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ETpro's avatar

Theists, how did you decide which god/gods/goddess/goddesses to call The One/s?

Asked by ETpro (34550points) January 12th, 2014

Time for a Sunday Question.

A family member posted this image on her Facebook Wall. Seeing it made me wonder how various flavors of theists come to accept the particular deity they worship, while rejecting all others. Over the course of recorded human history, people in various separate locations have worshiped at least 3,000 different creator deities; each one claiming to be the one true creator (or in a few cases creators, where a male and female deity give birth to the Universe). In the 200,000 years before we learned to write and make glyphs, there must have been many more creator deities proposed but now long forgotten in the fog of deep time.

In each creation story, the deity or deities involved claim they are the One True Creator/s; and that all other claimants to creation are lies invented by some evil adversary or ill-intentioned men to turn mankind away from the One True Way. It’s pretty clear that—since each claims to be the Only True One/s—all those claims cannot possibly be true. Either 1 is true and 2,999 are false, or 3,000 are false. And so even the most vehement apologists for a given faith is an atheist in regard to some 2,999 other faiths. Agnostics and atheists just take it one god further.

Granted the actual number of creator gods and/or goddesses is hard to count. Godchecker lists a very large collection to get you started if you care to make your own estimate. But the point stands even if the actual number is 50% higher or 50% lower. 3,000 is a nice round number with a real list of names to support it, so it will do for purposes of this discussion. I’m wondering just what the whimsical “How to become an atheist in 3 easy steps” graphic implies. Why would a theist look at such a large plethora of gods and reject all but one of Allah; Amun; Apollo; Arinna; Atum; Atun; Borr; Brahman; Coatlicue; Ea; El; Elohim; Enki; Esege Malan; Eurynome; Father, Son and Holy Spirit; Freyr; Gaia; Garuda; Helios; Hepa; Huitzilopochtli; Hvar Khshaita; Inti; Inuit Raven; Ipmil or Radien-Attje; Izanagi and Izanami-no-Mikoto; Kamuy; Liza; Lugh; Marduk; Mbombo; Mithras; Nanabozho; Ogdoad; Ojibway; Ptah; Ptah; Ra; Ranginui and Papatuanuku; Rod; Shemesh/ShepeshF; Sol; Sol Invictus; Surya; Tonatiuh; Unkulunkulu; Utu; Viracocha; Vishvakarman; Yahweh; and of course, Zeus—to name just a few? If I left yours out, it was an oversight. Feel free to post the name of your selected One/s. Anyone wanting a far more complete list of deities to evaluate for likelihood of being The One/s can find a mother load at Godfinder.

So my question for theists is, what about the other 2,999 claims led you to be atheistic toward the deity of that claim, and how does that same standard not apply your selected One/s? Atheists and agnostics feel free to chime in on why you find all 3,000 claims unconvincing; but please keep the discourse respectful. It’s fine to debate the validity of the evidence for the truth of a claimed deity. It is not okay to debate the character and intelligence of another Fluther member, and doing so will be flagged.

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90 Answers

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

You are asking for a logical answer to an emotional issue. I do not understand the necessity of this question.

People believe in deities for myriad reasons, but ultimately, it boils down to the fact that it feels right. That feeling may have been acculturated from decades of immersion in a given religion, or it may have arisen suddenly from a given instance.

Personally, I am a believer in many things that fall under the heading of New Age. I believe in a spiritual existence, I follow astrology and have studied it enough to know the sun-sign astrology columns in the morning paper are stupid, I am an adept tarot card reader and get paid for my readings, and I know a number of psychics and mediums personally who have proved to me their prognostications are valid.

I do not need anyone’s permission to believe the way I do. I do not need to prove my ideas are correct. I recognize other’s believe differently, and that is fine.

This question asks me to provide validity to my emotional responses to visible evidence I have witnessed. It’s nonsensical.

ragingloli's avatar

Most people, because that is what is prevalent in the region they live in. Rationalisations (at best), follow later.
There is a reason why most people in the middle east are muslim, why most people in India are Hindu, and why most people in Japan are Shinto.

ibstubro's avatar

The same way people choose a language, an accent or a fundamental set of social mores. Most are born to it.

ETpro's avatar

@Hawaii_Jake Not to worry. I expected to get attacked for asking. No flagging for that. Call me whatever you wish. You won’t be taking my cherry. :-)

@ragingloli & @ibstubro So it certainly seems.

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

@ETpro Please, point out where I attacked you and called you whatever I wished. I addressed your question and not you.

Seek's avatar

I was an emotionally neglected kid from a divorced family, with too many real-world responsibilities for someone my age. A representative of a church offered me unconditional love forever and ever, better than anything I’ve ever felt.

I bit. I really would have run with anything that promised me some attention.

And when I realised the unconditional love actually had quite a few conditions, I left. And then I tried on a few other things, trying to fill the void. Including but not limited to meditation, crystal magick, and alternative medicine (which is basically a religion).

Eventually I dropped all of it.

tom_g's avatar

I was only a theist for the early part of my life. The god was chosen for me, and I was indoctrinated through CCD, church, and it was supported through cultural-ubiquity.

kevbo's avatar

The path I’m on is generally called advaita vedanta. This is less about a belief in one god so much as coming to experience oneself and all creation as manifestations of god (the Supreme, the Absolute, what have you) or as the play of consciousness. This realization comes before mind, so it’s not really a definable phenomenon like we’re used to discussing. Our conventional sense of self and other is a kind of forgetting of this greater truth and is perpetuated by the desire for experience—so one might say that consciousness fractures itself into all of creation for the sake of experience. We are begotten from consciousness into the world for the sake of experience, and at the same time and from the same source our world is created to provide that experience. So those 2,999 gods are there as a reflection of the worshiper’s desire for experience. They are real on the level of mind, but are not the Absolute and are illusory (as is the worshiper himself) prior to the mind.

I’m not really concerned about whether I’m right and others are wrong. There is no right or wrong in one’s desire or lack of desire for experience, since it all is the play of consciousness. I only want to direct my attention to my Self that comes prior to the mind.

Prior to this I was Catholic, and I would say I desired that experience until it stopped making sense in my life.

Response moderated (Flame-Bait)
Hawaii_Jake's avatar

@ETpro You wrote: Call me whatever you wish. I did not call you anything. I questioned your question, because religious ones are asked ad nauseum on Fluther. They lead nowhere and are only good for atheists to pat each other on the back for their logic.

I am not sure you read what I wrote. I, personally, do not see my spiritual beliefs or anybody else’s as logical. They are emotional. Faith isn’t logical. It doesn’t have to be.

Please, do not lecture me. Pointing me to YouTube for education is really quite laughable. You presume far too much about me, my level of education, and my intellectual abilities.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

@ibstubro “The same way people choose a language, an accent or a fundamental set of social mores. Most are born to it.”

I’m glad you said that @ibstubro. I totally agree.

Funny thing about language, and religion alike. It’s easy to get caught up in the mechanics (or dogma) of it all. That would be missing the point. Religions are not gods, any more than language is meaning.

The phrase “odd looking kittens” means the same exact thing as “Outoa katsoa kisuista selvää jälkeä.”, or “Nepāra meklē kaķēni.”, or ”奇怪的看的小貓”.

Would be a shame to think they’re not all referring to the same agent, no matter how one says it. The meaning is beyond the language that expresses it. Would be a similar shame for anyone to believe their god is not beyond the religion that expresses it.

glacial's avatar

@Hawaii_Jake There’s a difference between saying “Call me whatever you wish” and saying “You called me something terrible!”

I’m not sure what you’re upset about. If you don’t like the question, don’t answer it. Or, as in this case, don’t post on it without bothering to answer it.

In my case, the deity I believed in – when I believed – was the one my closest friends believed in. Although, when I was a believer, I did read a few other religious texts, as they were passed on to me by different acquaintances. My Christian friends were horrified by this, even though I pointed out that fair was fair. Somehow, reading their text was an obvious choice, but reading anyone else’s was a suspicious act.

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

@glacial I answered the question. Please, read my first post paying particular attention to the portion beginning with “personally.”

glacial's avatar

@Hawaii_Jake I did read your post. On the first reading, I did not think it said anything about how you decided on what you believe. However, on re-reading it, I assume that saying “it feels right” was your answer to the question.

janbb's avatar

I think it’s perfectly valid to question the motivation behind a question – or respond in any way outside a personal attack. Especially when we keep going round and round over the same ground with an overt agenda on some parts.

glacial's avatar

And so this turns into one of those questions where we go round and round on the topic of whether it’s ok to ask questions. You find one boring, I find the other boring. If only there were a way we could just choose the questions we want to follow! Oh, wait…

janbb's avatar

Well, how could we be the dysfunctional family we are if everyone ignored the questions they didn’t like?

glacial's avatar

Grumble grumble grumble.

janbb's avatar

Thank you so much for your kind understanding. I appreciate it with all my heart.

ragingloli's avatar

You could also attempt to burn ETpro at the stake. You know, honour long established traditions.

flutherother's avatar

The question reminds me of a short story by Arthur C Clarke.

MadMadMax's avatar

“There is a reason why most people in the middle east are muslim, why most people in India are Hindu, and why most people in Japan are Shinto.”

The god of Christians is from the middle east but “developed” in western Europe where many many many different gods have played and still play their roles.

The god of the Jews (which is oddly left out) evolved from a middle eastern people but the original religion changed to Rabbinical Judaism and other than Orthodox and Conservative most Reform simply love their culture. The latter are not waiting for physical messiah – it’s symbolic. Israel is not a theocracy. It was founded by mostly secular humanists with a strong cultural identity.

I’m not all that sure that most people in Japan today are Shinto.

“Japan enjoys full religious freedom and minority religions such as Christianity, Islam, Hinduism and Sikhism are practiced. Figures that state 84% to 96% of Japanese adhere to Shinto and Buddhism are not based on self-identification but come primarily from birth records, following a longstanding practice of officially associating a family line with a local Buddhist temple or Shinto shrine.[5][6][7][8]

About 70% of Japanese profess no religious membership,[9][10] according to Johnstone (1993:323), 84% of the Japanese claim no personal religion. In census questionnaires, less than 15% reported any formal religious affiliation by 2000.[11] And according to Demerath (2001:138), 65% do not believe in God, and 55% do not believe in Buddha.[12] According to Edwin Reischauer, and Marius Jansen, some 70–80% of the Japanese regularly tell pollsters they do not consider themselves believers in any religion.[3]

MadMadMax's avatar

Is anywone watching the TV series: The Vikings? It’s fascinating and while it’s on the History Channel, it is NOT A DOCUMENTARY.

glacial's avatar

Very interesting numbers for Japan, @MadMadMax!

Response moderated (Flame-Bait)
MadMadMax's avatar

@glacial I “think” S. Korea is moving toward Christianity but the specs for 2005 were:

Religion in South Korea – 2005[1]
Irreligion (46.5%)
Buddhism (22.8%)
Protestantism (18.3%)
Catholicism (10.9%)
Other religions (1.7%)

Blondesjon's avatar

Who cares who they pick?

The choice has yet to effect my life in any meaningful way.

josie's avatar

Not a theist , but hoping to add interest…

The book to read, if you have not already, is A History of God by Karen Armstrong

That is what the book is about.

talljasperman's avatar

I once thought that my teachers were gods then I rebelled and fought them for not being perfect, now I know is that they were just a bunch of jerks, and I moved on.

glacial's avatar

@josie Great book.

Paradox25's avatar

Obviously from my posts one would know that I’m open to the possibility of an afterlife, some paranormal phenomena and even some type of intelligent creative force. The reasons why I reject religions is that I’m not a fan of absolutism, and I would rather use reason and evidence to prove, or disprove a creator. Most religionists, especially the more conservative ones seem to be the biggest enemies of Michael Roll’s and Victor Zammit’s campaigns, which should seem odd to most atheists or sceptics, but not to me. I’ll state one of these reasons below.

I think the OP needs to realize something (and maybe he does already), that for many religionists it’s much more about culture than spirituality to prove their ‘god’ or religion is the correct one. This justifies a sort of supreme authority, which is transcendental (meaning it can’t be disproven nor questioned) that adheres with the type of culture these people want to live. Look at most posts online between creationists and evolutionists, and very frequently the creationists will change the subject to politics, economics and social issues.

I really think I’ve answered your question here, though I’m not claiming that all religionists are in this category, but I do tend to find that the works based religionists tend to be less louder than the faith based ones. It comes down to authoritarianism, not spirituality.

ETpro's avatar

@Hawaii_Jake Yes, I did read what you wrote. Why do you find feelings more compelling than simply putting an idea to a test to see if it really works. The $1 million dollar Randi prize is still out there to be won. Perhaps money doesn’t motivate you, but wouldn’t proving to the world the validity of that you hold in faith be worthwhile to you?

@janbb I am perfectly open to being questioned about my motive for asking this question. So far, I don’t think anyone has done that. If I’d been asked why I wanted to ask this question, I would have answered. @Hawaii_Jake seemed to be saying instead that this question shouldn’t be asked—more a declaration than a question as to my intent.

@ragingloli Ha. Are my questions that incendiary?

@flutherother Funny I had already read that Arthur C. Clarke short story. The premise—That the omniscient, omnipotent God who created the Universe and all therein including sentient man did so because God didn’t know what his names were, and needed man to tell him—seems about as reasonable as what’s in the Torah, Christian Bible, Koran, The Vedas and Bhagavad Gita, etc.

@MadMadMax Great information. It is encouraging to know that there are large pockets of civilization on Earth that have managed to gain immunity to the faith virus.

@DWW25921 I really care. Faith, being based on belief in the absence of evidence, can be used to motivate enormous evil. I care that America doesn’t abandon science, doesn’t turn to belief in magic and woo and things that cannot be proven. Faith got a huge number of people killed when the methods of death were swords, arrows, torture, and burning at the stake. It can get all of is killed when the methods of death is thermonuclear Armageddon.

@Blondesjon So it they pick a God that decrees that all people like you must be slaughtered, it’s nothing to you. When people kill for their theocratic beliefs, I would think we would all care which deity they pick. We should care ultimately whether people follow blind faith, or reason. In a nuclear age, we should care a great deal about that.

@josie That sounds like an interesting book. I’m sticking it on my “To Read” bookshelf. Thanks for the suggestion.

@talljasperman They were probably just a bunch of fallible humans just like you and me.

@Paradox25 I too am open to what you list, though from our past discussions it’s clear I have more rigid standards for convincing evidence than you do. That said, I sincerely hope you turn out to be right. That would be awesome.

I think you are absolutely correct about what binds so many to faith not based in reason and questioning. I am a work in progress, learning to break through the barriers that organized religion erects to protect its profits and power. I know I have a lot to learn about that, but at least I am on the path to learning.

DWW25921's avatar

@ETpro The only absence of evidence that there is a God that I am aware of is in your bubble of self righteous indignation. The only thing you have proven thus far is that a lack of respect for the views of others is acceptable as long as they differ from yours.

ETpro's avatar

@DWW25921 Really. What’s the evidence for the existence of God?

Don’t you think that claiming I live in a “bubble of self righteous indignation” is a bit of an attack. Do you classify that as your being respectful of my views?

DWW25921's avatar

@ETpro This entire thread is a farce. It’s nothing but an attack and you know it. I’m not taking your bait. You’re being mean, rude and I’m calling you out.

ETpro's avatar

@DWW25921 Flag me if you think that’s true. But no, I don’t know the thread is a farce or an attack. I want to understand why people believe what they do, and not all the other possible things they could believe. And so I am asking. How is that a vicious attack on anybody, and especially on you in particular?

I haven’t insulted anyone. You have attacked me, but I indicated I’m fine with that. I only warned I’d flag attacks against other Jellies responding here. Rail against me any way you feel the need to. Get it off your chest. I specifically ask that the moderators allow this.

kevbo's avatar

After rereading the question, I’m feeling the need to add a little more info to explain the how part. Prior to my conversion, if you will, I had run a 20 or so year course of despairing in life. I suppose towards the end of that, I had done a bit of throwing my hands up and asking for help/healing. In addition I quit taking care of myself in some medically necessary ways, because I didn’t like the idea of depending on pills for my existence. After a few months of that, I was “rescued” by a family member, and coming to and through that crisis somehow put those concerns to bed in a way that had never happened in the 20-year period I mentioned. In a small way, it was both a facing of death and an experience of how life tends to life. My intent to drop that obligation and let nature take its course resulted in an intervention to keep me around—as it often does, I suppose.

Following that (a few months later), I had the opportunity to consult a medium to whom I put my burning questions (in so many words) about suffering and my purpose in life. Her channeled response was both puzzling and enlightening in itself, and my understanding of it grew with time, but the real value of it came months later when I heard the same words coming from a well-followed guru for whom my interest has grown over the last 6–9 months.

This isn’t to say I’m engaged in guru worship. He’s just the messenger as well as the carrier of the import of a realized being.

So that’s the how. That and testing the concepts or way of being against my observations. To me, it accounts feasibly for much of existence and being relatively free of institution and dogma thoroughly suits my temperament. I would be surprised if any war or genocide or oppression were conducted on its behalf, although conceptually it makes room for these things, since there’s pretty much room for every human action and an understanding that these kinds of suffering are chosen—they are the result of our interest and attention. Ultimately, the goal isn’t to eradicate them, but to transcend them by returning one’s attention to the divine. Even so, there’s no compulsion to do so. Instead, the motivation is provided by the seeker—often seeking to escape suffering.

janbb's avatar

@ETpro Ok. I am an atheist myself. I just can’t see any logic or reason to posit the existence of a deity. But it truly doesn’t bother me if others believe as long as they don’t constantly bring it up or try to convert me to their belief. I used to respect you for your political acumen. And of course this is an open forum where anyone can ask or chose to ignore questions. But you come across lately as having the agenda of battering down believers and and flaying them. It is skewing the site and making it unpleasant for many. I know you will probably feel like a martyr for my having said this and I don’t have the desire to get into a lengthy back and forth but I wish you would think a bit about what I’ve said. I say this as a former friend. And now I am going to go take care of my dog.

Smitha's avatar

We Hindus worship or believe in one Supreme Being, though by different names. This is because in India there are different languages and cultures and people believe the one God in their own distinct way. We worship Ganesh (elephant-deity riding a mouse) as the god of knowledge, wisdom and wealth. Unmarried females go to Shiva temple in order to get good husbands. Lord Rama is believed to be the popular symbol of chivalry and virtue. Goddess Lakshmi stands for wealth,beauty, purity and fertility.
Normally every family has a deity they worship from ancestral times. Some people worship God without any form. Some just go to the nearby temple and worship the deity there.

ibstubro's avatar

As long as we’re on the bandwagon, @janbb, I’m going to add that I rejoined Fluther last September because Askville slammed the door on it’s membership and I had no other viable choice. A few months prior to that I dipped my toes in the Fluther ocean, and I was so roundly castigated by @ETpro for allowing someone else to maintain a belief in God that I dropped out.
I’m an agnostic. I’m untroubled by whatever people want to believe as long as it’s not illegal and doesn’t infringe upon the rights of other people to believe as they so choose.
Obnoxious proselytization is unpleasant whether you’re a Christian, a Satanist or an atheist. People have the right to believe what they will, and none of us are truly better than the others. If it gives people comfort or helps them to be better stewards of this Earth, I’m all for it. Not believing in God is not an immediate path to truth and light. You can not believe in God and be just as ignorant at the guy with Jesus in a tater chip.
I like@ETpro, but honestly, this treating people with obvious disdain because they’re not flaming atheist liberals can be off putting (to put it mildly).

ragingloli's avatar

“Ha. Are my questions that incendiary?”
Not at all. But theists sure believe that way.

tom_g's avatar

The 1000th question discussion here on fluther that has devolved into “beliefs about god are special and should not be up for discussion”. Fluther is clearly just like the real world, where this extremely dangerous attitude is the norm.

LilCosmo's avatar

@tom_g it isn’t a “beliefs in God are special” thing, it is a “how many times is @ETpro going to ask different versions of the same question in order to berate people who believe differently than he does” thing. What a few brave souls on this thread are saying is that this crap is getting old.

At what point are we going to start to see this for the trolling that it is and do something about it?

ibstubro's avatar

Discussion, @tom_g, implies a two way street. I don’t see where discussing “beliefs about god” is an “extremely dangerous attitude” unless either side tries to beat down and belittle the other.

tom_g's avatar

@LilCosmo: ”@tom_g it isn’t a “beliefs in God are special” thing,”

No. It really is. It’s really the one area where discussion is so off-limits that even the most basic of conversations involving religious belief sparks feelings of persecution in many believers.

@LilCosmo: “I see it as a “how many times is @ETpro going to ask different versions of the same question in order to berate people who believe differently than he does” thing.”

He isn’t asking different versions of the same question.

@LilCosmo: “What a few brave souls on this thread are saying is that this crap is getting old.”

“Brave”? “Getting old”? There is no requirement to answer a question here. If someone doesn’t like the question, they can simply not answer it.

@ibstubro: “Discussion, @tom_g, implies a two way street. I don’t see where discussing “beliefs about god” is an “extremely dangerous attitude” unless either side tries to beat down and belittle the other,”

The “extremely dangerous attitude” I referred to was the one commonly held by theists – and many non-theists – that we should protect religious beliefs and keep a separate set of rules for them. It’s a standard that is not held in any other area of discourse (economics, race, education, drug policy, etc). It’s only religion – which is strange, considering how important a role these beliefs play in all of our lives.

LilCosmo's avatar

@tom_g he is indeed asking different versions of the same question and he is indeed using them to berate people who think differently. It is really just that simple. The cries of persecution come from people consistently being told by @ETpro and his ilk that their beliefs are wrong and they should really take the time to see things his way.

If we go with the world famous “if you don’t like it avoid the thread” argument, then why bother moderating Randy’s or any other troll’s questions? If you don’t want to help him find out which songs were hits in 2000, just avoid the thread.

This is trolling and it is wrong. Since I know from watching these threads there will be between three to five responses telling me how wrong I am – and I have seen all the reasons plenty of times before – I will now stop feeding the troll(s).

tom_g's avatar

@LilCosmo: C’mon. You are seriously going to tell me that you define @ETpro‘s questions as “trolling”? Wow. I’m not sure how to respond.

If I believe that women are not quite human (say, 65% human), would you be satisfied with me simply having my belief? Would it not be likely that my beliefs would lead to actions that were probably not ideal? What if a large majority of the country felt this way? Would they just be my beliefs, and therefore attempts to point out flaws in these beliefs would be unacceptable? Would it be “berating” to ask for evidence for my beliefs?

I understand that you find it distasteful. But this phenomenon (this meta analysis that we’re engaging in now) is only possible when we are talking about religious belief. And this makes it very clear that we have a long way to go. The fact that it is distasteful to some people (having their beliefs questioned) does not qualify it as trolling. It also doesn’t mean that it should stop. These are likely the areas that need more discussion.

Nobody is going tell me that their beliefs on income inequality should be off the table simply because they are their beliefs. There is no reason why religious belief should be off-limits. And for those that believe that it should be, there’s always the ever-so-easy “just ignore the question” method.

janbb's avatar

@tom_g Sorry, but one person harping on and on about the same issue is destroying the atmosphere around here. It’s not a discussion; it’s a bully session.

And I have ignored the questions many a time but I’m tired of my Fluther friends getting hurt and the atmosphere being harmed.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

@tom_g “The 1000th question discussion here on fluther that has devolved into “beliefs about god are special and should not be up for discussion”. Fluther is clearly just like the real world, where this extremely dangerous attitude is the norm.”

I understand where you are coming from on this. Please allow me to point out, the way I see it, a difference between the way theists and atheists respect one another.

An example in this thread, about what one would give up to believe in a specific G. I quote some answers. And these are from folks I respect.

”...logic/critical rational though(t)...”

”...I would have to stop thinking…”



”...critical thinking…”

So basically, some atheists simply believe that theists are just plain stupid. Correct me if I’m mistaken, but I don’t see many theists claiming that atheists are insane or illogical, incapable of critical thinking. It’s a bit of an insult. Especially when countless philosophers throughout history have proclaimed themselves theist. Seems to close the door on the rational thought of some of the smartest people in the world.

Some theists may also feel that a constant barrage of theist questions as an attack against them personally, in a passive aggressive sort of way. I just don’t see theists doing the same to atheists on a regular basis, like clockwork. Maybe I’‘m wrong.

As for myself, I love these questions, and wish they’d be asked, and discussed more frequently.

OpryLeigh's avatar

Personally, I believe that there could be a higher power, I tend to call it God but I’m not assuming that God and Allah (for example) are two separate things. Sometimes my faith is strong enough that I feel deeply there is some kind of higher being and sometimes my faith is very weak. It never goes away to the point where I feel there is definitely nothing higher although I accept that this could easily be the case. My choice of words is just what is most commonly used in my neck of the woods (England) but I choose to dismiss holy books and specific religions as I believe these act as just a set of guidelines from the minds of men and actually restrict what “higher being” could actually mean.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

@Leanne1986 ”...I believe these (holy books and specific religions) act as just a set of guidelines from the minds of men and actually restrict what “higher being” could actually mean”.

No doubt religions and atheists alike may tend to restrict what “higher being” could actually mean. Atheists are much more comfortable choosing a religion to pick on, and I’m often guilty of the same, even as a theist. But break that being out of religion, or straw men, and the conversation gets real thin, real quick.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

So in the context of the OP “Theists, how did you decide which god/gods/goddess/goddesses to call The One/s?

I choose the one that all religions, and all theists philosophers, are trying their best to understand and describe in different ways according to their cultural bias, but fail miserably to do so. How can a human define a God?

tom_g's avatar

@RealEyesRealizeRealLies: “So basically, some atheists simply believe that theists are just plain stupid.”

I will try to find my countless posts that state the complete opposite and link them. But for now, let me paraphrase my previous posts: This has nothing to do with intelligence. It also has very little to do with the people who hold the beliefs. The discussion is about the beliefs themselves. I repeat – someone pissing all over my beliefs is not pissing all over me. This separation of beliefs and the person holding these beliefs is a necessary one. It’s how we’ve been able to make any progress, and it’s how we are able to discuss complicated issues outside of religious belief in ways that allow for movement on an issue. So, I will repeat it again: criticism (even harsh criticism) of a belief is not an attack on the believer, and the question of belief is not related to the intelligence.

@RealEyesRealizeRealLies: “I just don’t see theists doing the same to atheists on a regular basis, like clockwork. Maybe I’‘m wrong.”

This is not relevant. Whether or not theists here pose the same number of questions to non-theists doesn’t influence whether or not the non-theists questions are valid. Keep in mind that non-theists are often former theists, often have major concerns about the large majority of their country holding beliefs that they feel are unjustified and dangerous, and feel it is as much a moral obligation to question unjustified religious belief as it is to question racism, sexism, or capitalism.

I have been here long enough to try every imaginable way of “softly” discussing things with believers here. I would speak parenthetically to the point that I had no idea what I was even saying any more, yet I was still accused of attacking people. That is a problem.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

@tom_g “This has nothing to do with intelligence.”

Perhaps not for you. But tell that to the atheists I quoted above.

@tom_g “This is not relevant.”

Perhaps not for you. But tell that to the theists in this thread above who believe it is.

@tom_g “I have.. try every imaginable way of “softly” discussing things… yet I was still accused of attacking people. That is a problem.”

Yes, some of us are more sensitive than others. It helps to have a thick skin in these discussion.

ragingloli's avatar

You know what would be a trolling question?
“The bible clearly shows that God is a terrorist. How are christians not terrorist supporters?”

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

@tom_g I’m wondering if you missed my point. I didn’t claim that all atheists accuse theists of lacking critical thinking skills. I claimed that I don’t see theists claiming the same about atheists. I have no issues with your links, suggesting that some atheists can respect the religious beliefs of others. Some theists get their feathers rustled if they believe they’re being accused of stupidity.

@ragingloli “How are christians not terrorist supporters?”

Because terrorism is relative. Some believe that Americans are terrorists, and therefor American citizens are terrorist supporters. You wouldn’t know anyone like that would you?

LilCosmo's avatar

Oh! We’re up to three! Since we have yet to hear from Malfoy, Crabbe, and Goyle, it will be six soon! “We attack the beliefs – not the believers” knew it was just a matter of time before we saw that old chestnut again! Wait, there’s the well worn “our country is full of theists so we have every right to attack the theists on Fluther!” Shall we begin a count down to the “let’s disagree without being disagreeable” mod says? A troll is a troll whether he is asking questions about God, terrorism, or which handle you hold while riding in the car.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

Ah, @ragingloli, you are correct though. The question you posit as trolling would indeed be a prime example.

My apologies. I didn’t need to answer it. I just became troll bait for doing so. Pseudo troll bait at that. Perhaps I need to examine my critical thinking skills.

tom_g's avatar

@LilCosmo: ”“We attack the beliefs – not the believers” knew it was just a matter of time before we saw that old chestnut again! ”

I’ve been repeating this for 2+ years for a reason, and I’ve already explained it. I have no respect for Christianity, but have an amazing amount of respect for many Christians. I really hope you can see the difference. Call it a chestnut if you want. It keeps appearing because we can never agree that separating belief from believers and having a discussion is a useful project.

tom_g's avatar

@RealEyesRealizeRealLies: “Perhaps not for you. But tell that to the atheists I quoted above.”

I don’t think you need to interpret those responses as saying that theists are less intelligent. The question that those were in response to were from someone who should have known better, but asked the question in a way that was intentionally misrepresenting the atheist position. So, technically, any vitriol that would have resulted might have been justified – if not entirely helpful.

Also, remember that if atheists were to ignore the intention of the question and try to answer, all of those responses could be legitimate, honest answers to the specific question that the OP asked.

** NOTE: I am not going to defend everything that non-theists have said here on fluther. In fact, I have likely said some real awful shit. But I’m ok with this. We’re all human. And many of us can’t be strictly unemotional about this stuff when it is as important as we feel it is. But if the occasional insensitive or emotional outburst is enough to stop a conversation about race, religion, freedom, or income inequality, then we have a bigger problem. A box of tissues isn’t going to fix this.

glacial's avatar

Would anyone in here like a little cheese with this whine? Seriously, if you don’t like the question, move along and find another. Some of us enjoy these discussions and skip the ABC games. We don’t go into the ABC games and shit all over them.

Thank you @ETpro, for providing, even in the face of constant insult, some of the sort of food for thought that I look for on Fluther. Your questions are one of the reasons that I come here.

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ibstubro's avatar

“It is encouraging to know that there are large pockets of civilization on Earth that have managed to gain immunity to the faith virus.”

”...criticism (even harsh criticism) of a belief is not an attack on the believer, and the question of belief is not related to the intelligence.”

Hardly seems a common thread?

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

“criticism of a belief is not an attack on the believer”

Really hard to separate the two in the manner it’s presented.

For if one sheds the belief, how can they be referred to as a believer?

tom_g's avatar

@ibstubro: ”“It is encouraging to know that there are large pockets of civilization on Earth that have managed to gain immunity to the faith virus.””

The appropriate response to this – if you disagree with @ETpro‘s claims – is to ask him to back up his claims that:
– faith is a virus
– it has infected much of the world.

He won’t be hurt. He’ll either have some evidence to back up his claim or he won’t. The concept of religion as a virus is not an uncommon one. I’m not going to make this claim, but if you are interested in this topic, you could ask @ETpro about it. He’s made a claim – or so it appears. Have him back it up. That’s how it works.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

I’m actually more confounded, and angry, that more theists don’t attack the beliefs of other theists.

Why aren’t there more good and peaceful muslims outcrying against terrorist muslims?

Why aren’t there more good and peaceful christians outcrying against atrocities in the name of a christian people?

Why aren’t there more Catholics raging against the machine of child abuse in their midst?

That stuff pisses me off more than anything.

What war would Jesus have us wage?

ibstubro's avatar

I’m an agnostic, @tom_g, yet it seems to me that equating “faith” with disease hardly fosters productive debate.

Of course, I suppose by “faith” he could be referring to quarks, since they “are never directly observed or found in isolation”.

I’m in the discussion because I see the ‘attack pack’ mentality quite often on Fluther. Not only is it unattractive, it inhibits the free and open discussion that it ostensibly supports.

DWW25921's avatar

@RealEyesRealizeRealLies I think Jesus would have us wage a war of love for our neighbors which is something that I think a lot of Christians don’t get. Jesus regularly spoke of having a love for people. The only thing he hated was sin. Simply put, love the people but not the sin in their lives. We could argue what that is but a person knows when they do wrong and that doesn’t make them bad, it makes them normal. The only time Jesus ever got angry was when his temple was defiled. Think about it, his only real cause of anger was towards believers.

@ibstubro “equating “faith” with disease hardly fosters productive debate.” You are right and that is clearly an attack. I like @ETpro , he comes up with a lot of fascinating questions. However, this one does appear to pop up regularly and manifest itself in different ways. I don’t think @ETpro is a troll on most issues and posts but it’s clear on this topic and other questions like it he is trying to cause trouble.

Seek's avatar

Aww… I wanted to be Malfoy.

tom_g's avatar

@ibstubro: “I’m an agnostic, @tom_g, yet it seems to me that equating “faith” with disease hardly fosters productive debate.”

Again, ask @ETpro about this. But I’m surprised to hear that you are unfamiliar with this. We’re not just talking about religious beliefs, but there are people who look at how an idea spreads, and they look at it in evolutionary terms. The concept of memetics might be helpful here. Or not. But it’s not some kind of “fuck you”. Rather, for people who might use the idea of faith as a virus (or any meme that is good at duplicating), the virus model works for them. Don’t shoot the messenger. Just trying to provide some possible context for @ETpro‘s comment.

@ibstubro: “I’m in the discussion because I see the ‘attack pack’ mentality quite often on Fluther. Not only is it unattractive, it inhibits the free and open discussion that it ostensibly supports.”

Ok. I’m in the discussion so we can pop the protective bubble that we’ve installed around one particular area of belief. From my perspective, the bubble inhibits free and open discussion. So, we’re in disagreement here, but our goals appear to be the same.

glacial's avatar

@ibstubro “I’m in the discussion because I see the ‘attack pack’ mentality quite often on Fluther. Not only is it unattractive, it inhibits the free and open discussion that it ostensibly supports.”

Funny, that’s why I’m in the discussion, too.

KNOWITALL's avatar

@all You all know I rarely tire of this kind of discussion, but I am wore out with it right now. It’s been non-stop lately and just too negative. Peace to you all.

Skaggfacemutt's avatar

I have gone from Christian to Mormon to Athiest to Agnostic, and back, so I thought about this a lot. Then I realized the simplest of answers. If there is only “one”, then you don’t have to be so hung up on who it might be, because he/she/it knows who he/she/it is, and if he/she/it is hearing your cries for help, then he/she/it is the “one.” So, even though I really don’t believe in magic, there are times where it just comforts me to talk to, ask for, or thank a higher power out there. I give myself that. If there is only one, how can you possibly pray to the wrong guy. I mean, think about it,

Blondesjon's avatar

@ETpro . . . So it they pick a God that decrees that all people like you must be slaughtered, it’s nothing to you. When people kill for their theocratic beliefs, I would think we would all care which deity they pick. We should care ultimately whether people follow blind faith, or reason. In a nuclear age, we should care a great deal about that.

I’ve heard that kind of doom and gloom bell ringing for better than forty years and still haven’t seen the sky falling nor have I been asked to sit in the back of the bus because I am an atheist.

I worry more about the current group of narcissistic sociopaths, who believe in nothing but themselves and their own superiority, that are in charge of the country. Some of them may use a belief in a deity as tool to get what they want but I don’t think they believe in that shit any more than you or I.

glacial's avatar

@Blondesjon Indeed. People should be encouraged to think for themselves, lest they be manipulated by those who speak from authority.

ibstubro's avatar

Hey, @KNOWITALL. I didn’t know you were here. You were in the back of my mind throughout my participation in this discussion. YOU personify why I think we should live and let the Theists live. If you find solace in believing One True God, I’m great with that.

I find it unsettling when anyone crusades to shake belief/support system of another (barring legal issues). I mean, I’ve read a lot about a lot of different religions and I think Scientology is flipping nuts. Does that mean that I would attack someone here if they identified themselves as Scientologist? No. Because I’ve not walked a mile in their shoes; I don’t know where they’ve come from and where they are headed on their individual journey.

Seek's avatar

^ I live way too close to Scientology world headquarters, and my husband has done work in the building. Those people are nuckin’ futz, and I have no qualms judging them mercilessly for basing their life around a science fiction novel.

ibstubro's avatar

As a group, I agree with you totally, @Seek_Kolinahr about Scientologists.

Yet, if I were confronted with a (seemingly rational) individual, I would do everything I could to not alienate them, as I would be fascinated by what life experience led them to accept such folderol as truth. I might try to help them find a different truth within themselves, but not by knocking the support system they have out from under them.

Paradox25's avatar

I don’t agree with @ETpro on everything, and we’ve had some very strong disagreements, but I think he’s been unfairly attacked by people who should simply just avoid the threads if they don’t like them. He has always been respectful to me, despite our disagreements. I’m a theist (maybe more of a deist) but I love these threads, even when I disagree with OP.

The entire point of ET’s posts were to attack absolutism, not theism if one can read between the lines without being so easily offended. I too, even as a theist believes that absolutism should be criticized at all costs for obvious enough reasons. Etpro brings up good points because creationists have been using all types of methods, including the backdoor use of public funding to promote young earth creationism.

Half of Americans don’t trust evolutionary theory regarding humans (and even other animals/life forms), and a good deal of them believe the world is less than 10,000 years old so the OP (and others) have every right to pound these types of questions day after day. Damn these religious extremists even oppose the research on my end of the spectrum (survival hypothesis, mind/brain function, etc).

@RealEyesRealizeRealLies Maybe on this site some of your points about the way some atheists perceive some theists is true. Try going elsewhere online though, or even just living life in mainstream America. People who openly admit they don’t believe the creation story or in the God of the Bible have been ridiculed and disrespected horribly.

KNOWITALL's avatar

@ibstubro I thank God every day for keeping me alive as a child and a young adult. My mom exposed me to many things, some good, some bad, but I grew up pretty quick in order to survive some of those experiences and people, and make sure my mom survived, too. I had to be strong, get tough and be really alert, and my only solidity in life were my grandparents and God. ;) Thanks for supporting my religious freedom.

ETpro's avatar

@LilCosmo Forgive me for being away from my own OP for so long. Time pressures of work kept me. But I would like to understand better how my questions are duplicates. Please post links to all these duplicate questions so that I can understand how it is I keep asking the same thing, and how I might avoid that in the future.

I keep copies of every question I ask, and reviewing them, I am unable to detect how I am asking the same thing over and over. But it you are really certain I am doing that, you do realize you can flag me for asking duplicate questions, do you not? If it bothers you so, why have you not flagged me and had all my duplicate questions removed.

Dr_Lawrence's avatar

I was born the child of a Jewish mother, and therefore I am acknowledged to be a New as well. My father is also a Jew by birth. I am more comfortable with my faith than I would be as a Christian or with any other faith about which I have intentionally studied. Do I accept everything about it unquestioningly? Certainly not. In fact Judaism encourages questioning. It is up to each of us to find our own way to live as Jews. I only resent others who seek to impose on others what they themselves believe. I am also an accomplished scientist and find few conflicts between my religion and science.

ibstubro's avatar

What kind of science are you accomplished at, @Dr_Lawrence? Psychiatry?

Where have you been? You are obviously a long standing member, with nearly 20,000 points, but I don’t recall seeing you until recently. Are you a religious refuge, returned?

VenusFanelli's avatar

I just follow my parents’ religion. I was reared in it, and I was discouraged from questioning it.

Bill1939's avatar

I am not sure that I could be called a Theist. My spiritual journey began with Roman Catholicism, however unable to experience an emotional resonance I sampled many different Christian Religions. By accident, as if there are accidents on the spiritual path, I was led to Unitarianism while still in high school. There I discovered the freedom to look beyond the social conditioning that had held my focus on Christianity.

At 25, I went to college and became aware of Eastern mysticism, greatly influenced by the philosophy of Baba Ram Dass’s “Be Here Now”. After graduation, I continued to immerse myself in a variety of spiritual perspectives ranging from those of the Theosophical Society to the Kabala, I Ching, Astrology and more.

As I continued to mature physically, intellectually and spiritually I came to recognize that an instinctive infantile desire for beings that would protect and nurture us was the basis for seeking deities, and that the limitations of human understanding could never encompass a cosmic reality. Now, 76, I see the entirety of creation, from its beginning to its end, as the spiritual source I had sought.

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