It's time for one more of my audience-killing school-related posts. It's another Philosophy class discussion board from last year; I'm taking American History and some micro-computing class this semester, so I'm not anticipating many lively conversations coming up. But the topic for this one was: "Freud said that an irrational belief is believing in something that is not reasonable. He was talking about the belief in God. Do you find it irrational to believe in God? Do you think it could be an illusion?" Haha! Easy one for me! Many fun hijinks ensued, where one or two people gamely tried to debate me for a minute, then gave up. Accompanying my awesome debate skillz this post will be old pictures from three different excursions to Prague, in the Czech Republic.
In order for God to be an illusion, there would have to be something to see first. Since no one has ever verifiably seen God, he doesn’t even qualify as illusion. Whether believing in God is rational or not depends on why someone believes in God in the first place. If someone claims to have seen God, they are either telling the truth, lying, or delusional.
- If they are telling the truth, they still may be delusional, but for the sake of argument if someone actually did see him and was able to provide evidence, then they would be rational. However this has never happened. If they are telling the truth but are unable to provide evidence, they are either delusional, or useless. The world doesn’t need a powerless God who can only make his wishes known to select individuals, who are usually the type of people you wouldn’t buy a used car from. And God is a much bigger commitment than a used car.
- If they are lying about having seen God, then they still might be rational because they most likely would be lying about it in order to gain money/power/followers/whatever. This has demonstrably happened in the past in such cases as Joseph Smith. Mormonism is clearly a fraud. So Joe was an evil con-artist, but perhaps not entirely irrational given that a huge cult has risen up to follow after him. This is the danger of believing in something without evidence: You are probably being conned. Enjoy that shitty car until the engine falls out next week!
- If they are delusional, well then by definition they are not rational.
For me personally, yes I think the
belief in God is completely irrational. I’ve argued my case extensively on this
subject in this class several times, so I don’t need to add too much here
except to say that there is ZERO evidence—solid, verifiable evidence—that a God
or Gods have ever had any interaction with the world. Believing in something
without evidence isn’t always
necessarily irrational, but the bigger the claim, the more evidence you need
for it. And God is a pretty big claim, whose followers routinely murder,
coerce, and marginalize those who don’t believe in what they believe in. So to
make such a claim, yet to have such non-existent evidence to back it up… yes
this is irrational.
Sunday, November 11, 2012 4:56:12 PM EST
Don't you realize you're making an overgeneralized statement to say that God's followers "murder, coerce, and marginalize those who don't believe in what they believe in?" You sound like a God hater to me and hateful and disgusted by people who believe in God. Can't you keep your insults out of this difference of beliefs?
Sunday, November 11, 2012 5:15:31 PM EST
It is not an insult to state a fact. Do ALL believers murder, coerce, and marginalize? No. But I never claimed that they all did and therefore it is not an over generalization. But many many many do. Look at Islamic terrorism, or the Christian crusades, inquisition, witch hunts, etc, or the religious right trying to make Biblical morals into law right here right now in the US. I'm not a God hater, simply because you can't hate something that you don't believe in. I am certainly disgusted by people who murder, coerce, and marginalize in the name of their God, as should you be. If you're NOT disgusted by that, well, I can't wait to read about you in the papers.
I'm not insulting anyone by saying that
believers are delusional. I mean, that was the question of the week. Are you
saying I should just shut up and keep my opinion to myself, even though I've
been asked for it? Even if I hadn't been asked for it?
Sunday, November 11, 2012 7:42:34 PM EST
No messiestobjects, I don't want you to shut up, sorry for this. It's just that those "Christians" that are very hurtful to others that you mentioned are not doing what God wants, (I'm with you on this, it is awful) even if they say they're doing it in God's name. There are more types of Christians and people that believe in God, just wish you would include the ones that are good too and not bring up the bad ones as the only example for people that believe in God.
Sunday, November 11, 2012 7:57:20 PM EST
I understand, but at the risk of being combative I want to say that it is not up to me to defend the "good" side of religion against the "bad" side of religion. I personally feel that all religion is bad. Not religious people, per se, but religion itself. I've always thought that, when people commit atrocities in the name of God, that "good" religious people ought to be the first to speak out against it. Instead, they tend to attack atheists who say that religious belief is the problem that caused the atrocity in the first place and keep silent regarding the atrocities. As an example, where is the Catholic outrage directed against the ongoing pedophilia scandal in the Catholic Church? Sure, there is some, but the overwhelming majority of outrage about priests diddling children is coming from people outside of the catholic faith, and mostly from atheists.
The problem is that when you are willing to accept religion without evidence, then you are trained to accept a lot of faulty ideas without evidence, which is why so many Christians in America fall for the Republican talking points.
Also, how do you know that they
aren't doing what God wants? Does God tell you what he wants? God sanctioned
some pretty horrific things in the Old Testament. What I mean is, why should I
believe that what you say God wants is any more valid than what Pat Robertson
or Joseph Kony says God wants? The Bible is full of enough sayings and contradictions
that confirm that God can want whatever the particular interpreter wants him to
Sunday, November 11, 2012 6:31:34 PM EST
Why then is rational to believe science. Were you there to see the big bang happen, can you provide any evidence that the big bang actually happened and that the universe is 13.7 billion years old? The big bang theory also has a "big claim" with absolutely no evidence.
Sunday, November 11, 2012 6:56:28 PM EST
Actually, you are totally, 100% wrong. There are mountains of evidence for the big bang. The earliest and most direct kinds of observational evidence are the Hubble-type expansion seen in the redshifts of galaxies, the detailed measurements of the cosmic microwave background, the relative abundances of light elements produced by Big Bang nucleosynthesis, and today also the large scale distribution and apparent evolution of galaxies predicted to occur due to gravitational growth of structure in the standard theory. These are sometimes called "the four pillars of the Big Bang theory".
If you don't understand why these count as
evidence, then you should take a class in astrophysics where these ideas can be
further explained. "Belief in science" doesn't actually make sense.
Science doesn't believe in anything for which there is no evidence. If there is
evidence, you can put together a scientific theory which would explain the
evidence, and test it further through prediction and experiment. You can
"believe" in science because every modern comfort, from your
dishwasher to your laptop to your iphone, is evidence of how scientific
theories can be proven. If you don't understand the evidence, that is your
issue because science is verifiable, and can be learned by anyone who bothers
to make the effort.
Sunday, November 11, 2012 11:08:52 PM EST
I like how you always ramble on to try and make a point but end up not making a point. I also like how you always talk about not being combative but you actually are, just like the republicans you are talking about. I like how you always come off as being very condescending, which you are. For your information I am taking Astronomy and I have not read a chapter that explain any evidence.
Theory: 1. A set of statements or principles devised to explain a group of facts or phenomena, especially one that has been repeatedly tested or is widely accepted and can be used to make predictions about natural phenomena.
2. The branch of a science or art consisting of its explanatory statements, accepted principles, and methods of analysis, as opposed to practice: a fine musician who had never studied theory.
3. A set of theorems that constitute a systematic view of a branch of mathematics.
4. Abstract reasoning; speculation: a decision based on experience rather than theory.
5. A belief or principle that guides action or assists comprehension or judgment: staked out the house on the theory that criminals usually return to the scene of the crime.
6. An assumption based on limited information or knowledge; a conjecture.
Big bang theory, evolution theory. I kind of miss the part of the definition that mentioned that a theory is 100% fact, but obviously because you are the smartest man on earth you did not. The mountains that were blown up to make roads, the roads did not form from the mere explosion and will never be formed from an explosion someone created the roads.
Sunday, November 11, 2012 11:48:03 PM EST
I did not say that the Big Bang was 100% fact, I said that there were mountains of evidence for them, which you asked for, and that you were 100% wrong in your assertion that there was no evidence. Also, I didn't say I was not combative, I said "I hate to be combative, but..." but sometimes it is necessary to be combative when the people I argue with try to act as though I've said something that I did not say.
As far as your definitions of theory are concerned, the only one that matters as far as a Scientific Theory goes is number 1. A scientific theory is not the same as speculation. I'm sorry that you missed the part of the definition that mentioned that a theory is [considered to be] fact, but clearly you breezed over that very first definition. Scientific Theory is not the same thing as the common usage of the word 'theory.'
So you are taking astronomy. Have you gotten to the part yet where they explain the evidence for the Big Bang? No? I guess that means that no evidence must exist.
Also, Astronomy is not the same
thing as Astrophysics. Also, your claim that I am not making a point is false.
Please demonstrate how I in any way have failed to make a point. Also, yes,
sometimes I am very condescending.
Sunday, November 11, 2012 6:51:54 PM EST
“Whose followers routinely murder, coerce, and marginalize those who don’t believe in what they believe in.” clearly generalizing all those who believe in GOD. Where are all these murders taking place, in your atheist mind?
Sunday, November 11, 2012 6:59:10 PM EST
Islamic terrorists who behead
infidels are murdering in the name of God. Salem witch trials. Crusades.
Spanish Inquisition. That lady who murdered her children because God told her
to. There are plenty of examples.
Monday, November 12, 2012 1:30:36 AM EST
How many billion or million or thousand years ago did reproduction replace evolution?
Monday, November 12, 2012 10:59:25 AM EST
Monday, November 12, 2012 11:33:05 AM EST
So how did you come to be, through evolution or reproduction?
Monday, November 12, 2012 12:26:56 PM EST
Both. Evolution describes how
complex organisms evolve from simple ones through the process of natural
selection. Reproduction is the separate yet intertwined method by which
individuals pass their genes onto the next generation. There is no discrepancy
between the two things.
Monday, November 12, 2012 11:03:30 PM EST
I do agree with your post. There is no evidence of God, but it doesn't make it irrational to believe in him. It's people's religion and their beliefs and you can't bash it and say everyone is nuts. No one will ever know whether or not God is or ever was, real. If there was evidence it would change the whole religion and belief forever, but there isn't. It's just like any other religion. Can they prove that there is a real person they worship or is it just in books? I don't think any of it is an illusion because like you said, no one can see anything and I don't think anyone is irrational for believing in God.
Monday, November 12, 2012 11:33:23 PM EST
But technically, it IS irrational to
believe in something for which there is no evidence. The fact that a lot of
people believe in God doesn't qualify as any sort of evidence that he just
might exist. For instance, which Presidential candidate did you believe would
win? A lot of Democrats believed that Obama was the right choice, because Romney is
clearly a corrupt maniac. Conversely, a lot of Republicans believed that
Romney was the right choice because Obama is clearly a Muslim socialist bent on destroying
all the values America stands for. Both sides obviously couldn't be right, yet
each candidate got around 60 million votes apiece! This is not a small number!
58 million people believed that Romney was the right choice, but 62 million
believed that Obama was. Either way you look at it, at least 58 million people
were wrong in their beliefs. Karl Rove, for instance, was clearly deluded about
Romney's chances of winning. My point is, if 58 million people can be wrong
about something, then clearly it doesn't stop something from being illusory
just because a lot of people believe in it.
Monday, November 12, 2012 11:26:18 PM EST
Great post and although I am a Christian, I appreciate your thoughts. I actually agree with you on most points. Belief in God is very irrational on many levels. However, in my humble opinion, irrational doesn't necessarily mean wrong. There are many things that I have come across in life that aren't rational but that doesn't mean that they aren't real. An example I gave in post is feelings. Feelings are rarely if ever rational. When people fall in love, rationality tends to get thrown out the window (at least for a time). God may be an illusion, but if that is the case, the only fault in my beliefs is mine. (since I am not a murderer or marginalizer). Thanks again for an interesting post!
Monday, November 12, 2012 11:45:24 PM EST
That is exactly the appropriate stance to
take as a religious believer, Dana! Thank you. If someone wants to believe in
God, that is of course their business. But trying to convince other people to
believe in him too without any evidence is where so many believers go wrong and
you are entirely correct to say that any fault in your belief lies solely with
you. The only thing I have to argue with you about is when you say that
feelings aren't rational. Of course, people do behave irrationally due to
emotions beyond their control, but in fact there are perfectly rational reasons
why people have emotions in the first place. Chemicals in the brain. It's
science! So, being irrationally in love is real, I agree, but so is
irrationally believing in God. The difference is that, being in love has an
object, an actual person that your irrational feelings are directed towards.
You can touch him or her, speak to them and, most importantly, so can other
people. The fact that there is such evidence that your boy/girl friend exists
means that your love is only irrational in the sense of which particular
actually existing human you chose to love. God, on the other hand, is a
completely unverifiable object of irrational belief, and therefore illusory.
Tuesday, November 13, 2012 7:13:48 PM EST
I completely agree with you that feelings are created by something rational (chemicals in the brain) but the exact nature of WHY those chemicals behave the way they do is unexplainable in the human psyche... meaning why something can trigger one person to feel a certain way about something while someone else does not. There are many valid theories but none that can completely and perfectly explain everyone's feelings/reactions. Most feelings are based on early experiences. With that being said, one can also argue that belief in God is also based on experiences. My personal feelings on certain things can sometimes fall into the category of irrational/illogical. Even with years of therapy some people can never fully justify(rationalize) why they feel the way that they do.
Tuesday, November 13, 2012 9:31:11 PM EST
That's true: Science doesn't yet know
everything. The key word being "yet." Neurologists may not know
everything about what makes the brain tick, but they know a lot more than they
did even 10 years ago, and they learn more all the time. The thing is that
brain science is testable: you can ask questions, perform experiments, make
hypotheses, and gain knowledge in order to ask more questions, perform more
experiments, narrow down your hypotheses... etc. The God question, however, is
not testable. There is no possible way that you can test the God hypothesis
because he is by definition (according to the big 3 religions, at least)
outside of nature. This winds up being the reason why atheists ultimately say
that it is pointless to believe in God: something that is outside of nature can
never be detected, proven, or disproven, and personal anecdotes of people
having God experiences are completely unverifiable in any way. I have never had
an experience that could not be explained except by a God of some sort, so I
have no more reason to believe in him/her/it than I do in Santa Claus.
Neuroscience, on the other hand, has learned many things about the brain and
has bettered mankind in verifiable ways, so even though I have never studied
neurology, I have more reason to trust in it than I do in a God who has told
his followers that they will go to hell for not believing in him despite being
a jerk and not providing any evidence that he actually exists.
Monday, November 5, 2012 5:31:10 PM EST
I do not believe it is irrational to believe in God and I do not think it is an illusion. I think Freud is looking for scientific fact that God does not exist. I believe Freud and his followers are hoping there is no God and therefore, they will not be judged at the time of death. I believe Freud and his followers are delusional by their beliefs and their statements. However, everyone is entitled to their thoughts and beliefs as long as they do not harm or hurt anyone.
I have seen some people who are elderly such as my grandfather who did not believe in God and as he was aging and knew he had a limited time on this earth started accepting God. He actually started talking to a minister at his part time job and attended his church in the last several years of his life. My mom tells me he never attended church for the time she knew him. However, as we get closer to our immortality our views and beliefs change for believing in God or NOT. It really comes down to your choice and your belief! I choose to believe there is a God so according to Freud call me irrational and delusional….
Thursday, November 8, 2012 2:02:10 PM EST
I agree with the views that you have presented here, Samantha. I would just like to add that I find it quite fascinating that most of these men who do not believe in God and call believers like you and I irrational and delusional were men who had been declared mentally ill at some point. It only makes me wonder why do sane people have to study and make sense of what people who were not in their right mind had to say...
Sunday, November 11, 2012 3:50:12 PM EST
Christopher Hitchens died an avowed atheist. He never not once started quibbling about his own mortality. Neither did Albert Einstein, Charles Darwin, Carl Sagan, or my Uncle. And for the record, not one of them were ever "declared mentally ill at some point."
Most atheists aren't looking for
proof that God does not exist--you can never prove that God does not exist in
the same way that you can never prove that there isn't a teapot the size of a
gnat orbiting the smallest star in the Andomeda Galaxy--they simply demand
proof that he does exist before believing, without reason, that he does.
Tuesday, November 6, 2012 10:56:08 PM EST
Personally I do not believe it is irrational to believe in God. Everyone has the right to believe what they want to. Since Freud was a scientific man, he was probably just looking for specific and concrete evidence that God exists and since he didnt really find that, he would say it is an illusion. For many, they allow the presence of God to create an illusion, but I do not think believe in him is irrational or can be considered an illusion.
Wednesday, November 7, 2012 11:39:05 AM EST
I would have to agree with you on this one. I think calling people who believe in God irrational is a bizarre considering most of the world believes in a God.
Sunday, November 11, 2012 3:56:31 PM EST
So... by this logic, if most of
the world believed that owning slaves was moral, then it would be bizarre to
call slave-owning immoral? See, the world was like that, not so very long ago.
Just because 100 people think that committing suicide by drinking poisoned
kool-aid to jump on a passing comet is rational, doesn't make that one guy who
said "fuck this!" and ran away from Heaven's Gate irrational.
Wednesday, November 7, 2012 8:01:56 PM EST
I don't think believing in God is irrational, but I do think it depends on how you believe in God. I think that being legalistic is irrational and is harmful to yourself and even others around you. I don't think it is an illusion, I've seen proof in my life and I put my trust in faith. I wonder if why we can't prove God in a scientific way to people is because it would not give people a chance to find God with their hearts, which is what is important to God. What we know by proof in life and what our minds reveal to be rational, is not enough to proove if God is an illusion or not. We have free-will, the power to choose, which is something that can only be done alone in a person, no one make you believe or not believe it. We can influence each other though, good and bad on the matter. Again- we have free-will.
Wednesday, November 7, 2012 10:12:15 PM EST
I just loved your statement "wonder if why we can't prove God in a scientific way to people is because it would not give people a chance to find God with their hearts" excellent. Yes we have free will, but because our free will is supposedly given to us by god then is that real or the illusion?
Sunday, November 11, 2012 4:07:42 PM EST
Some people found the Wiccan
Earth-Mother with their hearts. Others found Mormonism. Yet others believe with
all their hearts in Mohammed, or Krishna, or even in the power of Satan. Don't
you think the real God has a duty to leave some sort of a road-map to him so
that innocent people who only happened to be born into a family who believed in
the wrong God don't get sent to Hell and torture and damnation for all
eternity? Otherwise, he's either powerless or just an asshole.
Thursday, November 8, 2012 1:11:27 AM EST
I do not think that it is irrational to believe in god. As I have said in numerous posts before, I do not think that God is what the religions make it out to be. To believe in God, and by this I mean the entity or existence that is, or the concept that keeps everything together, One must take a leaf of faith or an abstract understanding of something that cannot necessarily be put into words, but only understood. I constantly reiterate that science, and god/religion, are two sides of the same coin. In science and mathematics we take leaps of faith almost in every scientific calculation we make, The concept of zero and infinity is something that cannot be explained, It can only be understood. To the right of zero but before one on the number line there are an infinite amount of values And to the left of zero but before negative one there are also an infinite amount of value. The number zero somehow bridges the gap between negative and positive values that have an infinite source. This in itself requires a leap of faith to believe. Scientifically Speaking numbers are an illusion used by mankind, used in complete belief that has propelled our civilization to where it is today. I do not think that God is an illusion, I think God is a concept that the majority of us have not yet understood.
Sunday, November 11, 2012 4:14:52 PM EST
Numbers aren't actually an
illusion though. They represent actual values. Saying that numbers are an
illusion is like saying that words are illusions, but they are not because
words represent ideas, real things even though they may not have physical
substance. The difference between things that are real yet do not have physical
substance and God is that you can see the evidence of ideas at work in the
world every day in everything you do. Anything that people attribute to God, however,
can be explained by other, more rational means. In any case, no one is claiming
that numbers or words have an independent intelligence of their own, and so
they are not even in the same class as an all-powerful, all-intelligent creator.
Monday, November 12, 2012 12:55:03 PM EST
I think Freud was correct in his assertion that believing in God is irrational. I don't think this really applies to the people who just use religion as a way to remember to be nice to their neighbors and such, because they are just using the idea of a vengeful God to help guide their moral compasses. The people that I have an issue with are those who take everything in the Bible to be literal, and shut out the idea that science is fact. For example, people commonly refute the theory of evolution, and laws have to be passed so that it can be taught to school children. It doesn't make sense to me that some people would rather have a clouded view of the world, instead of questioning what they have been taught in church. I also think that people who only pray about their problems, instead of actively seeking out a solution are being irrational. Prayer alone never solved anything, because you have to be in charge of your own life. Personally, I believe that religion was socially constructed to keep people “in line” morally and limit questioning of authority, therefore, I do think that it is all an illusion.
Monday, November 12, 2012 1:00:44 PM EST
Totally! Also, it's extremely
disturbing that religious people keep trying to get Creationism, or
"Intelligent Design" taught in public schools. This is wrong in so
many ways but my favorite retort to people who want science teachers to
"teach the controversy" in public schools is, "Fine. Can I come
to your church and teach evolution in Sunday School? Teach the controversy!"
There's a reason why church and state are meant to be separated.