Why Do We Continue to Believe?

 

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I’m a former Evangelical. It’s been a long time since I rejected what I thought was a belief that would not only provide for me in this life, but in the next as well. When I was older, in my early 20’s, I began to question that same belief. I worked hard to believe, I wanted to believe, but after a time, not overnight, I came to the conclusion that I just could not accept what I had been told all my life was the truth.

Why I had held on to that belief for so long, even after starting to question it, I cannot explain.  But I did question, and I continued to look not only at the belief but myself as well, wanting to know what it is  that compels me to believe in something that I cannot, in  any way, show to be true. Yes, it made me feel good, But other than that, what does it provide? Yes, I had friends, a community that  was always there for me. Or so it appeared.

When I started expressing those doubts is when those same friends started falling away. They couldn’t understand how I could not just accept the faith and ignore all of the inconsistencies. It was a painful transition. To find some that I had considered close for so long to turn there back on me because I questioned what they took as absolute, I know I’m not alone here, as I’ve heard similar stories from other atheists, but it doesn’t  stop the pain any of us have felt in losing lifelong friends.

I, as others, are  over it, and so I started questioning what makes people continue to believe in something that is inherently unprovable. Of course the answer is Faith . Of course faith is a belief without proof, but when confronted with that definition, most believers that I’ve encountered reject the idea that there is no proof for their god.  Why then, do they continue to profess what they believe as faith? Why does their holy text instruct them in the same way? Seems a bit dysfunctional to me.

Why, as humans, do we have this need to believe in something that is, more mythology than fact? How any today believe in the Nordic gods? How about the Greek? Yet there was a time when they were prevalent in the lives of those peoples. And when it came time for them to make a choice, under threat of the sword, of course they decided to believe in a god that many had never heard of before.

And so, the rise of religion, Not because people wanted to believe;  they were forced and over generations, became part of their daily lives. Most people think that Muslims have a certain look: meaning brown skin and dark eyes. Go to Eastern Europe: you’ll find plenty of Muslims there with blond hair and blue eyes. I’ve been there. You can also find, in the Middle East, brown skinned Christians. Religion has no ethnicity.

None of this begins to explain why people continue to believe. In some countries, it’s forced, in others, like the U.S., it’s a choice. So, removing those countries that compel their citizens to believe in a certain religion,  why do people continue to believe in something that everything they know tells them is nothing more than a myth?

 

 

 

 

14 thoughts on “Why Do We Continue to Believe?

  1. In the U.S., it is still forced on children. That’s why I believed. I was informed that I was a Christian and wasn’t given any choice in the matter. The indoctrination started early, lasted a decade and a half, and did its damage. I was lucky that it didn’t stick. It does seem to stick for most people.

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    • When I mentioned that “we have a choice”, I was referring to adults. We’re not persecuted, or prosectuted here for changing our religious belief or leaving it altogether.

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  2. Religious people believe there is the here and the hereafter. We humans believe we have a spirit. Religions are based on the belief that the spirit continues to exist after the brain dies. Belief in an inner spirit will always be with us, but at the same time realize there is no supernatural realm except what we imagine it to be. GROG.

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    • I’ve written previously that a belief in an afterlife is nothing more than human ego. “We” cannot believe that there is nothing after this life for “us”.

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      • I don’t clearly understand your last sentence. For me, it is impossible to believe that anything escapes death. “Religion is a scam and resurrection a delusion.” is my mantra these days. GROG

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      • It’s just that we, humans, need to believe that this existence is not the end for us. We invent gods and religions to tell ourselves that among all other life on this planet, we are somehow special and that death is not the end, just a transformation to a new, better life.

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      • Jim, I don’t at all agree that we humans need to believe! We do believe in a human inner self, but it is delusional to believe that anything continues after death. People want, desire, and dream of being special, blessed, and children of an unseen father in heaven. They are mistaken, to put it mildly. GROG

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  3. It is comfortable to continue to believe. It is a need to believe that keeps faith alive and it is faith that keeps the belief constant and strong against all denial. It is easier to continue what makes one comfortable.

    Belief and religion make poor conditions more bearable and miserable conditions easily left behind when heaven and “seeing the face of God” or the gods are considered. In many places life is still brutal and short, as it was for all human beings once upon a time, so having faith in a better place when you die is sometimes all there is to hope for.

    Why would fairly educated and reasonably intelligent folk still opt for belief? People will believe all sorts of stuff, so why not God? If it works for them, why stop believing?

    There is no perfect answer to your question. Believers wonder why atheists don’t hedge their bets and follow some religion, just in case. Is this a case of projection on their part?

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    • That’s a good question. I’ve yet to meet an atheist that believes that it may be a good idea to hedge their bet. Everyone I know came to the conclusion, as I did, over time, a lot of pain and agony involved before. deciding that what we believed just wasn’t true. Personally, once I got there, I experienced a freedom I had never had.

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  4. Two things I’ll mention although there are more. Belief, being required of faith before knowledge is a psychological play that sets us defending ourselves over our intuition…our core. Facts no longer matter. In fact, less fact = stronger faith (just look at the Mormons). 2nd, if we can muster belief in the absurd, we can control the entire person. Control their basic instincts (sex) control the entire organism. To top it off, faith first hardwires the neurons and then the ability to handwave fallacy and contradiction is now physiological. I know you’ve seen it, and often faces with overwhelming evidence, the faithful just physically cannot understand your points. You become incoherent to them, even when logic and reason are absolutely sound.

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