God & Atheism


God Defined

Faith

Sin

Our Purpose and Value

Strong Atheism vs. Weak Atheism

Omnipotence is Inherently Self-Contradictory

Omniscience is Absurd

The Problem of Evil

Natural Disasters


Religion + Women = Misogyny



God Defined

To avoid misunderstanding, we should first define the terms.  There are many definitions of God but I'll use the most popular one:

God: (noun) 1. The omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent creator and ruler of the universe and source of all moral authority.

I'm not going to re-hash the standard arguments against God. That has been done by others with far greater intellectual depth and eloquence than I'm capable of. If you're looking for something like that, please read "Atheism: The Case Against God" by George H. Smith or "The God Delusion" by Richard Dawkins.  Instead of presenting the classic rebuttals to theism, I'm going to talk about reasons for not believing in god(s) that are most convincing to me personally.


Faith

Since we're talking about God, I'm going to use the religious definition of "faith":

faith: (noun) 1. Belief that is not based on logical proof or physical evidence.

It would be wrong to liken faith to open-mindedness because open-mindedness is about being open to the possibility that something is true despite the lack of evidence. Faith is being certain that something is true despite the lack of evidence. Faith is believing something when you have no rational reason to believe it. Faith is believing something just because it makes you feel better. Faith is the sacrifice of truth for the sake of emotional comfort.

As an atheist, I am open-minded but I have absolutely no faith in anyone or anything. For me, having faith is like believing that 2+2=5. It's not that I don't want to believe, it's that I'm incapable of believing. I can't make myself believe that something is true when I know that it's false.  Similarly, I cannot have faith in anything because that would require me to believe that something is true without good evidence or logical proof. My brain is not wired to permit that.   

I've often wondered how people with faith decide what to have faith in and what not to have faith in.  Why do they have faith that Jesus rose from the dead but lack faith that human souls can be reincarnated in animals?  Both have no evidence, and both are supernatural.  Why believe one but not the other?  How do they decide what parts of the Bible actually happened as written and what parts are just legends and allegory?


Sin

I am 100% sin-free, I have never sinned in my life. Most Christians will frown on that and say something like "No one is sin free. We have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God!"  Well, I haven't. To see why, let's use the religious definition of "sin":

sin: (noun) 1. Deliberate disobedience to the known will of God.

Since God doesn't exist, there is no "will of God", which means it's impossible to sin. It's like defining sin as "Deliberate disobedience to the known will of Santa Claus" or "...the known will of the Wizard of Oz". Since God, Santa Claus, and the Wizard of Oz are fictional characters, it is nonsensical to speak of their will. Only a volitional consciousness that actually exists has a will.

This means Hitler, Stalin, Mao, Jack The Ripper, and all serial killers and child rapists on Earth are completely sin-free, just like the rest of us. But so what? The non-existence of sin in no way exonerates immoral acts. We don't need an imaginary magic man in the sky to tell us what is ethical and what isn't. We can use our morality for that.


Our Purpose and Value

We have no inherent purpose. We are just a series of natural electro-chemical reactions that have acquired consciousness and self-awareness. Asking what purpose we have is like asking what purpose a crater on the Moon has. The question incorrectly assumes that the crater was made by a volitional consciousness with a specific reason in mind. A crater has no purpose, nor is there a mind responsible for its creation. Similarly, life was not designed by any intelligent being(s) as far as we know. Therefore, much like rain, wind, volcanic eruptions, and other natural phenomena, life has no purpose.

We have no inherent value either. The term "inherent value" is a contradiction. Before something can have value, it must first be evaluated, but evaluated by whom? There must be some mind or consciousness that does this evaluating; it judges the worth or value of whatever is being evaluated. This means a being's or object's value is purely subjective. It's merely the opinion of whoever is talking about it.


Strong Atheism vs. Weak Atheism

Strong atheism is the explicit denial of the existence of God. A strong atheist claims to know with certainty that God does not exist.  Weak atheism is a lack of belief.  A weak atheist doesn't deny the existence of God, he simply does not accept other people's claims that a God exists.  To the question "Does God exist?" a weak atheist would answer "Not as far as I can tell. I have no good reason to believe that God exists but it's possible that he does exist."

To illustrate the difference between strong and weak atheism, consider the two statements: "All cars are made entirely out of vanilla ice cream" and "There is a coin in my closed hand." If you are sane, then you are a strong atheist on the question of whether your car is made out of ice cream. You know with 100% certainty that it is not.  You explicitly deny the claim that your car is made out of ice cream.  As far as me having a coin in my closed hand, you're a weak atheist.  I might have a coin but at the moment you have no good reason to believe so. You don't deny that I have a coin but you don't believe it either.  In every day speech you'd say "I don't know whether you have a coin" but technically it would be correct for you to say "I lack the belief that you have a coin in your hand." A lack of belief constitutes weak atheism.

 

Omnipotence is Inherently Self-Contradictory

Some questions to illustrate:

- Can God create a rock so heavy that he can't lift it? If yes, then he cannot lift the rock. If no, then he cannot create the rock. Either way, God fails. Most God believers will dismiss this example as an over-used, childish attempt at disproving God. I agree with them, except the attempt is a successful one. I think it's quite embarrassing for Christians that their God can be disproved with such an elementary question. However childish and tired the question might be, it makes the point that omnipotence is inherently self-contradictory and thus impossible. Just because an argument is simple and popular does not mean it is invalid. It's popular precisely because it so simply exposes the impossibility of omnipotence.

- Can God win a game of chess if he only has a bare king and I have all my pieces? The best God can hope for is a stalemate or a draw. It is impossible for God to win, therefore he cannot win, therefore he is not omnipotent. I would even be willing to give God a couple of pawns to make it theoretically possible for him to win. Despite being Master of the Universe and all, he would still lose to an amateur like me. Pathetic!

- Can God solve this algebra problem? X is an integer. Solve for X: 3>X>5. To the mathematically uninitiated, this means X is a number that is simultaneously less than 3 and greater than 5.  Can God find such a number? Or how about a simpler one: Can God find a number that is both odd and even? Can God find a prime number that is divisible by 10?  The Christian will object with "No one can find such numbers because such numbers don't exist!" and I agree. This doesn't change the fact that God cannot find those numbers. Therefore, he is not omnipotent.

- Can God commit suicide? 

- Can God make a time machine and give it to humans?  If yes, then a human can travel back in time to stop his own parents from meeting.  If his parents don't meet then he should not exist, yet he does exist.  This is essentially the plot of the movie Back to the Future (1985).


Omniscience is Absurd

Apparently God knows the precise position and velocity of every elementary particle in the cosmos. I wonder what Mr. Heisenberg would have to say about that. God also remembers where each of those particles was at every nanosecond of the past, going back billions of years. Wow, God must have quite a prodigious memory to remember the precise positions of 1080 particles for every instant of time since time began. Speaking of memory... apparently God knows all the digits of pi. That's very interesting, considering there are infinitely many digits which means it would take an infinite amount of time and energy to compute them and an infinite amount of matter and space to store them. God also knows all his future thoughts and decisions, which means his thoughts and decisions are already determined, which means God does not have free will.


The Problem of Evil

The existence of evil acts is one of the main reasons I don't believe in a caring, compassionate, loving God. Consider the following scenario: Jason, who is 14, is at a playground with his 7 year old brother Marty. Jason has a sadistic streak so he pins his brother to the ground and shoves his head in the sand. Jason laughs as Marty chokes on the sand and struggles. Then Jason twists Marty's arm backwards until Marty cries in pain. Jason twists it further until Marty's shoulder is dislocated. As he's doing this, the parents of other children approach and are shocked to learn that the boys' father is three feet away, watching the whole thing. "Why are you allowing this to happen?" the parents ask angrily. "Why aren't you stopping your son? He's torturing his younger brother!" The father answers: "Yes, I know... it breaks my heart to see Jason abuse Marty this way but I must not interfere because if I were to stop Jason, I'd be violating his free will."

That's the standard excuse Christians give for why God, despite being omnipotent, won't move a finger to stop violent crime and torture. Apparently God values the free will of serial killers and child rapists more than the well-being of children. Apparently God values the free will of Hitler, Stalin, Mao, Caligula, and Vlad the Impaler more than the millions of victims who've suffered excruciating torture and death at the hands of those dictators. So according to God, it's better to allow millions of innocent people to suffer and die than to interfere in the free will of a bloodthirsty, maniacal psychopath.  God certainly has interesting priorities.

In the Bible, we humans are said to be God's children.  Here's a tip for God: Good parents routinely interfere in the free will of their children.  In fact, that's one of the jobs of a father:  to stop his children from hurting themselves and each other.  Imagine a parent who catches his 7-year-old opening a bottle of Tylenol.  Oh look, pretty red pills!  Let's eat some.  In fact, let's eat the whole bottle.  If the parent is anything like God, he'll just sit back and watch his son pop one pill after the other.  The child will overdose on acetaminophen, suffer severe liver damage and eventually die.  God the parent will quietly watch all this happen and he won't do a thing about it out of respect for the child's free will. Yeah, great parenting skills there, God.


Natural Disasters

So God doesn't interfere with free will. Okay, then what about natural disasters like earthquakes? People are often trapped in earthquake debris until they die of dehydration, or sometimes they're burned to death in the fires that follow.  Children will lie for days in contorted positions with legs broken and arms mangled, the crushed corpses of their dead parents right next to them. Pain, misery, suffering, death, despair, and the stench of rotting flesh permeates a typical week-old severe earthquake zone. Is all that absolutely necessary? Was there no way to design an Earth without earthquakes? The all-knowing, all-wise, all-powerful God couldn't figure out a way to create an Earth without tectonic plates?  Apparently thousands of innocent people dying in earthquakes was part of God's plan for us from the very beginning, even before The Fall of Man.

And then there's flooding, hurricanes, tornadoes, tsunamis, volcanic eruptions, droughts, etc. Think of the thousands of innocent people who have suffered and died in natural disasters over the years. No way around that, eh? And what about pathogenic bacteria and viruses? Why did God create them? Do we really need HIV, Ebola, anthrax, and malaria?  What was the purpose of creating those pathogens?

Some Christians say that all this death and destruction is the result of man's sin, but then isn't it strange that diseases and natural disasters don't target the people who sin?  Children get paralyzing brain cancers, leukemia, and muscular dystrophy while murderous dictators live in good health and luxury for decades. Is this another one of God's all-wise plans for us?


Religion + Women = Misogyny

Since men are physically stronger than women, and since male rulers have been (and continue to be for the most part) a rather unenlightened bunch who rule by fear & force rather than reason, it comes as no surprise that historically men have been the dominant gender on the planet. And since men are in charge, is it any wonder that most religions are patriarchal religions that rush to blame women whenever a scapegoat is needed? Obviously any power figures in such a religion will be male and any screw-ups will be female. The highest power figure, God, will definitely be male. And the simple-minded fool that is easily tricked by a talking snake into disobeying God and is thus responsible for the downfall of all mankind? Yep, female.

In Islam, instead of blaming the male rapist, the female victim is blamed for "tempting" the rapist, even if she was just minding her own business. That's like blaming a gay person for being gay instead of the neo-Nazi member that bashes his head in with a baseball bat. I'm sure other laws in such a society will be equally brilliant.

Of all cultures & religions, the one where women are the least socially permitted to be sexually provocative is undoubtedly conservative Islam. Their sex appeal is so prohibited that women are perpetually forced to wear those dark head-to-toe body coverings called burqas, even when its 110 F in the shade. Apparently this is done to prevent any possibility of a feminine curve exciting a man's sexual appetite, who at that point will obviously have no choice but to rape the woman. Hey, here's an idea: Instead of forcing women to wear those hot, uncomfortable stupid burqas all the time, how about you tie the rapist to a tree and give his victim a whip or club? Then let her physically "communicate" to him how she feels about being raped. I'm quite certain the rape rate will fall.

One caveat: Please make certain the rape accusation is not a false one.

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