Ask An Honest Question?

I have been having a couple of conversations with believers. I started them by asking one or more honest questions. I was not trying to start an argument or insult anyone, just asking honest questions in hope of honest answers.


One of them ended in a friendly stalemate. My final reply is below. I think it worth posting here. It is representative of why I’m anti-theist.

This is something of a Mexican stand-off. I expected it would be as much. That is not to say that I’m disappointed, because I’m not.

Atheists and anti-theists are oft accused of being closed minded and you might well find me so even now. I ask honestly of believers what credible reason there is to believe that gods can even exist. Without that there is little reason in arguing over which god is true and which is not.

At just 8 years old I was taught an important lesson in life – we are responsible for our own actions. That lesson was taught to me by a Pentecostal evangelical preacher – my father.

I cannot give a god credit for all the good things I do and take the blame for all the bad things. If it’s all on the god, then I’m a puppet without free will. If it’s all on my I’d rather just get on with life and quit giving credit where it is not due. One day as I was searching for what god really meant, it occurred to me that everyone I ever knew simply presumed that god existed. I had no other reason to think that a god existed, so I searched. It was some years later that I finally began to ask the correct question: can a god exist?

No matter how many times I ask, the answer is always the same. Even most atheists answer it wrongly in my opinion. The correct answer, as far as I can tell, is ‘I have no credible reason to believe that gods or supernatural entities can exist’ and that can be rewritten as ‘I do not believe that gods can exist’.

After that any discussion about religion is pointless. If there is no reason to believe that a god can exist, talking about which one is the true god is just wasting time and words. Still, I ask. Maybe one day there will be credible evidence… who knows?

You can read the whole exchange at Step By Step Trek blog

    • Noran
    • October 12th, 2012

    I never thought of atheists as being closed-minded at all. I thought that was what atheists thought of believers? 🙂

    I just have a few comments. I studied computational logic, an there is a big difference between “not having a reason to believe something” and “believing the opposite of something”. I don’t believe I have a twin sister out there that I don’t know of. But if I ever saw her and ran a DNA test I would have to believe it. I’m not arguing anything for God, I’m just saying the statement doesn’t hold that’s all.

    I don’t know about all believers, but I for one have reason to believe in God. For all the “poetic” reasons which I still think make sense, but also logically. There’s a mathematical theorem, for example, which states that any system that is consistent is incomplete. This means that if you draw a circle around the universe and everything it contains, and assume that this is a system that makes sense, it *has* to rely on an external axiom outside the system.

    • Thanks for stopping by to comment.

      I don’t follow the logic comment.

      You have no evidence of having a sister. When asked you do not answer “I don’t have a sister, well, not that I know of as all other evidence points to it being very unlikely that your father was promiscuous or your mother gave up a child to adoption.”
      Instead your answer is simply, I don’t have a sister.

      Likewise, I do not believe in gods. There is no credible evidence that any god exists and no credible evidence that one could exist. Restated: There are no gods.

      To remain agnostic is like saying you can’t be sure that there are no one eyed 12-toe purple and green tree sloths. You simply say there is no such beast. Sure, if someone shows you a picture of one, or you see one at the zoo you’ll change your stance but that is providing evidence.

      I fail to see how Godel’s incompleteness theorems apply to supernatural beings. Further I don’t believe that the universe as we know it is the entirety of existence. Quantum mechanics and string theory do not indicate that this is all there is. So if you want to draw a circle around whatever is next and say that is incomplete, and then again and again it still does not imply that there is a sentient being which is the cause of all that. The statement that there is a sentient causal agent outside of known existence is a claim that cannot logically be made. It infers that you know what is the entirety of existence and that there is an agent outside of what is known or knowable, and thus necessarily is unknowable.

      Not so long ago, S.Hawking published a book in which he detailed how the forces of nature in our known universe would create the universe we see now and that no creator god is required for it to look as it does now. That leaves the believer saying that ‘well, god caused the big bang’ and there is no evidence of that nor reason to think it so. The singularity event does not infer an external causal agent. Such a thing might be possible but it is not necessarily so, nor do we have any evidence to suggest that it might be so. In either case such a deity would not be the one described in any of the holy texts of the Abrahamic faiths.

      I still have no evidence that gods can exist.

    • J_Agathokles
    • October 13th, 2012

    Personally I hope no evidence can ever be found either way. Because the moment one can objectively and conclusively prove the existence or non-existence of deities, one can also infer a “One True Way”, which I think is abhorrent. Besides, it’s the inherent uncertainty that helps humankind progress and change – for better or for worse. But the fundamental necessity is that there is change. Because if that ever stops, then humankind is literally dead.

    • I agree that change is the forge of betterment for humans. I have no hope of evidence either way. Existence is what it is. I don’t think that evidence for the existence of gods will be found, so there will always be a sliver of room to doubt and question.

  1. I cannot conclude that there is no God, because that implies that I have all the evidence in the universe, perceived through my limited human mind, to state that there is absolutely no Being that is unlimited or greater than my mind. How can I conclude something about a Being that is greater than my mind? On the other hand, my limited mind can perceive enough in the universe to at least conclude that I am just a very small portion of this huge universe, and because of this, there is still room for improvement and learning. In other words, to conclude that there is no God is premature. But to conclude that there is still room for me to keep learning about who God may be is a more accurate way of reflecting what I am. Hope this makes sense.

  2. It does make sense. In my journey which has times that would be described as you describe your own, the search for what god is lead me to ask what was the origin of god on this planet. Why do so many believe in something, yet all believe in different somethings? What is the commonality in them? From what is goodness derived? If all are derived from the same goodness, there must be some clues pointing back to what it is, right? Even if it has been perverted since.

    I looked and looked. To me the central question changed from which god is true to ‘can gods exist’? In facing the new question the search fundamentally changes. No human description of god is more believable than the next, and they can’t all be right. What if none of them is right? Where would the source of goodness come from?

    That lead to understanding that man is good and eventually understanding that there is no creator god. These two lead to understanding that the simplest explanation is that man made god up. This is entirely possible, and from some evidence entirely probable. Adding complexity to the question does not help solve it. Add to this that there is no evidence for a god to exist, no evidence that a god can exist. The most probable idea is the one that is left – man made god in his own image.

    We are but mere flecks of flame on this planet, in this solar system, in this galaxy and so on. We cannot yet know what is in the rest of the galaxy never mind the universe as it is known. At least not yet. This does not prevent us figuring out what we think we know. I can find no reason to think that gods can exist.

    You yourself admit that our minds are not able to encompass all knowledge yet, but thousands of years ago we came up with gods. Our imaginations on what god is like are failed because we made god up. The explanation for everything in the universe does not require gods. And so it is that I reject the entire notion. Gods do not exist. There is no evidence for it other than what we humans clearly made up.

    If there is a god that we cannot comprehend, it is beyond understanding and worship. We should rightfully conclude that there are no gods, even if such a thing as an incomprehensible god does exist. Should it exist, we cannot know of it. Do ants know about crustaceans living at heat vents on the bottom of the ocean? Why should they? Does it matter if they do not? Will that knowledge change the lives of the ants or make any difference? The only conclusion that I can find is that no gods exist and if they do, they don’t know about us human apes so it does not matter to us if they do.

  3. That was a great example how the end a debate. I always cringe when the atheist’s closing argument is F off or something of that nature. It explain why you are an atheist, but not specifically why you are anti-theist, but that doesn’t matter in most cases.

    • Thank you. I am anti-theist for the simple reason that the only reason we have to think there are gods is the imaginations of men. No woman would invent religion as it exists today. I cannot believe in a god that has that much human bias while there is so much more to the universe that we know. I reject it completely as all such claims are without evidence to explain the universe we know and the society we live in.

      I am who I am, and sometimes that is asshole. I try not to be. I don’t claim 100% success

      I’m a mechanical atheist… sometimes I get it wrong.

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