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Why should I believe in a higher power?

Quantum1.0 posted this thread...
Apr. 16, 2013 at 8:27 pm

So...the title of this thread should be pretty self explanatory. For those who've seen my posts recently you'll know I'm a science nerd/probably atheist/agnostic/whatever you want to call it. On the other hand I have my doubts and wonder if I'm missing out on something (thank you Destinee for the video in my thread about scientific vs. religious thought). Anyway, I'm not sure if I can get myself to accept or not (or if I want to), but I invite everyone to challenge my ideas and to convince me why I should believe in God/any other higher power. Go...

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CollinF replied...
Apr. 16, 2013 at 10:46 pm

A man lives in an apartment building in a large city. His neighbor above him makes a lot of noise. The noise becomes so bad that the man is driven mad and becomes convinced that everything that goes wrong in his life is the work of his annoying neighbor. When he spills coffee on himself or falls down the stairs he's convinced it was somehow the work of his mortal enemy over whom he has obsessed. He refuses to accept that there are other factors operating in the world which must be taken into account, and that his neighbor is actually only a small portion of his life. When the man's priest suggests this notion to him, he laughs. "I have no need of such a hypothesis."
Can one disprove the man? Not really. One can only feel sorry for him as if he were crazy. This, according to G.K. Chesterton, is the attitude which atheists take towards the "natural." 
There's a whole dimension of existence which they refuse to let in so that they can fully experience life as it was meant to be lived. Religion gives you this. Not as competition to your science, but as a fleshing out of the rest of the dimensions of your life. 

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Destinee replied...
Apr. 16, 2013 at 10:53 pm

Hey Quantum. WOOT I feel special for the shout out :) I'm glad the video at least piqued your curiosity. 
I guess I'd better tell you a bit about myself before ...you know, talking for like 15 min. (>7 paragraphs) 
I'm from a Muslim family. When I joined TI, I was a pretty devout (relatively?) Muslim. At the very least, I sincerely believed in all the aspects of the religion, and pretty much taught Collin everything he knows about Islam. :P I was super big on knowing God exists (not, of course, scientific/probabilistic knowledge, but absolute knowledge). And I necessarily believed He existed too. 
Last year, I went through a big paradigm shift. At first I became a deist, but now I am an agnostic theist. In case it is not obvious, an agnostic theist is kinda like the dude who says, "I don't know if God exists, but I believe He does". As opposed to, say, Richard Dawkins, who says, "God probably does not exist".
Okay. So now that we've got that clear and out of the way... 
1. " wonder if I'm missing out on something".  If you mean "emotionally and spiritually', yes, you are. I can guarantee you 100% that belief in God and dedication to Him is far, far, FAR better than agnosticism, atheism, or any other a-religion that you'd like to list. For a number of reasons, but mostly because: 
a) Certainty. Christianity and Islam have an emphasis in having certainty and trust in God. Needless to say, in an 'uncaring world', which is so emphasised by existentialism and the "Absurd", certainty, even in H.ell, is comforting. :)
b) Community. Religious ties are almost as strong as cultural ones, which why religion and culture are so often at odds :) But there's no doubt that religions which emphasise going to the mosque/church/temple/synagogue/whatever certainly realise the role of community in a person's life. There are also certain ritualised acts, such as prayer, which add to the feeling of community, and also purpose. 
c) Purpose. Religions give you a clear purpose, and usually being "moral" is a very important part of it. 
Combined, I think these three very important aspects of organised religion are what most people find they like (love) about religions, and what I think many people miss out on, which is why they find other communities (e.g. going to a bar Friday night) or certainties (karma, "the Universe", treating science as certain, etc).
I ought to mention that the fact that religion is emotionally and spiritually appealing is not an argument in favour or against it. It is simply stating what I think is a fact, and what some very vehement anti-religionists will claim is not true, but which the vast majority of humanity both alive and dead will attest to. 
2. Here's why I believe in God:
- I do not think that we can "know" God exists. I think all knowledge, except for rational/logical/fundamental knowledge, is probabilistic. Knowledge is evolving, and unless someone can convince me that the existence of God is a logical necessity, I do not think His existence is exempt from probability. However, this does mean that religions are wrong. Instead, it means that life is a trial :) and our worldview/mindset largely affects whether we believe in God.
- Given the above, let's think about how we analyse things probabilistically. (I'm going to give scientific examples cuz that's just how I roll.) 400 years ago, it was considered "highly probable" that the Earth is circular-ish. Now, it's pretty much fact. I consider belief in God to be at the stage where it's "highly probably, but not necessary". 
- Why? Because I think that given our own minds, and everything around us, this world implies the existence of a Designer. Now, quite possibly there is none. But I think that when I do something 'without intention', it comes out all SPANRJBAFBFJAB spargled. Like that. Whereas I think that this world is more like a VERYBEAUTIFULPOEMWHICHISN'TARESULTOFBLINDLYBANGINGKEYS. Ya hearing me? 
- But of course, that is not an argument that convinces everyone. Because the God of that is not a specific God, and doesn't fulfill the conditions that I outlined (1). Nobody really cares about a spiritually bereft God, lol. 
- So my last reason, and I'm sorry that this isn't very relevant to you at the moment, is the Qur'an. I find it unlikely that the Qur'an is not in some way from a divine source. Not least becasue the entire religion of Islam is an edifice that I doubt a man came up with in 23 yrs, but because the Qur'an is just very, very (subjectively) beautiful. I encourage you to read it and study the history of Islam (the Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him specifically). 
- Lastly, there are a lot of mystics in this world. There always have been. It is sheer foolishness to say that the dozens of mystics that we have, both currently and in the past, were all hallucinating. Rather, we ought to accept that there is more to reality, however hazy it may be, than the material and the 'consistent'. In fact, viewing the world materialistically, and humans as mechanisms, hasn't gotten us very far morally, nor do I honestly believe that consciousness is a result of sheer mechanics. "Know thyself to know God", as so many people have said :)

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Destinee replied...
Apr. 16, 2013 at 10:53 pm

Wow, shoulda known Collin would post a short reply 100000x better than mine. :( 

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Destinee replied...
Apr. 16, 2013 at 11:05 pm

WOOT look what I just found :D [remove the space]
teenink.c om/forums?act=post&topic_id=19&thread_id=58888

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human6 replied...
Apr. 16, 2013 at 11:59 pm

To get girls. All that s.exual repression leads to some kin ky a ss s.ex

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Destinee replied...
Apr. 17, 2013 at 12:01 am

Please be appropriate, Ian. 

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Quantum1.0 replied...
Apr. 17, 2013 at 12:48 pm

Thanks Collin and Destinee for your replies. Anyway for the sake or argument here goes:
Collin: Good post. Just one question, which I admit is a little bit splitting hairs, but anyway: How does one define how life is "meant" to be lived? In other words lots of different cultures (and religions) have different ways to live. Is any one better than another?
Destinee: In regard to missing the spirtuality and emotionally part:
a) Certainty: Yes certainty is reassuring, but I can't get myself to believe something with no tangible proof with certainty. In many ways this is where I wonder if I'm "missing out". However I'm not positive I can change this based on my personality.
b) Community - yes. Most of the people whose moral ideas and company I enjoy are quite religious. However, in general I find these people pretty closed minded and to be honest somewhat annoying at times. On that note I appreciate the openness of everyone on this forum and having you willing to admit you can't know God exists, but based on what you observe about the world around you you believe He exists. I can understand that.
c) Purpose: yes religion does define a purpose for us. However, I also feel like I can give myself a purpose without it. Namely, I'd like to learn as much as I can about who I am and the universe. Also, I'd like to live a good, honest life, by the dictates of my own (I believe, good) conscience.
Next, regarding mystics and the apparent evidence of intelligent design I turn to the scientific argument for those things that seems pretty valid to me - although once again these things could seem that way because they really are. However, and this ties into your previous thread you linked, our intuition is actually a pretty bad tool for understanding reality. Just ask anyone whose taken a physics class.
Anyway, for those who believe in evolution, morality and belief in spirtuality can be described by that theory using the idea of group selection. Basically, early hominids lived in small tribes or groups. Those tribes that worked together the best survived. And having religion, believing in a higher power, and a moral code beyond that imposed by humans made those hominids work better together, And thus they survived and every culture today believes in spirtuality and many of the same basic morals because it is literaly incoded in our brain.
For mystics, I wouldn't say they are insane persay, after all we can't prove what is real and what isn't. Going into philosophy (and science in a way) what is reality, but what we percieve. However, I do know that certain eplipetic or those with damage to a particular part of their brain (part of the temporal lobe) will experience very realistic religious experiences. In other words those experiences can be caused by physical stimulation of the brain.
Anyway, I'll repeat that this seems to be a valid explanation to me. However, it does not disprove that these intuitions are real evidence of a higher power. They may be. But being a big physic fan I have little faith in my gut instincts for unraveling the nature of reality. Humans evolved to survive, not to understand the universe. Its just side effect that we care. 
And lastly, in regard to your other thread and the "teapot" argument against religion, I actually agree with you that in some ways it is better at disproving atheism than God. Since we can't disprove God I'd lean more towards agnosticism than athiesm. In conclusion my main issue with (many) religious people and diehard athiests is that you can't be that sure. And in the face of that uncertainty I'm unwilling to make a leap of faith either way on the God issue.

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human6 replied...
Apr. 17, 2013 at 1:46 pm

I was high off my butt I don't even remember posting that.

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Destinee replied...
Apr. 17, 2013 at 1:57 pm

I have exams coming up, so I won't have to reply for a bit. Just one thing; I don't support intelligent design as a scientific theory. 
Dude, get off drugs. 

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Aircrafter replied...
Apr. 17, 2013 at 3:37 pm

You shouldn't c:

I mean...Just another athiest, stalking this thread. Don't mind me!

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Quantum1.0 replied...
Apr. 17, 2013 at 7:24 pm

Aircrafter: Haha...most likely that's where I'll end up, as I've thought about this many times before. However, I feel like I should at least challenge my views just to see.

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Jade.I.Am replied...
Apr. 17, 2013 at 7:27 pm

Lol. you should read "Why Intellectuals Don't Need God" and other myths :P

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Imaginedangerous replied...
Apr. 17, 2013 at 8:24 pm

So you're into physics, huh? Okay, chew on this one:
I'm sure you've heard of the sheer improbability of our solar system, the earth, and the life on it. (If the Earth's orbit was off by a few inches, it would be inhospitible for life. If water became more dense in its frozen state instead of less dense- like just about every chemical known to man- most of our water would be locked in underwater ice blocks, making life virtually impossible.)
Not only is the earth improbable, the universe itself is an anomaly. I read a book by Michhio Kaku, one of the guys who developed string theory. He talked about how the very laws of phyiscs themselves- the four basic forces of the universe (gravity, electromagnetism, the strong and weak nuclear forces)- are in perfect equilibruim. If gravity was just a tiny bit stronger, the universe would be so drawn into itself that it would collapse. Any weaker and everything would fly apart. If the strong nuclear force was a little weaker, atoms would be unable to hold themselves together and the most complex structure in the universe would be a proton. If electromagnetism was any weaker energy would be almost impossible to transfer.
Kaku was of the opinion that universes blink into existence all the time, and that the vast majority of them aren't quite right- maybe one force is stronger than the others, or there's more antimatter than matter, or some subatomic particles fail to develop. Almost every single one collapses within minutes.
So here's the question- why is ours different? Why is this universe not only a good environment for civilization, a good environment for basic life- but a good environment for matter itself? The odds of everything that had to converge converging by chance are virtually impossible. This can't have happened by accident- it was planned.

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Rebecca W. replied...
Apr. 17, 2013 at 9:47 pm

Hello Quantum,
I’m new to forums and threads, and even this website, but your question stood out to me among the throngs of topics out there to talk about. I commend you for being so controversial and willing to listen to many pour in their ideas and beliefs for the sake of either informing or persuading.
I only ask for your understanding and a clear and open mind to what I’m about to reveal: I am a solid Roman Catholic and attend a Catholic school. I noticed a fellow religion of Abraham also wrote in so I feel a little more comfortable with what I’m about to say. (Please excuse my tone if it gets too passionate; I’m a redhead as well :/ )
Why should you believe in a higher power? Simply because a higher power believes in you. You’ve been given all these great examples that successful societies all gather in the same religion, history proves that this happened for the name of God, and that people are happy in this routine and blah blah. Well, it is grudging to have to wake up to go to church but I, as a human person, need that discipline and faith that something good is going to happen if I make that sacrifice. In fact, a lot of animals are “trained” the same way. We call this a sense of purpose- for the treats ;)
But you shouldn’t be in it for JUST the treats, the treats change over time to different things. Eventually I want to go out knowing that all my actions led to the treat of an eternal union with Love itself.
Can you imagine a life without a higher power? There is nothing. When you take that away, there’s no creation, there’s no space, no blackness, no light, none of that. We cannot even comprehend nothingness because we aren’t made of the stuff. That’s why you should believe in SOMETHING. We are something, we can imagine something. We are literally made up of gazillions of tiny somethings. Something is a relatively comfortable term for us in our vernacular. Now looking around this earth, there is plenty of evidence that SOMETHING made all of this. Could you make any of this?  I certainly wouldn’t have thought of half of the organic little creatures swimming around in the sea let alone the ones that are fossilized in the dirt, and we both know that we couldn’t have made up fossilization, that would’ve taken too much time ;) *drum beat*
The common misunderstanding behind a higher power is that we are being dominated and played with as though this were some kind of giant Sims game, but that wasn’t the idea at all. All Christians, especially Catholics believe that everything was created by love for love to love. This means that everything was created by God, out of his abundant love to share in it with him. Everything we have on earth reflects Him. Right now, I’m getting into pretty heavy stuff in my theology classes such as Theology of the Body (which I highly recommend doing some research on, because it just makes so much sense even if you’re not Christian or a practicing faith of any kind), so I could on all day about Catholics believe, but that won’t help you especially because you’re hesitant about any faith.
I’ve said a lot and I know I’ve probably raised more questions than I’ve answered, so I’ll leave you with simple things to think about:
Can you see love? Do you know that it’s real? It’s more than just chemicals in your brain? (Yes there is a chemical reaction, but have you ever wondered why scientists still can’t explain the design of the brain in all of its complexity?)
Who made science? Why are there so many exceptions for it?
It’s good that your indecisive right now, it means that you’ll have a greater understanding than those who blindly leap into faith not knowing what it’s all about, of course some of those people are strongly upright and moral though, and have never made an error, but in Catholicism, you’ll here that all the saints were corrupt once, and still were cursed with sin all their lives.
I strongly encourage you to reply, I’d love to hear what you have to say! I know I left some holes in this argument to be defended, but I need to also keep an open mind so it’s healthy for my faith as well to be questioned and challenged. Without doubt and questioning, where would humanity be today?

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Destinee replied...
Apr. 17, 2013 at 10:28 pm

Hey Rebecca!
Welcome to TI! Post an intro about yourself in the Newbies thread (might be on page 2). Great post BTW :)

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human6 replied...
Apr. 18, 2013 at 12:45 am

Nah why should I. They help me think

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Destinee replied...
Apr. 18, 2013 at 12:57 am

Which drugs do you take? (We can take this to another thread if you'd like.)

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Breece6 replied...
Apr. 18, 2013 at 7:13 am

Hey Quantum! :D
So, I'm gonna tell you up front that I'm probably gonna be dancin' between your side and the theist side, I like to play devil's advocate a lot *evil grin*
Anyways, I believe that I cannot tell you why you should believe in God.  That decision is far, far, far more personal than any other decision.  Like ever.  That's between you and God, quite frankly :P
However, I can try and aid you in your thought process by sharing my reasons for believing in God, both personal reasons and my rational justification for my belief.  I'll start with personal reasons:
I was raised as a Christian every since I was a little kid, I was always taught that everything in the Bible was perfectly true and I was always a good little Southern Baptist boy.  Then I got older, and started to become exposed to more and more different viewpoints, through school, through friends, and even through TeenInk.  
When I first came to Teen Ink I was a really conservative Christian, like big time.  I was all on the comments section of Anti-Evolution articles and threads and all like "Praise Jeebus!" and stuff.  Then my horizons began opening, I talked to some very unique and persuasive people, and I got into High School and started taking Biology and other high up classes that began to broaden my worldviews as well.  
I'm in the 10th grade now, and I ask myself the question, "Why should I believe in God?" every day, most days more than once.  
This is what I've decided though, I need God.  I can't explain with 100% certainty why, in particular,  I need God, but I do believe it.  I know that most Atheist/Agnostics would probably say, "You need it because you've been indoctrinated with it your whole life" or something along those lines.  But I've also been indoctrinated with the idea that evolution, the big bang, and other mainstream scientific theories are false, and yet now I accept them as valid theories because I've overcome my prejudice.  I've been indoctrinated with the idea that h.omosexuality is inherently immoral, let's not even get into what I think about that now ;P  
I think that if it were true that God didn't exist, I would find a way to not need him.  But I haven't yet, and I doubt I ever will, I just need him there, I need a reason to live, to feel worthy, to feel needed, to feel like a child.  Maybe it is just a social construct, but I personally don't think so.
Now let's get to the rational justifications! 
*Disclaimer: I will be mentioning evolution, not for the content, but for the structure of the theory itself, don't be alarmed :P*
If you've ever taken a Biology class, you should have learned that the Theory of Evolution is described as a table of sorts.
There's the table top -> ___________________
And the legs ->             I      I                 I      I
And the general idea, is that when you look at each of the "legs" of evidence individually, they can be dismissed as circumstantial, irrelevent, not enough.  Each of the legs of evidence, including things such as fossil records, vestigial structures, genetic commonalities, etc., are all not necessarily indicative of evolution on their own.  
BUT, when considered in light of each other, they become a strong case for evolution, I would go so far as to say they "prove" it, as far as proof can go :)  
I like to think of the evidence for God similarly:
Miracles, the uniqueness and complexity of the universe, the pervasiveness of God as a concept throughout human culture, the millions of people who testify to have witnessed and prayed directly with God, the improbability of prophetic fulfillment, all these things can be dismissed as circumstantial, coincidental, not necessarily indicative of God's existence.
But when considered in light of each other, I think they make a pretty good case for God's existence :)
Hope I helped! 

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Quantum1.0 replied...
Apr. 18, 2013 at 8:04 am

Imaginedangerous: So you make some good points (I think I might have read that book too). Yes everything (and I mean just about everything) is in a very fine balance for the existance of life. I'm not sure about a few inches off the Earth's orbit, but you're right that that and many other things are all in a "Goldilocks zone" (aka just right) for the existance of life. I admit this could point towards intelligent design, but I can also come up with a scientific theory that describes this - namely Kaku's idea about universes constantly being formed and being destroyed. It's just a sheer game of numbers. For example maybe you've heard the saying, "If you had an infinite amount of monkeys typing on typewriters (its an old saying) for an infinite amount of time eventually they'd write the works of Shakesphere."
It's the same thing with universes, assuming they operate like Koku (and other string theorists suggest), which has yet to be proved for sure. Given enough universes eventually one would have to be able to support life. 
Why are we in such an extremely improbable universe. Enter the anthropic principle...the reason we live in such an improbable universe is because it is the kind that supports life and we are life. Thus it is the kind of universe that we observe.
Of course intelligent design is another option I suppose. Anyway I have to go to class, so I'll get back to everyone else during lunch.

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