Provided that humanity has addressed this issue with rationality and assuming it's been given enough time, there should be an answer to the following questions:

Why do most people choose to believe in unnatural powers and divinity?

Are spiritual people rising or decreasing in number with time? Is this explained by some philosophical or scientific argument?

Will such beliefs be abandoned at some point in the future? Again, could philosophy or science have a role to play?

If there is no definitive answer beyond any reasonable doubt (for instance about God's existence) is it because we are not being rational enough or because there hasn't been enough time to discuss or investigate?

I'm not questioning philosophy or science here, but rather our capacity to address these questions.

Eventually some religion could emerge whose God created everything in such a way that he/she/they or any proof of their existence could not be found. In which case science would have no capacity to give us definitive answers, only philosophy, if we are smart enough.

I think everything boils down to "Are we capable of resolving the controversy? If so, why hasn't it been resolved yet?"

  • Not sure this is really a philosophy question as such -- but in passing there were a glut of articles like this not too long ago: huffingtonpost.com/2012/08/08/… – Joseph Weissman Nov 27 '12 at 4:15
  • The Religion and Atheism Index, could drive me to some conclusions related with how it's changed over the last years. Regarding of whether it is a philosophical question or not, I've updated my question. – rraallvv Nov 27 '12 at 4:52
  • 1
    More than one question, none are philosophy questions, but all are interesting! This is something best suited for chat! :) – stoicfury Nov 27 '12 at 8:38
  • I've added one more question :) I think it summarizes all others. – rraallvv Nov 27 '12 at 8:49
  • Closing for the time being pending some clarification of the concern. – Joseph Weissman Nov 28 '12 at 18:28

Since we do not yet have a comprehensive scientific account of human cognition and emotion, the problem is not solved. There is no particular reason to believe that we will never get there, but we're not there yet. Since belief in religion appears to not be a wholly rational position, it is unlikely that philosophy (or any other analytic framework with little reference to experimental data) will provide answers. We'll have to wait for the engineering-level details about how humans think and feel.

So, we need more time to really answer those questions--we probably won't even have a comprehensive account in our lifetimes. I agree that they're important ones, and we have some educated guesses to make on some. But mostly we can't say for certain. In the meantime, there's lots of interesting neuroscience and/or cognitive science to do (or support).

  • ...agree, if we find a "spiritual gene" for instance, that most spiritual people have, that could bring the definitive answer to the controversy. I suspect that spirituality is directly related to our genes, in wich case, our beliefs about divinity, and unnatural powers could be due to evolution somehow. But that is just my opinion... I could be wrong. – rraallvv Nov 27 '12 at 23:19

What is to solve? I can give you motives and reasons but not a conviction. You are supposing that is sufficient to show evidence to persuade. If someone doesn't value evidence, what evidence would you invoke to prove he should value evidence? Just think about the Muslims at this moment who are blowing themselves up, convinced that they are agents of God’s will. Faith leads people to believe in something, it doesn't matter what, without a whisper of doubt, or a whiff of evidence, and believe so strongly in some cases, that they are prepared to kill and die for it, without the need for further justification.

Are you really surprised by the endurance of religion? Even if all agree, can all be wrong. What ideology is likely to be more durable than a wishful thinking ideology? Hope is easy, science and knowledge are hard. If we've been deluded long enough, we tend to reject any evidence of the delusion. We’re no longer interested in finding out the truth. The delusion has captured us. It’s simply too painful to acknowledge, even to ourselves, that we've been taken.

For modern anthropology religion is in complete continuity with magical thinking and is a cultural product. Psychological processes have been co-opted for religion: The ability to come up with causal narratives for natural events, and the ability to recognize that other people have minds of their own. These processes allow human beings to imagine purposeful agents behind thunder, lightning, movement of planets. Experiments support that religious people think about their god in anthropomorphic terms even if this contradicts the much more abstract god of the theological doctrines of their religion. Religions that revolved around moralizing gods may have facilitated the rise of large, cooperative groups of unrelated individuals.

  • "Religions that revolved around moralizing gods may have facilitated the rise of large, cooperative groups of unrelated individuals"... completely agree – rraallvv Nov 27 '12 at 14:34

Solving is different in scientific problems and spiritual problems.

In scientific subjects usually there is a common acceptance about the result. but about spiritual subjects it is different. it is tied with benefits and enjoys of humans and humans sometimes ignore the truth for their benefit and reject it. for example if one human can earn a benefit by telling a lie has two option and has free will to select one. to lie or not lie? this is not matter of solving. this is matter of selection and free will. it is solved that we should not lie but still we lie because of its benefits and enjoys.

This was only an example but usually spiritual subjects are in this form. there are different ideologies about spiritual matters and people select to be member of one of them. and this selection is not always based on solving. for example atheists have no proof for not existing God but still select to be member of this ideology.

Usually we do not spend serious and deep research about spiritual matter and believe in what websites say about it.

A human loves himself and prefers to have enjoy, welfare, money, health, safety,... and these factors sometimes are a barrier for accepting spiritual results even if they are logically true.

As another example we know that a dead man can not harm us. but still we fear to sleep a night with a dead. we do not always follow results of solved problems. we follow what we prefer because we are human and we are free to select what we prefer. it is solved that wine is dangerous but still human use it because human is free to do anything prefers.

Most of people become member of an ideology without doing enough serious and deep and independent research (even if it takes 3 years time) and select one based on what others say. we follow what others say. not what our personal wisdom say and we do not consider possibility that people are false about beliefs that the do not have an proof for it.

Anyway using "solved" is not suitable for spiritual subjects. because even if spiritual problems are solved still many of humans select the opposite way of what is solved simply because human is free to select any beliefs. and it is a personal matter rather than a community matter.

  • Thanks, I've changed the word issue by controversy, and included science too in the question – rraallvv Nov 27 '12 at 8:00
  • The level of subjectivity in this answer renders it more misleading than informative. Among other things, (1) People very often do not have much selection but grow up with what will become their belief system; (2) most mainstream religions promise spectacular rewards to the patient (e.g. eternal life) so "loving oneself" doesn't really distinguish; (3) some diseases can be transmitted from the recently deceased (or are carried by insects or whatever for a while after someone dies); (4) it can be "dangerous" to social harmony to not use wine; (5) research doesn't often change minds. – Rex Kerr Dec 9 '12 at 18:23
  • @RexKerr (1)life of human is full of selection. within any belief system still selections exist and many change their belief system based on selections. (2) many of religions people still do sin (selection opposite of what religion orders) which is loving oneself. (3) so what? (4) anyway it has harms. and this is only one example. other examples are cigar or drugs. (5) research causes changing mind of people and also its results change over time. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paradigm_shift – Battle of Karbala Dec 23 '12 at 19:37

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