What's the single biggest reason that makes you think there is or isn't a god? For me, the final nail in the coffin of my christianity (which was more of a loose deism by that time) was the afterlife concept. There's no way in my mind that it can make sense; there's so many stupid issues that would need to be resolved (like in an infinite time wouldn't you have eventually done everything by definition, so where's the fun in that?)
For me, I believe there is no God because in all of recorded history there has never been a single iota of evidence that he exists. Furthermore, the followers of God are utterly unremarkable people - they're just the same as everyone else on the planet; they succomb to diseases, make mistakes, break laws, and are unable to provide answers about life, the universe and everything that withstand scrutiny. And their prayers don't work. And if that wasn't bad enough, perhaps the worst examples of humanity have been many of the religious leaders, who throughout history have killed and tortured non-believers, lied, craved power and wealth, fornicated, done drugs, and fleeced their gullible flocks for everything they can get. Don't get me started! 8-)
The biggest reason is lack of evidence, followed by the incoherence that results when you examine the god concept in any sort of detail.
Religious people don't help, they have such a hard time even describing what it is that is supposed to be the focus of their worship. God can be almost anything imagined. There is also a certain degree of homology, in that god shares the same characteristics of that which has been imagined previously.
Mine has been a lifelong disbelief, I was born into a, not particularly religious, family and was allowed to form my own opinion as I grew, it was the religious school assembly and tedious RE lessons that molded me into a firm disbeliever. As I've grown older I saw the major religions for what they are, corrupt controlling and brutal regimes designed to subjugate their followers, just like any good dictator or Mafia don, and they use the same techniques of fear and intimidation.
Yeah, I'd go with the no evidence argument too. All the pro-deity arguments fall apart pretty quickly when you start to ask how they know what they know. The best way I ever heard it phrased was "if you're going to believe in a god, you have to give him something to do".
I think it's mainly that if this all-powerful, all-loving being existed, he would do something to get in touch with us and make it clear! He or she would not leave us confused and arguing over different old texts and philosophies (and even killing each other over it, in some cases). I would ask: how would a world without God differ so much from the one we are in? (Edward Current did a funny youtube video on this called, I think, If God Disappeared) - a God who is so intangible that you can just interpret them any way you like, as people do, "probably" has no objective existence and is just a human cultural and psychological creation.
Well it's the lack of any religion having a USP (Unique Selling Point). In other words, in a world where we could choose any one of hundreds or perhaps thousands of religious beliefs to follow, there is no way of knowing which one is any more likely than any other to be true. Many people misunderstand this and follow the one they think is the most rational (or perhaps I should say least irrational!) -Well here's an idea: Why not simply live your life according to rationality & dispense with the unnecessary religiosity? There's no verifiable reason to assume it is meaningful or true.
For me, the arguments against the case of a 'god' are so many and overwhelming as to make the discussion almost pointless: - the overwhelming absence of supporting evidence or compelling logical argument - the fact that a 'god' and quantum theory could not possibly inhabit the same universe (I prefer gravity) - the overwhelming, documented evidence of the psychological processes that give rise to superstition (i.e., religiosity -- no room for a 'god' there either) - the fact that a 'god', had it existed, would have had to have been a petty sadist with an overblown inferiority complex in the depiction of most religions - the insistence of religionists that the existence of a 'god' cannot be verified through scientific means (anything that exists can)
In short, the case against a 'god' is insanely overwhelming. A 'god' cannot and does not exist. That said, the evils of religion sometimes make me wonder whether a 'devil' just might.
The best reason for a god is the psychological pressure that can be brought to bear on those who cannot or will not embrace utilitarianism - and there are a lot about. The threat of eternal damnation used to be an effective deterrent at one time - then came the 'human rights act' and they do not give a $%$%^ any more.
I was a Christian my whole life until three years ago. I miss it - sometimes - it leaves a hole in your life which is hard to fill. However, having read Dawkins and Hitchins I realised that Christianity (or indeed any form of religion) is merely a crutch for the weak and an excuse to accept the rubbish life one has in the hope of everlasting heaven by way of compensation. I now accept that I was conned from an early age. I used to pray earnestly for guidance on a wide range of things that were really important to me and was surprised and confused when they didn't work out. Well-intentioned Christian friends used to say 'that's obviously not God's plan for you.' I now ask 'why not'? Does he not want me to make the best of my life on earth and if not, why did he put me here?!
The biggest, for me, evidence that there is no God is the obviously huge divergence of opinion within Christianity. Different Christians might agree about 99.9% of what's in the bible but still split over the other 0.1%. Fair play to the Vatican - apart from turning a blind eye to child abuse it has at least kept itself largely together. Protestantism, on the other hand, now includes over 33,000 denominations around the world. If there WAS a simple truth, there might just be 32,999 less.
I think that the reason that it is called "a religious FAITH" is that one has to have faith (trust), rather than evidence. If you look for evidence of God's existence in the sense of some forensic, testable, repeatable observation, you are bound to be disappointed. A blind man can't directly experience the Mona Lisa (even if they took it off the wall and let him hold it, it could still be a fake), but his inability to experience it in the same way that I can (seeing it) doesn't negate it's existence. In a similar way, just because an individual cannot / will not / does not feel the existence of a loving God, that does not negate the existence of that God - it just means that the individual doesn't experience it in the way that I do. The very most that anyone can say about the existence of God is that it is unproved, unprovable and therefore something that they choose not to believe; to say with absolute certainty that God does *not* exist is as ridiculously unprovable as the statement the he does!
> the fact that a 'god' and quantum theory could not possibly inhabit the same universe (I prefer gravity)
Evidence or supporting argument, please? If God is omnipotent and omniscient, it seems to me entirely possible that he could design a Universe in which quantum theory appears to explain and predict a great many things.
> the fact that a 'god', had it existed, would have had to have been a petty sadist with an overblown inferiority complex in the depiction of most religions
This, I presume, is based on the simplistic argument that if God existed he wouldn't let sweet little children get cancer, or allow people to be blown up in his name.
I don't know why some children get cancer - but I do accept that it saddens God as much as it saddens me, and that he brings comfort to many people who experience such losses. Could God reach out and cure such children? Possibly - but follow that argument to it's conclusion, and then explain why God would let *anyone* die. So then we have a world in which people are born and never die? - Utopia? I think not.
The fact that you or I cannot understand things does not prove or explain their non-existence. People react to their lack of understanding in different ways: you choose to put yourself and your intellect at the centre of your universe and say "this doesn't make sense to me, therefore it doesn't exist", whereas I am happy to say "I don't understand this, but trust that one day when I meet God, all will become clear". You, no doubt, would pity me for my delusions, and I pity you for the fact that you leave absolutely no possibility that the Universe is more complicated than you can understand.
There is no doubt that Jesus existed. Records written by the Romans (away from the Bible) clearly record this as fact so He was no Fairy Tale. The Romans were clearly concerned at how many followers Jesus was attracting. He claimed to be God which leaves us with three logical trains of reason as far as I can see. 1) He was a liar, in which case would he have been prepared to go to the Cross and die for a lie ? 2) A lunatic-does it seem plausible that a lunatic could bring such far reaching and coherent teaching ? 3) He was telling the truth. The Bible claims and declares that God is Love, and I for one believe that His love is so far beyond our perception we would be totally gob-smacked and mind-boggled at how lavish that love is if we could fully grasp it. We would do well to honestly look and consider our attitude towards each other. I read something a while ago that I found an interesting way of helping me see us for who we really are. "When was the last time you saw a group of people rush across the road to do some good ?" How many Mother Theresa's are there ? We will all have our reasons , we'll say we're busy or this and that but we all make time for the things that we like or want to do....and worst still, we often end up mocking people who do try and improve things ! I understand some of you who will have a legitimate revulsion to the Church because of some of the awful things Ministers have done. The Bible is quite clear that God will judge them very severely but the Church doesn't always represent God anymore than the Prime Minister always represents the people. Take the time to examine the existence of Jesus and his claims for yourself and don't let the prospect of real hope and a relationship with God be stolen from you. I came from a disastrous childhood and am still struggling now at 50 but I still believe that God is there and really does love us and wants a relationship with us....if we will but ask and listen.
As I mentioned above, I used to be a Christian. I too, am pretty sure that Jesus existed. I am not, however, sure that he was telling the truth (at least as far as it was reported - we all know how chinese whispers can distort things, especially when there are vested interests at work). History is littered with people who have gone to their deaths on the basis of mistaken belief. I may one day be one of them!
I think that a lot of people conclude that there MUST be a creator God, given the wonders of the world around us, which can seem just too amazing to have simply evolved, with/without natural selection. However, look up into the sky on a cloudless night and you realise just how insignificant Earth is in the overall scheme of things. It's estimated that there are over 200 billion stars in the Milky Way so it's perhaps rather arrogant of mankind to conclude that our Earth is in any way special, other than to us.
If God is indeed the creator of all things one can understand why he may not answer all prayers (even the non-conflicting ones) given that he's a few billion other places to worry about. If he does exist and is merciful then I can only hope that he shows me at least the same mercy as that given to those who go to Church each week simply to be seen to be there or because they've never given the whole issue any serious thought.
At least Iris Robinson's fall from grace seems to confirm the idea that you reap what you sow. Some of her outbursts last year against gays and lesbians were a disgrace to humanity. This idea that Christians can say what they like because, in their opinion they are right and we non-believers are wrong, is repugnant and patronising. Ironically, it also does the Church no favours as the proponents look as bad as anyone else with extreme views.
Thanks for your thoughts and balanced point of view for some one who is genuinely disgruntled and disappointed with their faith.
I don't think you were conned from an early age, and like you I have often asked for guidance and not seen tangible results either. I am left believing that God is good and I must be mis-understanding/need to learn about Him and His ways somewhere, and I say this after 18 years as a Christian. I've found 'Knowing God' by J.I. Packer extremely helpful in removing many of my false notions about Christianity and replacing them with a far healthier and more sustainable understanding and help in terms of living the Christian life out. We are called to be followers and imitators of Jesus as well as being saved, and as his own life was plagued with sadness and pain at one level, why should we expect ours to be anything else at a human level ? Christian or not ? "He (Christ) endured the cross for the joy set before him" it says in the Bible.
I can also see why you see "Christianity (or any other Religion)" as a crutch for the weak but we are all weak. Alcohol, drugs and cigarettes are crutches too, and even food can be a crutch. The list is endless. It is just a question of if we are prepared to see and accept that or not, and if we are prepared to investigate, consider, acknowledge and accept God's way(s) as better. Put too much temptation of the right sort in front of anybody and most people will give in at some point, especially if they are without support in the form of honest counsel.
We live in a fallen world. Everybody has had the sense at one point in there life that they/we were made for more than this-Where did that come from ? That sense doesn't tie in with the evolutionists point of view as we are supposed to be evolving into improved beings, not feeling something is missing and looking back to discover clues as to what that is.
Part of Christ's mission was to come and give us hope and let us know that God is there and watching, and that there is an after life, and yes, this life is rubbish at one level but if we trust and follow God and get to understand Him as revealed in The Bible, rather than the 'Christian' God we often make in Man's image which may vaguely look like Christ but sometimes isn't at all and sometimes only encompasses the easy bits of our faith, I believe there is a lot more to be found and enjoyed through God. I'm not pretending this is easy and I'm finding it requires work, and I mean real work but I believe I am starting to see some of the fruit of that now. I believe in Him we can have an amazing adventure which will outstrip the greatest Worldly adventures in this life, and I speak as one who spent 3 years riding around the world on a Motorcycle.
I shan't continue here but if you would like to continue to discuss/debate any issues connected with this post, please contact me at email@example.com
I respectfully ask those of you with different points of view that you may wish to express in reply to my post(s) that you contain them on the 'pages' of this forum. Thank you.
Thanks for your thoughts. I am no longer disgruntled and disappointed with my faith as I don't have a faith to be disgruntled and disappointed with. I'm not being facetious. I've been an atheist for long enough now that I no longer miss the comfort of unburdening myself with prayer. Instead, I now have the comfort of not having to reconcile the (to me) irreconcilable. The disaster in Haiti is a great, albeit tragic, example. I used to try to understand how a loving God should allow such things to happen to innocent people but now I believe that bad things simply happen and so we just have to get on with it and help our fellow men/women as best we can.
As far as Jesus goes - He did, apparently, say that no-one comes to the Father except through him. Bad news if you're a Jew (the chosen people? - maybe not) or a Muslim.
At the end of the day, the Christian faith is just that - a faith. You either have it or you haven't. I haven't, but I'm happy with that. You and others have and you seem to be happy. All is well then!
Hi Mike, my point was that its not just religious leaders who have carried out atrocities. Finger pointing is never very helpful and can descend into play ground name calling. We have some big problems in this world and we are never going to start solving them unless we behave like adults. Instead of fighting we should be uniting. Cheers. Neil.
Yes, you are of course right Neil. The unfortunate point here is that there are so many so-called Gods, idols and personal agendas that finding a place for all to unite under is probably impossible. As a Christian the only way I can ever see the world uniting is if it is able to accept Jesus as Lord, put ourselves second and accept his teachings and leadership in our lives. Sadly, Christianity is where most of the excellent and enviable virtues that were associated with being English came from, as opposed to the instant gratification-get-what-you-can culture we now have. The finger pointers though are often those who do least, such as the 10,000 fans chanting the 22 players on the football field doing all the work or mocking genuine Clergy/Political Leaders. Somehow, they just don't see that they too are responsible for change and effort in society too-That's not my job ! My question to them is, Well, whose is it then ?