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God: A Logical Counter

February 24, 2012 | Comments: 0 | Views: 169

God and Psychology

Recently I was discussing God with one of my friends who is of the opinion that people only believe in religion for 'psychological' reasons: i.e. because their parents were religious, because they grew up in an environment of Christianity, or because they were brainwashed by charismatic and rhetorical speakers. He also thought that Christianity naturally promotes racism, hatred and inequality. I however, being Christian myself (Quaker to be more precise) think that this is unfair, and doesn't consider both sides of the argument.

Now, before I begin I must freely confess that both my parents are Christian: I'm not going to try and hide that to make my opinion appear more objective, those reading this may well think 'aha, he himself grew up with it and knew no better,' Believe this if you want, but understand that if you believe we all hold beliefs because of psychological factors, then atheism is also a belief, and therefore subject to psychological explanation. I once knew a man that ardently declared his atheism. When I got to know him better, he revealed that his father had been Catholic, and had beaten him very often in his youth. He tells me I only believe in God because of psychological reasons... Yes, we are all subject to psychological factors which influence decisions, but becoming atheist does not grant immunity from this very basic human condition.

I hope that the arguments I use will be considered objective, logical and rhetorical, because I believe, contrary to much atheist thought, that religion is logical.

Returning to the debate with my friend, his first line of argument was to suggest that Christians promote inequality. My counter is simple: yes, it is true that many 'Christians' have engaged in warfare under religious pretences, and committed atrocities in the name of God. Does this mean they are Christian? No. People who believe we are not equal obviously aren't true Christians. If I told you I was a scientist and never performed a single experiment but rather threw random chemicals together into a pot, would I be a true scientist? No. Similarly rejecting something because it has previously generated negative experiences or events, is not a ground for discarding it. Scientists created the nuclear warhead, not Christians, but do we attack science as being inherently immoral? No. Science has given man the terrifying ability to push a button and instantly destroy thousands, if not millions, of human beings. Yet do we decide to give it a rest? No. We accept it has drawbacks and terrible potential, but it also creates liver-transplant machines and intravenous feeds which save lives. Do we call for the abolishment of politicians because they start wars? No. Human beings can always twist and misuse ideas to their own ends, religion is the same. Just because a body of people have misused to it to, as my friend quite rightly says, promote inequality, sexism, and dictatorship, does not mean that religion as a whole is evil.

True Christianity promotes loving your neighbour as yourself. Jesus marks this out as the most important commandment, because from it all other commandments naturally follow.

In Galatians it says: "...we are all one," therefore people that make arguments against Christianity as promoting inequality:a) haven't read the Bibleand b) are obviously unable to separate individual faith based on evidence, understanding, experience and love from organised religion.

His second line of argument was to suggest that though the Bible does have moments where it seems to be promoting morality, at the same it contains "rape, child slavery and sexism" and promotes these alongside it.

Firstly, rape, child slavery and sexism exist in many modern films: that doesn't mean these things are 'promoted'. Does Orwell's 1984 necessarily say that Communism and Oligarchical Collectivism are a good thing? No. The Ten Commandments expressly forbid murder and the disrespect/harm of others and this message is further enforced in the New Testament.

My friend was right about one thing though, yes, the Bible is in part a product of its time. Things were different then, and so naturally approaches to overcoming problems were different. For example: in the Old Testament we see polygamy and incest is accepted in some cases, whereas in the New Testament it is not. Consider then that in the Old Testament the population of the whole earth could be numbered in thousands. Measures were required to ensure the human race survived, but often even then polygamy, or extra marital sex was only as a last resort, for example: if the wife was infertile. Incest was also not necessarily the same thing that it is today, the blood was probably purer and would not lead to deformity, damage, or mutation as it does now. Scientists believe it would have taken eight people to populate the world today (bearing in mind there are eight people on Noah's ark). Out of eight people there is only so much that can be done before inbreeding inevitably occurs. We are all related therefore, however distantly. But coming back to my friend's argument: he is right, the Bible is partly a product of the circumstances in which it was conceived.

But, it also goes beyond this. Just because something is written two thousand (roughly AD 10-30 - The Jesus Papyrus) years ago, it doesn't mean that it is outdated or that its principles become irrelevant. Psychologists use the works of Freud, Jung, and even more ancient philosophers: does their work become irrelevant just because time has passed? No. True, some ideas that were contemporaneous may now be less relevant, but others have become universal truths. Allow me to very simply demonstrate a universal truth from the Bible that anyone can accept, atheist, Christian, or of any denomination or belief. The Garden of Eden is frequently disregarded as being absurd, impossible, and convenient. Here's my theory: The Garden of Eden is a metaphor, and it's a brilliant one at that. It's a metaphor for the human condition that has retained its hold on the imagination since it was written. Human beings are obsessed with what is forbidden. Humans beings are obsessed by knowledge: just look at science: does the unethical nature of their practices stop them pursuing secrets ardently to their culmination? No. And I'm not criticising science here: I follow the science articles in The Week avidly to see what the next discovery will be. We also see everyday that people fall prey to the promise of power, they make deals that they shouldn't, they make choices that they even know they shouldn't: but the power is just too tempting.

It's a metaphor for puberty as well. Children aren't ashamed to be naked and free. They aren't ashamed if they speak what they feel honesty."I want a toy!""No it's mine!"

They aren't afraid to ball in tears in front of a crowd of people and they never make apologies for being who they are. Then with age comes wisdom, and 'knowledge of good and evil': of embarrassing secrets, of our own bodies. People want to cover themselves up because they're afraid 'I'm not ripped enough' or 'my bum's too big' etc. Knowledge brings shame, alongside the gift of reason and enlightenment.

It's also about a man's obsession with women. People often say that it's sexist because Eve takes the fruit first. That's one way to look at it: but who's the bigger fool, the fool, or the fool who follows? In Paradise Lost Milton paints a picture of Adam as uxorious to the point of self destruction. Adam chooses to take the fruit because he can't live without woman, without Eve. So it's also a story about love. Human love that is so powerful it causes them to defy the divine, and who hasn't felt their love for someone is causing them to fall? That our addiction to someone is almost unhealthy? That is doesn't make sense? Adam gives us paradise for Eve, and isn't that the case of most people: they sacrifice something to continue or further a relationship?

You don't have to believe in God or in the literality of the Garden of Eden story to see that this book is profound, and full of profound teaching. Atheists often cannot understand how someone can turn to the Bible for guidance, as they view it as ignorant, but if you read the Bible you begin to see that there are numerous examples of acute observation of human nature, and of the way the world works. There is a famous line which states someone who commits sin will not only be cursed but for ten generations after their family will be cursed. Is this a harsh punishment from an unjust God (as atheists like to argue) or is it actually an observation that someone prone to behave badly will probably pass this on to their children, who in turn will pass it on to theirs, making it a hard cycle to break from.

Therefore I disagree with the views that the Bible doesn't make sense and is ignorant, which is obviously a stance I'm expected to take. But looking at it from what, to me, is a logical perspective: there's more psychological insight into human beings in that one exceedingly story, than in all of Freud and Dawkins put together.

I apologise if I offended anyone reading this article, unlike aggressive atheism I am perfectly fine with acknowledging many people have differing views from me. I intend no disrespect, and have been motivated to write this counter argument because of the numerous attacks upon my own system of belief: which is one of loving others, caring for others, striving for friends and family, upholding moral principles, and humbling before a being infinitely greater than I am.

Thank you for your time,Feel free to post responses and comments.

Joseph Sale is a Creative Writing Student at the University of Birmingham and the author of two books: 'Dark Age Heroes' and 'Z.A'

To find out more about him and his work you can visit his website at:

Alternatively you can follow his Twitter feed at: josephwordsmith

Source: EzineArticles
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