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Agnostics, Atheists, Skeptics -Why DON'T you believe in God? Answered

Ok, Calling all non-believers! I am genuinely interested in why you DON'T believe in a God/Deity/Creator. I will not debate you on this. I am looking for serious answers. Was that the way you were raised? Is it a conclusion you came to on your own? Was your decision based on experiences, books, teachings? NOTE: Christians, Muslims, Jews, Hindus, Buddhists, etc.- Please do not turn this into an argument! If you have serious questions to the RESPONSES, then ask them. If you want to express why you DO believe in God/Gods, go to my "Why do you believe?" forum.


Some (very generalised) thoughts on why atheists don't stand out:

Believers, of whatever religion, stand out at some point. They flock together at the same holy place, have common phrases they exchange in public, and often wear something obvious and symbolic.

Like bikers at a particular bar, or football fans wearing the same shirt, they are brought together and organised because they have something in common. My brother in law drives a TVR, and has ended up in a local TVR owners' club.

It is very hard, though, to form a group of people who don't have something in common.

You don't get people dropping in at a particular rural pub on the off-chance that there will be somebody else there who doesn't drive a TVR.

It's the same with atheists - you don't get atheists gathering together to thank nobody in particular that they don't believe in deities. There are so many to not believe in, that there's no common ground.

Maybe, if there was only one religion, atheists would meet more. It would be like a two-party system.

The other thing is that atheists tend to be free-thinkers, independently-minded. A large part of religious life involves a hierarchy passing down The Truth, delineating how the believers should live their lives, interpret their Holy Writings or specifying what is "good" and what is "evil".

One of the defining aspects of the atheist psyche is a broad streak of independence and a dislike of being told what to think and how to live. Atheists consider themselves capable of making their own life decisions and of formulating their own usefully-functional moral framework.

Consequently, very few atheists have the same attitudes towards things as other atheists, and do not feel constrained to subjugate their opinions to those of others. They are not natural "club" people.

From an atheist's point of view, believers can be seen as sheep (indeed, Christian ministers often call their congregation, their "flock"). A flock of sheep will happily travel together, wherever their shepherd points them, including into the back of a lorry heading off to the abattoir.

Atheists, on the other hand, are more like feral cats. Try shutting a bunch of those in a barn...

Just some off-the-cuff thoughts on what may make it hard for believers to "get" atheists, and maybe a bit of the original question "why don't we believe?" as well.

Good thoughts! I definitely agree with the lack of uniformity, and the lack of meetings. Even loosely organized religious groups tend to meet because they have something in common. More structured religious groups tend to make cookie-cutter followers, to the point that an outsider can barely tell them apart!


I was quite shocked to find the JWs aren't supposed to read the Bible without the most recent copy of Watchtower to hand to tell them what it means. Worse, Watchtower is written and edited anonymously!

Where did you read that!? JW's are actually encouraged constantly to read the Bible on their own and do extensive research to draw their own conclusions. Also, the Watchtower is not written anonymously, this is obviously based on a conclusion you came to after realizing that their is no auther quoted at the end of an article. They implimented that because of the importance of not glorifing oneself. However, the writing and editing of the Watchtower is done by a specific branch of what's referred to as the Governing Body, and they are very familiar with who makes up the Governing Body, they know their names and many of them have even met them and gone to conventions where they give talks.

OK then, who are these people who don't glorify themselves (that people know their names and many of them have even met them and gone to conventions where they give talks)?


(The Watchtower; 6/15/1951; pp. 375)

But if each of us were left to himself just because he has a copy of the Bible and were to direct his movements independently as he thought he understood the Word, what? It is likely, or possible, that there would be a great deal of confusion or working in competition among us. Hence, besides individually possessing God's Word, we need a theocratic organization. Yes, besides having God's spirit of illumination, a Christian needs Jehovah's theocratic organization in order to understand the Bible.

Watchtower, Sept 15, 1911, pg. 4885
"Rather we should seek for dependent Bible study, rather than for independent Bible study."

Doesn't look like independent study is sought after though, does it ?

I didn't read it, I was told it by a JW child.

There is not a single name, on the entire Watchtower site, of somebody who can be spoken to *as* a JW. Think about it - I know the name of the leader of the Church of England, the RCC, and a quick google reveals the leading figures in every other major religion.

Do you know, without resorting to the internet, the names of the people who run your religion?

Wow, they don't even know who's behind their faith. That's atrocious!

Have a wander around their website - it's bizarre.

They mix science and philosophy articles, maybe to make the philosophy seem like fact, like an informative article on why some people are allergic to pollen next to "What's wrong with pre-marital sex?". Read their article on GW, and it's fairly balanced, until the third page when suddenly it becomes God's plan for the end of the world.

And there's not an author named in the whole thing!

Sorry, off topic, I'll stop now.

The magazine your referring too is the Awake magazine. This magazine is designed and written to be read by people other than JW's... which many of the people that recieve the magazine through their preaching work may know little if nothing about the Bible, thus to keep it interesting to anybody they may meet at the door no matter what religion it's designed to combine religious and non-religious articles.

See where I say "their website"? I mean the Watchtower website.

Maybe my local JWs operate differently to you - Awake is what they push through the door when you're out, Watchtower is what they try and get you to read with them if you answer the door.

(Although I no longer get either from the Hall around the corner from me...)

Yes. JW's approve of global warming.

Ok, I googled him. (I though "Peter Popoff" was slang for a DIY sex-change operation!) Turns out he is a real guy. What a charlatan! Well if my belief system is right, this guy will get his just desserts!

I caught him on TV last night. He's changed from "Miracle Water" to "Miracle Manna" and he's healing everyone and their grandmother by slapping them in and face and/or shaking them. My boyfriend was laughing. I was mostly terrified. People like him are a huge part of the reason I am a nonbeliever, though.

People like him are a huge part of the reason I am a nonbeliever, though.

So, if you don't like a particular actor that plays a small role in a film, would you stop watching all movies?

Not trying to insult, I just don't understand your logic here.

I don't understand your logic in this case, either. I'm talking about a bigger social movement. Not just one person or situation. :) The majority of Christians that I have met in my life have been very much like that man. Not slapping old ladies in the face, mind you - but using their Christianity in a way that I find the opposite of what I understand Christianity to be. They glorify themselves, hold themselves above others, trying to out-do one another in their love for God. They're selfish and do not extend welcome and help to others unless it will bring praise to them. Not to mention the fact that many, many, many of these so-called religious leaders are indeed acting of their own will and using technology and slick marketing to get them where they want to be. Even those in smaller churches. It's completely disturbing. I've never seen someone be healed after being pushed to the ground. I've never ever witnessed a miracle. I've never felt anything - no one has ever spoken to me, responded to me. And yet, in my years of church, I was told this is what was going on all around me. I watched the people speaking in tongues and seizing on the floor in the glory of God and never felt a thing. I tried. In the end I decided that it was just one big circus. I was a believer for between 2-3 years. In those years I met some of the most hypocritical and deranged people I have ever met in my life. My breaking point came during my second summer of church camp and I've never looked back. I am a much happier person now that I'm not worrying myself about supernatural beings that I cannot see, hear or feel.

.  There are enough good reasons to be an Agnostic/Atheist without blaming the actions of ppl who do bad things in the name of, but without the permission of God. It's my guess that if there is a God, it feels the same way about those ppl as you and I. There really are many, many believers that truly are good ppl; it's a shame that you have run into so many bad ones.

I'd rather you say you were turned off to Christianity... I know what you mean, though. All those people muttering the word "God" over and over again can skew the definition. You shouldn't let weird people influence your opinion. Your opinion should be based on more direct evidence or something. Whether or not God exists has nothing to do with how hypocritical or deranged some people are who believe in him.

I suppose that's one way to look at this, but I tend to think people like that only support my beliefs. (Or lack of, whichever way you'd choose to state it.) I see people like that as a form of proof that God does not exist. They are very much like those that came before them - all of those that believed in previous gods. I see it as something man-made and distorted to work in the favor of those practicing at the time.

I just have a hard time believing they're feeling what they say they're feeling when their actions are the opposite. It's a hard thing to explain, I suppose. Everytime I went to a church service, and I watched them screaming and howling in tongues and condemning those that weren't worshipping in the same fashion that they were, I always wondered how it all came about. How could these people possibly be the chosen ones? Why am I not hearing anything? Why is it that when I pretend to speak in tongues - out of fear and stupid teenage worries about if these people will still like me if I tell them I don't feel anything - they are able to somehow translate my childish gibberish into loving words for God? And that, everyone, is when I realized something was terribly, terribly wrong.

I just cannot see logic in any of it. And I never will.

For me, my experiences in the church in addition to my knowledge base ultimately lead to me being an atheist. And I am happy this way. :)

Yes, it's even more illogical (and sorta funny in a sad sort of way) when you see those same people go up their and claim that their following the model Jesus set for us... Jesus being a humble, kind, patient and gentle man and then they go around supporting war efforts and every other week saying "sorry" for some sex scandal.

>_< I'm sorry you had to go through that. I wish nobody ever did. I guess that's all I can say about glossolalia - I'm sorry. Oh, and Blegh!

So you haven't read Acts? Or you believe that the Evangelists were lying when they wrote it? Or do you just think that the behaviour of people today who claim to "speak in tongues" is silly? I'm not necessarily disagreeing with you, but I am curious about the basis for your assertion.

i was referring to 'Or do you just think that the behaviour of people today who claim to "speak in tongues" is silly?'

i'm a Christian and i think its messed up when Christians (if they really are) act as if they are better than you. if they are a Christian, then they should know that we are all sinners. and theyd also be humble.

I think our cat (see Mrs Skunkbait's avatar) speaks in tongues.

Hahahahahhah. My cats occasionally reveal their dark side.. Usually though, on my arm or leg...

I was a believer for between 2-3 years.

If you don't mind my asking, when was that (as in, what age were you)? Just curious.

And I now understand why you judge Christians that way. But if I may make a point, don't allow a generalization become a stereotype ;)

I do try my best not to stereotype, and instead I just find myself very cautious of people who tell me that they're Christian. Sometimes that caution goes away - I do have very good friends that are Christians! Sometimes, however, I never feel quite right about them and they turn out like the people I talk about above. I want to say it started when I was 14. I only remember that because I developed ITP at that age and the people at my church told me only God could heal me and that I shouldn't get medical treatment and instead they'd all pray for me. Thankfully, my mother was and still is a freethinker. ;)

He represents God about as well as Johhny Rotten represents the British Royal Family! I probably would've laughed too, until I thought about all the por gullible people he's cheating.

Richard Dawkins - The God Delusion

I am an agnostic. I don't like religions because they caused lots of useless wars. But I believe in god, so that's why I'm not a full atheist, hereby making me an agnostic.

Wait, Agnosticism deals with knowledge. If you're agnostic, that means you believe we can't know whether or not god exists. Atheism and Agnosticism are on different "lines", so to speak. You can be both.

Well, besides what I mentioned above, I also hate religions because there are so many of them, and if we choose one who can honestly know that it's the correct one? God is there, but IMO we should all just call him god, don't overreact with your faith or any of that crud. Like you, I respect your beliefs, it isn't entirely different from mine, so I think that's cool.

Hmm... I know the exact definition of being an agnostic is what you just said, we can't know whether or not god exists, but I believe in god and yet I don't believe in the idea of having a religion. That may not be the exact definition of being an agnostic, but that's the closest I can get.

I'm not sure of the word, either. Irreligious theist? *shrugs*

Maybe.... Either way, I don't really care of the word that describes my beliefs... I just believe in it :-)

Men always seem to develop religions that make them "better" than other people. I'm pretty sure that wars, created by men, in the name of God will be punished accordingly!

Tru. dat. So, what do you believe in?

Check out the "Why do you Believe?" forum. BTW- I am a Christian, but I disagree with 90% of what is going on in modern denominationalism.

This topic predates my joining I'bles, but has recently been bumped. Although Skunkbait is already familiar with my beliefs, and my reasons for them, it's always a good learning experience to have to set them out coherently.

I was raised Catholic, and still have the guilt that allows me to maintain my membership :-) I went through Catechism classes, First Communion, and Confirmation. However, my parents were pretty much Sunday Catholics; we had to go to Mass every week, but there wasn't much religion, and certainly no relevant religion, the rest of the week.

My parents were extremely moral, and instilled a strong (excessive?) sense of right and wrong in me from an early age. When I went to college, and got to decide for myself whether to attend Mass or not, I chose not to.

With an equally strong scientific background and mindset, I found it difficult (okay, impossible) to reconcile the dogma I had been taught with the materialistic, cause-and-effect structure of the Universe as I understood it.

I certainly didn't see how a "personal God," interfering arbitrarily in my actions and the actions of those around me, could be reconciled with the regularity and balance of physical law.

Equally so, I couldn't use my science to prove that such a God didn't exist --- He could, after all, use his omnipotence to hide his tracks, or He could choose not to interfere in the Universe in ways that violated His laws of nature.

So I evolved to a fairly solid philosophical agnosticism, which I stand by to this day. In practical terms, I act like an athiest, but I refuse to accept that label, since I can't very well claim that God doesn't exist. I have no way of knowing one way or the other.

. Interesting.
. I was raised a Southern Baptist. Services Sun AM, Sun PM, and Wed PM. Dad was a Deacon and both parents taught Sunday School.
. From my mid-teens to early-20s, I used the faults with the practice of religion to justify my "Atheism" (more a rebellion against authority than anything else). Then I spent several years casually studying several religions and doing a lot of thinking about the Who/Why/How-Am-I questions and arrived at the conclusion that Religion and Science are just different branches of the quest to explain how things work. The "species" have a common ancestor, but started separating when the precursors of the Scientific Method gene appeared. Much like Apes and Man (not to compare Religion with Apes, just an example).
. Even if there is a Creator, I still don't believe in an after-life, Salvation/Damnation, or anyone that listens to our prayers. We're more like a drawing by God, Jr, stuck on the refrigerator with a fruit-shaped magnet. Or a Petri dish.
. Or an experiment where the Creator smashed tiny (to It) particles together and ended up with the Big Bang. We're hung up in a detector somewhere. heehee I have a friend that says y'all will get all the bugs worked out of the LHC in late December of 2012. :)

arrived at the conclusion that Religion and Science are just different branches of the quest to explain how things work

This sort of goes with one idea I have that I forgot to mention earlier that explains why religion is now obsolete :

Religion was a way to explain the unexplained (x=God) and let earlier humans worry about more important things like survival rather than how things work or why things happened. But now that humans no longer need to focus so much on survival, we can now focus back on how things work using science and now find the real answer to the problem. Science has taken over religions job, though religion is still good, it gives people a sense of purpose in life and usually makes them more stable(though this depends on the religion and how they interpret it).


9 years ago

I personally do not see it this way, but my friend does, at least when he talks to people who have a religion.

"I do not believe in the invisible sky man."

But to me it is different, I really was never introduced to religion and later on it just did not make sense to me. Personally though, I do not care what religion you are unless you are a YEC, then you will be hunted down and made to believe in evolution.

I also really like those people who think their god's method of creation was evolution. At least they can interpret the Bible/Torah/Qua'ran/other literature of religion and not just look at the words at face value.

I was raised a christian, and when I was about 13 or 14 I had to go to this thing called Full Serve. It was a Lutheran gathering of the Lutheran youth from all over Canada. We had to sing and do all that kind of good ol' jolly good "fun". And it was there that I started to look at it from some different angles. It seemed to almost be a cult to me. Kind of ironic lol, going to a christian gathering to become an atheist. Anyways from there I started to question the bible and I started to realize how the whole christian belief is just a really well put together argument. But at the same time it is really ridiculous. There are bits and parts of the bible that go against all modern day belief (for most people). For example it says in the Old Testament that disobedient children should be stoned to death. Now what the hell kind of rule is this!? Now most christians would say that its from the old testament and that was before Jesus came to "revise" the bible (not the best way to put it but you know what I mean). But if god is suppose to be all knowing, and all powerful, then why would his original word have to be changed? Why would it be changed if he is suppose to be RIGHT. This Old Testament stuff doesn't only apply to stoning children, but to all the violence in the old testament. To me this is just one of the flaws of Christianity. I also believe that religion is just an invention by man, to fill in the holes of science. It is there to explain things that we can't explain rationally. Religion is also something to comfort us. It is nice thinking that you are going to die, but your soul will live on forever. It's nice hearing someone say "he's with god now" when one of your friends dies. It's nice thinking that there is someone always with you, who always loves you, even on your loneliest of days. It's just like a big emotional band-aid. One thing that I really hate about religion is prayer. Prayer is just you asking god to get someone else to do something for you. If you want something to happen, then go do it yourself. Be the change you want to see in the world. Religion is also there to control the people. Take for example the catholic church. They would tell the people that if they didn't pay money, they would burn in hell for eternity. It was an abuse of power. Religion also causes way too many wars for something that is suppose to be peaceful. It causes too many fights, too many battles, too much death, and too much ignorance.