Wednesday, 23 May 2007

Genuine Belief

An interesting point about people who say they believe in a religion is brought up in this chapter of God's Debris. The old man argues that if everyone who says they believe in God, they would act like it, but instead most people say they only believe in God for some benefit.

"Four billion people say they believe in God, but few genuinely believe. If people believed in God, they would live every minute of their lives in support of that belief. (page 27)

"When belief does not control your most important decisions, it is not belief in the underlying reality, it is belief in the usefulness of believing. (page 28)

"...people claim to believe in God, but most don’t literally believe. They only act as though they believe because there are earthly benefits in doing so."(page 29)

The old man makes a really good point. It does seem that many people say they have a religion, but not all actually act like it. People feel comfortable saying that they are a "non-practicing" Christian or Catholic or whatever. Which really means something like "I think there is a God, but I don't really feel convicted enough to dedicate my life to God. I have better things to do than attend a church service or to read a holy book."

In 2001, 68% of Australians identified themselves as been with the Anglican, Catholic or another Christian church. But in that same year the National Church Life Survey, which is a survey that is filled in at church, had 8.1% of Australians attending a variety of Protestant and Catholic Churches. So form those numbers 6 years ago, it seems that 60% of Australian said they were with a church, but didn't actually attend. Now I am sure that some churches were not surveyed, that some people were overseas, or sick, or were tired the night the church survey was on, but still...

I think people must like to say they belong to a church, but on the other hand they don't like attending it, but I am not sure why. I don't know what "earthly benefits" you get from saying you are a Christian.

Christianity says that everyone is evil, that no one can not do anything right and that Jesus is the only way to be saved. Also Christians are to look after the needy, give to the poor (and not to blow their own trumpet about it) and are to treat others better than themselves. I'm not sure what "earthly benefits" come with been seen as intolerant to other religions, saying that everyone is evil and having to consider others more significant then yourself. If anything Christians were told by Jesus that they will be persecuted.

Then at the end of the chapter the idea of religious pluralism is destroyed and is summed up nicely:

"Jews and Muslims believe that Christ isn’t the Son of God...If they are right, then Christians are genuine belief mistaken about the core of their religion. And if the Jews or the Christians or the Muslims have the right religion, then the Hindus and Buddhists who believe in reincarnation are wrong" (page 29-30)


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