For me, I didn’t have a hard time chucking Christianity, or for that matter, the notion of a loving intervening theistic God…at least one who is fair. The idea that there is an intervening god who cares about us and influences outcomes of things is, I think, obviously false…at least from the perspective that this god cares about everyone. If he exists, he clearly doesn’t care about everyone.
The proof for this is simple: imagine the place where a god, if he existed, really needs to be. Imagine the worst places on earth that are most desperate for help – where babies starve to death, toddlers die from infections, adolescent children are kidnapped and sold into sex slavery, villages are slaughtered by the bad guys du jour.
Yet those places are exactly where this god IS NOWHERE TO BE FOUND! And more than that, these are the places where he will continue not to be found, if history is any indication.
When I was still a Christian, I remember thinking: Please god! Help these people! I can find my own car keys. Professional football players can score their own touchdowns. Jesus doesn’t need to appear in toast. We’ll be alright if you want to take time to focus on real problems. Lack of faith is not the problem here…your indifference is.
As time went on, I found it more and more obscene when I saw people praising god for their accomplishments or good luck, because the flip side of this paradigm, where there is a god who cares and intervenes, is that this god ignored people who were in desperate need of help, and gave preference to people who aren’t.
I suppose thoughts like that were what led me down the road of atheism, although I wouldn’t dream of pointing to a single issue. It was more like: from every perspective I approached it, it simply made more sense that this intervening god was a fiction.
These days, I have very little interest in arguing against the idea of some sort of non-intervening deity – a deistic or pantheistic god.
But I have noticed something over the past couple years since I’ve started paying attention to what arguments people use for the existence of a god that the double speak becomes most dishonest in these muddy waters between deism and theism.
For example, the notion that some sort of being (or whatever) flipped the lightswitch or clapped his hands and got this whole universe rolling is not entirely inconceivable to me. I think it’s an unnecessary claim that lacks evidence and creates more problems than it solves, but abstractly, it’s not the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard.
I’m sure a lot of people feel this way. They might have been brought up in a household that put some value in religion, and where they were forced to attend Sunday school and religion classes, yet they personally have a hard time swallowing the idea that Iron Age illiterates had a direct line of communication to god.
For the younger generation — the generation brought up in an era where our magic tricks are much cooler than those depicted in the bible, religion is even harder to swallow, as evidenced by a huge increase in the “none” category.
Yet, this deistic framework, the one where clever salesmen get to take advantage of people’s incredulity and ignorance about the incredible physics that go on at the quantum level, is the framework that apologists exploit when providing their “proofs” for god.
The logical jump goes something like this:
The universe is really big and complicated, and the amount we know is very small compared to all the information in the universe. Therefore God loved you so much that he sent his only son to die for your sins.
But I think those apologists commit an error: by the time most reasonable people are grappling with the logical and empirical inconsistency inherent in the idea of an intervening deity, they’re probably likely to spot the non-sequitur the apologist is trying to smuggle.