Originally written on: December 10, 2014
Someone I know asked me why I don't believe in God. This was my response:
in God is a very intricate web of beliefs that's often taught and
reinforced in childhood. Like billions of people, I was raised to
believe that there's a god who created everything, loves me, watches
everything I do, hears my thoughts, answers my
prayers, and sent his son to die for my sins. When I was around 15 I
learned more about the evangelical message of sin, repentance, and
salvation. I accepted Jesus as savior, was baptized, and became very
passionate about my beliefs. I even had thoughts of maybe being a pastor
or missionary one day because I was learning Spanish and respected the
pastors I'd met during that time.
I had doubts and questions that were never met with satisfying answers.
For example, a Muslim just like me who believed he was right and lived
according to the Qur'an would go to Hell if he died without accepting
Jesus. The concept of Hell and the notion that so many people would go
there didn't make sense if a loving god was behind it all.
least some kinds of Christians are taught that doubt or negative
thoughts toward the Bible are Satan trying to deceive them. There's the
fear of letting him in or going to Hell, so many believers seem very
uncomfortable questioning their beliefs or the Bible. I began to care
whether or not my beliefs are true and found the courage to question
everything. After all, if Christianity is true, then people of other
religions are supposed to know somehow that they're wrong and that
another specific set of beliefs is true. There are over 4,200 religious
views in the world, and many if not most people seem to have the same or
similar beliefs as their parents; no matter what's true, most people
die believing in the wrong thing. How can one truly search for the
ultimate truth without really considering the possibility that their own
beliefs could be wrong?
learning about the historical Jesus and how the Bible was written,
honestly seeking truth without telling anyone, and investigating other
points of view, over time I found less reason to believe and one day
realized that I no longer did. I had no answers to the big questions:
Why am I here? How am I here? What happens after death? It was
uncomfortable not knowing as well as not having the feeling that
everything's under control and that I'll spend eternal paradise with
loved ones. However, what is true mattered more to me than what I wanted
to be true. One of the questions I began to explore is one that I now
word as "Why doesn't God answer prayers or perform miracles that require
his existence?" He'll apparently help people find their car keys and
recover from a disease but not levitate a falling school bus or regrow
an amputee's limbs.
wasn't until later that I learned that there are evidence-based
explanations for many of these questions. I began to think critically
about everything and demand extraordinary evidence for extraordinary
claims without putting religion in a special box that can't be
questioned. I see mankind's history of inventing gods to explain the
unknown — gods that seem to predate Christianity and Judaism. I see the
patterns of one creation myth after another. People of one religion tend
to think all other religions are silly or absurd but have no problem
with things like a talking snake and donkey, a floating ark, weeds
existing because a dirt man and a rib woman ate a piece of fruit when
commanded not to, and so on.
also appalled at what some churches seem to do to create and reinforce
belief in God: target children as young as possible before they can
think on their own or question what they're told; instill a fear of
questioning or disbelief; orchestrate services that tug on the strings
of guilt, fear, and relief; undermine opposing views, especially
evolution, modern cosmology (not including Catholicism, since it accepts
both as far as I know), and sometimes even science as a whole;
influence politics and suggest political candidates; and encourage
asking not if the Bible is true but rather how it's true.
listened to many debates and actually listen to what both sides have to
say. I've heard multiple debates with William Lane Craig, who I admit
is a powerhouse and one of the best debaters I've ever listened to.
Other debates have included Ken Ham, Ray Comfort, C. S. Lewis, Frank
Turek, and other pastors, ministers, theologians, and apologists.
Sometimes they make very good points. I'll even admit that I would
prefer to exist in some way after death, even as a wandering ghost if
not in eternal paradise. Yet, I don't find the evidence presented
logically sound or convincing since it often boils down to a logical
fallacy called god of the gaps. I'm also aware of the psychology
involved such as the confirmation bias.
add that I'm skeptical about any extraordinary claims, not only
religious ones. I don't understand how scientists arrived at the
conclusion that the Big Bang started with the universe smaller than the
size of an atom, so even though I accept the Big Bang overall, that's
one detail I'm skeptical about and need to learn the reasoning behind. I
also want to know if I'm wrong and like being corrected.
have asked what it would take to convince me. One way of answering this
is that if God exists and is omniscient (all-knowing), he'll know what
it would take to convince me. If he's omnipotent (all-powerful), he'll
be able to do this without violating free will or instantly destroying
me. If he's benevolent, he'll carry this out. In other words, God would
know what it would take to convince me and could make it happen. This
wouldn't violate free will because I'd still have the choice to accept
or reject him.
for a specific answer, if I were to suddenly levitate and be surrounded
by Bibles open to John 3:16 or Romans 10:9, I'd have a pretty good
reason to strongly consider Christianity. What I don't consider evidence
for God are changes in the wind, personal testimony, the Bible or other
holy texts (since if there was no god, it was written purely by man, so
there should be evidence outside of it to prove or at least suggest
that there is a god so that there can be a word of God), or life events.