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    (Original post by m00se)
    You do have a point, Maddock - although I'd argue that it's not the *only* reason. It's a part of it, certainly, but I think the vastly overwhelming part of being "religious" is having been indoctrinated into a specific way of thought as an impressionable child.

    For example, all religious people should ask themselves the following question:

    Why do I believe in *this* set of beliefs (say, Christian beliefs) as opposed to any other set (say, Islam beliefs)? Is it because I surveyed all the world's faiths and analysed everything each had to offer, and made an informed decision based on my analysis?

    The answer is, to all intents and purposes, no. While I admit there are some people who "get" religions later in life or who "convert" from one religion to another, the numbers are so vanishingly small as to be statistically nonexistent. We're talking winning-the-lottery small.

    If you are religious, it is overwhelmingly statistically probable that your parents had the same religion, and brought you up in the same way as themselves, indocrinating their children without giving them free choice. In fact, there has been a study done of world religions and it turns out you can accurately trace family trees (or rather, sets of trees) through previous generations based on nothing but religious inclination, and come out with an extraordinarily accurate epidemiological (population) study based on the findings.

    Epidemiology, not evidence.

    To further develop your point, there are two things that should be said.

    1). Unfortunately these people do exist in society. They're called "preachers". Surprisingly, as you say, a significant proportion of people seem to be not in their right minds.

    2). A great example showed itself to me the other day. I am a medical student, and my clinical rotation led me to Bethlehem mental hospital in south London. There was a man in there who claimed that he received a message from aliens and that it was vitally important that he warn everyone on Earth to vow allegience to the aliens, for when the attack came (which could be any day) they would kill only those who hadn't. He'd even gone to the lengths to write an entire set of "scriptures", fabricated either from nothing or from grossly distorted news items about aliens from the past 20 years or so, which he claimed were original texts from the Alien homeworld.

    Most of you reading this thread will of course now be scoffing at this "insane" idea. But I ask those of you doing that who have a religious inclination to ask yourselves the following: What differentiates this man, who has, for his beliefs, been labelled as "delusional" and locked up in a mental hospital, from the man in the street who proclaims almost identical things, only using the word "God" instead of "aliens". The answer seems to be only that one is more socially acceptable than the other - namely, that tradition says it's ok to believe in god, but once you believe in aliens, you'd better be locked up because you're clearly a wack-job. Yet each has precisely the same amount of evidence as the other.

    This begs the final question: "what, then, is the difference between religion and delusion?". To which my answer would be "nothing".

    M
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    I thought all the wise men and women of the world had disappeared.... now I have hope!
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    Why thank you kind sir

    *doffs hat*

    M
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    For an atheist, god does exist, he is an equation, all controlling, all seeing. He decideds your fate always.
    AS for some pokey man upstairs, I don't think so!
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    (Original post by giblets)
    For an atheist, god does exist, he is an equation, all controlling, all seeing. He decideds your fate always.
    AS for some pokey man upstairs, I don't think so!
    Not quite. For an atheist, by definition, -god does not exist-. I beleive what you are alluding to is commonly known as "physics" and the Grand Unified Theory (the equation of which you speak).

    Only "all-controlling, all seeing. He decideds your fate always"? - I suppose it could be argued that physics ultimately "decides" the final outcome of everything, but you must remember *not consciously* - there are just a fixed set of laws that guide all that happens. And "all seeing", well, just no :P And if you want to argue yes, you need to qualify that statement.

    M
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    We don't need god to explain our perceptions - they make sense in the model of causality. If we add God then, we do so only to complement our requirement of a complex solution to a simple problem. That contradicts functional logic - making a solution to a problem more complicated than the problem only reduces your ability to solve it. Thus any solution involving a requirement of God is non-functional as it creates more problems than it solves.
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    (Original post by rIcHrD)
    That contradicts functional logic - making a solution to a problem more complicated than the problem only reduces your ability to solve it. Thus any solution involving a requirement of God is non-functional as it creates more problems than it solves.
    Occam's Razor lives on!

    M
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