“Does God exist?”
But in reality the answer is quite simple: No.
It’s a matter of probability. There is no scientific evidence – not one iota – that there exists in the universe an omnipotent, omniscient being that can read the thoughts and direct the actions of every living being.
"When did I realize I was God? Well, I was praying and I suddenly realized I was talking to myself."
- Peter O'Toole
So, according to Pascal, it’s better to believe. But Pascal may have been being facetious because can you really fake belief in God?
“Pascal’s wager could only ever be an argument for feigning belief in God,” Biologist Richard Dawkins writes in his book “The God Delusion.” “And the God you claim to believe in better not be the omniscient kind or he’d see through the deception.”
Coming to the realization that I’m an atheist was not an easy path. I’ve struggled with the idea of God and religion since I was a boy. I was raised Catholic – with all the trappings, ceremonies, and solemn mysteries of faith (as well as the not so subtle threats not to wander off the reservation or face dire consequences).
"I'm not normally a religious man, but if you're up there, save me, Superman!"I’ve flirted with church attendance throughout my adult life – going to Catholic masses and even a period where I went to a Congregationalist church. But the bouts of faith never took. Organized religion always falls back on tired religious platitudes, the contradictions and downright silliness of the Bible (not to mention the outright cruelty), and the bizarre absolutism of church canon (is it really wrong to never to have an abortion?).
- Homer Simpson
In the end, I fell back on wondering why the most powerful being in the universe would care if I ate a hamburger on Fridays during Lent.
Science vs. Faith
It also comes down to science. At one time, Christians insisted that God placed the Earth at the center of the universe and that the sun, the planets, and everything else revolved around it. Christians persecuted scientists who dared to suggest otherwise – calling it an attack on religion and God. We now know that the Earth is but a tiny satellite in the far corner of the universe – revolving around the sun. Christians had to reluctantly adjust. And despite, mounds of scientific evidence that man (and all life on earth) evolved through natural selection – fundamental Christians continue to fight the obvious.
Christians (and I don’t mean to pick on Christianity, but it’s the religion I’m most familiar with) continue to explain any gap in science with one answer: God. Until, that is, science finally fills the gap with a more logical explanation. Then they scurry back to another gap. Unfortunately for religion – the gaps are getting fewer and harder to find.
"The true mystery of the world is the visible, not the invisible."
- Oscar Wilde
As human knowledge progresses (chemists are now trying to create life in the laboratory – and eventually they probably will) it begins to be clear that belief in an omnipotent, omniscient being who controls the universe like some enormous puppet master is rather archaic. Religion appears to be a leftover remnant of our primitive past when lightning and thunder were God’s wrath rather than a naturally occurring weather pattern.
Fundamental Christians argue for a “designer” theory; that the universe is too complicated to have randomly occurred. But everything is random. Take a look around you. What were the improbable odds that the coffee cup on your desk would have ended up there? A thousand years ago your own birth was an improbable equation. Think of all the events that had to line up to make it happen and how the odds improved each time the event before it occurred. Then, finally, your parents are born and all that had to happen was the long-shot of them meeting, falling in love, and reproducing (and the one sperm among the millions that was you had to win the race).
The fact that any of us are living – is an astronomical ridiculous mathematical improbability. But those long odds are true about everything in existence.
Celebration of Death
There’s also another factor. Call it the gut check. If the average religious person (and 73 percent of Americans believe in God, according to Harris Poll taken in October, 2006) truly believed in God and an afterlife, wouldn’t that belief manifest itself in the way we view death? Americans view death as sorrowful and the prospect of it scares most people.
"Angels dancing on the head of a pin dissolve into nothingness at the bedside of a dying child."But why is this? If heaven exists – wouldn’t death be cause for celebration? Wouldn’t we look forward to our deaths? Wouldn’t we envy those who died before us because they are with God and in heaven with all of our ancestors? The answer, of course, is that most people – deep down – understand the contradictions and improbability of the existence of God – especially one who reads our thoughts and intervenes in our actions sporadically and without design.
- Waiter Rant
The idea of no God, however, frightens most people. But it shouldn’t. Life is just as precious without a supreme being. You are still you. The people in your life still exist and our societies will continue to function and run and thrive. The control, however, belongs to us.StumbleUpon | Digg | del.icio.us | Reddit | Technorati | E-mail