“Religion is an illusion, and it derives its strength from its readiness to fit in with our instinctful wishful impulses,” said Austrian psychiatrist and Galician Jew Sigmund Freud, the father of psychoanalysis. But Jewish people don’t believe in an afterlife, or at least, don’t have to, although reincarnation is possible if you are an Orthodox Jew. Yet, there is the notion of an immortal soul, similar to Christianity.
In 1882, said German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche (photo below), “God is dead.” So goes the joke, “Nietzsche is dead,” said God, in retort. For that past century and more, God has prevailed, for religion has continued to maintain a hold. What are the statistics?
Tipler in TPOI reported around a 95% average figure over the past few decades for those believing in God in the United States. Surely enough, Robert Mellert mentioned a 96% belief in God number, but, perhaps, they were referring to the same survey, which was probably the Gallup Poll which reported a 96% figure for both 1944 and 1994.
Thinkers/philosophers for millennia have been writing on the subject. French philosopher Rene Descartes in the 1600’s provided an elaborate series of proofs for the existence of God. In the 1700’s, Scottish philosopher David Hume repeated what various atheists of his day and before said: if God were so omniscient, why did he create such an imperfect world. Therefore, there is no God. Then there is the grand synthesis of French Jesuit philosopher, Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, for whom God is all, not unlike the Eastern Hindu idea of pantheism. Thus, God is a range of images from a concept to a force to an anthropomorphic grandfather.
There is a Darwinian insight, where He listens to prayers, and responds accordingly. Charles Darwin, though, finally opted for agnosticism (I haven’t seen the Light, but please try to convince me). The Einsteinian view, as his equations, is a bit abstruse: divine immanence is stressed over divine transcendence.
God supposedly has no gender. Yes, there are innumerable female lesser gods, such as
Hindu warrior goddess, Durga, but try finding a popular painting of an ultimate female god. Start with Photobucket, which has more than 200,000 images of God.
Of course, God means different things to different people. Many in the Western world conceive of that white bearded guy earlier compared with Santa. This one would thus be the omnipotent creator of the Universe. This is the most popular representation, but science is eroding this metaphysical image, for a God beyond molecules and time cannot intervene in the present, so goes the physics. Or, should not, anyway.
Then too, there are many variations of that internet story about how God is seen by many:
Noah had struck out in his T-ball game and, in embarrassment and anguish, decided that he had to meet God to seek his help. The next day, as it was to be a long journey, he stuffed his backpack with a can of macadamia nuts and two bottles of deep ocean Hawaiian freshwater (reverse osmosis of seawater from the Natural Energy Laboratory of Hawaii Authority) and started his expedition. But where could he go? After a few blocks in the hot sun, he saw a bench under a banyan tree, and thought this would be a good time to take a break. There was an old lady sitting on one end, so he sat down on the other side and cracked open his macadamia nuts. He felt obligated to offer some to the lady, and she accepted with a smile. As he had two bottles of water, he gave one to that lady. He wanted to ask her if she knew where to find God, but instead ended up talking about her granddaughter who, he learned, was wheelchair bound. It occurred to him that life was not all that bad, for he could walk, and upon departing, made a comment to her about how blessed Lani was to have such a fine guardian angel. At dinner, his mother wondered why Noah looked so happy, and he said, “I met with God this afternoon and she told me a story about how lucky I was.” Meanwhile, the old lady’s son later that day inquired as to why she showed so much joy, and she said, “I had macadamia nuts with God today, and, you know, he is much younger than I expected.”
God is different things to different people. If God can be seen in anyone at anytime, that certainly can explain why the belief rate is so high.
Is this why the United States percentage hovers around 95%? But then, why do Japan and Israel, seemingly wallowing in religious traditions, report much lower figures? There does not need to be an afterlife in the Jewish religion, so, of course, that provides a partial explanation. Japan supposedly is the country, next China, with the most number of atheists and agnostics, so what you see when you visit are artifacts of a past culture.
After being down all day, the final half an hour saw the Dow Jones Industrials surface to plus 11 at 10,618. Gold rose $12/toz to $1126 and oil seems to be nearing $83/barrel.