Why I Don't Believe in God

Updated on November 11, 2017
TessSchlesinger profile image

An interest in God and religion dominated Tessa Schlesinger's life for half a century. A decade ago she walked away to become an atheist.

Me, New Year 2017. Still not believing in God...
Me, New Year 2017. Still not believing in God...

Does God Exist?

There’s a great similarity between the methods used by detectives and those used by scientists in order to establish the truth of a thing. Each of them needs to establish the facts, and each of them has a pile of information and clues but don’t know what is relevant and what is inaccurate. So they painfully sort through that information until they reach the point that Sherlock Holmes elucidated so eloquently in his immortal words “When you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.”

I am often asked why I don’t believe in God, so using the above method, I want to set out my personal evidence for why I conclude that there is no personal God.

"The problem with religion, because it has been sheltered from criticism, is that it allows people to believe what only idiots and lunatics would believe in isolation.
"The problem with religion, because it has been sheltered from criticism, is that it allows people to believe what only idiots and lunatics would believe in isolation. | Source

Cause and Effect

When a patient gets ill, he visits the doctor. The doctor will then dispense antibiotics, and the patient will take them. A few days later, the patient will have recovered, and all will be well.

The patient, however, explains this process of healing as one that was in answer to prayer. When it is pointed out that it was actually the medication, a result of scientific study, that brought about the cure, the response would be, “But God instructed the doctor what to do.”

So the question then becomes, “Did God influence or not influence the doctor to provide those particular pills?”

Using the detective method, one sets a trap for the crook to see what will happen. Using the scientific method, one will devise a series of experiments to see what will happen.

The detective tells the doctor to take the day off, and he takes on the role of doctor. When the patient arrives, the detective, now wearing the white coat of the doctor, asks the patient if he has prayed for healing. The patient says yes.

The ‘doctor’ says, “Good, because I want to be sure that I have the guidance of God when prescribing you the correct medication.”

He gives the patient a placebo, and two days later, the patient dies because his illness was left untreated.

So, clearly, the prayers of the patient either did not work, or God felt the time was right to call the patient ‘home,’ or God didn’t care, or there is no God.

The scientist does a similar experiment. In his guise as doctor, he prescribes a placebo (a sugar pill), a tablet that causes diarrhea, and some cyanide. When the patient fulfills the prescription at the pharmacist, he is handed a bottle containing all three tablets. Before the phamacist hands the container to the patient, he asks “Did you pray that you would get the right medication?”

The patient says he did, goes home, takes the cyanide tablet, and is dead by morning.

So the scientist reaches the conclusion that either the patient didn’t pray to God, or God didn’t answer, or God purposely let the patient chose the cyanide pill, or there is no God.

Many Different Explanations

The point of the above story is that there are always many different explanations for any one event, and the hypocrisy of people who insist that God answered their prayers is that they omit the real reasons.

If they were cured of an illness, they say it must be God. They omit that their healing took place as a result of scientific enquiry.

If they found a job, they omit the fact that they went to see a employment consultant, had the relevant qualification and experience, and were therefore selected for the position.

If a child had been kidnapped, they think God guided the hands of the police who eventually returned the child safely to their parents.

So, at its heart, I don’t believe in God because when I have eliminated the improbable, whatever has remained, however impossible, is that there was no answer to prayer.

Why Prayer Isn't Answered

Epicurus - The Greek Philosopher

Of course, for as long as man has existed, he has wanted to believe in a God. And so he has either imagined him or created him, or there really is a God, and while God was willing to provide absolute proof in ancient times, he has declined to do so in modern times.

For equally long, there have been those who have said, “But there is no God.”

Epicurus, the Greek philosopher who lived between 341 BC and 270 BC, dealt with the conundrum very ably. I quote his words below.

Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then he is not omnipotent.

Is he able, but not willing? Then he is malevolent.

Is he both able and willing? Then whence cometh evil?

Is he neither able nor willing? Then why call him God?”

"When I got untethered from religion, it wasn't a loss of faith for me, it was a discovery of self."
"When I got untethered from religion, it wasn't a loss of faith for me, it was a discovery of self." | Source

Said Thomas Edison

I have never seen the slightest scientific evidence, proof of the ideas of heaven and hell, of future life for individuals, or of a personal God.

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The Role of Community

One of the common methodologies of reaching out to ‘unbelievers’ in fundamentalist Christian communities is to ‘witness’ how they came to God. The stories invariably involve some great loss, some bad habit, some despair, and then they turned to Jesus, and instantly everything was well.

Lies!

Every single word of it!

And if not lies, then the wrong explanation.

A great many problems are solved by the community, especially when it is a helpful community.

So many explanations are simply that the proselyte now had access to solutions that he never had prior access to. For example, if the person had been a loner previously, and now he was part of a 10,000 strong community, he had 10,000 more possibilities of solving his issues. So the proselyte might have been desperately looking for a job but was unable to find one. The pastor then asked the congregation if anyone knew of a vacancy, and twenty five people in the congregation said they did. In no time at all, the Christian newbie had a new job.

He credits God.

However, the statistical probability is that it had nothing to do with God – just the community looking after its own.

This is why, in socialist countries like Denmark, Israel, Germany, Australia, and the UK, there are such a high number of atheists, agnostics, and ‘nones.’ When the State provides for emergencies’, then there is no need for an imaginary friend in the sky.

People only turn to God when they can’t solve their problems, or when they are miserable, or when they have some sort of loss.

A functioning, compassionate community solves a lot of problems in the daily grind of life.

Indoctrination

Edward Bernays was Freud’s nephew. At the end of the Great Depression, many businessmen wanted to know how to prevent a recurrence of massive business bankruptcy. Bernays said he had the answer. He explained that the human brain believed everything it heard repeatedly – that it didn’t matter whether it was right or wrong. So if business repeatedly told potential customers that they had to buy something (advertising), they would comply.

It worked beautifully. The world has been in a state of over-production since the 60s. Consumers spend billions on items they neither want nor desire. Barns and garages are packed with goods acquired for a moment of instant gratification and dumped weeks later.

People are indoctrinated into believing in God. That is why it is dependent on which country you are born into as to which God you believe in.

That is why religious instituations insist that you attend their services every week. You will need the constant indoctrination to keep believing. If there is no constant indoctrination, after a decade or so of exposure to non-beliefs, you will begin to grasp the insanity of believing in something that clearly doesn't exist.

It is incredibly difficult to break out of indoctrination, and sometimes one has to go through heavily traumatic experiences in order for that indoctrination to be removed. Other times, just the constant exposure to an opposite idea will break the indoctrination. So it’s not unusual for believers to relocate to a secular country, and ten years after arriving, they no longer believe in God.

Steve Wozniak, co-founder of Apple, said "I am also atheist or agnostic (I don't even know the difference). I've never been to church and I prefer to think for myself.
Steve Wozniak, co-founder of Apple, said "I am also atheist or agnostic (I don't even know the difference). I've never been to church and I prefer to think for myself. | Source

Why I Don't Believe in God

I am autistic. I might be high-functioning, but I am still autistic. Aspergers Syndrome, to be precise. I have a learning disability as well – Auditory Processing Disorder - which means I totally suck at verbal conversation. It also means that I did not learn the normal social cues (and a great many other things that other people my age learnt with ease) when I was growing up. At 42 years of age, I had the social understanding of a five year old. At 45 years old, I realized people lied. At 46 years old, I realized that men asked me out because they were interested in me. I thought they were asking me out because they were being polite and didn’t want me to sit at home alone.

The interesting thing about autism is how cruel people are when they can get away with it. And this includes the Christian community.

The gossip level and the basic nastiness was something I had never experienced before in all the secular communities I had been part of. I didn’t receive any help from anyone. And God most certainly didn’t answer my prayers.

The bottom line for me is this. If God isn't prepared to answer prayers in a very concrete way, i.e (Hey, God, I don't have a job or I don't have money to pay the rent), then s/he is less than useless to me. I see absolutely no reason whatsoever to have a God in my life who is unwilling or incapable of answering emergency prayer.

In any event, I must have prayed for something like 25 or 30 years. Not one single prayer was ever answered.

You see, if people don’t like you, they don’t help you. And the Christian community didn’t like me. I didn’t know, at the time, that I was autistic, and despite all their ‘words of knowledge’ and ‘holy spirit’ and ‘righteousness,’ they certainly didn’t know that I was autistic either. So they put down my ‘rudeness’ to being ‘evil,’ ‘sinful,’ and all sorts of other things. The bottom line is that if God was in the business of answering prayers, then my prayers should have been answered in spite of the Christian community not helping me.

By eliminating the Christian community as a source of help, it meant that I could only rely on God to answer prayer. However, there were no miracles in my life, no sudden solutions, and no help in any way whatsoever. Quite the opposite, in fact. So, by the time I left the Christian community, I had developed Post Traumatic Stress Disorder from all the nastiness and malice from those who professed themselves Christians.

It took me 25 years to eradicate that from my life.

By the time I was 55 years old, I did not have one ounce of belief in God.

The simple truth was summed up so aptly by Epicurus. And I repeat it, because it is worth repeating over and over again, “Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then he is not omnipotent. Is he able, but not willing? Then he is malevolent. If he both able and willing? Then whence cometh evil? Is he neither able nor willing? Then why call him God?”

Isaac Asimov was an American writer and professor of biochemistry at Boston University. He was named the Humanist of the Year in 1984 and was a close friend of Gene Roddenberry, creator of Star Trek.
Isaac Asimov was an American writer and professor of biochemistry at Boston University. He was named the Humanist of the Year in 1984 and was a close friend of Gene Roddenberry, creator of Star Trek.

Becoming an Atheist

Somewhere around my mid-50s, I gave up every bit of the theist, mystic, supernatural, and/or law of attraction belief system I had previously endorsed and believed.

And that’s when it all started pulling together. Life finally made sense. Atheists made sense. They were the most helpful, informed people I had ever met in my life.

Ignorance is not bliss.

Knowledge is empowering.

Learning how to help myself. Getting diagnosed. Finding the right experts to help me resolve problems. It all made a difference.

For the first time in my life, I had a community, and community is the single most powerful solution to all problems in this world.

Yes, certainly, there are things that one must accept. The chances of an after-life are not high. Death is death, and there is nothing that can be done about it. I accept that I will never again see friends and family who have passed before me. I accept that when I leave this world, I will not rise again.

There is a certain courage required to accept reality, but I have never lacked courage.

So, there are you are.

I don’t believe in God because God has never answered a single prayer. Those that tell me he has are simply misinterpreting the facts.

© 2017 Tessa Schlesinger

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    • TessSchlesinger profile image
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      Tessa Schlesinger 4 weeks ago from South Africa

      Hi Kari, I like the Chinese Qi concept that there is a life force that infiltrates us all. It is not a God, however, and it does not answer prayer or in any way have a fatherly relationship with us.

      Nope. Quantum scientists are not even remotely beginning to prove our connectivity. In fact, quantum scientists get rather irritated when religious people start twisting their research.

      The misunderstanding comes from a book written some 20 or 30 years ago when a religious author gave a very loose interpretation of how he saw Quantum Science. Since then, many Christian authors have taken their cue from him without having the faintest idea what quantum science is really saying.

    • k@ri profile image

      Kari Poulsen 4 weeks ago from Ohio

      Hi Tessa. This is a very interesting article for me because I do believe in God. But I do not believe God is some guy in the sky. I believe He is more like energy. Energy that connects us all, and connects us with our world and even the universe. I also believe God is a god of many names. I do not think that there are several different gods. I think that there are several different ways of interpreting God. I have believed in God since I was about 7. However, I do not go to church. I so understand the PTSD you developed from going to church. I developed it after our pastor told me what an awful person I was and how my parents did not deserve to have a daughter like me. Can I ask, do you believe in the interconnectedness of us all? I really think quantum science is starting to prove this and soon we will know for a fact that we are.

    • cheaptrick profile image

      cheaptrick 4 weeks ago from the bridge of sighs

      Hi guys...I've pounded my head against the religionist argument for many years and I've come to realize one primary point...You Cant Convince Them of Anything through logic and reason;they just don't comprehend either.Arguing the existence of God with them is a waste of your time and energy...I heard Ricky Gervaise say"I wonder how things would be if it were not aloud to introduce God and religion to people until they were 20 years old"...I suspect we'd see very few religious fanatics running around...

    • Paladin_ profile image

      Paladin_ 4 weeks ago from Michigan, USA

      Good to hear some new material from a fellow atheist, Tessa!

      You cover a lot of ground here, and have hit some very relevant points -- especially your comments about indoctrination. Without indoctrination of the young and constant reinforcement in the old, religion would largely die out in a couple of generations. It's the ONLY thing that sustains the ludicrous and insane notions of religion, as Sam Harris so eloquently observed in your quote.

      Normally, I would be using this comment to rebut some of Oz's more outlandish points. But since you won't allow him to post any more comments, obviously that wouldn't be ethical. In any case, I believe you've responded quite well yourself.

      To my subscribers -- hopefully, I'll be posting more of my own hubs soon. I'm closing in on finishing an historical piece, then will return to this topic, which is most near and dear to my heart.

    • TessSchlesinger profile image
      Author

      Tessa Schlesinger 4 weeks ago from South Africa

      Oztinato:

      Let’s go through your responses one by one.

      I am alive for the following reasons.

      1. My IQ has been variously measured at between 165 (66 points higher than the average IQ in the United States of America) and off-the-graph. I, therefore, despite being autistic, had sufficient brains to survive.

      2. I was considered a very beautiful woman, and as we all know beauty opens doors.

      3. I have excellent genes. The photo of at the top was taken when I was 65 years old. I think it’s safe to say that 95% of 65 year old women do not look like that.

      4. I grew up in a fairly prosperous family so I attended an excellent private school.

      5. I have guts, courage, and am able to get up no matter how many times I fall down.

      None of this ability to survive has anything to do with God. It had a lot to do with my DNA and my birth parents.

      You have no idea what I prayed for and are making presumptions. You are also rationalizing because you have to find a reason why God did not answer my prayers. However, the New Testament is pretty clear that God will answer our prayers. “What father among you, if his son asks for a fish, will instead of a fish give him a serpent”

      That said, I asked simply that I would know what was wrong with me and that I would do God’s will. I never prayed for wealth. It didn’t even occur to me to pray for wealth. I never grew up in a world that worshipped wealth. Nor did the ‘prosperity cult’ exist in South Africa at that time. In fact, the country was Calvinist which meant it was a very, very old fashioned form of Christianity.

      With regard to religion, my knowledge of the Christian bible and comparative religion was such that when I had finished converting to Judaism, I was elected to the committee of the leading synagogue in South Africa. I was highly regarded for my knowledge. I have read the Koran, studied Hinduism, spiritualism, and many other forms of religion. I am highly, highly informed about it. At one point, I read the bible for 3 hours each day. Then I spent another three hours in prayer. I could place any verse in the bible within a chapter of where it was. Some I could just give you the chapter of verse.

      You say “It appears you were brought up in a narrow band of materialistic Christianity that recently evolved in western culture where prayer becomes a magic lamp for wishes.”

      Really? Let me see, because I say there is no God, it must be the result of ignorance?

      Wow!

      Again, I went to an Anglican Church school where real Christianity was taught. We were to put ourselves last (I did until 10 years ago). I turned the other cheek and got trampled by everybody. I tithed 20% not 10%. I gave away 50% of my salary and lived in poverty because it says that if we owned two fields, then we were to give the other field away. Did you know that New Testament teaches communism?

      “Cultural genocide?” Do you even know what culture is?

      Your understanding of atheism is a result of indoctrination. You don’t know any better.

      “Eugenics and atheism have gone hand in hand since the ancient Greeks.”

      Wow! Hitler was a Christian. Did you know that? Do you have any idea of the slaughter, the torture, the slavery, the murders that have been done in the name of Christianity? No, I didn’t think so. Get an education.

      Oztinato, with respect, as a good Christian, you will allow others to have a voice now. I will allow one comment from every Christian that wants to debate this. You have had your turn now. Any other future comments from you will be deleted.

    • Oztinato profile image

      Oztinato 4 weeks ago from Australia

      Trying to "get what we want" from prayer is a misconception. God is not a genie in lamp or Santa Claus.

      Wishes or wants or desires etc are blamed by Buddhist philosophy for all our problems.

      You may be surprised to learn that nearly all atheists accept Buddhism. Often this is due to the misunderstanding that Buddhism is not a religion. Of course it is and yes they have gods etc.

      Classical Buddhism believes in praying for an end to desires. The desire to end all desire!

      Likewise classical Hinduism.

      Likewise classical Islam.

      Ditto for Taoism etc.

      It appears you were brought up in a narrow band of materialistic Christianity that recently evolved in western culture where prayer becomes a magic lamp for wishes.

      Other hubs, amongst other things, deal with the sad fact that new atheism can result in cultural genocide.

      Sadly the peak of new atheism recently promoted the infanticide of faulty or unwanted children up to age one and beyond. Only stringent opposition by religious groups stopped this appalling trend.

      The new atheist trend was trying to end the lives of faulty and also plain unwanted actual children.

      There is no doubt that autistic children would have been endangered by this bizarre atheist trend.

      Perhaps a prayer you never uttered was answered for you by a God like force in people known as compassion. In other words you are alive and so are countless other autistic people due to "God" and not due to atheism.

      Eugenics and atheism have gone hand in hand since the ancient Greeks.

    • AshutoshJoshi06 profile image

      Ashutosh Joshi 4 weeks ago from New Delhi, India

      Although the numbers are dwindling but its always a pleasure to come across such well-articulated hub.

      Let there be light... Cheers!!

    • poppyr profile image

      Poppy 4 weeks ago from Tokyo, Japan

      I believe religion was created by those in power to control the masses. Ingenious, really - they've created a system that cannot be criticised, and in some extreme cases, people are harmed or even killed for trying to leave. Very good article.

    • Turfa Aziz profile image

      Turfa Aziz 4 weeks ago from Karachi

      Ma'am your work is incredible