Why I Don't Believe 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.
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?”
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.
Do you believe in God?
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.
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.
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.
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?”
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