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The study by the Templeton Foundation.



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Discussion (31)¬

  1. mat says:

    god sure is mean… I haven’t gotten a “yes” yet!

  2. TaoAndZen says:

    “I prayed for twenty years but received no answer until I prayed with my legs.” – Frederick Douglass, escaped slave

  3. » Wait says:

    [...] From Jesus and Mo [...]

  4. Cassandra says:

    I find that my prayers are answered.

    I lost my father in 2005 and whenever the grief was too much for me to bear I would pray for comfort and for solace and always I would then be contacted by either a friend or family spontaneously.

    One time was particularly harrowing and I was feeling incredibly low. I decided to go for a walk and try and calm myself and when i returned home every single member of my immediate family had called me and left a message on my answering phone.

    Prayers are answered, you just have to open your eyes to see how.

  5. John says:

    Cassadra, you are a parody, aren’t you? I mean, if you aren’t you should be. You are almost funnier than Jesus & Mo.

    Please, assure me you are a parody.

    (if not, you could try googling ‘cognitive bias’ or ‘post hoc, ergo propter hoc’)

    John

    Data is not the plural of anecdote

  6. Cassandra says:

    I’m not a parody. I just have a different belief system to you I guess.

  7. TaoAndZen says:

    Cassandra, I think your belief should be in your friends and family. Isn’t it a tad unfair to credit their spontaneous acts of love and compassion to the agency of a god.

  8. Cassandra says:

    TaoandZen – I don’t think anyone has the right to tell another person where their beliefs should or should not lie. You have no idea of how i value you my family or friends or where my beliefs lie in regard to them.
    But I choose to believe that my prayers are answered.

    I shall stop commenting now as clearly someone who has a differing viewpoint does not hold a valid opinion.

  9. Ketil G says:

    I’m a christian man from Norway and i’m mean that God is great some times. But some times he’s not so great.

  10. r00db00y says:

    John,

    Physician, heal thy self. The belief that “God” did not have a hand in Cassandra’s story is as biased as saying “he” did.

    Let’s look at it scientifically. The assumption, from her writing, is that when she didn’t pray she didn’t hear from her family or friends. When she prayed, her family and friends made contact. Therefore logic dictates that yes, “God” did indeed have a hand in easing her grief.

    Like you, I believe what I see. I haven’t seen God but that’s not to say I haven’t seen his work. My great aunt is 86 and is, without exception, the single most devout person I know. More to the point, she’s devout because of a deep love for the subject (she loves her religion like any one of us love our music or film), not because of any social pressure or bias. She is also non-proslatysing. She has lived an extremely hard life inc. two bouts of cancer (unrelated- scientifically proven), an abusive marriage, outliving her entire family and arthritis that would cripple a normal person, yet she’s still able to climb ladders and paint her house and smile while she’s doing it.

    You could say that’s a life of blind luck or coincidence but that would be a firm belief with no basis in fact now wouldn’t it? ;-)

  11. TaoAndZen says:

    Cassandra, I apologize if my presumption caused offence. Please don’t stop commenting. Your differing opinion is valuable here.

  12. Jonathan says:

    However, Cassandra, please don’t be offended if your assertions are challenged. This is what happens when anyone, myself included, expresses his/her ideas in a public forum. It is also a great way to see your own ideas from another perspective.

    Of course, ideally, everyone commenting on your ideas should be polite, but this is not always the case. And perhaps the tone is a bit harsher here, because people are surprised that you would choose to make your ideas public in the comments section for a comic such as this one, which is, shall we say, critical of religion. Personally, I hope that you will be able to overcome your feelings of offense and continue posting, since things get rather boring when everyone agrees.

    In this context, however, you will probably encounter many people, such as myself, who believe that while everyone has the right to his/her opinion, not all opinions are equally defensible. In such a public forum you may be expected to present a logical defense for the things you say.

    It is entirely possible for people to believe things without being able to justify them logically; in fact many, many people do just that. But since this comic is about subjecting religious beliefs to logic, you are likely to meet many people who will not hesitate to attack ideas that are supplied without a logical basis.

    And while I understand that you may have been offended by the harsh tone of certain replies to your post, I hope you will realize that it is not merely the fact that your viewpoint is different that made it a target.

  13. Jonathan says:

    r00db00y, playing devils advocate here, what would you say if I could present as an example an atheist at the age of 86 who can climb ladders and smile and is not afflicted with the many problems your great aunt has suffered? Would you consider that a factual basis for the non-existence of god? Where would the difference be?

    If I, as an atheist, am happier, healthier and more fortunate than someone who is deeply religious, what affect would this have on your argument?

    If I were to get very sick and suffer but survive, should I blame god for allowing me to get sick or praise god for allowing me to get well again? Things can always be worse, but they can also always be better. I have known very religious people who never made it to 86. Why didn’t god step in to help them?

  14. r00db00y says:

    Jonathan,

    Sorry, but as any scientist will tell you, that’s not a valid comparison. There are simply too many differing variables. Since this experiment is to determine the affect faith/God has on a single life then you would have to show me an atheist who HAS gone through everything my great aunt has and is still able to do the things she does.

    Imagine a religious type is a cactus (prickly and unmanageable) and our atheist is a bamboo (ouwardly flexible when part of a whole but each part is rigid and unyielding). A botanist (you) wants to see the affects different growing conditions have on plants. He takes the cactus and places it in soil only; no sunlight or water. He takes the bamboo and places it in water only; no soil or sunlight. The bamboo sprouts whilst the cactus does nothing, so the botanist decides this is the fault of the soil and that all plants would grow quicker and stronger in water only….and that’s it.

    I’m sure you’ll agree that’s not very factual.

    As for your follow up, the paramters of “happier” would have to be outlined very clearly. You can’t assume someone who has alot but no religion is “happier” than someone who has nothing but religion as happiness is completely subjective.

    We could keep flipping this coin forever (and it IS the same coin) but the plain fact of the matter is there is no 100% reliable method to proving God does or does not exist. To say he is in everyone’s life is as illogical as saying he’s in nobody’s. There is also no 100% reliable method to prove the affect faith (or lack of) has on any individual life. Everyone’s different so what makes either the fanaticle fundamentalist extremists or the ecumenically challenged think they have the correct answer?

  15. Jonathan says:

    Erm, r00db00y, my point was, and my examples were designed to show, that the argument (yours, and my examples) are not scientific proof of anything. My point was also that you obviously do not attribute your great aunt’s travails to god, but give god credit for her happiness, which I consider unscientific.

    In any case, scientific method may never get us to the 100% proof mark, but perhaps very close.

    There is, however, a very large difference between claiming something does not exist because there is no evidence (and it would contradict everything we know about the world from science), and claiming something does exist although there is no evidence. While, as you point out, neither can be proven 100%, it is (much) less logical to assert something exists with no evidence. Or do you also believe in the flying spaghetti monster?

    What makes me think I have the correct answer? Evidence, and absence of contradiction in my arguments. (Though if you spot contradictions, please do point them out.) I agree that it is not possible to prove the non-existence of something. However, I am very skeptical about anything that contradicts all of my experience and everything I have learned through experience using logic, i.e. I am very skeptical about the existence of god (s). So skeptical, in fact, that I just say there aren’t any. Perhaps not 100% proven, but I’d argue for 99%.

  16. mark says:

    From Saturday Night Fever:

    Tony: What are you doing?

    Tony’s mom: I’m praying for your brother Frank Jr. to call me.

    Tony: What? Is god like your personal telephone operator now?

  17. Cynthia says:

    As a soft agnostic.. i think that the belief in a spiritual world etc is something that perhaps varies according to age and emotional and social conditions. I personally think that for people going through a great deal of pain in their life the belief in the spiritual can help with the grieving process. I personally swing from being spiritual to be an athiest. However what i find intolerable is dogma, whether it come from religious people or athiests. Communists despised “obscurantism” to the point where it became dogmatic.

  18. Don says:

    There is a very sound argument to be made that religious faith, particularly non-fanatical, socially active religion, has beneficial effects on longevity, sociability, outlook etc. But that is irrelevant to an argument for the existence of god.

    Belonging to a mutually supportive community, whatever it’s basis, is almost certainly beneficial particularly as one grows older. No supernatural explanation needed surely? And actual belief? Probably as effective as any other placebo.

  19. Cynthia says:

    yeah i agree i don’t personally believe in a god , but i believe in something….what that is not sure..maybe its the modern persons cope out…I guess something like Buddhism is good…except for the whole if your life is screwed up..haha you deserved it cause you were a bastard in the previous life..

  20. r00db00y says:

    Jonathan,

    I have to agree with Cynthia; dogma is the killer, regardless of spiritual persuasion. There is no definitive proof for the existence of God. There is no definitive proof that he doesn’t exist. There is no definitive proof that God isn’t a Giant Spaghetti Monster. To believe, just because it’s improbable, that something doesn’t exist is the complete opposite of logical thinking. Science is BASED on assumption, not CONCLUDED and PROVEN by it.

    The notion of “God” exists because people lacked the evidence to answer certain questions. Science has not answered those questions, so to believe that science is, for want of a better word, “Gospel” is as dogmatic and naive as the notion of God itself.

    To that end why believe one over the other? When science can definitively and conlusively answer the following questions then I’ll give up the assertion that God MAY exist (again, like Cynthia, I’m actually an agnostic):

    The Big Bang created the universe. But how was the giant ball of matter built and compressed to such a stage as to create enough pressure and energy for a Big Bang? Was this the matter from another, previous universe, pulled into the opposite side of a black hole and held there until it was big enough to escape the black hole’s grip? Was this a natural cycle or a mechanism for a higher being to create the universe?

    How did the first single cell life-forms go from being inanimate molecules to being chemically dependent, instinctually survival-oriented beings? What was the catalyst for life? Was it the start of evolution or was a divine hand involved? Since evolution technically did not exist, since there was nothing to evolve from, is it logical to assume that there was an external force at work?

    What actually happens to us when we die? Since even non God-oriented faiths (such as Buddhism) claim we are spiritual beings (well, forms of energy) and quantum theory is currently proving alot of what Buddhists actually believe is it logical to assume that death is not the end? If not the end then do we have the power to control what happens to us when we die and if so then does that mean that faith in God means we will go to some kind of “heaven”?

  21. Jonathan says:

    r00db00y, surely you are not accusing me of having succumbed to dogma? Ok, I may say there is/are no god (s) because there is zero evidence, but if one or more approached me, I would not deny my own observations. Of course, I would want to confirm that I was dealing with a genuine god using scientific method, but there is no way I would deny anything that can be confirmed and reproduced.

    Actually, based on your argument, you are almost trapped into having to deal with the flying spaghetti monster; to do otherwise would be inconsistent with your statements. Because the flying spaghetti monster is exactly as probable as other sorts of gods.

    Another statement of yours that I am unwilling to accept is that we should accept just any old reason for the things we don’t (yet) know from science. Do you need to know everything with such desperation that you will make up reasons for the things you don’t know?

    Also, don’t forget that things like the big bang and the origin of life are scientific theories that are not supported by direct evidence. Whatever happened, happened so long ago that it is difficult to collect information on it. We are working on it, but our expectations should not be as high as for things we can observe and reproduce today. That said, we have collected a great deal of information on the origin of life and the universe, even if we can’t yet say for certain what happened. I believe it won’t be long before we can reproduce the origin of life, anyway. We are pretty close already.

    I certainly don’t expect to meet Jesus when I die, nor do I expect to be interrogated by the noodly appendage of the FSM. Since I believe that all of what I am is comprised of this body, I would rather expect that when it goes, I go. Again, I am not closed to evidence to the contrary, but I consider evidence to the contrary to be HIGHLY unlikely. (And, of course, I have never seen any evidence to the contrary in my entire life. Have you? I refer, of course, to scientifically verifiable evidence.)

    What other people call spirituality is certainly something I can appreciate. I just don’t attribute anything supernatural to it; I call it the joy of being alive.

    Most importantly, I would like to refute your argument that there is no reason to prefer science to god-belief. As I have explained before, ideas that collide with all of the evidence we have collected scientifically are perfectly absurd when not backed up by powerful evidence, and god-belief is backed up by exactly no evidence.

  22. Una says:

    I just love this site, where else would I get such erudite discussion and cutting humour?

  23. Rachel says:

    “arthritis that would cripple a normal person, yet she’s still able to climb ladders and paint her house and smile while she’s doing it.”

    The fact that she can climb ladders etc proves that her arthritis isn’t all that bad.

  24. “Years ago we answered them all, but years ago there were less people, and people prayed for something simple then: to light a fire, to catcha yak. Now we got people praying for hockey teams, people praying for longer fingernails, we just can’t keep up with it.” — George Carlin, “Interview with Jesus”

  25. sallye says:

    If that’s the book “Loaded”, Mo has certainly got himself an interesting read. See the description of the book and the film based on it called “Head on” if you want to see what I mean.

  26. Paper Hand says:

    I love the headline on Jesus’ newspaper. :-)

  27. ER says:

    this one reminds me of the most hilarious headline ever from The Onion:
    “GOD ANSWERS PRAYERS DISABLED BOY”
    subtitle: “Reply is ‘No’”

  28. octav3k says:

    “I shall stop commenting now as clearly someone who has a differing viewpoint does not hold a valid opinion.”

    Ignorance does seem to go hand in hand with religion, wouldn’t you say? (and not just because of this clearly lost argument from Cassandra)

  29. fenchurch says:

    When you pray, how do you know which agent has responded to your prayer?

    After all, if you already believe in the supernatural, then the doors are wiiiide open to the possibility that various demons, jinns, ghosts, spirits, “energy”, spooks, angels, and FSM knows what were responsible.

    Are there no such thing as coincidences in your life, or is everything guided by mysterious yet purposeful forces?

    When a nonbeliever desires something greatly and gets it, what would be the explanation for the fulfillment of their wishes (which were neither directed towards a supernatural agent nor would they be inclined to credit/be in the graces of one)?

    Could one of you god-botherers try this experiment: desire a particular outcome, decide to not pray for it, and then see what happens? If your non-prayed for desires were fulfilled, would you admit it to us here?

  30. omsacras says:

    I was going to say that this was a very funny comic strip. But now I won’t as I’ve no other witty/deep comment to add to the 5 year old discussion.

    Aw.

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