I Do Not Believe in God(s) - Why do you?

in writing •  2 years ago 

This is going to be a difficult one for me, which is the point exactly. For our last @dolphinschool assignment, we are supposed to tell a story that costs us something, and the sad reality is, there are some people who will not even have read this far.

There are those who might read that title and immediately unfollow me.

I contentedly accept that cost though, for it is a small price to pay for having the rest of you with me as I open my heart to you. A small price to pay, too, because this post will open the way for me to write about one of my favourite things: My(Our) existence, and trying to understand the very nature of reality itself.

Let me begin by saying that your having a belief does not make me value your thoughts any less, as is the case with so many atheists. Indeed, I often hesitate to call myself atheist exactly because of the stigma. Many atheists are assholes but I assure you, I am not. At least not most of the time ;P

So please, please, comment after this and share with me your thoughts. One of my few convictions in life is that it is beneficial for us as humanity to share with each other our experiences. We all grow and mature as a result, mentally and emotionally.

I grew up in a Christian household. But from a young age, I questioned things. Things happened that made me doubt, and things happened that made me fervently believe. But at the age of 16, more or less, I had an epiphany of sorts which separated me from Christianity ever since. I explored other "spiritual" paths after that, calling myself agnostic, but I knew for sure that the Christian creed (and other major religions), at the very best, were crutches for people who needed to live life in peace, without having to deal with trying to understand an indifferent universe that sometimes seemed even cruel.

After some time though, I realised that agnosticism (as most people understand it) was... not accurate. It came down to two things, the first of which is called the "Burden of Proof", which works like this: If I make a claim, it is up to me to show why the claim is true. If I say, for example, that clouds are made of candy floss, the burden is on me to prove it. I can't expect anyone to just believe me. Of course, in this example, others might decide to make the effort to prove me wrong, by perhaps scaling a mountain or sky-diving through some clouds with a net ;P ...

But what if the claim I make cannot so easily be disproven? Which leads to the second thing: Unfalsifiability:

For example, if I make the claim that there is a rare species of mole, that have two tails and are purple, with pink eyes, but that they're almost extinct with only 1 male and 1 female left on the entire planet, it would be up to me to provide evidence of these moles. You would not simply believe me, nor would anyone expect you to. And nobody is going to make the effort to search the entire Earth to prove me wrong. Indeed, that wouldn't be possible, not because of the enormity of the task, but because no matter how much you searched, I could always claim that my purple moles were hiding in a place where you hadn't looked yet.

NOW... Imagine I go further, and claim that my purple moles are invisible. And not only that: They are invisible, super-intelligent and have incredible power to manipulate time and space at will. This is a claim that is impossible to disprove, or prove, either way. An unfalsifiable claim; and you'd probably be wondering if I shouldn't go see a psychologist at this point. ;P

The concept of a god or gods is exactly like our purple mole. And yet people who believe they exist are taken seriously. When I started to understand things from this perspective, my mind was blown, and I couldn't call myself agnostic anymore. Most people who call themselves agnostic believe that a god might exist, or it might not exist, and that they just don't know. They give each possibility a 50% chance of being true. But why? Is there a 50% chance of a purple, orange eyed mole existing, even without super-powers? Of course not.

Thus I became an unbeliever. An infidel ;P - I hope you see that this does not make me a bad person. You can be morally good without believing in gods. Indeed, if one is only good because of a belief and perhaps fear of divine punishment, then that isn't really being good, is it?

Of course, there are many, many more factors that have lead me to where I am now on my "spiritual" journey, and I'm looking forward to exploring these with you in future posts. I didn't want to make this one unreadably long.

Please use the comment section! What do you believe in, if anything? Why do you believe it? Tell me why I'm wrong. Share your story with me... My favourite thing in the world is getting to know people through this kind of conversation. You can really discover who people truly are ;)

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"But @mandelsage, I do not need to provide you with evidence that the mole exists, I can feel it in my heart. When I close my eyes I hear the moles voices, Mole comforts me."

I also grew up in church and spent a lot of time in Asia and in the Pacific islands as a missionary. Trying to get the "natives" to put on church clothes mostly.

My perspective of God changed when I realised that there were happy, content people all over the world who pray to thousands of different Gods. When each of them closes thier eyes they hear the voice of their God. Through this relationship they find comfort and guidance. Even those who have never heard of the Christian God/man Jesus.

Through this realisation, I thought, "why doesn't God ever teach anyone how to play the piano or teach them algebra? Why can't I pray to learn Spanish and wake up sounding like Ricky Martin?". Listening to the "testimony" of peoples prayers it is always, "God told me I should forgive my father" or "I feel I have a word for you that you should be patient in trying to find a job". These are basic human desires and processes that manifest themselves through self-reflection. Most religions and cults through history have heard the voice of God in this way.

Through meditation and self-reflection I have become a better person. As an atheist. I acknowledge that when I close my eyes and clear my head, my brain will instantly start problem-solving the issues in my own life. I won't ever be able to teach myself spanish because I have not previously acquired this knowledge. But my brain knows how to love, forgive, ask for forgiveness, be generous, be kind etc etc. These qualities are programmed into us from thousands of years of community and cultivating relationships. "Loving you is loving me", "If I share my food with this family, maybe they will share with me one day when my family is starving".

I encourage everyone out there to believe in themselves most of all. The power that we all have as individuals far exceeds anything that religion can offer you.

Thanks for reading.

How good it is to find more filthy heathens here! ;P ... Being a missionary must have been quite the experience! For how many years did that go on for?

Your realisation about the brain and basic human desires being fulfilled through self-reflection ties into my own realisation that helped me shed the illusions of religion...: The human brain is the common denominator. The things we experience "spiritually" are actually just our brains intuiting truths about the nature of ourselves (with many of those intuitions being wrong). So when new-age people say "all religions are true", they're half-right: all religions are different manifestations of the same human brains trying to understand the world and themselves within it.

Let me reiterate your final words...

I encourage everyone out there to believe in themselves most of all. The power that we all have as individuals far exceeds anything that religion can offer you.

INFIDEL!!!! I KEEL YOU! Heh. I'm the same way. Was brought up in a Christian household, and around the age of 16-ish I started realizing I didn't fit in with everyone else.


That's what they get for letting me read science encyclopedias during my entire youth! Other kids had books. I had encyclopedias.

XD ... I can relate. I went to the library and took books like "The Last Two Million Years" and many about how the universe started. I remember copy-drawing diagrams of the big bang, and feeling so big-headed when I got to high school and already knew everything the science teacher was teaching the class about atoms ;P ... I did read fiction too though. Enid Blyton, for example ^^ And Isaac Asimov.

Yeah it sure made science class a lot easier! Lol

Excellent post; I thoroughly enjoyed reading it! I'm really not sure exactly what I am. I am spiritual but not religious. I believe in a higher power, but not in god(s). I do not believe that I'm Agnostic or Atheist, but I do believe in the power of nature ....... so as I said, I'm not exactly sure what I am. LOL.

Thank you =) ... It is interesting that you know that you DON'T know exactly what you are, hehe =) ... Most people actually don't, but are not aware of the fact. I guess it all comes down to the nature of this "higher power" you believe in, and what you mean by the "power" of nature. Perhaps you're a form of pantheist? =)

You give me so much to think about - thank you! I actually had to look up the meaning of "pantheist"; I've never heard of that. There are things that I can relate to, but certainly not the bulk of the meaning. I really don't like putting 'labels' on people for any reason ... I don't believe that we belong in little boxes neatly compacted and put on shelves, lol. Humans are such complicated beings; and we are our own worst enemies. Nature is so different - the energy of nature, whether it be other species, creatures, plants, the elements ... it works with itself and everything else - except humans, whose inherent characteristic is to dominate and destroy in order to force it to fit the human species desires. I really hate that about humans. We have yet to learn the true meaning of life and love, and I despair that we ever will. I can't explain "higher power" - it's just a feeling I have that there is something infinitely more evolved than humans will ever be. And I agree with another comment I read here ... that there is something 'out there' beyond us.

You give me so much to think about - thank you!

Hehehe... My pleasure, truly. I agree that labels are often not adequate when describing ourselves - but oh how we humans love them ;) ... The thing is, to have a meaningful conversation, we use labels all the time - every word we use is in fact a little "meaning box" that we use to convey our thoughts/experiences. I'm sure if we talked for long enough, we'd find that you are in fact part of some group that think exactly the way you do, and call themselves something ;P ...

I have to disagree with you about humans - to me, we are very much apart of nature, and just like any species would if given the chance, we are dominating the world around us. The key difference of course is our self-awareness and intelligence, which, for better or worse, has made us the dominant species on the planet. Also, you say we haven't yet learnt the true meaning of life and love... I'd encourage you to read Steven Pinker's "The Better Angels of Our Nature" as well as "Enlightenment Now".

As for a Higher Power - shrug ... I know the feeling you're talking about, truly. I've come to think that it is part of what we needed as a species... I've read a lot about evolution and its mechanisms and it seems belief in an unseen, all-seeing agency was selected for as it helped us survive.
Of course, this doesn't mean there isn't something there. It could be a god of some sort... Or aliens who've created us in an incredibly complex simulation. But how would we ever find out? I certainly can't simply believe that any one of these IS true. I'd be lying to myself.

Really interesting. I was raised pretty Catholic from the age of about 10 onwards...but broke with the church during college when I just couldn’t handle some of they hypocrisy anymore (my mistake was probably in attending private Catholic university). Lol. I think I’d identify about like this as well when it comes to my own beliefs.

Thank you =) ... Indeed, the hypocrisy of everyone in the small town I grew up in was a big part of my own schism with the whole religion thing too. Always nice to find a fellow non-believer! ^^

I really enjoy reading on this topic. No matter what site it is on. Steemit seems to be the best choice to have the conversation without the fighting like other places. I liked your example with the moles. It makes complete sense. What makes God any more believable? Is it because men wrote a book about him and Jesus?

I'm open to any belief in the spiritual world and that includes atheist. I do believe in God in the bible, Angels and I believe in other Gods/Goddess. I believe that people have been reincarnated even though I don't believe in reincarnation on every single soul. Does that make sense? No, not really but that is the point. I believe in God from the bible but I don't at all believe there is a fiery burning hell beneath us. I also think the bible has been tweaked to fit mans view at least once. I believe in all of these things because of what I have personally witnessed, seen and felt. With that said, I love reading an atheist point of view as to why they don't believe in a God. Its all very valid points. The thought of an invisible being coming from nowhere being so powerful as they say, actually sounds rather ridiculous.

I can't really explain what i'm trying to say because it doesn't make sense to think the way I do lol Basically, I don't believe any choice is wrong or right. Your subconscious mind is going to give you the experience you are looking for. I 100% respect an atheist point of view and would never try to talk them out of it. I just personally don't believe that there is nothing out there beyond us.

It is one of my favourite topics too ;) ... It's very encouraging when you say you're open to any belief... This seems to suggest that you're not set in stone when it comes to what you already believe. (Though strictly speaking, atheism isn't a belief. If beliefs were TV channels, atheism would be the TV being switched off ;P).

Your beliefs indeed seem to be quite a mix of things that you have picked up as they've made sense to you... Your final sentence is quite revealing, I think: You just can't believe there is nothing after death... This is difficult one to come to terms with: Trying to imagine non-existence. It actually makes one's mind do back-flips. But there just isn't any evidence to suggest otherwise.

I'm interesting in the things you said you've "witnessed, seen and felt" that have convinced you of your beliefs... Would you mind elaborating?

Lol your example of the TV was a good one, it made me laugh! You are right, I am not set in stone. I am very open to the fact that any higher power or whatever someone wants to call it, could be the correct one. I am even open to the fact that when we die there is nothing. I often wonder if death is like those deep sleeps we have when we don't dream or anything at all. It's just...nothing.

To make it short, I 100% believe that I lived in a haunted house. I've seen and heard things that could never be explained. Things that if another person were to never experience anything supernatural would never believe me or understand. That's where the part of what I previously said comes in, we witness and experience what our minds are open too. I have seen 'ghost' and several items picked up and thrown across the room directly in front me. I'll go into more detail in a post in the future but that is the super short version. I do believe ghost can maybe sort of have evidence of being true with all of the pictures and technology there is to 'hunt' them. Of course, some can be debunked but I don't believe them all to be fake.

Can I give you an example for there to be evidence of a God? No. I never will be able to. That is why I love hearing an Atheist point of view and why I will never be one to push my beliefs or make someone change theirs. With the supernatural incidents, I can honestly say that I have physically witnessed the unexplainable. I haven't and I don't think anyone ever has or will have any example of evidence of a God.

Typically in the conversations I see about religion, this would be the part where I am suppose to tell you that you don't need evidence and faith should be enough. Faith is enough for me but I could never sit here and say faith alone should be what brings someone to believe there is a God. I guess this is why I identify with spiritualism and not any religion that has Gods.

This is where I get confused. If I can honestly sit here and tell you that I believe in ghost wholeheartedly , how could I say there is no Gods of any kind? If there was no God then what is a ghost and how did it become one? These are questions I ask myself of course.

Hey =) Sorry for late reply, bandwidth issues as usual. - Yes, I often think the same... That death wil be just like before we were born... A simple nothingness. Non-existence. There just isn't any evidence to suggest otherwise... And actually, they fact that it is so mindbogglingly hard for the mind to wrap itself around the concept of itself not existing is what I feel the reason is for so many people believing so many things. They just can't conceive of 'nothing' afterwards.

As for ghosts... You said it yourself: You've seen things that could never be explained. ... If that is true, then you really don't know what it is that you saw/heard. Saying they are ghosts is trying to explain them. Because you're trying to define it. I just don't see why anyone believes these hypothesised explanations without evidence. Especially when there IS more than enough evidence to explain how the human mind is very prone to seeing and hearing things it doesn't understand and, in trying to understand, jumps to conclusions. It's not anyone's fault... It's just the way the brain works and for me, the key is to be aware of this... Observe one's own brain... And only trust it as far as you can throw it ;P

Your last paragraph: I think it easily plausible for unexplained phenomena to exist without needing any gods. The fact you think one is necessary to explain them is because you've already been conditioned to connect the two as mutually exclusive. A ghost, if any exist, could have come into being through many strange and wonderful ways...

Interesting. I believe that religion was the first efforts of people to understand the world and how it worked. So the first ever science fiction in theory. I'm not sure what I am, my parents were atheists and never let us attend Religious education at school but I always wondered how we began. E.g. I know in theory we started eith a big bang but what created the big bang in the first place. Maybe they aren't gods so much as other living beings that still think we are toys to be played with lol... like WOW on a planetary scale lol.

I've often thought that too =) ... The Matrix is one (pretty bleak) example of such a possible world, and the marbles in Men in Black another. If these types of realities were indeed true, they'd be almost as unfalsifiable as the concept an almighty god - so fun to think about, but not worth taking seriously.

This question is one I see asked a lot: What created the big bang...? According to physicists, it may be that the question, even if being grammatically possible, doesn't make sense because time itself started with the big bang, so there was no cause-effect "before" it. Asking that is kind of like asking "What is south of the South Pole?"

It's a rabbit hole. I know scientifically that we all began as a single atom bursting forth to create this known universe.

I believe we are all still one with everything and if there is a god, that is it. The oneness of the universe. We are all energy and energy is never destroyed only transformed. I believe that eventually our energy is transformed partially or completely back into matter within the uni-verse. One verse, One song.

There have been children who could tell you where they died and how and when checked out the facts matched. How does this happen if not for reincarnation?

I believe that every speck of this universe is a localized viewpoint of the verse perceiving itself.

So, I am you and you are me, as John Lennon said. And together.....

Maybe we should have started with a definition of God. smiley face.

Maybe we should have started with a definition of God. smiley face.

Hehehe, indeed. Have you looked up "ignostic" ? =) You might find you'd fit quite nicely into what I used to call myself: a "spiritually inclined ignostic".

Yes, we are all energy and it is never destroyed or created, only transformed, quite right. The question is the arrangement of the energy. Complexity is the key. Our brain is the most complex thing in the known universe, and consciousness emerges as a property because of this complexity. When we die, our brains deteriorate and all that complexity dissolves... The relatively small amount of electrical energy that is required to run the brain dissipates and the biochemical reactions of our physical cells/atoms release energy in various forms as the body shuts down and begins to decompose. No energy is destroyed.

So that's the crux: You seem to see consciousness itself as some form of energy, when there's no evidence for this. What consciousness IS, is a famously hard question, but it might not be any thing at all. Just, like I said, an emergent property of complexity. It's like asking "What is red?" .. We all know the colour red when we see it but we know from science that things don't actually have colour. Or rather, colours aren't things that are somehow attached to their corresponding objects. Colours are a property of how our eyes interpret wavelengths of light.

As for the children remembering past lives, two things come to mind: Anecdotal evidence combined with confirmation bias.

Here's two paragraphs from this article:

The research into past life remembrance is surprisingly thorough. Stevenson spent half a century researching the matter through DOPS and several popular books. But like the work of Tucker, they immediately jump to a supernatural conclusion when so many other possibilities exist. Like a character in a Dan Brown novel, they never assess the evidence against their theories and mostly seem to follow their own beliefs to the wrong conclusions.
This is precisely the problem that pseudoscience feeds upon. When an anti-vaxxer sees that autism diagnoses have risen alongside distribution rates of the MMR vaccine, they skip mere correlation and jump right to causation. The dubious “confirmation” of Tucker and Stevenson before him not only lacks non-anecdotal evidence, but verges on wish fulfillment of two researchers desperate to prove something that would change how we view life, death, and the core theories that make up modern science.

But here's the thing: If reincarnation in some form is true, then science will possibly one day be able to explain it. But to simply believe in it because one likes the idea is, to me, silly.

I'm not just silly. I'm card carrying crazy. I only believe in past lives because I have seen a few of my own. Some not even on this planet. One before there was mass. It was the happiest memory I have. But, I'm crazy, so nothing I say qualifies as evidence. You believe the disembodied voices I hear are in my imagination (In which case I have one hell of an imagination) I believe they are energy beings operating without a body on a vibrational level that we usually can't perceive. I'm pretty sure of it, in fact. We are more like the matrix than people care to believe.

Oh, I never meant to call you silly! I meant that, I actually really like the idea of reincarnation, but I can't believe something just because I like it. This would be silly! =) ... About the energy beings... We'll just have to agree to disagree on that one... But do remember, if you can manage to capture evidence of any of them, to contact James Randy immediately! ;)

No evidence will ever convince you or him. I don't know that you would credit your own experience.
We have some highly sensitive scientific equipment that has recorded anomalous energy readings all over our haunted house, with no physical explanations.
We've been featured on national TV twice. There is something going on there.
And many people have entered Hill House Manor as skeptics or naysayers, only there to appease a spouse or relative, and left with an experience that caused them to re-examine their own data. Ultimately personal experience is the best evidence I can offer to anyone. You should really come to Texas for a visit. See some longhorns, hear some ghosts, get scratched through your boot sitting in a chair in an old haunted house. ;) wink wink

If I could afford it, I'd gladly take you up on that offer! =) Though of course, for it to be a clean experiment, you'd have to show such anomolies to exist outside of your home establishment ;P ... James Randy would simply say that any strange happening in your home could easily be yourself having set up certain things... smoke and mirrors etc... ;P (I'm NOT saying you do this, but from a skeptic's point of view, it is simply more likely than ghosts/spirits).

Here's the thing though: Evidence exists to convince me. But then once it becomes evidence (i.e. repeatably verifiable) then it automatically becomes less mysterious.

This has happened throughout the ages. Once, we didn't understand where the rain came from. So we had rain gods. Now we understand the process entirely. No more rain gods.

So someday when it is scientifically explained that human beings set up energy barriers so as not to perceive the paranormal, you will accept that spirits exist everywhere and are only shut down by the presense of humans? :)