It’s an interesting type of question that, because it can have a short answer and it can have a very, very long answer. I’m going to give both, so bear with me, it’s going to be a doozy. Also, clearly I did not come up with absolutely everything myself, and if I ever do write a book, it will have the references, I really couldn’t be bothered right now. Perhaps if an epic case of boredom befalls me. Perhaps.
This is by no means a completely comprehensive answer and I may add to the list at a later stage. The post was written as if answering the questions and comments of someone who presumably does not share my views.
The short answer
First, the short answer: Because I have yet to see anything to make me even consider changing my mind from the default position that is atheism.
The long answer is just that, long and a bit more complicated. I do hope you have some time.
Why I am not a christian, a muslim, a jew or religious in any way
Religions are different and mutually exclusive
There are many religions. There always have been. Every culture has their set of myths about where we all came from and they are all different. Ok, there are some similarities between the middle-eastern religions but on a whole, I think you will find that the beliefs from different parts of the world are disparate. One thing they have in common is that they come from a time where the people who practised them knew a LOT less of the world than we do now. They come from a time when the earth was flat, the stars in the firmament and the concept of zero had not yet been born.
Yes, I realise that there are ‘newer’ crackpot religions like Scientology and I know that they are younger, but seriously, anybody who believes a religion invented by a science fiction writer that said, before starting the religion: “to make a million dollars, start a religion” is misguided.
Muslims and christians have been killing each other for about as long as islam has been around. The Romans fed the christians to lions, the American settlers nearly wiped out the American Indians, the European settlers did a great job of subjugating the Africans, the Chinese and Japanese had a couple of minor disagreements and the Spanish did a great job of dealing with the Incas.
They are mutually exclusive and each has been trying to become exclusive by force, forever. At best, only one can be right and what makes you think yours happens to be that one?
They are all equally wrong.
The day you chose your religion
Most likely, you did not, and that is the point. Sure, some people do change religions, it’s not that it doesn’t happen it’s just, for the vast majority of religious folk, they believe what they were told from the day they could listen. One is, generally, the religion that one’s parents are. There is no disputing that. So then, when you are very young you need to learn certain things to survive so you (we all) are hard-wired to accept the authority of your parents or elders. You then get told a fairy tale (with a certain amount of conviction) and you believe it. Nothing divine about that, it’s not even strange. I understand why that happens.
You never choose your first religion, circumstances do.
The efficacy of prayer
Keep a prayer journal. Pray for something extra ordinary and different every day. World peace for example. For little children to not starve to death in Africa. For a tree in your garden to turn blue. To win the lottery or if that is too ‘selfish’ to be answered, for somebody who desperately needs to it win the lottery, twice. I will also come up with some far-fetched ideas every day. Would you like to put money on how many of your prayers get answered versus my non prayers?
Studies have shown that praying versus not praying makes no difference. You will dispute this? Of course. You believe that your prayers get answered. Ok, so why does your god also answer muslim, hindu, satanist, wiccan, incan and pagan prayers. Atheists, as it turns out, sometimes also get what they want. What good is it to be of a certain religion if every religion’s (even non religions) prayers get answered the same. What good is it to have the almighty creator of the universe on my side when I have the same odds of getting a prayer answered by asking Zeus, or, indeed, not asking anybody at all.
One of my clients is a devout christian man who helps drug addicts and their parents. He councils them, sends them to rehab, he even helps to pay for rehab on many occasions. He does great work and he is a very good person for doing it. My point is this: I am sure he prays for them but he doesn’t leave it there, he actually, physically, helps them. He does things because praying isn’t going to get a crack addict off crack.
Prayer exists so that you can feel like you have done something without actually having to do anything.
Faith, is a filthy word. Faith is obedience without question. Faith is accepting what you are told without question.
The word ‘faith’ is also used way too often by way too many people. Christians especially, love saying that you must have ‘faith’. You sir, are a hypocrite and a liar. You may not realise it, but you are believing your own lie and are now lying to me.
Let me set the scene: You believe that you have a personal relationship with the almighty creator of the universe and that you actually converse with him. You believe he answers your prayers, that he has your best interests at heart, that he loves you and especially your children. That he will protect you. And yet, you still have medical aid and medical insurance. Why not just pray and get cured? Why is it that you, who’s personal best friend, the almighty creator of the universe, has to follow the very same procedure as the rest of us. Faith does not make a severed limb grow back, not any amount of it.
You put lightning rods on your church, mosque or temple. You take out fire and theft insurance. Have you no faith?
You say you have ‘faith’ but when it comes to real world problems that can kill you, you do as the rest of us heathens do and have the same odds.
Having friends in high places
I bet if a friend of Sergei Brin had to phone him and tell him that he was broke and was dying, Sergei would probably get his friend the best medical care money could buy. I think that goes for pretty much anybody. Why is it then, that the almighty creator of the universe does not do the same for his friends who literally worship him? Why does your ‘faith’ not get you special treatment? Why does your ‘faith’ not let you suffer any less than the other person who has none.
If I happen to happen upon a scene where a man was busy raping a child, for example, I would stop the man from raping the child. So would you. Anybody would. Whatever it took, without having to be asked. Do you think a child being raped will not frantically ask their god to help or intervene? To make the pain stop? Now I ask you, why was the child not helped by her almighty creator of the universe? Did she not ask correctly? Was the almighty creator of the universe busy? Perhaps somebody was being taught a lesson. Do you seriously believe that or is it just one of those things that you don’t want to consider?
An airplane falls out of the sky, into a river, for example. Half the people survive, the other half die horribly by being burnt severely and then drowning. The surviving half thank their deity for saving them. Did the dead half not pray hard enough? Were they bad people? Did even the babies deserve to die a painful and horrifying death? Seriously? I wouldn’t let a hundred people burn to death and drown if I could help it and I don’t especially care about those strangers, and I am an atheist.
Having an imaginary ‘friend’ even in the ‘highest’ of places is worthless.
The bible story is ridiculous
The bible is the only way for a christian to be a christian without relying on somebody else’s claim of divine insight and inspiration. It is all you have. For you to convince me to be a christian then, the bible is going to have to be pretty convincing because I don’t believe that the almighty creator of the universe speaks to you since you have no evidence for this. Call me a skeptic if you must. Your bible then, is the evidence. Have you read it?
Here’s what I read in your bible. Omnipotent, omnipresent, all-powerful, all-knowing creator of the universe and everything in it, creates everything, perfectly. He then creates people and gives them a test he knows they will fail. This gets them thrown out of paradise and some afflictions are added to their lives. They then piss god off, like he knew they would, so he decides to murder them all. God tells a 600 year old man to build a boat and put a hundred thousand species of animal in it with enough food for a year (make that two). He then organises for all these animals, including marsupials from Australia to migrate to a dessert in the middle east where he makes it so that they don’t kill each other, can breathe at 30,000 feet, not freeze at 30,000 feet and live like this for a year. They then pile out of the boat and re-populate the entire planet in a thousand years. Because being almighty, he couldn’t just stop the offenders hearts or send a plague or not make the people in the first place.
God then picks a single tribe of extra special people from all the ones he personally created and gets them to wander around the dessert ordering them and helping them to murder, rape and enslave the surrounding tribes. Every now and then they piss god off and he feels obliged to kill some of them. He also helps out a couple of extra, extra special people to do some hectic things like murder, by hand, 3000 people with a jaw bone from a donkey and burn down fields using three hundred foxes tied together. He also sends two bears to murder 40 odd insolent children. Seriously.
Things move along and then eventually, god see’s fit to send a part of himself to be killed by the people he made so that he could be convinced to forgive them for… being bad. After dying, god resurrects himself and floats himself back up into the sky from whence he came. He also promises to come back, shortly, possibly within the lifetime of those who watched him. That was two thousand years ago. These days, his followers say a magic spell over some crackers and wine which turns the crackers, literally, into gods body and the wine into his blood, which they then eat.
That story may be able to convince bronze age flat earthers but I have some trouble believing it. Call me a sceptic.
The bible approves of evil things
So ridiculously many, in fact, that I can’t put them all in this post. Some highlights:
- Slavery is ok: Exodus 21:2, Exodus 21:7, Exodus 21:20-21, Exodus 22:3, Leviticus 25:44-46, 1 Timothy 6:1, Titus 2:9-10
- Capital punishment by burning is all good: Leviticus 20:14, Leviticus 21:9, Genesis 38:24, Joshua 7:15, 24-25
- Religious tolerance, not ok: Deuteronomy 13:6-10, 2 Chronicles 15:13, Mark 16:16
- Assaulting slaves till they almost, but not quite die, is all good: Exodus 21:20-21
- Paedophilia: Nothing
- Homosexuals should be killed: Lev.20:13
- Trading your kids lives for something you want is all good: Judges 11:29-39
- Blasphemy (you know, what this entire post is), kill the blasphemers: Leviticus 24:13-16, 2 Samuel 12:14-18, Matthew 12:31-32, Mark 3:29, 1 Timothy 1:20
- Numbers 31:17-18 is a special favourite of mine. It’s lovely stuff, it really is, you should go read it.
The list goes on and on and on. You HAVE read your bible, surely?
The bible is chock full of approval for what we today consider to be evil and frighteningly lacking in condemnation of other things that we consider even more evil.
The lack of any useful information in the bible
The bible does not provide any valuable insight into mathematics, physics, biology or astronomy. I am sure the list of things the bible does not provide insight to goes on.
You don’t get to claim divine knowledge without some divine knowledge.
How people decide which parts of the bible to believe
It is a tricky topic. You see, there are bad things in the bible, can’t be denied, you can go read them yourself. There are patently ridiculous things in the bible, can’t be denied, go read them yourself.
So how do reasonable people get past the talking snake, world-wide flood and murdering bears? They pick and choose which parts of the bible are literal and which parts aren’t. It’s all very convenient you see because the last time I checked, god wasn’t publishing a guide to the bible that says, ‘don’t take my Noah’s ark story literally, it’s just an analogy used to explain something else’. In the absence of that guide, who are you to tell me which parts of that book I take literally and which not? How do you know? Divine guidance? Right.
You don’t get to pick the good bits and discard the bad bits as it suits you, but people do that. All the time. I can, right now, name twenty ‘christians’ that don’t go to church on Sundays, that don’t follow the other suggestions in the bible and still believe they are going to heaven and that Jesus Christ is going to say it’s ok for not doing a damn thing they were told. They pick the good parts and ignore the parts that don’t suit them. The fact is every, single, christian on this planet does exactly the same thing, every single day. You aren’t out killing adulterers, you aren’t killing insolent children, you aren’t burning animals in your back yard. You have picked the parts you want and are ignoring the parts you don’t want because they are ridiculous and you know that.
You don’t get to pick the good bits just because they work for you.
What the bible does not say
Let me tell you why the bible says nothing about paedophilia. Because there was nothing wrong with screwing a child when the bible was written. It, was, not, a, problem. The Romans did it, the Greeks did it, the Arabs did it. The ugly truth is, as with many other things, the bible does not condemn it because it wasn’t considered wrong at the time.
The bible is silent on too many important issues to be believed to be the unchanging perfect word of the creator of the universe.
Where the bible came from
You believe that a collection of spuriously translated documents of dubious origin, put together buy a committee of gentleman, with very much their own interests at heart, that now have the most profitable powerful organisation in the world, several hundred years after the fact is the un-changing perfect words of the almighty creator of the universe. Give a deity some credit will you.
Of all the holy books, the bible has the most dubious origin. The muslims only believe that an illiterate sheep herder memorised gods words, recited them to people who wrote them down on leaves before transposing them to something more permanent.
You would think that the almighty creator of the universe could come up with a better, more reliable way of relating his thoughts to his followers.
What is it with deities and illiterate sheep herders anyway?
The Quran and Torah suffer from the same problems
The Quran and Torah suffer from exactly the same issues. The issues exist because they were written by nomadic bronze age dessert dwellers and are not the words of the almighty creator of the universe. A deity who created the universe and everything in it could surely have written some text that would be applicable forever, could not be be misinterpreted and contained some actual, profound knowledge of the universe.
Morals and the lack of them
Everybody has morals. Even folk who deny that religion is good for anything. Even folk who believe in a monkey-god and folk who believe their ancestors guide them. Morals don’t come from the bible, that much is clear. Morals don’t come from the Quran or the Torah or from any other book. I know a lot of people who have not read any one of the three books I just mentioned and they are moral people.
Morals, such as not killing your neighbour or stealing his stuff is shared by everybody, regardless of religion. The explanation for that is simple, if you don’t want to be killed, don’t kill other people. If you don’t want your stuff stolen, don’t steal your neighbours stuff. Reciprocal altruism is the basis of any society because societies without it end up killing each other.
You don’t need religion for morals.
Either the atheist or the theist, or the other theist, or the other theist, or the other theist must be wrong
Either the atheist or the theist is wrong. It seems like a simple statement but it is a bit more than that. Atheists and theists have at the very least, one thing in common. They don’t believe in a LOT of gods. Atheists don’t believe in any god, for example, say 1000 of them. A christian, doesn’t believe in the same gods, except one. Muslims don’t believe in all of those same gods, except another one. The same thing goes for every other religion. This means that christians are 99.99% atheist in this example. Through history, there have been more than a 1000 gods.
If a god exists, zeus for example, then the atheists are wrong, sure, but so are the christians, muslims, hindu’s, wiccans and so forth. I have no reason to believe zeus is less likely to exist than yahwe or vishnu.
It is not a matter of atheists or deists being wrong, it is a question of atheists and which overwhelming subsection deists are right or wrong.
The things that christianty explains
There aren’t any things that christianity explains better than anyone else.
But atheism doesn’t prove anything
Atheism, unlike religion, does not claim knowledge on anything. Atheism is the lack of belief in a deity. Nothing more. You don’t believe that there is a god, you are an atheist. That is the end of it. For knowledge or answers, you need to go elsewhere and religion does not provide any of the answers either. Science is usually an excellent place to get insight into how and why things are the way they are, how they work and where they come from.
You do not get to stand on a stage in a $10,000 suite, having arrived in a private jet that flew you from your $10million house and tell me I can also be so rich, so lucky, if only I give you some more of my money first, while professing that your authority comes directly from a god-man who taught that, and I quote: “it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God”. It, is, a, scam.
It makes me ill to think that there are millions of people who believe that man.
Why I don’t believe creationism
Besides for it not being true, this could have been another very long protracted list of reasons but I am going to keep it short. If you really want to know why creationism isn’t true and why evolution is, read two books, it will be quick: Richard Dawkins: The Greatest Show On Earth, Jerry Coyne: Why evolution is true.
There are some things that I do think need an honourable mention.
All this was made for you
The universe is big. Very big. So big, that regardless of any technology to be invented the chance of a human being going everywhere in it, is basically zero. About the same odds as for a deity existing, actually.
The creator of the universe, very bored one day, creates something estimated to be 94 billion light years across and growing. Ninety four billion light years. That’s about:
Throughout this, he sprinkled millions of galaxies, hundreds of thousands of light years across with millions of stars in them. Orbiting these trillions of stars are quadrillions of planets and “god knows” what else.
All of this was made for your amusement during slow cloudless evenings. Which is to say, not so much for the British.
Yes, I know, you can’t with the naked eye actually see any of this and I know, through all of human history, excepting the last 400 years or so, all of humanity was completely unaware of what was out there, at all. I understand that god must have put the light from all of these stars in transit when he created it, and I realise that the sole purpose of those stars are to be pretty. I get it that astrology is also delusion, as some of those guiding stars may not actually exist any more, and may not have existed at any point during human history.
God failed to mention this while he dictated your particular creation story? How odd.
Incredibly terrible design
So, you’re the almighty creator of the universe and you are going about designing – perfectly – a couple of things. You really sit down and think about it, you have limitless resources and limitless time and you are aiming to create some serious perfection.
Why then, do you make the pinnacle, the absolute top of, the greatest thing that ever was and ever will be created, besides for yourself of course, eat and breathe through the same hole, thereby guaranteeing that a whole bucket load of them will accidentally kill themselves by choking to death? What’s the appendix good for? Why give the pinnacle of creation sub-optimal eyes? Wisdom teeth? Allergies? Epilepsy? Tourette’s? Why indeed.
And then, you have a universe ninety four billion light years across and you go and create one area, five kilometres thick and this will be the only place that your masterpiece can survive. All around it you go and put huge rocks and massive balls of ice that may smash into this one little sphere where your pinnacle lives. You make them susceptible to radiation and then fill the entire universe with bucket loads of it. In fact, your sense of irony doesn’t leave you, you make their only source of energy a big ass ball of radiation spewing fire. And you give them a small magnetic field to protect them from it that only exists while the core of their little ball spins…
You make them so weak and the rest of the very large universe so hostile that for thousands of years they couldn’t even SEE the rest of the universe, let alone go there.
You were not designed, you evolved to be this way.
The mountain of evidence against a young earth
The mountain of evidence against a young earth is so overwhelming it’s staggering. Here are a couple of topics you might want to consider before saying again that jesus made the earth six thousand years ago:
Amino acid racemization, baptistina asteroid family, coral, continental drift, cosmogenic nuclide dating, dendrochronology, distant starlight, erosion, fission track dating, geomagnetic reversals, helioseismology, human y-chromosomal ancestry, ice layering, iron-manganese nodule growth, impact craters, lack of DNA in fossils, length of the prehistoric day, lunar retreat, naica megacrystals, oxidizable carbon ratio dating, permafrost, petrified wood, radiometric decay, relativistic jets, rock varnish, seabed plankton layering, sedimentary varves, space weathering, stalactites, thermoluminescence dating and weathering rinds
Seriously. The heap of evidence against young earth creationism should accurately be described as a mountain of epic proportion.
No need for any creationism
Evolution by natural selection explains how all of the life that currently resides on this planet evolved. The big bang theory explains how the universe evolved into a place where natural selection could work for biological life. Progress is being made in how the first ‘living’ molecules came to exist. Advances in quantum mechanics is beginning to explain what drives the expansion of the universe as well as what caused the initial bang. It’s not all there yet, but it will be eventually.
The bottom line is, we do not need any bronze age fairytale to explain anything and none of the bronze age fairytales come close to explaining the history that science explains very adequately.
Why I am not agnostic
The answer is somewhat simpler. I am not agnostic because I have no reason to believe that a fantastically complex god like creature exists. I am not saying that it cannot, ever, exist. I am saying that I have no reason to think that it does or ever has.
It goes like this: there may be a teapot in orbit between the asteroid belt and Jupiter. There could be, it’s not completely impossible, the probability is not zero but it is so small, that any reasonable person would admit that there is no teapot in orbit near Jupiter. It could be there, but I am willing to put a large amount of money on it not being there.
There are two things that come from this:
1. It is up to the person making the claim to provide evidence for the claim. You can scream about the teapot all you want and jump up and down and shout and cry but until you can provide some evidence for the existence of that teapot I am going to be an ‘ateapotest’, a complete unbeliever.
2. The default position is to not believe the ridiculous claim that there is a teapot in orbit around Jupiter. If some evidence is provided for its existence, the claim would be less ridiculous but until the evidence is produced, reasonable people are ‘ateapotest’, unbelievers.
Just because you were convinced by a rather charismatic teapot sales person that there is in fact a teapot, without any evidence, does not make it any truer. A Nigerian man could phone you up and convince you to give him money so that he can give you a whole lot more back. Believing him isn’t going to make that money real. Believing that you will get it, does not mean you’re going to get it. I think, it is safe to say, that you will not.
It is my opinion that agnosticism is a half-hearted attempt at betting in favour of god, a weak version of Pascal’s Wager.
We cannot have true knowledge about the existence of a non-interfering deity, but what is the point in believing that such a deity might exist? There might be an invisible pink unicorn in my garage.
The most critical point
The bible does not mention Llama’s anywhere.
That, is why I am an atheist.
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