Atheists on Reddit were asked: "Why don't you believe in God?" A big question for a Monday morning! These are some of the most insightful answers.
1. So much pain and sorrow
Logic. When I apply my logic and my basic understanding of the world I can only reach the conclusion that there is no god.
First of all, it makes a lot of sense to me why people would conjure up the idea of a higher power. As humans we naturally want to understand what we do not understand. Why does it rain? What is the sun? Where do we go when we die? The concept of god and religion answers all these questions. We have science to answer these questions for us now. Coincidentally, the rise in our knowledge and understanding through science over the centuries coincides with the rise in our skepticism for religion.
Then we've got to ask ourselves, why do we believe in the existence of god today? Basically through a series of a two-thousand years game of Chinese whispers. If you make a grand claim, such as a higher power creating and controlling the earth, as a logical person I will naturally ask for adequate proof. A book of stories is not enough.
If you could provide me with undeniable evidence that god existed, I would have to conclude that not only do I dislike god, but actually find him to be a bit sick. For the vast majority of animal species the world is nothing but pain and misery. Bigger animals eating smaller animals alive so they don't stave to death, like why not just design the world so every animals eats fruit and plants? What's the deal with the botfly? Why introduce an animal that can only survive by burrowing itself into the flesh of bigger animals causing them a great deal of pain and discomfort? What's the deal with cancer and all those other debilitating diseases? So many questions for this god and his horrible creation.
2. There are a LOT of them
Because having to choose 1 out of approximately 4200 choices makes me think there's a whole lot of [crap] going on.
Ricky Gervais summed it up best: "If you took every book and record of every religion and destroyed it, 1000 years from now, those religions would NEVER return as the same. Ever. There might be religions, but they would be different. If you took every book and text about science and destroyed it, 1000 years from now, they would ALL be back. Exactly the same with the exact same information."
3. For this guy, things are pretty backwards
At some point I thought "Wait a minute, why should the default be to believe in god and the atheists have to justify their stance? It should be exactly the other way round: Default should be atheism and you have to give me a pretty darn good reason not to be one."
Haven't been presented with a pretty darn good reason yet.
4. Sitting there, waiting for something to happen
I never had a spiritual experience in church. I tried, I wanted to believe. My family took me to church growing up but something always felt hollow and fake about it. It never felt real.
I also couldn't rationalize how my family's religion could be the "right" one when there were so many other gods and religions. So I kind of became agnostic for a while.
But I did finally have a spiritual experience on my first LSD trip. I can't describe it but anyone who has taken psychedelics knows what I'm talking about. THAT was real.
5. Just accept things for what they are
There is no evidence of religion be true. Religious people have told me time and time again "Well evolution is just a theory yet you accept that. Why can't you accept religion?" I think religion makes no sense. It isn't feasible in my mind. Theories like evolution, the big bang, etc. have evidence, but can't be proven unless we could travel through time. Plus it's a whole lot easier believing in nothing and just accepting things for what they are.
6. It's all about ME
The same reason I don't believe in Zeus, Odin, Ra, Krishna, Raiden, Quetzalcoatl, or Santa Claus.
Most religious people are 99% atheist, if they think about it. They are willing to dismiss and laugh at all the other gods in world, but somehow THEIR invisible sky friend is real.
When you apply the same lens that lets you laugh at other gods to your own god, its really hard to keep believing.
7. We each have our own way of seeing things
I developed a simple life philosophy just by observing the world and people around me. The philosophy is simple: Don't be a [jerk] to people, and help out when you reasonably can. Everything else I do in life stems from that philosophy. No religious subtext or divine end goal is needed.
8. People should never live in fear
I think as human beings we naturally fill in our cognitive blanks. Gods were created to explain unexplainable events. Now, however, science can fill in most of those blanks. The only mechanisms to continue belief in gods are fear, tradition, and metaphysical loneliness and insecurity.
I think of faith like an abusive relationship. The abused is afraid to leave because he or she is afraid of the consequences, fearful that no one else will love them, worried about ending a marriage and being a divorcee, afraid of being alone. They think about all the bad, but then remember that feeling when it was good. They defend their abuser. Then they finally get up the courage and leave.
They realize that all of these fears were in fact constructed by the abuser. They are not going to be alone forever. They are not worthless without their spouse. No one who's worth [anything] looks down on them.
This has been my experience with religion and faith. Now that I am no longer fearful, because I no longer believe, I live a much more authentic and free life. I still have the same values.
9. This person needs a religious salesman
A lack of proof. Add to that the fact that the claims of religion are so extraordinary. If you told me you went to see a movie and some guy in front of you wouldn't stop playing games on his cell phone, I would probably be inclined to believe you even without proof because what you represented was a fundamentally believable thing. However, if you start telling me about the creation myth, and Noah's Ark, and that ancient people lived hundreds of years and magicians wandered the land raising the dead, you need to have some pretty damn compelling proof to sell me on that one.
10. Ah, the classic nature vs. nurture debate
Because my parents were not religious, just like how probably you're religious because of your family.
Environmental influences shape a lot about one's identity. If you were raised by non-religious parents, most likely you would have no religion and therefore, no reason to believe in god.
11. Even if there is a God, this person doesn't want in
Because there are way too many [screwed] up things on this planet to believe there is a benevolent creator waiting for us. If there is, with the rules and playing ground they've established, I wouldn't want to be in their company. Worship me relentlessly and I'll let you hang out with me so you can continue to worship me? [Nope.]
12. Ignorance is bliss
I just don't care. I try to do as much good for people as I can. If that's not good enough to placate some higher power, [screw] em.
13. This sounds like a good premise for a game show
Which god? If I were born in Israel, it'd be the Jewish god, or UAE it'd Allah, or Tennessee it'd be the Baptist form of Christianity, which is different from Catholicism, or maybe Utah it'd be LDS...
So if it wasn't so randomly, geographically dependent without indoctrination from birth and I could pick one, which one should I pick?
14. Focusing on the positives here
Non-belief just seems like the default setting. No one is born religious, no one discovers faith, it's taught to you by people it was taught to by people it was taught to.
I used to be religious but now I find it more comforting believing there is no afterlife, better make the most of this one.
15. For this person, some things just can't be justified
It's hard to say but I'd say it was just kind of a development over time. I grew up protestant and then went to a Catholic high school. I started to think about religion in general and thought that on a literal level, if one was right then all of the others were wrong. That made me think about which one was the right one before I realized none of them probably were.
I still believe in the tenets of Christianity, do unto others and what not, but I don't believe in an all-powerful being watching us and controlling things. I think Stephen Fry summed it up pretty well for me in an interview when he said something along the lines of "Cancer in children? What's that about?"
16. Always make sure you do your homework first
Which one? The default of any unknown answer to a question should always be the neutral one. Otherwise, anything could be claimed as truth. An absolute truth ought to be convergent in society, not divergent. Religion naturally diverges and breaks into separate sects. If anything, the principles of science are the only thing that converge in our society. The ideologies of evidence, logic and reason are all that I try to follow.
Realizing how much geography determines religious belief. Again, absolute truth shouldn't be reduced to something this crude.
Realizing that my childhood and the way I was raised is the only reason I was ever religious. If I was taught religion from adulthood, I wouldn't believe a shred of it. Religion only persists because of indoctrination. Why should an absolute truth be reduced to this? There's a pattern here.
Realizing that our species' place in the universe is so vastly small and we know an infinitesimal amount about it. We don't know a damn thing, despite how much we think we do. Why should the god flavor of the millenia/century be considered absolute truth?
Realizing the psychological and sociological reasons why religion persists. It preys on unanswerable existential fears and questions, while simultaneously providing positive emotions and a social support network. It takes all the needs and fears of the mind and acts upon them. Educating myself on cognitive biases and quirks of the human mind, and how religion takes advantage of them. Absolute truth shouldn't need to prey on these to become apparent.
Being aware of how humans evolved and how religion is a natural response for emergent cognitive beings. Natural doesn't always mean correct, though. Evolution "selects" the first thing that works and moves ahead accordingly. Religion helped society become more and more pervasive and increase our species' growth. Understanding where it came from and why makes it easier to realize its flaws.
17. For certain minority groups, religion doesn't work with who they are
Being gay means most religions consider me anywhere from an perverted abomination doomed to hell which they would be glad to assist me getting there sooner to merely being tolerated but not fully accepted. Why would I want to put up with that in my life when I can decide and live up to my own moral standards to treat others fairly and work on my own personal development without the assistance of a 2000 year old book or mystical sky god.
18. This is this person's answer. What's yours?
I read about the history of the bible and how it was compiled into the book we have today. That made me realise it's all obviously not true. The old testament especially. And I think once you remove the dogma surrounding religion all you are left with is the question "Do you believe there is an invisible omnipotent being with magical powers?" And the answer to that question for me is "Probably not, no."
19. Nature vs. nurture cropping up again
I was born not believing in God, and that belief was never changed via indoctrination. We all start as atheists and have to be converted to whatever religion our parents/guardians force upon us.
20. The religion itself and religious people are sometimes two different things
Why do you believe?
Tried to be religious, raised that way. But I could not reconcile that I am a logical, thinking human being yet believe in something that's honestly, ridiculous (not to be offensive), and thus requires intangible "faith" to believe.
In addition, I began to see how people act with religion, how they use it, and how it plays a part in society. And though I like the sentiment (anything that makes some people be better than they are can't be too bad), I could not get past the abuse, the inherent power seeking, excuse making, or creating clearly defined out-groups and in-groups. It just seems like a way to control the population and each other, though I know its not just that.
Lastly, there is little evidence. No evidence has been presented that has convinced me, but if it was I would obviously rethink.
21. Regardless, there is much suffering and harm
For me, it's the idea that if there is truly an omnipotent being how can they let suffering continue in this world.
22. We're all entitled to our own opinion
I believe that religion is a scam. The greatest scam of all time. Used to control people. But hey, I guess some people need to, or benefit from, having that control over them.
Please don't hate... it's my complete, personal opinion. I do not judge people who have faith, and I should hope they don't judge me either.
23. For this person, it's quite black and white
I don't think believing in God should be the first thought. If I said I could teleport you wouldn't believe me immediately. You assume it's false until shown otherwise.
Similarly you should assume God doesn't exist to begin with, and then if you think there's significant evidence, your mind should be changed.
24. Why'd you have to throw unicorns in there? What did unicorns ever do to you?
Because there is absolutely no evidence they exist. It's the same reason I don't believe in dragons, unicorns or Finland.
Should evidence arise I will happily revise my view.