Programmed Religious

I think to understand why someone believes in God you have to understand what it’s like to suffer. Suffering promotes a belief in God. When things are going fine I basically never think twice about my absents of faith. It seems obvious that there is not God – or at least most likely not and most certainly not a specifically Christian God.

When times get tough or when I find myself having a hard time my thoughts start to drift into “I wonder if God exists”. There’s a strong desire in my heart and soul to wish that someone/something out there is watching after me. Has my back even when times are tough. That doing the right thing – even when it doesn’t reward me now – will reward me then. That these “earthly” stresses don’t mean so much because there is something so much bigger afterward.

That’s a lot more poetic than believing everything goes black. On the other hand my life after death will probably be a lot like my life before birth. I don’t remember having a problem with that…

I think they got it right in the bible when they talked about the unlikelihood of a rich man getting into heaven. Rich men tend to surround themselves with wealth and with less problems – they don’t “need” God as much.

So is there a God that we dismiss out of human ego? Or is there some natural part of human beings that in times of crisis a chemical is activated in the brain to comfort us and give us a feeling of being “watched over”? Did we create God or did (s)he create us?

What are the odds that Christians have it right? Jews? Muslims? Buddhists? Atheists? Who’s right and who’s wrong? We certainly can’t all be correct – can we?

I’ll give you a little confession. During my 4 hour commute this evening I spoke out loud to myself/God. Basically I said the things I thought out loud. “If you are real why can’t you show me proof?” “Is having faith absent of proof and admission price to heaven.” “Isn’t believing in anything on faith a recipe for disaster?” “Give me proof!”

Yeah, I said all this out loud. Which makes me crazy I’m pretty sure. There for a second of wave of comfort came over me. I realized that all of my stresses were not as significant as I was giving them credit for. Would a less skeptical person consider that wave of comfort a sign from God when I figure it was just a result of a personal process of working things out for myself? All emotions are up for interpretation, but I can certainly see why people believe in God. How they can believe in something without “proof”. I just can’t bring myself to do that.

Honestly I doubt anything short of Jesus himself materializing in the seat next to me would convince me that the Judeo-Christian God exists. (I can hear Christian’s scolding me now!)

I’m convinced of one thing though – that religion is programmed into me. I was raised religious and was always skeptical. I tried to believe, but always had doubts. I’m most likely destined to always think about God. Whether that is a struggle that is naturally programmed into all human beings or just those exposed to religion from a young age I do not know.

Sometimes I wish I could just sell completely out to Christianity. I mean really really really believe that heaven is awaiting me. God is 100% real and watching what I do. Etc. Etc. I’ve never had that ability – does anyone? I’ve always wondered if anyone was really that convinced. I don’t think I’m convinced about anything as evangelicals claim to be about religion.

One thing is for sure – these 4 hour commutes are giving me WAY too much time to think about nothing.

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13 thoughts on “Programmed Religious

  1. galudwig

    >I’ve always wondered if anyone was really that convinced. I don’t think I’m convinced about anything as evangelicals claim to be about religion.

    I’ve wondered about the same thing. I just don’t understand how some people can be absolutely sure of something there is absolutely no proof whatsoever of.

    But, what I really find strange is why so many libertarians are also Christians. To me, libertarianism and atheism go hand in hand. It’s looking at society and life itself the way it is, not the way we are told it is, based on ideas of how we *want* things to be..

    >These 4 hour commutes are giving me WAY too much time to think about nothing.

    That’s what audiobooks are for!

    Reply
    1. Atticus Finch

      I agree – libertarianism and Atheism are closely tied – especially in our natural instinct to question everything.

      As far as audio books – I’ve been listening to a lot of podcasts. My favorite is the No Agenda Show which I highly recommend. Based on what I’ve read on your blog I think you would thoroughly enjoy it. It’s my favorite thing to listen to, period.

      If you check it out let me know what you think.

      noagendashow.com

      Reply
      1. galudwig

        Thanks for the recommendation! I’ve bookmarked it and am listening to the last episode now.

        Dolphin boners, dancing epidemics, and Santorum’s absolutely over-the-top ridiculous comments on euthanasia in the Netherlands, I quite like it so far! 🙂

        My favorite (non-political) podcast is the one hosted by Ricky Gervais, Stephen Merchant and Karl Pilkington. It’s not for everyone, but I think Karl’s comments are some of the most hilarious stuff ever!

        Reply
        1. Atticus Finch

          No Problem.

          I actually listen to the Ricky Gervais show too. Karl is definitly the star. There is a movie called “Idiot Abroad” starring him where Gervais and Merchant basically put him us to doing things.

          Reply
  2. raintreebranches

    I’ve just finished this book, “The God Instinct” by Jesse Bering.
    Personally I found it slightly boring (thought still readable) and that the way his points are presented don’t feel hard-hitting/convincing enough but it’s all about how ‘god’ is psychologically programmed in people, as part of how we’ve evolved over time.

    Similar ideas to what you’re wondering, I suppose?

    Reply
    1. Atticus Finch

      I have read a few “scholarly articles” about the theory that humans have a programmed instinct to believe in God. The most compelling evidence of that, I believe, is the simple fact that all societies throughout history and disperse around the earth have a beleif in a higher power, yet their specific beliefs vary.

      For example, in North America tribes seperated by mere miles had spiritual beliefs in a higher power, but very different beleifs.

      So it seems that a beleif in God is natural, but a consistancy in which God is not. One would expect that if there were a “Christian, Muslim, etc.” God that we would naturally have such a beleif in THAT particular God.

      Reply
  3. amelie

    Oof. A 4 hour commute would test anyone’s mettle. I know what you mean by wishing you could fully believe in God, I see church folk and I envy their tight-knit community. If you are looking for evidence, you won’t find it in science but I would recommend Knocking on Heaven’s Door by Lisa Randall. After reading that I am convinced there may be a minuscule chance of some sort of afterlife, although it may not look like anything we recognize.

    Reply
  4. jon

    I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately too. You and I both (i think) have a tendency to reach for God in our times of strife, and a real doubt about it rationally at other times.

    Here’s something I was reading recently that’s influenced me. When you’re a kid, you can believe in an ‘invisible friend’. When you get to a certain age, if you still believe in your invisible friend, you at least know not to talk about him. You’re too old to have an invisible friend.

    I think that our ideas about God may be very similar- except that it’s socially acceptable to hold on to it into adulthood. When we’re feeling a need to talk to God, imagine instead that you’re about to talk to your invisible friend, and immediately you realize how irrational it is.

    I don’t know whether there’s a genetic God instinct. Maybe. But what seems really likely to me is that our reaching for God is inculcated in us from a young age. We’ve been conditioned – maybe brainwashed. (I hope I don’t get flamed here either). But really, I do wonder if I’ve been brainwashed or conditioned to have the cognitive habit of thinking about God in times of trouble. Today, a student told me about a real problem he’s got, and I felt so bad that I wanted to help in some way – but didn’t know how. I started to think (really) ‘God how can i help out here? What advice can I give him?’ and then remembered that I was probably reaching out to my invisible friend for help. Then I had the thought that if I want to give him good advice and help, it’s up to me; there’s no invisible friend. I think that if we get beyond our habit of reaching for the invisible friend, there may be a real power to use our rational minds to do good – and it may be even better (for us and others) than seeking help from the I.F.

    Reply
  5. Pingback: The power of BELIEVING | A Beautiful Rainy Day

  6. popeye67

    Religion is for weak minded people who lack faith in themselves, if you need a book to tell you the difference between right and wrong, if there is a heaven your probably not going to get in.

    Reply
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