Quora Answer : Why do people want to enforce their religion on others?

Aug 8, 2012

Often religion is used as a cover / justification for advancing a political agenda. It's used to stop women having abortions. To confuse the teaching of biology (and likely in the near future climate science). To motivate people to go to war and fly planes into buildings.

"New Atheism" of the Dawkins or Hitchens varieties only appeared as a reaction to the increasingly visible political effects of strong religious beliefs.

If religion was just about who you prayed to and the clothes you wore, it wouldn't be an issue and few people would care about persuading anyone of anything. But because the patterns of belief shape the patterns of power in the world (remember when Christianity took over the Roman Empire?), people try to martial faith as they would any other weapon.

(Contrast NewAtheistRight)

Quora Answer : If asked for specific examples of what evidence for God's existence might look like, how does the empiricist respond?

Mar 28, 2014

God invented photons, right? He knows how they bounce off things and interact with the retina of the eye?

It wouldn't be all that hard for him to have a permanent and unambiguous visible and physical presence on Earth, one that you could see with your eyes, take photographs of, touch, speak to and get answers from, that could be interviewed on television etc. etc. A big talking column of fire in the desert would be cool. He seems to have done that in earlier times.

If Jesus is alive today, why do we have to learn about him by interpreting a 2000 year old book? Why can't I friend him on Facebook and follow his tweets? That's how everyone else who wants a "personal relationship" with me does things.

Now, sure, I'm not making DEMANDS. He doesn't HAVE to do this. But if He insists on not having any kind of unambiguous physical presence and only leaving evidence which looks awfully like the myths of all the other, non-existent gods, then I think I'm perfectly justified in conjecturing that there might not be such a thing at all. Because what would it look like to me if there wasn't a God, just a myth? Pretty much the same.

Quora Answer : Why do people believe in God and how can they say he/she exists?

Jul 31, 2012

God spends more on advertising than the alternative brand.

Seriously, step back and look at this like an economist for a minute. I guarantee that anywhere in the world you go and you find large scale belief in the Christian God you will find concerted evangelical activity. Furthermore, where belief in God is increasing, you'll find investment : in new churches, in buying up radio stations, cable and satellite TV channels etc. (I'm open to be proved wrong on this if you can find some figures showing belief is inversely correlated with evangelical investment.)

Christian ministry has a profitable business model : you make back from it more than you put in. Certainly it's more profitable than atheism. (I know Dawkins and a couple of big name atheists do make money, but it requires a lot of work and talent, and the majority of atheists, working quietly in school science departments, universities and on Quora earn more or less nothing from their atheist activity.) Furthermore, in recent decades, technologies such as satellite TV have allowed ministry to scale beautifully, reaching far larger congregations for a relatively small increase in employees.

We live in a capitalist consumer society. Where the market structures our activities (both production and consumption) and where advertising and marketing are demonstrated techniques for increasing consumption of particular products and brands. It should be no surprise whatsoever that a profitable business model that keys into the dynamics of technology and benefits from a positive feedback loop between self-promotion, congregation size and income is going to spread.

BTW : I'm saying nothing here about whether God exists or not. Christians can verify this by looking at two comparisons : Scientology, which Christians would regard as utterly bogus, also invests in evangelism and is both growing in popularity and wealth. Whereas Judaism, which many Christians would regard as misguided but at least dealing with the right deity, invests little in evangelism and is hardly growing at all.

So, if the CAUSE of congregation growth was God's intervention, you wouldn't expect scientology to be growing. (God presumably having no reason to push anyone in that direction.) Similarly if the cause was just some spiritual dissatisfaction or longing in modern society, we might expect Judaism to be growing too. Or Catholicism. Etc.

In fact, the only model which really fits the pattern of congregation-growth in, say, the US, is the economic one : the amount of investment in advertising that the different religions put in. And that's exactly what you'd expect given our understanding of how advertising and marketing work.