Épater le bourgeois: There is no god. Really.

203/365 The Atheist Bus The atheist bus, by stuartpilbrow, CC-by-sa

A while ago I wrote an article about gay marriage. (I am all for it, BTW). In it I said something like "since god doesn't exist ... " and boy did that bother people.

So, since I have twenty free minutes, let's see if I can explain why I say god doesn't exist.

Firt of all, a caveat. If you are religious, you have no right whatsoever to whine about me saying this. Why? Because I have no right to whine about people saying god does exist. It's called freedom of religion, people. You are supposed to like it.

This was triggered because I noticed there's a grand total of 2 (two) atheist characters on TV shows I watch:

  • Gregory House (MD): apparently a narcissistic bastard, but actually a nice guy (who is also a genius) with issues.
  • Dr. Brennan: a socially awkward genius.

Well, I am not a genius, so, let's consider some very reasonable arguments for god's lack of existence.

He's Ill-Defined

The Need For Answers The Need For Answers by Zach Stern, CC-by-nc-nd

The first thing you need in order to accept the existence of an entity is a definition for it. If you lack that, how can you say it exists at all? He could ring my doorbell and ask for a cup of sugar, and I still wouldn't be sure, because he could be re-defined at any time.

For example, is god omniscient? Is he allmighty? Is he the guy with the elephant head? Is he immaterial? Does he answer to prayer? Is he a he? Did he have a kid? Did he have his kid by turning into a swan before going on a date?

Since depending on what godist you ask he will answer at least one of those differently, I have to declare his existence impossible.

Of course we could try to accept the definition of one godist club and try to see if that specific entity exists, but that doesn really work either, because god fans have a tendency to move the goalposts. What's "the word of god" becomes later an allegory, depriving us of any evidence on which to base our enquiry.

Mostly, godists say that the know god exists because they feel it in their hearts or something similarly harebrained. Come on, if I told you I feel the easter bunny in my kidney, it would make about as much sense.

The Excluded Middle and Popularity

God made me an atheist. God made me an atheist. by Andrea Lodi, CC-by-nd

Either something is true or its opposite is. Either you ate some of that cake, or you didn't. Either god exists or he doesn't. Easy, right?

But why couldn't god exist? Well, let me ask you, why don't the other gods exist? You are a zoroastrian: why doesn't Zeus exist? You are a mormon, why doesn't Quetzalcoatl exist?

Every godist is perfectly happy with the other gods not existing, so it's not exactly a ground-shaking notion. It's clear that whenever you hear anyone talk about a religious majority, he is full of crap.

Repeat after me: you are not part of a religious majority, because most people believe your god doesn't exist. We atheists are just smarter and more consistent.

And no, you can't retreat into "oh, muslims jews and all christians believe in the same god" because that's nuts. Jews believe in a god that doesn't let them eat ham. Mormons believe they are ordered to use magical underwear. Catholics believe they eat meat wafers each sunday, it's just that it looks, feels and tastes like a cracker, but it's "really" (super)human beef. For each group, the other's beliefs are barbaric and (if they are honest) a little nuts.

No, I am not saying you individually are nuts, you nutcases, I am saying you are conditioned to believe your particular idiosyncrasies are less nuts than average, but they aren't, just like my dad's habit of putting mayonnaise in the soup was nuts and my belief that Unión de Santa Fe will someday win a tournament is nuts.

IOW: mostly harmless, but nutty anyway. OTOH, some people's beliefs make them believe that killing albino kids is a proper behaviour so some of you godists are really, really nuts, ok?. Not all of you, but those who aren't should take a good hard look at what believing in invisible friends does to some people.

It's Unethical to Believe in Heaven and Hell

Oh Noes! Atheists! Oh Noes! Atheists! by Sean Bonner, CC-by-nc-sa

Consider my three year old kid. There is a rule that he has to eat a reasonable amount at dinner, and if he does he can watch one TV show before bed as a reward.

In universe A: One night he's very tired, so he doesn't really want to watch TV, he wants to go to bed, but he still eats his dinner because it's good for him.

In universe B: One night he's very tired, so he doesn't really want to watch TV, so he doesn't eat his dinner because there's no reward.

Believers will tell you that human nature is B. That if there was no promise of carrot (heaven) and stick (hell) humans would have no morals and would act like insane hedonists, hurting each other in a frenzy, and that we only avoid such a terrible fate because of the civilizing infuence of the churches and the morality induced on us by religion.

I say bullcrap. I say I prefer if my kid does what's good for him not because he's expecting a reward or (worse!) because he's scared of punishment, but because he understands that if he eats his dinner he's going to be strong and healthy, and that it makes me happy and that he wants me to be happy because he likes me.

Of course, being a three year old, he sometimes doesn't want to eat his dinner. So I try to convince him. But if he doesn't, he doesn't, and there's no TV, and there's no tantrum, and he gets a kiss good night.

The concept that there is a lot of people who honestly believe that they are moral beings only because there's an invisible guy who will hurt them if they aren't scares me. I find it deeply repulsive. I find religion's promise of eternal (or even temporary) punishment in the afterlife repulsive and creepy.

If you believe in an afterlife, and you believe in heaven and hell, and you act nice because of it, you are a creep. You are, like religious people like to say, a creep in your own heart. You are not good. You are evil but just think you can't get away with acting out your evil. You are a chicken. If the deity you believe in actually exists, he knows it, so you are screwed anyway.

I prefer to be good for my fellow men because there's nothing else beyond. If there was a heaven, then we live in a crappy waiting room. No! We live in the real world. What's beyond is fiction or guesswork, you can't count on it, you can't throw away real life for it.

Conclusion

God vs graffiti vs property rights vs drippy markers, Soho, London, UK.jpg God vs graffiti vs property rights vs drippy markers, Soho, London, UK by Cory Doctorow, CC-by-sa

You are a bit nuts and your invisble friend doesn't exist. You don't need to get a life because you already have one, you just need to stop asking for seconds and eat your dinner. Have fun.

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