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Why all people believe in God?

Human MindAn ancient Near Eastern psalmist wrote, “One thing have I desired of the LORD, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the LORD, and to inquire in his temple” (Psalm 27:4, King James Version). There is an innate desire of supernaturalism. This is why most societies on earth held to kinds of beliefs in deities. In 16th century, John Calvin grounds his religious epistemology in what he calls sensus divinitatis. According to Calvin, all people have a sense, not only of the existence of a Creator-God (Helm, 1998, p. 93), but also of a “positive affective and conative condition towards” Him (Helm, 1998, p. 88).

Calvin does not, by means of modern apologetics; attempt to prove his claims, as he suggests that this sense is simply based on innate, properly functioning capacities (Helm, 1998, p. 93). To clarify what Calvin means, Helm (1998) writes, “Calvin does not say that all men believe in God; he says that all men have the seed of religion, the disposition to believe in God” (p. 105). In 20th century, C. S. Lewis (2001) equally argued that creatures possess innate desires that correspond to their satisfaction. If an innate desire finds no satisfaction in this world, it is probable that there is another world beyond it.

Alvin Plantinga (1981) proposes that the belief in God, in absence of a defeater, needs not to be based on other beliefs or propositions; but one is perfectly rational in accepting it, just as he accepts the reality of past events, actuality of the world around us or existence of other minds.

Not only theology and philosophy has focused on this question; preponderance of scientific evidence emerging from cognitive science suggests that beliefs about the existence of God(s), dualism, afterlife or moral realism are not explicitly cultural indoctrinated ideas. They are intuitive innate implicit[1] beliefs. (Bering, 2006). On the contrary, disbelief in supernatural “requires some hard cognitive work to reject or override the intuitions that nourish religious beliefs” (Norenzayan & Gervais, 2013, p. 20). Bering (2010) goes as far as to say about atheists that, “this self-classification has little – if any – bearing on what actually happens inside their head” (p.167). This does not show that these biases lead to a specific understanding of God(s), it merely points towards a conclusion that humans are wired to be intuitive theists, believing in transcendent beings. Therefore, also children not exposed to socio-cultural influence would naturally come to hold such beliefs. Banerjee and Bloom (2013), dissent from the consensus view, nevertheless they suggest we are prone to hold similar conceptions, as our “cognitive biases make humans ‘receptive’ to religious ideas, but do not themselves generate them” (p. 7).  Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on May 5, 2015 in Reasonable Faith

 

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Sense the nonsense

Some time ago I was browsing web and I found this short comic on the topic of atheism.

While I was slightly amused by an awkward position to which this christian couple was put to, knockout that author intended to show is however certainly not as sharp as it appears.

One of the roots of the problem around the question “Who is an atheist?” is it’s very definition. We should not continue to solve this issue without first defining the word atheist.

According to Merriam Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary atheist is: “one who believes that there is no deity.

Thesaurus: “someone who denies the existence of god.”

American Atheists (self-definition): “Atheism is the lack of belief in a deity, which implies that nothing exists but natural phenomena (matter), that thought is a property or function of matter, and that death irreversibly and totally terminates individual organic units. This definition means that there are no forces, phenomena, or entities which exist outside of or apart from physical nature, or which transcend nature, or are “super” natural, nor can there be. Humankind is on its own.

Other: “the doctrine or belief that there is no God.

This meaning of the word “atheist” is in its root of origin very similar to the word “atypical”. For in both cases we only added letter “a” in front of the original word. a-theist / a-typical, which changed the value of the word to its opposite meaning.

Reading the comic with these definitions in mind, we are one step closer in seeing why is it just a nonsense, rather than a witty blow to Christians.

Mathematically speaking: If Jeremy says that he believes, that 349*825 is 287925 then you have three basic options to choose from.

  • Check his claim whether what he is saying is true. After doing your math you can either come to the same conclusion and agree with him. (Christian – theist)
  • or come to a different one and disagree with him while having or at least assuming a different result. (Muslim – theist)
  • Disagree with him while saying that a result does not exist (dividing by zero is impossible) (Atheist)

We see that in the example above, not everyone can be right, we can all be wrong, but we can’t all be right. Here all three options represent position, standpoint, belief or opinion which has or ought to have a value in for one who is seeking the truth.

Therefore when a Theist says that an Atheist has a belief (faith) that there is no God, he holds a valid standpoint. However when an Atheist is trying to do the same, by pointing at the fact that a Christian (Theist 1) does not share the same view (does not have a belief in the same God) as Muslim (Theist 2) therefore he has 2 beliefs or holds 2 opinions, he is simply committing the usual “non sequitur” fallacy (conclusion does not follow from the premises).

Surely it logically follows, when a person believes that 2+2=4 he believes not that 2+2=5. Yet the second is not a belief by itself, but only a logical necessity following from the primary belief. This cannot be said about a belief that 2+2 has no true result, for this is the primary belief in itself and all the other (2+2=4 or 2+2=5) “disbeliefs” are thus logically necessary.

 Other Definitions

However, today we can find other, new definitions of the word atheist such as “the absence of belief in any gods.” or “disbelief in the existence of a supreme being or beings.” This position is also called a “weak atheism” and is often called also agnostic atheism. For it is very similar (if not the same) to a view called agnosticism that holds no commitment to any opinion whatsoever, perhaps only that the ultimate reality is unknown and probably unknowable (Merriam Webster).

Now, having this definition in mind I guess we in fact do have a fourth option and that is to say: “I do not know and probably I don’t even care.” This is surely a position, however at this point it seems that any further discussion is unnecessary. At least until one truly opens himself to the sort of questions, which has been sought to be answered by the many generations before us, namely: “How did it all start? What is our purpose? Where are we heading?…” To find the best possible explanation is one way to do it, which does not commit anyone to the inevitable verity of his conclusions only proposes rationality behind them over the reasonableness of its rival hypothesis.

 
 

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