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birdie1971 | 02:33 Sun 07th Dec 2014 | Religion & Spirituality
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What's so scary about the concept of oblivion? The god believers that I converse with are either terrified at the notion of oblivion or seem unable to comprehend it. Personally I think it's an inevitability.

This question is to the believers in god: would you feel your life was meaningless if it was shown that god does not exist? And if it was shown that god does not exist, would you be an honest and upstanding member of society? If so, why?


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Yes Old St.Pauls....still thriving. Also St.Michaels and All Saints at Tollcross,would give your choice a good run for its money.
I remember this doggerel from years ago:

Pisky, pisky, loud amen,
Down on yer knees and up again.
Presby, presby, dinna bend,
But sit ye doon on man's chief end.
Blackadder says "From the beginning of time people of all races, creeds and cultures have believed in a deity or deities. Surely the onus is on those who wish to refute it. "
Try this experiment: get a bunch of new-born babies, and bring them up without a single mention of any god, deity, creator, or super-prophet, and - guess what - they will all grow up atheists. You have to inculcate religion with the usual brainwashing and indoctrination, and a few threats.
The success of religions - that is, the fact that they have lasted so long, and that so many civilisations have supported religions of all sorts is down to the fact that evolution has favoured tribes/groups/civilisations where members can somehow be kept under control, not allowing too many free-loaders and criminals. Religions have admirably served the purpose of keeping many anti-social elements from overstepping the mark by threats of divine ( and eternal) punishment.
Of course no one has ever conducted atalanta's experiment so the drawing of the conclusion as expressed is meaningless... no matter how confidantly spoken...
It didn't seem to work in places like Albania,Atalanta.
Albania, under the rule of Enver Hoxha, was the only country in the world where religion was officially banned and priests were liable to the death penalty. Even the other atheists states made a pretence of allowing freedom of worship.
Albania may have banned religion but the practice certainly continued on in private so it isn't an example of children being raised without religion.
Banning religion is no better than uncritical acceptance of religious precepts. Either way the principals upheld by religion and that have served as an essential world view and subsequent way of life by the religious for millennia are no longer available and open to scrutiny and revision. Simply banning or sweeping religion under the rug does nothing to deal with the underlying cause and manifestations of inherently dangerous and irrational ideologies . . . religious or otherwise.
So you do have a doubt then that God may Exist? Or is it same thing again, no peace of mind.
By not bothering to prove that he exists, god obviously doesn't care whether people believe in him or not.
Oblivion itself isn't scary (I am in much the same state when I sleep at night, I'm oblivious to the world). But it is a depressing thought as it would underline the futility of existence. We endure it, struggling to survive day by day, and for nothing. At least nothing that means anything to the individuals caught up in it.

But there is a problem with the OP. It starts off analyzing oblivion for we individuals and then changes to God's possible existence. A thread should be one thing or the other, not muddling two concepts.
Its hardly surprising that homo sapiens and quite possible the neanderthals who went before felt the need to worship something. Life was always a chancy business where threat was always present and it was necessary to believe in something giving comfort and promise. Organised religions have always codified these desires. It was almost inevitable that many thinking person should reject formalised religion with its troubles.

Humanists are no less socially responsible than believers in my experience.
// We endure it, struggling to survive day by day, and for nothing. At least nothing that means anything to the individuals caught up in it. //

Oh I don't know, I just ate a fantastic steak sandwich, truly enjoyed every second of it.
Actually, if the archaeology is anything to go by, ancient peoples seem to have practiced ancestor worship, most of all.

In Britain, at least, structures like burial mounds carry on being built until pagan culture was superceded by Egyptian and Greco-Roman practises, where Deities were the major focus.

Monotheism was tried out, under Akhenaten, but the population gradually reverted to polytheism after his death. The chronology of this 'experiment', relative to Judaistic monotheism, is not known to me but suffice to say that he seemingly arrived at this novel concept independently.

So, as far as the artefacts can indicate, deities arrived quite late in the game.

I see ancestor worship as reasonably logical. Their actions will have won the land you live on, either by wit or by fighting for it; the line of descent gave birth to you; their efforts fed and raised you; their wisdom and skill is passed down to you. You give thanks for everything you have, to them.

However, they're easily trumped. No-one ever supposes them to possess magical powers. That's where god-peddlars always stand to win them over.

But we still hanker after being reunited with our ancestors, don't we? That's what makes the concept of afterlife attractive, I reckon.


The concept of oblivion is, therefore, scary because that is what we stand to lose, over and above -loss of ourselves-.

The selfishness of wishing to experience contact with both lost loved ones AND maintain some degree of contact with events in the real world, after we're gone is, perhaps, a subject for another thread. If god exists, what would he make of this selfishness? And so on.

Not being a believer, I can't fully address the 'meaningless' scenario. For atheists, your life is as meaningful as you want it to be - either impactful on the world around you or not.

Meanwhile, it's still pretty amusing to think of the faithful forgoing real-world leisure and pleasure on account of time spent worshipping something which turns out not to exist (not that they'll be able to experience the non-existence part, though). If they derive pleasure from that activity in itself - and it seems from page 2 that they do - then it's no loss to them.

Even I can appreciate the architecture in churches and cathedrals, if not their purpose.

Baza, //I think the non believers are terrified that we are right and they are so wrong, they cannot abide being wrong.//

That makes no sense. If non-believers were ‘terrified’, they wouldn’t be non-believers.

//why … you find it so much fun to dig at others who are content with their lives.//

You make the same mistake that many people of religion here make – you assume that every critique of religion is a personal attack upon the believer, but it isn’t. Most of the non-believers here don’t ‘dig’ at believers per se – they ‘criticise the philosophy of religion and at the influence it has upon its adherents.

Keyplus, it’s you who doesn’t have peace of mind. You dwell upon an ‘unknown’, hoping that you’ve done enough to find favour with an imaginary supernatural entity. We, on the other hand, accept that when we die we will be dead, and it’s not something that worries us unduly. That’s life.

To address the question, oblivion is just that – oblivion. It carries no horrors. Without the enticement of the prospect of surviving death, God would be redundant. ‘He’ maintains his following with the lure of the promise of eternal life - and with the threat of eternal punishment. How sad that people feel their lives are meaningless without religion. What a waste.
naomi //they ‘criticise the philosophy of religion and at the influence it has upon its adherents//

For me that is only a small part.

What I really object to is the influence upon public policy where the believers insist their arbitrary, discriminatory dogma should be enforced on everyone.
Naomi - People who have any kind of peace of mind, do not keep on asking about something they believe does not exist.
Keyplus, you, like many other believers, consistently misunderstand the posts from the non-believers here. They are not asking about ‘God’ – they don’t believe that exists – they are questioning the rationality of belief and the impact that belief has upon the rest of society. Beso’s post at 09:26 is a good example.
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Keyplus - "... Naomi - People who have any kind of peace of mind, do not keep on asking about something they believe does not exist..."

If you think that (which you do), you misunderstand a great many things (which you also do). I asked the question, not because I am uncertain about what happens after my moment of expiration or that I have no peace of mind; I asked it because I am endlessly curious as to why people such as yourself believe in such patent nonsense. Your response is not to answer my question but to wrongly assert that those who question the validity of a belief in a supreme creator deity do not know "peace of mind" - the implication being that they lack some fundamental element of humanity that only those who "believe" are capable of. To that I say, hogwash.

You and people like you seem to think that they are special in some way. That they are "chosen" by their supreme creator deity and that they and their ilk will be somehow whisked away at the moment of their death to an eternal paradise while the rest of humanity perishes in the depths of some fiery inferno (created by the aforementioned loving and forgiving creator deity).

The notion of life after death is such utter drivel. It's quite moronic. It really is. Anyone who has been knocked out by a blow to the head or has had general anaesthetic knows that consciousness can be switched off by simple chemicals alone.

Oblivion is well known to all of us. You didn't exist before you were born and you won't exist after you drop dead. The reason religion exists at all is because of mankind's fear of death. When you strip it right back to its bones, religion exists to provide a crutch to those people who are terrified of oblivion. They are cowards who cannot accept that their fleeting existence is nothing more than a blip on some cosmic graph (so to speak).

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