Explaining God to an Atheist
God is a mean kid sitting on an anthill with a magnifying glass, and I'm the ant. He could fix my life in five minutes if He wanted to, but He'd rather burn off my feelers and watch me squirm.
Who is an Atheist?
I grew up with an Atheist father and a Christian mother. You could say I've had fair exposure to both ways of thought. Convincing an Atheist God exists isn't the goal here, but offering abundant explanations, perspectives, and logic is something I want to discuss.
I possess both a logical and spiritual side within me, and you may find it interesting how both happily co-exist.The fact most Atheists I meet are seeking answers, is great. Seek and you shall find. I found all of this within me to write because of two fellow writers/hubbers in particular, eatfiftyeggs(Atheist) and themanwithnopants (Christian), inspiring this ongoing conversation, which made me examine the topic further. Might I add, it was intelligent respectful conversation.
This is predominantly for Atheists, but religious an non-religious are welcome. Agnostics may also find valuable insight as well. I carefully took into account who I am writing this for, meaning I must know who an Atheist is to approach this subject matter with an ounce of credibility- and I do- like I said, I was raised by one. I've lived in a world between intelligence (actually, "genius" in my father's case) and faith (blind faith in my mother's case). I fell short of reaching the full potential on either side. Thank God!
For future reference, I will apply the term "Atheist" to non-believers and "Believers" to those who believe in any God or religion. I think that's a fair way to simplify one aspect of this complex topic.
An Atheist: Here is what I personally know about an Atheist:They are deeply disturbed by suffering in the world, leading to oversensitivity, but more likely, desensitization and avoidance or loss of affect. They've been hurt or witnessed pain and begin to identify with stability and constants, like knowledge, science, and intelligence. Atheists are experts on religion and since I'm not, I hope this argument is refreshing. Only believing what you read and can prove by scientific method is one-dimensional. We all must know the world extends beyond what is logical. If someone were to give them the definitive proof of God today, they would convert. In essence, their lack of belief is hanging on by a thread, by a will to believe or discovery of proof.
A Believer: If you are not an Atheist reading this, you may be a Christian, Buddhist, Hindu, or even someone like myself who's had personal, spiritual experiences enough to convince me of believing in God. Yes, I believe in God, BUT I don't believe one must go to church to be with or experience God. Just from this statement alone, I've often been banished from wearing the title, Christian. In other words, I write this from a very non-partial point of view, with hopefully as much tact and respect for both sides as possible.
Math and Science. Any Questions?
God puts all your (Atheists) equations out of whack so exclude him entirely from the equation and things start to make sense. A logical Atheist equation, for example, is since pain and suffering exist, a good and loving God does not. Let me explain this logic.
My background in science and research (psychology), easily asists me in explaining why simple equations do not exist. One plus one equals two, and it ALWAYS does, UNLESS there is another variable. Perhaps you ran an experiment and it didn't turn out as calculated. One plus one did not equal two in this situation because something effected the outcome, an extraneous variable. If unknown variables occur in science, then they can exist in other areas as well. God could possibly be a variable in our lives whether you believe in him or not.
When an outcome isn't as planned, scientists may not know what the extraneous variable is, but they know one exists. The fact the outcome was skewed is proof something unexplained exists.
Don't put your faith in man and what you see with your eyes. Studying psychology has taught me how deceptive our perception is. Under Google Videos, try googling "Change blindness" or "psychology perception studies". There is so much we are unaware of and the output of our puny little brains should not be the finite source of answers. Feelings, emotions, and intuition are more reliable than perception itself.
In fact, God should be interpreted through feelings because they are more reliable than actual reality. For example, people who have narrowly avoided tragedies or attacks will state they had a feeling something wasn't right or something was going to happen and they reacted in a way that saved their life. There was no present real danger when they had this feeling, but they had saved themselves when there was real danger, by reacting to and trusting a feeling. Logic would have shown them no danger, but feelings saved their lives.
Pain, suffering, evil, bad, icky stuff
Why would God allow suffering? I'm sure you've heard the parent/child argument before. I completely relate. As a parent, I indulge my very young daughter exposure to the outside world. Perhaps a playground in which she may have fun or scrape her knee. If she gets hurt, I was the one who put her in that harmful situation. If I put ointment on her scraped knee, I am the one to cause her additional pain, yet both scenarios are for her benefit, and she has no concept of it. She doesn't understand because it's beyond her level of understanding. Yes, the real world is different than a playground, but the playground is as large as the whole world compared to how little of a child's brain has developed and exposed to so far.
As our brains develop, we are ready for a larger world, but our brains are never entirely developed and sadly, not even close to full potential even as adults, so we may not have the capacity to prove God's existence or awareness of a larger world beyond us. Just because our world is large, doesn't mean that's it folks.
For Atheists, free will and suffering is a more believable equation. God gave us free will because he wants us to appreciate the good, therefore lets bad exist for the good to shine through. For example, if you put a diamond against a white cloth, you will only see a small percentage of it's facets- nothing special, Now put the diamond on a black cloth, isn't the contrast gorgeous? Don't you truly appreciate all it's facets, how sparkly it is? You can't appreciate good without bad.
Disease came and spread from man's free will. We have to pay for it and the only difference is we/U.S has more resources to deal with it than other countries. They should not suffer, as a whole, but it is all consequences. On all levels, we pay for what our ancestors did, wherever free will led them. On a smaller scale, we pay for what our parents pass down to us. Perhaps God doesn't view death as bad and all suffering will end in a better life hereafter. If this is it, as Atheists believe, then why do some people not get a "fair" chance and suffer needlessly? What logical order or reasoning explains that? If this isn't it, then the suffering here is only momentary.
One more thought on pain and suffering; Buddhists, for example, believe suffering is just another state of being.To say there is suffering versus well being, you have just labeled it. It's only YOUR perception and attitude. We label things as "good" or "bad"- when they just "are". Who told you suffering was bad? It doesn't feel good? How do you know what good is? Even things that may feel painful are not bad for us. We may get a vaccination shot that hurt, but it's not "bad".
The Problem With Free Will
Can God intervene? Depends on if you believe He knows and has a plan for each of us. If He intervenes, then there is no free will. However, He gave us free will to believe in Him and pray to Him, therefore He can answer accordingly. Free will is tough to explain and similar to freedom in the U.S. Yes we are "free", but we're not really. We are just free to make choices, however, there are boundaries and laws in place.
God is not a psychic, pulling strings in case His palm readings were a little off nor is he an ant bully. His ultimate plan is the circle of life- no life and no death shall be wasted. Perhaps that's the only purpose, the only plan. Renewal, heaven, and/or another life. The after life is better than this life, therefore death does not mean the same to God as it does to us. How do we know death is bad? .
What about babies who die without the option of free will?A baby will die at one day old because mom chose to take drugs or in another scenario mom did everything right and still the baby dies, but she goes on to raise research money and awareness, contributing to a greater purpose. If you take the scientific, Atheist version of this last scenario, how do you explain, scientifically, how or why a baby dies if mom did everything right. If you conclude, she must have done SOMETHING wrong, then we're back to free will; she did something that effected her baby.
Everything happens for a reason is not a notion solely for believers. Other people believe this mentality as well through Karma or similar. Miracles happen without God, but because of God. Bruce Almighty was a comedy movie in 2003. Funny example I will use just to break up the seriousness here. God says to Bruce, "Parting your soup (like the sea) is not a miracle Bruce, it's a magic trick. A single mom who's working two jobs, and still finds time to take her son to soccer practice, that's a miracle. A teenager who says "no" to drugs and "yes" to an education, that's a miracle. People want me to do everything for them. What they don't realize is *they* have the power. You want to see a miracle, son? Be the miracle." If you also remember in this movie, Bruce did what every Atheist would do, he granted everybody's prayers to make things fair and good, but it led to destructive chaos instead.
Why Atheists can't believe in God
Simply put, they struggle over the "belief" aspect. It seems belief comes out of thin air. A combination of unanswered questions and no physical proof make it impossible for Atheists to believe in God. Let me compare belief to love. We can't see it, we have infinite questions about it, and it's highly subjective.
At one point, you had to believe in love before you could find it or experience it for yourself. If you did not believe in love, you would not be open to it, therefore never finding out what it was like and continuing to proclaim, it does not exist. Love is irrational, but it would be hard to argue it didn't exist. How would you know love exists when hard data supports 50-75% of relationships end in a split or divorce?
I would also say Atheists are like the one person in the crowd at a comedy show that doesn't "get" the show-stopping joke. They pick God apart literally, try to reason with it, mull it over and dissect it until it's dead, but in the end if you don't get it, you don't get it. Finding a joke funny has a lot to do with personal experiences, feelings and open mindedness. The more someone else has to explain the joke or God, the more meaningless it becomes.
The take home point: God is personal. You will not "find" Him in a book, in someone else's words,a Hub forum, scientific evidence, or logical reasoning. Belief and faith rely on us not knowing the answer, but belief must come before God, not the other way around.
- Atheism, God, Free Will, and Other Boring Stuff
(This hub is a response to izettl's hub, "Explaining God to an Atheist," and is structured like a response. It sort of stands on its own, but reading that hub will definitely make this one more intelligible...
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