_Is God real?_
[Before reading this essay, I suggest reading this one: _Why atheists fail to persuade theists_: https://www.facebook.com/groups/TheGodDebate/permalink/10151782071930474/]
Is God real? Well there is no physical evidence, but billions of people are convinced that God exists. So if not by physical evidence, then why are they convinced? There are many reasons that people use to justify their religious beliefs, similar to the way they justify any beliefs.
The question is: Is God real? But the better question is: What problem does the God idea solve? The reason that this approach is better is that *all* ideas should be approached this way. Every thought and every behavior happens in the context of solving problems. To illustrate this, I’ll explain a few examples using this problem/solution concept.
All life is problem solving
At birth, our problems are few. We are hungry and cold. These situations are problematic because we don’t want to be in these situations. And how do we solve these problems? We cry to alert our parents -– it’s inborn. And it’s our parents’ responsibility to help us solve our problems by presenting us with milk or formula and wrapping us with blankets. And as soon as our problems are solved, we stop crying.
In adulthood, our problems are many. We want shelter, food, transportation, electronics, entertainment, and many other things. And how do we solve these problems? We get jobs to earn money to trade for these things and we do research to find the things that fit our preferences.
Some people are lonely, so they want companionship. And they solve that problem by establishing romantic relationships. Some people also want lifelong commitment, and some of them solve that problem by getting married.
Some people want to attract people sexually, so they solve that problem by going to the gym to get in shape and dressing up sexy.
Some people want to know about how the world works, so they solve that problem by reading books and/or going to school to learn physics, chemistry, biology, psychology, sociology, economics, politics, history, and so on.
Now this brings us to the God idea. Some people want to know *why* some things are the way they are. Their problems are that they have important unanswered questions. And their solution to these problems is to accept a religion and its answers to those important questions. But before we jump to the conclusion that the God idea solves these problems, let’s identify the problems.
What problems are people trying to solve with the God idea?
One big reason people accept religion is to accept its moral values. And some people don’t even believe in their religion but they teach it to their kids anyway because they believe that morality can only be taught through religion. So their problem is that they don’t understand morality outside the context of a religion's behavior-punishment moral system. And consequently they don't know how to teach morality otherwise. So their solution is to accept a religion and its moral system of behavior and punishment. The right solution is to consider the moral traditions that already exist in our society and to judge for ourselves which are good/beneficial and which are bad/hurtful.
Another reason people accept religion is to feel like their life has meaning. So their problem is that they feel like their life has no meaning. And their solution is to adopt a religion that tells them the meaning of their lives. They effectively dwarf themselves by accepting that “God is the greatest.” The right solution starts with the idea that we are all individuals, and thus we all have different interests, and so we should all create meaning in our own lives.
Another reason people like religion is because their friends and neighbors expect them to, they can socialize at Churches, and they want to fit in and be good at their social role as a normal member of society. So their problem is that they want to fit in with society and be liked by other members of society. And their solution is to do just that, to “get with the program.”
Then there are reasons people have that they aren’t even aware of. Their lives are full of suffering and they feel stuck. That’s their problem. Actually its many problems that they don’t know how to solve. And they don’t even try. Instead of trying to solve their problems they bury their problems hoping that they will go away on their own. Sometimes they do this by denying that those things are even problematic. They say things like, “well everyone suffers like this so it’s just a part of life” or "it's not even a problem because other people have it much worse than I do."
Another way they bury their problems is by shifting responsibility to other people and to things. The most common way to shift responsibility is to adopt a religion that tells them that they are not responsible for their lives. It helps them feel better about not “being able” to change their situations. It helps them feel better that someone else (God) is responsible for their problems -– he is responsible for giving them the problems and he is responsible for solving them -– and people are responsible for asking him to give them the patience to cope with the problems and asking him to solve their problems. This helps them feel better because in their eyes they are not at fault. So they confuse this relatively positive emotion with reality -– they feel spiritual. The right solution is to take responsibility for everything in your life -- to change one's situation and stop shifting responsibility to other people and nonexistent things like an all-knowing super power.
I think this last reason is the most common problem people have. It’s something that most people deal with, not just theists. Most people live irresponsible lives by denying that they have problems and by shifting responsibility of the problems that they do admit having. It helps them feel better because that way they don’t feel guilty. Some people shift responsibility to their parents, “It’s my dad’s fault that I don’t know how to fix a car or do handy-work because he never taught me.” Some people shift responsibility to their brains, “Please excuse my ADD.” Some shift responsibility to their hormones, “It’s not my fault because I had PMS.”
The world relentlessly throws problems at us, but none of those problems are insoluble. Philosophical thinking is the only reliable way that solves problems. Your life is full of suffering because you have lots of problems that you haven’t solved yet. And you cannot solve your problems if you expect God to solve them for you. Nor can you solve your problems if you think that God gave you your problems.
There is no destiny! We have free will!
Check out my articles on _Why Most Terrorists are Muslims_: https://www.facebook.com/groups/TheGodDebate/permalink/10151789122880474/
And _Why Ex-Muslims Don't Go Public_: