|Reference: All the scientific numbers and facts are extracted from the Number of Science et Vie #1055|
A while back, when I posted an entry about God. I received a comment that I felt I needed to answer but the timing wasn’t great back then, because I was in the middle of my exams… So here it is (with some delay).
Definition(according to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary)
- The supreme reality :esp: The being worshipped as the creator and ruler of the universe
- a being or object believed to have supernatural attributes and powers and to require worship
- A person or thing of supreme value
When I say that we are programmed to believe in God I am neither denying God’s existence nor am I trying to anyone to atheism. But there are facts stating that the belief in God is a universal phenomenon, right? But every religion claims to monopolize God. Some people argue that the universality of the belief In God is a proof that God exists but humans somehow lost the “knowledge”. If that was so, then why is the concept of God so radically different, some religions believe in more than one God, some believe in no GOD but a certain superior “existence” or “material”… In brief, something superior that we should aspire to.
In fact, we want to believe in God, regardless of reason, we even create an image of God that goes against reason and denies the individuals the right to question God. If there is anything that unites all religions is the belief that God is some force that exceeds us, a perfect force that we want to get close to. Unfortunately, no such force has proven its existence, for all of us, God’s what ever we see that’s perfect and most powerful! God could do anything, but God won’t. Why? Each religion gives a different answer to human suffering which contradicts God’s supremacy and perfection, but eventually no religion has given a satisfying answer, at least as far as I’m concerned.
In spite of this “rational vacuum” in religions (if not to say contradiction), all religions seek to prove its righteousness through some supernatural events. You have river splitting, child killing, healing, resurrecting,warrior God… Sometimes you have a moody God… And that’s just a sample of the supernatural stuff that a God can do. We simply try to justify everything that God does just by saying: well, it’s God, God can do anything. This arbitrary authority given to divinities is probably a way to promote the socially submissive prototype of human beings, where obeying God is unconditional, then his representative’s obedience is unconditional and by extension almost everyone’s obedience is unconditional, thus pacifying societies by teaching not to demand anything.
However, in many religions, some Gnostic and Sufi currents appear, that mainly promote direct contact with the divinity and encourages individualism as the best way to reach God (the only real being that’s sublime and therefore deserves to be obeyed). This meant that all of these currents were severely oppressed by the political authorities (in the name of God of course). Many might be tempted to believe that these thinkers are the best sources for knowledge and maybe that’s another proof that God exists. One of the most spectacular supernatural manifestations of religions are the meditations that most religions recommend, the trans situations where the believers feel as if they are united with GOD… Unfortunately again, these experiences only disenchant God even more, because it’s a physical phenomenon. It is proven that those who practice such meditations witness a measurable variation of the cerebral activity. It’s no secret that by reducing the activity of a certain part of the right hemisphere has anti-depressing effect (I know I should elaborate better this point but I am too tired). So it isn’t God that takes you to that great place it’s your physiology.
But most people believe in much easier and simpler concepts. I see no magic in religions and deities. And I assume that this problem has been so huge and so old that religions were aware of this problem and used a very old trick: Metaphysics and miracles. From hallucinogens in early Stone Age to miracles and demonological manifestations. Did you ever notice that, for example, that the Christian church (Christianity being the most widespread religions) gives a primordial importance to miracles? Ask an average Christian to prove that Jesus IS GOD, his answer would be: Miracles! I am a Maronite Catholic that was raised in a Maronite Catholic environment and went to a Maronite Catholic school and what was I taught to believe in as the cornerstone of my belief? What’s the ultimate proof that Jesus was not just another prophet? He died and he was resurrected! What a surprise, Judaism denies Jesus’ resurrection and Islam denies Jesus’ death in the first place… That’s what we rely on to prove supremacy.
I will repeat myself again:
God has never really given any real evidence of his/her existence… Not one evidence, not half an evidence, NOTHING.
What can I say, Science et vie has beautifully phrased that by saying:
Croire en Dieu? En general, c’est le mot “Dieu” qui reticent l’attention, focalize les débats. Comme si le fait de “croire” était une disposition parfaitement admise, pour ne pas dire naturelle. Et justement, c’est le cas!
To believe in God? Usually, it’s the word “God” that retains attention and causes debates. As if “believing” was a perfectly admitted, if not to say natural, disposition. And that’s exactly the case!
This practically condenses what I still want to say. Believing in God, or maybe the better word would be having a religious feeling”, has been around for as long as man has existed, and maybe before. It was traced back to the Australopithecus around 160 000 years ago, when this pre-human used to collect stones and items that resemble humans, indicating that they are capable of giving certain object metaphysical meanings [ref: S&V #1055]. And the first decisive proof of spirituality (sepulture) is traced back to the early humans, with both Homo sapiens and Homo neanderthalensis some 100 000 years ago (sepultures discovered in Skhul and Qafzeh, Israel). The first Gods were also discovered in the Middle East some 10 000 years ago… That’s long before the present religions, which can either mean that we biologically need to believe in a divinity (any divinity what so ever) or that God almighty has allowed human beings to remain in the darkness of sin and ignorance for more than 100 000 years ago… Oh! Not to mention that it would also mean that we as humans are not the only ones to see God, bashing the concept of the Human superiority against other creatures.
SO why would a Lie be so popular and universal? Maybe it’s beneficial.
Let’s not forget, Religions and Gods give absolute answers to unanswerable existential questions. Judaism/Christianity/Islam/most religions represent death as a new birth, a transition; some religions actually resolve the fear of death through reincarnation. In brief, Death no longer exists.
Other questions are also given magical answers:
- What to do with our money?
- Where are the keys to eternal happiness?
- what are the rules of interaction between humans?
- How to have sex?
Religions simply think for us, it’s like a more sophisticates social organization. It appeases our fears and makes us feel like we are part of a bigger group… The group of the “right ones”. That alone is an evolutionary benefit that none can deny!
But that’s not all; S&V posts the results of a Swedish research, showing a clear correlation between religious feeling and the concentration of a certain serotonin receptors names 5HT1A (an inverted correlation). The less receptors there are, the less serotonin is consumed, the more there are available in the blood.
Eventually, I look back at all what I have written and I think to myself: What have I proven? What was my point? Some might think that I have just proven that God exists while trying really hard to prove his absence but in the end, the only thing I wanted to prove that God is something we believe in, just believe; none can define, experiment or find God… Does God exist? That’s anybody’s guess, we just know one thing, that soft feeling you feel when you pray and become part of a community… You’d feel it whether God existed or not!