While it is impossible to prove the existence of God, there is nevertheless quite a bit of evidence that supports the value of religious faith.
For me, the most convincing is actually not evidence but experience. Life can become not worth living if we lose its purpose or meaning. For those of us who have ever contemplated suicide, the foremost thought at that point is that life is not worth living. Why should life be worth living? The concept itself is meaningless unless we assume that God exists. Life cannot have meaning unless there is God.
So, the existence of God is a prerequisite belief for life to be meaningful at all. Otherwise, our lives serve no end and whether or not we choose an ethical life, or any form of life, is simply a matter of personal preference.
Studies on happiness also suggest that real happiness, i.e. a persistent contentment with life, needs an outlook of life that can transcend the immediate circumstances. To be truly happy, we need to find that happiness that is not dependent on the transient circumstances that we are in. This transcendent happiness is only possible if we believe that no matter the current circumstance, the present difficulties will pass and the underlying stability of life will persevere.
It stands to reason that if you have this faith in the soundness of life, you will better survive the tribulations that come your way, and not only experience greater well being but also live longer. And indeed research supports this expectation.
So, far from indicating that you have lost your senses, believing in God often results in you gaining your senses and approaching your life in a positive and generous light. It is a belief in God that will guide you through life, regardless of whether or not those around you believe.
5 blog comments below
|Haiku2016 wrote: |
|... the existence of God is a prerequisite belief for life to be meaningful at all. |
Is this true?? I think this is a false premise. This assumes that meaning is prescribed, rather than derived, which isn't shown to be true. Why should meaning have to come from an external source? There are a few religions, even, that don't believe that meaning is provided by gods (e.g. various forms of Buddhism, Tao, Zen, etc.)...
I find these sorts of arguments, while they may be personally fulfilling for some,far from universal, and rely heavily upon perosnal experience and perspective to be concluded. Basically, they rely upon a very specific subset of the available evidence, and ignore anything that doesn't jive with the predetermined conclusion. It puts the conclusion ahead of the evidence; a common trap in spiritual topics.
|Haiku2016 wrote: |
|It stands to reason that if you have this faith in the soundness of life, you will better survive the tribulations that come your way, and not only experience greater well being but also live longer. And indeed research supports this expectation. |
|Haiku2016 wrote: |
|So, far from indicating that you have lost your senses, believing in God often results in you gaining your senses and approaching your life in a positive and generous light. It is a belief in God that will guide you through life, regardless of whether or not those around you believe. |
I'm not sure that anyone would seriously suggest that belief in gods indicates one has lost their senses... having one's faclties about one's self doesn't conflict with belief in gods. I think there are a great many examples of how this belief does not necessarily lead one to approaching life in a positive and generous light, however; there are a great many examples of the religiously convicted who are far from generous, or positive.
Belief in God, however, will certainly guide you through life, irrespecive of whether people around you believe. That doesn't intrinsically mean that it's true, not that the general truth of the proposition necessarily dictates whether some of the principles guiding you aren't good in their own right.
As someone who has thought about suicide part of it was because I felt too much was changing around (bad stuff and family stuff) and I had no control and I didn't know how to regain that control. I felt I was working against too many people and too many issues and I basically wanted to give up. Of course, I didn't. I never tried to kill myself, but the thought was there. Now it comes and goes and new reasons have cropped up to sway me. I lost my mom well before I should have in a traumatic way. Not only does life feel too hard some days, I also want to throw up the white flag simply because I miss my mom and the world has lost that bit of colour she seemed to add, that bit of light that was her presence. I just... don't give in because I know I have people out there who would be hurt by my loss and others that would be angered or they wouldn't understand. And, as silly as this seems, I would be leaving my cats behind and oh goodness who would look after them!?!
I don't believe in God. While my mom is dead I don't speak of her as being in heaven. To comfort myself and when I contemplate my own mortality I choose to believe she's with her family and our pets that we used to have. She's somewhere with the sun that warms her skin but never burns. She can be by an ocean in an instant if she wanted to. She'd have all the books she could ever read and a flourishing garden she could tend and never feel weary from the effort. It's where I hope to be when I'm old and my body is knotted with arthritis and I can't remember what I ate for breakfast.
I believe others can believe in God. I have a friend who turned to God with such force of will. It was the only thing she could turn to after many others failed. She found strength there, one I can't understand. She takes comfort in this person we don't really know existed or exists. She takes comfort in the words from this book that has been translated and changed in the process. Those stories and words somehow help her keep on going. She just has to believe things will work out and that God is looking over her and things will work out in some grand design we're never meant to know.
I simply look into myself for that. I reason with myself. I look to those around me. To my memories. This is the life I have carved out and I've struggled in my own way. I can believe that things will work out in some way. I don't know what that will look like but really... all I can do is take this life one day at a time.
Thank you, Ankhanu and TheGremlin, for your views. I totally respect your views and will not be arguing against them. Yes, there is always a subjectivity in our views and there are many ways of looking at the world and still not be wrong. The important thing is that you are walking a good path (at least from my standpoint) and working out your way towards salvation/happiness/contentment/meaning/purpose (whatever it is what you want from your life). And you may not even agree with me on this.
My point here really is not to promote my single point of view but to argue that a Christian point of view is actually an inclusive one. I really think that Jesus will not object to your positions and will welcome you into heaven. I think that's why there is so little known about him. He didn't come to earth to start arguments but to save us.
I can also accept that, from your viewpoint, my arguments may seem narrow and even rationally faulty. I don't claim to be the Truth (unlike Jesus). Thank you for sharing this.
I don't agree with you in some of your ideas, as mine are very different (opposite in occasions),
but I really like seeing other ones ideas and you write soo well, keep it up!
I also applaud the respect and grace that you put in the responses to other users
Thank you, resonpiston, for your kind words and giving me an opportunity to post again. Let me emphasize that I don't think Jesus meant for us to argue over his existence. He came to save us. And I've found arguing over who's right or wrong has never convinced anyone of Him.
However, I do wonder over the difference between Ankhanu's prescribed and derived. If by derived, Ankhanu meant concluding based on evidence, then the difference is simply whether or not we take the next step of faith. In other words, there's no difference between the two positions except the question: did we conclude that certain moral principles are true based on our own understanding of the evidence, or did God somehow created these rules and told us about it? It will be fair to say, I think, that Ankhanu does not disagree with the moral principles themselves but with the claim that they came from God (i.e. that God exists).
So, the first question is what is or are these moral principles? I suggest that you have, on the one hand, the simple command of Jesus, love God and love one another, and on the other hand, all the other moral principles of various religions, philosophies, ideologies, and personal beliefs. It seems to me that the single moral principle of Jesus is fundamental to the rest and has withstood the test of time. The rest, to me, are somewhat convoluted and incomplete. This is not to say that they are wrong. Simply that they seem to me to have missed the point in some instances. They lack the clarity, simplicity and obviousness of Jesus's command.
Obviously, this is my point of view, and I expect Ankhanu might disagree with me and perhaps say that the teaching of Jesus is as clear or as unclear as the rest. This would be a fruitless path to go down.
If, however, we agree that the teaching of Jesus is indeed the foundation of all morality, then this particular moral principle is prescribed, not derived. Jesus told us about it and commanded that we follow it. You can't get more prescribed than that.
This would take us down another slippery slope, is Jesus really God? I've been involved in too many falls down that slope to want to do it again.
Which takes me to TheGremlyn's post. I feel for him (or her) and wouldn't want to disrupt his moral footing in any way. But it does raise the question, why not believe in the heaven of Christianity rather than the heaven he imagines? Why walk your path alone instead of walking with God?
I think the answer lies in the failure of Christianity. So many Christians are so spiritual that it is hard for the rest of us to enter that world. It seems so foreign to the world we live in. And many Christian faiths like to emphasize this difference. That somehow being a Christian makes you special. I think this is why Jesus was so angry with the Jews. Everytime we create a religion, we distance people from God. Especially the sinners, whom God loves with a passion, because every sinner is struggling with life, and He yearns to save us. That's why, when Jesus was on earth, the life he led is as far from religious practice as you can get. Let's not forget that he didn't ask his followers to write the Bible, nor even to build churches. He said, as long as there were just two of them meeting in his name, that's enough.
Jesus reached out to us and saved those who believed him. He walked amongst us. He didn't ask us to go to him, he came to us. We create institutions and ask that people enroll in them, follow our rules, pay tithes, and we tell them they are saved by Jesus and by their faith in Him. Isn't this hypocrisy?
Yet, I don't see how else we can carry on the faith. I accept that religion is our way of keeping our faith in an enduring way. I don't know how else it can be sustained. And, yes, I enjoy the ceremony and ritual that goes with it. But religion is the cloak, not the substance.
I do wish and hope that someday, we can connect with God without the encumbrance of religion. Actually, I do believe that we do, but we don't know it, and we cannot call upon him because of this. God is, to me, such a rational and logical thing to believe in, I wish science embraced Him. Perhaps then, we can all be with God and not be embroiled in the division of religion.