50 Reasons People Give for Believing in a God: Part 1 of 5

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5

Dividing this into five parts, the following are part of “the fifty commonly heard reasons that people often give for believing in a god” addressed in Guy Harrison’s book, intuitively titled, 50 Reasons People Give for Believing in a God. The commentary after each “reason” is my own. I’ll post the remaining parts of this examination in the future. (Caveat: I haven’t read the book. If you have, feel free to place your comments in this post.)

1. My god is obvious.

This reason is often given by the short-sighted and narrow-thinking believer who charmingly assumes that since nature, the world, and the universe all exist and are so gosh darn awe-inspiring, the next leap of logic must simply be a God as creator. This is comparable to the savage who credits the “movement” of the sun as being the result of our heliosphere being towed by a magical being’s celestial chariot. The difference is that a primitive culture lacks sufficient exposure to modernity and, hence, hasn’t been told any better. The only thing that is obvious is the believer’s oblique admission that he or she lacks the same answers as everyone else, except that he or she can’t deal with that and needs to hastily tack a cheap guess onto it. Your god isn’t obvious. Your motives are.

2. Almost everybody on Earth is religious.

To approach this, terms have to be defined. If by “religious,” one means that human beings are predisposed to ritual activity or behavior — religiosity, in a sense — then, yes, almost everyone is “religious” as evidenced by prayer meetings, church attendance, rock concerts, Super Bowl parties, and political rallies, to name a few of many. Of course, most users of the above phrase probably mean to assert that everyone believes in and perhaps even worships an exteriorized God. It’s patent absurdity, but in these times of secular advancement, one needs propaganda — yea, even desperate and easily disproved propaganda.

3. Faith is a good thing.

Much of what even the most moderate God religious adherents would label as “good” acts of faith are, to me, weakness, subservience, and an invitation to being manipulated, and, of course, the “bad” acts (inquisitions, crusades, jihads, sexism, torture, genocide, etc, ad nauseam) pretty much speak for themselves. Aside from the actions that stem from faith, the very need for faith is little more than a childish desire to flee from reality. And spare me the “I know God” routine. You do not. Rather, you believe. And faith and knowledge are not the same thing, nor can they ever be. Check your dictionary. Reliance upon a rejection of facts and allowing your life to be guided by silly, archaic beliefs is a character flaw at best and a mental illness at worse.

4. Archaeological discoveries prove that my god exists.

Archaeologists discovered some artifacts that may or may not prove that a large number of uneducated and primitive desert cultists unquestionably believed the same thing you do. That does not imply or even validate divinity, and to claim this as any sort of evidence to the existence of an actual deity is deluded. Except in Indiana Jones movies, of course.

5. Only my god can make me feel significant.

Translation: “Only my creation of a concept called God and then believed to be real and, hence, bigger than myself makes me feel significant.” This is externalization of the ego (something I wrote a bit about in Bearing The Devil’s Mark), pure and simple — a position for slaves. Anyone who requires outside sources to make them feel “significant” is of actually little significance and is masking their insecurity and self-hatred with a thin veneer of Jesus, or Allah, or whatever flavor of spirituality hides the truth from themselves. Nietzsche would probably have some good advice for these lost souls — something about leaving this world to those who actually want to live in it.

6. Atheism is just another religion.

This is blatant knee-jerk reaction to the apparently threatening literature from authors such as Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, Christopher Hitchens, and others. Atheism isn’t even a philosophy, let alone a religion. Atheism is a position, a stance, and nothing else. At its core, it is defined as the lack of a belief in a God, and NOT the disbelief of God. There’s a meaningful difference there for those who have at least half a brain. If some wish to project their individual compulsion to worship onto something more palatable than the God religions, such as on atheism, it doesn’t follow that something called “atheism” is requiring or even demanding that of its position holders. Another term to look up in the dictionary if this confuses you: non sequitur.

7. Evolution is bad.

Lima beans are bad. Tuesdays are bad. Movie remakes are bad. Seems anything can be “bad” if you just heap a few disparaging descriptives upon it and wish really hard that everyone buys your harsh opinions. And if you can’t qualify your claim, all the better. Of course, only children can get away with this form of illogic because they have a developmental excuse. What “bad” means here is that it inconveniently gets in the way of creationist disinformation taking root, in the same way that the Internet is bad because it might provide someone with information that might challenge preconceptions, make one examine previously held beliefs, and come to individual conclusions based on having a complete picture.

8. Our world is too beautiful to be an accident.

This is almost #1 restated, but with a slight spin. Viewing the world as merely beautiful is to deprive your naive brain of all of the turmoil, struggle, bloodshed, disaster, and other unsightly realities that flit across your TV screen but must simply be rare because they don’t happen with such relative frequency in your quiet and quaint little hamlet. Both creation and destruction comprise our world, which is more than enough proof that, were there to be a controlling deity, it would be an abomination worthy of rejection. But keep selectively looking at your world as just rainbows and daffodils.

9. My god created the universe.

Your “god” has a whole lot of competition from other “gods,” all claiming sole credit for universal design, which is one hell of a public relations problem. It also speaks to a lack of control and, in short, incompetence from your so-called “higher power,” ultimately pointing to an embarrassing absence of omniscience. Seems your god is as flawed as you are, which of course would make total sense considering your god’s creator. Hint: you.

10. Believing in my god makes me happy.

An extension of #5, to be sure. Having some sort of psychological security blanket dyed in a deep, delusional religious belief to boost its efficacy still doesn’t validate your God’s existence. Welcome to the Placebo Effect. Your happiness is an evasion, a detour from all that conflicts with your wishful thinking, and is no more valid because of the end result. If I huff a can of spray paint, I’ll get quite a rush but it most certainly will not be a revelatory experience. Except, of course, that I probably shouldn’t huff paint… in this absolutely hypothetical example. You might actually benefit from getting your face out of your own caustic fume bag of spirituality and facing the thinking world.

(to be continued…)

MGP

Matt G. Paradise is Executive Director of Purging Talon, a media company responsible for releasing groundbreaking and often imitated audio, video, print, and Web work since 1993, including the internationally respected Satanic magazine, Not Like Most. Paradise is also a Magister in the Church of Satan and, since the early-1990s, has also done media representative work for the CoS through all major media forms — network television, radio, print publications, and the Internet. He is the author of Bearing The Devil’s Mark, a collection of writings on Satanism; as well as editor of The Book of Satanic Quotations (First and Second Editions). He was also producer and co-host of Terror Transmission, a horror movie commentary podcast; and is currently the producer and host of three podcasts (The Accusation Party, Vintage Vinyl Vivisection and Strange Moments in Cultural History) on The Accusation Network.

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