First off, let's separate God and religion. God is in what you trust in explaining the parts of the world around you that YOU can't explain; this may be whatever you want it to be. Religion is just a standardized way to worship, communicate, pray, etc. to what you believe in, and making it easier to understand to most people. Of course, because these religions are built by man, wrote by man, they are doomed to be flawed... so if you're bringing up logical arguments refuting the Bible, or the Coran, etc., good for you, you have beaten twenty something scribes that lived 2,000 years ago; however, that's not refuting the existence of God, just the interpretation of what is God made up by a handful of persons.
This is my interpretation: God is all-powerfull and built the essence around you... no, not the houses and cars, those were built by man, but they used materials made by God, which can be reduced to arranged subatomic particles, energy (heat, light, etc.), and logic itself. And, because he is all-powerfull, he can, for example, sin if he wants to but in such a way that he's is not sinning or be all-loving without appearing to be: imposible? Yes, of course, he's God, he can do whatever he wants. He build you, he build logic, he's beyond you, he's beyond logic. He acts in a way that seems illogical with which you can try to prove his inexistence, but that's like a parent giving a baby a toy gun and the baby thinking that he can kill his parent with it.
Now, why do I think such a God exists? How can you be certain that he's there if the only tool you have to prove it is not sufficient enough to begin with? Well, for one, because I'm here, and you're here... and the odds of us two being right here, at the same time considering how many millions of years have passed through this universe, the repeated and continued one-in-a-billion happennings that had to occur for that to happen is completely, utterly, unbeleivably impossible, yet here we are. But this reason is flawed because, firstly, the possibility is still there and a long time did pass, so the impossible may have happenned just by chance, and secondly, it is still using logic...
So, two, I'm believe he's there because I feel it (another thing that he built: emotions) and it feels right, something in my gut assures me that he is there, maybe it's a psychological thing, but you can't deny that if we were built by chance we wouldn't have the necessity of believing in something to feel better, we would all be, well, non-believers (an atheist may beleive in something), hell, even science could be considered as a type of religion... but, why do we create religions? why is there a need to connect to something bigger than us? I don't know, maybe there's something inside us that is trying to maintain contact with it's creator...
Well isn't that just convenient for you. You fiat God into existence because, "it feels right in your gut" (Iraq 'felt' right in Bush's gut too).
Then to counter all logical argument, and all questions like how did he come into existence, or how he is a logical contradiction, you declare him above logic, and mere mortal question. (funny, the same was said of Zeus and Ra)
Science has already found out how the earth and the materials on it could have come into existence. There is simply no need for a 'God' anymore.
The only purpose God serves now is to inflame passions of people against each other, and give morally wrong issues like banning abortion, rejecting stem-cell research, denying condom use in Africa, a chance to be morally right because 'that is God's will'.
"Religion is regarded by the common people as true, by the wise as false, and by the rulers as useful." - Seneca the Younger
Religions change, but the countless number of men who are ready to die for them never has.
And there you go again with putting religion and God together: God did not "inflame passions of people against each other" or "give morally wrong issues like abortion...", man did that all by himself. God does not change, man does, and so does man's interpretation of him; the way that small differences in these interpretations can strike us as being personal is just a waste of energy...
I admit that it can be strange and disarming the fact of putting God over logic like that, which basically kills every type of contradiction. But, in a way, it kills every type of argument for it as well...
"It's a good thing you ask these types of questions, it means that he's working."
I'll try and explain my interpretation the best that I can: I'm basing my believes in both an intellectual and emotional sense, and, yes, this explanation, for me, is logical and feels right at the same time (that's why I accepted it). You are not just the part of your brain that thinks, you have a feeling part as well. If every decision out there were to be done by just rationale, one could conclude that, because of all the damage that man has done to the environment and each other, all of mankind should be exterminated for the good of Earth's and, potentially, the Universe's future. This makes sense: it would give the Earth time to heal and turn back to when before man appeared and everything was balanced... does this feel right to you? There are many other types of examples like this in which a logical solution can be reached that would certainly solve the problem, but at a sentimental price that cannot be undertaken. There needs to be a balance between both...
You called my way of seeing things 'convenient' and, at the same time, the only thing YOU think about when people believe in God is how bad it has turned out for them: well, isn't that 'convenient' as well? What about when it has turned fine? When they felt right? The same way that Gandhi felt it was right to free South-Africa and India (by way of peaceful disobedience), the same way that Marthin Luther King Jr. felt it was right to fight for race equality (not just for african-americans), and other millions of men and women out there who by feeling what's right and following what they beleive God's wants them to do has actually being good for society. You do pay your meal when you eat, don't you? If you care for someone, you help them in their times of need, right? Why? You could say that's your own decision, and you alone decided to do whatever you decided to do ('God' did not take a part on any of it), and I agree, because that's your belief, and that's your 'God': you... yep, you are God... to you, you are... just like everyone else has their own interpretation of God, even if they don't call it 'God'. Some call it Zeus, others Allah, Jehova, You, etc., they still follow a belief of what is good and what is bad. That may have been instructed by their parents, and their parents' parents, etc. Did the monkeys teached us that? Who knows? Maybe they did. Maybe the animal that came before teached the monkeys, and so on... but, where did that moral structure come from? I certainly don't know, and it's probably irrelevant... what I do know is that it is what connects us all to each other today, what makes us a society, and the fact that the majority of us feel very strongly about whoever doesn't follow that moral structure is evidence of it. There are some universal rules that we don't know where they came from. I'm not talking about stuff like "homosexuality" and "abortion", those are just what SOME follow and call it 'religion'. I'm talking about the universal ones (care for one another, don't do unto others what you don't want done onto you, viceversa, etc.), the ones that are so natural in our beings that we don't even know we are following them, the ones we feel are the right thing to do... that is God, and there's still obvioulsy a need for him.
We can't explain where they came from, and they're beyond logic: have you ever known of someone that loves someone that won't love them back? Have we ever figure out how do we come up with an idea? And why in the world does it feel so good to hug someone? It makes no sense!... but it's there, ever-present, all-knowing, none-changing 'God'; the reference point to our emotional side, if you will. The rest, is just man's doing.
This is why I keep saying: God is not the same thing as religion...
By the way, science hasn't found out how many materials came into existence. There are plenty of things out there that right now cannot be explained: like how does a thought exist physically? How do we store so much information in such a small space? WHERE DID THE ATOM COME FROM?
I'm not saying that God is the explanation to these questions. What I'm saying is that we, as men, with science as a vehicle, are far from over, and I believe that God is the one pointing us in the right direction.
Also, I don't recommend that you argument using quotes from other people, specially from someone with such a 'colorful' reputation:
"Medieval writers and works [...] believed that Seneca had been converted to the Christian faith by Saint Paul, and early humanists regarded his fatal [suicidal] bath as a kind of disguised baptism."
Oh and the war in Iraq didn't 'feel' right in anyone's gut, it was just plain stupid. ;)
The basis for altruism is evoultion. I'll find the study in a bit, but the basics is that the humans and chimpanizes that hunted together survived, while the loners and "murders" were not successful in reproducing. This is why it feels good to hug someone and be nice to someone... Evolution has trained us with the basic moral teaching, and through rational thought we get the rest.
Nonetheless, I think we may be aguring the same thing. Correct me if I'm wrong but while I leave the unknown as the unknown, you just call it God. You don't seem to think of him as a super powerful being who directly interfearse with human life and promises him an afterlife, it's more like the unexplained.
Mmm... I haven't thought of that: evolution as the source of society/altruism. It makes some sense, although I'm not completely convinced that the "murderers" were not successful in continuing their gene pool: like lions killing other lions' cubs, or the strongest beating the hell out of others is the one that gets to reproduce. However, it could be that us, humans (as well as the evolutionary branch that we come from), when looking for a mate check how 'good' he or she is, instead how well he or she fights or kills something else, leaving the 'good' ones alive.
You think right: we are arguing something very similar. Thinkin of him "as a super powerful being who directly interfearse with human life and promises him an afterlife" is a religiuos thing, and it sounds nice on paper, and a good story to tell the kids, but doesn't feel right to me (see, there's that gut again). Although, there are some 'unknown' stuff that I wouldn't call 'God', so it's not like 'if you don't know what that is, it's probably God" (another religious thing). We will found out if there's life on other planets, we are getting more knowledge from the genome project, those were unknown back in the day, and some of that stuff was considered God at some point, which completely sucked.
It's kind of difficult to explain what I think God really is, because I do believe it is SOMETHING, like some kind of energy, and I do belief it can interact with the world/universe, just not that 'immediate'. I believe that there's a plan, that started a long time ago. Man is just part of that plan, and there's a purpose for man, the thing is that I/we don't know what that plan is or where is leading us (that's the 'unkown' I'm talking about). We we're built like we are for something, and actually, now that I think of it, the evolution thing fits in this: every other species out there uses some kind of ability for mate choosing (strength, how good a nester he is, looks, etc.), that we know of. Man is an apparent exception in this rule: we ALSO judge how 'good' the mate is... actually, man is already an exception in so many other ways: rationale, complex tool building, curiosity for the unknown. Doesn't it feel like all of this is going somewhere?
And about the interference, I believe there is some type of interaction, although it's not going to be as if prayer will change anything: the plan is made, and there's nothing that's going to change that. The interactions that I'm talking about are more in the sense of those one-to-a-billion-odds thing that happenned that are the reason we're here: the exact amount of material in the life soup millions of years ago at exactly the right time, the fact that some primates lasted so long to develop certain skills, but man obtained rationale (something that I believe is much more complex than knowing how to stick a branch inside a hole and then licking it) in such a relative small amount of time. It appears as if something accelerated the process for us, maybe it was a random thing, which is true, but in this sense, that's what I would call "God's doing"...
Yeah, I think that is what best explains what I think God is: blessed randomness; those little quirky things that we are beyond our control, but somehow are interconnected to a simple coin toss.
I guess I've always been content leaving coincidence as chance rather then directed purpose. In the absent of evidence establishing purpose, I opt for chance because it is the simpler option (occam’s razor).
I've also felt that there is little reason to give humanity a purpose. If we don't know what our purpose is, then in effect it means that we will not be able to work towards it any more effectively then if we felt we had no purpose. Furthermore, why state that there is a purpose controlled by an outside God if there is no real evidence to prove it and it would be simpler for a people to not have a purpose (once again occam’s razor)
I felt compelled not to answer back, because he basically shot himself in the foot (maybe unknowingly) and I didn't want to rub my nose in it, but I guess people who read it will get it: basically ended up saying that "I don't believe in God because it's simpler this way." Wow, what an anticlimactic end to such an interesting debate.