Finally, there is an “official” FAQ about this profound question. It is at http://www.400monkeys.com/God/.
I would like to add the following questions to the FAQ, because the question “why do people believe in God?” is even more important than the question “Is there a God?”.
- Why do people need a religious belief?
- What is the cause for difference between people, who have greater need for religious belief, and people, who have less need for religious belief?
- What are the psychological factors, which cause a person to prefer a particular religious belief (or lack of any religious belief)?
- What causes some politicians to adopt a particular religion as a state religion, whose commandments and prohibitions must be enforced over the population in a particular territory?
- Under what circumstances would people tend to respect each other’s religious preferences, and when would they tend to force their beliefs into their fellows’ throats?
Notice that the subject is multidisciplinary even if we remove theology: it involves psychology, politics and sociology.
Recently I saw a LiveJournal entry by someone (name does not really matter, as several people hold the same attitude) who claims that Israeli soldiers, who fight Palestinians in Rafah and other places, are war criminals.
I replied and complained that they are overlooking the nature of the enemy of those Israeli soldiers. This is an enemy who is not fighting for its own liberty or economic advantage. This is an enemy who is fighting to kill the people of those Israeli soldiers.
The typical Leftist closed-eyed attitude was manifested in the reply by that someone: “Your comments are not welcome in my journal. go away.” accompanied by no attempt to counter the points which I made.
I would like to raise the general issue. How do you deal with people who have been brainwashed to believe that they must kill you? Do you kill them only because of the crazy memes that they carry in their brains? By this logic, one third of the Germans would have had to be killed at end of World War II due to their having been infected with the Nazi meme.In the case of the Palestinians in Judea, Samaria and Gaza, the problem is that the youths are brainwashed by their elders to believe in the virtue of becoming suicide bombers and killing Israeli civilian children, women and men; and that 72 virgins are waiting in the Garden of Eden for anyone who has committed such an act.According to the established Western standards of law, such brainwashed people are not legally responsible for their actions. This means that they should not be tried in court for their attempts to be suicide bombers. However, they can be institutionalized as legally insane.
Such a treatment would have been feasible if the number of people infected with the Suicide Bomber meme were on order of hundreds, or at most, thousands. However, when about 60% of the multi-million Palestinian population are infected with the Suicide Bomber meme, what can be done to deal with the situation?
I’d say that the ethics of the situation are similar to the ethics of dealing with an high mortality rate plague. If you do not have the resources to isolate and treat all sick people in an area, you cordon them off and let them die. You do try to treat sick people wherever their number is small. If a powerful and effective medicine is found against the disease, you of course venture into the cordoned-off area and try to treat as many people as possible at as short time as possible.
But, when the disease consists of poisonous memes in the brains of large percentage of the people in an area – what is the appropriate treatment?