explain why I still believe in God?
« Reply #23 on: January 27, 2013, 05:13:04 AM »
Traveler, I don't think there is a unicorn in my backyard either but how do you explain the piles of rainbow colored horse dung there?

Don't panic. That's where leprechauns mark where they've buried their gold.

Unicorns! How silly...

How dare you. Clearly the pixies were busy with feeding the dragons and didn't have time to clear up after the unicorns. All this talk of leprechauns clearly shows you to be an apostate. Be careful or it will be Jihad for you and yours from the real real truest true christian Christians!
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Re: Can someone explain why I still believe in God?
« Reply #24 on: January 27, 2013, 09:25:23 AM »
Thank you for your reply Blue.  I appreciate it. 

You mentioned the demonization of opposing sides as a tactic used by Christians. No offense, (because i agree) but I find many Atheists to be guilty of that same fallacy.
We don't demonize the person.  We demonize the belief and what comes along with that belief.  You won't find many atheists who say that all Christians, Muslims, Hindus etc are immoral, evil people, but you will find lots of religious people who say atheists as a whole are just that.  And just FYI, you don't capitalize the word 'atheists'. 

Look at it: the common Atheist mind is indoctrinated (yes indoctrinated) or at least conditioned to the nearly spontaneous assumption that any held religious position is irrational and in some way inferior to his Atheistic position.

Let me ask you... Do you think Thor belief is irrational?  How about Wiccans?  Are they irrational?  Mormons?  Scientologists?  Do you believe that a Thetan resides within all of our bodies?  Is that rational?  How is the idea of Thetans any more or less rational than the idea of a 'soul'?  It's the same thing.  Both irrational.  All an atheist does is say that Christians are irrational in exactly the same way as all the others are.   

Atheism is not a position, and truth be told, it shouldn't even be a word.  If nobody believed in gods in the first place, we wouldn't even know what it means.  It's 'off' as a TV channel.  It's 'bald' as a hair color.  Although most religious positions are absolutely irrational, (the Christian version fits this definition, so I can see why you feel that way) it is not a dogma of your every-day atheist to say that any and all religious positions are irrational.  It is entirely possible that someone, someday, might present a coherent, evidence based religious position.  Hell, that's partly the reason I keep coming here. Until then, however, it's just more logically sound and far more evidence based to say that there is no such thing as a god or gods. 

Adherence to this false assumption gives him the confidence to go on stating his beliefs as if he were right rather than merely in doubt.
What false assumption?  That all religion is irrational?  That's not an assumption I make. Each religious position should be scrutinized equally, and the adjective 'irrational' should only be attached to the ones that fit that description.  A serious look at Christianity (and many, many other religions) finds that it IS irrational, and therefore not an intelligent stance to take; but not all religious positions are, by default, irrational.  A god of some sort is certainly possible.  It's just that none have ever come forth that I have seen.   

Confidence in one's beliefs should come evidence to back it up, not gut feelings, charismatic roommates, or old books. 

I believe that God exists, I am in fact confident of this. I however do not take my own self-confidence as an assurance that I am right, nor can I take my doubts as proof that I am wrong.
I am just as confident that the Christian God doesn't exist.  But the thing is... there IS a correct answer here.  Either one of us is wrong or both of us are wrong and a different god altogether exists.  Since our positions are mutually exclusive, what ways do you suggest we search for which one of us is correct?  Do we proceed using our reason, our logic, and a spirited search for evidence, or do we go with our gut, a 2000 year old book written by people that may or may not be credible, and your roommates confidence?

Your answer should not deviate from the normal way you would proceed to determine whether or not you are right and someone else is wrong about anything else in the world.  For instance: if your favorite team was playing this weekend, and you wanted to know what the final score was, would you go to your friend who has this gut feeling about the game, or would you look to your other friend who saw the game?  The answer is obvious.  You'd go to your second friend because he has evidence.  That is how you should proceed when it comes to God as well; and if you choose not to, then you're adding your bias. 

The entire case is about reasonable doubt, Blue.  Nobody can prove God is real or not real.  But there are right and wrong ways to look for evidence... or should I say... there are more reliable and less reliable ways to search for evidence.   

In truth every statement has to it a degree of uncertainty, this means that it must be tested by something other than itself. For the sake of reason alone, nothing is true and every argument is permitted.
Yes, but some arguments are more reasoned and evidence based than others, and those are the ones that should be given a higher priority if what we are searching for is truth.  Do you disagree with that?  You can't just say every argument is allowed, because some arguments are really, really bad. 


Whenever events that are purported to occur in our best interest are as numerous as the events that will just as soon kill us, then intent is hard, if not impossible to assert. NDT

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Re: Can someone explain why I still believe in God?
« Reply #25 on: January 27, 2013, 10:01:34 AM »
Traveler, I don't think there is a unicorn in my backyard either but how do you explain the piles of rainbow colored horse dung there?

Don't panic. That's where leprechauns mark where they've buried their gold.

Unicorns! How silly...

How dare you. Clearly the pixies were busy with feeding the dragons and didn't have time to clear up after the unicorns. All this talk of leprechauns clearly shows you to be an apostate. Be careful or it will be Jihad for you and yours from the real real truest true christian Christians!

Well, yea, there's that....  ;)
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Re: Can someone explain why I still believe in God?
« Reply #26 on: January 27, 2013, 10:36:02 AM »
Let me ask you... Do you think Thor belief is irrational?  How about Wiccans?  Are they irrational?  Mormons?  Scientologists?  Do you believe that a Thetan resides within all of our bodies?  Is that rational?  How is the idea of Thetans any more or less rational than the idea of a 'soul'?  It's the same thing.  Both irrational.  All an atheist does is say that Christians are irrational in exactly the same way as all the others are.   

Another thing to consider is how you came about your belief system. If you, like most believers, simply carry on with whatever faith by which your parents raised you then you should honestly question whether you would have come to the same conclusions from an independent position. If you had been born and raised in the middle east you would almost certainly be a Muslim. You must objectively (very hard to do!) ponder the root and nature of your faith to truly determine its validity. If your former roommate had been just as devout and confident as a Hindu would he still have been as compelling to you? Would you have converted?
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Re: Can someone explain why I still believe in God?
« Reply #27 on: January 27, 2013, 11:15:35 AM »
Another thing to consider is how you came about your belief system. If you, like most believers, simply carry on with whatever faith by which your parents raised you then you should honestly question whether you would have come to the same conclusions from an independent position.

I feel that this is one of the most important aspects of a persons introspection.  What is critical for any human being to do (in this realm of coming to know what is true, and beliefs) is to have a completely neutral starting point.  Granted, this is almost impossible to do, as we all are influenced by and products of our culture, upbringing, etc, but I think it is possible (and necessary) to completely shrug off all religious beliefs and start from there.  See where the evidence leads you.  Start with accepting the fact that the universe is nearly 14 billion years old, our planet is 4.5 billion years old (and remember, 1 billion is a thousand million - wow), and life cooked up on this planet about 3.5 billion years ago and has evolved.  We know for a fact that this is how we got to our present state.

Answers to knowing how the universe began (if it indeed did have a beginning as opposed to an eternal, unending expansions & contractions) are very difficult.  But ushering in a god (whatever that means) is merely pulled out of thin air as there is NO evidence to support such an idea.

Imagine that I claimed that "dark energy" or "dark matter" is god.  You'd view my claim as very odd as it is void of any evidence, and I haven't even defined what a god is.  You's say: "Gee Star Stuff, all you have there is a "neat idea."   Well, the same goes for any other god concept; it is merely asserted without evidence, and may be dismissed without evidence.




All that is necessary, as it seems to me, to convince any reasonable person that the Bible is simply and purely of human invention, of barbarian invention, is to read it.  Read it as you would any other book. Think of it as you would of any other; get the bandage of reverence from your eyes; drive from your heart the phantom of fear; push from the throne of your brain the cowled form of superstition. Then read the Holy Bible, and you will be amazed that you ever, for one moment, supposed a being of infinite wisdom, goodness and purity, to be the author of such ignorance and of such atrocity.  (Robert G. Ingersoll)
« Last Edit: January 27, 2013, 11:18:30 AM by Star Stuff »
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Re: Can someone explain why I still believe in God?
« Reply #28 on: January 27, 2013, 05:45:07 PM »
Quote
While I admit to seeing religious belief as irrational, I have clear memories of my own irrationality in that regard.
First: Try and understand my position.
I'm very frustrated. Imagine that you are in a room full of ex-atheists who had been converted to Christianity. In no time they begin a discussion about their new-found beliefs, remarking with incredulity how they had ever believed all the irrational premises and contradictions of atheism:
'I don't know how i could have ever thought that'
'I know it seemed very logical at the time, but now i realize how much my emotions tampered with my
better judgement'
'It clearly wasn't based on reason. It was so highly unscientific and so full of contradiction'
Sitting in that room listening to those men what would be your first thoughts?
You could just decide flat out that they were wrong, that they were the ones making faulty assumptions based on claims with no evidence.
However, this would be very small-minded of you. (To put in a different way, it would be mighty Christian of you.)
But these men aren't stupid, not by a long shot.
If you are like me however, you would use this opportunity to reevaluate your beliefs based on what you are now hearing. The fact is these rational and informed men find atheism ridiculous.
Unlike them you are still an atheist. Your logic makes perfect sense to you but is nonsensical to the men whom i might add are looking retrospectively at your position. Why?

If you take time to follow this thought through you will come to the eventual conclusion that there has to be something that is effectively preventing you from sharing their views. A dividing line perhaps between your views and theirs and you will want to know what that is.

I am a Christian.
I believe wholeheartedly the tenets of my Christianity, not because i was taught believe them but because they make sense to me as an individual. This is not to suggest that other views and religions do not make sense, but that when held up to the scrutiny of my rational mind, i find that tenets of the Christian view are more convincing.
I do not think that i am stupid or in any way mentally impaired. When listening to arguments of the atheistic standpoint i do not feel particularly uninformed. Being a Christian does not make me more intelligent that anybody on this site. I cannot however take the fact that you hold different views as inference that you must know better. If atheism is the inevitable destination of all logical and reasonable thought, then i think and reason as much as anyone. WHY DO I STILL BELIEVE IN GOD?

Am i missing something? Some sliver of knowledge, some defect in my reasoning, an unresolved personal bias or prejudice?
What? What am i missing?

....while the rejection of a claim is not a belief, the rejection itself must be made on the premises of a separate and contrary belief system.
For example: You reject Christianity, that is not a belief. The fact that you reject Christianity however immediately shows that you have some other ideas you have taken as true that Christianity goes against. If not, you would have no reason and basis to reject it.

Respectfully, that common assertion is incorrect (aka: wrong).  It is the theist who has "beliefs"; they are ladled on top of observable reality.  Now if I were to assert some other supernatural unobservable god or religious claim, then you are correct, my "belief" is as good as yours, but both would be lost in the fog.  For example, we hear it all the time: "Do you believe in evolution?"  This is erroneous, as evolution is not something one "believes" in, rather, it is something that ones accepts based on the evidence.  I'm reminded of the adage, "Only lies require faith".
Quote
My atheism does not need any alternative to gods. I am an atheist because the idea of any sort of god seems so unlikely that the idea is not worth considering. I don't replace the concept of religion with anything else. I simply don't include it in my repertoire of thoughts and ideas. Those thoughts and ideas, which seem to adequately provide me with a workable explanation as to why we are here and how we function and why bad things happen, are not an alternative to religion. They are religionless.

Secondly: Let me define my terms.
One might notice that i use the words belief, view and opinion synonymously. When i refer to 'atheistic beliefs', i am not referring to a system of textually defined doctrine as exists in religion. I'm merely referring to the ideas the individual has concerning reality that causes him to rationally decline or reject the existence of gods.
These could be anything depending on the individual including:
>That rational thinking does not support the existence of gods.
>That religion is a tool used by men to compel others to their wishes.
>perhaps that certain visible, verifiable fact ultimately disprove the existence of God/gods.
>or that 'the idea of any sort of god seems so unlikely that the idea is not worth considering.'
As an atheist, I could possibly have any one or none of these beliefs. To say that they are my 'beliefs' does not suggest that i do not have valid reason for them, nor does it suggest that i cannot defend these beliefs to my own satisfaction and to that of many.
What it does suggest however, is that they are my personal beliefs/views/opinions, and may or may not be objectively true.
Let me respectfully rephrase my statement anyway: 'The rejection of any idea must be done under the premise that a separate, and contrary idea is true.'

Also, beliefs can be considered to be merely an individuals interpretation of any presumed facts. For instance,
OBSERVABLE FACT: The human circulatory system is extremely complex.
CHRISTIAN BELIEF/INTERPRETATION: This is proof of an intelligent design.
ATHEISTIC BELIEF/INTERPRETATION: This is proof of an evolutionary process.
BUDDHIST BELIEF/INTERPRETATION: This is proof that mankind lives within an illusion of complexity.

While there might be those who presume the false assumptions you've stated above, please know that I personally am not one of them. Therefore, if i ask the question: 'Do you believe in evolution?' What I am in effect asking is: 'Do you agree that factual evidence gives credence to the theory of evolution?' and not: 'My god likes burnt fat, what does your theory prefer?'