More than half in UK are non-religious, suggests survey - what about you?

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by gazthomas, 4 Sep 2017.

  1. DynamicSpirit

    DynamicSpirit Established Member

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    I'm fairly certain that there is a deity of some nature, and the reality is therefore fundamentally spiritual - not exclusively material - in nature. On the other hand, I'm not particularly impressed by most organised religion and as a result tend to define myself as being on the fringes of Christianity, and only occasionally go to Church. I would say that most religions represent imperfect but well meaning attempts to relate to and connect with out spiritual nature, though sadly, human nature means that any well-meaning organisation can get corrupted/subverted.

    Not quite sure if that makes me 'religious' for the purposes of this thread. Does 'religious' simply require belief in (a) God, or do you only count as religious if you are very actively involved in some religious organisation?
     
  2. najaB

    najaB Veteran Member

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    I'd class you a spiritual but not religious.
     
  3. DynamicSpirit

    DynamicSpirit Established Member

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    I can't help noticing that those who have posted to say that they are religious have generally confined their remarks to stating their views. A marked contrast with many of those who have posted to say they are atheist, who have then gone on to slag off those who believe differently from them. Seems to me a bit sad that so many atheists here are apparently not willing to respect the views of others.

    To take but one example...

    Ah yes, of course. Because clearly my belief in God has nothing to do with any actual reasoning or genuine belief on my part. Nothing to do with my having carefully considered over many years and come to the conclusion that the existence of a God is the only reasonable explanation for the existence of the Universe - and us. Presumably, what you are implying is that I somehow 'know' that there is no God but have chosen to believe in one anyway just for comfort, even though I know that's wrong? (Maybe that's not what you intend but offhand I can't see any other way to interpret your comments.

    You don't object to them, but you're happy to insult them?
     
  4. DaleCooper

    DaleCooper Established Member

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    Those remarks of AM9 are in no way insulting. Perhaps I can do better:

    Why do you believe in something for which you have no evidence?

    You say "the existence of a God is the only reasonable explanation for the existence of the Universe", what is your justification for that claim?
     
  5. DynamicSpirit

    DynamicSpirit Established Member

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    If I suggested that atheists only believe that there is no God because they derive comfort from that claim (Implication: Rather than because they have seriously considered the matter and have genuinely concluded that there is no God), would you not consider that somewhat insulting?

    There's also a slight matter of the use of the term 'superstitious' which it seems to me clearly carries rather derogatory connotations.

    What makes you assume I have no evidence?

    Can I refer you to this thread, from around post 108 onwards?
     
    Last edited: 7 Sep 2017
  6. Seacook

    Seacook Member

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    Based on the survey, I think that it assumes you are religious if you define yourself as having/following a religion. It does not state recognised or organised religion.

    There are religions that do not require belief in any god, and it is possible to believe that there is or was some sort of deity without there being a religion attached to that belief.
     
  7. talltim

    talltim Established Member

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    A serious question. How, having actively decided there must some sort of supreme power, did you come to the conclusion that it would be one god (I'm assuming you are Christian by your capitalisation of God) rather than multiple, or the power of nature (Gaia or whatever) or one of the many other possible choices and how did you decide it was the particular god you believe it is?
     
  8. Seacook

    Seacook Member

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    If you made that suggestion I would point out that not all atheists believe that there is no god. Many simply state that they do not believe that there is a god. There is a difference in those two statements.
     
  9. AlterEgo

    AlterEgo Veteran Member

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    One of the problems in today's society is that one form of intolerance in the form of religion has been replaced with another - that of the liberal atheist.

    While I find Christianity to fall well short of explaining how things are, and how they came to be, in general, Christians of whatever denomination are tolerant of the dissenting views of others on a personal level.

    That said, I still find the God of the Bible to be mean-spirited, confusing, and illogical. Nonetheless, we would do well to remember that Christianity and its tenets are at the core of our civilisation, and a great deal of our civic structure we take for granted was built on a Christian foundation. Perhaps we could all be a little less unkind, while remaining staunchly open-minded and criticial.
     
  10. Harbornite

    Harbornite Established Member

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    Just as you have the right to believe what you want, people have the right to criticise your beliefs if they disagree with them. Would you rather have it so that people are not allowed to criticise religion, despite there being plenty to criticise about it?
     
  11. DarloRich

    DarloRich Veteran Member

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    I agree. I may not be a religious person but I respect and protect the rights of people to practice their faith. I hope they respect my freedom to call them deluded, brainwashed fools ;)
     
  12. DynamicSpirit

    DynamicSpirit Established Member

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    I wouldn't read that much into my capitalisation of 'God' - the capitalisation carries implications of there probably being one, rather than multiple, without any intention in that particular post to favour any particular religion. One rather than multiple comes down mainly to Occam's Razor. I'd probably refer you to the same thread I referred DaleCooper to for more detail (since otherwise I'll just end up spending hours that I don't have :) typing in pretty much the same arguments as I did in that thread).
     
  13. Bromley boy

    Bromley boy Established Member

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    I have a similar view to you although I describe myself as agnostic rather than Christian as I struggle with the concept of a Christian God, along with the deities of the other organised religions. That said, just as the existence of any one god can't be proved, neither can it be disproved!

    The reasons I struggle with Christianity are the same questions I asked at Sunday school many years ago and have never heard a satisfactory answer to:*

    - if God is perfect and created everything, why did God create evil?
    - what created God?
    - what's the point of praying when some prayers are answered and some aren't?

    *I expect they thought i was an irritating little **** for asking these kinds of questions rather than just colouring in pictures of Jesus like I was supposed to!

    However I have fond memories of the people associated with the church my parents went (and still go) to. It is a United Reformed church which tends to be very progressive and liberal. I believe it was the first UK church to permit the marriage of same-sex couples.

    A lot of their moral positions: do unto others as you would have done unto yourself; helping those less fortunate; turning the other cheek; temperance and moderation etc. would make the world a far better place if more people followed them.
     
    Last edited: 7 Sep 2017
  14. DynamicSpirit

    DynamicSpirit Established Member

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    As long as you understand that doing so is likely to be exactly as effective as - say - trying to persuade Conservative supporters to vote Labour by telling them that they [the people you are trying to convince] are rich mean-spirited racist profiteering bigots who don't care about ordinary people.

    In other words, completely ineffective - unless of course your aim is merely to sow discord and contempt for other people.
     
  15. Essan

    Essan Member

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    I have a recollection of attending Sunday school when I was about 5 or 6, and even then thinking it was all rather daft. So I guess I am a life-long atheist.

    Mind, most people these days are 99.9% atheist - they only believe in their god, not all the hundreds of others ..... ;)
     
  16. DarloRich

    DarloRich Veteran Member

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    I have contempt for most people, religious or otherwise ;)

    My point is that if we are to have a free society where the the right to worship is free from oppression there must be a equal acceptance of the right of others to express their views. We can not protect one without the other, ultimately pointless as the expression of those views may be to the other side.
     
  17. AM9

    AM9 Established Member

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    There was no 'slagging off', either actual or intended from my point of view. However, attempts to cast aspersions on me and others because of having no religion or even faith in their eyes were not infrequent when I was younger.
    You will have noticed that I said:
    In that I mean that I have no issues with those that do have beliefs (in the context of the thread) but in return I expect that my freedoms are not impinged upon by theirs. To explain, that does not mean that I object to churches, religious broadcasts (in moderation), even religious views being expressed, but there are intrusions that are problematic to me even as an adult, e.g. preaching at the doorstep, but my response is firm but always polite.

    See my post #29 regarding an individual's selection process of a religion to follow (or not). For me I was Christened C of E at the insistence of a paternal grandmother. I was sent to sunday school as a child, religious assembly was held twice a week at my infant and junior school and religious education (called 'Religious Instruction') was mandatory until my third year in High School. Somewhere between about 9 years and 12 years old I rationalised that I did not have a belief in supernatural forces/beings* impacting on the course of humanity, the natural universe despite threat of damnation because I did not. I think that it is generally recognised that the 'belief in supernatural forces/beings' that many hold certainly have had major impacts on the whole human race since religion in all its forms started. Not all of the impacts have been good.
    From my teens though, I did learn to accept that I was surrounded by some who did have such beliefs and unless they invited a discussion, it generally wasn't up for debate.
    * my long standing interpretation of the word superstitious

    Unfortunately, I think that you have misunderstood my post but there was no insult intended, but please accept my apology if you did take it as insulting.
    Some say that discussing religion or politics is dangerous, but that doesn't restrict many of the discussions here. This thread is very specific though so all views are valid for those who wish to take part in it.
     
  18. shredder1

    shredder1 Established Member

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    Theres only one true God, Steve Vai
     
  19. goblinuser

    goblinuser Member

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    What I find sad is the loss of church buildings as a result of this.
     
  20. DaleCooper

    DaleCooper Established Member

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    If you have evidence I would love to hear it and it might change my mind although you first need to define god.

    In the post to which you refer you went from a discussion of consciousness to "so it must be god who created the universe".

    You started out by dismissing the only consciousness we have any experience of - that which is an emergent property of the brain - and ignore the neuroscience evidence that correlates observed brain activity with thoughts, emotions and processes such as mathematical calculation. We have no examples of a consciousness without a brain. Our knowledge of how consciousness arises may be incomplete but it's a lot better than our knowledge of your other two suggestions.

    We interact with physical world by our brain sending nerve impulses to our muscles or receiving sensory information from our eyes, ears etc. How does a consciousness without a brain interact with the physical world? If it can't do that then it couldn't create the universe.

    You also misapplied Occam's Razor, which actually states that among competing hypotheses, the one with the fewest assumptions should be selected. You turned it on its head by assuming the existence of a god.

    Furthermore you failed to take into account other possible explanations for the universe such as the Big Bang, an Oscillating Universe or even "The Matrix".

    Your belief leads to the infinite regression - if god created the universe than what created god and so on and so on...

    I note that in post #113 of that thread me123 pretty much demolished your argument that materialism can't account for consciousness.
     
  21. Seacook

    Seacook Member

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    If you don't want to be ambiguous then you can refer to 'one god' or 'the only god'. Would you use 'Allah' or 'Aten' to convey the same idea? Would such a use imply a leaning towards the associated religion?
     
  22. TheNewNo2

    TheNewNo2 Member

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    Churches can certainly be magnificent places. But that's why we have a registry of listed buildings - to preserve things of architectural merit.

    Regarding the ongoing discussion of liberal atheists insulting religion, I'd like to count myself a liberal atheist and yes I probably do insult religion. I insult most things. There is actual religious persecution which goes on, but being told that your religion is bollocks is not persecution any more than being told your football club is bollocks is persecution. But we've had centuries of deference to organised religion, and now that that doesn't happen so much anymore it's a bit of a culture shock.

    I confess I do find religious belief to be a bad sign in a person. I value questioning of authority and also active inquiry - two things which religion is actively opposed to. If someone is religious, it means, to me, that they are the sort of person who does something a certain way because they were taught to do it that way, and who believes that anyone who does it differently or suggests doing it differently is automatically wrong. I work with one of those people, it's so incredibly annoying. When we're young we ask "why". We ask "why" ad nauseam. To childish extremes it's annoying, but from a scientific point of view that is exactly the mindset we should be promoting. Religion by contrast teaches lazy thinking - X is true because god says so, and there's no point delving further. It's that sort of person who says that creationism should be taught as a scientific theory.

    All this being said, I do not believe in religious tests for public office. If the prime minister is religious then that's fine, and it continues to be fine so long as it has no impact on the performance of their duties. If it does impact their decisions then that should be a deal-breaker.
     
  23. fowler9

    fowler9 Established Member

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    Here is my belief and I apologise if it offends anyone who is religious. All religions were created by humans (Normally men). It is a very effective way of keeping people under control, people are afraid of death so you give them something to cling on to and it keeps them calm. When it suits you can tell them that unbelievers are an abomination who are trying to destroy the perfect paradise and your path to the afterlife. I was brought up Catholic as I have mentioned before. When I had to choose which secondary school I went to I choose which Secondary school I went to (Believe it or not I had a choice of selective schools) my parents had to go and ask the top priest if it was OK for me to go to a none Catholic one which was the one I wanted to go to. He was a good man and told my parents that I had to go to whichever school was going to be best for me. He said that I was a good person and that whichever religion the school I went to was it wouldn't change who I was. That got me thinking at a very young age that my religion had nothing to do with who I was and how I treated people. Religion is just a crutch, I'm glad if it makes some people feel better about the world around them but I just don't need it. All the religions can't possibly be right so it is more likely that they are all wrong. To me it just makes more sense to treat other people the way you would want to be treated, I don't need a god to tell me that.
     
  24. 90sWereBetter

    90sWereBetter Member

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    I remember being partially interested in religion at primary school, but being turned off by the fact I'd have to go to church on a Sunday (even back then Sunday was a motorsport day for me :lol: ), and it seeming like a ton of effort for not much gain.

    15 odd years later, my opinion hasn't changed. There's far too much to do in this world without being constrained and restricted by a few silly rules in an old book.
     
  25. TheNewNo2

    TheNewNo2 Member

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    My schools were religious, in that we had assemblies where we prayed. At junior school it was the Lord's Prayer, and we also did the "for what we are about to receive" before eating lunch. I remember when I went to the council-run playscheme I did that for a while too, though I never did at home. Senior school had its own hymn book, chaplain, etc. I always enjoyed the singing, but somewhere in junior school I think I'd stopped believing (or rather I'd actively realised I didn't believe).

    Nowadays I don't really feel that comfortable even singing along to hymns - I think it's something about when I went to university, I went to the carol service, and it was all fire and brimstone, and that didn't jive with me as a Christmas message.

    Prayer is an odd thing. Double blind studies show that praying for the sick has no effect, unless you tell the sick person they're being prayed for, in which case it actually worsens their health outcome (possibly performance anxiety). But the act of prayer, or at least of quiet contemplation, is an actively good thing in life.

    Oh, and a shoutout to my ex, whose father's side of the family were from Indian, and her grandfather had been in the navy and thus became mayor of a small town and so whenever she had exams he made all the priests in the town pray for her. I always felt annoyed I didn't have that advantage.
     
  26. Howardh

    Howardh Established Member

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    I love the old church buildings and cathedrals. It's what goes on inside them worries me.

    In the past when science was rudimentary, one can understand religion as a way of trying to explain the greater scheme. But now we have worked out that (a) the Earth isn't flat (b) the Earth isn't the centre of the Universe (although, technically, everywhere is the centre of the universe - discuss!) (c) the Earth goes round the sun and not vice-versa (d) Darwin's theory of evolution, the order of batting and the 4 - 4 - 2 formation is probably correct and (e) if there WAS a God we probably wouldn't have Graeme Swann commentating.....then religion should have moved on and churches should be seats of learning, help (a kind of Samaritans with frocks and flowers), civil marriages and non-religious funerals.
     
  27. najaB

    najaB Veteran Member

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    It's probably the case that more people believe the Earth is flat today than did in the middle ages. Sad, but true.
     
  28. AM9

    AM9 Established Member

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    Trust them to get a mention. :)
     
  29. DynamicSpirit

    DynamicSpirit Established Member

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    For the purposes of my arguments 'God' is simply the consciousness that (I would argue) is responsible for the existence of the Universe. (For clarity: There are no assumptions at this point about it conforming to any particular religion).

    I don't dismiss it at all - rather, I thought I made it clear that the very existence of the consciousness that we experience is fundamental to my arguments.

    You say that as if it's a fact. It's not. It's purely a hypothesis. And a very ad hoc one at that given that there's absolutely nothing in physics that gives even the remotest suggestion that consciousness might somehow emerge from atoms arranged in the particular way that happens in the brain.

    Ignore it? My memory is that I commented extensively on neuroscience in that thread - in particular using the sensation of tasting a strawberry (Me123's example) as a case in point. The point (I believe) I made there was that neuroscience is interesting, but doesn't throw any light on the origins of consciousness. It tells us a lot about how are brains work, but the key problem is that everything in neuroscience is completely consistent with our being machines that happen to act in certain (very complex) ways without actually being conscious of the fact. Unless neuroscience can develop a way to distinguish a conscious sentient being from a mere machine that acts in exactly the same way in all circumstances as a conscious sentient being, then it's not going to help with the question of the origin of consciousness - and I see no indication that neuroscience is able to make any progress in addressing that distinction.

    Don't we? If there was an example of consciousness without a brain, how would you be able to tell it's there? (In this regard, you might note that many religious people would cite 'God' as the perfect example of consciousness without a brain!)

    I don't believe I did. I gave reasons for believing that it makes more sense to assume the Universe arose as a result of consciousness (rather than the other way around). Firstly, assuming that consciousness gives rise to the Universe is no more complex than assuming that our brains give rise to consciousness. And secondly, Occam's razor only really applies if there's no other reason to choose one or other of the possible sets of hypotheses. So on both counts, Occam's razor is irrelevant at that point.

    My only use of Occam's razor was to suggest that once you've accepted that some kind of consciousness is at the source of reality, then it is simpler to assume one consciousness rather than multiple consciousnesses.

    Whatever makes you think that the Big Bang is inconsistent with some kind of consciousness being the source of the existence of the Universe?

    I don't by the way believe that there's any serious doubt about the Big Bang, since evidence from so many sources now points to a big bang - and with remarkable consistency on the date as well. But whatever the early history of the Universe, any purely material theory still leaves unanswered the question of why the Universe, the laws of physics - or for that matter, anything at all, exists.

    Yes, but then that's kinda true of any theory really. Whatever created the Universe, whether it was some 'God' or whether it was the laws of physics, or whether it was something else, you always end up with the question, Well what created that? Really, I'd argue that's just another way of restating the problem of why does anything at all exist? I'd agree that 'What created God?' is problem for my reasoning, but it's no bigger than the problem of 'What created the laws of physics?' if you assume the Universe is purely materialistic.

    I don't believe he did. You might note there was a fairly long discussion after #113, in which I went on to counter his points.
     
    Last edited: 9 Sep 2017
  30. DynamicSpirit

    DynamicSpirit Established Member

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    Fair enough. Appreciate that wasn't your intention. For what it's worth, I don't regard casting aspersions on people because of their beliefs is acceptable whatever the target, whether it's atheists or religious people.

    :)

    Agreed. Personally I'm very happy to look at and (time permitting) respond to philosophical or other arguments that might give some clue as to the existence or non-existence of God. Where I draw the line is at any indication that, in general, people who have the opposite belief from the person posting are motivated in some bad way. (Although with the understanding that on all sides there are going to be some people whose beliefs have not been thought through properly or who have some ulterior notive).
     

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