Wednesday, 4 July 2007

Is there a purpose to believing in God?

It may well be true that the belief in God has a purpose. But in supposing that the concept of God is purposeful to some individuals (after all not everyone believes in God), is not the same as saying it is true. Indeed, some individuals do claim they get comfort from the belief that God exists and thus, in this respect it is offering a purpose; it is comforting.

The fact that something can be claimed to have a particular purpose, does not necessarily mean that is a synonym for truth. Purpose and truth can be mutually exclusive. For example a man suffering from a terminal illness, may get comfort from the belief that prayer will cure his illness, the purpose of prayer in this instance is to attempt to relieve the man of his disease. But the purpose in this instance does not correlate with the facts of reality.

There may also be a more indirect purpose to believe in God which comes from our Darwinian past. It is not that the belief in God itself is purposeful... rather, it maybe that a precursory aspect of our nature allowed the human mind to be credulous to mystical beliefs, because such credulity had good Darwinian survival purpose. For example, the child mind for good Darwinian reasons is set up to be gullible to parental commands... such as, do not to swim in the river because of the crocodiles (this analogy was first put forward by Professor Richard Dawkins). A child mind that was not set up to be gullible in this way, would not survive long, on say the open plains of Africa. Such a child simply would not have the time to get involved in naturalistic experimentation, to know what is dangerous and what is not... such a child would very quickly, wind up dead.

Thus, the child mind because of its Darwinian inheritance is naturally set up to believe everything its parents tells it. The same child mind because of innocence of age and lack of natural experience, would have no way to distinguish truth from falsehood.

So, the original Darwinian purpose of gullibility for survival purposes has led to God concept gullibility in modern society. The purpose in believing in God in this example is a misfit error from our Darwinian past.

There are people in the World who actually believe in angels... and I mean angels that sit on their shoulder and follow them around. Now the fact that they believe in angels obviously fills a need or purpose. In this case I suspect they get comfort from believing in angels. But the fact that one can identify a purpose, in this case; comfort not an excuse to equate purpose with truth. Indeed, in this instance I suspect most individuals would call them delusional.

So, is there a purpose to believing in God? - Maybe. But then again, one can draw the conclusion that many individuals find purpose in life without believing in God. Even granted that many people do find purpose in the God concept... This does not make it true, anymore than does the belief in fairies.

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