"I don't understand why you're so against believing in God. what have you got to lose?" - I was once asked that question, and today seems like a good day to answer it. I’ve walked into my hotel room on Good Friday and was greeted by a Bible. I’d have preferred a fridge, a bath or a kettle but that is just the way things go sometimes.
Do you believe in fairies or Father Christmas? What I have to lose is my sense of reason. I have no intention of spending a moment worrying about a supernatural entity that has no proof to support its existence, especially when the proof that was offered in the past has been disproved time and time again.
I have no want to belittle anyone’s beliefs, free will etc, but to me God is as unlikely and ridiculous as the tooth fairy. It's a myth made up by persecuted people who had no answers thousands of years ago and needed to control people en masse. I think it represents dark age thinking and I feel humans should be moving towards enlightenment via reason, not via ancient myths and superstitions.
I've privately studied and understand the universe as much as I can hope to right now, and I'm excited by the unknown, I don't require answers out of fear. Hopefully I will learn more in the future and if anything I think or write contributes in any way then that is even better.
If the Catholic Church (or any other religious institution) wants to be a force for good, sell every building, stop being a bank, apologise for the years of torture and killing and give all the money, every single dollar to helping people who are sick, homeless or starving. Educate people. That is what the Jesus character would have wanted, not lavish buildings and statues.
The fact the Pope is currently having to pretend to do just that shows how the institution is wrong, but it seems like a lot of talk and little action. I have no problem with personal faith (I don’t have any myself as you may have guessed) but religion is there to make money and control. I saw that when I attended a church service recently. There is no need for the buildings or the expense, just worship at home. God is meant to be omnipresent after all!
The Pope recently made a speech about the Big Bang and evolution being fact, and that God was not waving a magic wand. I wonder what he’s going to suggest next, maybe that prayer more about personal meditation than actually talking to God or even suggest that God is a concept not a fact. If he does that it could free his time up to do what he’s really there to do, run a bank with tax exemptions.
I'm not saying I'm right, there is a beauty in being shown your weaknesses, but I have to think logically and it seems clear to me that going to church is as much of a waste of time as worshipping the tooth fairy or Spider-Man.
I am constantly in awe of the wonder in the universe and how such complexity can arise from reasonably simple iterative maths. It's amazing, and the fact we are here to discuss it proves it works! To reduce it to something by a supernatural entity belittles the wonder of it and undermines the amazing work that people have done to figure out the facts. My understanding has come from my education both formally and privately obtained. Somehow in society not having a faith can be considered something of a problem and on occasions I have been made to feel second rate because of it.
A lot of religion is obsessed by death and fear. I find that horrible and I see it as a control tactic, but when I said that I got the response, “that's not true. the basis of religion isn't fear. my grandma was the most religious person i've ever met and she was excited to die. so are my parents.” - Excited to die?!! That is wrong on every level. Live now for now, what if you're wrong! I'm sorry, that is a very empty way to live life. Don't suffer, enjoy it. Death is not even an event in life. That kind of talk is so close to sounding like a suicide bomber in mentality.
Here are some comments I’ve had whenever I have voiced my opinions.
"Joy comes from love. not earthly pleasures like drugs and sex" - I agree to some degree but having depth doesn't require spiritual beliefs.
"Life on earth is purely for suffering that's why it's so shitty!" - No, we suffer because the few control the many with tactics. Religion is one of those tactics. To be free is to question it all and make your own mind up based on evidence and reason. To believe something in spite of evidence because other people around you do is herd mentality, and then it only takes one sheepdog to control a herd.
"I'd rather than proven wrong that there is no God still having believed. I live my life for other people. it's so fulfilling." - I love being there for other people, none of these qualities require God, and to think that to have morality or be kind requires belief in a higher power undermines all the good human beings can do.
There is a saying which when paraphrased says, evil people do evil things, good people do good things but to get a good person to perform evil requires faith.
I've always held back and been respectful around people regarding faith because to me faith is a personal thing and shouldn't extend into relationships and friendships etc, but seeing people type things about their family looking forward to dying and that we are here to suffer etc is really shocking. It's that kind of dark ages thinking that enlightened people have strived to remove, but still it exists and we have people being killed every day because of it. We can be anything, we can be everything, we can be good and bad, but it's our decision. To live your life thinking that you will be rewarded in death with no proof is a waste of life.
Not believing in the certainty of God, but still living a good life because you don't believe in an afterlife, and doing all you can now because this is probably all there is is surely better than suffering and accepting because you want your life to be better in death?! Be good because it is the right thing to do, not for God. You cannot assume an afterlife, it makes no sense. If there is one then great, I’ll see you there! There either is an afterlife or there isn’t and whatever you believe you cannot in all certainty say that you are 100% correct. So why choose the option that stops you living your life to the fullest when there is a chance that this is the only one you will have?
If there is a God as described in the Old Testament and he wants you to suffer and be punished and tested then he is a malevolent narcissistic killer that requires compliance and worship or you'll be tortured for eternity. I do no see any reason to respect that story or that entity. It sounds like something made up in ancient times. There are women and men suffering all through the Bible (and many other religious texts), along with rape, injustice, murder and torture.
In the New Testament God sends his son to be tortured hideously which again seems a little grandiose. As for revelation, what a crock of nonsense written by early Christians trying to escape persecution by a Roman Emperor. The Bible was written by tribes that were persecuted and moved from place to place. The New Testament was written by people who lived generations after Jesus had ‘died’ from stories told by word of mouth. If they were told today they’d be ignored as superstition. The inconsistencies raise more questions than they answer. Virgin birth? Resurrection?
Stories of virgin births and resurrection have been around for thousands of years before the Jesus story. It’s a retelling of an old myth and the only reason it became popular was because a Roman emperor decided to make the empire Christian. It’s called the Roman Catholic church for a reason. The countries got their independence when the empire collapsed and then they continued to be ruled via the church. There are now many denominations of Christianity, but for the vast majority of Christian history the Catholics were the only Christians.
Even the date of Christmas was made up a few hundred years later. People used to worship on the 25th December because it’s the day the sun rose and the days start to become longer. Notice any similarity? There was darkness and on the 25th the sun rose in the sky and marked the start of the light and the life. Wasn’t Jesus meant to be the light?
When men and women of logic came up with ideas that are now accepted, they were often burned at the stake or tortured in another horrible way by the church. Things like the age of the universe, the Big Bang, the fact the earth is not the centre, electricity and many other things have all been seen as heresy or at best incorrect by the church, and over the years they've then had to accept these things as fact, usually after a murder spree. I know this is man’s doing, not God, but this is what people do in the name of faith.
Faith does not promote rational thought, it promotes ignoring evidence and sticking to your beliefs. If you showed wifi, iPads, TV and phones to religious leaders a few hundred years ago you'd probably have been killed as a witch. The more we find out and prove about the world the more religion (superstition) recedes.
TV preachers make me laugh, some condemn science as if it is some kind of conspiracy, especially those who believe the Earth is around 6,000 years old. Do they realise they are using devices to transmit and propagate their nonsense that rely on the laws of physics? These are the same laws that prove them wrong!
Ask questions, demand answers and make sure they make sense. Things that are right are right forever, they don't change. If you prove something wrong then it should be dismissed or updated without hesitation. Why continue to practice and preach something that is no longer true. Schools try not to teach out of date information, why do we as a society still allow it to be prevalent. Go look for proof and show it to me. If you can't, ask yourself why!
If you were in court being tried for a heinous crime that you did not commit and the evidence against you was as illogical as the evidence for the existence of God or the Jesus story, you would be screaming at the judge to have the case thrown out.
"God is present in everything" - so are subatomic forces and quantum uncertainty but we aren't setting up churches based on that, although it’s a lot of what holds us (and churches) together, and that can be proven.
If God is present in everything then he is not just in churches which mean that the riches and the monuments are pointless. False idols. If God is responsible for all the beauty then he is also responsible for parasitic worms that bury themselves inside a lamb's eye and eat it out while leaving the lamb to die in horrific pain. Still think God is good? (Thank you Stephen Fry for that example in a video called ‘The Importance of Unbelief.)
Belief in God raises more paradoxes than it solves. Carl Sagan said “Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence” and no one has yet supplied any evidence, extraordinary or otherwise. For example, if you accept evolution (as most Christians do) but believe in heaven and hell, when the first human was born was it doomed to go to heaven or hell? If the first humans who had no language or concept of God were being judged it seems a little unfair, so at what point did they start being able to go to heaven or hell? To make sense of this you have to make up a whole back story to justify something that is a lot easier to explain by saying there is no God, heaven or hell.
We could all live perfectly comfortable lives, doing what we need to do to be happy and having much more time to enjoy family life and personal interests, but because a few people want it all we now have to work harder and pay more to the state. The Bible warns against the very system that Christianity has turned into. In the USA particularly, the politicians that do the most harm and persist the social divides and poverty are the ones supported by people of extreme faith. What have these people contributed to the world? Almost nothing really, but they get others to contribute to their own bank accounts. Everything is a loan with interest, paid either in money or your life (or soul depending on how you look at it).
Scientists (around 97% of which are devout atheists) invent and discover things that get shared for free. They invented the internet, the World Wide Web, lasers, engines, lighting, heating, communication etc. real things that are based on theories that can be tested time and time again. These things are shared for the greater good. These things are factual and will work forever, and if mistakes are made they are corrected openly. I doubt things being promoted by any faith will still be relevant in 100 years. So much has already been disproved that faith decreed as factual.
My atheism comes from a good place, I want people to be happy, I want the end of suffering, I want scientific advances, education for everyone. If someone makes a claim and then it's tested and it doesn't work, throw it out. It doesn't matter what public opinion says, 2+2 will never equal 6. The only opinions that should count are educated ones. Different people are educated in different subjects. Don't ask an English teacher about relativity, don't ask a linguist about cancer treatments, don't ask a theologian about the origins of the universe. They're not qualified (unless they are, I’m sure a few doctors are also linguists for example).
I got into a discussion about "photographing" the early universe. It has been done, and I understand why and how it has been done because the science makes sense. I don't need someone to show me that 8+8=16, I know how a+b=c so the numbers are irrelevant. We're not being lied to by scientists, I can easily do experiments to prove that you can photograph old light in my house. You may not be able to add huge numbers without a calculator or a pen and paper but if you know how to add 2 and 3 then you know it can be done. It’s the same principle. If I say to you that people have added 2 huge numbers you don't doubt it, you accept they have because it's no different to adding 2 small numbers, you don't even need to know the numbers, who cares what they are. Photographing old light is the same, I don't need to see the picture or know the distance to know it's possible. I understand the principles. Maybe those that deny it need to do a little study?
“Well scientist X said this and he was wrong” - Yes, scientists are human and they get things wrong, but other scientists then correct these things. In general Science as a whole does not say something is correct if it is not correct, the speed of light has not been broken, Newton’s laws still hold firm for almost all circumstances and 1+1 will always equal 2.
When you use your computer you don’t look at your operating system (commonly Windows or OS X) and think that a divine being must have created it because you don’t understand how it was created. You accept that it is beyond your understanding but you know that it works because the proof is in the pudding. You leave it to the programmers to know how it works. The same should be with the universe, leave it to those that study it.
Morals, feelings, behaviour and all manner of other seemingly illogical things manifest within a logical framework explained excellently by the standard model and other great works like Newton and Einstein’s laws. They may seem like complicated things to explain, that’s because they are, but given enough time and study everything is shown to come from particle interactions, possibly in more spacial dimensions than we first thought. Study that and you’ll know why you feel pain or love. These things are abstractions, they are higher level subjects that don’t look at the fundamentals, they zoom out and look at the patterns that form post-complexity. They are fascinating and great to study, the benefits are littered throughout our world, but to zoom out, find it all too complicated and just call it God is a bit of an easy way out.
The people who know the least about a subject tend to shout the loudest about why they think it's nonsense. Opinion only counts when it is qualified and these unqualified people’s opinions should be dismissed the same as a child’s opinion is dismissed when it has a tantrum and thinks it deserves more sweets.
The Catholic Church would have burned me at the stake for writing this not so long ago. There are still many countries in the world of various religions that would have me imprisoned for this, and I'm one of the good guys, or at least I think I am.
2000 years ago pretty much everyone suffered, there was little medicine, children died routinely, people did not live as long, there was famine, plagues, torture and violence. It's a bit better now thanks to a lot of collaboration and reason.
How did they get these ancient people to cooperate and not just hurt each other and rise up against the leaders of the time? It’s simple, this guy died for your sins, be good, suffer now and be rewarded in an afterlife. Pathetic, I demand more than that and I hope you do too.