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Why Do People Believe in God?

Abhijit Naik Mar 22, 2020
Things can go awry when you question someone's beliefs. But it's also true that the ability to question is what sets us apart from other species. Thus, the question: why do people believe in god when there is no evidence?

The Word of God

According to a Gallup poll, three in four Americans believe that the Bible is the word of God.
When asked whether they believed in God, nine in ten respondents of a Gallup poll―back in 2011―said yes. Things haven't changed much since then. In June 2014, Gallup released the findings of yet another poll on similar lines, wherein four in ten Americans said that they believed that God created humans in their present form 10,000 years ago.
So why do people believe in God when there no evidence to prove that some supernatural being has ever played any role in the creation of the world?
The biggest problem is that we don't know how the world came into existence. There are quite a few theories, but all have their fair share of criticism. It is rather convenient to point your finger at the sky when you don't have answers.
Our ancestors did the same thing. If there was a drought, it was the rain god. If there was a storm, it was the wind god.
Over the course of time, we understood what the water cycle is why it rains, how a low pressure area forms, and how it triggers a storm, and eventually gave up on these nature gods. However, the sense of insecurity prevailed, so we brought in new gods. Hence, as long as our sense of insecurity thrives, the existential need for God and religion will continue.

Role of Indoctrination

Most people believe in a particular God and religion, simply because they are taught, or to be precise, indoctrinated to believe in it. This indoctrination part begins very early, such that the child is aware of the name of gods well before he learns how to read and write.
The evolution of life on the planet and old stone age from school texts are easily overshadowed by Adam and Eve in religious texts.
Then there is another side to the indoctrination part. People make no bones about telling children how they will be punished if they don't believe in God. And it's not just that parents reinforce these ideas in children.
Teachers in public schools, community leaders, celebrities, etc., are also to be blamed. At this age, children are open, and thus, vulnerable. So they stay with the said God and religion throughout their life.

More so, 'other religions' are often derided all along, so there is no scope of changing one's religion for a 'better' religion.

Fear of the Unknown

Most religions thrive on people's fear, and the most abused fear is the fear of death. Nobody knows for sure, but almost all religions promote the concept of afterlife.
So you are told that you will go to heaven if you are in God's good books, or suffer eternal damnation in hell if you are in his bad books. You get into the God's bad books when you sin; there is a whole list of sins out there.
But the simplest way to invite the wrath of God and earn a ticket to hell, they say, is to not believe in God. At the tender of ten, when you get a graphic description of hell by religious head as well as your elders, it tends to stay with you.
If there is punishment, there are perks as well. If you believe in God, you are not just entitled to a better life on the Earth along with a whole lot of perks, but also promised a better afterlife in heaven.
Also, there is the fear of being outcast, and at times, the pressure from your parents, culture, and society forces you into believing in the existence of omniscient, omnipotent, omnipresent God.

Alleged Limitations of Science

If you ask people their reasons to believe in God, many people are quick to list out the limitations of science to suggest that their belief is rational. Once such question that you often get to hear is, how can the beginning of the universe be a chance happening? Even the big bang theory, they argue, leaves a lot to chance.
Then there is the morality issue, where science is of little or no help. Some people take the spiritual path. They say that if the right and wrong are so consistent throughout the world, then there has to be some higher authority guiding things. It may not be the God as we picture it, they argue, but there has to be some higher authority up there.

Why Do Scientists Believe in God?

When the Pew Research Center questioned the members of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), 51 percent respondents replied that they do believe in the almighty. There is a considerably lengthy list of famous scientists who believed in God.
That shouldn't really come as a surprise, as scientists are also humans. What does come as a surprise though, is the belief that just because scientists and doctors believe in God, there must be some truth in His existence. For the most part, their belief in God doesn't draw parallels with the belief of fundamentalists.
In this context, French philosopher Blaise Pascal had some words of wisdom to share. He stated that it was not possible to know whether God exists or not, and therefore, it makes sense to believe that he does, 'coz if he does, and you have believed otherwise, then the chances are that you might spend eternity in hell.
On the other hand, if you have believed that he exists, when he doesn't, then you have nothing or not much to lose.
From the evolutionary point-of-view, our belief in God can be associated with our survival instincts, wherein we are wired to believe that it is better to be afraid of the unknown than to take a risk that can eventually result in pain or death. It seems like Pascal's words of wisdom do have a point.