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Is there a rational reason to believe in God?

  • 11-10-2020 1:18pm
    #1
    Banned (with Prison Access) Posts: 1,483 ✭✭✭ mr_fegelien


    I grew up in East Africa where 95% of people are Protestant Christian. Religion was part of our life. Sometimes I questioned my pastor in Sunday School why should I believe in God. They said if you don't, you'll go to hell. That scared me.
    But as I grew up and moved to secular countries (United States and Ireland), both me and my parents lost faith.

    Now, I would describe myself as agnostic after having heard the arguments from both sides. I just don't see why people believe in God for these reasons.


    1.) Logical Reason - There's just no evidence for a God. Extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof. Now of course, no one can 100% disprove a God, but I'm agnostic about God just as I am about the Easter Bunny or Santa Claus so I'd say they probably don't exist.

    2.) Moral Reason - An omnipotent, omnipresent, and omniscient God seems incompatible with the state of the world. Even though we're living through the best times in human history and in a developed country, there is still immense suffering going on in the world. Poverty, disease, rape, murder, torture, racism. According to scientists, animals suffer much more in the wild than humans. Can you imagine how much suffering is going on for animals at the moment? Even Darwin himself found the suffering in nature to be inconsistent with a loving God.

    3.) Geographical Reason - If you look a the reasons why people believe in God in the first place, it's because of mostly one thing, Geography. They inherit the religion of the area they were born in or family they were born into. Very few religious people were those who educated themselves on world religions, sampled each, and then decided 'Okay this is the one for me'. They were just told that Yahweh, Allah etc.. was the correct God and other ones are false. Seems insane if you think about it.


    With that in mind, I understand the main emotional reasons for belief. The first is that it's a coping mechanism for the harsh truths of life. It's no surprise that religiosity is highest in poor, developing countries. People need the promise of an afterlife to compensate for all their suffering here on earth.

    The second is the fear of death. Even I as an agnostic was considering God strongly when I was in hospital and about to die from methanol poisoning. But I attribute that to just the reptillian brain in action. In all other circumstances, I wouldn't entertain the idea of God.

    The third and final is that it acts as a social club. I know many people in Africa who don't believe in God in any stretch of the imagination but religion is important to them because it allows them to make friends, social network etc..

    Do you really think people believe in God or is it for the emotional reasons listed below?


Comments

  • Posts: 0 [Deleted User]


    There is not a single rational reason for any adult of sound mind and judgement to believe in any god.


  • Registered Users Posts: 17,508 ✭✭✭✭ eviltwin


    People are brainwashed into believing there is a good same way they believe in Santa or the tooth fairy. When you reach a certain point it should be obvious it’s all a con job but people still believe. Maybe because it’s so much easier not to rock the boat or maybe it’s a comfort thing.


  • Registered Users Posts: 486 ✭✭ Ekerot


    You should check out the writings of Martin Gardner on the subject, a prominent skeptic and mathematician writer within the skeptical movement in the USA. Unlike many of his fellow skeptics, he described himself as a philosophical theist, believing in God as a supreme being and praying to it in themes of thanks and forgiveness. In this essence his beliefs shared many similarities with Deism, which (I suspect) influenced his train of thought.
    He was raised by Methodists, but did not follow the teachings of any particular religion and was suspicious of organized religion as a whole. Ironically he went on to tear through most of the famous arguments/proofs for God in a chapter in one of his earlier books where he laid out his reasoning for his own beliefs.

    He was revered within both the skeptical and secular communities in the US, with the God thing itself ended up being no real hindrance but in many ways a help, for he understood non-belief and the social pitfalls of it in the US after having atheists and agnostics as his colleagues/friends for most of his life.
    In this essence too he was closer to contemporary atheism and in many ways had more in common with the Deism of the founding fathers then the Christian Right you see today in power over there in Eagleland.


  • Registered Users Posts: 4,497 ✭✭✭ auspicious


    Yes there's no rational explanation and yes without ever having been taught about the possibility of one it's easy to dismiss the supposition but when you consider things we can't explain, for example quantum entanglement or the double slit experiment ( collapsing wave function ) or even the question of what is consciousness then imo rationale falls either way.


  • Moderators, Society & Culture Moderators Posts: 15,330 Mod ✭✭✭✭ smacl


    auspicious wrote: »
    Yes there's no rational explanation and yes without ever having been taught about the possibility of one it's easy to dismiss the supposition but when you consider things we can't explain, for example quantum entanglement or the double slit experiment ( collapsing wave function ) or even the question of what is consciousness then imo rationale falls either way.

    With respect, you're comparing relatively recent discoveries based on physical observation with religious belief that's a couple of millennia old. There's every possibility we will unravel the physics surrounding quantum entanglement and collapsing waves over time. I rather doubt the same can be said about for rationalising the supernatural aspects of religious belief. If anything, I think the likelihood is that they will be increasingly dismissed over time and treated increasingly as metaphorical rather than actual. We see this already as many biblical assertions, e.g. the age of the earth, everyone descended from Adam and Eve, Noah's ark etc... being considered as stories rather than literally true by very many Christians.


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  • Moderators, Society & Culture Moderators Posts: 15,330 Mod ✭✭✭✭ smacl


    eviltwin wrote: »
    People are brainwashed into believing there is a good same way they believe in Santa or the tooth fairy. When you reach a certain point it should be obvious it’s all a con job but people still believe. Maybe because it’s so much easier not to rock the boat or maybe it’s a comfort thing.

    You also have to consider the social ramifications of openly stating you don't subscribe to the dominant local religion. These days, in this country, this isn't the issue it once was but up until a few decades ago publicly stating you were an atheist would likely get you socially ostracised or worse. In some countries and some religions, apostasy is still a criminal offence with very serious penalties. Whatever about rational, it is often pragmatic to say that you believe in a god regardless of whether you actually do.


  • Registered Users Posts: 2,411 ✭✭✭ karlitob


    I grew up in East Africa where 95% of people are Protestant Christian. Religion was part of our life. Sometimes I questioned my pastor in Sunday School why should I believe in God. They said if you don't, you'll go to hell. That scared me.
    But as I grew up and moved to secular countries (United States and Ireland), both me and my parents lost faith.

    Now, I would describe myself as agnostic after having heard the arguments from both sides. I just don't see why people believe in God for these reasons.


    1.) Logical Reason - There's just no evidence for a God. Extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof. Now of course, no one can 100% disprove a God, but I'm agnostic about God just as I am about the Easter Bunny or Santa Claus so I'd say they probably don't exist.

    2.) Moral Reason - An omnipotent, omnipresent, and omniscient God seems incompatible with the state of the world. Even though we're living through the best times in human history and in a developed country, there is still immense suffering going on in the world. Poverty, disease, rape, murder, torture, racism. According to scientists, animals suffer much more in the wild than humans. Can you imagine how much suffering is going on for animals at the moment? Even Darwin himself found the suffering in nature to be inconsistent with a loving God.

    3.) Geographical Reason - If you look a the reasons why people believe in God in the first place, it's because of mostly one thing, Geography. They inherit the religion of the area they were born in or family they were born into. Very few religious people were those who educated themselves on world religions, sampled each, and then decided 'Okay this is the one for me'. They were just told that Yahweh, Allah etc.. was the correct God and other ones are false. Seems insane if you think about it.


    With that in mind, I understand the main emotional reasons for belief. The first is that it's a coping mechanism for the harsh truths of life. It's no surprise that religiosity is highest in poor, developing countries. People need the promise of an afterlife to compensate for all their suffering here on earth.

    The second is the fear of death. Even I as an agnostic was considering God strongly when I was in hospital and about to die from methanol poisoning. But I attribute that to just the reptillian brain in action. In all other circumstances, I wouldn't entertain the idea of God.

    The third and final is that it acts as a social club. I know many people in Africa who don't believe in God in any stretch of the imagination but religion is important to them because it allows them to make friends, social network etc..

    Do you really think people believe in God or is it for the emotional reasons listed below?

    Does this not depend on your definition of ‘rational reasoning’ as opposed to the strength of rational evidence.

    I can see how believers rationalise their belief and I can see how their understanding and interpretation of ‘evidence’ is rational. Wrong but rational.

    Is it any different from thinking that a lunar excludes comes from god when you don’t know anything about the celestial movement?


    Happy for the many flaws in this point to be pulled apart mercilessly!


  • Moderators, Society & Culture Moderators Posts: 15,330 Mod ✭✭✭✭ smacl


    karlitob wrote: »
    Does this not depend on your definition of ‘rational reasoning’ as opposed to the strength of rational evidence.

    I can see how believers rationalise their belief and I can see how their understanding and interpretation of ‘evidence’ is rational. Wrong but rational.

    Is it any different from thinking that a lunar eclipse comes from god when you don’t know anything about the celestial movement?


    Happy for the many flaws in this point to be pulled apart mercilessly!

    Agreed. At the time when most people thought the earth was flat it was entirely rational to do so. Now it isn't. Things change over time as our understanding of ourselves and our universe grows.


  • Registered Users Posts: 23,325 ✭✭✭✭ Peregrinus


    karlitob wrote: »
    Does this not depend on your definition of ‘rational reasoning’ as opposed to the strength of rational evidence.

    I can see how believers rationalise their belief and I can see how their understanding and interpretation of ‘evidence’ is rational. Wrong but rational.

    Is it any different from thinking that a lunar excludes comes from god when you don’t know anything about the celestial movement?

    Happy for the many flaws in this point to be pulled apart mercilessly!
    If there is one, the flaw in the argument is the implicit assumption that all rational beliefs are held on "rational evidence".

    This isn't true. For example, it's perfectly rational to believe that a woman has the right to choose to terminate her own pregnancy, or that a person suffering from a painful and incurable disease has a right to accept the assistance of others in ending their own life, but there is no "rational evidence" for either of these beliefs. In fact, it's generally true of ethical beliefs that they are not supported by evidence. This doesn't mean that it's irrational to hold ethical beliefs, or that they cannot be held for good reasons - just that the good reason can't be "evidence".

    If we accept that there are at least some beliefs which can rationally be held without evidence, then we cannot simply state that belief in God is irrational if unsuppoprted by evidence. We need to go on and show that belief in God is a belief of a type that requires to be supported by evidence.

    There are certainly common beliefs about God that need to be supported by, or at least consistent with, evidence. For example, the belief that God cause the Great Flood as described in Genesis can be tested by looking for evidnce that such a flood ever happened. If the evidence suggests that no such flood ever happened, then you can plausibly argue that the belief is irrational. But if the evidence suggests that the flood did happen, then the belief is not irrational (as in, although the evidence doesn't show that God cause the flood, the belief is consistent with the evidence that there was a flood).

    But a simple belief in God, as the reason why the universe exists, is not inconsistent with the evidence. The only relevant evidence is that the universe does appear to exist, which is consistent with the belief that God is the reason it exists. That's not an irrational belief.


  • Moderators, Society & Culture Moderators Posts: 15,330 Mod ✭✭✭✭ smacl


    Peregrinus wrote: »
    There are certainly common beliefs about God that need to be supported by, or at least consistent with, evidence. For example, the belief that God cause the Great Flood as described in Genesis can be tested by looking for evidnce that such a flood ever happened. If the evidence suggests that no such flood ever happened, then you can plausibly argue that the belief is irrational. But if the evidence suggests that the flood did happen, then the belief is not irrational (as in, although the evidence doesn't show that God cause the flood, the belief is consistent with the evidence that there was a flood).

    I'd suggest that the questions surrounding rationality of belief in the context of the great flood don't relate to the meteorological event so much as packing two of each land animal, including humans, onto a large boat and that all currently extant land animals are direct descendants of those animals.


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  • Registered Users Posts: 23,325 ✭✭✭✭ Peregrinus


    smacl wrote: »
    I'd suggest that the questions surrounding rationality of belief in the context of the great flood don't relate to the meteorological event so much as packing two of each land animal, including humans, onto a large boat and that all currently extant land animals are direct descendants of those animals.
    Oh, sure. I'm not arguing that a literalist belief in the Great Flood is rational. I'm just using it to illustrate the distinction between beliefs about God, whose rationality can often be tested against/refuted by evidence, and belief in God, where this is much less true.


  • Registered Users Posts: 363 ✭✭ Tig98


    eviltwin wrote: »
    People are brainwashed into believing there is a good same way they believe in Santa or the tooth fairy. When you reach a certain point it should be obvious it’s all a con job but people still believe. Maybe because it’s so much easier not to rock the boat or maybe it’s a comfort thing.

    Everyone is brainwashed. Every child is raised a certain way and encouraged to believe one set of rules as dogma. A child is just as brainwashed by Atheist parents as by Catholic parents.


  • Registered Users Posts: 17,508 ✭✭✭✭ eviltwin


    Tig98 wrote: »
    Everyone is brainwashed. Every child is raised a certain way and encouraged to believe one set of rules as dogma. A child is just as brainwashed by Atheist parents as by Catholic parents.

    Atheist parents don't generally raise their kids to not believe in God. Not sure how that is brainwashing when you literally aren't discussing it and why would you when you don't believe in it. How would it become part of your daily conversation?


  • Registered Users Posts: 23,325 ✭✭✭✭ Peregrinus


    eviltwin wrote: »
    Atheist parents don't generally raise their kids to not believe in God.
    Sure they do. If atheism is the absence of a belief in God, then athiests who raise kids without a belief in God are raising their kids as atheists, just as surely as theist parents raise their kids as theists.
    eviltwin wrote: »
    Not sure how that is brainwashing when you literally aren't discussing it and why would you when you don't believe in it. How would it become part of your daily conversation?
    What your kids learn from you is about 1% derived from listening to/accepting what you say, and 99% from observing/imitating what you do. Avoiding discussing God (or any other subject) is just as much a behaviour which your kids will observe/imitate/internalise/be profoundly iinfluenced by as discussing God (or any other subject).

    The notion that atheist parents, uniquely, do not "brainwash" their children is a belief that (a) is comforting and self-affirming for atheists but (b) doesn't stand up to even the most cursory critical scrutiny. And the prevalence of this belief among atheists is powerful evidence against the notion that atheists adopt atheism because they are better at critical thinking than theists. They like to adopt a gratifying belief without scrutiny just as much as the next guy. :)


  • Registered Users Posts: 17,508 ✭✭✭✭ eviltwin


    Peregrinus wrote: »
    Sure they do. If atheism is the absence of a belief in God, then athiests who raise kids without a belief in God are raising their kids as atheists, just as surely as theist parents raise their kids as theists.


    What your kids learn from you is about 1% derived from listening to/accepting what you say, and 99% from observing/imitating what you do. Avoiding discussing God (or any other subject) is just as much a behaviour which your kids will observe/imitate/internalise as discussing God (or any other subject).

    The notion that atheist parents, uniquely, do not "brainwash" their children is a belief that (a) is comforting and self-affirming for atheists but (b) doesn't stand up to even the most cursory critical scrutiny. And the prevalence of this belief among atheists is powerful evidence against the notion that atheists adopt atheism because they are better at critical thinking than theists. They like to adopt a gratifying belief without scrutiny just as much as the next guy. :)

    I disagree. God is never mentioned in my house for any reason other than as a swear. We don't have discussions with or around our kids about religion. I doubt my youngest child even knows much about religion but if he asked we would tell him that people have different beliefs and he is free to believe what he wants. There would be no indoctrination into an atheist way of life -whatever that is. No telling him that our views are the right ones and everyone else is wrong. No atheist rites of passage and none of the social pressure to conform that so many others speak of. Only speaking for myself of course, I'm sure others differ.


  • Registered Users Posts: 11,812 ✭✭✭✭ sbsquarepants


    It's sometimes difficult to stop believing anything that's told to you as a fact by authority figures when you are a child. That's the only real reason i can see.

    There's a reason they don't wait till your an adult to start your religious "education". You can wait till someone is 18 and teach them geography if you wish, religion just won't "go in" at that stage.

    Tectonic plates, glacial movements, coastal erosion - sounds believable enough to me, but sky fairies, talking snakes, virgins having magic babies who are also their own da and a ghost...fúck right off would you!


  • Moderators, Society & Culture Moderators Posts: 15,330 Mod ✭✭✭✭ smacl


    Peregrinus wrote: »
    Sure they do. If atheism is the absence of a belief in God, then athiests who raise kids without a belief in God are raising their kids as atheists, just as surely as theist parents raise their kids as theists.

    No so. Instilling a belief in something is not comparable to not doing so. The former involves time and instruction, the latter does not. It also does not preclude or interfere with the child adopting religious beliefs from other sources should they wish to do so. For example, my eldest having attended a Catholic all girls school, which included elements of religious instruction, decided to become a Buddhist. While she still appreciates aspects of the philosophy, she no longer considers herself Buddhist. I went through a similar process with Taoism myself in my younger years and still find value in aspects of Taoist philosophy.

    To use an analogy, if parents raised their children to participate in GAA, that says something about the parenting. If, however, parents did not raise their children to participate in GAA, that says very little about the parenting. They could be getting them involved in other sports or not, we simply don't know. In this sense, atheism says remarkably little about a person. I suspect many theists misunderstand atheism to a large degree, as atheism doesn't involve a shared belief system with other atheists. This is also a problem for atheist organisation, which the vast majority of atheists are in no way affiliated with. I've encountered this misconception on numerous occasions both here and on the Christianity forum.


  • Registered Users Posts: 8,204 ✭✭✭ partyguinness


    Being 'spiritual' is personal and fine but organised religion is about control and power and to this end it needs fear and ignorance.


  • Registered Users Posts: 23,325 ✭✭✭✭ Peregrinus


    smacl wrote: »
    No so. Instilling a belief in something is not comparable to not doing so. The former involves time and instruction, the latter does not. It also does not preclude or interfere with the child adopting religious beliefs from other sources should they wish to do so. For example, my eldest having attended a Catholic all girls school, which included elements of religious instruction, decided to become a Buddhist. While she still appreciates aspects of the philosophy, she no longer considers herself Buddhist. I went through a similar process with Taoism myself in my younger years and still find value in aspects of Taoist philosophy.

    To use an analogy, if parents raised their children to participate in GAA, that says something about the parenting. If, however, parents did not raise their children to participate in GAA, that says very little about the parenting. They could be getting them involved in other sports or not, we simply don't know. In this sense, atheism says remarkably little about a person. I suspect many theists misunderstand atheism to a large degree, as atheism doesn't involve a shared belief system with other atheists. This is also a problem for atheist organisation, which the vast majority of atheists are in no way affiliated with. I've encountered this misconception on numerous occasions both here and on the Christianity forum.
    Well, to look at that analogy in a bit more detail, not raising your children to participate in GAA is not really analagous to atheism; it's more analogous to not raising your children to be, say, Catholic. If you don't raise your children to particate in GAA, or rugby, or soccer, or hockey, or any sport at all, that's a better analogy for atheism.

    Are you forming your children in any particular way by doing this? Yes. You are forming in them beliefs/attitudes such as: sport is unimportant; sport is a waste of time; sport is for others; other pastimes are more worthwhile than sport. Yo don't have to say any of this; you communicate it by the choices you make for your children, and your children absorb it. (And that's even before the effect if any conversations you may have with them about why you don't take them to sport, why you don't participate in sport yourself, etc.)

    And while you may say - entirely truthfully - that you are perfectly open to your children developing their own interest in sport and indeed becoming quite sporty if that is their choice, the likelihood that they will actually do so is dramatically less than if they were raised with sport as a part of their life.

    In other words, you're not giving them a wholly blank slate with respect to sport; you're inculcating particular habits and attitudes and values towards sport. Which is fine; my only comment about this is that you're deluding yourself if you imagine that it's not happening.


  • Moderators, Society & Culture Moderators Posts: 15,330 Mod ✭✭✭✭ smacl


    Fudbhi wrote: »
    Insurance you don't need it but you might if there is a God
    It's like car insurance

    An insurance company that's been collecting premiums from millions of people for thousands of years without a single verified payout on a claim? You really have to admire their business acumen :pac:


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  • Moderators, Society & Culture Moderators Posts: 15,330 Mod ✭✭✭✭ smacl


    Peregrinus wrote: »
    Well, to look at that analogy in a bit more detail, not raising your children to participate in GAA is not really analagous to atheism; it's more analogous to not raising your children to be, say, Catholic. If you don't raise your children to particate in GAA, or rugby, or soccer, or hockey, or any sport at all, that's a better analogy for atheism.

    Ok, lets run with that. Say we associate each major religion with one of those big sports. We'll give the broadly similar Abrahamic religions the team ball sports such as GAA, soccer and rugby. (i.e. the largely male dominated sports where genders are separated, the woman's game is under resourced with minimal career opportunities, and most of those involved are followers paying lip service down at the pub rather than actually participating :p ). Maybe give the other major religions other major sports, so the Hindus can have golf for example. Atheism then comes down to not initially choosing from any of the above.
    Are you forming your children in any particular way by doing this? Yes. You are forming in them beliefs/attitudes such as: sport is unimportant; sport is a waste of time; sport is for others; other pastimes are more worthwhile than sport. Yo don't have to say any of this; you communicate it by the choices you make for your children, and your children absorb it. (And that's even before the effect if any conversations you may have with them about why you don't take them to sport, why you don't participate in sport yourself, etc.)

    And while you may say - entirely truthfully - that you are perfectly open to your children developing their own interest in sport and indeed becoming quite sporty if that is their choice, the likelihood that they will actually do so is dramatically less than if they were raised with sport as a part of their life.

    In other words, you're not giving them a wholly blank slate with respect to sport; you're inculcating particular habits and attitudes and values towards sport. Which is fine; my only comment about this is that you're deluding yourself if you imagine that it's not happening.

    And that neatly illustrates a theist's misconception of atheism. The implication that if you're not involved in GAA, Soccer or Rugby you're not into sport is patently rubbish. So for example, in my own family I'm a martial arts nerd and have a couple of European medals for my efforts, my eldest girl has boxed and is into pole fitness, my youngest is a competitive dancer and looks like pursuing that as a career. All of the family have tried multiple sports and chosen what works best for them and we've all chosen differently. Now in my 50s, I continue to try new sports that work for who I am now and while I doubt I'll ever be competitive again I have every intent to participate for pleasure and health until the day I keel over. I also have lifelong friends through sport and imagine the same will be true for my kids.

    I suspect many theists can only imagine atheism through the lens of their own religious beliefs and upbringing. All of our children, theist and atheist, start with a blank slate. In terms of parenting, theists are more prone to fill a significant part of that slate with prescribed material at an early age. This isn't a given for atheists, where the space that might often be occupied with prescribed material is put to good and various use elsewhere.


  • Registered Users Posts: 23,325 ✭✭✭✭ Peregrinus


    No, this doesn't work! You're arbitrarily saying that some sports are analogous to particular varieties of religious belief/practice, while others are not, and that those who pursue the other sports are analogous to atheists. But this breaks down in the face of the understanding of atheism regularly (and I think correctly) offered on this board; atheism is the absence of any belief in God. It's understood purely negatively. YOu can debate the usefulness of an analogy between religion and sport but, if we're going to use that analogy then atheism is not playing this sport rather than that sport; it's the absence of any engagement with sport. So, in sporting terms, neither you nor your children are analagous to atheists.

    I think you could even debate whether "all of our children, theist and atheist, start with a blank slate", but let's take it to be true. It doesn't remain true. The children of theists and atheists alike absorb attitudes to religion and belief from observing and imitating their parents; how could it not be so? The chldren of the theists absorb and internalist the attitudes and values which form and sustain their parents' atheism, and correspondingly for the children of the theists. This is how children learn, and I await with interest your explanation of why it wouldn't work this way for the children of atheists. The belief that the children of atheists remain a blank slate on matters of religion while the children of theist are written all over is, as I say, comforting to atheists, but I honestly cannot think of any other reason why anyone would accept it.

    (For what it's worth, I recall a study (from the US) which suggested that the children who, as adults, were most likely to have the same engagement with religion as their parents had are the children of non-religious parents. This is the opposite of the outcome you would expect if raising a child as religious was a form of brainwashing or conditioning; the conditioned children should be more prone to remain as conditioned, not less so.)


  • Registered Users Posts: 11,812 ✭✭✭✭ sbsquarepants


    I don't mean to put words in Smacls mouth, but i believe what he is saying is, to use the blank slate analogy - the theist parent takes it upon themselves to fill that slate up with religion whereas the atheist parent endeavors to leave it blank for the child to then fill with whatever they want to themselves.

    When my kids ask me about god, or where did we all come from or things like that, i simply tell them no one really knows for sure, different people believe different things. I don't try to "force" anything on them whatsoever, if the grow up and decide to be hindu, catholic, satanist, atheist, whatever - that's fine by me.

    My 4 year old asked me the other day did god make everything. I said i don't know sweetheart, nobody does. She says, well somebody must have and i said well if that is the case, who made them?

    Kids shouldn't just be indoctrinated and brushed off with glib "god doesn't need a maker" bullshít answers, they should be alllowed and encouraged to think things through.


  • Moderators, Society & Culture Moderators Posts: 15,330 Mod ✭✭✭✭ smacl


    Peregrinus wrote: »
    No, this doesn't work! You're arbitrarily saying that some sports are analogous to particular varieties of religious belief/practice, while others are not, and that those who pursue the other sports are analogous to atheists. But this breaks down in the face of the understanding of atheism regularly (and I think correctly) offered on this board; atheism is the absence of any belief in God. It's understood purely negatively. YOu can debate the usefulness of an analogy between religion and sport but, if we're going to use that analogy then atheism is not playing this sport rather than that sport; it's the absence of any engagement with sport. So, in sporting terms, neither you nor your children are analagous to atheists.

    I disagree. Most major religions are indeed analogous to specific sports with their own specific rules and regulations. My initial analogy was comparison of a given religion with a specific sport, GAA in that instance. You looked to extend it to any sport, but in doing so I think the corresponding analog likewise extends from major religions to any personally held philosophy or belief system. Many of these may be entirely compatible with atheism, e.g. my interest in philosophical Taoism. More importantly perhaps, none of them are common to all atheists but many atheists have personally held beliefs and philosophies.
    I think you could even debate whether "all of our children, theist and atheist, start with a blank slate", but let's take it to be true. It doesn't remain true. The children of theists and atheists alike absorb attitudes to religion and belief from observing and imitating their parents; how could it not be so? The chldren of the theists absorb and internalist the attitudes and values which form and sustain their parents' atheism, and correspondingly for the children of the theists. This is how children learn, and I await with interest your explanation of why it wouldn't work this way for the children of atheists. The belief that the children of atheists remain a blank slate on matters of religion while the children of theist are written all over is, as I say, comforting to atheists, but I honestly cannot think of any other reason why anyone would accept it.

    (For what it's worth, I recall a study (from the US) which suggested that the children who, as adults, were most likely to have the same engagement with religion as their parents had are the children of non-religious parents. This is the opposite of the outcome you would expect if raising a child as religious was a form of brainwashing or conditioning; the conditioned children should be more prone to remain as conditioned, not less so.)

    I agree that every parent greatly influences how their children's mind takes shape. The difference between theist parents from a major religion and atheist parents is that the former are likely to introduce the same beliefs and values as other members of the shared religion, whereas atheists are not going to introduce any such common material. Put another way, theists are members of homogeneous groups where atheists are heterogeneous and don't group well. The error that many theists seem to make when talking about atheists is in considering them to form a homogeneous group, e.g. in terms of shared philosophy, where this is simply not the case. While Christianity is no doubt a broad church, atheism is not a church in any sense.


  • Registered Users Posts: 11,812 ✭✭✭✭ sbsquarepants


    Peregrinus wrote: »
    (For what it's worth, I recall a study (from the US) which suggested that the children who, as adults, were most likely to have the same engagement with religion as their parents had are the children of non-religious parents. This is the opposite of the outcome you would expect if raising a child as religious was a form of brainwashing or conditioning; the conditioned children should be more prone to remain as conditioned, not less so.)


    I think you're looking at it wrong to be honest, it's exactly what I would expect.


    Children brought up to think logically, would i imagine be very unlikely to grow up and turn into believers in the supernatural. I think the opposite journey from believer to non believer is far more likely, and has certainly been much more evident among those i know personally


  • Moderators, Society & Culture Moderators Posts: 24,240 Mod ✭✭✭✭ robindch


    As we haven't heard back from the OP in over a week, the moderators have moved most posts from this thread over into a similar, new one started by antiskeptic in which antiskeptic can be a little more free than he/she can be elsewhere in the forum to propound his belief that all beliefs are equally unlikely to be true:

    https://www.boards.ie/vbulletin/showthread.php?t=2058124841

    While that thread is ongoing, we'll close this one for now.


This discussion has been closed.
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