Huh I believe in God but none of these "Gods" presented in the least bit what I believe...
I personally think there are as many "versions" of God as there are people on this earth since everyone is an individual with an individual spirituality. Therefore I think these statistic is pretty useless. That's kind of like wanting to do a statistic about what people think is love and then categorize it in only 4 categories.
I mean, it's an interesting read nevertheless but I fear lotsa people might take it too seriously.


I don't believe in God, but when I did it was one of the last two: either it's looking and not touching, or it just doesn't care. The lattere seema to lead inexorably to atheism, though -- I don't really see the point of a god who doesn't care at all. (I can understand the former, because it fits with much of the theology I learned and liked in my erratic learning about Judaism. But I also think that the difference between caring and not doing and not caring and not doing is just about a distinction without a difference.


You would probably really enjoy The Education of God by Unitarian Universalist minister David Bumbaugh, which is very much about the trial-and-error sort of God, in the context of traditional scripture stories. I've heard the author and his wife do one of the chapters as a sermon, which was fascinating and charming and yet very sobering at the same time.

I talked about this book a little bit here, if you're interested in a quote.


What I'd like to see is a study about why people believe in God. Intelligent, otherwise rational people will argue blue in the face that belief in God has some sensible basis. Not logical or reasonable, they'll admit, for matters of faith, by definition, don't require logic or reason. They require only faith.

Shouldn't this widely accepted notion that faith alone is a sensible basis for believing anything as significant as the existence of a God, and all that comes with that, scare the hell out us? And yet it doesn’t. Seems so long as enough people believe the same thing (i.e., the number of adherents isn’t so small as to get the labed of “cult”), than almost anything goes, and your beliefs are considered beyond criticism because, hey, it’s a matter of faith, and we strive for tolerence.

In Sam Harris’s book, “The End of Faith,” he wrote that religious moderates are nothing but failed fundamentalist, and moderates do the world great disfavor by giving cover to religious extremism. He wrote, “[Moderates] cannot say that fundamentalists are crazy, because they are merely practicing their belief; we cannot even say that they are mistaken in religious terms, because their knowledge of scripture is generally unrivaled. All we can say, as religious moderates, is that we don’t like the personal and social costs that a full embrace of scripture imposes on us. This is not a new form of faith, or even a new species of scriptural exegesis; it is simply a capitulation to a variety of all-to-human interests that have nothing, in principle, to do with God.”

Joel Monka

Yes, the study is highly tuned to Abrahamic understandings of God- I didn't recognize the Divinity I believe in on that list. If you're actually interested, I published my personal credo in my blog: http://cuumbaya.blogspot.com/2006/06/my-musings-on-moral-authority.html

Sam Harris, in addition to all the other flaws in his logic, also depends on almost exclusively on Abrahamic concepts for his arguments. As the old black man said in the movie "Angelheart", "Not everyone down here is Baptist, boy!"

As to why people believe in God, (I prefer "The Divine", just to avoid a lot of baggage issues), many of us believe because we have felt Her presence. I have not had long, quotable conversations with Her as the televangelists claim, but I have felt enough to know that "There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, Than are dreamt of in your philosophy." This is not a question of faith for me. I believe in the Earth for I have touched it; I believe in the Divine for I have touched Her. I know that earns me contempt in Sam Harris' eyes, and evidently Richard's (don't worry, I'm "otherwise rational"), and actually I get little support from most other believers in this country (being a Pagan), but I won't deny what my soul knows.


But Happy, there is a line of thought regarding a fallible g-d. Many of the stories we tell deomonstrate that g-d makes mistakes and is not always just in his/her actions. The story of Noah and the great flood being a prime example. There was injustice in the world so g-d created the ultimate act of genocide. No sense of proportionality. No sense of individualized justice. Wipe everyone but Noah and his immediate family off the face of the earth, along with most of the animals (except for a very small breeding stock). The book of Job is another example. g-d entering into a bet with Satan as to whether Job will remain a loyal follower after losing everything. And, what about the hardships wrought on Job's family? All for the purpose of testing Job. Any g-d who would cause this kind of suffering for the purpose of a bet must clearly be fallible.


Interesting. Last night, we were talking about the difficulty of sustaining belief in a just God in the context of all the horrors of the various wars, famines, etc. My 12-year-old son said, "Either the devil is winning, or we have it all wrong and God IS the devil." My own take is that God (or The Light, as Quakers refer to the benevolent spirit) resides not in outer space but inside us all, underlying the desire to act with love and tolerance, and we're all constantly making choices about whether to listen to it or not.


My boyfriend's pastor once said, "We become the God we believe in." In other words, if you are an angry person, you most likely believe in the Angry God. If you are a more forgiving person, you'll probably believe in the Benevolent God. And so on and so on. I thought about this in relation to many people I know (myself included) and it seemed pretty right-on. Just some food for thought.


Wow, chipmunk brought up almost the same points I was going to make. The idea of a fallible God was really interesting to me in college, and our class got down to the nitty gritty finding situations where this could be shown. Noah's flood and Job's trials were brought up. The convenant, wasn't so much of a reminder to us as it is to God to never do it again (the flood).

Then again with circumcision. The point was, in that course, that God seemed to be learning patience and a whole number of character traits in dealing with his creations. Essentially, God looks for companionship but has to learn to deal with our repeated failures, despite the love and protection and beauty showered on us.

We also tackled the He/She deal, and the professor challenged us to simply use It. He felt that He had a long history that made women feel uncomfortable with a God the same gender as their oppressors while She was a knee-jerk and immature response to this unease.


>>> Joel wrote: “many of us believe because we have felt Her presence”

Oh, brother. That’s it? That’s your “reason”? Superrrr, Joel! You’ve convinced me, fur shur.

>>> Joel wrote: “I'm ‘otherwise rational’”

I'm. Not. So. Sure.

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