In most religions, gods are the source of all morality, meting out a set of divine laws that we mere mortals are supposed to follow if we do not wish to either be miserable here on Earth or in the afterlife. In reality, though, many horrors have been and continue to be perpetrated in the name of God or a specific religion or spiritual practice. And the behaviors of some gods, those of Ancient Greece and Rome, for instance, are downright criminal, running the gamut from deception and theft to kidnapping and murder. It's a question that has puzzled believers and non-believers alike throughout the ages: If God is truly good—or if "the gods" have humanity's best interests in mind—why does evil still exist in the world?
The absence of substantive action against evil would be consistent with the existence of evil, or at least indifferent, gods. This is certainly not impossible, but few people believe in such gods. Most claim that their gods are loving. But to atheists, the suffering on Earth makes their existence implausible.
All religions or other theist-based systems are predicated upon the concept of faith, defined as the belief in a concept that cannot otherwise be defended by logic, reason, evidence, or science. No concrete evidence is necessary to believe in God or gods. For instance, try standing in front of a speeding bus with nothing but "faith" to keep it from hitting you. Most religions assert that there is more to life than the matter we see around us. In addition, there is supposed to be some sort of spiritual or supernatural realm behind it all, and that our "true selves" are spiritual, not material.
All evidence, though, points to life being a purely natural phenomenon, and who we really are is material and dependent upon the workings of the brain. Perhaps the most basic reason for not believing in the absence of good reasons for doing so.
Just because a group of people isn't religious doesn't mean they still can't live moral lives. And just because they don't believe a "divine hand" lies behind all of life's actions doesn't mean they can't appreciate the intricate web of relationships that underlies life on Earth. Being religious does not guarantee happiness or success, and, in fact, might work against an individual in the long run.
Valiant for Truth
Leave your life in God's or the Fates' hands for too long, say atheists, and soon it's out of yours. Share Flipboard Email. I came to the most stark conclusion God did not actually exist. I held this belief for years, not expecting it to ever change. But then I met someone who caused me to become interested in the possibility of God. She was caring, kind, and very intelligent. It bothered me that someone that intelligent could believe in God. She talked about God like he was her closest friend. She was convinced he deeply loved her. I knew her life well. Any concern she would take to God, trusting him to work it out or care for her in some way.
She would tell me, quite candidly, that she was merely praying that God would act upon her concerns. For over a year, I regularly saw what seemed to be answers to her prayers. I watched her life through a myriad of circumstances, and her faith in God was unwavering. So, I wanted to believe in God on one hand, because I admired her life and her love for others.
But I couldn't believe in something against my intellect, against my better judgment. God did not exist. A nice idea, but that was all. Wanting something to be true, doesn't make it true. I tried something that I'm not sure many people do. Every few weeks, I would study a particular philosopher's take on life Nietzsche, Hume, Dostoevsky, Sartre, Plato, etc.
I was looking for the perfect, workable philosophy for life. I found over and over, that either their philosophies seemed lacking, or were too impractical to implement. But I kept searching. I was challenging my friend with every question that came to mind about God. I would find myself writing out questions late in the evening. This went on for well over a year. One day she handed me a book 1 that briefly answered questions like, is there a God; is Jesus God; what about the Bible. It presented facts. No comments like, "you have to believe.
I saw some evidence for God that was solidly logical. The parts particularly convincing to me were the chemical properties of water and the earth's position to the sun. It was all too perfectly designed, too perfectly put together. My faith in "nothing behind it all" seemed weaker than the possibility of God. I had fewer reasons to be certain of nothing, and more reasons to conclude that God might be there. I then encountered a situation that fully challenged my current philosophy on life. What I had been putting my faith in proved to be completely insufficient.
It shocked me to see that I was at a loss for an approach to life that was fully reliable.
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However, the situation resolved itself and I moved ahead. I have a pretty steady personality. Throughout my life, I never really felt "needy. No big gaps or struggles. And certainly nothing I felt guilty about. But the concept of God was something I couldn't get off my mind One night I was talking to my friend again, and she knew I had all the information I needed. She knew that I had run out of questions to ask. Yet I was still trying to debate. In one clear, abrupt moment, my friend turned to me and said, "You know, I can't make this decision for you, and God's not going to wait forever.
And I immediately knew she was right. I was playing around with a very important decision.
God Doesn’t Believe in Atheists
So I went home and decided that I was going to decide. I was going to either ask God to come into my life, or I was going to end the subject forever and never allow myself to consider the possibility of God again. I was tired of dealing with this decision. I was tired of thinking about it. So, for the next three or four hours, I reviewed everything I had read and observed.
I evaluated it all. I concluded that the evidence for God was so strong that it made more sense to believe in God than to believe he wasn't there. Then I had to act on that conclusion. I knew that just intellectually concluding God existed, was way too light. It would be like deciding Faith in an airplane means nothing. However, if you need to get somewhere and an airplane is the way, you have to decide to act and actually get on the plane.
After a few hours of thought I addressed God, "Ok you win. I ask you to come into my life, and you may do with it whatever you'd like. I went to bed and the next morning wondered if God was still there.
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And honestly, I kind of "sensed" that he was. One thing I knew for sure. I immediately had a huge desire to get to know this God whom I now believed in.
I wanted to read the Bible. When I did, it seemed that God was spelling out who he is and how he viewed this relationship with him. It was amazing. What really surprised me is how often he talked about his love. I hadn't expected that.
In my mind, I was simply acknowledging God's existence. I had no expectations of him, but as I read the Bible, he chose to communicate his love to me. That was a surprise. Now, my basic, skeptical nature was still there. The first few months or year, I would ask myself, "Am I really believing in God? And, why am I? So my "faith" in God did not rest on feelings, but on facts, on reasons. To me, it's like the foundation of a building.
It's like someone driving across the Golden Gate Bridge.
They can feel whatever they'd like about the bridge. In the same way, the objective reality of God--the logical, historical, scientific reasons to believe in his existence, are important to me. There are people who don't seem to need that. But I hate being fooled, and I have little regard for wishful thinking. The substantiating reasons for God's existence mattered to me.
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Since that time, now that I've been a Christian for a number of yearswhy do I now believe in God? What reasons do I have for continuing to believe in God? I'm not sure any of these are going to be believable to you. But I'll try to put that concern aside and be candid with you.
Previously my questions were about God's existence. After beginning a relationship with God, I saw additional evidence that God is real. Such as When I have questions, concerns, or would like insight on a matter, God speaks to me through the Bible.