One of the most difficult things about debating with people about the existence of god is that everyone seems to have a different definition of god. I have never heard a definition that made any sense to me, it’s one of the many reasons I don’t believe in a god or gods. Many characteristics that I commonly hear associated with the Judeo-Christian god seem to not exactly match up with what’s described in the bible. Although to that sort of statement believers typically tell me I’m reading it wrong. But that’s beside the point I’m getting at because most of the time it seems like people aren’t really basing their definition of god on what is in the holy books.
Most definitions I encounter are very vague and often ever-changing, and statements like “we can’t possibly understand” and “he works in mysterious ways” assist believers in avoiding answering what god is. It’s always a funny coincidence that god’s morals seem to pretty much match up with all the beliefs and opinions of the faithful, from the right-winger that says god doesn’t like homosexuality to the left-winger that says god accepts all no matter what. This is why I don’t really like to debate about the existence of god with believers; it’s pointless to debate something if there isn’t even a clear definition for what you’re debating about. In my experience, it seems like believers are a bit defensive about god because their personal god is a reflection of who they are. So in a way, I have to admit that their god does exist, but just in their mind as a collection of thoughts and opinions the same way a friendly pink unicorn exists in my mind when I think of it.
One of the things that lead me down the path to being a militant atheist was my personal belief that honesty is very important, and I think being truly honest can only really begin when one is honest with themselves. It’s often very difficult to be brutally honest at times, especially with ourselves. So when I was younger and getting interested in philosophy, the concept of intellectual honesty really spoke to me and has been one of the driving forces behind how I try to conduct myself and my passions. When striving to be intellectually honest, the key is to do your best to not allow personal beliefs to interfere with the truth and to look at facts in an unbiased manner. I feel a good way to keep yourself in check is to ask yourself things you would ask others. Even when I was trying hard to be a good Christian as an adolescent I was curious about other religions and would ask friends of different faiths to explain what they believed and it lead me to question why they believed it. This in turn made me eventually realize I should be asking myself those kinds of questions too. When I could barely get past coming up with a good definition of what I thought god was, I realized it was pretty pointless for me to believe. The definitions I came up with fell flat logically and I realized I was basing them on bias sources, like my upbringing and education. It hit me that I mainly was trying to believe because I felt pressured to by the culture around me.
I think everyone is guilty of lying to themselves in some capacity and that’s alright, I think life would be very miserable if we all didn’t lie to ourselves a little bit, but I think one of the keys is to keep it to a minimum. People can believe in the existence of god if they want, it’s just my opinion they might not be being fully honest with themselves and are avoiding asking certain questions. I’m still open to any good definitions and evidence of god, but until then I simply don’t know and don’t believe in a god or gods and don’t care to debate it.