HOME   People do good because they are human, not because they are religious! 

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Everybody is Wrong about God

It seems that ‘God’ is an abstract mental construction that people employ to help them meet or ignore various psychological and social needs.” So he concludes that “contrary to the title of Dawkins’ famous book, believers aren't exactly delusional when talking about and believing in ‘God’. Every time someone says that he believes in God, he’s saying that he has physiological or social needs that he doesn’t know how to meet.”

It is patronising to tell people who say they believe in God as a real being and person that they do not. Only they can or might know if they do. 

Believers will find it insulting to be told that they only believe in God because they think they are helpless!

Belief in a real God is compatible with how people interpret that God to suit themselves.

If you mistake real things such as the need for comfort and guidance for God then you are in fact deluded.  And the link between God and comfort is a common one but a very strange one for nothing guarantees having an easy life.  The comfort has a bad side.  The believer risks feeling far worse.  If nothing is looking after you and you think it should or is and are wrong then that is self-abuse.  The comfort only works in so far as you think the bad things will not be so bad.  But when they are happening it is a different story. It could be that believers want not comfort but false comfort.

It contradicts the truth expressed by Sam Harris, “Atheism is not a philosophy; it is not even a view of the world; it is simply a refusal to deny the obvious. No one ever needs to identify himself as a non-astrologer – atheism is a term that should not even exist.”  Lindsay however writes, "Anyone who doesn't believe in God is automatically an 'atheist' by default.  Because it's the default, we cannot really 'end atheism.'  Obviously, this isn't what I mean.  I like to think of it this way.  If theism were to go away, technically everyone would be atheists - if everyone on earth rejected theism, we wouldn't call anyone atheists because we wouldn't need to.  We'd just call them people."

The author contradicts himself for we read, “Stop pretending that theism deserves serious rational consideration.”

“If theism had any real evidence to support it, it would never make arguments for why it doesn’t need evidence, relying instead on other kinds of non-epistemic warrant, for example, as claimed by Reformed Epistemology.”

If too many believers are in fact believing in God to meet certain needs what if that God is a spiteful entity who loves punishing and sending people to Hell? All who promote the Christian God must take responsibility if some hearers respond to their teaching that way.

“A satirist mocking a set of beliefs is not mocking an individual. The individuals who hold those beliefs may feel insulted, embarrassed, sheepish, or humiliated for holding those beliefs, but that is the very point of satire and the reason it is effective.”

Believers argue that God is intimately connected with them in an unimaginable way and that as creator God is closer to them than they are to themselves. Jesus said that though man is not God to see man as God which is why he said that to hurt a person is to hurt God.

"God is a mythological object and thus emphatically not best treated philosophically because philosophy takes the idea too seriously in the wrong way. We should address ‘God’ in terms of what it actually seems to do for people. We should also recognise theism as pseudo-philosophical position instead of a properly philosophical one.”

 

Forensic psychiatrist J Anderson Thomson JR is approvingly quoted, “Religion, while not an adaption in itself, derives from the same mind-brain social adaptations that we use to navigate the sea of people who surround us.”

 



“Break

"Atheism is a nonposition, or more accurately a pseudo-position, a position that pretends to exist, a word that pretends to mean something, only because so many people insist on embracing a belief in God that isn't there."   "People who do not believe in God are people, just like people who do not play golf."  Calling them nongolfers is "both awkward and pointless."


"Atheism paradoxically maintains theism.  This surprising effect is strongest with philosophical (strong) atheism, but it is true simply by the fact that atheism only really exists as a counterpoint to theism.  In order for atheism, as the kind of thing one can hold or be good at, to have meaning, theism must have something going for it.  That is, just as theism implicitly defines atheism by negation, this kind of atheism defines theism by negation too.  Atheism, by asserting, 'God does not exist', immediately causes us to seek meaning in theism.  This invariably leads to trying to understand 'God' as a kind of being."


"Agnosticism - is a kind of nonbelief.  By saying, 'I don't know' entails a certain kind of open-minded non-belief."

 He mentions ignositicism which is the doctrine that nobody can know what is meant by God.

 

Lindsay points out that all of us what to have values and purposes for life that they turn into an "immovable core."  They want these things to be the place inside that nothing and no one can ever touch. He feels believers externalise this by assuming a God who represents and lives for those values.  Obviously the dangerous with that is once you turn your principle in a fixed God you will not revise any of the bad principles.  Even  a good principle is bad if you have the attitude, "If it were bad or dangerous I'd still stand by it."  That is really caring about the rule not what is right.

Lindsay mentions Daniel Dennett's observation that many believers in religion are in fact believers in belief first and foremost.  They think it is somehow helpful or virtuous to believe.  To say it is a virtue to believe say in God is a way of saying you believe in belief.

That implies some things and none of them good.

It is possible that all believers are really believers in belief.  It is possible that even if they are not everybody is a lot of the time.

It implies condemnation of those who do not believe or cannot believe or know they should not believe.

It is arrogant to turn an opinion or belief into a virtue.  Virtue is not about what you think about anything other than virtue.  It degrades virtue.

It is bigoted to argue that belief in belief in God is good for it suggests that as God alone matters and is important that this is the most important belief in belief of all.

Belief in belief is a refusal to let evidence and reason help y you decide what to believe.  It is a commitment to refsuign to let the evidnece speak to you and let it help you revise wrong beliefs or even discard them.  Even in wak bealievers they are at risk of being too invested in beief to change their minds and care about the truth and those who serve the truth.

Even if belief in God does nto have to be a superisttion or a delusio, belief in belief turns it into both.  Linsday reminds us that delusion is a belief that is immune to all strong evidence or proof that it is wrong.  Psychaitrsit Karl Jaspers wrote in General Psychopathy that delusions are prsent when there is "certainty, incorrigibility, and the impossibility of falsity of content".  Lindsay thinks that believers because there is so much talk about God in teh wrold easily think they believe so they are not deluded but are mistaken.  That might be true but it is certianly not true fo those who pursuee relgious vocations such as preists and evangelists and prophets.  They are downright insaen for their religiouslity surpasses the average.

 

Linsay argues that atheism needs to stop being seen as a th ing or a belief for not belieivng in God does not amount to another kind of bleieving - that is belieign that there is no God.

Linsay points out that thsoe who tell you that God is resposnbiel for giving your live purpose adn meanign are fuzzy for they never tell you how this works.

Linsay says that the God idea expresses the belief that death is only losing a part of you but you exist so there is striclty speaking no death.  If so that would explainw hy bleievers so cherrily slaugther heretics and others in war.

Nothing but religion or belief in God insists on belief in belief.   Science and medicine coudl not funciton if they operated on a bleief in bleief basis for each perosn would be getting in the way with their divergent and sometimes mutlaly exclusive bleiefs.

Belief in belief is then based on cherry-pikcing and dishonestly and is not a virtue but a vice.


"Religious fundamentalism - is a preference for religious attributions over natural ones when naturalistic ones are available.   It specifically manifests as adhering to a set of false beliefs about the world with such tenacity that established and available countervailing attributions are denied or rejected in an attempt to prevent revision of the beliefs.  That these beliefs are maintained in order to meet or ignore psychosocial needs that certainly e met in other was should qualify it as a kind of pathological mental state, fundamentalism as a subtype of delusion."  Also, "On the claim that fundamentalism - qualifies as delusional, note that it satisfies Karl Jasper's three criteria for that state: falsity of belief, conviction, and incorrigibility.  The existence of nonfundamentlists, in fact the majority, proes that the needs can be met in other ways.  Incidently, quasi-religious beliefs held with similar tenacity would be grounds for an indential psychopathology."

Lindsay lists the attributes of God as

moral as in an effort to explain moral values

telelogical to try and understand the purpose of our lives

phenomenologlcal - trying to explain things that happen as being odwn to the action of God

abstract - God

spiritual as in feeling supported so that you transcend the troubles of life

psychosocial - how religion takes you feel about others and your place in society and leads to formation of a community

 

The book says that to make sense of God without understanding God to mean a real being we must think about active control and passive control and how they relate to the God idea.  Active control is about the actions we take to manage what happens to us.   When believers are faced with something unthinkably bad and seeminly unavoidable they may pray to God to do something and that counts as an attempt at feeling they are in active control.  Belief and religon help people feel safer and comforted which is why religion is so powerful in the world even today.  Prayer or things to imore shows the person wants to control what they cannot control and wants supernaturla help to effect that control.   Passive control is when we do nothing for we think of the world as controlling itself or being controlled for us.  It is a form of control in the sense that you gain control by resignation.  Letting something be is a form of control.  The book mentions self-control as well and argues that God deals with that for God is a symbol of what we should do and shoudl refrain from.  The book argues that control is really what the interest in God is mainly about.  Ans socicialty adn morality are so close together and one cannot be had without the other so unless you are part of society you cannot really be called moral in any sense.  It is really peopel you need beofre you can be moral.  It is not God.  When talking about God, believers "are talking about how they resist feelings of powerlessness".

Part of the attraction an all-powerful and all-good real God has is that it makes people hope this is the best possible world or sometime will be.  othwrise liek athiests they are just goign to have to see many evils as just plain hopeless uless evils that have no meaning.  Talk about a perfect God means that as you want Gdo to be the enforcer and creator of your moral values you want to see them as perfect in principle.  "By qualifiying one's morals adn beliefs as perfect, reality and any hope of effective communiction are left completely behind."  God is seen as unquestionable - his ways are also seen that way.  Thenc lies the problem.

Humanism is the outlook that we can live happy lives and be fulfilled and good to each other without a God or beleif in God.

"The sense of control many people derive from their religius beliefs relies upon both sociality and the various attempts people make to attribute causes and effects in the wrold.  Specificlaly,  attributing an earthquake to an angry God in the hope that its propitation will prevent future tremours ultilitizes attribution (the God who can be propiitated and hsi wrath as the cause of earthquakes) and sociality (community rituals, actions of propitiation, and ethical standards that prohibit behavious believed to likely anger the deity) to enalbe the sense of control (prevenation of future calmaity).

 

The book discusses the moral foundations theory.  It argues that each community has moral foundations that may differ from the moral foundations of antoehr ocmmity.  It expoaisn howmorality arises.  The commuity needs or feels it needs its rules and principles.  But Lindsay warns, "The chief weakness of moral foundations theory, however descriptive it is of how people's moral values take shape, is that it lends itself naturally to some degree of moral relatavism."

Lindsay warns about religious faith, "faith is inherently closed to belief revision, which means that any bad moral guesses it has made are very likley to be slow to change."  Notice that a liberal believer is closed to beleif revision as well for she will not see if in fac there are doctrines and principle stht cannot change to suit the times.

Also, "Morality, central as it is to the human experience, is confusing and anyone who has read moral philospphy knnows that our seemingly best thinking on the matter only makes it worse.  Religoin simplifies morality by providing the heuristic of making it the desire of a deity.  Attributing moral salience to 'God' makes morality seem real, which makes it more concrete adn thsu acceptable, and it also makes morality absolute adn final, which is to say simpler."

LIndays points out later that believers try to turn God into an explanatin for why we need morality adn why morality is a duty.  But the explanation cannot be understood so it is not an explanation.  The main reason God is poplar is because peole think the idea helps them make sesne of moralty adn why right and wrong matter.

The logic is that if we do not have God's law on teh basis that God has not eer gien any law perhaps because he does not exist then we have only man's law which we have no duty or obligation to boey though it tells su we do. 

Lindsay argues that to see God as being essentially morality means that to say morality grounds God and God is the reason morality exists is to say, "Morality is real and obligatory just because it is real and obligatory."  To say God makes morality real is just to say that morality makes morality read for  mraltiy is just anotehr word for God. 

Lindsay observes that when believers ask us to think God when the qusetion arises, "Why is tehre something rather than nothing?" they mean that all things exist just because God wanted them to.  So this takes us to a more basic and important quation. "Why did God want to?"

It is interesting how, as Lindsay said, people may see enjoying ice cream as good for the soul but will not see making a budget for the next six months that way.

If belief in God has its risks and can turn so much as one person out of a million into a terrorist then believers have an indirect but real link with the crimes.  The risk will be worse if belief in God is a form of idolatry.  Even if God could exist, faith in God could still be an idol.  It is a case of you being God over God - that is telling yourself God agrees with you.  It is really about you.

Lindsay points out that when God is believed in you tend to see him as working in your church so the Church and your believer friends in fact colour what you think God is.  To fit in you will resort to costly sacrifice for God for that makes you look sincere.  What you are doing is making a costly sacrifice of yourself for the Church.

 


Lindsay points out that if everything is evidence or proof for God then nothing is evidence for God.  The reason is that the questioner is left with nothing that can undermine the idea of God as real.  It is refusing to let evidence against God peak.  It is meaningless.  The doctrine that all is evidence is evil and arrogant and bigoted and dishonest - the complete opposite of what God is supposed to be really about.  Turning eveyritgn into evidence for God