Hi, I'm new in here.
Can i ask a question about faith in general?
Why do you believe what you believe? (I'm an atheist) .. please be kind to me
Thanks for your comments Simon. My question is more about faith in general, let me put it like this.
I'm a firm believer that we are all products of our environment and parentage.
I'm sure you've heard this point of view expressed by others, but I'd like to get your take on it. Lets say for instance you weren't born in the UK to Christian parents ( i really dont know your circumstances), but lets say for arguments sake, you ( Simon) were in fact born in Pakistan to strict muslim parents, ..I'd hazard a guess there would be a very high probability you would now be a follower of Islam. Of course, I'm fully aware this isn't a "fool proof" system of determining a persons particular faith, we can of course change of views as we get older. But in general, it tends to be borne out if you look at a religious map of the world. In my particular case, my father was a strict catholic, as was his father before him,... going back countless generations. And you can do this with many other religions across the globe, .. it's passed on from generation to generation sometimes going back hundreds of years and more. In my case the "faith gene" stopped due to various reasons, .. a greater understanding of evolution, doubts about supernatural claims, understanding how the planet worked, the problem of suffering, biblical contradictions ..etc. I could not place my faith in something that I was becoming highly dubious about. It seems clear to me that the things we believe are heavily dependant on what part of the globe we are born, and what our parents believe. As I said, I know this is not true in all cases, but it's very evident in places of high religious cultures. As babies and children, we get absolutely no say in what faith we will get raised into.
Anyhoo, I'd be interested to hear your thoughts on this.
Thanks for your reply Simon.
You say it's not a very good argument in that it cuts both ways, .. absolutely it does, .. it applies to my atheism 100%.. if I was born in a fanatical muslim country, there is not a shred of doubt I'd be a devout follower of Islam, this is precisely what I'm trying to get across, .. we are all products of of circumstance and parenthood, .. i repeat again, we are all heavily influenced by our surroundings and what is taught to us as children. What does this say about faith?, when generation after generation after generation are raised to believe in a certain god ( be it Christian, Jewish, Hindu, or whatever). Lets take your Christianity for example, .. what does your Christian God have to say about billions of muslims raised into the Islamic faith purely due to geographical and parental circumstances?, .. are they all doomed to hell?, or not offered the same eternal salvation supposedly given to Christians?. ( for example, in Pakistan the population is roughly 95% muslim, these people will have been totally immersed into that faith from birth, these people are not accepting Jesus Christ as their saviour, they have been raised in a totally different culture, they follow the Qu'ran not the Holy bible, we are talking huge numbers of people, millions and millions, not to mention all their past generations aswell. Does your Christian god accept these people into his kingdom nontheless, or banish them?. How does it work exactly?, .. if he does accept them, then maybe the whole Christianity thing and believing in Jesus isn't that important ,.. or, if God doesn't accept them, I can only take it he's not the all loving, all forgiving entity that many Christians portray him as. How can he condemn them if they've merely been taught and raised to believe another view?) There are various New Testament passages which say you can only reach true salvation via Jesus. It makes no sense to me.
My atheism is based purely on skeptism and lack of belief in what I was brought up to believe, I can find no credible evidence. I'll happily change my view if I come across any, but nothing so far has convinced me. The more questions I ask, the more questions seem to arise.
It's good to ask questions though isn't it.
Hope I've kind of made sense.
Bonnie43uk. in a very rainy Swindon.
Hmmm, you say the story that atheism presents is not very good?, I've never really seen it presented like that. I dont see it in any way as a story, .. surely it's just a view, .. a lack of belief. ( well, thats how I define my atheism), i know some people view atheism as " God does not exist" , but most of my fellow atheists do not see it that way, we simply lack belief. I know that some dictionary's have differing meanings for the word "Atheism or atheist". I'm more than happy to be called an agnostic atheist, or secular humanist, in a nutshell, I dont believe the stories that I was raised to believe. Religions are man made in my opinion. Our earliest writings and scriptures were our first attempts at trying to make sense of the world. I'm sure you are well aware of the history of our modern day bible, ..it's had quite a journey since it was first written.
Out of curiosity, here is a question for you Simon, .. Why didn't Jesus himself write anything down?. Surely if the son of God came to earth with such an immensely important message for all of humanity, why didn't he put down in his own words what was required of us, preferably on some kind of tablet that time would not erase?. Why did he leave it to others to write down many decades later, ..none of whom who wrote these words down were eye witnesses to any of the events. We dont even know who the original writers of the 4 gospels were, there is much speculation as to who actually wrote them, and they were most certainly not written in Jesus's lifetime. Of course I'm well aware that oral tradition was the way of things in those days, but surely god/jesus would be well aware of the problems this would have down the line. I think Monty Python highlighted this problem perfectly in the film Life of Brian, .. at the sermon on the mount Jesus is heard saying .. "Blessed are the peacemakers", ..but, this is mis heard by a few people towards the back of the crowd as "Blessed are the cheese makers" .. there then follows a pointless discussion by these people on the relevance of "makers of dairy products".
I hope you dont think I'm being flippant here, but I think it's a good point.
Anyhoo, thanks for your reply Simon,
Bedtime for me.
Thanks for your reply Anthony.
Everyones personal experiences are different. I'm certainly not going along "uncritically" with the beliefs I was born into, had that been the case, I'd now be a devout follower of the catholic faith that my father raised me into. As one of 6 children, it's interesting that now we've all grown up, none of us go to church anymore. We've all realised the stuff we were taught had major flaws in it. For my fathers generation, he believed in catholism with a passion to his dying day in 1993. It's also interesting that I'd say we are all far more tolerant and loving as people without god in our lives compared with how our Christian father treated us. Beatings were commonplace in our household. Yes i know this is not a general rule of thumb for Christian parents in general. ( most Christians I know are perfectly fine people), and I dont blame my father for his shortcomings, he had an incredily hard life, esp going through incredible hardships during WWII in Poland, I'm sure his faith in God had a major impact on his life, and he wanted to instill that faith into us, quite naturally.
As a person, I'm very skeptical about anything supernatural, .. this obviously includes god. I'm seeking answers in life, and I dont find them in the bible. Almost everyday I see incredible documentary's on the tv which explain our origins and how the planet works etc etc ,.. in none of them is ever a god invoked as an answer to all this. ( unless i flick over to Revelation tv or any of the other god channels). I'd rather stick with the rational explanations that science has given us.. they tend to be correct. It's good to have doubt, if you're not sure, .. look it up, .. still not sure, cross reference it, .. we have a lifetimes knowedge at our fingertips today. Look at all the evidence and make up your own mind. Dont be governed by an old book. Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.
if there is a god, surely he'd want us to use our intellect that he'd given us.
Hi Simon. Yes, I tend to agree with some of your points. .. I think humans have an innate need for religion, and this wont be going away any time soon. I fully accept that. Every civilisation known to man has had a belief system, but doesn't this just go to show its part of human nature, we generally believe what we've been told by the previous generation. I have to go back to my original statement, in particular how millions upon millions will be raised in the "wrong faith", simply because of the part of the globe they were born, .. these people will go throughout their whole lives believing in another god to you. But god will quietly sit back and let this error continue, .. for possibly thousands of years. Think of all the ancient religions that pre date Christianity.. the list is a long one. ( google it).
I pointed out some queries about Jesus, you've told me it's a bit of a distraction, and that it wouldn't stop you believing in Jesus if proof was found he didn't exist. I've absolutely no doubt the same applies to members of any other faith. Some hardcore fanatics will even fly a plane into a skyscraper to their religion.
let me ask you this then Simon, lets say you hear the voice of God, and he tells you to sacrifice your son, would you do it? .. I'll answer for you, .. no, of course not, only a mentally unstable person would do that. Yet God asked Abraham to do this, and he went ahead with it, to the point where the angels stopped him at the last minute, . it was a test of faith. Abraham is seen as a great man full of wisdom. I wonder how Isaac felt about all this?.
Out of curiousity Simon, do you see the Old testament as a historical account of those times, or were they just stories, written for the time.
I can only be skeptical about the bible as a true historical record. It's obviously a man made document isn't it?
Anyhoo, thanks again for replying, much appriciated.
Bonnie43uk. Sorry about the pink.
Thanks Exchemist and Simon for your replies, Like you exchemist, I have tempered my views on religion over the past few years ( although it may not appear so within these comments). I'm merely putting across doubts I have as to the existence of a Christian god. I went through what I can only recall as a spiritual moment when I was about 14, it had quite a profound effect on me, In about 1974 the whole family sat down to watch the ITV series "Jesus of Nazareth", on a sunday night, we'd just got back from church .. i think it was in episode 2 or 3 that we first caught a glimpse of Jesus himself ( played by a young Robert Powell), .. John the baptist was in the river when Jesus walked towards him.. there was a close up shot of Jesus, it was like I was looking at Jesus himself, the image was stunningly real, .. the face, the beautiful blue eyes, .. it WAS Jesus to me, ( I'm sure you can see this clip on youtube).. I started crying uncontrollably, I simply couldn't stop. For the next few weeks or so, I tried to live in Jesus's image and behave as best I could. This didn't last long and I soon went back to my own ways, ..getting into trouble etc. Had I not had a skeptical nature that "tv moment" could have had a lasting impression on me, taking that into adulthood and remaining in the Christian faith.
When I look back now, it's easy to see that I was duped into believing Christ was real. And how easy it was for me to wrongly accept Christ as my saviour. In the cold light of day we haven't got a clue what Jesus actually looked like, I'm sure he was quite dark skinned with a Jewish nose, for all we know, he could well have been an ugly balding fat guy, that would not go down well in Christian America. In a nutshell, we are easily duped by what we want to be true. I have a brother who has an unshakable belief in healing stones, and a sister convinced by UFO crop circles. Such is human nature.
I'm very dubious regarding Christs mission itself, .. Isn't belief in Adam and Eve a central point in why Jesus came down to earth in the first place, to take their/our sins away. What kind of parent ensures that the sins of past generations is passed down to future generations. Why the crucifixion scenario?, why not just forgive us.? ( not that I believe we need forgiving for our sins). No one in here has been able to explain to me why millions of people are born, live a life in another religion, and die in that religion, all seemingly with God watching on throughout generation after generation. It makes little sense to me.
Somebody asked me an intriging question the other day, ..totally hypothetical, .. Q: if you could be God for 60 seconds, what would you do.?
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