I came late to the discussion, and admit I haven't read all 45 pages of comments. But my thoughts on your question are best summed up by this quote attributed to Marcus Aurelius:
‘Live a good life. If there are gods and they are just, then they will not care how devout you have been, but will welcome you based on the
virtues you have lived by. If there are gods, but unjust, then you
should not want to worship them. If there are no gods, then you will be
gone, but will have lived a noble life that will live on in the memories
of your loved ones.’
I love this! I also have not read the 45 pages, but this all made me think of "Smith's wager" which I came across while websurfing not too long ago.
1. The existence of a god, if we are to believe in it, can only be established through reason.
2. Applying the canons of correct reasoning to theistic belief, we must reach the conclusion that theism is unfounded and must be rejected by rational people.
More details are in the link, and the conclusion is:
1. If there's no god, you are correct.
2. If there's an indifferent god, you won't suffer in hell anyway.
3. If there's a just god, you have nothing to fear from the honest use of your reason.
4. If there's an unjust god, you have much to fear but so does the Christian.
I found it comforting.
"Woody Allen suggested yet another premise: What if a god exists; is benevolent, omnipotent and omniscient, but is also an under-achiever? "
LOL!! yeah, I like that quote too ;)
Sounds like you have the same anxieties I had.
Though I never believed, for most of my life I was afraid to admit it.
I did not become an atheist overnight, or because I think it's radical, or for reading a book.
This has taken years, why? Because I want to be 100% satisfied with my belief, afterall,
it's nothing less than my own "soul" we are talking about here. What if I die suddenly tomorrow!?
If there were even the slightest shread of evidence, not proof, just evidence, or even a really good
philisophical argument for the christian god, I would know it, and take it very seriously.
You see, I always WANTED to believe.
My theist friends told me to pray. So, I prayed (though I did feel a bit silly!).
Does god not say in the bible that he will answer our prayers?
But I did not pray for material things, I prayed to god simply for the power of belief and faith.
Humbled and begging for him to at least guide me to the right path.
Even coming to me in a dream woud be nice, I could take it from there.
But, guess what, god never answered my prayers. No hint, no dream, nothing.
I was not expecting a "miracle", just asking for something very basic.
Since god wants us to believe and have faith, I would certainly think that this would be
the one prayer he would answer.
My theist friends pray. They say their prayers are "heard", they avoid saying their prayers were
My christian friends have ailments, sickness, deaths of family and friends, etc. just like I do.
Yet, for all their love and devotion to god, not a single one of their prayers have been answered.
Dont be afraid to let go of the religion that has been a fixture your whole life.
It has done no one a bit of good other then being the incentive for fear and guilt.
Just trust and believe in your self :)
Another problem, one that philosophers have struggled with for eons, is that "god" is a nedulus concept.
What exactly does one MEAN when they say god? What attributes should we expect this god to have?
If you randomly assemble a group of theist's, you may well get several interprations and arguments about which concept is correct.
Theist's know they cant all be correct; so they rationalize their personal belief to be the true one, at the total exclusion of all others.
It makes me think of a Homer Simpson quote:
"Suppose we have chosen the WRONG god, every time we go to church, we are making him madder and madder" :)
This just illustrates the sillyness of it all to me :)
*Hi five on that one!.... wait!!!! :-(