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Everything We Know About God...


Storm

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Earlier today, I was having an argument with a friend of mine in my brain. Since I haven't come out with my Deconversion to anyone but you all on this site, I can only have conversations with people in my head. Crazy, right?

 

Well anyway, I am going to be meeting a friend of mine for lunch in the next couple weeks and I am seriously considering telling him I have left the cult. In my "conversation" with him in my head, I got to thinking about how anyone knows who God is or what he is. And I think I have it boiled down to this:

 

Everything this entire world knows about god either comes from your brain, your brains interpretation of the bible, someone else's brain, or their interpretation of the bible.

 

This certainly isn't earth shattering information to most of you, but if you really think about it, this is profound. No one has ever seen god. No one has ever seen him do anything (at least not that they can verify). God is entirely a construct of the human brain. And our brains are not even perceiving the reality we see correctly.

 

Over the past few weeks, I have been spending time contemplating the concept of confirmation bias and the role it plays in the beliefs of so many people in maintaining their belief in god. The more I read and think about it, the more I am amazed at how much my own confirmation bias shapes my world and the things I learn and believe. Its truly amazing. It is so easy to see how my own brain messes with the reality in which I live. And I accept it as truth.

 

The crazy thing about this is that 99% of all Christians have no idea what confirmation bias is and how it affects their lives. They live their mundane lives believing that everything they see that they cant explain is god. Without question. As I am writing this, I am even now wondering if christianity is about brainwashing or if its about confirmation bias. I suspect a little of both. Maybe even a little bit of Stockholm syndrome thrown in for good measure.

 

Getting back to my main point, we know that there are no original manuscripts of any book in the bible. Most scholars believe that the majority of the books of the bible were written by unknown persons. Based on these two facts alone, why anyone would put their faith in anything the bible says to be true is crazy. If I wrote a book today and used a pen name, told of wondrous exploits of god in my life, would anyone really buy it to be true and from god? Probably not. But most American's accept the bible to be true and the inspired word of god. Why?

 

Once again:

Everything this entire world knows about god either comes from your brain, your brains interpretation of the bible, someone else's brain, or their interpretation of the bible.

 

Listening to lectures on the psychology of belief and understanding how our brains really work and how free will cannot possibly be true, I understand that most people in the U.S. will never come to this realization. They will never understand the truth about themselves. They will never understand the truth about where their idea of god comes from. Truthfully, they don't want to know. They want to live in the bliss they have constructed in their minds. Its human nature to do so. Who wants to learn that everything they have believed their whole lives is hogwash? Who wants to accept that reality isn't what they thought it was. Who wants death to be the end?

 

Its a harrowing fact to learn and a more difficult one to accept and live life with, as I am finding out more and more each passing week. But knowing the truth is liberating too. Its given me a true purpose. I value my life more now than I ever did before. I made changes to my lifestyle to improve my health. I am getting ready to make important changes to my retirement planning. Buying a home and taking care of my family is now, more than ever before in my life, the most important thing to me. No Jesus goggles to distort my perception of what my life should be. Its all me now, baby. And I like it. Its a bit scary at times, but I like being the master of my domain.

 

No Jesus, Know Peace. Know Jesus, No peace. I like it better that way.

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Good essay, Storm.

 

I'll make just a few points. Concerning "original manuscripts" of the bible, I agree that there are no extant originals. They may exist somewhere waiting to be found in a clay jar in a cave. However, how would scholars ever know which was the first account ever written? And I think you mean by "no originals" that the biblical books we have today were patched together from earlier variations of those accounts (many of which were originally oral and not written).

 

As for your not being able to pass off contemporary writing as "God's word," consider religions and ideologies that sprung up in the 19th and 20th centuries that people follow as "God's revelation": Baha'i, Mormonism, Christian Science, Scientology, among others. But if you mean trying to write something today and passing it off as a found source of biblical texts, then probably not. However, there have been a few cases of convincing forgeries (but they were eventually exposed as frauds).

 

But to the main point of your essay, I completely agree with you that the reality of religion (esp. Judeo-Christianity) is a product and projection of the human psyche. I believe there is a progression from brainwashing to confirmation bias to Stockholm syndrome. It is systematically orchestrated. (Maybe I'm drawing on Darrel Ray's "God Virus" concept here.) I believe, left unchecked and unchallenged, religion increasingly debilitates a person's capacity to reason and recognize the nature of the religion. That's why most people die in their religious beliefs. I know you have further insight into these matters. I would like to read more such essays by you.

 

Finally, you mention that "most people in the U.S." don't want to know and understand these things. Instead, they want to retreat into the bliss of their own imaginations (my word, not yours). You say it is "human nature" to do so. I would agree that it is a human condition but not necessarily the primary human nature. Or, if it is human nature -- a past nature that still lingers in many people -- could it be that the fact of some people's reasoning through religious thinking and progressing out of religion, is evidence of human psychological evolution?

 

Do you think we could start a forum thread on this topic? (You start it, and I'll contribute.) I might blog about my thoughts on this subject.

 

Thanks again, Storm, for your thought-provoking essay.

Peace,

Human

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Thanks for your response, Human. You bring up some good points. I am open to creating a topic in the forums along the lines of this blog. I would like to say that, often, when I write my blog posts, I am just kind of thinking out loud, if you will. I get an idea and I just write some of the things that I am thinking. Sometimes I am looking for responses like yours, other times, I am just sharing what is on my mind. 

 

In regards to the original manuscripts comment, I agree with you and I think the point I was trying to get across is simply that since we don't officially know what is in the originals, and we know that over history, the books have been changed and ideas that were not originally in them have been entered into our more modern copies and those ideas affect beliefs today. Since the majority of the books we have are copies of copies that are a hundred years removed from the originals, and some even more, we don't actually know how much those copies have been manipulated and ideas presented as well. I am essentially bringing up the question of its authenticity and its reliability as a beacon of truth. These are factors that are not taken into account by the average Christian.

 

I think where I was going with the idea of me writing some testament about god or his exploits in my world. I agree that others have successfully promulgated their new belief systems into our modern world. I was trying to point out that most Christians blindly believe the stories of completely anonymous people who lived thousands of years ago and take what they say as truth and lives their lives after the ideas and beliefs presented in these writings. It would be no different if I wrote the same type of stuff today and said essentially the same things. But I would be dismissed, and my writings would not be considered holy, or divinely inspired. The criteria for acceptance is very, very subjective and the only reason that the bible is held in esteem is because our ancestors have felt the same way about it for centuries.

 

I am curious about the psychology of belief and the psychology of religion. I haven't had a lot of time over the past few months to explore it as much as I would like, but I do listen to occasional lectures and interviews of psychologists and authors who touch on the subject, or related subjects, from time to time. It is something I would like to explore more of and get a better understanding of, that is for sure.

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