After 8 years of freethought activism I finally grew weary of repeating myself over and over again to theists about why I don't believe in God. I started thinking of a solution which will explain adequately why I don't believe. I authored, "Why I don't believe" first in 2003. I then restructed it in 2005 and again later in June 2006 for inclusion in a philosophy book which unfortunately.. never made it to publication. I hope you enjoy reading my church presentation. :)
“Why This Atheist Disbelieves!”
A Church Presentation
By Reginald V. Finley, Sr.
LAST UPDATED: 01/10/08 - 9:03PM EST.
PERSONAL BIO: Elements to discuss: personal bio, website history, podcast, and freethoughtmedia etc.
I’m here tonight to present and discuss with you quite a few simple questions and problems some non-believers may have with religious beliefs, more particularly Christianity. Now, I know that I can’t change your mind for only you can do that. I simply hope that during this presentation, you'll think seriously and deeply about what we reveal through investigation and critical thought. During this presentation I will reveal a few problems with believing literally in the Bible and the problem with supernatural thinking. I first and foremost hope that this presentation will create a greater understanding between the worlds of belief and non-belief and erase many of the stigmas attached to atheism.
Throughout my presentation tonight, I’m going to present to you a myriad of difficulties I see with religious faith, God’s attributes, the spirit/soul concept, Satan, Miracles, Heaven, the Garden of Eden, the problem of evil and eventually, why non-belief is justified. Hopefully, we'll have time to take questions afterward.
In my transition to developing a more critical mind, I was surprised to learn that even people that went to the same church and claimed the exact same faith all had different concepts of God. In fact, I often hear many of the faithful refer to God as quote, “my God.” I soon realized that, when discussing the existence or non-existence of the god concept, the first thing I should have done was ask for their definition of god. Some say, “God of the Bible.” That is NOT a definition. That’s a description of a type of god. God is a position, a title. Yahweh is the Christian God’s proper name. “The creator of all things,” doesn’t really work either for many assume a single conscious creator. Could there be more than one god? One word many of these religions all have in common, however, is Faith. Since one cannot really prove a god exists, one must rely on Faith, which I will discuss later. The God concept is much like an open-ended hypothesis with no consistent results to make a proper conclusion.
We must ask about the characteristics of a god and which particular concept of god is right. If I told you, “The Great Bloomy Bloogerty” (let’s call it BB for short) is the underlying foundation of all electrical force, wouldn’t you want more information about the great BB? I’d hope so. Those that don't know any better wouldn't even consider critically analyzing the claim of the great BB because at first glance, it appears to "necessarily" fill a gap of knowledge. Claiming the great BB is the foundation of all electrical force explains nothing without proof and explanation. Neither does a god. The great BB would be nothing more than something someone made up. It sounds nice, but that doesn’t make it true. For example: Most of us here, would doubt there is such an entity as The Bacterial Vaginosis demon. This wouldn't have been the case just three hundred years ago. Sadly, even today, many faith-healers claim that demons cause human disease even though we see and know what causes these various ailments.
Let’s talk about a few of the Christian God’s attributes:
· Omniscience – All knowing
· Omnipotence – All powerful
· Omnibenevolence – All Good
· Omnipresence – All everywhere (and some believe everything)
Let’s look at omniscience. If God is all knowing, why make any thing at all? God would simply have to know, before someone was even created, that they would displease him. Right? But wait, how can God be displeased in the first place if he is all-knowing?
Well known Creationist, Kent Hovind once said on my radio program, “The Creator is trying desperately to get your attention.” An all-powerful being can’t get my attention? Once again, this displays how man makes God in our image. A God, one would think, doesn’t need to “try” and shouldn’t be “desperate”?
The Bible also depicts God as having emotions. But one must ask, “How can God have emotions since emotions for the most part are reactionary?” Emotions aid in our survival. God needs emotions? Surely we agree that we get sad, because (in many cases) an event occurred unexpectedly that saddened us and/or made life more difficult for us. Well, a God can’t get sad can it? An omniscient God would have to have known what series of events would occur before they even happened. Some, at this point, would argue that God gives us free-will and it saddens him because of the decisions we make. If this were true, then God is NOT all-knowing. Some believers actually accept that God isn't all-knowing. We'll talk about that later.
Saddness: If a God doesn’t want to be saddened, simply don’t put in motion those events that you are 100% certain will cause you sadness. But wait, how can anything sadden a God? This could only mean that something has occurred beyond God’s control. In which case God cannot be omnipotent. Again, we can go back to the free will argument, but surely God would know the decisions of his freewill agents before he even made them. Again, no surprise. No need for sadness when he is responsible for how human volition unfolded and also knew errorlessly, the results. Some have tried to argue around this by stating that everything is one moment to God. The problem with this is that this concedes that God is limited in some way. That he is powerless to change "the moment". In fact, God couldn't have created the Universe since there is no "moment" in which to create. We have always existed if one argues this.
Now... there are some camps that believe that God is ignorant in varying respects. These people are called open-theists. I have run into two kinds of open-theists. One camp believes God doesn't know anything at all with absolute certainty. The other camp believes that only when it comes to man’s freewill, God is ignorant. God, somehow, purposefully makes himself not know man’s destiny so that he can allot man freewill. Open theists assert that even though God doesn’t know our freewill decisions absolutely, that he still somehow is all-knowing in regards to the rest of the Universe. Two quick difficulties with both of these ideas are prophecy and freewill itself. If God doesn’t know man’s future, how can things be prophesied? It is my contention that the Christian would have to drop the idea of fulfilled prophecy to accept open-theism. Freewill itself causes huge problems for the second type of Open Theism. God purposefully doesn’t allow himself to know man’s will yet he has a plan for the Universe simultaneously? This is problematic. Example: God has a plan to allow meteor A to crash into meteor B. He knows this is going to happen because he has foreseen it. Of course, he had to see this without man in the picture because he doesn’t know man’s freewill. C, which represents man, decides to alter the course of meteor B. A, can no longer crash into meteor B, thus, God’s plans were thwarted by man. If open theism were true, God couldn't have set plans without man interfering in his plans. Unless of course God wants man to interfere with his plans. But wouldn’t that still be “his” plan? If so, man has no true freewill, they only feel as if they do. Absolute open-theists, the first type I mentioned, as long as they aren't Christian theists do indeed avoid both of these dilemmas. However, their type of God is reduced to nothing more than an advanced alien and that isn't very palatable to most believers in a transcendent deity.
Now let's look at the emotion Anger. In Christian theism, the Bible depicts that God gets angry. Why do we get angry in the first place? Do we not get angry merely because something unexpected has occurred beyond our control? Are we not reacting to external stimuli when we get angry? Something, outside of ourselves, is causing us to react. After all, we are limited / physical beings... so why does God get angry? He didn’t know certain events were about happen? An angry God doesn't make much sense when you consider my analogy: Let's assume I genetically engineered my son with an affinity to like sweet foods. Now, I place a box of cookies before him and I order him to not eat the cookies. I walk away and when I return, he's eating the cookies. Wouldn't I be the jerk, if I was angered in anyway or even punished him for eating the cookies? His very nature dictated that he'd eat those cookies despite my orders. Not to mention, a god would also possess omniscience (all-knowingness). So, before even baking the cookies or creating my son, I'd know that my son would eventually eat the cookies based on the very nature I gave him. Odd isn't it? Why tell your child NOT to do something when you know absolutely they will do it anyway? Some have tried to argue that we do this to teach our kids a lesson, a kind of , "I told you so" lesson. That maybe next time, they'll listen and obey and understand that there are punishments and/or consequences for improper actions. This doesn't work though for a God. Because God could have simply created better humans without so many flaws. According to the Bible story, the first two people in the world he made exceedingly good in a perfect paradise. They had no needs, no wants. Or did they? God created them with curiosity, the ability to be confused, to doubt, to be ignorant. Yes ignorant. Consider this, God didn't even warn them about the Serpent! Then, when they "sinned", God seemed shocked! Angered. God handed out punishments left and right as if disobeying him was the greatest offense ever. He himself, contributed to their demise! Odd that a God would get angered over such a happening when he orchestrated it. I have more to say about Adam and Eve later.
Happiness. Why do we get happy? We get happy because things just so happened to go well and something has/is occurring that is making us feel good. I think we agree that we become happy. Something has occurred that makes us happy. If God “gets” happy, is this not evidence that he was somehow ignorant of the result of things he himself forsaw? In other words, why get happy when you knew it all along and in fact planned it. Big surprise! An argument against this is that humans, even though they may know the final outcome of an act still get happy. A common analogy is you watching a movie again that you have seen a dozen times already. Even though you've seen it many times, you still enjoy it... you still smile etc. In effect, even knowing all of the dialogue and action, you still find happiness and surprise in what is now commonplace. Despite the obvious fact that we didn't plan from the very beginning of the Universe the movie's existence, this argument fails on many levels. Firstly, there is always something in a film that you missed prior, or you may be watching it in a new place, from a different perspective, you may be older, different audience, or watching with a different person this time. In fact, you would be re-experiencing it a bit differently. Not so for an omniscient, perfect God! He creations should appear quite mundane. We humans love to re-experience things if those events make us feel good. It's natural to be drawn to things that make us feel good. Can God create something to make him feel good? Does God need us to make him happy? If so, God's happiness is contingent on humans. Which would mean God is limited and depends on us. If not, why are we here? According to the Bible, we were such a headache to God that he had to keep wiping humans out! You'd think God would have learned his lesson by now. He creates flawed human beings and then blames us for not living up to his expectations.
There is also experiential knowledge to consider. It appears that there are some things god simply cannot know intimately. Fear, despair, dream states, fear, pain, and so many others. God is reduced to simply being, "very knowledgable". An advanced alien, not a God. The sum total of God's attributes are contradictory. The more limitless descriptives that are tacked onto God, the more evident this becomes.
Now let’s take a look at God's omni-benevolent attribute or, all goodness. We see "evil" and horrendous things happening all around us on a daily basis. I don’t see all-goodness around me. I see both good and evil in the world. Those events that are detrimental to man's happiness are usually called Evil. There are some acts of harm that humans do with the intent of trying to improve our quality of life. We deem those as necessary evils. Necessary evils could be considered vaccines, or prison. Then you have what many would consider unnecessary evils: senseless murder, rape, unprovoked assault, etc. Natural evils are another kind of evil. Natural evils are those natural events which cause harm. The existence of natural evil in the world is a serious problem for the faithful. Disease, Lightning, Earthquakes, Volcanoes, Tsunami's, Tornado’s and Hurricanes kill hundreds of thousands every year. If God is omniscient (past, present and future) and created the Earth with a plan, isn't he responsible? Did not God know that upon the creation of the Earth.. that in late December 2004 a great Tsunami would be created and would kill over 123,000 people? Surely God would have known this would occur even before the "fall of man" in the Garden. The Christian cannot makes claims, such as, "it was a natural disaster" or "stuff happens". If you believe in God, your God planned this to happen from the very beginning of time. Some would interject at this point and state that "man’s sin" kills them, but how does one explain the millions of devotedly religious people and babies that die at God’s hand as well every year? If everything God does is good, then according to that reasoning, it is GOOD that these people are dead. Some say, well God has his good reasons, well fine, then it is still good that these people are dead because it’s all part of God’s good plan.
As we see, even the "fall of man" does not let God off the hook. Especially when we read in Ezek.18:20
- "The soul that sinneth, it shall die. The son shall not bear the iniquity of the father, neither shall the father bear the iniquity of the son: the righteousness of the righteous shall be upon him, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon him."
What happened with Adam and Eve? If this Old testamenet passage is true... then why did all of humanity get punished for the sins committed by someone else? All good God indeed.
God also seems to have no problem at all watching man do horrible things to each other without any kind of intervention. Events like Chernobyl, the holocaust, ethnic cleansing in Europe and Africa, September 11th etc. Many have asked why didn’t God stop these horrors? The Obvious answer is that he didn’t want to. In other words, it wasn't in his plan to stop these atrocities. Let's look at that. We don’t know why God didn’t stop these tragedies so God must have a "good" reason why he didn’t. Therefore, it is good that all of these people died horribly? Shocking? Yes. I don't think it’s good that these people died and I hope you don’t think so either. However, I have heard many say, “You can’t judge God, for God’s morality is on a level beyond ours.” Well, if this is true, it is meaningless to say God is good as well, for we are judging him according to our standards of goodness. To put it even more simply, if we can’t judge an act of God as evil, then we can’t judge an act of God as good either, it works both ways.
Because of the problem of evil, many God defenders have now reduced God's omnibenevolence attribute to "very good" and no longer all-good. God is now just a very good being but only reveals his goodness to those that follow him. If you don't believe, to hell you go. God will not be nice to you.The problems with this are immense.
1.) How can the non-believer choose to believe in God if that God's goodness isn't revealed to them? That's self destructive/counter-intuitive. To put it simply. "I God will now show you how good I am by NOT showing you how good I am until you believe me." Huh?
2.) Another problem: If God has a divine plan, aren't we all doing God''s will? If so.. isn't even the atheist doing the good will of God? Why create a Hell for a being that is fulfilling your will? If the divine plan doesn't include atheists, why are atheists here? God spontaneously aborts millions of fetuses a year. Surely he could stop a few atheists if we were such a thorn in his side.
3.) Lastly, if true that God is hiding his goodness unless you believe. Why are so many Christians around the world dying in so many horrible ways? Surely those acts are not looked at as good by most. If we really did believe dying was a good thing.. we'd be celebrating at funerals with grand parties, instead of wearing black and looking somber. Shouldn't funerals be a time to celebrate if you really believe in Heaven?
4.) And of course the concept of an eternal fiery Hell is truly a despicable concept that has morally bankrupted the God of Christian theism.
Let’s talk about Satan: Why does Satan exist? If God created evil as it says in Isaiah 45:7, why is the character Satan getting such a bad wrap? (NIV and newer Bibles have conveniently changed “evil” to “calamity”) The Hebrew word for evil is “Ra”. The word is used in many other contexts throughout the Bible, and does not mean calamity. “Calamity”, was later thrown in by authors who saw the philosophical difficulty with God claiming he created evil. But he did according to the Bible. The King James Version (the language God spoke) correctly has evil as the proper translation. Some argue that the evil that is spoken of here is “moral evil” not evil as a force, such a Satan. Doesn’t matter, God still created it. It has been said that evil exists so that we can choose the good. If this is true, then evil is necessary. Evil, is also good for it serves a good cause for the great will and plan of God. Hmm… Once again, I’m sure 9-11 must have been in God’s great good plan. If it were not part of his divine/good plan, God would have to make new decisions and create new plans. But, if we can change God’s plans then he is not all-knowing. There is no divine plan if mans freewill can mess it all up. Unless, it is his plan that we DO mess it all up.. in which case Adam and Eve were framed and God wants to send many of his creations to Hell. A rebuttal to this is that God created evil not to test humans, "but for humans to test themselves and improve themselves". Sounds fine on the surface, but what improvements can a dead person make when "evil" cuts them asunder? When "evil" destroys babies and our children? Also, if evil is necessary, what about in Heaven? Can the souls of good Christians be tested and improve even in Heaven? Many Christians believe that there will be no more evil in Heaven. If true, how did Satan fall from Heaven... a place that is supposed to be devoid of evil? Why couldn't God simply make varying levels of good? That would allow room for improvement and self-testing.
Let's look at Omnipresence: God is everywhere:
What does it mean to state that God is everywhere? To be everywhere, is to be in no one particular place, but all places simultaneously. I have no serious difficulties with the idea of omnipresence itself though it does seem to cause problems when you enable a deity with this attribute. If God is everywhere, when he thinks, where do the thoughts go? Does God's thoughts take time to travel? But travel to where? If there no place for the data to travel, how is it experienced? Does God have a mind in which to process data? Is there anything at all to process if he's already all-knowing. Can God gain new knowledge? Can he experience? If so, where does this experiential knowledge get processed? If he is everywhere, there is no place for experiences to be processed. Nor thoughts to be generated, which requires a mind. God cannot have a mind because having a mind would require a location, hence not everywhere, but a specific place. A mind that is everywhere, is unintelligible.
The Creator of All?
It's a pretty troublesome claim to state that God created all of existence. Immediately.. this begs the question, and puts God automatically outside of existence. But, where does God exist? Surely if God exists, he must exist somewhere. If he exists somewhere.. that existence must be absolute. Did God create an existence for him to exist in? Some will say that God is eternal, but surely this eternal being exists somewhere. If he exists within existence, then God's existence is contigent upon existence to exist. In other words.. it will be impossible for God to create ALL that exists and even existence itself... for if God exists and is being himself he surely must reside somewhere in existence. After all, he doesn't reside in our universe. He's supposedly, outside of it... and as such, a being outside of the Universe must be somewhere.. which it is.. it's "outside" of our Universe. I don't believe that this Universe ** is all their is, and neither do you. To claim that God is everywhere is meaningless until someone can explain how. To say God is a spirit, is meaningless until you can define spirit, and it is also meaningless to say that God is the creator of all-being if he is a being himself.
The natural Universe existing is NOT proof that God exists. All it proves is that we exist. To say, “God did it” answers nothing. To make the claim that something mysterious (unknown) created the Universe, answers nothing. What ever happened to who, what, when, where, why and how? Many have asked me "You believe the universe just came from nothing?!". I cannot claim that I can accurately explain the origin(s) of the universe. However, religion makes no attempt at explaining it, in fact, adding a God as an explanation to the Origins of the Universe only complicate things. Questions such as: "Where does God get his awesome powers from?" "How can God create us from nothing if he existed prior?" Explanations, without verifiability are very weak. Would you accept my position that the Great Bloomer Bloogerty created the strong force that hold subatomic particles together? Just because it was in a dusty old book? I hope not. Let's admit we don't know and keep investigating. Let's not cheat our intellects by throwing in unsupported hypotheses. It was believed that demons caused disease, now we know better. The supernatural explanations eventually gave way to more naturalistic ones. This continues to happen at a quickening pace. Naturalistic explanations have always replaced supernatural ones... not the other way around. This trend is not because the world hates God, most of the world is religious!... it's because truth is hard to suppress no matter what the current religious dogma may be. Ask Galileo.
How does one know a god? (A being outside of natural law when we ourselves are naturally perceiving beings?) We perceive the world naturally through our five senses. There is no evidence of a sixth or spiritual sense. Every claim of perception of the supernatural necessitates the reliability of using the physical senses. “I heard God’s voice.” Okay, that’s physical. Some of you may say you hear God’s voice in your head, well, so do schizophrenics. We have medication for that. We don’t believe their claims, so why believe yours? “I saw Jesus.” Well, that’s physical as well. We have medications for visual hallucinations too. “I felt him in my heart.” Well, hearts pump blood. If you feel any sensation in your chest area, it’s physical. The list goes on and on. Many of you are honest, you know that Jesus or God has never talked back to you when you prayed, … ever. Ever wonder why? I’ll leave that open for you to ponder. Keep in mind also that there are people in the world that believe trees talk to them. I’m not convinced by them as I’m sure you aren’t either, so why should I believe you? Now, if they provide evidence, that’s a different story. On a side note.. I knew a girl once whose Aunt was a serious Christian, a holyghost filled woman. Falling out at every church service, speaking in tongues, jumping and dancing, raising her hand to the sky, and shouting hallelujah over and over.. She truly believed God was speaking to her heart. One service she collasped and didn't get back up, she awoke in a hospital and it was later discovered that she was suffering from TLE, Temporal Lobe Epilepsy and may have been a sufferer for some time. The Lord works in mysterious ways right? Some of you may be saying that perhaps God did that to get her closer to God. Perhaps, and perhaps demons do cause cancer and little devils cause yeast infections. Thinking such as this provides no rational grounding. In the realm of the supernatural anything is a go. How can we function as a responsible society when we believe such nonsense? I don't think we can.
No doubt by now... some of you are convinced that no amount of evidence will convince me. That is not true. Surely if there is a God he would know exactly what amount evidence it would take for me to know him. Not believe in him, not to have faith in him, but to truly know him. Actually, if a God exists, I’m doing exactly what he knew I would be doing. Not believing in him and telling others why I don’t.
Some of you also might be thinking, “God will reveal himself to you through miracles. Just wait and see.” Or “You don’t want to know God.” Well, I’m still waiting and if a God exists, yes I would want to know it. I have a few things to tell IT, oh but wait… God already knows what I’m thinking. I guess I’d be wasting my time. Much as I’m sure I would be wasting my time if I were to pray to him as well. God's going to do what he's going to do, regardless of prayers. If you don't believe me, think of the miners in Tallsmanville, West Virginia, January 2006.
You know? If I believed in spiritual revelations I already know what visions I’d have. It would be visions of my dead brother and grandmother and/or the Christian God concept. How do I know this? I know this because miracles, visions and religious experiences are mostly culturally based. Native Amazonian Indians will probably have visions of a giant Anaconda. Why? It’s their cultural belief that their God looks like a giant snake. Muslims don’t have visions of Krishna and Xians don’t have visions of Apollo. Why? Simply because they don’t believe in them. Isn’t that rather odd? If your belief is true, the Amazonian Indians should be having similar Christianic visions and hearing Yahweh’s voice without the help of missionaries. “But Infidel Guy, it’s Faith!”… But does Faith make your belief true? If Faith is all it takes to accept a belief as true; then ALL religions and ALL faiths are equally true. I have faith in aliens that love me. It must be true, because I have faith in aliens that love me. Can we get anymore circular than that? Some of you may be thinking at this point, “Well someone is right.” “One of our religions must be true.” Really? Modern man has only been around for a few thousand years on this small blue dot drifting in space. We have so much to learn about the Universe and ourselves. Isn’t it more feasible that all of the religions simply got it wrong? I sometimes wonder what we would think if a million year old alien civilization were to visit us. Whose concept of religion would be right at that point? They'd probably be called Demons and nuked back to hell.
Did you know that we are all nonbelievers? Did you know that we are all atheistic at least to a degree? How many of you believe in The Great God of the Unicorns, Poseidon, or Rah? Welcome to the club my fellow non-believers. I simply believe in one less God than you do, once you understand why you don’t believe in all of the other Gods, you will see why I don’t believe in yours.
Now … I try not to make definitive claims such as “God doesn’t exist”, unless I know exactly what God we are talking about. I participated in a debate a while ago, about this very idea. A guy told me that no one could claim that a God doesn’t exist. I decided to take him up on the challenge. He quickly discovered that it is possible to refute particular Gods. It depends on ones definition and the attributes of the deity in question. The God in question was Thor (the lighting God). I explained that in ancient times and even some people still today, believe that natural acts are caused by Gods. Lightning was believed to be created by Thor, the Norse God. We now know that this isn’t true. If one of the primary attributes of a deity is something that has been proven to be caused by another action without a a supernatural cause, that God with those given attributes ceases to exist. Thor does not exist. In another example, if someone says a black lizard is in a box, but upon opening it a white lizard is there instead, the black lizard does not exist within the designated parameters given. Sure, the black lizard may have turned white, but that’s not what was said. So, sure the lizard may exist, but not a black one. I find the same problem with many various God concepts. This God “A” is supposed to have characteristics “B” “C” & “D” but an examination of these claims show that they reveal contradiction... thereby cancelling each other out, or they simply make no sense what-so-ever, non-cognitivism. Much like Yahweh’s attributes of omniscience, omnipotence, omnibenevolence and omnipresence. An entity with all of these attributes cannot exist without contradiction and therefore does not exist. If you can solve these philosophical conundrums and provide evidence, I may consider your belief system as true.
Over time, many Gods have been disproved. Some Gods can’t be disproved right now. Just as one cannot disprove super intelligent, transparent microorganisms floating near Alpha Major right now either. It’s hard to disprove someone’s fantasy when even they admit their fantasy is mysterious and requires faith. Mysteries equal the Unknown. Unknown simply means you don’t know. Yet many believers claim they know the mysterious God!? No, you have faith and believe in the unknowable. You have personified the unknowable. You don’t know God at all.
A few thoughts: A God decides one day to create the Universe. Oops, but wait, he’s all-knowing. He already knew that he would create the Universe before even doing it, and he also knew the absolute outcome of his creation. So, why create anything at all? I have heard some say that God’s thoughts create. If God is creating with just a thought, it logically follows that God thinks. But if God thinks, doesn’t this mean he makes decisions? But if he makes decisions, how can he be all knowing? One rebuttal is that God has to decide what color something will be or how furry an animals needs to be, etc. But if God knows everything already.. what decisions are needed? Some say that God's creation is an artistic expression. But artists never know how their work will end up. If God is a grand artist, he cannot be all-knowing. Artists learn and experience as they go. One could argue that God's art is perfect. Despite the subjective nature of art, I'll grant this proposition. However.. what's so perfect about this world and our Universe? Even Adam and Eve weren't perfect for they were created with the ability to make horrible decisions.
Now, I did a little thought experiment. How do I think? I think within a temporal framework, as a finite entity there are uncertainties in my life that I must react to if I am to survive yet also regularities that keep me grounded. But if I am all knowing and all-powerful, why think at all… for there is nothing to react to or with? The “open theist” would say that God suppresses his omniscience so that he can interact with us. God would have to permanently suppress his omniscience for that to be reasonable. In which case, God is now reduced to an advanced alien instead of a God. If God is all-powerful, can he make a creature more powerful than he is? If not, God is not omnipotent for he is limited by his very nature. In the same way we are limited by our very nature. If God is omnibenevolent and is omnipresent, how does evil exist? If we say that God is omnipresent, yet evil exists, is not God evil at least to a degree? But wait, to a degree cannot be correct either because God is all encompassing; therefore ALL that is evil is part of God. Many Christian believers claim that God created man for the sole purpose to worship him. But if God were all knowing he knew, before I was even created, that I would reason my way to atheism. God doesn’t mind atheists being here, so why does most of the religious world? Some of you may argue, “God gives us Free will.” Are you saying that God doesn’t know your decisions and is giving you a chance? If so, God is NOT omniscient. In other words, if God created you knowing that you would be an axe-murderer, whose fault is it that you exist? You didn’t create yourself. One must reasonably conclude that this world must be exactly the way God has planned it to be... or he just doesn't exist. Many Jews and Muslims don’t have a problem at all with the idea of an evil causing God. The evil he befalls upon man are merely tests. But if God is all-knowing, what is there to test? Seems like a waste of time.
God/Gods are such elusive characters. Man’s gods have evolved, as we evolve. The more advanced we become and the more knowledge we gain, god becomes more complicated and incomprehensible. The more complex and socially acceptable gods survive while others die out. Just as organisms evolve, so does religion. It was believed that spirits or gods were in the earth, trees and rocks. We began to drill the earth, chop down trees, and build with rocks, no gods there. (Some people still believe spirits are in rocks and crystals today) gods then took to the highest mountaintops, and we scaled those mountaintops, no gods there. God took flight to the air in the form of great birds, the sun, stars or moon. We took flight, no God’s up there either. God then moved into outer space, we pointed our telescopes and radio devices into space, still... no gods there. God then took to being invisible, or in another dimension, another reality. Well, we can’t detect invisibility or prove physically extra dimensional space where beings can live right now, so God is safe once again and escapes our detection.
All throughout history man has inevitably created gods in an effort to understand the world around them to the best of their ability. Everyday, new god concepts are created and others destroyed. It’s rather obvious that we are the ones creating gods all of the time. Why should I believe in yours? …because it’s popular, because it’s been around for a few thousand years, because you believe it’s true? We have plenty of religions as old if not older and they all believe they are right. In fact, psychics and astrologers have been around 10,000 + years. Does that make their claims true simply because they have survived longer than Christianity? I don’t think so. Almost all religions claim originality, peace, the way and the light, the truth, and compassion for fellow man. Yet this is hardly what we see. According to the website adherents.com, there are over 30,000 sects of Christianity alone. That’s not even including the other religions. 30,000? Who’s right? Sure some of you may say, yeah but they all believe in a god of some sort. Maybe, but if Hell exists, most are still going there. Some of you may be thinking, but the Lord knows your heart. This being the case, he knows that I’m being honest about my disbelief, if he sends me to Hell for being honest, then this isn't a God that values honesty and sure as heck isn't worthy of worship.
I’m a firm believer in the Socratic method of argumentation, which basically states that we should follow the argument wherever it leads. This method is rather sound in helping raise questions and reveal philosophical contradiction. The purpose, according to Socrates, is not to instruct ones fellows nor to even persuade them, but to think with them and trust the argument will lead to insight, and in some cases, very unexpected insight. Far too many people argue to convince rather than question themselves on the validity of what they are proclaiming to be true. Let’s look at a few more questions some have in regard to belief.
Many people are claiming that God granted a miracle when the miners in Pennsylvania were rescued. I thought a miracle was a one-time, inexplicable, supernatural event. Heavy equipment, technical skill, manual dexterity and the love for human life is what rescued those men not an invisible creature. Most modern theologians agree with me on this point. Miracle enthusiasts cheapen miracles when they shout “miracle” at almost everything. It’s much like crying wolf. It can also backfire, as noticed January 2006 with theminers in West Virginia. At first, reports of a miracle were being aired all over the web, radio and television. Very quickly, it was discovered that the miracle was God's wrath. All miners died.
Where was God's miracle Sept 11th? God could have stopped the planes in mid-air, zapped the terrorists into nothingness. I have heard that there was indeed a miracle happening even on that day. The miracle, even in all of that destruction and death, is that more people could have been killed but were not. Using this logic, as long as there are survivors it’s a miracle. Okay so it wasn’t a full 3,000 so it’s a miracle. It wasn’t 100,000 so it’s a miracle. It wasn’t a million; it must be a miracle. It wasn’t 6 billion; it just has to be a miracle. As long as some guy is around that didn’t die, it’s a miracle. You see... the dead can’t speak; it’s an easy excuse. What you are mistakenly saying is that it was God’s miracle to kill babies, children, women and men. One man's miracle is another man's curse. Many people in the Middle East thought 9-11 was a miracle. Allah (God) was on their side. Here’s a miracle for you: Why haven't we seen God reattach a severed head or restore someone who was burned alive? Surely this would be an easy feat to accomplish? Really ask yourself, why don't we see this happening! I don't think it will happen until modern science accomplishes it.
God seems to get all of the credit regardless of what scientific advances we accomplish anyway. I don’t know about you, but I’d be pretty upset if someone received credit for something I did. Especially when I risked my own life to save a life. I saved a friend of mine from drowning in quicksand about 17 years ago. When we got back home he told everyone what a great job I did and how brave and calm I was. If he had said, “Thank Kareem Adbul Jabar I’m alive.” I’d feel pretty slighted. If we keep giving God credit for the lives our hardworking doctors, nurses and regular people like us save every day, where is our free will? If God saved these people isn’t it his will and not ours? Take credit for something. If you believe in freewill, maybe you should start acting like it.
Earlier I talked about the soul or spirit. Did you know that the word spirit/soul comes from the exact same word as air? Ancient uninformed people of the past thought that breathing was a magical process. They didn’t know what we know today, and that is, that air is measurable with a psi of 15 and that breathing is an autonomic function of our body to regulate gas exchange helping then turn the food we ingest into energy. The Hebrew words nefesh and ruah are soul words that are strongly connected with breathing. As long as your chest is rising and falling, you have a soul. Other related words that mean air, to blow or to breathe: The Greek word psyche, which stems from psychein. The Latin words anima and spiritus of which we get spirit. Therefore, Holy Spirit is nothing more than “sacred air”. I mean no offense, there is a reason for this. Air itself was a mystery back then. Air is what they believed animated us. And they were right. Without air I wouldn’t be talking right now. If you think back on the Genesis story of Adam’s creation, remember that God had to breathe the spirit, or air, into Adam's nostrils to animate him. Also, many people still believe today that the soul first enters the body at birth, well no wonder, we take our first breaths at birth.
Still believe in the soul? Let’s ask few questions. If a soul is non-physical and the human body is physical, how does a soul stay in our bodies? Let’s see if we can track this soul down. I guess once you remove all of the body’s extremities (arms and legs) the soul can only be in a few places, the head or the body. We have machines that can take the place of many of our organs, some organs can be removed and some organs can be severely damaged and we will still have life. In ancient times, as the original concept of the soul was lost, soul words began to be associated with blood. Is it in the blood? Nope, because we now have artificial blood. So it must be in the brain somewhere.
With imaging devices we can see electrical activity in the brain. We can see what parts of the brain are accessing memory. We can see the electrical patterns that generate dreams and emotions. Our brain is, undoubtedly, a complex organ. Did you know, however, that the brain can be broken down into parts as well? So now we must pick apart the brain to search for the soul. People suffer from memory loss all of the time: Alzheimer’s, injury, cancer, etc. Some people never recover their memories and have to experience new things to create newer memories, but if the memory centers of the brain are damaged significantly, one wouldn't even be able to remember much of anything. So, we can deduce that memory has nothing to do with the soul either. Cancer can damage portions of the brain that deal with taste, touch, sight, hearing, and many people are simply born without many of these senses at all! What does this mean? The soul, if it exists, must be able to exist without the senses. So, what’s basically left? The ability to think and reason. Thinking and reasoning must utilize memory function though. We have already argued that memory is a physical process though. So where does this leave the soul? I’m not convinced there is one! Brain transplants will most likely be possible within the next thousand years or so, where would the soul be then? Actually, I guess that should be “body transplants”. If you think that the soul is within the brain, how does this happen? Especially, once you consider fetal development. The brain is a physical component of us just like the rest of our organs, only more complex. But it must grow and develop. Even before we are born we begin to take in physical stimuli. Our brains begin to develop millions of neuro-connections. Notice however that our brains cannot develop fully without our physical senses. Without physical stimuli, many neural pathways simply will NOT be created. Common sense would dictate then that thinking is a process reached by reacting with the physical world, via our physical senses, which allow us to learn, and is influenced by our memories of those accumulative experiences. Experiments on the brain using electrical or electromagnetic stimuli can generate pain, pleasure, hallucinations, false memories, dream states, and all of our emotions and feelings. There’s no room for a soul that I can see. So more than likely, if you're hearing voices or seeing Angels, it's quite literally, all in your head!
According to Revelations 4:8 Strange and disgusting creatures chant, “Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come” ..over and over again day and night. Odd that day and night is in Heaven, unless Heaven would be on Earth (or some other planet). There are also wars in Heaven and The New Jerusalem/The Kingdom of God/Heaven is a cube in Revelations 21:16. Many biblical scholars denounce that Heaven is a cube and claim that it’s not supposed to be taken literally. Some religious scholars claim that it is a metaphor for perfection since cubes in ancient times were perceived as perfect. But if that’s true, that’s man’s idea of perfection NOT God’s. There is this rather odd practice by bible believers of turning things that make sense to them into literal interpretations and things that don’t make sense into metaphor. How do you discern what’s literal and what is not?
Another problem with Heaven is that troublesome freewill of ours. Is there freewill in Heaven? You’d think so. God cherishes our freewill right? If freewill is allowed in Heaven, we are free to disagree. We are not perfect creatures; even in “spirit” so therefore fighting will exist even in Heaven. Think about it…. even right here in this Church, there are people that you hope you won’t see in Heaven. You know I’m right. Do you think that those bad feelings or thoughts will just disappear once you transcend to Heaven? Hmm... I guess we should first see if bad thoughts can exist in Heaven. According to many Christians, yes! Satan had bad thoughts right? Hey, freewill allows this. If bad thoughts are allowed, how will heaven be any different than Earth?
What do you envision Heaven to be like? No pain, no disease? Well if you don’t have a body anymore I guess that would make sense. But if you no longer have a body you can’t speak or sing, you can’t see or touch the ones you love either. The Jehovah’s Witnesses have avoided this problem by believing we go to Heaven physically, but two major problems still remain, freewill and sorrow. They kind of go hand in hand actually. I explained the freewill argument earlier, now let’s look at sorrow. It’s believed that sorrow will not exist in Heaven as well. Firstly, that’s rather odd because even God himself is sorrowful and regretful throughout the Bible, also, what about loved ones that may have been in another faith and are roasting in Hell, or as more Christians are beginning to believe, “eternally separated from God?” How can you be happy in Heaven when people you love and care about aren’t with you? The only way this would be possible is if God tampers with your memories or suppresses your emotions. But, if he does that, who would you be then? You cease to exist. You as [Enter Name Here] ceases to exist. Because our memories help fashion our personality and behavior, God would have to erase most of your self-identity. Memories define who you are. We create self-identities based on past experiences and our accumulation of knowledge.
A question I often had as a kid was, “Why can’t we wait until we get to Heaven to worship God?” Also, I have often heard that, “In the end, every knee shall bow and every tongue shall confess that Jesus is lord.” If this is true, then aren’t we all going to Heaven? All I have to do is accept Jesus and repent right? It’s a piece of cake! I guess I’ll do it when he returns. If Hitler, Jim Jones, David Koresh and Timothy McVeigh all asked for forgiveness right before they died, and were serious about it, they’d all be at the Heavenly breakfast table with you.
I have also heard from people that Heaven is whatever you want it to be and God will provide. What if it goes against what God wants for you? What if your ultimate fantasy is to have multiple lovers (nope, that’s sexual sin) or eat the very best foods whenever you wanted (nope, that’s gluttony), be the most beautiful man or woman in the universe (nope, that’s vanity), be a God yourself (you know, some say that Satan got kicked out of Heaven for that yet the Mormons believe that they can be Gods), how about: to be with all of your loved ones (oops many will be in hell)… the list goes on and on. If you can’t have those things, how is that Heaven? Especially not being with the ones you love. What if someone wants to be with you in Heaven but you don’t want to be with them? How is that Heaven for that person? That might be a nightmare for you! Imagine a stalker in Heaven.
--->Internet Note: What if Heaven doesn’t exist at all? There is strong evidence that it doesn’t. Read: Is Heaven Really the Sky?
THE GARDEN OF EDEN:
If the Garden of Eden was perfect, why did Eve even want to eat the fruit of the tree of knowledge? Wouldn't a perfect place provide everything a person would want or desire and thus she wouldn’t want anything? Not only that, how did Eve even know that it was “wrong” to disobey God, she hadn’t eaten of the tree of knowledge yet. God threatens Adam & Eve with a mysterious concept called death. Death would have been a meaningless concept to them. An analogy I often use is; I have a 3-year-old daughter (and I really do), I have never spanked her.. She reaches for a piece of cake on the table and I tell her, “Stop it or I’ll spank you.” Spank is a meaningless concept to her since I have never done it. The same would have been true for Adam & Eve it could be argued. It appears that God framed Eve! Surely God would have known that before he even created Adam and Eve that humans would fall short and that he would have to wipe out the Earth with a great flood anyway. Why did God create man at all if he knew they would offend him so much? One must also ask, “Why was the tree in the garden in the first place?” One can’t say, “To test man,” for this would violate God’s omniscience. No test to take. You see, God knew that they would fail “the test” before he even created them.
Moving on: In Leviticus, the bible condemns homosexuality as an "abomination", giving some Christians a reason to hate, harass, torture and kill gays and even picket their funerals with "God hates fags!" signs. In the same book of the bible the eating of shellfish is equally an "abomination". Why aren’t Christians planning to go after the patrons of Red Lobster? My friend Buck Cash brought this to my attention and it’s a good point. I have never seen bible believing fundamentalists picketing outside of a seafood place yet. Many of the things that are in the Old Testament as abominations most Christians ignore today. When I ask, “Why aren’t Christians abiding by the Old Testament today.”… I am told that we are living in a period of grace, that we are under a new covenant, because Jesus Christ (as if that’s really his name) came and died for our sins. Is this rightt? If this is true, why are many believers still pushing the placement of the 10 commandments in public school and on government property? Aren’t the 10 commandments obsolete now? They are Old Testament. If the 10 commandments were all we need to have a moral society we wouldn’t have created the US Constitution. Let’s not forget that this country actually frowns on the 1st commandment. “Thou shalt not have any other Gods before me” Yet, we have thousands of religions in the US in which the government protects you the right to have or not to have.
I’ve often wondered how there is a copyright date on the inside panel the Holy Bible, God’s one true word. It leaves you to infer that it’s mans word and not God’s doesn’t it? No need to go on and on about the Bible though. The Bible and various other religious texts are obviously subject to interpretation. A young man challenged me to a debate once and I brought up the references in the Bible about Unicorns, Satyrs, Dragons, and various other mythical beasts. He didn’t believe me until I showed him where in his Bible (the KJV) it was. Cockatrices, satyrs, dragons, leviathans, unicorns, and fiery flying serpents are all throughout the book of Isaiah. (Isaiah 11:8, 13:21-22, 14:29, 27:1, 30:6, 34:7, 34:13-14, 43:20, 59:5)
He replied after a pause, “Well that’s not supposed to be taken literally”. There’s that odd practice again. I then asked the young man, “How do you determine what’s figurative and what’s literal.” He honestly replied that he didn’t know, but he’ll look for an answer and get back with me. I’m still waiting for an answer. Some try to claim faith. But, you can’t say faith, because that would make all of the other religions as equally valid since they use faith as well. I’m thinking I’ll hear something along the lines of prayer, miracles, and a personal relationship with Jesus, all of which, however, also depend upon faith and is not a valid claim of knowledge. I’ll allow the idea that faith can be a precursor to knowledge, but once you know, you know. No need to keep having faith in something you know to be true. To make a claim of faith is to admit ignorance and uncertainty.
Before I close, I want to present to you a variation of the:ARGUMENT FROM NON-BELIEF
1.) If the Christian God exists, he is all-powerful, all-loving, and all-knowing
2.) If the Christian God exists, he desires that humans accept his existence so they can go to Heaven.
3.) An all-knowing being should know what sufficient evidences he can provide to convince all men of his existence.
4.) Not all men are convinced of God's existence at this time..
5.) The Christian God chooses to not provide sufficient evidence to convince all men that he exists at this time
6.) Currently, the Christian God wants non-believers to exist.
NOTE: Notice that this argument is in defense of all non-believers, so this argument can be used to argue for atheism as well.  can be argued against on the outset, however, if one argues against this position, this would mean that God creates people just to go to hell. Doesn't sound like an all-good God to me. Most Calvinists will not have a problem with this nor Jehovah's witnesses, however, many Christians will find this disturbing. A typical rebuttle would be that God wishes for you to choose him freely. So he wants you to believe, but providing incontrovertible evidence would negate faith. Which God requires. The problem with this argument of course is that all religions have faith. So faith alone cannot lead people to the "right" God. Surely a God would know this. If so, he expects atheists and other non-christians to exist.
If the Christian God is truly as loving as many of you believe, then I have nothing to fear. Not to mention, how could he torture a creature that’s merely part of a grand divine plan? Doesn’t make much sense does it? Unless he wants to harm his creations.
I think thus far, Non-belief is justified.
In closing, it is not my intent to make everyone atheist. My only hope is to get people to think critically, analyze extraordinary claims, build tolerance for others that do not think as they do and to feel good knowing that it’s okay to “not to believe. I have honest, logical, common sense reasons for not accepting your god, just as you don’t accept Cupid or Santa Claus. Do you seriously think I want to be in a hated and oppressed minority? It’s hard enough being human in this world, imagine being an atheist. I do not hate the believer for believing as they do. I merely hope to have challenged the believer and opened their minds if only… a little.
Does god exist? Which one? What are your god’s characteristics? You see? Based on what one claims their particular God’s abilities are and its interactions with us determine the response to this question.
Can a god exist? I suppose it’s possible if we have a clear working definition of what that god is, it’s not self-contradictory and if we have evidence. Not just a whimsical thought in ones head… much like my Great Bloomey Bloogerty. Faith is not evidentiary. Faith is NOT truth. Faith doesn’t make anyone right!
Some of you may be thinking, “What now Infidel Guy? You’ve convinced me.” Of course, I highly doubt that… but please visit: www.infidelguy.com. The friendly and helpful people there will assist you in your transition to skepticism and freethought.
Thank you for having me.
1.) "…" and some commas = a pause
2.) God = Christian God
3.) god = generic god concept
4.) slanted text = emphasis
** Universe: I think this Universe was created at one point in time and that many Universes exist. So when I say Universe, that is not the same as "the whole of existence" from which Universes are born. Many people equivocate them. I make a distinction. This is especially relevant in theological discussions when the Ontological Argument comes up.
CONVERSATION NOTES: After Talk
* Holy Bible itself comes from Helios Biblia, which literally means, Book of Light. But where does light come from? The Sun. The Holy Bible is our Sun Book. Many ancient cultures perceived God as the sun, as did the ancient Hebrews. In fact the earliest Hebrews believed in many Gods just as their Egyptian cousins did who also worshiped the Sun. Revelations 1:7 says, “Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him.” What comes with clouds that every eye can see? Why, the Sun of course.
* God Who Wasn't There Documentary - http://www.thegodmovie.com
Possible Future Additions to This article: (Undecided, just random thoughts)
Some have argued that God is a necessary being and as such must exist. However.. it could also be argued that existence is necessary for there couldn't ever be such a thing as "no thing". However, where does the evidence lie? A feeling universe or a rather indifferent one? I see a rather indifferent Universe. We make meaning for our own lives and we decide what's significant or not. We make the decisions that protect or destroy man. If feeling exists in the Universe, it must come from organisms with a brain and a nervous system, which God has neither.
The Creator of Logic:
Some at this point will make the interesting observation that I'm going by biological rules and that God is exempt. That God is the creator of logic and can therefore break or bend them at will. It seems logical that only beings with sensory apparatuses can sense and feel... but "God is beyond that". Let's look at this claim. Is a God's existence Logical? How so? For if Logic is created by God, God cannot "be" logical. If God is logical, God's existence would be contingent upon Logic. So logic, must supercede God. Or perhaps Logic is the Holy Ghost. :)
This is one reason why I think that logic and existence are two sides of the same coin and cannot be separated. As long as something is, logic is. Humans have created bountiful formulaic expressions to help us understand how to see consistency in our reality. Our Universe is binary. Something either is, or is not. As a result, there's no need to account for logic, as logic and existence are inseparable. Existence is, and cannot be not, for to be not is not to ever be.. without being, is nonsensical. Existence always was and always will be. The number of our Universe, is "1"?