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Why i Am Skeptical About God

Why i Am Skeptical About God

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Published by: holyschmidt on Oct 18, 2011
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04/28/2012

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Why I am skeptical about God First of all, as with any claim, it is the burden of the one making the

claim to prove his claim. It does not make sense to say: “I can fly, prove me wrong”. It is up to the person making the claim to prove that he can fly. It has been said, “Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence”. Divinity is the most extraordinary claim there is. And yet there is no proof for it. There are many things that don't make sense to me. Not because I’m too stupid to understand them, or because I lack the capacity to understand them, but because they form a paradox, a contradiction that cannot be possible. In an attempt to describe my thoughts and reflections, I will go over some of the concepts that expose why I am skeptical.

In this first thought experiment, picture your future children. Would there be anything that your kids could do, including; murder, homosexuality, theft, rape, and not loving you, that would lead you to chain them in your basement, and continuously torture them in the worst possible way imaginable, for years and years? For me, there is nothing that my children could do to warrant that type of punishment. So how can anyone explain the concept of hell? Does this mean that we as humans are more moral than God? Because God promises hell to those who do not love him, do not accept him, or to those who commit sin. While this does not mean I do not think justice should be served, I believe that the punishment must fit the crime. I do not think that our mere thoughts should warrant such an extreme punishment. The tenth commandment states that we should not covet, or desire, what our neighbor has. So, the mere thought of something we want means that we have sinned, and we deserve hell. “And the angels will throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth”. (Matthew 13:42) To me, the extreme severity and infinite duration of the punishment is incompatible with justice. Should God exist, would it not be unreasonable to for him to give such flawed and ignorant creatures as ourselves the responsibility of our eternal destinies? This brings me into the problem of evil. God is said to be omnibenevolent (perfectly or infinitely good), omnipotent (unlimited power) and omniscient (the capacity to know everything). If he is all these things, how can there be evil? It all boils down to Gods ability and will. This is what Epicurus pondered: 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 why is there evil? Is he neither able nor willing? Then why call him God? Taking this thought further, we realize that among these three characteristics, only two are possible. (you can have 2, but not 3)    God is all-powerful. God is all-loving. There is evil in this world.

If you can agree that there are malevolent things in this world, it means that God could not have created a world without evil, or did not want to create a world without evil. Aren’t both valid reasons not to worship him? It might be said that “God works in mysterious ways”, and that God really is good, but humans’ sense of good is different than what God considers good. If this is true than we have diverging interests. Consider ants living in a human apartment: humans seem all-powerful, act in mysterious ways, and ultimately in a "good" way from a human perspective. However, he will consider exterminating the ants a good thing, it makes no sense for the ants to worship or collaborate with him in any way. Let us continue to the paradox of free will. Why is there free will? Is there free will because we don't have a choice? (we are on our own) Or is there free will because God says we do? (irony) Lets think about it: If there is an omnipotent God, there is no free will, because an omnipotent being cannot cede power. If there is an omniscient God, then there is no free will because God already knows everything you are going to do. For free will to exist, their needs to be uncertainty, as us humans could choose either way. To say that there is only one way we could have chosen eliminates free will.

Morality. It comes from God right? Well, maybe the bible? Where do we get it from? Morality, or our set of rights and wrongs, is a huge issue in which I never really thought about until now. In this thought experiment, lets pretend that a new leader was coming into power, and that he had 4 new laws that he was going to phase in. 1. Talking on a Friday  Execution (the leader was born on a Friday and did not speak, so he wants this respected in law) 2. The leader can kill & order killing for any reason 3. Any citizen forced by the leader to commit crimes through mind-altering drugs will be severely punished. 4. Parents who commit crimes will have their children killed, and if it’s not their first offence, they will be made to eat their children. These laws would no doubt spark outrage. Law 1 kills people for crimes with no victim. Law 2 makes the leader unaccountable by making his own killings lawful by definition. Laws 3 & 4 explicitly punish the blameless, contradict the principle of personal responsibility, with law 4 adding an obscene element designed to dehumanize. These are definitive cases of injustice. So if we were asked about our objections to these laws, we are not confined to say that it is not to our taste. We have nonarbitrary reasons to object. But back up a second. What if this leader has been in power all your life, and you were brought up to believe that they were morally perfect? We would say that such a leader wouldn't make laws that were unjust, and this would create a major cognitive dissonance. (a discomfort caused by holding conflicting ideas simultaneously). So how would we respond? Perhaps we would invent some context. Maybe we would say of course its right for someone who has done so much for our society to make some arbitrary demands. Or maybe we would evade the problem by saying that their concept of morality was so ahead of ours that we couldn't understand them. That they “worked in mysterious ways”. But we would be wrong. Clearly the root of the problem is the morally corrupting idea that the lawmaker is morally perfect. It corrupts because it causes us to accept unjust laws, leaving us defending the indefensible. If we remove the idea that the lawmaker is morally perfect, we can see the laws for what they really are. Unjust.

When we accept ideas uncritically, or make them sacred so we don't question

them, this can distort our moral reasoning, because we’re then prone to having mistaken ideas ruling our attitudes and behavior outside of our awareness. Those who swallowed the idea whole that the lawmaker is perfect cannot properly evaluate the law until the distorted idea is identified and removed. Identifying ideas that we’ve swallowed whole is sometimes the key to solving problems. Such as the idea that disagreement is disrespectful. If God exists, and we consider the traits attributed to him, we see that he could not be better placed to meet out fair, consistent justice. He knows our thoughts, knows who's guilty or innocent, and is perfectly moral. So unlike human justice administrators, he would have no excuse for punishing anyone but the guilty, or for punishing them disproportionately. But, according to the Bible, he permits, commits, and commands the vilest atrocities, corresponding directly to the previous 4 laws we just rejected. It orders killing for those who work on the Sabbath (Numbers 15:32-36), gay people (Leviticus 20:13), and women who show insufficient evidence of virginity on their wedding night (Deuteronomy 22:20-21). These verses call for death for a victimless sin such as we saw in law 1 above. He kills 70,000 people when David takes a census at Gods request (2 Samuel 24:1-15), and kills almost all land animals by flood for human wickedness (Genesis 6:5-7). This is unaccountable slaughter like we saw in law 2 above. He hardens the heart of pharaoh (Exodus 4:21 ; 7:3 ; 9:12) the Egyptians (Exodus 14:17), and the king of Heshbon (Deuteronomy 2:30). This is, put bluntly, entrapment by mind control to enable their defeat and destruction. He sends a delusion to make people believe a lie (2 Thessalonians 2:11) just so they can be condemned. And he deceives prophets into giving false messages, and then punishes them for doing so (Ezekiel 14:9). So here we see God mindcontrolling people, and then punishing them for it such as in law 3 above. He orders the killing of children for their father’s sins (Isaiah 14:21-22), the killing of Amalekite children and infants (1 Samuel 15:2-3), the killing of children, without pity (Ezekiel 9:5-6), and at least three books see God announcing one of the most depraved punishments we can imagine. Making people eat their own families. (Jeremiah 19:9, Deuteronomy 28:53, Ezekiel 5:10). This is the same as law 4 from above.

Some say that if God doesn't exist, than everything is permitted. When in reality, it seems that God has not only permitted, but endorses rape (Zechariah 14:12), slavery (Leviticus 25:46), killing of babies and children (Ezekiel 9-5-6 etc.),

familial cannibalism (Jeremiah 19:9 etc.), and mass murder (Exodus 12-29 etc.) It seems that God permits everything. When our judgment isn’t impaired by false teachings, we can plainly see the injustices here, as we did with the 4 laws above. But what if we were brought up to believe that God exists, and is morally perfect? How do we respond to these acts? Declare them just? But we know that punishing known innocents is quintessentially unjust. Do we concoct elaborate justifications for anything God did? That is a problem. If you justify the deliberate killing of children, what wont you justify? Maybe we would brush them under a carpet, claiming symbolism, and that they were not meant to be taken literally. But there is nothing in the Bible that makes it clear that Gods infanticides are purely symbolic. But even if they were, the idea of an omnibenevolent baby punisher makes no more sense as a symbol than as a literal being. We could say that these particular passages are beyond our understanding, but this is not only unconvincing, we condemn humans who act this way without hesitation. This is an irresponsible attitude towards morality and justice. But if we were told that God works in “mysterious ways”, but those ways utterly contradict our notions of moral behavior, then His nature is clearly not the source of our morality. If we say that God’s nature deems familial cannibalism a just punishment, but we call any human who devises the same punishment depraved, than these positions are in direct conflict, and invoking divine mystery does nothing to resolve that conflict. Responding to these atrocities with examples of mercy doesn't work either. It just shows that the Bible contains both mercy and atrocity. A perfectly just being would not punish known innocents; it wouldn't create problems, or violate the principle of personal responsibility by using mind-control to induce punishable behavior. It wouldn’t regulate abusive practices such as slavery, but condemn them. Nor would it punish disproportionately. Declaring something perfect, and then using that declaration to say that everything it does is perfect is not how valid reason works. When one argues the existence of a God that is perfect in its justice, love, and honesty, these are highly specific, and highly fragile claims. A being with these qualities can’t do just anything. Many behaviors will by definition lie outside of its possible repertoire. If it punishes innocents or makes use of deception (2 thess. 2:11-12), any claim to perfect virtue shatters. Perfection is an absolute, and when God uses deception, regardless of the reasons people put foreword for his behavior, the use of deception in and of itself destroys the claim that God is perfectly honest.

So people might still say that we borrow moral capital from Judeo-Christian tradition. Well, Judeo-Christian tradition borrowed from what came before it. It wasn't any religion that came up with prohibitions against murder, theft, and perjury. These practices promote peaceful coexistence, and were upheld long before the bible writers were born. But the insanity of the bible is that what it permits in one passage, it prohibits in another. The making of images or likenesses of anything from earth or heaven is both forbidden (Ex 20:4) and commanded (Ex 25:18-20). People are ordered to stone others to death (Deut 21:21), yet only those without sin are fit to cast the first stone (Jn 8:7) and we are told no one is without sin (Rom 3:23). We are told that good deeds must be shown (Mt 5:16) and not shown (Mt 6:1). It seems that much of the bibles appeal depends on its countless moral inconsistencies, which enable almost anyone to find passages that endorse their particular view. Some find passages to support their bigotry (gay sex is a sin. Lev 18:22), some to validate their thirst for blood (kill non-believers. 2 Chron 15:13). Others focus on passages that endorse peace and acceptance (seek peace. Ps 34:14, be a good neighbor. Php 2:4). But books that endorse all viewpoints, ultimately endorse none. People who point out the cruelties in the bible are often accused of cherry picking, when in reality they can acknowledge both kindness and cruelty in the bible, but it's the cruelties that should concern any decent person. It’s those who ignore the immoral content of the bible who are truly cherry picking. When we use our own moral sense of good and bad in the bible, it isn’t scripture that's guiding our morality, but our morality guiding our perception of scripture. A thorough reading of the bible yields two characters with significantly different kill counts; one of whom has two-hundred thousand times more kills than the other. That character would be god, with 2,038,344 kills compared to the lord of evil, Satan, with 10 kills. Morality is doing what is right regardless of what your told. Religion is doing what your told regardless of what is right. Sometimes, skeptical people are referred to as cold, and soulless. And that God exists because “of the way he makes me feel” or because “I feel him inside me” or “I feel his presence”. While this type of thinking might make sense, and even be obvious to those making the claim, this is a traditional example of the Appeal to emotion fallacy. Not to be misunderstood, being emotional is good. It is a good catalyst for action, and action is important. So while being emotional about something is good, Appealing to emotion is only fallacious when the person making the appeal is trying to do so in the place of evidence. Emotion is only evidence of emotion, and emotion cannot take the place of evidence. You can easily imagine something and feel moved by it. This is evident

in every single religion. If someone was to say that they know there is Jesus because they can feel his love, then why cant the muslims say they know there is Allah because they can feel his love, and they know Jesus isn’t God, because they feel his anger toward believing such? Why cant polytheists say they know there are many Gods because they can feel the influences of them all on their lives? Anyone can make this claim. Anyone can imagine emotion. Anyone can summon it. Consider the insane; the man in the mad house feels great fear of those invisible squirrels. Are there really invisible squirrels after him? If one makes the first example as an argument before, then by the same reasoning they would have to claim that there really are invisible squirrels, because the mad man truly feels fear of them. On to different subjects. When pondering supernatural events, such as miracles, I noticed that skeptics are often accused of not having an open mind. I perceive this as highly flawed thinking including an inaccurate understanding of open-mindedness. Being open minded is just willing to consider new ideas. Science promotes and thrives on open mindedness, because the advancement of our understanding about the reality in which we exist depends upon our willingness to consider new ideas. Scientific discovery often requires new ways of thinking. In fact, belief in supernatural things does not make you automatically open minded, but it can lead to being completely close-minded. Claiming supernatural events often is the result of jumping to a conclusion, and dismissing all alternatives. When labeling unexplained or unexplainable events supernatural, you will inevitably misinterpret evidence and make invalid causal connections; you will eliminate alternative explanations prematurely before it’s even clear which explanations might be appropriate. And this is the very definition of closemindedness. People who tell others to be more open minded about supernatural concepts often accompany this advice with one or more personal experiences they claim cannot be explained. This is another flawed approach. Even if your experience cannot be explained, that in no way strengthens the case for any supernatural concept. All it shows is that their experience cannot be explained. Trying to suggest that a lack of explanation is evidence for supernatural powers at work is actually a contradiction. What that person is actually saying is “I cannot explain something” therefore “I can explain it”. The unexplained is just that. Unexplained. Some say that requiring evidence before accepting claims makes you closeminded. This is actually a fallacy. Willingness to consider new ideas does not commit you to accept them unconditionally. Belief in supernatural or pseudoscientific things is anyone’s right and privilege. But rejecting counter-arguments and conflicting evidence without consideration,

while expecting others to unconditionally believe what you believe is not only close minded, but its controlling, arrogant, and presumptuous in the extreme. More importantly, when someone is making it seem unreasonable to want evidence before changing a belief, the mere fact that their claim requires a suspension of their critical faculties should suggest that its not the other person that needs to demand less evidence, but you that needs to demand more. While contemplating the origins of the universe, I began to wonder about real life things that were in direct conflict with the bible. Dinosaurs? Where are they in the bible? If the Earth really were 6,000 years old, there would be vast amounts of documentation, because humans would have walked with the dinosaurs. Yet there are no cave drawings, hieroglyphics, or anything at all that corroborates that. And what about the “Neanderthal?” There are many fossils of our primitive ancestors that don't sound anything like adam and eve. What about carbon dating? Potassium-argon dating? Uranium lead dating? Why do we just ignore and dismiss these measuring tools as faulty or inaccurate? All of them? Really? But in all my thoughts the one that gave me the enlightening “wow” moment was thinking about the stars. If we think about it, how can we see stars that are more than 6,000 light years away? Yet we see an innumerable amount of stars in the night sky. If we just look at the furthest ones in our very own Milky Way galaxy, (which are relatively close) those are 95,000 light years away. The furthest one we can see is approximately 25 billion light years away. So, how can we see these far away stars if the universe is only 6,000 years old? Did the light of the stars go faster than the speed of light? In order to believe in the bible, you have to ignore everything (and more) that was just mentioned.

So, as I conclude my considerations; In my thoughts, and in exploring different ideas, I discovered that the question “does god exist?” was completely irrelevant and here’s why:

There is no good answer. God cannot be proved, and God cannot be disproved. So, it seemed I was asking the wrong question. What I should have been asking is: “Is there a God who cares about me? One who hears me? A God who can answer my prayers?” This is a question that can in fact be answered. If what the bible says is true, than god listens to prayers, hears you, and cares for you deeply and personally.

This is important because if God cannot hear you, what’s the point of prayer? If God can’t answer you, he is not all-powerful. If God hears you and is able to answer but doesn't, he must not care, or have a reason. Since there is no such thing as the answer “No, I don't exist, stop worshipping me!” we have to work with the “non-answer” instead. So lets say I didn't get an answer to my prayer, this leads to the following possibilities: P1: God didn't hear you P2: God heard you but was unable to answer P3: God heard you but intentionally didn't answer We can draw the following conclusions from the possibilities above, C1: God is deaf, which means we’ve been lied to. A deaf God isn't worth praying to. C2: A God who isn’t all-powerful is not the God we’ve been reading about, which means we’ve been lied to. C3: The reason for not getting an answer could be: he doesn't want you to know he’s “home” or he doesn't exist at all, which means we’ve been lied to. -C1: Is easy: give up trying to talk to a deaf entity. There is no point. He won’t hear you. -C2: is just as easy to process. If we’ve been lied to from the very beginning of the bible, then what else could be wrong with our picture of god? -C3: is the hardest to accept. But think about it seriously: If you want the person at the door knocking to leave you alone, you don't answer the door, problem solved, person goes away. or consider the alternative, you are not at home. You are at work, or dead. To the person knocking at the door, it doesn't matter; he will never know the difference. To me personally, the most intriguing possibility is that maybe god is home, but doesn't answer. In that case you’re on your own. Maybe god didn't hear the question, which means you’re on your own. And if god really doesn't exist, well, then you’re on your own. HOW I DID IT: So here is what I did, I figured, in order to get a meaningful answer, I needed to ask a meaningful question. The question was: “Is there a God who cares about me? One who hears me? A God who can answer my prayers?”

These questions lead me to do the following. I put an empty glass on the kitchen counter, went to bed, and asked god my question: “Please tell me you exist and care about me. Answer my question with a small miracle. Please fill the glass with blue water.” Yeah, it sounds silly. But the question is both simple enough that it would be a small miracle to ask for, yet specific enough to see that it is clearly a miracle. It wasn't like asking for a rainbow or a $1000 check. So here is what happened: Nothing. The next night I did the same thing. Next morning, same answer. I did it again and again and again. For about two weeks straight. It is important to know that I was willing to accept any answer. If, during the night a leak formed above the kitchen and dripped blue toilet water into the glass, or if my dad grabbed it and tossed it in the sink and filled it with water, and when I went to go look at it the light reflecting from the outside window reflected onto the glass which made the water looked bluish, I would have been forced to accept that as the miracle I asked for. But nothing happened.

What concerns me the greatest is when people who do feel a presence with them, that presence is different for every person and tells different things to different people. Its as if god is either incoherent, or different for every person. What disturbs me the most is that the latter hypothesis is indistinguishable from an imaginary friend.

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