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Is God Obsolete Or Do We Need Him?

story of god

Morgan Freeman’s latest TV Series, “The Story of God,” has left me in awe! A fascinating experiment on the show gave me much food for thought.

“Do you want to burn in hell?”

This is the question that I’m trying to avoid! That’s why I’m stating that this post does not show my personal religious views. However, having come across an interesting hypothesis, I think it is our duty to further explore it. Please don’t start a religion-science debate; this is not about hell (well maybe a bit) or genetics, or how you might reckon that we evolved from monkeys. However, I feel there is one important distinction that should be made here, for the sake of this argument. Religion must always involve a God or several Gods, but the concept of God does not necessarily need religion. Things should and must not be constrained by imaginary lines.

 

statistic in US

Religious Diversity in the World

Let’s take a look at statistics. I know, I know, this isn’t my favorite topic either, but nevertheless. Stats give us great insight sometimes! For example, in the West, the number of individuals unaffiliated to a particular religion has grown considerably in the past few years. On the left, you can see a study done by PEW on religious diversity of the U.S. population.

Looking at diversity on a global level, there is clearly an overwhelming majority of the world’s population that is religious. I think most people still believe in a concept of God, be it Energy, Chi, Karma, etc. The graph below gives a pretty good breakup of Religious views in the world.

Credit - Pew Forum, size of major religious groups 2010

 

The Experiment – FrankenGod

Now, with all those mambo-jumbo numbers in mind, we can see that most people believe in the all-seeing eye (I’m not talking about Sauron or the Illuminati). I’m referring to some sort of power that controls and just is. Before going any further, I have the experiment explained below by Jesse Bering.

The narrative created for Princess Alice fits perfectly as an analogy of God. Many of the attitudes and beliefs that drive our actions involve God in the same manner that these kids behave as and when Princess Alice is ‘present’. It’s as if we need God to exist. The creator needs to be an all-seeing entity that can enforce moral imperatives, such as “you shall not kill,” you shall not steal”. This is pretty obvious as people don’t really want to live in a world where they are prone to be killed or a victim to theft.

Maslow’s Pyramid and God

In fact, God also fits perfectly in Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. The notion of God affects all categories except physiological needs (unless we talk about destiny – but let’s not get too deep into this). Probably the category where we can see a direct connection is “safety”. Most of us need God in order to feel safe. And so, it could very well be that we have constructed our world as a panopticon with God at its very centre, as its warden.

2000px-Maslow's_Hierarchy_of_Needs_svg

Do you think the experiment holds any value in the real world? Or is it just something that works on children? What do you believe?

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2 Comments

  • Reply
    Cristian Moldoveanu
    May 31, 2016 at 7:39 am

    I’m not a religious person, but I believe religion has its role and its benefits, with the mention that is has to be taken into moderation, just like all things in life, otherwise it becomes fanaticism, which can be as dangerous as a cureless plague.
    I believe religion’s main role and effect is that it is able to unite people regardless of borders or distances, creating a feeling of a greater community. I am not going to argue if this is a good thing or a bad thing overall, probably a little of both.
    I honestly didn’t think much of religion (and I am going to refer to Christianity, since it is the main religion of the western world). That is until a few years ago, as and when I noticed a few things.
    In your statistics table, numbers of Christians in the US have decreased with around 8% in 7 years, and I am sure they stil are. What I’ve noticed, is that Hollywood seems to have a part in this. A large number of movie heroes, likeable characters, seem to be uninterested in religion, sometimes totally against it, and the writters make sure we, the public, learn about those great heroes’ contempt for religion. I’ve also noticed, since we are using the US as observation subject, that there was a great scandal a few years back, a scandal that is more discrete now, but stil present, where it was requested that Christmas, or other Christian celebrations should no longer be called that, but instead be called simply Hollidays. Some people found the word “Christmas” offensive somehow.
    As I mentioned, I’m not religious, but I think Christianity, in the sense of the community, not necessarily the cult, needs to be stronger now, more than ever.
    I also understand Barnevernet. You are probably familiar with the Bodnariu case. It is clear that religion was the main reason that caused the child protection services to take the children away. I think the Bodnariu parents are religious fanatics, and I agree that children should not be raised in such an environment, as it would mark their lives as adults, and also robb them of most of their childhood. I think Norway takes the mental development of children very seriously. The northern countries have seen what religious fanaticism can do, they know the fear, pain and suffering it caused, and their history is witness to this. I think however, that they should somehow addapt to the times, and act a little more diplomatic, take the hard road, not the easy “I’m taking the kids away, thanks, bye” road. I understand Barnevernet, but I’d do things a little differently.
    The subject of God and religion would probably take days to debate, and I don’t have that kind of time 🙂
    Regarding your question, no, God is not obsolete and will never be, as long as there are believers walking the Earth. And we definitely do need Him, believers or not.

    • Reply
      Mihnea
      May 31, 2016 at 9:16 am

      Hollywood definitely has a big part in this. God, at least the Christian God, is becoming more and more obsolete, as statistics show. Although, with the heavy repopulation of Muslims in Europe, things might look very different in 10 years.

      On your point regarding Christian celebrations, I’ve had the same exact experience. In fact, I think about 2 years back, in Brussels, the local authorities didn’t set up the Christmas Tree in the town square because it would be “offensive” to non-Christians. I don’t think they wouldn’t celebrate Eid (End of Ramadan) in Saudi Arabia because it would be deemed offensive to non-Muslims.
      Religion is a big part of culture (i will not debate if this is good or bad). However, our loss of culture is caused by weak authorities and weak politicians. Obviously, this year they set the Christmas Tree in the town square, it’s all about gaining votes. Shameful.
      I don’t really want to comment on the Bodnariu case, but you make good points on that.

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