Belief in God
October 8, 2008 7:35am CST
It was reported this week that a major study has concluded that believing in God makes people nicer. For the purposes of this discussion, I think we can assume that GOD represents whatever superior being is seen as the Head of any religious belief, because the main point is that religious thoughts or beliefs make us behave better. The other side of the coin poses the point of view that nicer people are more likely to be religious in the first place, but the evidence they gathered during the study suggests that fear of an all-powerful presence encourages good behavior. That fear factor was also quoted in another part of the study, when they reported that the findings suggest that fear of God's judgment encouraged people to work together and help others. It would be quite easy to try to see this only in terms of the 'religious community', so to speak, but it challenges us on a fairly basic level. Do you think religious beliefs make us better, more socially aware people, or is it that better adjusted, nicer people are more likely to live their lives by what could be regarded as religious tenets?
• United States
24 Mar 09
I've never really understood this view.. I was a very hurt person, due to an abusive childhood, and when I found God (on a sunny day in the mountains) he filled the empty places and I found that being close to him was where I always wanted to be.. it became clear to me, that he is the only source of goodness, and living close to him, or his presence in our life and heart, is what improves a person.. The more I pursue God, the more I love others, and not just my family and friends. Whereas I used to be afraid of people and didn't love them at all. And it has nothing what so ever to do with fear.
25 Mar 09
Well flowerchilde, thanks for getting this discussion moving again, and it's interesting to note how much of what you wrote actually agrees with my original thoughts. When you mention your abusive childhood, it really means that at that time in your life you were constantly in DREAD, FEAR and WORRY, and of course all that is gone now that you have found God. You also say you used to be AFRAID OF PEOPLE.....that fear factor again, but when you think about your life today, that fear has been replaced by an ability to love others, has been replaced by a desire to help others as much as you can. God bless, and keep up the good work.
• United States
25 Mar 09
Thanks, Jahrock! Some folks believe the only reason christians believe (or behave) is because they fear God, but I've found that seeking him out and drawing near to him has erased all fear including any fear of him, if I had any. It is "a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God" but I think that is if we have been avoiding him and breaking commandments (not that any of us are ever perfect!) Of course I can't speak for others, but I've always assumed the verse "fear of God is the beginning of wisdom" for most of us could be better translated as "reverence of God is the beginning of wisdom". I also think a lot of it has to with wanting to please God so we try to behave rather than do those things or live a lifestyle we know would displease him and harm others. Another reason many think christians believe (besides being not too smart and never read or study) is because we are weak and need some sort of crutch to lean upon. I was dysfunctional but thought I had it all together, didn't like people but didn't realize it was a fear of others as opposed to love for them. I was assuming this study was done by non believers, who usually don't have a clue about these things. Not knowing God, they never can perceive that knowing him is a factor in our faith! Therefor the basis, to them, must be fear and, or weakness! It's a paradox that all of us are weak, we just don't know it until we see ourselves in his holy light.. I agree with your thoughts, however that there is basicly two spheres.. love, or fear. Fear imprisons, love liberates. I think most christians pursue God for they have felt at some time(s) or other the deep peace and joy of knowing him, and if they are instead fearful of Him, perhaps they do not know the real him, but have fallen for the counterfeit ogre type image so often put forth.. [Not to say there are not grave consequences and results for evil doing! All false towers (and ways) can only burn and crash and that is not pleasant.] It's an interesting point however, that with ancient man (tiny Israel) God spoke and dealt like a stern fear inspiring parent, but! That is what can penetrate when one has not been "born again" which of course was not available until the sacrifice of Christ was made on all humanity's behalf.. back then so many nations were sacrificing babies! Which of course made God quite angry and yes extremely fearsome! As what God worth his salt wouldn't be angry! but this is the only image of God some folks seem to perceive. Sorry to ramble on so! God bless you, and have a very good day!