Re: Why we believe (was: fishing with the seventh seal)

From: phil osborn (philosborn@hotmail.com)
Date: Sun Jul 09 2000 - 00:26:34 MDT


>From: "\[ Robert-Coyote \]" <coyyote@hotmail.com>
>Subject: Re: Why we believe (was: fishing with the seventh seal)
>Date: Wed, 05 Jul 2000 11:01:42 PDT
>
>I've been making a list of the reasons why I suspect
>people are prone to believe in deities. This has
>probably been covered before but I missed it.
>
>BTW, this doesn't mean I'm an atheist. It means that
>I see lots of reasons why we are predisposed to
>believing in god(s). This makes me pretty skeptical of
>any human-generated belief system regarding a creator.
>
>I'd be interested in hearing about any possible
>reasons that I've missed.
>
>---------------------------------------
6. Let God Decide
>
>Many people appear to relish the idea that they can
>relinquish responsibility for their lives by placing
>it in Godís hands. This tends to happen when
>decisions are very difficult to make either due to
>complexity or to insufficient information. This
>strategy once again serves to relieve anxiety and
>provides hope to those who perceive themselves to be
>in hopeless situations.
>
>What have I left out? or how might I clarify these?

As a probably separate item: The essense of the attraction of Christianity
was the forgiveness of sins. Divine grace made it possible for the worst,
most thoroughly evil sadistic mass murderer to be made into a "new person in
Christ." I don't know of any other religion that made such an offer.

Guilt is a powerful force. Guilt and revenge have been the cause of endless
regional ethnic wars. Christianity let the guilty off the hook and provided
a mechanism for them to start over as an accepted member of the community.
Ask any Christian what the essense of their belief is and they will tell you
that it's John 3:16 - let me see if I can still do it from memory - "For God
so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son, so that whosoever
might believe in him should not perish but should be granted eternal life in
Jesus Christ Our Lord."

Probably extropians tend to focus on the eternal life / fear of death
embodied in this near quote. But the underlying reality is that washing
away of sins by the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross. Only by washing away
the sins could man be allowed into heaven.

But "heaven" is just an abstraction. No one comes back to report to
congregation on current weather or menus or musical fare in heaven.
However, being "saved" has immediate social value, in that the other
Christians are bound to treat you as that "new man." Technically, since God
has forgiven you, they can't second guess Him and off you for your prior
transgretions.

And the church provided mechanisms - especially the early church or the
catholic church in the Middle Ages - for peacefully resolving disputes and
dealing with "sins," separate from the civil process, but revolving around
this idea that your central relationship was with God, not your fellow man,
so that once God had decided something, they interfered or ignored God's
will at their peril.

Not that I believe any of the above - just to make that clear. But this
whole central aspect to Christianity especially tends to be ignored by
non-Christians, I've noticed.
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