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josie's avatar

What, if anything, is lost when God disappears?

Asked by josie (30934points) September 28th, 2010

There is no God.

And if once there was one, he must have gone somewhere- He stopped leaving evidence of himself long before men had an organized epistemology. The only evidence of God is the left over narratives of the Ancients, none of which were even written down until thousands of years after they originated, plus the lingering “belief” that there simply has to be a God, because it is such an easy way to explain the occasionally unexplainable.
But these things are not evidence. I have participated in state administrative hearings that had tougher evidentiary standards than that.

Some people might say that without God there is no morality.
But that is not true.
Individual morality exists without divine guidance; if you make too many choices that are contrary to your nature, and to laws of nature, you will at best be unhappy, and at worst be dead. People are capable of figuring this out without the supernatural.
And morality in a social context really is not morality. All civilizations, even those that are not God centered, have established similar standards of behavior in order to curtail murder, thievery, rape and other human tendencies that are universally regarded as undesirable in a social structure. This has been discovered by centuries of civilization experience. God did not have to tell people that a non-nomadic division of labor society and economy will not work if people wantonly kill and steal.

I went to church when I was a little kid. I liked church quite a bit. It was a great place to be around lots of people with common goals and values, plus it was a super way to get plugged into organized, voluntary charity, which I think is important for healthy self-esteem and good for the community. I do not go anymore, but I actually miss that part of it, and I have considered going to church anyway. But so many people that I know would wonder what the heck I was doing there. It would be too hard to explain. So I get my social fix elsewhere, and I do volunteer work for charity organizations that are more secular.
But as nice as the social and charitable elements of the organized church are, none of those things have anything to do with the presence or absence of God and when I got old enough to think about it, I realized there was no God, so I stopped going

Before we go further-I do not care if someone chooses to “believe” in a supernatural all knowing, all-powerful, and all present being. That is your business. As long as you do not take your mysticism and religious altruism to Washington D.C. and make it the Law of the Land, you will get no criticism from me. In fact, I will be your protector if you need me. I know how to do that. I am certainly not your enemy.

So what is actually gone, when God is gone? What goes missing at that point, besides tradition (and I will not deny that tradition is important)? If you are like me, do think you have lost something? If you are not like me, what do you fear losing?

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41 Answers

Blackberry's avatar

Anti-intellectualism? :)

lynfromnm's avatar

It depends on the belief system a person attaches to the god in question. I suppose what is lost for some people is having an ultimate decision maker or judge. For some it would be loss of life after death. For others there would be the absence of a punishment and reward system, thereby stripping off the motivation to be “good”.

Rarebear's avatar

Interestingly, when I lost my belief in God (or to be more correct, realized intellectually that a supernatural being made no sense to me whatsoever), I actually felt a great sense of relief and empowerment.

Winters's avatar

I don’t think anything will be lost, someone somewhere won’t be able to cope with the thought that this life may be all we have and will create some new god(s) and eventually probably restart this whole nuisance of conflicts arising because “my god is better than your god,” or “you’re godless hence don’t deserve to exist.” fyi, agnostic here though.

crisw's avatar

I think what many people lose is the built-in social system that a church provides. There is also, especially in more conservative parts of the US, the social ostracism that comes with abandoning religion.

Many people prefer to be led rather than to lead; prefer being told what to think and how to live. These people miss the guidance they got from church officials.

Many people cannot face mortality. Abandon religion and you must.

Those are a few of the things.

Your_Majesty's avatar


Winters's avatar

@Doctor_D I don’t think discrimination will disappear. I used to be friends with and am friends with a few people who consider themselves atheists and discriminate against females, LGBT’s, or other races.

Blackberry's avatar

@Winters Isn’t that strange? It’s hard for me to understand how some can use enough logic to determine they think a god does not exist, but still have such primitive and illogical fears like discriminating.

Winters's avatar

Actually it really isn’t, its as simple as natural selection, or the belief that the world should be inherited by one race or another, or a natural disgust for the ones that the y discriminate against.

Blackberry's avatar

@Winters Oh, but aren’t some of those concepts (besides natural selection) kind of outdated? Why would someone make an effort to believe the world should be inherited by one race?

Winters's avatar

Well, I eventually found out that the girl was practically a Neo-Nazi except that Aryans weren’t the superior race, Russians were. As to why, I never prodded further, though I did “prod” her…

Blackberry's avatar

@Winters Lol…..Understandable. Did you keep prodding her after you knew that?

josie's avatar

@Blackberry Dude, you’re better than that! :)

Winters's avatar

@Blackberry uh yeah, she was a nice bed buddy, until she returned to Russia, foreign exchange gal… don’t judge me… I was just letting her know that us Irish Koreans could keep up… I know lame excuse, lol

Blackberry's avatar

@josie @Winters

I had a bed buddy in the past who was not very bright as well….I’ll never forget, I asked her if she used birth control and how she felt about abortion or Plan B in the slight chance the condom broke or something. I told her I don’t agree with late term abortions and that doing one very early is ok. She said “Yeah….because then it’s just like a little fish, right?”.....I hate when the pretty ones are so stupid….

josie's avatar

@Blackberry @Winters Anyway, I sort of liked my question. Thanks for the train wreck. :)

Winters's avatar

@josie Sorry about that, hahaha, but to try and get this train back on the tracks, I’ll admit that I do discriminate against Japanese a bit. It’s from my Korean half, and I’m trying to get over it but there are just times where I slip up a bit.

FireMadeFlesh's avatar

When I became an atheist, I felt an overwhelming sense of relief. I’m not sure what standard there is for belief in God, but in a sense, deep in my subconscious, I never did. By the end of my church-going days, all I could see was people enjoying the same delusion, unable to think outside their unique paradigm.

The charity work that churches do is good in effect, and I would bet that it is good in intention for the majority too. However I prefer to do charity work from my own desire to do good rather than a mandate from a higher power. Christian charity work is too often accompanied by the price of having to listen to their preaching.

To answer the question more directly, I don’t think anything is necessarily lost when God disappears. Anything good that Christians do is good for secular reasons, and anything that is not good we can readily dispose of. Good should be done from a fundamental desire to help people, and an understanding of ethics and altruism. At this stage the only good effect I can see of the God meme is that it comforts people who are too far gone to consider other options. I would never wish for an elderly Christian to lose their faith, because it was a painful process for me even at 17/18. Comfort is the only use I think God reasonably has any more.

Blackberry's avatar

I also felt that sense of relief Fire and Rare stated they felt. I felt like I was finally able move on and think for myself about more important things.

ETpro's avatar

For those of us who have realized that there is no God actively intervening in the laws of physics, nothing went missing unless we had previously feared we weren’t living up to some unattainable standard set for us. If all of us came to that realization, a good deal would improve. Religious prejudice and intolerance, hate crimes carried out in the name of God, wars for religious dominance and demonization of other faiths would go away. And as @Blackberry noted, the self-imposed Luddite mindset of the Faith Based Community with its insistence on creationism replacing science and such—this would go away.

everephebe's avatar

The placeholder. Think about it. God acts as the number zero, an imaginary number that makes math work, the placeholder. Who made us? God, was the answer because we didn’t know the reason we were here.

wolfram's avatar

Something can’t disappear if it never existed. Man created god in his own image (that’s why he looks like us). In other words, we imagined him, conjured him up like a character in a novel. So, you might instead ask “What, if anything, is lost when the image of God disappears?”

Pandora's avatar

What do you do. Change the title and then copy and paste? I see this was posted 3 hours ago and then the other question. *There is no God. So what?”, was posted an hour ago.”

Winters's avatar

@Pandora did you not read the details of “There is no God. So what?”? Blackberry and I train wrecked this one when it went sexually off topic.

Pandora's avatar

@Winters & @Blackberry You guys are a mess. LOL

gondwanalon's avatar

A better question is: What, if anything, is lost when God APPEARS? It would be pure pandemonium to have God suddenly appear some place in down town N.Y. City at ground zero or the Wall Street standing on the bull statue. Wow that would be so cool!

As far as I can tell God has been gone for a long time now. Perhaps off in some other universe doing whatever He darn well wants to do.

As for many of us humans back on Mother Earth, God will always be with us. As He is part of us. When our species finally becomes extinct God Him self will be lost as Homo sapiens disappear. For God didn’t create us, we created God. Amen.

Nullo's avatar

Counter-argument here.

ETpro's avatar

@Nullo I am convinced of this much. If God as creator ever existed, they s/he still does.

Winters's avatar

@ETpro just wondering, I’m presuming that you’re an atheist of the mindset that you currently do not believe in a god, but if there were ever such proof that a god or gods exist, you’d be capable of easily adjusting to that , say, revelation?

Nullo's avatar

@Winters He very probably would; other atheists have, after all.

ETpro's avatar

@Winters I am an agnostic. I am very open to proof. I’d rather live in a Universe with a GOd that one that’s purely deterministic.

josie's avatar

@ETpro False alternative

josie's avatar

I’d rather live in a Universe with a GOd that [sic]one that’s purely deterministic
It is not either/or, and there are more alternatives.

iamthemob's avatar

I don’t know that there are. Either the universe is deterministic or it’s not. If it’s not, then things happen absent any causality. If that’s the case, then an explanation including god is as viable as any other. If that’s the case, I don’t really think there’s a false alternative.

ETpro's avatar

@josie If we must split hairs, then let me say it this way. I would rather live in a Universe with a God the creator who intervenes in human affairs and whom I will someday meet than in one that’s entirely deterministic. An entirely deterministic world would not even allow for a creator. Deterministic cause and effect would have had to create it. It would not allow for any intervention by God. God would just be a unseen, unheard observer watching the clock wind down.

Nullo's avatar

@ETpro That’s an interesting viewpoint that you’ve got; far too many people automatically think that if God => determinism.

SABOTEUR's avatar

It has been posited that everything is God.
So if God disappears, so goes everything else.

Rarebear's avatar

Actually tradition doesn’t even disappear. I’ve been an atheist for 20 years, but I’m still a Jew who celebrates tradition.

Skaggfacemutt's avatar

I haven’t seen God for ages. Actually, never! And everything is still here.

Elm1969's avatar

“I was not, I was, I am not, I care not. (Non fui, fui, non sum, non curo)”
― Epicurus

When I was not, I knew nothing of God. I was, God made no difference. I am not, God no longer exists, I care not.

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