Recently I these questions came my way: Here are my answers in support of theism.
1) Why should we believe in a God?
Another angle to this question is Would we believe in a God if it wasn’t for the Great educators? Anthropologists tend to believe that religion arose as a broad internal state in the evolving homo sapien, especially coinciding with the death of another. However it is only reasonable to say that there is a broad psychological state brought about by the emerging consciousness of the human being that finds satisfaction in belief in ‘more than us’. However the idea that there is more than us is an extraordinarily creative idea which defined rituals to connect the living with the dead and the ‘more than us’. This is the source of the argument that religion is about fear of death. However this is a theory with a lot of holes in it, including the fact that the teachings of most religions especially older religions seem to be hell bent (pardon the pun) on making life after death a fearful thing. It seems to me that atheism has the best solution for death – wonderful oblivion. Interestingly as we intellectually evolved, the need for comfort / explanations for the unknown has become greater. Currently we know that the universe and our human bodies and brains don’t even really exist except as some indefinable quantum state. The more we know the less real we are. The less real we are the more necessary it is for us to have an understanding of what we are about. And it was not possible to have a religious explanation for this before Baha’u’llah. The intellectual creativity for this issue just didn’t exist before Baha’u’llah. And, of course we can see that outside of Baha’u’llah, both atheists and theists have a great difficulty dealing with this knowledge. Which supports the premise of Baha’u’llah, that the manifestations of God are sent to provide spiritual learning that ordinary human cannot develop for themselves. “The Prophets and Messengers of God have been sent down for the sole purpose of guiding mankind to the straight Path of Truth. … Even the materialists have testified in their writings to the wisdom of these divinely-appointed Messengers, and have regarded the references made by the Prophets to Paradise, to hell fire, to future reward and punishment, to have been actuated by a desire to educate and uplift the souls of men.” (Baha’u’llah, Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah, p. 155). And even more explicitly, “The knowledge of the King of everlasting days can in no wise be attained save by recognizing Him Who is the Bearer of the Most Great Name. He is, in truth, the Speaker on Sinai Who is now seated upon the throne of Revelation. He is the Hidden Mystery and the Treasured Symbol. All the former and latter Books of God are adorned with His praise and extol His glory. Through Him the standard of knowledge hath been planted in the world and the ensign of the oneness of God hath been unfurled amidst all peoples. Attainment unto the Divine Presence can be realized solely by attaining His presence.” (Baha’u’llah, Tablets of Baha’u’llah, p. 49)
My conclusion is that we only believe in God because the Great Educators told us about the concept.
I think the concept of God that Baha’u’llah provides is only as good as we can intellectually cope at this time in our evolution but it seems impossible to imagine a bigger or more abstract concept than the one He presents. (logically).
So I think we should believe in God because it provides the biggest picture of reality, it provides the greatest nurturing for our human psyche, it leads to essential grounding of a changing human society (through laws), and because of the existence of Baha’u’llah. To wit: the true seeker would need to study the life and teachings of Baha’u’llah to really find an answer to the question.
2) When we see all the harm done by religious people throughout history, why should we see religion as positive/ordained by a God?
Religion is a moderating force to the evils that humans can do. Humans without religion would, and have done in the 20th Century, wreak havoc on itself. Note, one third of the population of Cambodia was lost to its uneducated mindless atheistic ideologues. And the count is enormous in secular and especially atheistic regimes. So the atheist propaganda around this is just that, an unscientific propaganda worthy of Mr. Goebbels himself (another atheist?). Humans have used religion and anything they can get their hands on to perform acts of evil against each other. Religion is the only process in human society for moderating the socio-pathic tendencies.
3) Wouldn’t it be easier to do without religion?
Without religion there is no social construct. All ideas that this world contains is either a religious construct or an idea juxtaposed against a religious construct. Take religion away and there is nothing left. No point of creative focus. Zilch. The atheists who propose this idea are lost in a miniscule mental world. A recent author proposes doing away with religion. Sounds like another sinister threat against humanity couched in the benign voice of a disinterested academic. If Nietzsche’s genius was used to support Nazi ideologues, how much more the insipid intellects of modern atheism. We should do our best to counter the argument that religion is bad through our interactions with atheists, in our reassurance that we are and will always be peaceful and will work for it with our last breath. Or they may be persuaded by the mad atheist brethren to commit to a path of atrocity, again. Atheism is not a commitment to peace by a long shot. Baha’is are.
4) Where is there any proof that people who don’t follow a religion are any less beneficial to society than the religious people around them?
The reflective educated life will be a valuable one for human society. The uneducated, unreflective life is a danger because such people are more open to manipulation by the exploiters of power. The reflective life will always seek the greater knowledge and therefore will always become educated in religion, spirituality etc. We can use this as a standard – if a person doesn’t have a grasp of the fundamentals of religion then they are poorly educated. You cannot delve into philosophy without dealing with it. If you deal with religion in a prejudicial way you are neither educated nor reflective.
Religion is integral for our minds, our society and it is impossible to separate it from anything else. Belief in an absolute creative essence that is truly alive and beyond our wildest dreams of life is central to true religion. Atheists are as bound to it as theists.