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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 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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