Peter Emer

The Lil Project

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Is God Real?

Its human nature to seek superiority and its human nature to seek an authoritative entity to take responsibility and control of one's life. So i often wonder if God is just that idea. The idea of a god that is all powerful and all knowing and just superior in everyday than any human being, is the very idea that makes me question the legitimacy of a God. We tend to subscribe to a divine command or an authoritative figure. The creator of the universe gets to set the rules and do anything it likes with its creations like sending them for eternal punishment.

And lastly, everyone that believes in a divine command gets the same satisfaction from believing in something that everyone else gets no matter what they believe in.

I am just interested in the TED community's input on this. I am a student of life, so i take no biases even if it sounds like it sometimes. :)

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    Feb 23 2013: the belief in god, anywhere in the world, at any time in history to the present, in any religion, is completely dependent on one single common factor….the believer was taught to believe, indoctrinated at the very earliest stages of his or her psychological development. If we as children were not indoctrinated in this way, then God would be relegated to the shelves of mythology with Zeus, Jupiter, and the rest. I know and believe this 100%
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      Feb 25 2013: Probably 95℅. In the end you need to be exposed to dogma to join a faith. Others might form a more personalised amalgam of different ideas from outside mixed with their own personal insights.

      Funny, many say you can know god if you open yourself to it.

      But then everyone comes up with different gods depending on their experience.
  • Mar 5 2013: Mankind invented the idea of God, an omnipotent, omnipresent being that created us in his image. This alone should tell you what religion is all about, and if God is real or not. Those that can't bear to live with doubts and questions about our existence prefer to turn to simplicity: it's easier to believe a magic creature created everything and that we have a purpose, than to believe we are the product of what appears to be a random chain of event, then try to take that 100,000,000,000 pieces puzzle and put it together.

    The idea of God (and gods in general, throughout history) is to answer the questions we don't understand, and to control the populace. What's an earthquake ? What's a lightning storm ? What about northern lights ? Wait, if I don't worship God I'll suffer for eternity ? This king has a divine right to rule under god, I should listen to him! When you have no way of figuring it out, it can be pretty scary. I'd probably be a religious man if I was born in an era of scientific ignorance.

    In this day and age, everything that God is has pretty much been disproved and everything now relies on blind faith alone, however the grip of religion weakens with every passing generation.
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      Mar 8 2013: I've seen a similar attitude with reincarnation.

      "they must have been good in past lives to be born into power and money.
      They deserve it

      And I must have been bad in a past life, I deserve to be poor.

      Different ways to justify inequality.
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    Feb 21 2013: If there is no God then surely we are the most irrational of creatures. No other subject has moved individual lives & world history to such an extent. So if there is no God, then why all the fuss ?
    Of course God exists; He's my best mate!

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      Feb 22 2013: So there is a God, because, ah, we are assumed to be, rational creatures and, these "fuss" should have a reason.
      Cool opinion.
      In my philosophy, it is called "Reverse Engineering God". You need something, you just make it. Demand and supply.
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      Feb 25 2013: Yes we can be be pretty irrational.

      Is it rationale to think your particular theistic interpretation is the right one when there are so many others.

      The more we understand about the human mind/brain, group dynamics, history and anthropology the more we see how we can be mistaken. Cognitive bias. The assumption of agency. Cultural programming.

      About half of human children have imaginary friends. It's not surprising adults can also build a belief system and interpret psychological experiences as evidence for their version of gods or spirits.

      I guess a Muslim or believers in other gods has similar experiences to you and assumes they have some sort of contact or relationship with god.

      Do you see your best mate god regularly. Are there two way conversations like we have with human mates? Or is it a bit more one sided and obscure. Did you get him on film or record his voice, or is it possible this is just going on in your head?
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        Feb 25 2013: Hi Obey,
        What you are looking for is a god in a box. Neatly labeled & packaged. If I was to ask you to prove to me that your wife loved you, you couldn't do it. You would present a list of circumstantial evidence, which convinces you, but I could easily dismiss. God is not a one night stand. He takes time & effort to build a relationship with. That relationship is unique & sacred. In your present state of mind, you just won't get it.
        Good to hear from you again.

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          Feb 25 2013: Hi Peter. I'm just looking for reasonable evidence that your god concept exists independent of your mind and cultural programming. It doesn't need to be perfectly packaged. Just a little empirical or compelling evidence.

          Concepts are not physical but they do exist within our minds. Just like your god concept exists in your mind. The missing ingredient is any proof that it exists independently of your mind. I'm not claiming love is a person that exists independent of our thoughts.

          We might argue whether the evidence that my wife loves me is sufficient, but I guess there would be sufficient evidence my wife exists independent of my mind. Not so your god.

          My point is really there is evidence my best friends exist independently of my mind, but not your personal god buddy. And the process you used to get to your god belief is the same process and similar type of subjective experiences others use for completely different gods.

          If you spend years reinforcing a god pattern in your mind and interpreting life through a religious lens, reinforced by subjective experiences, its not a surprise that construct becomes unique and profound.

          we know humans have the cognitive machinery to create imaginary friends, so it is highly plausible your god concept, just like all the other different ones other people hold is just a personal mental construct. I can not tell if your god concept, or a child’s imaginary friend exists independent of your mind. But neither can you I guess.

          Any way you are free to belief in your god. Doesn't seem to harm others significantly and seems to bring joy to your life and relationships. Fair enough.

          I just suggest there is not much evidence your best buddy god exists independently of your mind, and as a cultural construct more generally.
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        Feb 26 2013: Hi Obey
        We've been through this before elsewhere.
        To me the whole universe cries out of design & intelligent manufacture. I am totally unconvinced by just-so stories of chance over millions of years. The bible is way too complex to have been written by man. Among other things it relates human history over the whole lifespan of the universe.
        That keeps me happy, plus I get to experience God in my daily life
        We both have faith, just depends where you put it.

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          Feb 26 2013: The bible or quran, ink on paper, looks exactly like what you would expect men to produce.

          Now if god made a giant floating crystal of some indestructible material that magically answered all questions or carved the words on the moon, now that would give me pause.

          Even with all the codes etc its fairly mundane.

          I suggest we both have beliefs. I might just have less speculative ones in the supernatural department.

          To me life cries out the evolutionary tree of life, where animals survive by eating and killing other living things, And the natural universe is complex beyond human comprehension, but it totally does not look designed.

          If you roll the dice 10 times you will get a series that has a probability of 1/1024 of occurring, but one of those 1024 possibilities had to occur. What is the chance of your parents and their parents and their parents etc meeting. Pretty low. But it happened and its not magic.

          Any way I agree deja vu. All the best.
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    Feb 20 2013: I think the experience that people call 'God' is real. As to some omnipotent vengeful authoritative being, I doubt it.
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      Feb 20 2013: If your good you get a toy, if your bad you get a chunk of coal; he knows when you've been naughty or nice; If your good you go to heaven, if your bad you go to hell…don't see the difference...
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        Feb 20 2013: What god is that you are describing sir?
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          Feb 20 2013: Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.

          For we know him who said, "It is mine to avenge; I will repay," and again, "The Lord will judge his people."

          When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory:
          And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats:
          And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left.
          Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:
          Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels:
          And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.

          Allah's Vengeance upon the Enemies of His Messenger will surely come to pass

          Allah further says:

          (And even if We take you away, We shall indeed take vengeance on them.) means, `We will inevitably wreak vengeance upon them and punish them, even if you pass away.'

          (Or (if) We show you that wherewith We threaten them, then verily, We have perfect command over them.) means, `We are able to do both,' but Allah will not take His Messenger (in death) until He gives him the joy of seeing his enemies brought low and gives him power and authority over them and their wealth. This was the view of As-Suddi and was the opinion favored by Ibn Jarir.

          That guy.
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      Feb 21 2013: I think its "real" because we choose to believe it is. And we choose to attribute it to be "God", a divine all powerful being that will take care and handle life's obstacles for us as long as we live our lives in his eyes.
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        Feb 22 2013: Experiments show if a human be alone for a long time, he/she feels imaginary ants, bees, ghosts, phantoms, etc. around himself/herself. When we need something and we don't have it, we make it. In real world or in our imagination. Imaginary friend. Imaginary lover. Idols.
        If you need something, don't assume it exists, dude. If you have other reasons, I respect. But they are millions of atheists who defeat their needs. Don't reverse-engineering your God.
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      Mar 9 2013: Interesting perspective man. Just a quick question, this is a little off topic but i just want know what you think about. Do you think we will lead ourselves to self destruction?.....if we are not on that path already
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      Mar 9 2013: I don't think the so called god particle is anything to do with theistic gods from a scientific perspective.

      Just one of the final sub atomic particles theorized. A type of bosun I believe. The higgs bosun.

      It's a figure of speech, or a glorified label, based on a book title I believe and the media loved it.

      Sorry to disappoint. Still no compelling evidence of gods even if they do create and detect a Higgs Bosun. Unless you think atoms are evidence for gods.

      Agree we can do a better job living on planet earth.
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        Mar 9 2013: The Higgs boson has nothing to do with diety. The author of the book wanted to title the book "The God-___ Particle," because of its being the last missing and elusive piece in a model that was otherwise working well.

        The editor or promoter encouraged the change of title to something more catchy. As you say, the media loved it and people have been misled by that label ever since.
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    Feb 22 2013: G'day Peter

    Do you exist & are you real? There's your answer. To me God isn't of man but consciousness itself.

    I found the creator through science, I was on this science site & I asked the science minded people where did the matter & antimatter come from? The answer I got was it was just there, pretty lame so this sealed it for me.

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      Feb 24 2013: Just like you might assume god is just there.

      It seems a common argument.

      After 300 years of modern science the best of our super monkey brains haven't got it all figured out, therefore magic is a reasonable hypothesis. While I understand some aspects of the universe and its origins do our heads I just don't get that resorting to a supernatural explanation is intellectually fulfilling. It's like a magic plug for our ignorance not to different from blaming weather, earthquakes and disease on invisible agents or magic before understood things a bit better.

      Seems like an argument from ignorance. Possibly special pleading and doesn't actually explain how it happened. Answering a question with a larger unfounded mystery. And is not actually evidence of a god, just evidence of our ignorance and being content to resort to the supernatural to plug gaps in our understanding with magic.

      Glad we can agree to disagree.
  • Feb 21 2013: If you believe there is, just say, "for me, there is."
    If you don't believe, just say, "for me, there isn't."

    Knowing is the only way to be sure. If one feels or thinks they know, then fine, know, but keep it.......
    to yourself. You cannot prove it and since that is the key for either side, let it stay that way and stop talking about it.

    Proof of "knowing" can only come one way.
    Do you trust it no matter what, and no longer worry about anything?
    Because if you worry, you don't trust it and if you don't trust it,
    you don't know it. You only believe it. There's a difference.

    A good guide is this: do you ever become afraid?
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    Feb 21 2013: Since what is real is determined by what we agree to and that we use his name in vain so often how could he possibly not be real?
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    Feb 20 2013: Of course it is. Aren't dream, love and poetry real?
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      Feb 25 2013: So is god a dream or another word for the concept of love?
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        Feb 25 2013: If one agrees to accept that God is an idea created by humans, it can be thought of as a source of everything good, kind and compassionate - that's pretty much the essence of love, so why not? Such a personal god does not have to be any less important than the God of religions, may be more because we will not place the burden of the creation or the duty of a conductor of everything but will still seek solace and inspiration from. This god is blissfully real - a friend.
        The God of books, however, is an authority who watches over you for your every act and sends you to eternal damnation if you don't obey his commandments. This god is a ruler.
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          Feb 26 2013: I would agree that it is most likely that the typical god concepts are man made and do not exist outside our minds as independent beings.

          The word god is fairly loaded. If you are using it as the substitute for concepts such as love or goodness, that's your choice, but it seems reasonable to be suspicious that the intent is to attach more to it than this.

          If you start assigning agency, or personifying this concept without reasonable evidence than we diverge.

          I agree this is just as valid as more conventional monotheistic, polytheist or Deistic god concepts i.e. a human concept with no compelling evidence it exists as an entity in itself.

          You are welcome to imagine and personify this concept, call it friend, add meaning to your life, but if you want to demonstrate it exists independent of your mind, as anything more than a human construct, you'll need something more than wishful thinking.

          Personally I value the truth and try not to knowingly delude myself. The natural universe is difficult enough to understand, without inventing gods. Anyway, if it does no harm, fair enough. Perhaps there is an argument that this type of subjective thinking holds us back or leads to negative consequences that outweigh any benefits. Perhaps not.
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    Mar 20 2013: Are you real? Once you know your own existence in you own terms, then you will answer the question of God.
  • Mar 15 2013: It is true that many Christians believe so, not because of their own searching, but because of others in their life who pressure them or because it is simply easier. I am a Christian and I have tried my hardest to not be like this. I personally believe that God would rather someone passionately not believing in Him than passively believing in Him. So I think that, in a way, everyone needs to start from scratch. They need to get rid of assumptions and just see the truth.
    One thing that is clear for me is that if you seek, you will find. If you honestly, open-mindedly search then I think God will reveal Himself. Not in a physical way but in a Spiritual way
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    Mar 15 2013: no, none of the gods of man are real, and why this isn't obvious is a mystery

    start by defining terms.

    If one asks is this god real, and as part of the question gives various attributes of the god, it seems to me that it is much easier to answer because how one arrives at claims of specific attributes, and hence their validity, can be rationally challenged.

    If one can't assign attributes then one has to wonder what the person is asking. It would seem to equate to - Is this being, which I cannot describe in any way, including whether it is even an intelligent being, real? seems meaningless.

    10,000 gods
    pick 1
    or better yet
  • Mar 12 2013: "if God is just that idea" that seems to originate or matter of interest only to those who at least know a language or can communicate using it - so the question seems to have little deeper query too - Is the language real? or another, Is their a language that makes God Real? if so Am I aware of that language that makes God Real or Am I using a language where God originates as an idea ?
  • Mar 12 2013: Gods are not real, but the mental sickness associated to believing in Gods is very real. Our history is full of mentally sick religious leaders who like to infect others, And those 'others' are the people who are least capable of defending their mental state,,children.
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    Feb 26 2013: I wish to take on the questions asked by Peter.
    "Its human nature to seek superiority and its human nature to seek an authoritative entity to take responsibility and control of one's life. So i often wonder if God is just that idea."
    It's not human nature to seek superiority, it's human nature to seek camaraderie.
    It's not human nature to seek authority, it's human nature to seek authenticity. And it's not for shifting responsibility and control of one's life but it's human nature to love and let go of control with trust so that the self can relax and rest.
    God with capital 'G' is the product of the innate human confusion and directionlessness.
    The idea of eternal punishment is as anti-human as it can get.
    God, by definition, can jolly well mind his business. We need more humanity to mind ours.
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      Feb 26 2013: Probably a mix of cooperation and competition.
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    Feb 26 2013: @Obey no1kinobe : Very valid warning. But what gets missed is that such ideas are strictly personal and private. There is no intention to demonstrate it.
    It is next to impossible to live meaningfully without believing and imagining. Our idea of self is in large part imagination. Atheism is arguably another belief system having it's own extremists and fundamentalists. For one who finds it difficult to live without an idea of purpose, spiritual enlightenment and equanimity a personal god is a better choice than a religious god.
    The argument that this type of subjective thinking holds us back is questionable. The traditional science, at least a substantial part of it, is the contribution of scholars and scientists deeply religious. There is no clear evidence that atheists are better predisposed towards science.
    That leaves only Truth. The nature of Truth is, IMO, not absolute and it's philosophical basis has been debated time and again. The god of books makes use of this human confusion. A personal god, I think, is a safety release against that pressure.
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      Feb 26 2013: Hi PM, I agree we all have beliefs, world views etc based on our education, experience, reasoning, intuition, and limited senses and mind. However, not all beliefs are equal. Some are closer approximations to the truth than others. And contradicting beliefs can not all be correct.

      I get your point about atheism being a belief system. I would suggest atheism may be part of belief system but perhaps is not as broad or dogmatic as deserving to be called a belief system compared to a particular religious belief system. Perhaps even more narrow than an individualistic spiritual belief system.

      After all its only not being a theist.. Everything else is open from ghosts, afterlife, reincarnation, karma to views on abortion etc. Some may use this as a linchpin on which to hitch additional views or reflect a similar skeptical outlook, but there is no dogma, no necessarily shared world view.

      Personally I consider myself a reasonably open minded skeptic, left leaning on many social issues and somewhere in the middle economically. I would identify myself as an atheist only when it is relevant to a particular topic such as this.

      Whether a tendency to subjective, intuitive thinking in general is net negative to human development is an open question for me. I haven't considered it deeply. But it has no role in confirming scientific hypothesis. Perhaps with coming up with ideas and hypothesis but science is empirically validated rather than left to the subjective. Many spiritual or religious folk can still apply the scientific method and accept the outcomes, I agree.

      I would point out in the US, one of the most religious developed nations, more than 30% (from memory) deny evolution and believe the world is about 6,000 years old. Dogmatic religious views also have negative social and health impacts e.g .Taleban, caste system. So I would suggest there is a case that these kinds religious views based on subjective experience can hold us back. Not all spiritual views but many.
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        Feb 26 2013: I seem to like the way you think :) And there is not much disagreement in essence, I'd say. I also like it that you made clear your stand. Without that being cleared, a lot of debate becomes waste of time.
        I make a clear distinction between God with a capital 'G' and god that I am proposing to be personal and private. I am not religious at all and the simple reason is that I can go about in life and make a meaning of it without the necessity of a God, a super natural intervention, a creator or a keeper of morality as religious texts dictate. But I am certainly spiritual and I make a distinction between religion and that.
        I believe that over time our societies have acquired reasoned, secular, liberal and democratic value sets such that dispensation of social issues on the basis of religious texts that were written thousands of years ago create conflict and negative impacts on our values.
        However, if someone internalizes the apparent conflicts of life in the form of a core source of peace, joy and happiness with no conflict with the outside world or somebody else has same core source as a pleasurable quest with reason, curiosity and awe with no conflict with the outside world, I'd call both a personal god (I have no apathy towards that name). And it's very real to me. Just like love or poetry.
        Sure all belief systems are not equal. But honestly, I am not sure if only one of two contradicting beliefs has to be true. For life as a biological process, I sometimes wonder if we are living or dying on a daily basis. What do you think?
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    Feb 25 2013: I attend the local church in my town ever Sunday. But when i go, I go to see friends and meet new people. I also go to listen to the Bible scriptures. I do not necessarily believe in the one they call "God," but I do believe that the scriptures have fables in them. There are stories and parables in the Bible that have helped me through alot of tough times. I think of God as a role model that demonstrates one specific way to live a life.
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      Feb 26 2013: Fair enough KP. I guess many different religious or spiritual traditions contain some good stuff. I guess humans have not changed much over a few thousand years in regards to some aspects of the human condition. In some ways life is easier in many places, but we all lose friends and loved ones, we grew old, get sick, suffer along with some joy.

      I just find there is a lot of stuff to avoid in Abrahamic books as well.

      But a discerning person can separate the good from the barbaric.

      Yahweh or Jesus as the role model? Yahweh seems a nasty character. Jesus, more of a reformer and apocalyptic preacher. At least according to what was written about him decades after he died.

      I lived in a Buddhist country for some years and investigated some of their beliefs. Some of it is very insightful into the human condition. Some less so from a 21st century perspective.

      Judaism - seems to be about the covenant with their tribal god
      Christianity seems to be about salvation from a fallen nature
      Islam - Submission

      Some good insights in all I guess.
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    Feb 25 2013: Just as a side note Peter, and anyone else, have you read " American Gods" by Neil Gaiman and the sequel Anansi Boys, fiction and highly entertaining on the subject...
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      Feb 25 2013: Hi Daryl,
      No I haven't but if you recommend it I will definitely get myself a copy as soon as I can. Thanks for that(:
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      Feb 26 2013: Sounds a bit like Terry Pratchett's small gods. Looks worth a read. Ta.
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        Feb 26 2013: Though not familiar with Pratchett's book I did read a plot summary of it and it's not quite the same. American Gods is much more related to your question here than that...
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          Mar 8 2013: Similar idea where a gods power and ultimately its existence comes from the belief of its followers. Some gods are nearly forgotten are barely voices in the desert wind.
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        Mar 8 2013: AH, then your right, it is very similar
  • Feb 25 2013: If by "God" you mean: an omnipotent, omniscient and omnipresent entity, and by "Real" you mean: scientifically proven fact (currently or in the future), then I'm sorry to tell you that you question has no answer, which means both answers (yes and no) are equally valid (or more accurately: equally invalid). If you include omnipresent on your definition of God, then, there is simply no room for scientific proof or disprove. An omnipresent God may or may not exist, but the only truly 100% scientifically verifiable fact is that we will never know, never ever.

    I almost forget a very important point, if you don't include "omnipresent" in your definition of God, that necessarily and automatically excludes omniscient, and omnipotent, which leaves you with a God who is not everywhere, does not know all and is not all mighty.

    So, Is God Real ?... that depends on you definition of "God", and on your definition of "Real".
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      Feb 25 2013: Hi George :)
      Thanks for the comment, when i say God, i mean an omnipotent being that as religion puts it, takes care of our needs not our wants. And by real i mean visibly and tangibly real as a separate entity from your conscious. As in its not a creation of the mind and it consciously exists in space and time.
      • Feb 25 2013: Realize something: there is no possible way for God to be omnipotent if it is not omnipresent, and if God is omnipresent then it is necessarily and automatically invisible to our senses, and intangible to our minds, because its essence cannot be separated from physical matter, if God is omnipresent, then each atom that forms you is part of God, that means God cannot be separated from you, so...: how could you separate it from you conscious if you cannot separate it from your body???. Like I said, an omnipresent God is necessarily invisible and intangible. There is simply no way you can see, feel, touch, taste or hear an omnipresent God. That is the reason why you cannot proof or disprove its existence. I even dare to say that if you define God as omnipresent then any argument in favor or against its existence is invalid by definition.
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          Feb 26 2013: That is one perspective.

          To me all knowing is just a human construct, a concept, and very hard for a human mind to really comprehend. Probably impossible in reality.

          What that means in regards where the entity is located is pure speculation.

          I don't have to be everywhere to see a lot, hear a lot, etc outside my body. You could invent a god concept that knows everything via a super god sense, while it sits on my coffee table.

          I suggest you can not prove its existence, because there is no emprical proof and most likely its just an idea humans made up.

          If there is an entity somewhat like this then we still have no reliable way of knowing whether it exists or anything about it. It might as well not exist because it is outside our senses, outside our capability to detect.

          You can not disprove it because it is constructed in a way that is impossible to disprove.

          But is the same way you can not prove much of anything about its nature or intentions because there is no information other than the concepts some humans latch onto.

          Did you there is a transcendent invisible immaterial toaster. You can not prove or disprove these sorts of human constructs, but you can assign as much meaning or dogma as you like via subjective so called "spiritual" experience and revelations of your own or recorded through history or philosophised into existence.

          Actually you could assume this being has 3 different aspects, is triune in nature or 7, or 113 if you like.

          Sometimes the attributes tagged onto god concepts are a bit contradictory. Not sure how you can be all merciful and all just.

          And defining something as all good is like defining circles as the perfect shape. Or that the universe is perfect. It's just a definition that leads to circular thinking and contradictions with conflicting all good god concepts. It seems like nonsense.
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    Feb 24 2013: Seems to be a monotheistic bias below and in the question.
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    Feb 24 2013: Which particular concept of a god. What about beliefs in goddesses.

    The processes by which people develop gods and experience these seem unreliable.

    For me personally, I have not come across any compelling evidence for any gods, so far.

    Agree psychology and science in general helps us understand religious experience. We do seem primed to assume agency, and even today religious belief has a strong correlation to where you are born.
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      Feb 25 2013: Hmm, Great input Obey. I am just curious mind, so if my question's seems to have a bais, please forgive it. It was not intended and in my mind i have no bais only curiosity. As for me, i havent seen much evidence for a God and in fact when i think about a God, i cant help it think of my beliefs as the same beliefs as i had in Santa or the boogie man. Only difference is that we have been primed and conditioned to hold the belief in God as the fabric holding together our identity. And without it people would go into anxiety. So i am just a curious mind that wants to explore the basis of the question
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        Feb 25 2013: I understand peter. I've been there too. Then I went to college.
  • Feb 24 2013: People have been creating god since our existence, I guess that is because we try to figure out how we were created and how the things around us were created as well, and then, after questioning ourselves many times, we came into a conclusion like that, and we create a god or gods to explain it, but actually we don't have this answer yet. the science still searching for an answer everyday. So, Religions and science, they both still not knowing these answers, so we can't say which one is wrong, science or religions, because we don't know what actually is truth, if there is one truth.
  • Feb 22 2013: Is Life "real"?

    The answer to your question "Is God Real?" is dependent on your responce to... "Is Life "real"?"

    because the answer to both questions can ONLY be relavent to how "Alive" and aware you are....not to anyone elses answer.

    By the Bye this is the second "most asked question" that keeps coming up at TED
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    Feb 21 2013: I've always encountered these sort of questions before and the outcome of such conversations are not always pretty as one might say.We all believe in something.That something could be anything.Whose to say whether that something exists or not. Personally, I believe in the existence of a supreme being.I am a Muslim.

    However, my question would be : Why does it matter so much that it becomes a subject of vigorous debates, wars even.Can't we just get along? extremists are everywhere, I won't deny that.Why don't we all just stop discussing unnecessary topics and start to cooperate to build a more peaceful world.

    Trust me, my experiences tell me that discussing this topic wouldn't give us a solution that would satisfy all.
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      Feb 25 2013: Good point. I suggest intellectual discussion on the topic is not mutually exclusive to working for a more peaceful world.
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      Feb 25 2013: there is reason for discussion.

      That reason is children. Namely indoctrination. I don't care what an adult believes or why s/he believes it as long as that choice is consciously made. Religions have figured out a way to make people think that it's the default state to be a believer if they're born in some place rather than another. I was born and raised as a muslim. I would've probably stayed that way if it wasn't for my travelling and seeing different cultures. I don't mind a person being muslim or anything else as long as they chose it...not because someone said it or they were brought up that way because of societal norms. If religions were treated the same way as everything else - treated is disbelief and required a reason to believe in them, then I bet they'd be far less popular. Religious organizations have huge impact on societies and disregarding them or keeping quiet about them is just making it easier for them to do whatever they want. We've had enough of that (Crusades, wars, indulgence, tax exemption and many more). No more.
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        Feb 25 2013: I agree. With my daughter we have been careful not to brainwash her, to discuss the different points of view. My wife believes in a god, so she can hear different sides.

        But I can understand if you believe in hell or there are social expectations its a big ask to expect a theist not to indoctrinate the child. Its a bit sad but I don't think you can make it illegal to teach whatever values or religion parents want. But you can keep religion out of government, public schools etc.
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        Feb 26 2013: At the end of the day, our cultures, experiences and upbringing are all going to differ from one another.It is a fact that we all must accept to live together harmoniously.The only way I can view this conversation positively is that it might teach us our differences and that we might accept them as it is.I sincerely doubt it would give a final solution to all regarding the question of whether God exists or not .My travelling and seeing other cultures made me choose Islam as my way of life.My view is that we do not have to be similar to be treated equally.You can think or be whatever you like as long as you don't cause anyone trouble.
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          Feb 26 2013: It'll be unchanged if everyone accepts it. I refuse to accept indoctrination as some kind of unavoidable path. The best solution imo, is to expose children to other cultures and let them decide. I agree, we won't know for sure whether God exists or not, and that's not the issue. The issue is, that parents, who don't know themselves, for some reason think they know it well enough to have their children identify with the religion of their choice.
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          Feb 26 2013: I suggest there are strong arguments for the separation of church and state, along with personal freedom of and from religion, freedom of speech, equal treatment of sexes and sexual orientations, races etc.

          I agree broadening experiences is generally positive. Let people come up with their own conclusions, but let human rights and secular government take precedent and not force people to believe or indoctrinate, keep religion out of schools and other state institutions.

          I agree with your last two sentences.
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    Feb 21 2013: We have too short a life span to see anything in action and what's worse is people are realizing this and don't like it. I watched someone today crash into the car in front of him because his eye's were down lost online. I see people walk up to traffic lights push the button and flick! up comes the phones, about twenty people all standing there with their phones up. I wanted to take a picture but realized i had washed my phone with my jeans and destroyed it last week. There is no God but then there is no reality, just trudge up to the next stop then transport back into the new heaven.

    We can't physically get out of our heads and float around and see then jump back in and neither will you find the answer anywhere while stuck in this biological form.
  • Feb 20 2013: This whole question rises or falls with the existence of spiritual experiences. By this I mean feeling the presence of God. When you have felt Him it is no longer a question anymore. You know. These kind of experiences need not be rare, fantastic, or weird. I can tell you how to have them yourself. You don't need a background in Christianity or any prior experience with religion. I've taught people who have never really believed before how to do this. It's not science by any means, but it is repeatable and measurable, at least to you. All that's really necessary is a sincere desire to know if He's there or not, and an open mind. The problem lies in these two conditions. The reason why many people have never even heard of this is because most people don't want to know. If they knew, they might have to change their lives, and that's scary. They might have to change their beliefs, and no one wants to do that. (I'm guilty of that too, I know) And yes, once you build a personal relationship with God it changes your life. It's not an easy thing sometimes. It puts you in an interesting position: either it's all true or you're a raving lunatic. I can't deny the many experiences I've had, along with the hundreds of other people I personally know who have had them. There are many others I don't personally know, but I can tell you where you can read their stories. I don't think I'm a lunatic :).
    I can't logically prove or disprove to you the existence of a God. I can't scientifically prove or disprove it. I can't philosophically prove or disprove it. That's the point. Nobody can. That's why the debate has raged on for thousands of years. But the people who really want to know, know.
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      Feb 25 2013: I wonder if personal experiences are similar for believers in a whole bunch of different gods.
      I wonder if they might be just psychological experiences, profound but mundane in the sense that there is no real evidence for supernatural interpretations.

      I note sincere people searching for the truth about gods might end up believing in very different concepts or not believe in any.

      It's a bit like saying if you try to be a Christian, learn the framework and interpret life within that framework, spend years cognitively reinforcing those beliefs you might end up seeming real. Same for Islam or Zoroastrianism etc or whatever new age beliefs.

      I suggest the experiences are real, but the interpretations are an open question, although perhaps we know enough that the natural explanations are probably the lead candidates.

      I suggest the gods and natural spirits of others feel just as real as your God. But it is highly unlikely they all exist and impossible for conflicting interpretations to be correct.

      I admire your honesty that in the end it comes down to how you interpret your personal psychological experiences.

      I wonder what makes you think your interpretation is any better than the 6 billion other supernatural interpretations and others people held in the past?
      • Feb 25 2013: You know, you'd think that'd be the case, that many different people would have radically different experiences. However, in my experience I haven't actually met anyone who's had spiritual experiences that differ greatly from mine. Always the same feelings, the same general conclusions. Particulars did vary, of course. I was a missionary in Japan, and over the course of two years I talked to over ten thousand people about religion. (That's about 15 real conversations a day. I met many more than that, but I had actual conversations on this subject with about that many.) Those of them who had had spiritual experiences before in the past knew exactly what I was talking about, and they certainly weren't Christian. However, the sense of the One behind it was the same. Same attributes, same Person, in essence. Japan is nominally Buddhist, but it's more ritual than anything else. Regardless of formalized religion, the experience is more or less the same. I certainly haven't talked to all the people in the world, maybe that's just Japan. But as I've seen it, it's the same God talking to all people who'll listen. And yes, I believe if you do listen He'll guide you to a certain church, His church that Christ set up. Those people who did listen more to our message usually agreed that it correlated with the experiences they'd had, regardless of whether or not they joined our church or not. Other religions aren't wrong, just incomplete. Maybe that's a study you can do Obey, trying to correlate all the different spiritual experiences people describe and pointing out the similarities and differences. I look forward to your data.
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    Feb 20 2013: please read more carefully. I was saying my position on fallibilism/agnosticism of not benig 100% sure about not being 100% sure about everything else is a belief. I've said that I do not BELIEVE in GOD. I do not know whether s/he/it exists or not. I do not BELIEVE i can be 100% sure that it does or it doesn't regardless of the amount of information given to me. Now it doesn't mean that nothing in the world could change my belief in god or nature of knowledge. I don't know that. I know my beliefs, I look out to the world and consider my beliefs in accordance with evidence, plausibility as well as my personal liking. I was referring with regards to fallibilism that not being 100% sure about its truth doesn't make me feel like a hypocrite.
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      Feb 21 2013: Your chosen religion is called Arational Atheism. It is defined as: "Believing there is no rational basis for not believing in God, but exclusively choosing to not believe anyway." Are you sure you do not belong in the Agnostic religion which is defined as: "Believing God might, or might not, exist and avoid making an exclusive choice of either possibility."?
      Academic note: If you wish to reply to a post which has no "REPLY" button, scroll up to the next post by the person to whom you wish to reply which does have a REPLY button. Click-on that button and begin your reply with, "RE: "[quote a few of the opening words from the post to which you are replying here]". If there is no REPLY button available for the person then create a new post and begin it with, "@ [enter the name of the person to whom you wish to reply]".
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        Feb 21 2013: well agnosticism seems to concern itself with the nature of knowledge and conclude that you can be 100% sure about nothing. Atheism seems to concern itself with disbelief in God. I don't believe in God. I don't think you can be 100% sure that God exists or it doesn't. I choose to believe that it doesn't based on evidence as well as my reasoning/ideals. The only difference between the definition you gave and me is that I think evidence supports non-existence of God, and there is no rational basis for believing in God, but ultimately, since you can be sure of nothing, being sure that God doesn't exist for 100% is also silly. I believe it's a choice everyone makes whether rationally or not.
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          Feb 21 2013: You are correct sir that it (becoming 100% sure by a real, personal experience) is the most personal encounter anyone can ever know. So your current religion of choice is called Rational Atheism which is defined as: " The belief that there is a rational basis (sound reasons) for not believing in God". At this point I wonder if you will share those logically sound reasons?
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          Feb 25 2013: I kind of agree.

          It is impossible to test or disprove any invisible immaterial concept does not exist.

          I'm not even sure people know what they mean when they say gods are transcendent, outside time and space. Our experience is only within time and space.

          What we do know is that every time we apply the scientific method to reliably come up with a testable and repeatable explanation there are no gods or spirits necessary. This is not proof that there are no gods or goddesses, just that we find no evidence for them by the most reliable method we have developed for understanding reality.

          As for atheism being a religion, I won't bite other than its a bit like saying not playing tennis is a sport.
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        Feb 21 2013: it ultimately depends on your definition of God. If you accept scriptures like fundamentalists do...then scientific evidence is enough to show that earth isn't less than 10000 years old - or all the scientific evidence for natural selection, which has quite a few arguments to make about the way people came to be. If you believe in morality of a still personal God but not the technicalities like how life came to be, then a simple question of existence of suffering leads to only possible answer - God works in mysterious ways - which's a copout imo. Then you start questioning the so called religious people - you can look at the church and see all the immoral acts done by it, or people who claim to belong to certain religions but their actions prove otherwise. If a person sincerely believed that he'll be suffering in flames for eternity for drinking, or doing some of the myriad of things prohibited by scriptures - they probably wouldn't do it. Which makes me conclude that there are other reasons for them to say that despite their sincere beliefs - social acceptance. Obviously morality is quite subjective and in my understanding, the existence of an almighty, all knowing God, and suffering of innocent on the earth it created leads to conclusion of an immoral God. Even if there was to be some kind of excuse which religious people refer to with their "mysterious ways" - we can only make our choices based on available information. We know for a fact that there's suffering, thus if there was someone who could stop it but didn't, if that someone was to plead innocent, it better provide some evidence. That's the standard we have in courts. If you murder someone in self defense - you prove that it was self defense, or go to jail. Why we must uphold God to an easier moral standard is beyond me. It's the powerful and knowing that should take most of the responsibility - in the same way as if we wouldn't judge a baby for pressing a button on the button that lunches a numclear
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          Feb 25 2013: Maybe there are lots of invisible intangeable gods who are smart but not all knowing. Maybe some of them are stupid even relative to fallible humans.

          Suggest just as much evidence for them as almighty all knowing ones. This monotheistic construct is awfully convenient and without any compelling evidence.
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        Feb 21 2013: weapon, we can't judge people for sinning, since we're so imperfect. If it was the baby with a bomb case, we'd be judging the person who gave it to the baby, not the baby, the same way if it was God who created imperfect creatures, he has no right to judge them for not following his rues. After all, he's all-knowing, he knew that a creation of his would disobey and still decided to create a hell to punish it, thus that creature's fate was to suffer an eternity before it was even born. Quite immoral imo. Which brings us to question of determinism. I don't like determinism. The idea of all-knowing God, implies that the world is deterministic in nature. If you were to believe in existence of heaven and hell, that'd mean that some are predetermined to suffer eternal punishment, they were brought to life from nothing only to live a short existence and then suffer an eternity...if I'm one of these I'd rather neve have been born in the first place. If God creates humans, sees them sin and doesn't stop them, then he's the one responsible.
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          Feb 21 2013: In order for you to disagree with the way God does things you must believe he exists. So long as you deny his existence it is utterly illogical for you to agree or disagree with anything based upon his existence. I do not see one logical, sound reason for not believing in God in your exhaustive list of problems you have experienced in your life thus far. In order for you to know even one truth about God you would have to believe he exists. Otherwise you can only confess you know absolutely nothing because it is impossible to know anything about a non-existent entity. Seeing others do nonsensical, hypocritical acts is not evidence that God does not exist. As an Atheist you really can only say, "I know nothing, zero, zip, nada about God. I only know what some people who claim to believe in God act like."
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          Feb 25 2013: I guess just because some god constructs are nasty from a human perspective doesn't mean they are not real.

          looking around at the universe where 99.9999% of it would kill us instantly, and where most animals on earth survive by eating or killing other living things, there doesn't seem to be much evidence for an all loving all knowing god.

          The problem of evil does not disprove that creator gods exist, just that if they were human you might not respect them.

          Hi Edward, with due respect it is possible to engage in hypotheticals and study the subject of religion and gods and know a lot without believing in it.

          And some atheists have previously been theists so have the personal experience as well.

          I suggest the argument that there is no empirical evidence for any gods is pretty sound not to believe. Theists just have their subjective personal experiences that can reasonably be explained as cognitive and psychological phenomena and our ignorance in understanding the cosmos.

          Modern science has had a few hundred years in 13 billion. Reverting to gods to fill the remaining gaps seems questionable.
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        Feb 21 2013: I've said that I do not believe in knowledge. God's existence or non-existence seems to be a fact that doesn't really depend on whether we believe in it or not - which also can be doubted. Since I do not believe in knowledge then the only hing left to us are beliefs. Then, we must look into what are the reasons for believing in God. Here are the following reasons I've seen in believers: 1) social acceptance 2) it's a good story to tell yourself to feel better 3) fear to go to hell or some other utility from belief in God

        1st reason - I don't care much for
        2nd reason - I've stated my opinion on the God's morality and I don't think God is a good story to tell thus this is out of the way for me.
        3rd - there could be a reason to be afraid of going to hell and we could use Pascal's wager as an argument but here's my take on it: 1) Scientific evidence (which is the best guess we have) disproves ideas stated in holy books (existence of life, and other so called "facts") which should put a doubt into minds of believers, if that part is false...even though some say that scriptures were changed and not preserved in original form - then which part of it isn't? Who's to say that all of it isn't. Pascal's wager-like arguments are completely useless because of one simple question: which God to believe in? Sure he tried investigating various religions but thousands of arguments can be made against his logic as well as methods. It could be any of the thousands of Gods or something completely different. The God itself could be wrong. Let's take an example. Let's say some ridiculously, to us unimaginable advanced race decides for whatever their advanced purposes are, to create another creature which's also unimaginably advanced to us, but still is far beyond their power. Now they implant ideas in its head that and make their existence unknown to that creature. It assumes it's the only one, and only and the master of everything
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        Feb 21 2013: it creates a universe, stars and planets, humans, sends us scriptures (or whatever religion you choose to follow) and creates heaven and hell and etc. And then judges everybody by some arbitrary set of standards it comes up with. In this case...who's God to you? The one who created us, or the ones who created the one who created us? This kind of questions eliminate Pascal's wager-like arguments.

        After this lengthy post, I think you see my argument is quite simple: I don't see any reason to believe in God. The default for me just as everybody else is disbelief. When you choose to believe something you must have a reason. It could be something like it makes you feel good, or it interferes with your life or it's backed by evidence, thus you need to incorporate it in your belief system to function better (e.g. gravity will pull you down whether you believe in it or not, thus resisting would be futile). I do not think there's a good reason to believe in God, thus I go to my default set of disbelief. Simple
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        Feb 21 2013: meaning it's not me who has to disprove existence of God, it's the God that must give me a reason to believe in it.
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          Feb 21 2013: Your argument is indeed simple, too simple. So you say absence of proof is proof of absence? That is very unscientific, illogical, and poorly thought-out. Burden of proof is on the one making an argument. You are that one. You are arguing that God does not exist. Either fulfill the burden of proof or abandon the argument. I have no burden of proof because I am not arguing anything. I know I cannot prove to you, or anyone else, that God exists. I am holding your feet to the fire because you insist that you have logical reason to believe God does not exist. You have been asked to prove your conclusion with premises and you have not delivered. You should stop arguing that there is no God. You cannot prove a negative. You're in the wrong church. Your religion, as I told you earlier, is Arational Atheism because you have shown no rational basis for not believing in God, but you choose to not believe anyway. If you wish to be a Rational Atheist you MUST show a rational basis (sound reasons) for not believing. Drop anchor man! Drop anchor.
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          Feb 25 2013: Absence of evidence is not proof, but it indicates a weak position.

          Shall we believe in everything without evidence, Allah, reincarnation, that each planet has its own Mormon god, that there a a billion invisible gods sitting on my sofa.
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        Feb 21 2013: there are many reasons to not believe in God. They vary with the God you choose. Let's take the most popular one - Christian God - Christians have an almighty and all powerful God and a scripture. That scripture has arguments in it which are proven wrong. 6000yo earth. But that's not the point.

        The point is, you think I have to prove nonexistence of God. I disagree. Proving nonexistence is indeed trying to prove a negative which is usually impossible. I am not trying to prove nonexistence of god, rather I'm trying to give my reason for not believing in it.

        It's very simple.
        It's the same reason why I don't believe in a spaghetti monster or Santa Claus. I don't have a reason to.

        As I said earlier the default state of a person is disbelief. Once there is a reason to change it, we change it. Meaning it's not me who needs to give a reason for my disbelief in God, it's religious people or god itself that has to give me a reason to believe in it. Or I must find a reason. I don't have a reason and haven't seen or heard good enough of a reason to make me believe in god.

        I do not make a claim to knowing that god does or doesn't exist - rather my belief that it doesn't due to absence of a reason to believe otherwise.
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    Feb 20 2013: It would be quite convincing that there is no God if there were no Atheists. After all, who can itemize what does not exist and prove it does not exist?
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    Feb 20 2013: An Omni-being is possible, but hardly something to worry about.
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    Feb 20 2013: The thing under the bed is certainly real to a 4 year old who must leap from three feet of the bed to avoid being pulled under. If you close your eyes and consider this prospect, it is frightening indeed, especially to 4 year old. We are taught to believe by the single most prominent authority in our lives as children, our parents, the very authority we are also taught not to question. My questioning journey began when I found out my parents were co-conspirators in the myth about the big hairy elf who brought me presents every year wasn't real. But most people don't sail on that ship unfortunately.

    God is real to those who believe, but then, so is Santa Claus….or the thing under the bed...
    • Feb 20 2013: I thought that three foot rule was just me. I am glad to see that others were forced to endure the tortures of the under the bed monster as well. Did you have to stay away from the edge of the bed as well. I did.
      I also had a closet that was behind me so that from my hiding spot in the middle of my bed I couldn't see it.
      Life was hell!
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      Feb 25 2013: So gods are real imaginary human constructs. I can accept that.
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    Feb 20 2013: I sincerely believe that you can't be 100% sure on anything in life. Nothing. At all. However, knowing and being sure of something has nothing to do with believing in whatever we want. I look around me and I realize I don't believe in God, and if it existed I'd have a bone to pick with him. Looking at the world, I find God to be a distasteful and immoral belief. Others look at the world and they see intelligent design everywhere. I believe, people ought to be able to believe whatever the hell they want, no matter how absurd. And then live with the consequences of their choices. To me belief is a choice.
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      Feb 20 2013: It would be so simple if belief were actually a choice. However, that isn't the case. Most people who believe, do so because they were taught at the very earliest stages of their mental development by their parents to believe. Santa Claus, the ToothFaery, Easter Bunny, the thing that lives under the bed…..god….fortunately our parents or other circumstances relieve us of the anxiety over all of them except…..god. We are left with a belief in something that is unsupported by evidence and remains a deep psychological scar. People believe because they were taught to, not because they chose to.
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        Feb 20 2013: sometimes that's the case, which is why I'm against indoctrinating children. But imo, regardless of circumstances (which have huge impact) the final decisions is individual's to make.
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          Feb 20 2013: Quite true, we are at some point in our development responsible for how we choose to experience this life, however, not having the predetermining factors of deep-seated psychosis does aid in a person's ability to grow and flourish in an air of reason.
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        Feb 20 2013: Do you know any adults who believe in the Tooth Fairy, Santa Claus, or the Easter Bunny? Aren't the things of childhood put aside as part of growing-up? Many people believe in God, or gods. They have adopted their beliefs, or kept the ones from their childhood, as adults. Their beliefs are important to them as adults. They hold to them because they choose to, not because they were, as you say, taught to. They choose to discard some of the beliefs they were taught and to keep some. If you insist God does not exist it is not because you were taught so, it is because you have chosen to say you believe it.
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        Feb 21 2013: I share the same view Daryl. A lot of our beliefs are a psychological manipulation that has come tattooed to our minds. I was a devout christian and then one day i thought about why i believed in God. And what evidence do i have. And whether i should rely on a book that was written by man? And at the end of it all, i came to the same conclusion.
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      Feb 20 2013: Are you 100% sure that we cannot be 100% sure about anything in life. If you are right about being sure then you are wrong about not being capable of being sure. You cannot be both right and not right at the same time. Do you THINK we cannot know anything for sure, or do you KNOW for sure we cannot know for sure?
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        Feb 20 2013: hahaha good point. I made exact the same argument when I first heard of fallibilism. To answer your question, no, I am not 100% sure than you can't be 100% sure about anything. It's just a belief I have chosen that sits well with me and doesn't make me feel like a hypocrite.
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          Feb 20 2013: You think it is hypocritical to allow for the existence of God and you think it is consistent (non-hypocritical) to insist that God does not exist. By real world rules both of those are in error.