Reasons to believe

Below are some questions i have been wrestling with lately:

Does belief in God come naturally or is it something you have to search for?

How does one come across reasons to believe, do you search for said reasons or do said reasons just… happen?

What are some logical reasons for believing in something (theism) with little to no (scientific) evidence?

Would love to hear your thoughts and answers to these questions, thanks!

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Hard to say because most of us already come into belief before we are old enough to think about meaning of life and etc. I think it’s not unreasonable to assume that most people who weren’t introduced to faith just didn’t think too much about it through their lives and if they were in doubt they quickly went by some common wisdom so they can keep doing what they were doing.

There is a lot of christians, muslims, buddhists and etc. so it’s fair to say that it’s both, some just accept what society teached them, some try to find reasons to believe and some just go by intuition.

Well, not every theism has a logical reason to believe in, although there’s probably dozens of them for each belief because there are many views on what “logical reason” is. If it’s about question “is there some God, doesn’t matter which”, then I guess ontological argument provides some reason that if there’s something we deem powerful, then there can always be something a bit more powerful, at least in a changing reality like ours. And if we keep on going, and finding those more powerful beings, we can finally reach the most powerful being that can exist. And that’s God.
That doesn’t prove that God that is omnipotent or omnipresent exists though if that’s your definition of God, reality may provide a limit that’s not possible to reach, for instance even though you can always go a bit faster, you can never reach speed of light, and also there’s no way of knowing if the most powerful being is also “good”. There doesn’t seem to be a correlation between power and goodness.

If you don’t have any solid evidence, one good reason to believe in theism is if theism provides a lot of wisdom, like Old Testament was a gold standard for ancient civilizations, and New Testament morals are in my opinion unmatched by anything to this very day, apart from some topics. Obviously wisdom is subjective, so there’s a lot of people who will say that New Testament was immoral.

Another reason is that without theism there is no reasonable way to assume we have free will and that makes nihilism the only reasonable worldview, which is a game over, as it’s the same as us not existing.

Or maybe you choose to believe in something because you are afraid that nihilism might actually be true. I mean life is cruel. Why should the afterlife be any better ? Hope is what keeps us going.

It’s reasonable to think that way, after all, I reject it simply because I don’t want it to be true.
That changes nothing though, nihilism is still a worst case scenario imaginable. Doesn’t matter if I’m afraid of it or if I don’t care for it at all. It also creates the most self-contradictory philosophy there exists(doesn’t make it any less fake though).

For example, if we assume nihilism to be true, those sencentes become nonsensical.

I have to say though that it’s the most solid philosophy, you can disprove everything you desire with it. And that why it’s so popular, sometimes people want to be right more than they want to have meaning.

You are trashing an ideology you haven’t studied I’m not a nihilist but saying that an ideology doesn’t make any sense without providing some sort of argument or something …well

In your own words you want to be right in your own way.
And my question is . Life is cruel. Why should the afterlife be any better?

My reasons for belief… I have posted them before. And link them frequently… And all of these are connected to the details of what believe and you can find explanation of this linked below.

  1. As a physicist I have to ask myself as other physicists have asked themselves whether life as we experience really can be summed up in the mathematical equations of physics. My necessarily subjective conclusion, the same as many others, is that the very idea is absurd. Science puts our experience through the filter of mathematical glasses and to be sure this methodology has proven marvelously successful at not only explaining many things but discovering new things about the world that we never expected. But this is just looking at life in one particular way and I think it is quite foolish to confuse this way of looking at things with the reality itself.
  2. It was through existentialism that I made a connection that first gave some meaning to the word “God” for me (I was not raised in a religion unless it is the “religions” of liberalism and psychology). I came to the conclusion that the most fundamental existentialist faith was the faith that life was worth living. I also concluded that for theists their faith in God played the same role for them in their lives, suggesting that the two kinds of faith were really the same thing in different words. That equivalence basically became my working definition for “God”, and from there it was a matter of judging what understanding of God best served that purpose.
  3. Physicists experience shock and cognitive dissonance when they first understand what quantum physics is saying for it seems to contradict the logical premises of physics and scientific inquiry itself. But there is one thing that makes sense of it to me at least. If the universe was the creation of a deity who wanted keep his fingers in events then these facts of quantum physics would provide a back door in the laws of nature through which He could do so without disturbing the laws of nature. I am not saying that any such conclusion is necessitated by the scientific facts; only that on this subjective level where quantum physics created such cognitive dissonance for so many physicists, that this idea would make sense of it – to me
  4. I have considerable sympathy with the sentiments of the eastern mystics that logic is stultifying trap for human thought and consciousness. The result is that even if I found no other reasons to believe in a God or a spiritual side to reality and human existence I would very much see the need to fabricate them for the sake of our own liberty of thought. We need a belief in something transcendent in order for us transcend the limitations of logic and mundane (or material) reasons to give our uniquely human ability for abstraction more substance and life.
  5. I feel there are profound pragmatic reasons to reject the idea that reality is exclusively objective because it immediately takes any conviction about reality to a conclusion that the people who disagree with you are detached from reality and delusional or in some other way defective, I don’t believe that this is at all conducive to the values and ideals of a free society. The plain fact is that our direct contact with reality is wholly subjective and it is the objective which is the abstraction that has to be fabricated. Now I certainly think there is very good evidence that there is an objective aspect to reality but I see nothing to support taking this to the extreme of presuming that reality is exclusively objective.

Reasoning from these to what I believe is here and here.

When you are not raised with such a belief then it is something you must search for. To begin with you have to figure out what the word “God” refers to, making some connection to the things you experience. This starts with seeing the beliefs of others, of course, and trying to figure out what they believe and why.

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Well, I didn’t mean to trash nihilism, and I don’t think I did. Nor do I think it doesn’t make sense, it makes perfect sense. It’s as simple as it gets.
I admit I wrongly worded what I meant, it’s not nihilism that is self-contradictory but nihilists themselves seem to have the most self-contradictory beliefs which aren’t really founded in nihilism.
So you could say that I trashed nihilists, very well, for that I’m sorry.

So you want an answer from a christian perspective? Well, if you reach heaven, you have access to the greatest being that is God and everything that he prepared. Seems quite self-explanatory. If you don’t go to heaven, it will be worse than current life. So it depends.
And Life is good, for me at least.

How can it make sense or be meaningful when it tells us there is no such thing as sense and meaning?

As a denial of the very mental life from which it is comes, it is self defeating.

It is like shouting out declarations that there is no such thing as sound and hearing, or handing out pamphlets with “proof” that there is no such things as light or sight.

Eat, drink, and be merry, but do not indulge in the delusion of perception and thinking where you are attaching meaning and significance to your perceptions or to the arrangement of words in a statement. You are nothing but a biological organism racing to convert usable materials into waste before other organisms beat you to it. There is no reason to imagine any significance to your random noises or internet excretions.

Perhaps there is no good reason to pay any attention to the claims of religion but there is much less reason to pay any attention to the talk of nihilism.

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That’s kind of a morbid outlook on life in my opinion.

Obviously I agree with you that nihilism only makes sense as standalone idea, not as something to be practiced or believed in. After all all this talk “There is no true meaning in life, so you should create your own meaning” makes no sense, as you don’t exist, there is no reason for “creating your own meaning”, the same as there is no reason to believe in it even if it’s true.

After all, nothing matters. So being a tyrant that makes millions suffer is equal to some renowned scientist that helped millions of people with his great inventions and etc.

In nihilism there is no reason to even acknowledge nihilism, to follow truth, to be nice to other people, to think, to live, to try find some beauty in life, it’s all meaningless. You could as well destroy everything around you, make millions suffer, have a completely self-destructive life full of sorrow, for nihilism it’s the same.

So I will agree with you 100% that it has no meaning, it doesn’t give you nothing meaningful. But as an idea in itself, that life has no meaning, is perfectly valid if we assume there is no God and there is nothing to us more than those materialistic stuff caused by other materialistic stuff. Then nihilism is the ONLY philosophy that makes sense.
Nihilists, at least those that try to insert some kind of meaning into this philosophy, or try to take something out of it, are really trying to make it something more than it is, but if we take it simply as what it is, without trying to add something to make us feel good about it, then it’s a very solid ideology. Obviously it makes no difference if you believe in it or not if it’s true.

What I truly want to highlight by this: Nihilists don’t really understand nihilism.

Now there I disagree entirely.

The “no such thing as meaning” claim of nihilism is not the same as “the create your own meaning” claim of existentialism. In the theistic context, we can believe God created us as an end in ourselves rather than as a means to an end, and we are to seek meaning in our lives rather than let it be dictated to us by some clergy using religion to lord it over others.

I cannot agree with you there either. The atheist can believe in meaning without believing that it is a product of divine design and manufacture.

I suspect it is an ultimately hypocritically tactic of rhetoric pulled out to shoot down questions and ideas they don’t want to take seriously.

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This sentence alone shows that you misunderstood me completely, as I never said that nihilism claims it either, nor that it implies it.
It’s hard to discuss further when you use words that I completely agree with as a way to refute what I said.

On a personal note, I was brought up in an Ordained MInister’s family so God was just part of life. I did question my faith at the age of 15 but it was short-lived. In many ways God had become so much a part of my life I was lost without HIm. I have spent many hours just chatting to God while on my own. Does He answer? Not in an audible or obvious way, but I have felt the peace of God that passeth all understanding and there have been occasions when God made His presence felt.

I have always thought that faith was illogical, at least at first. Logic would normally lead to atheism unless you understand how God can communicate and are open to Him.

The problem is that god should not be put to the test, so that rules out all proofs as a means of faith. I am happy enough, looking back over my life, that God has been with me. I am also sure that there could be other rational reasons for the things I attribute to God, but, timing, and circumstance are sometimes unbelievable without the attribution of God (IMHO).

I am not a good Christian in terms of trying to be holy or righteous at all times. I am self-indulgent and often flippant, but my faith is just a part of me and my life. Like I said, I cannot really conceive not having God to talk to.

Perhaps it is about expectations? I don’t really have any as far as God is concerned. sometimes God seems to intrude when I am not looking for Him, but in many ways I just see Him as a permanent confidant or ear. I am never alone, so fear is an infrequent companion and stress is almost unheard of. (And this drives my wife crazy, even though she has as strong a faith as I do, but she views it differently)

I have no idea whether I am atypical or not. This is just how I am.

Richard

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Or you can simply clarify what you do mean.

That is something we largely have in common. At least I don’t have expectation as far as what God will do for me. But I do have expectations with regards to His character as necessary to have my regard. The difference between God and the devil must be more than just a name but also one of character.

My way of saying this is that God cannot be manipulated. He will do what is best according to His superior knowledge. This is not to say we can have no effect on Him because we can change what is best by our own determination to take some responsibility for things.

What I meant is that nihilism claims only one thing, at least by definition I use “nothing has any meaning”. And contrast it with nihilists worldviews that embed it with ideologies like “you need to find your own meaning” or “it’s only reasonable thing to believe in” which is not at all something that nihilism claims. At least from watching nihilists explain nihilism, I nearly always saw them trying to give it some solid form, or a behaviour which to follow, which it doesn’t have. That’s why I said that “nihilists don’t really understand nihilism” as they seem to be the only ones that claim so much that contradicts their own ideology

The example is “You need to find your own meaning” which seems like a popular idea with nihilists, which doesn’t really make sense if you believe in nihilism, as it doesn’t make finding your purpose any more reasonable than eating sandwiches. That’s at least what I managed to understand from nihilists that I have read with my short time of contact with this philosophy.

Ah… that explains a lot. This is not something I have done.

I can hardly be surprised that such an explanation might be largely incoherent. And perhaps the point is, if they said anything like what you suggested then I would suggest they check out existentialism.

I have encountered the claim that there is no such thing as meaning before (though it wasn’t named “nihilism” at the time) and my response to that is the same – that such a claim is meaningless.

Now we may argue on things we visibly disagree on. If we assume there is no God as I implied, how can one say that we have free will, after all, all those quantum mechanics won’t change anything if they weren’t set up specifically for purpose of letting our free will have influence on our bodies.

If we don’t have free will, it only leaves randomness and cause and effect rule every detail of our lives.

If we accept that as true, even though someone can believe in some meaning or purpose, won’t it be false? Wouldn’t it be true that all this meaning is an illusion we have made up? Because if we are truly made from atoms that just work the way laws of physics made them work, doesn’t that mean we don’t truly exist as people and if we aren’t “real” beings, our meaning is made up. And if there’s no meaning, doesn’t that make nihilism true?
How can it be different without God?

A philosophical one would be enough . But since you provided a Christian one.

Well this is something you hope for right?

A nihilist doesn’t hope for anything. But still he tries to live his life as best as he can.

Also since this world is cruel is contradictory that the next one could be any better in my opinion.

Again hope is what drives you to believe that things will get better right? What if that hope is a coping mechanism to something that your mind is not capable to understand at all? For example the brain cannot comprehend death. It’s beyond it. So what the brain does? It creates something which will make it to fill in the gap. A God of the gaps argument but in reverse if you get me.

Will human behaviour change? Nope. What did the Christians give ? A message of hope. You know why? Because the human mind cannot comprehend and believe that things will get worse. Its chemistry it’s not suited for that. So it’s a coping thing. A father does not tell his child that they are going broke and they are on a downhill. They tell them everything is ok. But that’s not the truth . The child is too naive to know it.

So ask yourself. Is this a vile hope? A message of hope that will never happen? A message that no matter how bad human nature will get(and trust me it gets worse every decade, something that the Bible acknowledges) in the very end everything is gonna be ok?

How many people have died in their life’s with that message of hope? Not the Christian message,but any hope. How many homelless that longed they would find a job and be ok?
How many children that their parents will change their bad behaviours and acts?
How many broken people were longing for that hope that never came?

So my last question. If that hope never came here what makes you believe it will come in the next life?

Yes. Little children have less difficulty believing in God apparently than those who have been taught in school or by cruel parents that they are worthless – they do not think their lives are meaningless. Older individuals may have to search more or less, depending on God’s providence. We are told to search, as well:

God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us.
Acts 17:27

…He rewards those who earnestly seek Him.
Hebrews 11:6

 
And then we have the ending of Tim Keller’s book (the title of which promises to address your question) about being found by God:

During a dark time in her life, a woman in my congregation complained that she had prayed over and over, “God, help me find you,” but had gotten nowhere. A Christian friend suggested to her that she might change her prayer to, “God, come and find me. After all, you are the Good Shepherd who goes looking for the lost sheep.” She concluded when she was recounting this to me, “The only reason I can tell you this story is – he did.”

The Reason for God, p.240

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Both It comes naturally, including by searching, in traditional God cultures.

Both.

Theism isn’t logical. It has come to mean God by intervention for which there is zero evidence. Whereas God by faith due to the Church and its founder is logical.

“Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” -Colossians 4:6

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