just honestly don’t believe

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.

bertrand-russell-on-intellectual-integrity.png

Advertisements

22 thoughts on “just honestly don’t believe

  1. Welcome back ma’am! Been wondering when we’d get a new post from you.
    In my opinion, you must be true to your self. When we lie inwardly, it becomes too easy to lie outwardly. More importantly as anyone grows into adulthood they must find out who they are as a person. Now this may take a long while; it certainly doesn’t happen overnight. When we can’t be honest about our own thoughts, ideas, mores etc., then our development gets stunted, the lines get blurred and it becomes almost impossible to find our path as well as being accepted by others for who we are since we ourselves don’t know who we are. The cliche is that you must first love yourself before you can love anyone else. Lying about who you are also makes this impossible.
    Ok, I’ll get down off my soapbox and stop.
    Know yourself!!!!

  2. Ever since I was about 15 (50 years ago), I have always said, “Tell me what your god is, and I’ll tell you if I believe in it.” And if pushed, I say, “All of the god-concepts I’ve encountered so far are either incoherent, trivially refuted, or unworthy of the term ‘god’.”

  3. Interesting as I have a philosophy that the truth won’t hurt you. I don’t subscribe to the theory lies protect…. maybe in the short term but ultimately a lie is why people say the truth hurts. But I disagree, it isn’t the truth which hurts you but the exposure of the lie pulling the rug from under you.

  4. Nice thoughts sandmanjazz.
    I’ve always thought that the truth only hurts if you refuse to admit it. Believe me!!!!!! I know first hand how much it can hurt and that it can be very hard to admit. But I’ve also found that as I get older, accepting the truth seems to be a bit easier. Though “easier” can still be a somewhat relative term

  5. New to your blog so bear with me. The #ShirtlessSunday reeled me in – good advertising I guess.

    Trying to follow the argument in this post…I read it as: Everyone has a different definition of God –> none make sense to you –> thus I don’t believe.
    I’m not sure if this argument has any merit though when it comes to the existence of God but it is definitely valid for your unbelief.

    I am curious about the concept of honesty though – how do atheists remain honest? Because just like religious people choose religion because they want to ‘believe in something’, my guess would be a comparable amount choose atheist because they don’t want to believe in the concept of god/gods they’ve been presented with. To many atheists, the Russell quote would be fitting because to believe in God might not seem very useful (i.e. based solely on religious fanatics’ representations). The major difference being not believing in God and not wanting to believe in God. So how do atheists stay away from the latter (if they want to remain intellectually honest)?
    Josiah [psych grad student interested in all kinds of shit]

  6. I find the more that I get to know these people, the more I come to realize that they look to the big alien in space-heaven because they have even less answers about life than I do. Part of me feels it’s laziness, another (larger) part feels that they think the answers they come up with just don’t make sense and couldn’t possibly fit into this great cosmic puzzle.

    I used to feel a little envious of the believers, like they were part of some exclusive club I just couldn’t get into (I have a bad space-heaven credit rating). But then I looked beyond the rote and saw just how scared/uncertain most of them are of/about everything.

    Then I had a slurpee. It was a good day.

  7. I, too, used to struggle with the definition of god. Most modern religious people believe there is only one, although that hasn’t always been true. Somehow, God is considered to be in full control of all things. Invariably, god is characterized as omnipotent, kind, good, and generally beneficial to those who believe in him. But I wonder why these concepts stick. They are not reinforced with observation. But then, faith allows all complications and challenges to be set aside.

    I agree with you that believers define god as they wish him to be, and that their understanding changes with whim. I wonder sometimes what disqualifies other supernatural beings from meeting the god criteria. For example, Satan meets the supernatural criterion, but is generally not seen as a god. No one would want an evil god, but it seems to me that an evil supernatural being fits natural observation much better than the Christian God. Of course, everyone prefers that the good god be more powerful than any evil applicant.

    Ultimately, faith (belief without evidence) allows god to exist. And since the origin of faith is in the imagination of each believer, the characteristics of god cannot be the same for any two people. Thankfully, atheists need not settle the question.

  8. This may come across as somewhat ironic, but it was being as honest as possible about the nature of reality that has drawn me closer to the God of the Bible; it just seems to fit what I understand about reality (existence of the universe, the nature of man, etc.) better than any alternative explanation, including the non-existence of God.

    The last sentence is a bit puzzling, though. It seems somewhat mutually exclusive to be open to definitions and evidence of God, but at the same time shy away from debate/discussion.

  9. Hi,

    Long story short I happened to find your blog and read a few of your posts. I admire your straightforwardness. Not everyone can see through the illusion of our reality like you do. You’re an interesting person and I’d love to pick your brain sometime.

    Email me

  10. We can’t possibly understand
    -violates law of identity. We must be able to distinguish something for it to be knowable

    God is all good (and omnipotent)
    Evil exists so
    God is too weak to stop evil, thus not God
    God doesn’t want to stop evil, thus isn’t all good therefore isn’t God
    God is powerful enough to stop evil and would , yet evil exists, so logically there is no God
    Or he is too weak and wouldn’t stop evil if he could, therefore is not God

    Omnipotent and omniscient ;
    God couldn’t both know everything and be capable of surprising itself, this is logically inconsistent.

    Only omnipotent ; the laws of reality can will alter on God’s whim, and thus the world is fundamentally unpredictable and no natural laws exist, reality means nothing.
    This is completely psychotic, and only demonstrates that the individual cannot discern reality. Normally we lock those people up in asylums.

    • This looks like a copy and paste of the “logical problem of evil”, ignoring all responses and critiques, such as Plantinga’s free will defense, or C.S. Lewis’ assertion that the existence of evil implies the existence of a source of morality against which “evil” is measured (“A man does not call a line crooked unless he has some idea of a straight line.”).

  11. I think for most people God just refers to all those things over which they have no influence or control. Rather than frustrating themselves over their inability to change what they don’t have the power to change, they accept an all-knowing power is in control and has a plan none of us will ever understand but they trust it will lead to the greater good of the universe, even if it personally sucks for them at the moment. Debating the existence of God is pointless as those who believe do so soley because they want to believe. They get some real or perceived benefit from their belief (for many, I suspect that benefit is real, independent of whether there actually is a God). Logic and reason is not going to convince someone to relinquish their beliefs if they are getting something of benefit from holding them. Nor should it.

  12. The inherent vagueness of most peopole’s ideas about God does make it difficult to speaking meaningfully about whether those ideas are true or not. It also suggests that the point of much of their god-talk may not be to produce anything like an objective account. Rather, much of this chatter is akin to bad poetry.

    …okay, sometimes it’s even good poetry, but in most cases it’s a rational non-starter.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s