What sort of person is susceptible to the god delusion?
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05-04-2017, 10:09 AM
RE: What sort of person is susceptible to the god delusion?
(05-04-2017 09:27 AM)whateverist Wrote:  If I may probe a little more I'd like to understand the nature of G-d's awareness/consciousness. Here I don't mean to ask what the orthodox answer might be since, if I understand you correctly, you are already elaborating beyond the specificity contained in the jewish canon. Would you mind saying how you yourself conceptualize G-d's nature?

Do you think G-d is more engaged in His creation where man is concerned than with say the setting of universal constants or the transgressions of other species against their nature? If a chimpanzee goes rogue and starts killing and eating the young of other chimps I doubt if G-d would wonder why. My guess would be that only humans have the capacity to surprise G-d since in our conscious minds our essential nature has such a poor hold on us. It is our capacity for reason and investigation which would hold His attention. I don't think God does or can think the way we do, would you agree?

I don’t know if G-d is more concerned with man (or sentient life), but I would suspect so, and for the same reasons that you suggested. We’re free agents acting out an interesting TV show that contains every genre in abundance. G-d has some creative control, but G-d doesn’t write the script... where would the fun be in that? We write the script as we all have free will and an equal say in the destiny and shape of our world, our planet and the universe.

I don’t know how G-d thinks and processes information, but the idea is that we’re built in G-d’s image (which means intellectually and emotionally, not physically), so there must be some similarity between how we think and feel and how G-d thinks and feels.

(05-04-2017 09:27 AM)whateverist Wrote:  [In the interest of full disclosure, I don't believe there is such a thing as a god as a being in its own right with a history independent from our own. But there is something within/about ourselves which gives rise to god belief which is also capable of interacting with our conscious selves. I conceptualize it as something essential to our particular mammalian nature which we are estranged from on account of being conscious in our way. I see god belief as being an evolved way to keep our conscious minds in touch with our primal nature. However I don't think it is the only way to make that link. I tell you this so you won't think I am being condescending in asking for details regarding this G-d of your when I don't myself believe in a such a thing. Does that make sense?]

My expectation is that the users on this forum do not believe in G-d, and that the ones who do approach the subject all wrong. Tongue

It’s interesting. A belief in G-d is not required, according to Judaism. We only acknowledge that some people may wish (for whatever multitude of reasons) to believe in a higher power. If that’s the case, there is a proper way to view and respect G-d that doesn’t lead to fundamentalism and idolatry (ie: slaughtering humans for sacrifice or carrying out other horrible practices for the “honor” of G-d).

Maybe a belief in G-d is essential to our mammalian nature or maybe it’s just something that people need to fill the void when they don’t have answers. Given what I know about Judaism and the trend I see in my immediate environment, it makes sense to me that understanding science and the inner workings of mechanics of the universe is the natural next step for humanity. It seems to me to be perfectly aligned with the Jewish values that I’ve been taught, particularly those that apply to non-Jews.
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05-04-2017, 10:51 AM (This post was last modified: 05-04-2017 10:54 AM by whateverist.)
RE: What sort of person is susceptible to the god delusion?
(05-04-2017 10:09 AM)Aliza Wrote:  
(05-04-2017 09:27 AM)whateverist Wrote:  If I may probe a little more I'd like to understand the nature of G-d's awareness/consciousness. Here I don't mean to ask what the orthodox answer might be since, if I understand you correctly, you are already elaborating beyond the specificity contained in the jewish canon. Would you mind saying how you yourself conceptualize G-d's nature?

Do you think G-d is more engaged in His creation where man is concerned than with say the setting of universal constants or the transgressions of other species against their nature? If a chimpanzee goes rogue and starts killing and eating the young of other chimps I doubt if G-d would wonder why. My guess would be that only humans have the capacity to surprise G-d since in our conscious minds our essential nature has such a poor hold on us. It is our capacity for reason and investigation which would hold His attention. I don't think God does or can think the way we do, would you agree?

I don’t know if G-d is more concerned with man (or sentient life), but I would suspect so, and for the same reasons that you suggested. We’re free agents acting out an interesting TV show that contains every genre in abundance. G-d has some creative control, but G-d doesn’t write the script... where would the fun be in that? We write the script as we all have free will and an equal say in the destiny and shape of our world, our planet and the universe.

I don’t know how G-d thinks and processes information, but the idea is that we’re built in G-d’s image (which means intellectually and emotionally, not physically), so there must be some similarity between how we think and feel and how G-d thinks and feels.

I think G-d has stepped aside and given us the keys. We're his creation in a sense. No being could evolve to have our mode of consciousness directly. We needed an intermediary. Poor G-d. Must be hard to sit in the passenger seat as we careen down the hiway. But I suspect He is as in awe of what collectively we've done with our conscious minds even if from time to time some of us must sometimes horrify our Passenger. There must be times when he wants to reach over and wrestle that steering wheel away from us. Actually, that probably really happens .. figuratively speaking OC.


(05-04-2017 10:09 AM)Aliza Wrote:  
(05-04-2017 09:27 AM)whateverist Wrote:  [In the interest of full disclosure, I don't believe there is such a thing as a god as a being in its own right with a history independent from our own. But there is something within/about ourselves which gives rise to god belief which is also capable of interacting with our conscious selves. I conceptualize it as something essential to our particular mammalian nature which we are estranged from on account of being conscious in our way. I see god belief as being an evolved way to keep our conscious minds in touch with our primal nature. However I don't think it is the only way to make that link. I tell you this so you won't think I am being condescending in asking for details regarding this G-d of your when I don't myself believe in a such a thing. Does that make sense?]

My expectation is that the users on this forum do not believe in G-d, and that the ones who do approach the subject all wrong. Tongue

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(05-04-2017 10:09 AM)Aliza Wrote:  It’s interesting. A belief in G-d is not required, according to Judaism. We only acknowledge that some people may wish (for whatever multitude of reasons) to believe in a higher power. If that’s the case, there is a proper way to view and respect G-d that doesn’t lead to fundamentalism and idolatry (ie: slaughtering humans for sacrifice or carrying out other horrible practices for the “honor” of G-d).

Maybe a belief in G-d is essential to our mammalian nature or maybe it’s just something that people need to fill the void when they don’t have answers. Given what I know about Judaism and the trend I see in my immediate environment, it makes sense to me that understanding science and the inner workings of mechanics of the universe is the natural next step for humanity. It seems to me to be perfectly aligned with the Jewish values that I’ve been taught, particularly those that apply to non-Jews.

I really like the jewish emphasis on the here and now and the quality of life we participate in. I respect that very much.

But earlier you've acknowledged that plenty of jews are atheists or agnostics and that raises the question in my mind of how you use those words. I wonder in particular how you use "agnostic". Seems to me that being agnostic is about remaining cognizant of the grounds for your beliefs and able to continue reflecting on those. You seem to have that. Are you an agnostic theistic jew? I would say so given how I use those words. I'd say I'm an agnostic atheist who is nonetheless aware that I serve more than my own conscious interests in the stewardship of this self I am.

“Tiger got to hunt, bird got to fly;
Man got to sit and wonder 'why, why, why?'
Tiger got to sleep, bird got to land;
Man got to tell himself he understand.”

― Kurt Vonnegut, Cat's Cradle
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05-04-2017, 01:00 PM
RE: What sort of person is susceptible to the god delusion?
(05-04-2017 10:51 AM)whateverist Wrote:  I think G-d has stepped aside and given us the keys. We're his creation in a sense. No being could evolve to have our mode of consciousness directly. We needed an intermediary. Poor G-d. Must be hard to sit in the passenger seat as we careen down the hiway. But I suspect He is as in awe of what collectively we've done with our conscious minds even if from time to time some of us must sometimes horrify our Passenger. There must be times when he wants to reach over and wrestle that steering wheel away from us. Actually, that probably really happens .. figuratively speaking OC.

That's exactly what Judaism teaches. The whole point is to not rely on G-d. Humanity is supposed to move from infancy to adulthood and become less and less reliant on our parent. We're supposed to grow up, learn from our mistakes, clean up our own messes, pave our own path, and ultimately be independent and retire comfortably.

(05-04-2017 10:51 AM)whateverist Wrote:  But earlier you've acknowledged that plenty of jews are atheists or agnostics and that raises the question in my mind of how you use those words. I wonder in particular how you use "agnostic". Seems to me that being agnostic is about remaining cognizant of the grounds for your beliefs and able to continue reflecting on those. You seem to have that. Are you an agnostic theistic jew? I would say so given how I use those words. I'd say I'm an agnostic atheist who is nonetheless aware that I serve more than my own conscious interests in the stewardship of this self I am.

I view myself as being more orthodox in my theology, but very relaxed in my observation of Jewish practice. I’m a theist, I do believe that G-d is real because when I examine the data, I draw the conclusion that the existence of G-d is more likely than not.

Outside of orthodox circles, the concept of G-d is (in my experience) rarely discussed in any depth by modern Jews. I was raised in a very typical secular/agnostic home, but we maintained our cultural identity as Jews. I’ve noticed that the majority of Jews are religiously uneducated and view secular living as being like the next step in humanity’s cultural evolution. Most Jews view the zeal Christians often express toward Jesus and religious life in general as extremely off-putting, so I think many people aim to avoid that by doing the extreme opposite. That’s my experience, having been raised in a Jewish community in the US.

Of course, to be fair, I’ve also met Jews who are *too* religious, and I’ve met a few that think the world was created in six literal days. These people most definitely reinforce religious ways of thinking within their families and communities, but even there, I don’t find that the fundamentalism is as bad as it is in certain Christian communities because the fear factor is minimal in comparison. My view toward Jewish religiousness is (naturally) far more favorable than it is to Christian religiousness.
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05-04-2017, 01:17 PM
RE: What sort of person is susceptible to the god delusion?
Well thank you for an enjoyable and edifying conversation. I've learned a lot.

“Tiger got to hunt, bird got to fly;
Man got to sit and wonder 'why, why, why?'
Tiger got to sleep, bird got to land;
Man got to tell himself he understand.”

― Kurt Vonnegut, Cat's Cradle
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05-04-2017, 01:31 PM
RE: What sort of person is susceptible to the god delusion?
As a general comment, it seems to me that people who claim to have a personal relationship with God would have to identify as gnostic theists. I mean, I "know" all the beings I have a personal relationship with are real, unless I'm not allowed to "know" anything at all. Of course, I do not claim to have certainty about one solitary thing. The definition of knowledge is malleable. But if I know anything, I know my wife is real, so I presume someone having a "relationship" with God would also know that it is real.

(They're wrong, but that's besides the point Tongue )

Some have however admitted that the "relationship" appears to be entirely one-sided, and as such can reasonably claim to be agnostic.

I have a website here which discusses the issues and terminology surrounding religion and atheism. It's hopefully user friendly to all.
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05-04-2017, 03:33 PM (This post was last modified: 05-04-2017 03:37 PM by whateverist.)
RE: What sort of person is susceptible to the god delusion?
(05-04-2017 01:10 AM)Robvalue Wrote:  
(04-04-2017 10:43 PM)Robvalue Wrote:  I was just addressing whether or not someone believes in God; this is an assessment of facts about reality. I totally agree, goals and values are personal and subjective. (I recently made a video based around that very point.)

I find it strange that belief in God is so highly correlated with forming values around God. Strange from a personal point of view. I guess it's because I don't accept things by fiat, no matter what authority is speaking. If it was demonstrated to me that God was real (whatever that even means), I'd shrug my shoulders and continue as I do now. If God actually wanted to show up and talk to me and put its case to me about some sort of change I should make to my behavior, it is welcome to do so. But whether or not I make that change would depend on its reasoning, not the fact that something powerful is talking to me.

I consider myself a good person, and I don't need to be told by God or anyone else to pursue that goal.


I've been wanting to get back to this one. (I am literally waiting for paint to dry now so I can apply a second coat this afternoon, and reassemble the lock to our side door in time to use it tonight. So I've got some time.)

I don't quite follow your first sentence: "I find it strange that belief in God is so highly correlated with forming values around God." I don't of course think it is necessary but I think I can see why believers find it central. To me that just means that they have something important tied up with their ideas about god, which you probably handle in some other way. I wonder if you could elaborate this one for me.

You go on to begin "If it was demonstrated to me that God was real (whatever that even means), " .. but I see nothing to be gained by approaching it literally. What would happen when an actual version of what a literalist believes about gods comes to our door isn't interesting. So argumentation that addresses that possibility would only be of interest to fundamentalists .. but they wouldn't be interested either because, you know, they don't consider possibilities which fall outside their dogma.

But what interested me most is what you quoted yourself as saying earlier: "I was just addressing whether or not someone believes in God; this is an assessment of facts about reality. I totally agree, goals and values are personal and subjective." That raises the question - what comes first: facts about reality, or, goals and values? I'd say values do. From these come goals as well as which facts about reality are of interest to us. Not every fact about everything is interesting or relevant, only those that are personally significant. So I think subjectivity is prior and prejudices what we find to be the 'objective facts'. We've always already applied filters in choosing which facts to attend to. But with fundamentalists of any stripe, it's just easier to see that they are doing it. But we do it too. The big difference is that open minded we are right and closed minded them are wrong. At least we try to be open to insights that might topple our understanding. That really is a point in our favor.

“Tiger got to hunt, bird got to fly;
Man got to sit and wonder 'why, why, why?'
Tiger got to sleep, bird got to land;
Man got to tell himself he understand.”

― Kurt Vonnegut, Cat's Cradle
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05-04-2017, 09:44 PM
RE: What sort of person is susceptible to the god delusion?
Again, I personally believe that a person becomes susceptible to a god delusion by the family that person is brought up in and in a broader scope the region of the world they are born into. I know all answers are not cut and dry but that one "to me" clearly defines the boundaries of how people come to believe the things that they do.

There is a cathartic sense of being together with like minded people and sharing the same beliefs. That certainly doesn't make those beliefs any more real than any fairy tale that we have been told over the ages but those that do hold those beliefs hold on to them because, in my opinion, the dogma has been forced into them from birth and once those beliefs take hold very smart people believe things for very dumb reasons.

Again, Human nature has always had a desire to believe in something greater than itself. As we gain more knowledge and the sharing of that knowledge the god delusion will eventually, over time, slowly vanish away when there will eventually become a time when there is irrefutable evidence of the non existence of any sort of supreme being. How long that period of time takes is subject for debate. But it will eventually happen. Man created God. Not the other way around.

I get to decide what my life looks like, not the other way around.
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06-04-2017, 04:09 AM
RE: What sort of person is susceptible to the god delusion?
(05-04-2017 03:33 PM)whateverist Wrote:  
(05-04-2017 01:10 AM)Robvalue Wrote:  I find it strange that belief in God is so highly correlated with forming values around God. Strange from a personal point of view. I guess it's because I don't accept things by fiat, no matter what authority is speaking. If it was demonstrated to me that God was real (whatever that even means), I'd shrug my shoulders and continue as I do now. If God actually wanted to show up and talk to me and put its case to me about some sort of change I should make to my behavior, it is welcome to do so. But whether or not I make that change would depend on its reasoning, not the fact that something powerful is talking to me.

I consider myself a good person, and I don't need to be told by God or anyone else to pursue that goal.

I don't quite follow your first sentence: "I find it strange that belief in God is so highly correlated with forming values around God." I don't of course think it is necessary but I think I can see why believers find it central. To me that just means that they have something important tied up with their ideas about god, which you probably handle in some other way. I wonder if you could elaborate this one for me.

Yeah, I didn't state that particularly well. I don't actually find it surprising, given what I know about how people think. I find it hard to process from a personal view, because the two are so entirely distinct in my mind. A lot of people don't even seem to realise that it's possible to believe religious claims are true and not join the religion and start following its rules. I guess this is testament to the success of religious propaganda.

Quote:You go on to begin "If it was demonstrated to me that God was real (whatever that even means), " .. but I see nothing to be gained by approaching it literally. What would happen when an actual version of what a literalist believes about gods comes to our door isn't interesting. So argumentation that addresses that possibility would only be of interest to fundamentalists .. but they wouldn't be interested either because, you know, they don't consider possibilities which fall outside their dogma.

I find it a little interesting. If Yahweh shows up, the opinion I've mostly had from Christians is that atheists would convert on the spot. I disagree; in fact most people I've talked to would send him packing. I'd now agree he exists, I just wouldn't care, further than scientific curiosity. It would also be interesting to see in what way this being actually correlates with the contradictory mess presented in the books.

Quote:But what interested me most is what you quoted yourself as saying earlier: "I was just addressing whether or not someone believes in God; this is an assessment of facts about reality. I totally agree, goals and values are personal and subjective." That raises the question - what comes first: facts about reality, or, goals and values? I'd say values do. From these come goals as well as which facts about reality are of interest to us. Not every fact about everything is interesting or relevant, only those that are personally significant. So I think subjectivity is prior and prejudices what we find to be the 'objective facts'. We've always already applied filters in choosing which facts to attend to. But with fundamentalists of any stripe, it's just easier to see that they are doing it. But we do it too. The big difference is that open minded we are right and closed minded them are wrong. At least we try to be open to insights that might topple our understanding. That really is a point in our favor.

This is a deep question, yes. Of course the facts are presumably "out there" and are not influenced by our goals or values. But indeed, when it comes to trying to assess facts, we certainly prioritise this heavily. We're not equipped to gather all the factual information available, and of course there is much that is unavailable, so we have to prioritise. And this will be directed by our goals and values. Our ability to correctly interpret reality and attempt to model it will be biased by our goals and values too, hence the attempt to counter this with scepticism. Of course no one will ever totally succeed, all we can do is try our best. But I feel some people don't even try, or in some cases aren't even aware that they aren't putting on their sceptic helmet. They refuse to put it on even after this is pointed out, which is their emotions taking charge.

I've talked before about a brain holding two beliefs about the same thing, an emotional belief and a logical one. When these are at odds, the outcome depends how strong the emotion is. When it approaches any degree of strength, in my experience it tends to drown out the logic altogether. It can take a great feat of willpower over a period of time to commit yourself to battling the emotion with logic. I've gone through this myself many times while living under depression.

I have a website here which discusses the issues and terminology surrounding religion and atheism. It's hopefully user friendly to all.
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06-04-2017, 04:59 AM
RE: What sort of person is susceptible to the god delusion?
(05-04-2017 01:31 PM)Robvalue Wrote:  As a general comment, it seems to me that people who claim to have a personal relationship with God would have to identify as gnostic theists. I mean, I "know" all the beings I have a personal relationship with are real, unless I'm not allowed to "know" anything at all. Of course, I do not claim to have certainty about one solitary thing. The definition of knowledge is malleable. But if I know anything, I know my wife is real, so I presume someone having a "relationship" with God would also know that it is real.

(They're wrong, but that's besides the point Tongue )

Some have however admitted that the "relationship" appears to be entirely one-sided, and as such can reasonably claim to be agnostic.


I really think fundamentalist xtians are infantilized by the conception they hold of their relationship to God. It's as if they think all they will ever be called on by God to do is be compliant. This is what they think will please their deity. Oh and they really think their praises mean so much to the maker of galaxies. Strange.

It was interesting to find out how very differently religious jews view their relationship to their god. Viewing God as a parent who is rooting for you to find your own way through to independence and maturity is a very different approach. This god takes care to ween its puppies and seems more than willing to cope with an empty nest. As a step parent of a grown man I can tell you it feels good and I do not pine for the days of his helplessness. Nor do wish he were forever singing my praises or eager to become my sycophant.

Of course I don't really personify G-d myself. I see it more as an archaic mindset or mode of being which never completely falls away but which has largely been displaced by our new fangled conscious minds. But many functions of our mind evolved before this happened and are in a sense mediated by this older mode of being still. It is fitting to be appreciative for what this older mode of being still does for us autonomically. Nor do I think the consciousness which accompanied this mode of being ever goes away entirely. It too is imbued with an emotional component and it is the source of our intuition and much inspiration. What we are as conscious beings is built upon and still reliant upon this earlier mode of being. We do well to seek its fulfillment as our silent passenger. We don't control our own happiness or fulfillment, it too is gift.

While I appreciate the power of skepticism I approach it humbly, realizing there is so much I do not know. I cannot be like Spock. Logic is a servant. It cannot rule.

[Hope this doesn't all sound too strange. I'm up at 3:30 a.m. for whatever reason.]

“Tiger got to hunt, bird got to fly;
Man got to sit and wonder 'why, why, why?'
Tiger got to sleep, bird got to land;
Man got to tell himself he understand.”

― Kurt Vonnegut, Cat's Cradle
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06-04-2017, 05:06 PM
RE: What sort of person is susceptible to the god delusion?
(04-04-2017 09:35 PM)Aliza Wrote:  Judaism doesn’t view humanity as inherently evil. We don’t have original sin or Satan the way Christians do, and we don’t have a concept of eternal punishment. We also don’t have heaven or eternal life. We do believe that everyone should live within a certain framework of laws and customs and those laws should be enforced. Punishments can occur during our lifetimes, or after we die, but those punishments match the crime and are not eternal.

There are many flavors of Judaism, just as there are of Christianity. Some of those flavors certainly have concepts similar to the heaven and hell of other religions: Olam Habah — the world to come; Sheol -- the world below; Gehinom, and so on.

--
Dr H

"So, I became an anarchist, and all I got was this lousy T-shirt."
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