Further Remarks

There are further objections to the existence of God, and to the Christian perspective in particular, that seem to shore up many of the atheistic conclusions among the laity. I am less certain of the prevalence of this thinking among academics, or people who consider themselves to have especially high stature in life. At the risk of being grossly misinterpreted on these matters, I nonetheless find myself compelled to summarily express my indifference towards these issues. At present I believe it is helpful, inasmuch as anything is helpful, for people to have an appropriate amount of diffidence injected into their lightly-examined views, and a strong amount of diffidence injected into their strongly-held views. As for strongly-held views that are presumed to apply to other human beings, these cannot be taken lightly at all; it is my belief that a person’s disposition is, at times, less significant than the reasons that underlie it.

There are variations on, and alternatives to, these objections that I consider very strong. However, it is not my intent to supply the reader with these.

There is no God, because I cannot see him. Humans invented God for psychological reasons.

I think logical positivism is awful. But even if you don’t, you should notice (as I am often inclined to point out) that you can’t see the vast majority of things you believe in. Even things that exist today (and could be seen by you) are believed primarily because you were told by a friend, or read about it on the Internet. Finally, people see a lot of things that you don’t believe in, such as ghosts, visions, UFOs, and so forth. To ridicule someone with the use of terms such as “sky daddy” or “imaginary friend” is really a testament to a lack of inquiry into one’s own existence. Belief in God (generically) arises naturally in human beings from the observation that the world exists, has no good explanation for existing, and contains human beings. Since the existence of all inanimate and living things is perceived only through a personal mind,  and since nobody else seems to have any idea what’s going on, it is natural for a person to posit that “somebody” (rather than some “thing”) does know what is going on, is the reason (for there must be a reason) and that this “somebody” will not be entirely alien to humans, since humans must derive their very essence from whoever, or whatever, is responsible for existence.

As for people having created God for “psychological reasons” (a statement that I have read on at least one blog), this is an extremely silly thing to say. The “psychological reasons for inventing God” are, by and large, still there, and they are unlikely to go away. We have invented scientific laws out of a psychological need for things to “make sense.” There is no evidence that laws actually exist, nor any reason why they should follow mathematical formulations (which themselves may or may not “exist”). Furthermore, the argument that God was necessary merely to explain certain natural phenomena is a terrible one. Would it not have been possible for the ancients to posit crude natural laws? Indeed, they did! We have answered all the questions that are in plain sight by raising thousands of questions that are hidden from plain sight. Why this should make any thinking person comfortable is completely beyond me.

I do not find it necessary to explain why God is “hiding” (or what he could possibly have been thinking) in order to believe that he exists, in much the same way that a man–waking up from an induced coma on a desert island–need not explain his belief in benevolent rescue parties, search planes, and so forth. Such a man may be interested in explaining his condition, but irrespective of his ability to do so, he must respond to it.

God would never let us suffer like this.

I have never understood this, nor have I heard it from the mouth of people who have genuinely suffered. On the contrary, I hear it from comfortable people who point their fingers at suffering people who happen to believe in God.

Suffering is a reason to hope that God exists. It is not necessary to know why it is happening. The fact remains that it is happening, and if there is a God, there may be at least some reason for it happening; it may at least get sorted.

God doesn’t seem to answer prayers

I do not have a problem with the idea that there exists a God who answers a handful of petitionary prayers in very strange and unexpected ways, and ignores all these requests for good weather on the wedding day, etc. Some people do claim to have had significant answered prayers; you can talk to them and see what you think. But just look at this world we’re in. The vast majority of people who believe in God are praying about things that absolutely do not, and cannot, matter. There is no reason to expect that prayer will slightly increase the luck or good fortune of a believing person during a finite life that eventually ends, and, in the case of a Christian conception of God, entails voluntary suffering and inconvenience. This is a terrible argument against the existence of God.

Religion is the opiate of the masses.

We tried communism, but it didn’t work, so many have switched back.

I do not have a problem with the idea that there exists a God who reveals himself to stupid, crippled, and disadvantaged people, and blinds all the well-dressed intelligent people. This is not a critique of the well-dressed, intelligent arguments for God’s non-existence, but a statement that it is an egregious error to presume that God, were he to exist, would be most evident to great minds and high society. Once again, this says nothing about the possibility that he does not exist, and that this fact is evident to great minds and high society. But I see no reason to expect a “top-down” God.

People believe in God because of death. This is a silly reason to believe in God.

No, it isn’t.

Belief in God wrecks some people’s lives.

Belief in God wrecks your life + no God exists = absolutely no ultimate consequence whatsoever.

If there is a God, he can’t be a mean one. There’s no way he would kill people. He wouldn’t ask us to die untimely deaths or give up our stuff.

I have absolutely no reservations about believing in a God who willingly ends people’s physical lives, or desires that people sacrifice all their material goods and well-being, since I find myself in a universe where everybody dies and everything physical disappears. This is the worst justification for disbelief in God that I have ever heard.

Hell.

This is actually a pretty good one… bar the fact that people have strong psychological motivations for explaining this away as their personal destination, but reviving it upon the death of some terrible individual. When Richard Dawkins can joke (one presumes) that he regrets that “there was no hell for those nuns to go to”those awful nuns who scared a young child with the idea of hell — it really does make one wonder.

To write off the existence of God because of the potential existence of hell is really quite a bad idea, if only because it would not be clear who goes there, it would not be clear what really happens to people who go there, it would be unlikely that they would be unclear as to why there were there, and there is not really a rosy alternative that is gained by disbelieving in God. Not to mention all the theological acrobatics that have gone into questioning the legitimacy of classical views of hell. In several more years, it will practically be a safe place to live.

The most apt rejoinder I have heard to Richard Dawkins’ “Hell-as-child-abuse” comment was a story about a girl who asked her father what happens when you die. Nothing, he told her. You’re worm food. This resulted in her having panic attacks into adulthood, and fear of having children lest they suffer the same distress.

Writing off a potentially just God may happen as a consequence of logic, reason, experience, and all those wonderful things, but certainly it should not–and cannot–happen in a quest for rosiness.

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