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Old 07-18-2008, 08:18 AM   #16
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I wonder sometimes if belief in a God is less a need for God than it is a desire for the comfort of ritual (and socialized ritual) which cuts across the intelligence spectrum.
I don't wonder, I think this is very much true. People want or need to believe in something bigger and greater than themselves. I'm not surprised that "dumber" (ie, poorer) people might make up a larger percentage. The more control one has over their own life, the less they need to believe in anyone but themselves.

My in-laws are in somewhat of a fight right now about church and what the purpose of church is. I really believe that church (as in, the community of people + the building/compound) is more of a socio-economic thing than a spiritual thing. Everyone is always asking why people in my generation don't seem to care as much about church anymore...because we don't *need* to. Unlike my grandma who was an uneducated housewife, I have a career, friends, and hobbies outside of my own nuclear family and my church activities. I don't need (and wouldn't get) financial support from a church and I have plenty of good friends (Christian and non-Christian) that I've met through school, work, and extracurricular activities.

If a god in fact exists I do believe there is sufficient evidence in creation alone and that all the dogma and institutional religion is not necessary to simply believe in such a god. (Calvinism - General Revelation)

(I say these things as a Christian believing in God)
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Old 07-18-2008, 08:25 AM   #17
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Sometimes I think that those really smart people that deny God just have a hard time accepting someone smarter than them.
lol-in some cases you really have a great point there

I don't believe in any link between religious belief and intelligence. There are plenty of religious believers who are quite intelligent, plenty who aren't, plenty of non believers who are and aren't. It's an individual thing, not a religious thing. And sometimes belief is more of a heart thing than a head thing. Not everything has to be seen to be believed.
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Old 07-18-2008, 08:54 AM   #18
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lol-in some cases you really have a great point there

I don't believe in any link between religious belief and intelligence. There are plenty of religious believers who are quite intelligent, plenty who aren't, plenty of non believers who are and aren't. It's an individual thing, not a religious thing. And sometimes belief is more of a heart thing than a head thing. Not everything has to be seen to be believed.
It's not a case of believing in a link, the fact there is a significant difference in rates of belief and intelligence when taken for many people demands explanation. Now explaining why this is so and discriminating the controlling factors for religiosity and belief is the tricky part.
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Old 07-18-2008, 12:33 PM   #19
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I just would like to throw in that not believing in a God doesn't necessarily equates denying him.
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Old 07-18-2008, 08:42 PM   #20
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To take a contrarian point of view on this.....if the religious are generally happier than atheists, and they seem to be, frankly - then those who convince themselves that there is a benevolent interventionist deity could be seen as MORE intelligent.
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Old 07-18-2008, 10:32 PM   #21
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Quote (Einstein):
I have repeatedly said that in my opinion the idea of a personal God is a childlike one. You may call me an agnostic, but I do not share the crusading spirit of the professional atheist whose fervor is mostly due to a painful act of liberation from the fetters of religious indoctrination received in youth.

Reminds me of how Jesus instructed "be like little children" when it comes to matters of faith. I'm trying to get there, but I've collected too much noise along the way. I figure that, if I am made by God, then he understands how this brain he gave me brought me to this doubtful point. I'm trying to make my way back. I just hope I don't croak before I figure it all out.
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Old 07-18-2008, 11:49 PM   #22
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Is the effort required to gain that simple faith worth it?

You don't need a belief in God to understand why things happen, how to live a good life or how to treat other people. If blind faith offends your critical faculties then go with what you know, appreciate the world as you can understand it, which can be perfectly fine, even humanistic, if you feel unbelief is the default state of your brain. If you have trouble believing don't make the mistake of thinking it's a problem with you, or get led down the road of having to "fix" something that needn't be a problem.

It may be that religious belief has fringe benefits, although I suspect it isn't so much the belief in God that helps as much as it is socialisation and support. To me those benefits are irrelevant to the validity of the claims that are being made; the absence of the supernatural, the fleshing out of the history of religions and the foundations of moral actions really does away with so much cause to believe. Evolution wipes away the teleological argument and the large scale issues of the first cause of the universe and the supposed fine tuning are open questions with a somewhat plausible anthropic argument.

God doesn't fit in the universe, as it is now known. It's unnecessary, and the concept just gets more removed from our day to day lives as more facts are uncovered.

I understand that a lot of people insist that God doesn't fulfill an explanatory role about the universe for them but what else is there? What other purpose does the abstract concept of a higher power serve?

If people need love then they should be around nice people, or take drugs. If it is a question of the spiritual experience I don't think it requires God. The very universalist line of there being many roads to God may just be a reflection that the human brain is susceptible to the spiritual experience for reasons of common biology. Stimulation, be it through a latin mass, a voodoo ceremony or looking through the Hubble telescope, provokes the same reaction. People find benefit from the experience even though it isn't specific to their faith.

I would be inclined to be in line with Einstein as he describes the only possible religious feeling he holds is awe towards comprehension of the universe. I would stipulate that feeling is a product of a material brain and has an evolutionary origin. A mechanism that can be triggered by thinking about ones place in the universe.

If through some process I came around to belief in God I think it would be a mirror of O'Brien in 1984, I would have to be capable of holding onto incompatible ideas simultaneously. I rationalised the fear of death at age seven by thinking what it was like before I was born; which is a decent enough marker to me of how I thought at that age. Being raised in an agnostic environment may have something to do with such materialistic thinking. That most of my relatives are also agnostics or atheists is an interesting quirk, although I would venture it is as much (if not more) social forces than biological (although the majority of cousins are pretty on the ball and there is a correlation between smarts and belief, or lack thereof, in that group). Comprehending why people believe is interesting, it has implications for human interactions as well as philosophical considerations. There is value in holding and justifying a position, even or perhaps especially when in the minority.
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Old 07-19-2008, 03:22 AM   #23
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It may not be that atheists are just smarter than other people, it may be that smart people have more trouble accepting religion and possibly spirituality (which is a separate issue).
Why couldn't this be the title of your thread?

You'll be surprised to know that my initial reaction to your thread was to agree. The cynic within me was happy to finally have something to scientifically one-up my church-going friends.

With a little bit more thought, though. I have to respectfully disagree. The title for this thread is a terrible fallacy because with the information given you've inferred in a completely oposite direction.

I know plenty of brilliant God-fearing people and I have no doubt in my mind that they believe and reason with that very same brain of theirs.

I think the reason most people who "are smart" don't believe is because most of these people rely on verifiable facts and what they've seen. With God, it's not so much knowledge as it is about faith.
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Old 07-19-2008, 03:48 AM   #24
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Nobody bothers to read agreeable threads.
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Old 07-19-2008, 04:48 AM   #25
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I'm curious in these studies whether there was any distinction between those who rely heavily on left brain and those who rely more heavily on right brain--math/logic vs. artisitic intelligence, say. I'm inclined to think that many of the latter would find the idea of god, whether or not they personally believe in one, intellectually fertile.
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Old 07-19-2008, 06:08 AM   #26
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I understand that a lot of people insist that God doesn't fulfill an explanatory role about the universe for them but what else is there? What other purpose does the abstract concept of a higher power serve?


I rationalised the fear of death at age seven.
These two things help me understand a lot about why you are so comfortable without faith and have such a hard time understanding other people's need for it. The answer to your question is found in the second statement I quoted above, I think.

For me, it's not so much that I fear death--I really don't (but a lot of that, I admit, is grounded in my faith in life beyond death--eventually any way. For me, I think I'd worry more about death if I believed that this go-around was it.), but more that I am not satisfied with just the run of life I currently have (and who knows how long that's going to be anyway. I'd like to assume I'll die at nice ripe old age, peacefully in my sleep, surrounded by friends and loved ones--but really who has any kind of guarantee of that). I want more. I want eternity. I think many people do. You clearly do not, and among other things, I think it's why unbelief makes so much sense to you.

What to do you make of scientists (besides the young earth kind) that DO believe in God. Like that guy who had the debate with Dawkins in TIME magazine last year? (Can't remember his name right now, it's slipped my mind. I'm sure if were an atheist, I'd be sharp enough to remember but us believers are slow you know. )
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Old 07-19-2008, 06:50 AM   #27
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I want more. I want eternity. I think many people do. You clearly do not, and among other things, I think it's why unbelief makes so much sense to you.
But faith in an afterlife isn't the same as there being an afterlife, I think that I would like to be functional for over a century; I may become tired of existence in time but a brief flash of a mortal coil isn't the ideal to me. Faith doesn't make an afterlife the case no matter how much one wishes it were so, when the brain ceases to function so does existence, it may not be as comforting as an eternal soul but it fits the known facts. Additionally the claims of an afterlife have produced some positively vile claims that permit great evil and suffering. Placing higher importance on the single life that we have rather than dubious claims of better things to come is more honest and plausibly more humane than the alternative.
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What to do you make of scientists (besides the young earth kind) that DO believe in God. Like that guy who had the debate with Dawkins in TIME magazine last year? (Can't remember his name right now, it's slipped my mind. I'm sure if were an atheist, I'd be sharp enough to remember but us believers are slow you know.)
I don't think that one would reach a conclusion of God as the result of what's known, I think that smart people can have needs for whatever reason that they fulfill with faith in a manner wholly independent of their critical faculties. It isn't a question of what's real, it seems to be a means of satisfying an emotional need. I think that religious belief is unnecessary, unfounded and ultimately meaningless. That conclusion isn't one of atheistic superiority, merely an acknowledgement that our brief lives are unimportant to the universe no matter how much we wish it were different and that we are in the same situation together, ultimately an atheistic outlook resigns all of us to an equal fate regardless of what we believed in life. That view can be taken to a more humanistic end than the majority of the worlds religions in terms of pluralism.
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Old 07-19-2008, 12:16 PM   #28
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Are you trying to pick a fight with us Theists, A_W?
Yes.

Threads like this are precisely why I never bother with FYM anymore; arrogant interferencers using someone else's opinion to support their own opinions, or to rile others up. The latter happens surprisingly often, as evidenced here.

Hey, Wanderer, why not make a thread entitled "those with spiritual beliefs are fools" without including an article and be done with it? I'm sure you'll find a crowd that will pat you on the head for your diligence.
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Old 07-19-2008, 12:19 PM   #29
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Yes.

Threads like this are precisely why I never bother with FYM anymore; arrogant interferencers using someone else's opinion to support their own opinions, or to rile others up. The latter happens surprisingly often, as evidenced here.

Hey, Wanderer, why not make a thread entitled "those with spiritual beliefs are fools" and be done with it? I'm sure you'll find a crowd that will pat you on the head for your diligence.
I'm an atheist and I'm right behind this post.

Is there really a more useless argument?
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Old 07-19-2008, 12:25 PM   #30
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Yes.

Threads like this are precisely why I never bother with FYM anymore; arrogant interferencers using someone else's opinion to support their own opinions, or to rile others up. The latter happens surprisingly often, as evidenced here.

Hey, Wanderer, why not make a thread entitled "those with spiritual beliefs are fools" without including an article and be done with it? I'm sure you'll find a crowd that will pat you on the head for your diligence.
I agree with this.

Interestingly enough it was this same tactic my dad used in one of his uber-Christian forwards that was the last straw for me. He sent some dumb little made up story about the ACLU suing for an atheist who thought it was wrong that Christians had Christmas but atheists didn't have a holiday. The last line of the forward was spoken by the judge who threw out the case: "those who don't believe are fools."

My response (to everyone on the list of course) was: "Yes! Excellent story! Let's just ridicule and insult everyone who doesn't believe what we do!"

I haven't gotten any of those forwards since.
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