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. (Caveat: I haven’t read the book. If you have, feel free to post your comments.)
41. Science can’t explain everything.
Religion can’t, either. At least not in an evident, provable, and incontrovertible way. And wishing certainly doesn’t make anything so. Finding an archaic body of text that appears to conveniently fill in the gaps of human knowledge does not make the text factual, no matter how many ways you attempt to spin or reinterpret it to your own liking, your own set of circumstances, or your level of religious moderation. Lies are printed all the time. I see them daily in newspapers, magazines, and websites, as well as books as old if not older than yours. Try coming to terms with the fact that there will probably be answers that are outside of your reach during your lifetime. The next step isn’t belief, but mindful acceptance.
42. Society would fall apart without religion.
Here are the nations with a majority of its population being atheists: Sweden, Vietnam, Denmark, Norway, Japan, Czech Republic, Finland, France, and South Korea. And, lo and behold, none of them have collapsed due to moral decay or a lack of religion. Shouldn’t they have already destroyed themselves through anarchy and godless disregard for all things nice? How terribly inconvenient. How not in line with the religionist agenda. How not instantly translated into a Jack Chick comic tract (though, if there IS a Chick tract on this, my predilection for unintended humor compels me to see it).
43. My religion is so old, it must be true.
Welcome to what sociologists call the Appeal To Tradition (or, more specifically, argumentum ad antiquitatem). Logical fallacies like this have been debunked by many, going as far back as Ancient Greece, so read up on it if desired. The only people fooled by this old-equals-true bunk are the simple-minded, the lazy, and the uneducated. In other words, the perfect candidates for spiritual belief.
44. Someone I trust told me that my god is real.
I’ve no doubt that during my childhood, some trusted and even well-intended relatives who still love me very much might have impressed upon me the literal existence of Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, and the Tooth Fairy. But then I grew up and, as the Bible says, I “put away childish things.” Trusted people can tell you all sorts of things, and have the best of intentions, and even might believe it themselves. Doesn’t make them correct. Knowing that, you also might not be as good in bed as your girlfriend says, your cuteness might not flush with your parents’ indiscriminate praise, and that outfit you’re wearing probably does make you look fat.
45. Atheism is a negative and empty philosophy.
As stated before, atheism is not a philosophy, it’s a position. If you’re looking for philosophy, it’s not there. As for negativity, it certainly isn’t the godless who are constructing afterlives of eternal burning or similar torment, or leading jihads and inquisitions, or demanding (by ostracism, belittling, or worse) that people reject their inescapable carnal nature in pointless pursuit of spiritual fancy. A whole lot of blood has been spilled for the appeasement of gods over the course of human history, far more than any non-religious war campaigns. The roar of these facts deafens me to the cries of “negative” from atheism’s pot/kettle/black detractors.
46. Believing in a god doesn’t hurt anyone.
Define “hurt.” Certainly, the iniquities visited upon man by man in the name of a god cannot be ignored or simply dismissed as past indiscretions while the Middle East and neighboring nations are still embroiled in theological turf wars. The delusional aspect of god belief and the resulting consequences of self-denial also don’t disappear because you say so. Throw in community rejection, bigotry, obnoxious door-to-door preachers, and crazy people of all medication needs who seem to think they’re sent by God to loudly exclaim their promotion to the world, and at the very least, it’s apparent that many believers have a real issue with tolerance and space.
47. The earth is perfectly tuned to support life.
The earth is actually rather adept at shrugging off life as well, as evidenced by all forms of natural disaster, famine, plague, drought, climate changes, and other tests of Darwinian proportions. The earth also cannot correct certain types of damage the human animal has done to it without making itself even more inhospitable to life, human or otherwise. The biosphere, therefore, is flawed from our self-preserving viewpoint.
48. Believing is natural so my god must be real.
Murder is natural. Deception is natural. Earthquakes, meteors and floods are natural. And there are plenty of examples of conquest, rape, slavery, and theft throughout the animal kingdom that are part and parcel with the natural order. Of course, just because something occurs in nature does not necessarily mean that it is beneficial or even worthy of practice. Belief is natural. But when it blindly sidesteps reason and moves into the arena of faith is when all of the trouble starts. And, again, believing something and knowing something are not two different ways of representing the same thing. It’s either one or the other. Make your choice.
49. The end is near.
Get a street corner, a sandwich board, and a megaphone. Then wait for the police to haul you away.
50. I am afraid of not believing.
A testament (pun intended) to the harmful power of indoctrination. Fear keeps the believer in line a good part of the time: fear of eternal damnation, fear of making individual choices, fear of being alone in the universe, and even fear of having to admit being wrong. For some, leaving this slave state behind requires some big steps, yet we all take similarly-sized ones to mark our entry into adulthood. Think of it as part of the maturation process, no different from developing autonomy from your parents and living your own life on your own terms. Besides, it’s a common fact that the godless get to have all of the fun, free of senseless sexual restrictions, rampant absolutism, moral subservience, and all of those terrible, terrible church songs. Still, they’ve got something with those Catholic schoolgirl outfits. Yeah, those can stay.