Paul Hughes

The evolving story of a hopeful skeptic.

November 14, 2012 Religion , By Paul Hughes

Reasons To Believe In God

Eye of God Nebula

Image taken from sodahead.com.

Hello, everyone!

It’s been about 12 hours since my last post, so fear not—this one is quite short. I simply wanted to pose a question to you that I ponder myself on a frequent basis. Do you believe in God? Or a creator of some sort? I would encourage you to comment on this post and tell me (and the other blog readers) about it. This is not a post in which I will try to refute your claims, but simply one by which I would like to discover more about those of my readers who are religious, and see what points you bring up regarding the topic. So I encourage you to bear witness and tell me, why do you believe in God? Thank you for all of your insight in advance!

25 to “Reasons To Believe In God”

  1. Donald Leo Grube says...

    What else is there to believe in?

    I suppose Santa Claus, and the Easter Bunny, but weren’t they just steps to, and practice in the God thing? Belief to me means something we can’t see has motivation over us and compels us to share our darndest with other beings, animals and objects of this world. Even in the very popular, and some say the only successful system of soul transformation for some, anonymous programs have at their basis the higher power step and learning to put things into this airy figment of cloudy love.

    The fact that we are so blessed with a mind that kind think and therefore “not think” creates for us the option or the mandate to believe in something beyond our very nose.

    • paul says...

      A very cool point, Donald. The fact that we are even able to (somewhat) comprehend something for which there is no evidence is pretty cool thing in itself. Can’t agree more.

  2. Kari says...

    To be honest, I am not sure. There are some things that have happened in my life that some people would probably yell at me and say ” Why not?” Then there are such events where I ask what the purpose of that was and I can’t seem to find a reason. I believe in the human mind and will . It creates the reality you want it to if you believe in such, connect unrelated structures into units.It connects the souls and emotions into art if one lets it. If there is a God in the end, I believe we have a false expectation of perfection that we created, much as one point or another ( some of us at least) have created the false expectations of our parent’s perfection. That is my belief. I don’t know.

    • paul says...

      Perfection is definitely something to strive for, if somewhat unreachable. I suppose that is one cool thing about people’s belief in God—he can be utter perfection, something that, in our experience, simply doesn’t exist here.

      – P

  3. Andrew says...

    A clock without a craftsman…. is that really what we are?

    • paul says...

      A good question! Natural selection certainly offers an elegant solution for how the clock could have gotten so complex without the hands of a craftsman.

      – P

  4. Kari says...

    Let me throw a wrench : If we had a creator or if things / people have a creator, then who created God?

    • paul says...

      Kari, that is one of my first points in my first blog post about why the “argument from design” is weak: http://paulhugh.es/the-argument-from-design/. If the argument is that the watch needs a creator, then the creator is certainly more complex than the watch and requires its own creator, right?

      – P

  5. Tim says...

    I believe in “God.” For me that means things happen for a reason, I have faith in the universe. I still find the word “God,” with a capital G, to be a confusing one for most people. I have felt moments of intense clarity, and moments of service to the divine spirit. Sometimes these moments help others, I feel compelled to go in a certain direction, or I know I’m offered an opportunity, and sometimes these moments are just big moments of learning for me – wow I really screwed that one up. I have experienced too many “cosmic coincidences” to really believe there’s not some outside power, poking fun at my life, and trying to teach me.

    As an side comment, if you are ready, AND feel grounded enough, psychedelics seem to be a shortcut to understanding spirit. Something that I find important with these substances, is really setting an intention, and also being safe in where you partake. There are yogis and others who meditate or dance and achieve a greater awareness of spirit or God (no drugs). Sometimes being around certain people make you feel lighter or happier. Read about a guru Osho if you’re curious.

    • paul says...

      Those are very good points, all, Tim. Many people would agree with you regarding “too many cosmic coincidences.” Just think of those times when you think “small world!” because you met someone with whom there is some remote connection in some remote place. It’s spooky, to be sure!

      – P

  6. Kari says...

    Again , it goes back to what your mind creates. Might need to see this.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4Pp5mWs8k5I

    In my experience with psychedelics, it was at least for me , the awareness of the deeper self and what we are not aware to be made aware as well as your surroundings, especially if you meditate.

    • paul says...

      That’s a very interesting video, Kari. I think a lot of people would disagree about Jesus having died in utter disillusionment, but Osho has clearly thought these things through quite a bit… Now if only I could get him to comment on my blog…

      – P

      • Kari says...

        If you like him, check out Robert Anton Wilson. He is a bit cooky in some things but he has some pretty neat points of view.

  7. Serge says...

    I do believe in God, and I believe that Jesus is the son of God. And, I like the question, “Why do you believe in God?” But on my way to answering that question, I would like to answer “how” I believe in God. I don’t believe in God in precisely the same way that I believe that the earth orbits the sun, or that matter/energy can never travel faster than the speed of light. My belief in scientific principles (and I believe in many of them) is rooted in the scientific method and the idea of experimentation and reproducible results. However, my belief in God is fundamentally about relationship. So, I believe in God in the same way that I believe my wife loves me. I believe in God in the same way that I believe in my children even when they are at their worst. (Perhaps in those moments it is actually I who am at my worst) Why do I believe in God? Because I have seen the power of faith in the miraculous works of mercy and sacrifice in the lives of others. (e.g. Mother Theresa) And I believe in God because I simply cannot fathom a world in which I am a mere accident of nature, and that my personal being is nothing more than a convenient evolutionary trick of the selfish gene. To put it differently I find atheism as distasteful and unbelievable as the idea that brutality towards the weak and the helpless can be ever be by politics or economics. I cannot defend my faith on scientific grounds, but rather my belief in a personal, loving merciful God resonates with the very core of my being. Faith is a transcendent music that lifts my soul in a way that nothing else ever has. I have no way to prove that my faith in God is true, yet I would rather die than deny the truth of it.

  8. Serge says...

    correction–

    To put it differently I find atheism as distasteful and unbelievable as the idea that brutality towards the weak and the helpless can be ever be JUSTIFIED by politics or economics.

    • paul says...

      Very interesting. I like the comparison you draw between believing in God and believing your wife loves you, I’ve never thought of it that way.

      Curious though, what is it you find distasteful about atheism—especially so much as to compare it to brutality toward the weak?

      – P

      • Serge says...

        Forgive me, I did not mean to say that atheism is necessarily as distasteful as brutality towards the weak. (Nor do I imply that atheism necessarily leads towards brutality towards the weak…Lord knows that religious people have far more blood on their hands than atheists.) The point of my comparison is that I cannot make a scientific argument to back up my belief that one should be merciful to the weak. One can make a scientific argument that elimination of the weak makes sense for economic and genetic reasons. However, despite the arguments of hard science against caring for the weak (e.g. Peter Singer) I find that I simply cannot buy into that view. It contradicts some primal sensibility. Similarly, I cannot buy into the view that there is no God as it contradicts some primal sensibility.

        Thanks for inviting the cool discussion!

        • paul says...

          I think there are very few atheists who buy into the view “we should eliminate the weak.” In fact, I think there are very few humans who buy into that. Humans are genetically pre-programmed to have certain morals by nature (big generalization). Scientific studies by people like Sam Harris have shown that most humans, regardless of religious or cultural background, agree on the ultimate moral questions (or disagree across the board, regardless of background). I’d encourage you to read more about it—it’s fascinating stuff. Harris basically went and posed moral questions to people from all over and of all different types, and what was amazing was that on some questions, there were differences of opinion, while on others, that are seemingly similar, there are near unanimous answers. For example:

          A train is heading down the tracks and is going to kill five people who are strapped to the tracks. You have the option and opportunity to pull a switch that reroutes the train so that it only hits one person on another set of tracks. What do you do? Most people agree that they would pull the switch—better to kill one person than five.

          Next question: The same train is heading down the tracks, set to kill five helpless people. There is no switch this time. The only thing that can stop the train is a very heavy object being placed in front of it. There are no heavy objects around, save one—a very, very fat person on a bridge that goes over the track. You have the option and opportunity to push him over the edge, landing on the tracks, and his inertia would be enough to stop the train. Do you push him over the edge to save the five people? This question has more varied answers among various people (although by no means specifically to one *group* of people: not all christians agree, not all atheists agree—it is pretty well split just in general). Ok, one more question.

          Five patients in a hospital have failing organs, each person a different organ. They will all die if they are not given replacement organs. There are no organs available on the donor list in this situation. There is, however, a person in the waiting room who has all five functioning organs. Do you kill him to save the five? That question has near unanimous response of “No; ABSOLUTELY not.” The question is, how is it different? While the answer is much more unanimous, many people failed to be able to elaborate effectively *what* it was that made the situation different from the others for them. Perhaps you can—I’ve heard other people give various opinions. But the point isn’t whether you can describe the difference or not. The point is that the morality appears to be not taught by a certain religion or by a certain culture. When it comes down to it, each person has a certain amount of morals programmed into him. What is right? What is wrong? Humans of all backgrounds seem to have various opinions on some stuff, but UNANIMOUS opinions on other stuff.

          In any case, that was only three examples of the many Sam Harris posed, but you can see where he was going. Fascinating stuff, right? Back to my main point: atheism by no means advocates the destruction of the weak in its nature—that is purely a given person’s disposition, regardless of his background and regardless of the reasons he gives for it.

          I’m glad you’re enjoying the discussion as much as I am!

          – P

  9. leah says...

    i’m just going to quote some chuck klosterman at you. this pretty much sums up how i feel about the god/universe issue. pretty much, i don’t necessarily believe in god, but i do believe in a spirit running through the world, that connects everything.

    anyway, chuck says:

    “There are two ways to look at life.
    Actually, that’s not accurate; I suppose there are thousands of ways to look at life. But I tend to dwell on two of them. The first view is that nothing stays the same and that nothing is inherently connected, and that the only driving force in anyone’s life is entropy. The second is that everything pretty much stays the same (more or less) and that everything is completely connected, even if we don’t realize it.

    There are many mornings when I feel certain that the first perspective is irrefutably true: I wake up, I feel the inescapable oppression of the sunlight pouring through my bedroom window, and I am struck by the fact that I am alone. And that everyone is alone. And that everything I understood seven hours ago has already changed, and that I have to learn everything again.

    I guess I am not a morning person. However, that feeling always passes. In fact, it’s usually completely gone before lunch. Every new minute of every new day seems to vaguely improve. And I suspect that’s because the alternative view—that everything is ultimately like something else and that nothing and no one is autonomous—is probably the greater truth. The math does check out; the numbers do add up. The connections might not be hard-wired into the super-structure to the universe, but it feels like they are whenever I put money into a jukebox and everybody in the bar suddenly seems to be having the same conversation. And in that last moment before I fall asleep each night, I understand Everything. The world is one interlocked machine, throbbing and pulsing as a flawless organism.”

    • paul says...

      That’s a great quote, Leah. I’ve never heard it before, but it’s definitely a fun one to ponder. And who can disagree? I think most of us have been through a similar change in disposition that changes our entire outlook on the world. Heh, I’m hoping to come to an actual conclusion at some point, but who knows? Maybe I’ll just be content to question the universe forever. :-)

      – P

  10. Daniel says...

    I think that questioning is perfectly logical, but reaching conclusions without proof is not. To turn history into an allegory:

    Early man looked at the sun and did not understand it, concluding that it must be a god. They looked at the wonders of the natural world and concluded that they as well were the works or personages of gods. While they were only innocent projections of mythology to fill in the gaps in their primitive scientific understanding, they have since been quite sufficiently proven to be mere stories, invented by human minds.

    All religious faith appears to me to follow the same pattern. All creation myths and spiritual entities appear to be the very same- methods that humans use to cope psychologically with the vast gaps they have in understanding the world around them, or perhaps simply characters created to fill a need they particularly feel- emotional or otherwise.

    I have felt the ecstasy of spiritual enlightenment in my earlier years. I have since lost the ability to consider spiritual experiences or beliefs as a reflection of a spiritual reality. There is no inherent harm in such things, but there certainly is danger in the surety of another’s damnation.

  11. paul says...

    Interesting point. I guess we could say that the ancient Greeks were pretty sure that Zeus and Athena existed, too. And, to extend your thought further, they no doubt experienced moments of spiritual ecstasy just as you did in your younger years (and I recognize such feelings myself). I will say that I get the same feeling of ecstasy that I used to get in religious moments when I listen to the final movement of Beethoven’s 5th Symphony. How much of those moments is real, and how much is simply shifts in the chemical levels in your brain?

    – P

  12. Daniel says...

    Occam’s Razor

  13. Alice Hughes says...

    Thought you might find the conversion of former atheist blogger to Catholicism interesting: http://catholiclane.com/a-geek-and-her-god-an-interview-with-leah-libresco/

  14. Daniel says...

    Watch out dude, your mom is here! Quick, pretend we weren’t talking about the absence of proof for the existence of god!

Leave a comment

Make sure you\'re not a robot... *