The Core Problem With Religion.

In the comment section of the blog the blog before this one is about I am discussing miracles and how we know a miracle is a miracle, asking how someone knows what is and isn’t god’s will etc and this is part of a response of mine which I think really cuts to the core of why “religion” is not good:

“I attribute
all good things to God. This is a good thing.”

We finally get somewhere.  This is what most people do.  But as I said it’s for psychological reasons, there is no logical reason god couldn’t do a bad thing (he supposedly did bad things all the time in the bible) and if there were an all-powerful, all-knowing being then by definition everything, good and bad, would be attributable to that being.  Because it would have to either cause or allow every event (or both).  So why do you conclude that god causes good things?  Because it makes you feel good to believe that, and to believe that god causes bad things would make you feel bad.

This is why religious beliefs can’t be reasoned with, they’re about what feels good to believe, not any thing objective like logic, science, math, etc.  This is why scientists can reach a global consensus in a few years or decades, while no two religions have reached a consensus in ten thousand years.  Until people stop believing things they think will make them happy and start trying to see reality as it objectively is, people will keep hating, persecuting and killing each other.  That good feeling you feel when you think about god or prayer is a brick in the vast wall that separates mankind.  It’s what stops people from being able to change their minds and come together and agree on reality.

This was only part of a larger (but similarly thoughtful) response.  What was the response?

You see, you missed so much of my point by cutting up my response. It gets neither of us anywhere.”

Kind of proves my point.

Oh, and I kind of borrowed a metaphor from pink floyd, who illustrated it much more profoundly here.

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About agnophilo

Nerd.
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31 Responses to The Core Problem With Religion.

  1. Logical thinking is definitely important, however I don’t think it’s the only way we should view the world. In many cases, religious folk do justify themselves with logic, just bad logic. 

  2. agnophilo says:

    @ShimmerBodyCream – There’s a big difference between someone’s reasons for believing and the rationalizations they accumulate after they start believing something.  The reasons religious advocates give are never their real reasons, that’s why they’re not phased when the skeptic pokes holes in them.  Unfortunately most people don’t take the time to understand why they do and think what they do and think.  Most people are like animals, operating on impulse, reacting to stimuli.  Well technically everybody is, some of us just stop and think about it afterwards and factor what we learn into our decision making.

  3. maniacsicko says:

    interesting…   “”I attribute all good things to God”i would expect one that believe that God created the universe and in charge of every single thing would attribute all things to God, not just the “good things”..   that’s how i view it, anyways..    it would be different if the belief is something like God created a perfect world, and then outside his control it is damaged, and God tried to do good things here and there..    and when things are good, it means God manage to do something, and when it is bad, God for some reason can’t manage to do the same…   personally i find that belief to be weird, because God is just like some third party observer trying to do good things, rather than the one in charge of everything..that’s just me, of course..

  4. maniacsicko says:

    (why are the spacing of my comments always messed up nowadays?  weird)

  5. I am with of course. The idea of prayer is a very strange concept to me. A Michigan fan last night is praying for a miracale when they are down 4 with 12 seconds to go. God, by definition, knows the outcome because he has already seen every single game that has been, is being and will be played. If he responds to the prayer…he already knew the Wolverine would be praying and that he would respond by making TD’s 3 pters go in and Hancock miss his FT’s and knew he would let the last second shot go in. Being God must be really boring.Aside from this silliness. The secular world is wrought with the same sorta stuff. I took an Economics class in College and I came away realizing no one knows shit for sure about much (Reality) and for this we have the conserves and libs. Neither has a monopoly on reality as reality oddly is not really known for sure by anyone. Most economists are just guessing and throwing shit on the walls but we all feel like we know for sure what is best.Oddly…Religion speaks of humility as a virtue. Seculars and the religionists both scoff at such notions.Yin and yang.

  6. NeverSubmit says:

    I disagree. I would argue that religion’s greatest successes have mostly been in the field of making people unhappy.  Think of all the wars, all the martyrs, all the ascetics.  Religion is not the pursuit of happiness, but the pursuit of servitude.  That kind of fuzzy feel-good spirituality is mostly just ignorance against a backdrop of religious freedom and aggressive advertising.  People in Iran don’t abstain from alcohol because it makes them feel good to stay sober.  They do it because the big man will probably kill them otherwise.

  7. xXrEMmUsXx says:

    All things come from God… even seemingly bad things. I believe the Jewish believe God is both. Using both of our perceptive bad and good view to make us better.Biblically speaking… we have to be careful of what man has viewed as God physically doing something and what is our doing. It was very difficult for me to accept that the authors who penned the bible had human perspective and they did not always, and COULD NOT always, see God in His fullness.I also don’t think that attributing things to God negates reason or logic… I find Him leading me to use logic and reason in my personal journey of faith. I’ve often agreed with you Mark and find you fascinating. you’re challenging and help me sharper the aspects of my beliefs that I might not have found to be foolish before.

  8. striemmy says:

    Isn’t the logical reason that god is incapable of an immoral act is that he defines morality for humanity? 

  9. agnophilo says:

    @maniacsicko – “Either the gods want to abolish evil and cannot; or they can, but will not. If they want to but cannot, they are impotent. If they can, but will not, they are wicked. If the gods can abolish evil and want to, why is does it exist?”- Epicures@maniacsicko – I think it’s based on how many times you press enter, not how it appears in the comment section.  Sometimes you have to press enter twice to get it to look normal, then it’s a double space.  It’s glitchy.@tendollar4ways – Economics is like the weather – we can predict it a little, but with a significant margin of error and never for longer than a week, lol.There’s just too many variables in both.@NeverSubmit – Oh I agree.  I think people believe what they think (or have been convinced) will make them happy.  But if there’s one thing I’ve learned in life is that it takes time to learn what will make you happy, it can take a lifetime.  So when we believe, out of youthful ignorance what we think will make us happy we’re like kids eating chocolate instead of vegetables.  Shooting ourselves in the foot because, from our naive perspective, it seems to make us feel good.  Until we get type two diabetes or a holy war.@xXrEMmUsXx – “All things come from God… even seemingly bad things. I believe the Jewish believe God is both. Using both of our perceptive bad and good view to make us better.”That’s more like yin and yang, eastern philosophy.  Jews tend to rationalize less because they can’t ignore the old testament the way christians have, they have to deal with it’s contents.  As a result they have a very high rate of atheism.  It’s for this reason that I think when islamic theocracies collapse islam (which also cannot sweep under the carpet the demented parts of their scriptures) has the potential to become secular much faster than christianity, though christianity has had a head start by being an older religion and being the first to see it’s theocracies implode.”Biblically speaking… we have to be careful of what man has viewed as God physically doing something and what is our doing. It was very difficult for me to accept that the authors who penned the bible had human perspective and they did not always, and COULD NOT always, see God in His fullness.”I can’t even think of something that would be hard for me to accept philosophically – maybe that raping babies is good or something insane.  But I could wake up tomorrow and discover the earth is flat, there is a god and bigfoot was discovered while riding on a unicorn and I would be fascinated.  I could find out evolution is wrong and the dinosaurs lived with humans and the world is six thousand years old and I would be excited.I don’t understand this existential grief and woe and fear that believers get into over beliefs.  Maybe because they’re trained to use beliefs as an emotional crutch.”I also don’t think that attributing things to God negates reason or logic…” I think there’s just no logic in attributing things to other things willy nilly.  I could attribute lightning to zeus, it wouldn’t mean anything unless it was true.  And nobody’s proven that the god of the bible is responsible for the things attributed to him any more than anyone has shown zeus makes lightning.  I see it like looking at a question on a test and not knowing the answer – writing something in the blank space doesn’t make it true.”I find Him leading me to use logic and reason in my personal journey of faith.” I don’t know how someone could know god is communicating with them.  Whatever you feel comes from god, how could you know it’s not aliens or the devil or vishnu?  People used to think love and anger and illness and siezures came from gods, demons etc.  It’s easy to see how people felt they came from outside themselves.  But I don’t think they do.  I think the human mind is just modular and we’re not consciously in control of it, so subconscious thoughts and impulses bubble into our conscious mind and they seem to appear from nowhere and be guiding us.  I think people thought god guided them for the same reason people thought the devil made them commit acts of lust or violence.”I’ve often agreed with you Mark and find you fascinating. you’re challenging and help me sharper the aspects of my beliefs that I might not have found to be foolish before.”Thank you for seeing that as a good thing.  Seriously, it’s a virtue that there isn’t enough of in the world.  I’m sorry if anything I’ve said is upsetting or offensive to you, it’s not my intention.

  10. agnophilo says:

    @striemmy – I wouldn’t call it logical, but yeah that’s the argument.  Might makes right.

  11. NeverSubmit says:

    @agnophilo – That’s true, we do learn.  To survive, religion needs structures which can arrest the learning process.  You may realise you’ll be happier and a lot less stressed out if people would just relax about the sex thing already, but if you go around convincing people of your “error,” the inquisition will come knocking at your door.  That is why the hierarchical portions of religion are the most important, and the most destructive.  All human beings are vulnerable to beliefs they only wish were true, but a great many of these mistakes are self-correcting.  We’re imperfect, but we’re also very smart.  To continue making the same mistake again and again, we have to be distracted from our lived experience with  advertising or missionary work, and denied the benefit of other people’s experience by means of censorship, thought-crime, or subtler forms of suppression like closing libraries. 

  12. maniacsicko says:

    @agnophilo – “If they can, but will not, they are wicked.”what if the basis of existence here is just as a test, as it is temporary, and we are tested on what we do, how we react, etc..    so those do good will be rewarded, those do evil will be punished, all the “disaster” and hardships are test that can lead to great reward depending on how we react, etc…if that is the basis of existence, would that portion i quoted still stand?

  13. agnophilo says:

    @NeverSubmit – I agreed with what I could follow in this comment, lol.@maniacsicko – I think that would be cruel in the face of what we know about modern psychology, that a lot of emotional disorders that make people bad people originate in early development and aren’t something the person necessarily has control over.  Besides, any being that could design the universe and it’s inhabitants to “test” them (presumably for entrance into heaven) could just design people worthy of heaven and skip the whole “test” part.  The theist starts out with the assumption that there is a creator and thus begins with the question “why did the creator make us”.  But that is based on an assumption.  It is better to start with “we exist, now what?”  How did we come to exist?  What should we do with our existence?  The mind boggles with possibilities.

  14. tau_1 says:

    WOW. I sometime wonder do people know moral people who do not seem religious or believe in God? On what is their morality based? In today world we have competing views on what is moral. On one side is a belief in equality that all ideas all philosophies and all opinions are equal and should be equally valued. On the other side, the Bible declares that some opinions are worthy of eternal life and some worthy of eternal death. Equal opportunity is equal opportunity for salvation. Differences in life, even disabilities, are opportunities to bring glory to God. These are much different views of what is right, moral and just. 

  15. maniacsicko says:

    @agnophilo – well, if it “originate in early development and aren’t something the person necessarily has control over”, or someone that have down syndrome, etc, then they are not hold accountable to those things….   that’s the teaching of my belief/religion anyways..  that’s why people that are born without fully functioning brain, or die as kids, etc, are pretty much guaranteed of heaven, as they do not have any sin to be accountable for…   with such basis in the back of my mind, when i mention something like test for us to see the choices we make, the scope if already within the people capable of making distinction and proper decision, etc..    however i tend to forget that what i have at the back of my mind as the basis of what i said are not necessarily a shared value/principle/foundation when discussing with other people..    hmmm…  

  16. agnophilo says:

    @tau_1 – The principle that all views and beliefs should be treated equally under the law and that everyone has a right to their beliefs and the right to express those beliefs is not the same as the view that all beliefs are equally valid or good or useful.  I don’t think what the KKK believes is very good or valid, but they should be able to express their views.  Not because their views are good, but because any government would abuse the power to decide what views people are and are not allowed to express.  Barring of course incitements to criminal behavior, ie “I think someone should kill tau_1”, or “I’ll give ten thousand dollars to anyone who kills my wife” which would not be considered protected speech.As for where our morality comes from, it appears to have originated before our species existed on this planet, the same way our species was not the first to have arms or legs or lungs, it was not the first to have moral instincts.  As evidenced by the fact that so many other species are so psychologically similar to us.  People do morality experiments with animals all the time to see how they’ll help each other, behave selflessly etc.  Look into natural selection if you want a real answer to your question.@maniacsicko – I agree as well, but I don’t see why a being capable of dreaming up the universe and our lives couldn’t just dream up the end product and skip the beta phase of production.  Of course eastern philosophy as it usually does has a much more logical view that god, the universe, the tao, whatever you want to call it is omnipotent, but not conscious.  That the universe is in a sense god’s mind and we are it’s thoughts.  That our intelligence and ability to deliberately design and build things, systems, technology, civilization etc is just an extension of the fundamental creative force of the universe – what we in modern terms would call notions like natural selection and chaos theory. 

  17. maniacsicko says:

    @agnophilo – “but I don’t see why a being capable of dreaming up the universe and our lives couldn’t just dream up the end product and skip the beta phase of production. “i’m not entirely sure, but i’m assuming by “the end product” you are referring to the final destination for human in the afterlife..   logically that being can just do that if he wants, and he is capable of doing so, and he also already know what’s the ending of each human..   however, despite his knowledge, it is not just to reward or punish anyone without giving each of them a fair chance going through the test..   plus, knowing does not imply forcing/deciding/etc…is my assumption is wrong, and you are talking about something else, then just ignore what i said, haha..

  18. agnophilo says:

    @maniacsicko – If he knows the outcome before setting it in motion then by definition it is unjust to set it in motion knowing that some will be punished/rewarded.  It would be like having a child knowing you and your partner carry a gene that would make that child suffer a horrible death from some birth defect which you are both carriers of.All of this is assumptions anyway, I see no reason to assume a god set the universe in motion to begin with.

  19. maniacsicko says:

    @agnophilo – “If he knows the outcome before setting it in motion then by definition it is unjust to set it in motion knowing that some will be punished/rewarded.”i happen to see it differently”It would be like having a child knowing you and your partner carry a gene that would make that child suffer a horrible death from some birth defect which you are both carriers of.”i don’t see the comparison as the same thing…   knowing your child will grow up to be hitler perhaps is a more “valid” comparison..   

  20. agnophilo says:

    @maniacsicko – Well yes knowing someone will do evil and hurt people would be horrible also (you’re not helping god here btw) but I was more thinking about what happens next, the whole suffering for eternity thing.  Also that a lot of things that will supposedly get you sent to hell are not, in my opinion, even matters of morality.

  21. maniacsicko says:

    @agnophilo – well, yeah, i was not addressing the comparison (yours or mine), rather just pointing out that the initial comparison is not even a valid comparison..”Also that a lot of things that will supposedly get you sent to hell are not, in my opinion, even matters of morality.”not sure to what things you are referring to, so i can’t comment on that..

  22. agnophilo says:

    @maniacsicko – “well, yeah, i was not addressing the comparison (yours or mine), rather just pointing out that the initial comparison is not even a valid comparison..”We were comparing different things, both of which make god’s supposed system immoral.”not sure to what things you are referring to, so i can’t comment on that..”Lust, being gay, masturbation, eating meat on a friday, being a witch and so on.  There’s no biblical edict that doesn’t resonate with you?

  23. maniacsicko says:

    @agnophilo – ah yes, once again i forgot that i made a statement with certain foundation that you do not hold on to..   (hitler will be accountable and punished for everything he did, and those innocent kids etc killed will enter heaven, those adult killed will be judged in a just manner, etc..)    thinking back again, to make comparison solely based on what we see in this life, yeah i can see why it is not moral (hitler not punished for all his crime, etc)and i can’t comment on those, as i don’t believe the bible is the word of god, and those examples are not part of my belief…    except being a witch, perhaps, depending on what does that mean…  if it means using black magic to cause harm to others, then yeah, i believe that will lead to punishment in the hereafter..  

  24. striemmy says:

    @agnophilo – I wouldn’t call it might so much as hierarchical authority, which I believe is logical. A ceo gets to build their business the way they want to because it’s theirs and for no other real reason. 

  25. agnophilo says:

    @maniacsicko – “ah yes, once again i forgot that i made a statement with certain foundation that you do not hold on to..   (hitler will be accountable and punished for everything he did, and those innocent kids etc killed will enter heaven, those adult killed will be judged in a just manner, etc..)    thinking back again, to make comparison solely based on what we see in this life, yeah i can see why it is not moral (hitler not punished for all his crime, etc)”What are you talking about?  What does any of that have to do with what we were talking about or anything I said?”and i can’t comment on those, as i don’t believe the bible is the word of god,” Then what is your basis for even believing in an afterlife?”and those examples are not part of my belief…    except being a witch, perhaps, depending on what does that mean…  if it means using black magic to cause harm to others, then yeah, i believe that will lead to punishment in the hereafter..”You think magic is real?  And if it did exist huritng someone with it would be no morally different than hurting someone with a rock.

  26. agnophilo says:

    @striemmy – Authority or power enables you to do whatever you want, it doesn’t make what you do right or just or fair or nice.  If I were emperor of the earth I could have you executed – it would still be a shitty thing to do.Thus might = / = right.

  27. @agnophilo – so agree with all your comments. What kind of loving, just God. Created an earth where he knows a good portion of his creation will end up burning in his hell? Thanks God. Oh and on top of that – lets make it super fucking hard to get into heaven. Oh and let’s make stupid “immoral” acts a sin 🙂 I was a faithful, serving Apostolic Pentecostal girl – but because I am pansexual I’m an abomination that will end up in hell. Yay me! Ha.God was never there. Ever. He wasn’t there. And I’m no longer weak anymore. I don’t need him to be here. Even if he actually exists.

  28. striemmy says:

    @agnophilo – I actually didn’t say might = right. I said that he defines morality. That doesn’t deal necessarily with omnipotence in the way that you’re trying to use it, as in compelling someone to a moral perspective you hold for fear of violence or discomfort being enforced on you. Sorry I took so long to correct you. 

  29. agnophilo says:

    @CarelessConfessions – I honestly don’t mind people believing in a god, I just hate that so many people are chained to the idea and can’t question it or don’t know how.@striemmy – You’re just splitting hairs.  I think things are intrinsically good or bad because of their nature and the context, consequences etc.  You think things are good or bad because god says they are.  That god has the authority to dictate right and wrong.  You seem to want it both ways.

  30. @agnophilo – I totally agree. when I started questioning things so i could understand reasoning behind certain things better – all I got is that God can do whatever He wants for any reason He wants. But no logical reasoning behind it? hmm.

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