Study: Believers' inferences about God's beliefs are uniquely egocentric

November 30, 2009,
New research compares religious people's beliefs to their estimates of God's beliefs and the beliefs of other people. The research was led by Nicholas Epley, Professor of Behavioral Science at the University of Chicago's Booth School of Business. Credit: Dan Dry

Religious people tend to use their own beliefs as a guide in thinking about what God believes, but are less constrained when reasoning about other people's beliefs, according to new study published in the Nov. 30 early edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Nicholas Epley, professor of behavioral science at the University of Chicago's Booth School of Business, led the research, which included a series of survey and neuroimaging studies to examine the extent to which people's own beliefs guide their predictions about God's beliefs. The findings of Epley and his co-authors at Australia's Monash University and UChicago extend existing work in psychology showing that people are often egocentric when they infer other people's beliefs.

The PNAS paper reports the results of seven separate studies. The first four include surveys of Boston rail commuters, UChicago undergraduate students and a nationally representative database of online respondents in the United States. In these surveys, participants reported their own belief about an issue, their estimated God's belief, along with a variety of others, including Microsoft founder Bill Gates, Major League Baseball's Barry Bonds, President George W. Bush, and an average American.

Two other studies directly manipulated people's own beliefs and found that inferences about God's beliefs tracked their own beliefs. Study participants were asked, for example, to write and deliver a speech that supported or opposed the death penalty in front of a video camera. Their beliefs were surveyed both before and after the speech.

The final study involved to measure the of test subjects as they reasoned about their own beliefs versus those of God or another person. The data demonstrated that reasoning about God's beliefs activated many of the same regions that become active when people reasoned about their own beliefs.

The researchers noted that people often set their moral compasses according to what they presume to be God's standards. "The central feature of a compass, however, is that it points north no matter what direction a person is facing," they conclude. "This research suggests that, unlike an actual compass, inferences about God's beliefs may instead point people further in whatever direction they are already facing."

But the research in no way denies the possibility that God's presumed beliefs also may provide guidance in situations where people are uncertain of their own beliefs, the co-authors noted.

More information: Believers' estimates of God's beliefs are more egocentric than estimates of other people's beliefs," Nov. 30, 2009, early edition of the , by Nicholas Epley, Benjamin A. Converse, Alexa Delbosc, George A. Monteleone and John T. Cacioppo.


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Source: University of Chicago (news : web)

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slonko
Nov 30, 2009
This comment has been removed by a moderator.
Ronan
5 / 5 (6) Nov 30, 2009
Marjon: Well, I'd bet that the majority were people of faith; atheists are always in a minority, no matter what. But why should it matter (for this study's purposes, I mean) whether or not they'd studied the Bible (or their holy book of preference; "God" generally means Yahweh, but it can be pretty flexible, and I imagine a certain number of the respondents weren't Christian)? Constraining it only to a subgroup of highly devoted scholars skews the results, and doesn't give you a good idea of how average people behave/think.
ealex
4.2 / 5 (9) Nov 30, 2009
Shocking. Gods are a reflection of ourselves. Who'd have thunk it.

IMHO more wasted study money, there are no new and certainly no surprising conclusions here.

Find some better uses for the world's cash. Feed a kid, grow a stem cell, etc.
nkalanaga
2.5 / 5 (14) Nov 30, 2009
Even atheists are "people of faith". It's impossible to prove the nonexistence of God, whether God exists or not, therefore that nonexistence has to be taken on faith.
nkalanaga
Nov 30, 2009
This comment has been removed by a moderator.
bhiestand
4.4 / 5 (11) Nov 30, 2009
Even atheists are "people of faith". It's impossible to prove the nonexistence of God, whether God exists or not, therefore that nonexistence has to be taken on faith.

Even Zeus Deniers are "people of faith". It's impossible to prove the nonexistence of Zeus, whether Zeus exists or not, therefore that nonexistence has to be taken on faith.

Substitute the tooth fairy, unicorns, leprechauns, or Shiva as you wish.

Absence of belief does not, by definition, require belief. That's all atheists are, people who don't believe.
NeilFarbstein
1 / 5 (2) Nov 30, 2009
Stop asking god what he belives in and dont bother him about playing dice!
210
2 / 5 (3) Dec 01, 2009
"How many were people of faith and had studied the Bible?"

BINGO!!!

A predilection for consumerized religion can be enhanced by embracing any given faith at an early age!
This is a poison pill for any test/poll data especially if personal expression is anecdotal. The Christian faith says,"...made in God's image..." so does that mean or imply we & God must to some degree THINK the same?!? Our 'thoughts' are not the same, but our moralistic thinking IS the same...? In open/muslim cultures how many women are required to wear a veil? Does this change my/her perception of my/her value or role in our culture AND our faith? In North America, Blacks were taught they were inferior to Whites... That is, White church-goers, thank God for their food and drink, got up and murdered another human being for the color of their skin! Was it the hate in religion/God or the lack of love in that culture that made this possible? What makes us any DIFFERENT than what we say the other guy IS?
Damon_Hastings
3.1 / 5 (8) Dec 01, 2009
Absence of belief does not, by definition, require belief. That's all atheists are, people who don't believe.

Well, atheism is actually a pretty broad umbrella. I think nkalanaga was referring to "strong atheism", which is what most people think of when they think of atheism. A strong atheist is someone who positively believes that there is no divinity. Now, of course, they can't prove there's no divinity; they just "know" it, in much the same way that a theist "knows" that divinity exists. It's an article of faith.

However, I think you're referring more to "weak atheism", also known as agnosticism. An agnostic (such as myself) has a complete lack of belief either way. We neither believe nor disbelieve. Therefore, the burden of proof never lies on the agnostic. But both theists and strong atheists carry a burden of proof (neither of which can ever be satisfied, imho.)

If you just say "atheist", it can lead to a lot of confusion and rancor. The term is ambiguous.
Smellyhat
not rated yet Dec 01, 2009
@Ronan: marjon has a good point, actually.

I recall a reading recently that arab students with strongly religious backgrounds were less likely to be influenced by extremist jihad-via-terrorism teachings, as they better understood how greatly the jihadi beliefs diverged from the normal understandings of the Koran.

Likewise, in this instance one might think that a religious person who is familiar with a logically sophisticated sectarian doctrine would face a set of constraints when attempting to describe the deity's likely opinion that one with a looser understanding of their creed.

From what is presented, five out of the seven studies discussed do seem to beg the question about the origin of these beliefs. It seems unlikely that many persons of faith, being familiar to their understanding of the opinions of the deity, would disagree with that opinion in any significant way.
wiserd
1.8 / 5 (6) Dec 01, 2009
210 - First, while there were certainly people who used the bible to justify bad things the evidence tends to run against your hypothesis - that fewer churchgoers engaged in atrocities than those who were atheists or non-devout.

Stastistically, socialism and racism have a strong correlation.

Also, this is a chicken and the egg problem. If a person believes that God is against the death penalty and they change their beliefs accordingly, how is that egocentric?

The researchers need to demonstrate that a person's beliefs about morality preceeded their belief in God, or their hypothesis is invalid.

In any case, both those who believed in spontaneous generation and those who believed in evolution believed their beliefs matched the natural world. Does that mean that scientists are 'egocentric?!'

jamesrm
4 / 5 (4) Dec 01, 2009
"Stastistically, socialism and racism have a strong correlation."

From the "bureau of right wing nut job statistics" to gods ears my friend :)

Regards
James
Vanhite
5 / 5 (1) Dec 01, 2009
What God believes. Mmm. Let's make it easier. You have a better chance to know what an unknown person 240 miles from you believe in. We do not know what God believes in. We read the bible and we get told what he does not like.

But that is the extent of it. If you think you know what he believes in. Well done. Because I bet you would be wrong.
cakmn
3.8 / 5 (6) Dec 01, 2009
"God's beliefs" is meaningless because God simply IS - whatever that might mean to anyone who believes or knows that God is.

@ealex: Yes, God is, for any particular person, a reflection of his/her highest ideals. As one progresses along the spiritual path, one's ideals evolve which means one's concept of and beliefs about God also evolve.

@Damon: You're making distinctions that aren't helpful to clear and efficient communication. What you are calling a "strong atheist" is simply an atheist and what you are calling a "weak atheist" is simply an agnostic.

@Smellyhat: Yes, anyone who has a strong understanding of his/her religion and a deep faith would also have a strong and deep sense of self and, therefore, would be unlikely to be swayed by the arguments and enticements offered to try to recruit fighters for any kind of "holy war." An essential aspect of all religions is some formulation of the Golden Rule which would keep one from going astray.
tkjtkj
3.3 / 5 (7) Dec 01, 2009
Balderdash! Any article which capitalizes the 'G' of a deity has done nothing but to reveal its bias. And WHY is this in a sience-related site at all????
Smellyhat
not rated yet Dec 01, 2009
@cakmn: No, that was neither what I said nor what had been inferred by the researchers interviewing arab students. Rather, being familiar with mainstream islamic doctrine, the students realized how crazy the extremist version sounded. It was ABSOLUTELY NOT due to their deep faith and strong sense of self allowing them to ignore arguments and 'enticements'. Rather, they were familiar with versions of faith which DID NOT NEED TO IGNORE ARGUMENTS to be maintained. The type of faith you are describing might feel good, but IT IS DANGEROUS TO ALL THE OTHER HUMANS AROUND YOU.

danman5000
3.7 / 5 (3) Dec 01, 2009
I don't understand what is meant by "God's beliefs." Since such a being is omniscient, he would just know all facts and wouldn't have to have faith in anything. A "belief" requires a lack of knowledge, otherwise it's a fact. He also couldn't "believe" something is right or wrong since he created the concepts in the first place and applied them to what morals he, being the creator of the universe, applied to it.
Simonsez
Dec 01, 2009
This comment has been removed by a moderator.
Damon_Hastings
5 / 5 (3) Dec 01, 2009
I don't understand what is meant by "God's beliefs." ...He also couldn't "believe" something is right or wrong since he created the concepts in the first place and applied them to what morals he, being the creator of the universe, applied to it.

When the article says "God's beliefs", I think they're using a layman's term for "moral values as defined by God." For example, would God consider abortion to be wrong? If God says it's wrong, then of course it's wrong by definition (assuming you accept that definition!) -- but people might disagree on whether God says it's wrong. Even lifelong Biblical scholars can have heated debates over Biblical interpretation. And, of course, the Bible is not the only holy book that humans follow!
Ronan
4.5 / 5 (2) Dec 01, 2009
"The question was, what are God's beliefs.
How could anyone provide a reasonable answer unless they had read and studied his Word?
Given the poor attendance in churches theses days, I ask again, how many in the survey could provide an answer based upon the literature about God?"

Ah...Apologies, Marjon; I think we were talking at cross purposes. If "What are God's beliefs" was the question, then (granting the existence of said deity), you're quite right, and it would have been best to seek out those with the best knowledge of the Bible. I read the study, though, as being a means of interpreting how people interpret the intentions of God--not whether they were RIGHT or not, but just what they thought. If that's the goal, it makes sense to me to not pick and choose who you survey, but just try to get the broadest sample size you can, so that you pick up both the Bible scholars, the casual believers who haven't been to church in a decade, and everyone in between.
Damon_Hastings
2.3 / 5 (3) Dec 01, 2009
Damon: You're making distinctions that aren't helpful to clear and efficient communication. What you are calling a "strong atheist" is simply an atheist and what you are calling a "weak atheist" is simply an agnostic.

That depends on who you ask. nkalanaga was using the term to mean "strong atheist", while bhiestand used it to mean "weak atheist", and so they were arguing at cross purposes. And I see this all the time: people just assume that others have the same definition for "atheist", but they don't.

Using such an ambiguous term also encourages people to blur the distinction between strong and weak atheism in their own minds, even though they're extremely, fundamentally, different. As an agnostic, I consider Christians and strong atheists to be more similar to each other than they are to me. They are both "believers".
danman5000
not rated yet Dec 01, 2009
Thanks for the clarification Damon. It still seems like a weird phrase to me, but it makes a bit more sense now.
Damon_Hastings
not rated yet Dec 01, 2009
Now, there is an official "correct" definition of atheist -- but most people (including yourself, cakmn) don't use it that way. The official definition DOES include agnostics!! (See http://en.wikiped..._atheism ) This is the source of all the confusion, and agnostics live in the middle of it. So it can be a real pain for us. :-P
thales
5 / 5 (3) Dec 01, 2009
"God" is a proper noun, as indicated by the lack of an article "a" or "the" preceding it; it should therefore be capitalized. Lowercase "god", on the other hand, is just a noun. It's a matter of grammar. I wouldn't write "zeus" just because Zeus doesn't exist.
Bobr
1 / 5 (1) Dec 01, 2009
I had a friend who years ago had a near death experience, and said that they met GOD. While the details were somewhat fuzzy, GOD was described as warm, accepting, and that SHE had the most wonderful ebony skin with mahogany overtones.

Why does everyone always insist that divinity be male.

:)
Damon_Hastings
5 / 5 (1) Dec 01, 2009
Divinity is typically seen as male in the Abrahamic traditions (Judaism, Christianity, Islam), but I think most adherents of these religions are open to the idea that God in fact transcends gender and is neither truly male nor truly female. Gender is an aspect of sexually reproducing species, which would open up all kinds of questions about His parents... :-P
wiyosaya
5 / 5 (1) Dec 01, 2009
Personally, I think this article has a disturbing connotation:

God believes what the "believer" believes.
defunctdiety
not rated yet Dec 01, 2009
Conceptually if something exists, assigning that characteristic precludes that it at some point must not exist. Much like light and darkness, one necessitates the other. If there Is only light or only dark, you can't ascribe a state to it as such because that is all that Is. The same goes for existence, if something exists (such as sentience), it must at some point not exist otherwise the state occupied is something else conceptually.

If something is Eternal, no beginning no end (as is ascribed to most deities), it transcends existence. It Is. Therefore, no god can exist as such, and therefore cannot be ascribed characteristics of existence such as are commonly ascribed to deities (divinity, wrath, etc.), as those preclude existence and as we've established, deities cannot exist.

Interestingly, what is the only other phenomenon we can ascribe Eternal to? Energy. In an enclosed system (such as existence, the universe, man's experience of Reality) energy cannot be created or destroyed.
dtxx
1 / 5 (1) Dec 01, 2009
I think what they are saying is that people find a way to bend religion to whatever their thinking is. If someone hates gay people, for example, they can find plenty of support for that in many religions. But, if someone else is tolerant of gay people then he can find things in most religions saying to not judge and embrace your fellow humans.

We see scientists all the time bending data to their beliefs. I'm talking hard data; numbersets. If someone wants to show AGW or disprove AGW would be one example that comes to mind. There is nothing so "black and white" in any religious text. Take "spare the rod, spoil the child." Lots of kids got beatings over that one, and other parents took it to mean don't hit your kids. The high level of ambiguity in human languages tends to encourage this.
bhiestand
not rated yet Dec 01, 2009
That depends on who you ask. nkalanaga was using the term to mean "strong atheist", while bhiestand used it to mean "weak atheist", and so they were arguing at cross purposes. And I see this all the time: people just assume that others have the same definition for "atheist", but they don't.

I didn't mean to give off the impression that I was only talking about weak atheists. I was talking about the umbrella term, atheist in general, as being someone who lacks belief in a god.

Although I also maintain that no "faith" is required for strong atheism. You wouldn't say faith is required to believe leprechauns to be an obvious fairy tale.
physpuppy
4 / 5 (1) Dec 01, 2009
Take "spare the rod, spoil the child." Lots of kids got beatings over that one, and other parents took it to mean don't hit your kids. The high level of ambiguity in human languages tends to encourage this.


Especially when studying a text that was translated from ancient language. Some folk here talk about the bible as if it were a singular entity - after all there are multiple versions, translations, with added and omitted parts. Even if I were to stick with Christianity should I look at the King James, the New American, New Jerusalem, the Book of Mormon? Perhaps I could reconcile the dead sea scrolls and other omitted works as heretical, but could the folks that declared that have been mislead in some way or maybe they are absolutely correct?

Here is a nice list of bible versions:

http://www.tyndal...ndex.htm

physpuppy
not rated yet Dec 01, 2009
If people doesn't read the Bible, how can they know about God's beleifs even when it was only for a random statistical survey..?


Do you think that people doing this kind of study wouldn't have good understanding of the beliefs of the people that they are studying - the Bible (at least the one(s) that the people in the study read would be primary source so I would suppose that they have read it in some way, as well as interpretations.
Damon_Hastings
3 / 5 (3) Dec 01, 2009
Although I also maintain that no "faith" is required for strong atheism. You wouldn't say faith is required to believe leprechauns to be an obvious fairy tale.

"Faith" is defined as belief without evidence (more or less). If you believe leprechauns to be a fairy tale, but you have no supporting evidence, then this belief is an article of faith, by definition. Of course, that doesn't mean I'm going to run to the store for leprechaun traps. ;-)

There is a misconception among strong atheists that negative beliefs carry no burden of proof. But suppose I give you a box and say it contains a gerbil. You say "You have not proven the gerbil exists. Therefore the box is empty." This is obviously flawed logic, yes? And so your claim is just as specious as mine, until the box is opened. Okay, and now further suppose that the box is unopenable (and soundproof, etc). Does this suddenly make your claim valid?
AdvancedAtheist
3 / 5 (2) Dec 01, 2009
Well, atheism is actually a pretty broad umbrella. I think nkalanaga was referring to "strong atheism", which is what most people think of when they think of atheism. A strong atheist is someone who positively believes that there is no divinity. Now, of course, they can't prove there's no divinity; they just "know" it, in much the same way that a theist "knows" that divinity exists. It's an article of faith.


Specious distinction. Compare atheism with veganism. All vegans share the belief in not doing something (using animal products); but the activist vegans go further by writing books, having debates with meat eaters and giving speeches about how carnivory poisons everything. In other words, on behalf of all vegans, they attack the world view and values of animal exploiters. Yet most of the low-profile vegans would probably consider themselves as "strong" as the militant ones.
AnarchoFuturist
3.7 / 5 (3) Dec 01, 2009
Damon, your comparison of God to a gerbil is flawed because unlike the word "God", "gerbil" has a coherent and testable definition. This is my main problem with agnostics and weak atheists is that they assume there is a coherent and testable definition of "God".

Let me ask you something, if you opened that box and it was empty, would you be comfortable saying "there is no gerbil in this box", or would you say you don't know? I for one feel totally comfortable saying the gerbil is not in the box.

The word "God" is either meaningless or self-contradictory, like a square circle. The strong atheist says that self-contradictory entities cannot exist. I feel just as comfortable saying "square circles don't exist" as I do saying "a scientific conclusion cannot be reached without evidence".If you want to suggest this thing called "God"(or anything else) exists and then ask for evidence, you must answer the first fundamental question, "what is a God?".
nkalanaga
5 / 5 (1) Dec 01, 2009
I agree with the distinction between strong and weak atheists, and was referring to the strong ones. In the sense I was using it, an agnostic doesn't believe there is, or isn't, a god, while the atheist actively believes there is no god. The agnostic, which includes me, doesn't believe either way.

Incidentally, (strong) atheism is legally considered a religion by the US military. I don't know about the IRS...
bhiestand
3 / 5 (2) Dec 01, 2009
I think AnarchoFuturist brought up the real heart of the argument... nobody seems to be able to properly define their god, and when people describe the personality and beliefs of their god, they tend to be talking about themselves. As this study has shown.

I'll also add that the gerbil in the box example rather proves my point when taken to its conclusion. We've x-rayed the box, poked holes in it and taken a peak, shook the box, did everything we could to try to find some evidence of a gerbil in the box. Now that we've opened it and looked inside and said "There's no gerbil in this box!" the gerbil believers have told us that the gerbil is invisible and moves in mysterious ways.

Strong atheists have asked for a proper definition of "God" and been given none. We evaluated the evidence and found it lacking. All evidence points to there not being a currently active personal god.
defunctdiety
5 / 5 (1) Dec 01, 2009
I believe the whole point of God is to develop faith.

Too bad it's usually packaged with sexism and other bigotry, as well as the general goal of quelling individual thought and freedom with arbitrary moralism.

The whole point of God (religion) is to control people.

You can have faith, in humanity, in yourself, in the meaning and purpose of life, in anything and everything, without fabricating this system for social and moral control.

Of course one can have religion, and God even, without the attempt at control, indeed many realize the unequaled value of individual freedom in seeking true faith through their own intensely personal spirituality and self-reflection. Most people just don't want that kind of responsibility.
thales
4 / 5 (2) Dec 01, 2009
Well, this same principle applies with God's law - the Ten Commandments - in our own lives too! They aren't called the ten suggestions, ten recommendations, or the ten greatest ideas. Since so much is at stake, you should take a few minutes to seriously consider your responsibility"...those are God's beliefs according to christianity.


Yeah, God's top 10 priorities. My favorite is the one where God prohibits boiling a baby goat in its mother's milk. I mean, rape, kidnapping, torture, and starvation didn't quite make the list, but it is important to maintain good cooking practices.

http://www.bibleg...sion=KJV

This is one of the problems with pointing to any of the religious texts to derive "God's beliefs" - they are contradictory and ambiguous. It's not really surprising that people turn to subjective judgment instead.
enantiomer2000
2 / 5 (1) Dec 01, 2009
"But suppose I give you a box and say it contains a gerbil. You say 'You have not proven the gerbil exists. Therefore the box is empty.' This is obviously flawed logic, yes?"

When deducing the validity of statements, I use my known context of the working universe. I would probably look at the box and if it was of the right size, I would consider that the gerbil might be in there. I know about gerbils as I have observed their existence. If you told me that God was in the box, well I wouldn't believe you. I have never seen God, nobody has ever observed Him/Her/It. In fact there is no direct proof of this God concept at all. Therefore, it is perfectly logical to doubt your claim about God in the box because it doesn't fit within the known universe.
innuendo
5 / 5 (1) Dec 02, 2009
But this was reported by the "PNAS" - great acronym chaps!
thales
not rated yet Dec 02, 2009
But this was reported by the "PNAS" - great acronym chaps!

Sounds like you're suffering from PNAS envy.
CarolinaScotsman
not rated yet Dec 02, 2009
My, all this research and fancy language just to verify the statement, "Man creates God in his own image."

In my own view, God does exist, but He (and I use the male pronoun out of habit, gender probably doesn't apply) is so far above us that there is no way we could concieve of who or what he is.
Damon_Hastings
not rated yet Dec 02, 2009
But suppose I give you a box and say it contains a gerbil. You say "You have not proven the gerbil exists. Therefore the box is empty." This is obviously flawed logic, yes?

Damon, your comparison of God to a gerbil is flawed because unlike the word "God", "gerbil" has a coherent and testable definition.

Yes, well, I was arguing against a strong atheist position, which implicitly accepts "God" as a meaningful term. ;-)

You, on the other hand, seem to be a "theological noncognitivist". A noncognitivist says the term "God" has no cognitively meaningful definition, and therefore any talk about God is nonsensical. A strong atheist says "There is no God", but this claim is nonsensical unless "God" has a definition. So the noncognitivist says this claim is neither true nor false; in fact, it's not even a claim. Thus, I consider noncognitivists to be fellow agnostics (though there's some debate on that.)

In other words, I agree with you. ;-)
Damon_Hastings
5 / 5 (3) Dec 02, 2009
Regardless, what is wrong with 'love your neighbor as yourself'?

Nothing. If only Christians actually practiced that.
Damon_Hastings
5 / 5 (4) Dec 02, 2009
People believed they were obeying Jesus/God's commands when they slaughtered countless innocent Muslims, without provocation, during the crusades. They quoted scripture to justify it. They quoted scripture when they burned "witches" during the Inquisition. Jefferson Davis famously said "Slavery was established by decree of Almighty God and is sanctioned in the Bible, in both Testaments from Genesis to Revelation". Later, people quoted scripture to justify banning interracial marriage, and, most recently, to ban gay marriage. People will say that they are "loving their neighbor" even as they do all of these things. Jesus' commands are open to interpretation.
Damon_Hastings
not rated yet Dec 02, 2009
By "first principles", do you mean something other than scripture? Because scripture is what everyone in the examples above were using "as the standard".
Profissimo
not rated yet Dec 04, 2009
Who would be naive enough to believe in a god that was as naive as himself?
CarolinaScotsman
5 / 5 (3) Dec 04, 2009
"I'll settle with the last seven commandments, Jesus's commandment to love your neighbor as yourself and the US Constitution"

Elevating the constitution to the status of holy book and turning patriotism into religion is one of the major problems in the U.S. today.
thales
not rated yet Dec 04, 2009
I'll settle with the last seven commandments, Jesus's commandment to love your neighbor as yourself and the US Constitution.


Marjon, this list doesn't make sense (though I will say "the US Constitution" made me giggle - what, no Magna Carta?). Do you know what a first principle is? From Wikipedia:

"A first principle is a basic, foundational proposition or assumption that cannot be deduced from any other proposition or assumption."

An argument could be made that some of the statements in the US Constitution and the Bible could be derived from first principles (e.g. the prohibition against murder is based on a principle that human life has value; the Constitution assumes certain principles such as "human welfare is good"). But I would be surprised if either the Bible or the Constitution contain an actual first principle.
Nartoon
Dec 06, 2009
This comment has been removed by a moderator.
MatthiasF
not rated yet Dec 06, 2009
Internet article with the word "God" in title = hundreds of comments from crazies of all types.

Gotta love the Internet!
ShotmanMaslo
not rated yet Dec 06, 2009
marjon - it is a human lifeform, there is no doubt about it. But to me, quality of life is more important than life itself. Therefore, abortion should be allowed, but strictly controlled, so that the mother and the baby being aborted would not suffer (..must be done before the nervous system is developed etc..).

Ask yourself: If my parents did decide to abort me, would it matter to me if I wasnt even conscious? For me, the honest answer is no, it wouldnt.
ShotmanMaslo
5 / 5 (1) Dec 06, 2009


What is 'quality of life'? Thank God our human ancestors were more concerned about life and offspring than their own selfish needs. Historically, those who are most concerned about their personal 'quality of life' did so at the expense of others' 'quality of life'. Tyrants like Castro, Mugabe and Ill come to mind.


By quality of life I meant mothers freedom of choice and babys right to be born wanted. If abortion is available and mother still decides to have the baby, it is clear that she wants it and cares about it, not about her selfish needs.
Also, abortion, if done well, is not at the expense of anyone, so your comparation to Castro, Mugabe is wrong.
ivandurakov
not rated yet Dec 06, 2009
This sounds more like secularists projecting their own beliefs on those don't share their own views. Specifically, the concept of "everyone has their own truth within" in the usual postmodernist vein. Those who "do it by the book" are branded fundamentalists and inflexible. Make up your mind which way you don't like it, please.
antialias_physorg
not rated yet Dec 06, 2009
Yes. And that's why the majority of people need some faith, some religion. For the majority of people is too weak to find their own, meaningful way through life all by themselves.


This confuses me. 100% of all people are born ignorant, do we therefore let them live in ignorance? No - we try to teach.

So what if the majority of people are weaklings who could turn to religion as an 'easy out'. Why not help them to find inner strength so that they don't need that crutch?
rjm1percent
not rated yet Dec 06, 2009
It seems much easier to follow the popular, secular, feel good fad of the day.


Hah, then why not just do that? If it's easier, provides more freedom to the individual without adhering to some strict guidelines set by an arbitrary 'infinite spaceman', and makes you feel good, I don't see the problem. I can love my neighbour and still be an atheist.
antialias
not rated yet Dec 07, 2009
Why do you think religion is an 'easy out'? People struggle their whole lives trying to live up the example set by Jesus to love their neighbor as themselves and to keep faith with God.

That's the point, though: In your case people should (mindlessly) follow that example. In my (ideal) world people should understand for themselves what it means to lead a good life. It's not particularly hard to derive that from first principles yourself. No god required. There'd be much more happiness all around.
It seems much easier to follow the popular, secular, feel good fad of the day.

I think this is where the misunderstanding comes from: you look for an atheist rule book in which the 'fad of the day' is stated. There is no such thing. As an atheist You just have to be a good person BECAUSE YOU ARE A GOOD PERSON - not because someone tells you how to be one or offers you brownie points as a reward for acting like one even though you may not be.
ShotmanMaslo
not rated yet Dec 07, 2009
Altough I am not a believer, I understand them. Belief definately can give people hope and strengh, make them happier. Heck, I would love there to be an all-knowing, caring god for us.
Therefore, atheism is not an easier way.
It is "sad but true" way.
antialias_physorg
not rated yet Dec 07, 2009
Why? Who defines good? I recall a philosophy "If it feels good, do it." What is wrong with that?

Good is that which is viable (long term). That which merely feels good (e.g. killing the guy who cut you off in traffic) is definitely not a viable long term strategy since you'll face serious reprecussions sooner or later.

Being a good person simply means considering consequences, taking responsibility and generally acting in a way so that, if everyone acted in that way, things work out as well as can be for everyone.
ShotmanMaslo
Dec 07, 2009
This comment has been removed by a moderator.
El_Nose
5 / 5 (2) Dec 07, 2009
I wonder if anyone will even read this ....

A lot of people in this post argue that there is no need for religion.

I submit this... Yes religions are flawed.. but every institution on this planet is flawed... all seven are flawed.. religion, technological, economic, political, interactive, ideological and world view.

If we were to get rid of religions it would be replaced. we have developed a sense for when someone is a zealot or overly religious and can recognize issues that come from this. Religion is no more good or bad than the other institutions wars and disagreements have happened because of all of them.

Dislike religion if you choose... but do not be so quick to totally throw it away.

While basic decency gave us our first laws ... religion helped refine some of the more basic ones like - not having sex with your first cousin, or family members - most people accept that as morally wrong before it was scientifically proven to produce genetically deficient kids.
Pixelgrease
5 / 5 (3) Dec 07, 2009
Very useful study.

Here's my interpretation: you can quickly uncover a person's inner nature by asking their opinion about God's beliefs. They may seem pleasant, but if their God is an sob you can bet they are too.

Myself, I believe God could care less about religious surveys.
antialias_physorg
5 / 5 (1) Dec 07, 2009
I consider atheism a faith as they believe God does not exist.


So you consider non-belief in unicorns, Santa Clause and leprechauns also faith and don't consider it established that these things do not exist? O_o

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