Why is an atheist an atheist?


I dunno. I suggest asking the person.

But that’s not enough, is it? Just asking the question is the easiest thing to do. Listening to the answer…ahhh, there’s the rub!

The other day my daughter was studying her French. She insisted she had sufficiently studied. Being the ever-gullible parents that we are; we thought a quiz might be in order to confirm our trust. She missed the first question. She missed the second question. It became apparent that she hadn’t studied at all.

I opened my mouth and actually heard these words coming out—“Why did you say you studied?”

Can you imagine a more unintelligent question? I knew why she had said it: she hoped just saying the words would persuade her parents and she could go off to do what she really wanted to do. I wasn’t asking “why” out of some inquisitive spirit, intrigued with discovering a whole new insight into the teenage mind. I was merely making an introductory statement, which was about to develop into a full-fledged dressing down. There was more rhetoric then interrogatory in the question.


Why is an atheist an atheist?

Too often that question is asked and the person has a pre-prepared solution stuck fast in their mind. Respond in a manner that does not conform to the answer key firmly lodged in that mind and you would be quite, quite wrong.

We meet a person in an interesting profession. We ask, “What made you enter that field?” We are genuinely waiting for a response. The person replies that their parent did it, or they learned of it in school, or worked as an intern for a summer…whatever they respond. We walk away with, “Huh. How fascinating. Just learned something new.” We don’t respond, “Naw. You went into it for the money. You are lying to yourself.”

But ask an atheist why they are an atheist, and most times the person is so ready to respond to why the atheist is incorrect in her reply; they literally cannot wait for the poor person to stop talking. They will interrupt them before they are finished! “No, you are wrong!”

We ask questions as to what people do and why they do it all day long. Why go out with him? Why did you buy that particular TV? What’s with the new hair style? Why did you get so angry over something so mundane? Why did you do this, do that, go here, go there?

And we take people at their face. What they say. If they indicate they fell in love because of the other person’s smile, while we may not see it, do we argue with the person they are wrong?

But get into this field, and I have people everywhere almost giddy with the joy of informing me why I am an atheist, regardless of what I say. Yes, sirree!

They tell me it is because I am mad at the church. Well…I am not mad at a particular building. However, I must confess I was pretty upset with a particular person in the church. Weren’t we all? I was acting up in Sunday School class, and my teacher, to my complete and utter embarrassment, took me to my father to “rat me out!” See, my father was ALSO a teacher, so this meant interrupting HIS class, and taking me out in the hall and disrupting TWO classes. I was mad at my teacher for a whole week! My deconversion process can clearly be traced back to a certain fourth-grade teacher.

They tell me it is because I am mad at God. For what? I have a lovely wife, very healthy children, a good home…aha! My garage door just broke. THAT must be it. I am angry at the very creator of life because I must go out and spend a whooping $6.97 and 1/2 an hour fixing a hinge. Surely you can see how God dealt me so wrongly, and I am justified in my anger!

They tell me it is because I want to sin. He he he. Don’t they want to sin? Are they losing God, too? Is it some big secret that every human in existence wants to do something that a Christian calls “sin”? O.K. I will confess it. There are times I would like to…sin. (gasp!) I have fleeting (and some not-so fleeting) moments in which I would prefer to let loose on some internet opponent with a few well-chosen epitaphs, swear words, colorful metaphors, and apt (in my opinion) descriptions. That must be why I am an atheist. Because I wanted to justify having those reactions, while not engaging in performing them. (Most times.)

They tell me I had the wrong Christianity, the wrong Bible, the wrong beliefs, the wrong interpretation, the wrong teachers, the wrong association, the wrong prayers, the wrong faith, the wrong Jesus, the wrong hymns, pews and parking lots. I wonder sometimes how I ever managed to be a Christian for so long, doing it so wrong!

You want to know why an atheist is an atheist. Ask him. BUT (and this is the key part) that part of your brain that is already assured of the answer? You must turn it off. That part of your background which has ingrained in you a reason in stone? Ignore it. Pretend, for a moment, that you are asking why they became a dentist. Or wear those shoes. Pretend, for a moment, that you actually care about the response for what it is, not for why it is wrong.

See, people become atheists for as many and varied reasons as people do just about anything else. Yes, some do because of an emotional reaction. Some are born in atheist homes. Some because of study of science. Some for study of philosophy. Some by way of study of religion. Perhaps their own.

Some are convinced there is no god because of the various human creations of god(s), some by the troubling Problem of Suffering, some by Euthyphro.

Some are more defensive, some more offensive, some are ambivalent. Some don’t even stay atheists.

Look, if you are interested in informing me why your belief system mandates that I became an atheist—fine. Have at it. Don’t start off the conversation with a pleasant “Why did you become an atheist?” A more honest, “This is why you are an atheist. I know because this is what my God says.” We can draw swords and duel.

But if you are interested—really interested—it may take the hard, hard work of setting aside a prejudice and genuinely listening to the response. Listening with the prejudice that the person is actually telling the truth instead.

29 comments:

Anonymous said...

Dagoods,

Thank you. An overall lack of charity is absolutely killing our collective ability to converse. And the most basic components of conversational charity include, as you not, asking questions as appeals for information instead of as rhetorical salvos; and trusting that when a person answers your question, they are telling you the truth as best as they understand it.

I trust that whatever reasons you have for becoming an atheist, you understand those reasons much better that I do. So, if I really want to understand you, I must ask questions as questions instead of statements, and intentionally and non-judgmentally listen to and really hear your response.

Would that we could all converse like this.

paul said...

Dagoods,
This begs the question: Why did you become an atheist?

sandalstraps,
most recent funny bumper sticker I've seen: "Darwin loves you"

Eric said...

Paul: That depends: Are you really interested in the answer?

paul said...

Eric,
Yep. Dagoods is a best friend. It occurs to me that I never actually asked him that particular question but have relied on what I have read by him. I acutally am very interested and know it would be good for others to hear as well. He has a lot to say that is worth hearing in my opinion.
paul

DagoodS said...

Paul,

Because my life is wrapped around attempting to determine what really happened, when we know we do not have, nor ever will have all the facts. We only have a portion and must decide based upon that portion.

(One nice thing about this discussion as compared to the practice of law is that one can always change one’s mind upon new information. New information discovered after a trial is worthless.)

We review a set of facts as if another person is going to argue for the complete opposite proposition. If I say, “Black” they will certainly argue “White” or at least “non-Black.” I must have my ducks in row to convince a neutral party, based upon these facts, that it is more likely than not to be “Black” as compared to anything else.

I will most certainly NOT be preaching to the choir, and I will be facing an opponent that is equally convincing as to a completely different premise. I have to know the facts better than my opponent.

When I started to really read my “opponent/atheists” in this field, I realized quickly that I did NOT know my facts better than my opponent. After my religious background, I was embarrassingly na├»ve as to history, geology, evolution, writing, textual criticism, historical criticism, etc. I realized I had always viewed the “other” side through the Christian’s spectacles. I knew what scientists said because of what Strobel told me. (So you can understand the metaphor.)

Since I held the Bible to be truth, I gleefully dove into a study, since these atheists had to be misinformed or close-minded. Their prejudices must be affecting their study. Since it was truth.

It soon became apparent I have never applied my methodology of how I attempt to determine what happened in my life to the study of Christianity. Upon doing so (and getting over the complete shock) I was left with the undeniable conclusion that Christianity is not plausible.

Once my methodology was in place, I went looking for another God. Each one fell more quickly than the last. If you read my introduction to the blog, you will see how I apply such a methodology.

My mind could not hold onto the belief of a god with the evidence I have, any more than it could hold onto a belief in alien abductions. I am certainly open to being convinced upon learning new evidence. But it has to be convincing evidence! Not a “isn’t it possible?” Nor a “because we don’t know—there could be?” Something that affirmatively demonstrates, “Here is something supernatural.”

I am an atheist because “There is no god” satisfactorily answers every quandary better than there being one. Once a God is introduced, we only seem to introduce more problems attempting to sustain it.

Anonymous said...

Great post Dagoods - I think as people in general we come into convo's with pre-concieved notions of the 'other' and are only looking for that moment to pounce - and I think your clarity on the issue is quite refreshing - listen - easy, logical, and effective. I thank you for the post - it teaches about respecting the person for who they are and for what they say - both of which we (as people) put some stake in.

I am not an atheist but I do respect the work they put into logic - I also find their honesty refreshing. I guess if I ever wanna know I will ask the person about what they think on certain issues and I enjoy the convo - since it is beneficial for both sides involved.

My one question would be this, 'can people be born atheist? Are we all born atheist?' It has been something on my mind for a while.

John W. Loftus said...

societyvs,

Sure they can, just like they can be born Muslim, or Buddhist, or Catholic. The parents teach them.

If we want to isolate a child to see what he believes later on in life it would have to be an extreme isolation, since he would get all kinds of messages from the society he mingles with, and hence child abuse.

smellincoffee said...

Very much agreed -- theists generally want to convert atheists when they ask them "why?". It's usually a dishonest question; they're asking you for an answer so they can tell you why your answer is wrong. It's as absurd as a botanist asking a geologist why she's a geologist, and then interupting to tell her why she should've been a botanist, instead!

Anonymous said...

I see this false-question-as-a-wedge-to-attack strategy all the time. It really gets on my nerves. And it doesn't just apply to people attacking atheists. Why are you gay? Why are you bisexual? Why are you vote democrat? Why do you oppose x issue? Blah blah blah attack attack attack. Ugh.

Anonymous said...

"The parents teach them" (John)

My question is are people born as atheists? I am not sure about it - but I have wondered and I want the honest input - so I guess we become what we are taught? Is that accurate? I mean, I haven't studied babies (having none of my own) and maybe this answer comes later in life - but if teaching is the only way to know then I guess I agree - they are what they learn.

Anonymous said...

Interesting observation, though I prefer people to ask that question (even if it is a dishonest one) so that I have time to run if needed.

I have to say, however, that this sort of stuff goes both way - an atheist can aslo be guilty of asking that sort of question. If one changes the article to "Why is a Christian a Christian?", change the examples, etc., it will still works. It seems to me that is more of a problem of prejudice, which is something everyone have.

Anonymous said...

societyvs,

Unless you are a hardcore Rationalist, it is generally believed that we are born without any knowledge; therefore, when a baby is born, he has no idea what a god is. If one doesn't know what god is, I don't think he can either believe or disbelieve in god.

paul said...

Dagoods,
Thanks for your answer. I have read your blog intro, awhile back now, and am familiar with your method but was unsure if I knew the actual answer: "why?"

What I hear in your answer is what I would have suspected, gleening from what you have written in many places. But, it's best to simply ask sometimes rather than surmise, I need to do that more often rather than trust my people reading skills to much, it's a fault of mine.

You parallel your method of search for the truth with what you do in your profession. I would guess that one of the reasons you chose law as a way of life is because it is part of your make-up to want to know things beyond reasonable doubt. You have developed the skills to accomplish that. But, this all seems to go back to who you are essentially, and that is, someone who wants to know what really is versus simply arguing to win the day for the untenable. You note the advantage of being able to do this in this particular discussion over the practice of law, where you do indeed often look to simply win an argument.

And, really, therein you identify the problem. When we choose the static stance of adherence to an absolute over the dynamic approach of questioning, scrutiny, we naturally stop listening to others because we believe we've already heard.

Eric said...

Lok: So you propose that humans are born agnostic/unknowing as to the existence of a god or gods? They remain in that state until they are presented with some explanation (parent's word of mouth, as parents are the most trusted source of information at such a young age) or reason to believe or disbelieve in said concept, much like everything else. Makes perfect sense.

I think I am a little prejudiced: I often believe (and this is reinforced through the news, conversations with my dad's pastor [who, ironically, agrees with much of what I say]) that I have heard almost all of the arguments there are for the existence of God (most of them are circular [Bible/Quran - leads to - God/Allah - says in - Bible/Quran), and none of them are convincing at all.

On other matters but keeping the premise, I once met a Pulitzer Prize-winning author and discovered that he disagreed with Ayn Rand (one of my favorite authors). I asked him why purely because I was genuinely interested in his reply.

I think that in order to ask "why?" we need to set aside our ideological hang-ups. If we think that we have the answer to someone else's belief/disbelief in any given concept, then there is no need to ask the question. Let us not allow "why" to become as congenial, self-interested, and quarter-hearted as "how are you"?

Anonymous said...

I have to say at the outset that I appreciate this blog a tremendous amount and thank all who contribute. Its great to have a wealth of knowledge presented from various sides.

I would like to ask a question or comment on both atheism and Christianity and see what others have to say. Christianity as presented to me was the truth. When I asked questions, I was confronted with "justifications" and a great deal of bending or wishful thinking to justify whatever the issue was at the same time. So to sustain belief one must learn how to contort (at least that's what I think).

As far as atheism goes (to me), its a belief in no God and then continue to justify it through a process of plugging in whatever gap in logic or knowledge occurs along the way.

It just seems that if you choose any path (atheism or Christianity) that you end up having a lifetime of continually processing information along the way which helps to justify your position, whichever side of the fence you're on. (So that was my comment).

Now to the question:

Why isn't it simplistically clear as to whether there is a God or not?

DagoodS said...

SocietyVs,

When I said “born an atheist” I was thinking along the lines of what John W. Loftus is saying. One is born into a Christian family and naturally becomes Christian. A Mormon family; becomes Mormon. It is why the Aztec religion could perpetuate for generations.

You do raise an intriguing question. Here is one that still bakes my noodle. According to Steven Pinker in The Language Instinct we can introduce a child to a new word which they do not have the definition, yet they still can place it grammatically correctly in a sentence. How do children instinctively know grammar?

We are not born with a “clean-slate.” Even babies crave human touch and socialization. The question is how much is biological and how much is introduced by environment. I am not ready to embrace the “God Gene” theory—but it would not surprise me if, within our biological make-up is a propensity to believe in a higher being.

It certainly would explain the differing society’s development of god-belief, as well as the fact that the societies tend to develop gods that reflect that particular society’s view of the world. Of course if there really was a god, we would expect it could do better than just what humans conceive in their minds.




Lok,

I would agree that this is a human problem, not limited to theists. For me, personally, I equally abhor the non-theist claim that “theists are deluded.” That, too, is fraught with an uninformed prejudice.

However, there is one part of this that does bother me. As an atheist, (and former Christian) I can accept that another person believes there is a God. I am truly, absolutely, whole-heartedly, 100% convinced that they are truly, absolutely, whole-heartedly 100% convinced there is a God. They would deprive themselves, die and sadly kill based upon the depth of conviction.

My atheism does not require another person believes in a particular God, nor any God. Every person in the world could be a Christian, or an agnostic besides me, and I would still be an atheist.

For many Christians, this is not reciprocal. Their belief mandates that we are NOT convinced there is no God, but rather we are suppressing our actual belief there is a God. That we really know, deep down in the recesses of our mind, that God exists and we are denying that belief. How many of us have heard Romans 1:20-21 and Psalms 14:1? The question is not “How many of us?” but rather “How many times have each of us?”

Their belief requires that I actually believe in a God, but am a liar. I hate to be that harsh, but boiled down—there it is.

The difference that I see is this, subtle though it may be: In the question “Why are you a Christian?” in which the non-theist is prepared to pounce is disingenuous, and should be stated with more clarity, BUT, the non-theist is persuaded that the other person is really a Christian. Have we ever seen, in a serious discussion, the claim, “You really know there is no God, but are trying to be Christian because ________”?

The question “Why are you an atheist?” in which the theist is prepared to pounce is equally disingenuous, but will never even get off the ground, as the theist doesn’t even believe that the other could be such a thing as an atheist.

Again, you point is correct. As humans we are ALL prone, theist and non-theist alike, to shut our ears and ascribe motivations on others that prevents discussion, and reduces to a useless shouting match.




Paul,

You said it quite well. Yes, if the “why” was to my, personal physical make-up it would be that I hold to the reality of the situation as compared to what I wish was true.

One of the hardest things that clients have to hear is that they are going to Jail. They will do anything, ANYTHING, to avoid it. “I will go on probation for life,” “I will pay you more money,” “I will promise to never do it again,” I hear. I have had clients who went to other attorneys and paid exorbitant sums in the tens of thousands of dollars, simply because the other attorney promised them they would not go to jail.

Then they go to jail anyway, and sometimes call me up bemoaning how they were raped by an attorney that was more interested in being paid than presenting the reality of the situation to the client. (Yep. The reality of the practice of law is not always pretty.)

Part of the reason I have always slept well at night is that I am honest with clients. I treat them as I want to be treated. If I have a fatal cancer, I want the doctor to inform me. Don’t feed me some line of “possibly new treatments” or “too early to tell.” Let me know, and let me deal with it.

If the factors indicate a client will lose, or go to jail, I inform them. Many people appreciate that, others, if it is bad news, do not.

For me, the reality there is no after-life is simply the way it is. My desire for one does not make it any more or less possible. Eventually, I had to come to grips that my desire for there to be a god does not make one exist.

BB said...

Athesists are atheists because they have no faith - in anything. Atheists are usually of a scientfic mindset and cannot comprehend the idea of a Creator. Atheists will one day be believers.

Anonymous said...

Eric,

Yes, following from what I have said, this is probably what one would explain how people come to believe in a god. But, of course, this explanation will soon appear inadequate because it can't explain the origin of the idea of god. That is, if we can only know what god is by means of explanation, then how do first believer know what god is? Now a Christian would answer, "haha! you can't explain it! but we can - God revealed himself to Adam!" Well, I think this problem can be solved, but that's way off topic.

DagoodS,

Nicely said! it is very true. I agree that, for atheist, there is no requirement to presuppose why Christian believe what they do. (Some may have prejudices, but it is not because of being an atheist) But, for a Christian (a genuine one - one that truly believes the Bible is the word of God), have to pre-attruibute non-Christian with the qualities of "being foolish"(Psalm, I think), being a lair(as you pointed out), etc., because their God has already made the judgment that those are the reasons why atheists don't believe in God. The conclusion seems to be then a genuine Christian can never be truly honest when they ask "why don't you believe in God?" because by definition his God has already told him why. And since they believe God is all-good, all-powerful and all-knowing, his judgment must be right. This harmonizes with your suggestion too - to conduct a sensible conversation in this topic, they have to pretend.

BB,

You have made some interesting claims. I am interested to see why you think that way, but I am afraid that I cannot fully understand you since you haven't elaborated what you mean by what you say.

For example, you say "atheists are atheists because they have no faith - in anything." If we take faith in commonsensical term that it is a complete trust in something, then you surely do not mean that atheists do not have complete trust in anything because that is obviously wrong. For example, many atheists have complete trust in the basic mathematical system - they don't doubt that "1+1=2;" they have faith in 1+1=2. So are we talking about a different "atheist?" or different "faith"? I beg you to satisfy my curiosity.

Moreover, you say that they "cannot comprehend the idea of a Creator." I have always thought that by "Creator" one mean "the creator of the universe." I can comprehend the idea clearly without any problem. I think that if I can understand this concept, then atheists, many of which are extremely smart people, would not have problem comprehending it as well. Again, I suspect this is not what you mean - do you have a different concept of "Creator" in mind? or you have a very strict epistemological position that you have a specific meaning when you say one is "comprehending"?

Lastly, you made the prediction that "[a]theists will one day be believers." Interestingly, your previous statement, if taken literally, must be wrong; however, your last statement, if taken literally, must be right! Because all atheists will surely believe in something! For example, an atheist will believe that he is an atheist in some day in the future! This is truly amazing! Nonetheless, I feel that you may have a specific idea in mind - believer of what? and when is this "one day"? I plead you to elaborate so that we can all be benefited from your amazing claims.

Eric said...

Yes, of course. I meant that that happened after the belief in god became widespread (such as today). On the origin of the idea of God, I think we only need to look into the various reasons for belief, from emotional crutch/escapism to power and control (over one's circumstances, or over others).

Why did the Pharaohs of Egypt enforce the state religion? They believed that the Pharaoh wielded divine power (there were no professional military and motivation needed to come from somewhere). This same line of policy is seen throughout history, from the Japanese Emperor to the Ayatollahs and Imams to Popes and the Priests to the loose heirarchy/oligarchy of American evangelical/fundamentalist power-brokers.

Drunken Tune said...

In kindergarten, Jesus stole my rubber firefighter boots and dumped sand in my eyes. I was so angry with Jesus for acting like a total jerk, but there was nothing I could do - that is, until I realized that Jesus didn't have a daddy, since believing in an invisible being that lives in the sky is darn silly ... even for kindergarteners.

From then on, whenever Jesus tried to take my rubber firefighter boots or ruin my finger-painting, I'd remind him that he was a bastard.

Anonymous said...

Eric,

Yes, I was thinking along that line of reasoning, too; but then I ask myself: Can I honestly say this is a knock-down argument? I don't know - I suspect that Christians can come up with alternative explanations that are more or less equally plausible.

One possible objection to the proposal: Though we see that the idea of god is used by various cultures for various reasons such as coping with life/death, power and control. It does not prove that they originate that idea.

One possible alternative: A Christian can probably explain that God revealed himself to Adam and Eve; however, because human beings were banished from the Eden, the idea of god gradually faded and turned into something else. And people, being deceived by Satan, misused the (perverted)idea of god and were tempted to use this holy idea for evil deeds. In Bible, we do see gentiles worship the wrong gods or claim to be god, so the situation that people misuse the idea of god is consistent with the Bible and Christianity. Furthermore, a Christian may claim, this is why God picked Abraham, because he has the right idea of God and thus have the right faith. And later He sent his son Jesus in order to reveal himself again.

One possible objection to the one possible alternative: Well, then, but every religion claims that they have the right idea of God. How do you prove yours is the right one? Maybe Abraham had the right idea, but maybe Jesus did not.

Tommy said...

BB, you overlook the fact that many of us atheists at one time WERE BELIEVERS!

We came to the conclusion that our religious faith was not compatible with our reason and intellect.

And oh, we believe in lots of things. Being good parents, taking care of our parents, being good neighbors, caring about human rights, you know, trivial things like that.


I would ask you and any other true believer, if one leads an otherwise good and moral life, why would a supreme being care whether or not you believe that a man who may or may not have lived some 2,000 years ago really was born from a virgin, performed miracles, and rose from the dead? A rational deity, I should think, would give greater weight to a person's deeds than beliefs in judging people.

Eric said...

Well, if we say that no idea can exist before human beings, then we can say that man made God. Then my theory of escapism/power still stands.

One may quote from the Bible, but according to the History Channel, the Catholic heirarchy selected which books to be included in their canon, while excluding others (such as the Gnostic texts, a sect which they persecuted).

I have come to find that historical arguments do more damage than philosophical ones, which is why I focus more on events in history. History has continually and consistantly shown that belief in God is not at all associated with either Love (Xianity) or Peace (Islam).

Anonymous said...

Great post.

Anonymous said...

You're an Atheist because of your sin, period.

Eamon Knight said...

When I told my kids that I had become an atheist, my 16yo asked: "Why atheist?".

My answer: "Ran out of reasons not to be one".

JK said...

Wow. I've never seen such thoughtful/thought provoking comments! Awesome blog, even though you'll probably all burn in hell... just kidding.

ben110 said...

You have stated your stance upon the existence of God, I would just like to make a few points on the stance of atheism. To begin with, there is obviously no quick answer to your questions about the existence of God; so much time is needed to explain only a little bit of information proving the existence of God. I'll start off very basic. If there is no God, why live? What is purpose, what is truth, how does truth even exist? How does 2+2=4 just exist the way it does? When life gets tough, and everything seems hopeless, why not commit suicide? The brilliance which can be found in the accuracy in the creation of planet earth is evidence alone to the existence of God. The creation of the earth was supernatural in and of itself. For beyond the odds of 1 x 10 to the 26th power is mathematically impossible. In order for everything to exist the way it does today, and in order for earth to have even "happened", the odds would have had to be beyond 1 x 10 to the 56th power. Creation by Chance is literally proven impossible through the means of both reason and mathematics. Why is it that when one goes to Africa, he immediately finds that the people know there is a supernatural existence and there are higher beings? The blind see, the deaf hear, and the lame walk...literally. So because people do not see evidence of the supernatural, they claim that God does not exist...Like Gideon, they question God, asking Him if He is really there or not (Judges 6:13). If God is who He says He is, He is certainly not confined by the requests of mere human beings. Therefore, if a human states that God does not exist because He has not shown Himself to that human, he is basing his statement on the false premise that God is a snack machine. This belief manifests itself in people attempting to "pay" God with various means in order that God would do what they say to do. And do more questions truly arise from the statement that God exists? Most certainly not; one might ask an atheist, "How did the world come to be? Why? Why do people have fingerprints? Why do people have compassion and love, but also the capability to commit horrible evils? Who is Jesus (by the way Jesus existed historically, He was crucified, dead, and buried, and historians generally come to the conclusion because of the hundreds of level-minded civilians who witnessed Jesus walking around after death, that Jesus rose from the dead)? Why do people seem to want to cling to things? Why do people want to be loved? In the life of a Christian who knows how to reason, He realizes that God answers many questions to life, and the only questions which arise are ones that ask why God did what He did. That question holds much less weight than the question of, "what is our purpose on earth?" Logically humans need love, and they need each other. Humans have a desire to worship something. First of all, the humans mind is nothing like God's mind. If we had all the answers, there wouldn't be mystery, and people would not be drawn to God. If God is real, then He puts a new meaning to the word knowledge. For if we thought like God did, then we would be creating worlds and entire universes with galaxies inside with the words we speak. When you have almost 200,000 Christians being martyred for their faith in the LORD in a single year, a safe conclusion can be made that this God is worth taking another look into. For 200,000 human beings will not willingly suffer for the existence of aliens, unicorns, or some magic Jeanie. The interesting thing about God is that He wants nothing to do with power. You mentioned that you had no misunderstandings about the Bible, but yet you stated that the belief in God throughout history has been simply a power struggle between humans. In reality of the gospel, Jesus wants nothing to do with earthly power. And He teaches His disciples that. The number one requirement for the gaining of power in the world is to live. and not die. Yet Jesus teaches His disciples to die to the world; and Jesus' disciples could care less about remaining alive or not, that is why they would continually allow themselves to be tortured for the sake of the gospel. One of the greatest problems Christianity has today is that it's moved into a state of anti-intellectualism which has repelled many intellects from a relationship with God based on the premise of sheer reason. People must begin to realize that the existence of God can be proved through reasoning. And perfect belief in God was seen in the life of Jesus Christ historically, whom perfectly loved all. The very base of Christianity and the God of Christianity is love among many other characteristics. This is only .1% of all that I know about the existence of God. And all I know about the existence of God is only .00000000000000000000001% of all their is to prove that God exists

zilch said...

Lots of very big numbers there, Ben110. The trouble is, numbers alone don't prove anything: they must be meaningfully and correctly connected to facts in order to produce any valid results. And yours don't.

For instance, you say

In order for everything to exist the way it does today, and in order for earth to have even "happened", the odds would have had to be beyond 1 x 10 to the 56th power. Creation by Chance is literally proven impossible through the means of both reason and mathematics.

I don't know how someone would even go about assigning a number to the chance that the Earth would "happen", but that doesn't matter- we can accept your figures. But they don't mean a thing, because the chances of any particular thing happening, in retrospect, are very very small, barring a determinate Universe: if the Universe is determinate, the chances of any particular thing happening are always either one or zero. For example: what were the chances at the beginning of the Universe that I, zilch, would be writing precisely this post today? I don't know exactly, but I would guess something on the order of one gazillionth. So what? The chances that the Earth did "happen" are now one, the same as the chance that I am writing this post. This does not prove anything whatsoever about the existence or nonexistence of God or daisies.

And as far as all your other questions go: yes, some of these are hard questions, and some have no real answers. But positing a God answers none of these questions, and begs some new ones. I can answer one of your questions, anyway: why live? Because life is wonderful, and it's the only game in town.

cheers from autumnal Vienna, zilch