Why do people believe in gods/God?

posted: 4435 days ago, on Sunday, 2005 Oct 02 at 11:59
tags: atheism, psychology.

"Every major religion today is a winner in the Darwinian struggle waged among cultures, and none ever flourished by tolerating its rivals."

E O Wilson

I'm fond of pointing out, when asked if I believe in God, that I'm not superstitious. This invariably leads to a discussion concentrating on definitions and clear meanings.

Sometimes, just asking someone "What do you mean by God?", is a first step for them. Another good step would be to take the Personal Beliefs Scale, which helps to clear up murky thinking.

Without sound evaluation yes, a cognitive deficit model I believe people are seduced to religion along a number of vectors. For a moment, consider each of these beliefs:

  1. There is no such thing, really, as death.
  2. My life has a meaning, and there is purpose to the universe.
  3. Not only am I a good person, but I'm actually also better than you.
  4. If shit happens, it's not really my fault.
  5. It is possible to get something for nothing.

The more of these statements you buy into and I'm sure there are others the better the odds are that you also think that there's some supernatural entity or entities out there willing to suspend the laws of nature on behalf of "a single petitioner confessedly unworthy" (Ambrose Bierce's definition of prayer).

nothing more to see. please move along.