7 Common False Reasons for Why People Believe in a God
There are many reasons for why people believe in God. Here are 7 reasons that I have commonly seen as the explanation for faith in God, that I think are false.
For the reverse argument, see:
For the negative argument: see
For a refreshingly unique view, see:
1. Everybody else does
This has struck me as the most shocking one. A lot of people, in particular teenagers, have told me that they believe in God simply because everybody else around them does. It seems to them that most of their family and friends also believe in God so why shouldn't they? They reason "how can everybody be wrong?" Another side reason to this is the belief that if you are baptised/initiated into your religion, you must then be a believer.
I never really understood this reasoning because when I think about something, I don't immediately go to another source of information or think about who believes what, I think about the situation as I know it, with the facts that I know, and try to make a conclusion from them. It is when I feel like I don't know enough about something that I go and find a source of information. I would never believe anything simply because somebody told me it was true. It has to make sense too. Why do some people skip this process altogether and just blindly follow what everyone else believes?
Of course, linked in with this point is that it is often found that parents teach their children their religion and from a young age, particular beliefs are ingrained into their children, and are often reinforced by their community. As many of the readers will know, it is hard to stop accepting something that you believed to be true all of your life, and so it can be attributed to this phenomenon that people stay believing in God after their teenage years. Naturally then, it can be said that a lot of people believe in God on the false reason of simply being born with parents who would tell them to do so.
2. If I don't, I'll burn in hell
When religious people tell me "If I'm wrong, I have nothing to lose, if you're wrong, you have everything to lose" they mean that If I don't believe in God, I will burn in hell (or otherwise be punished), and that's why I should believe in God.
But as Richard Dawkin's points out "we are all atheists, some of us just have taken it one God further." What he means by that is: people who believe in God, don't believe in so many other Gods by doing so. If you are a Christian for example, you believe in the Christian God. You are an atheist in respect to all of the others, such as the Jewish God and the Islamic God. So if the Christian is wrong, and Judaism is the true religion, then the Christian will also be punished eternally, just like the atheist.
Therefore, If anyone is wrong about their beliefs, they will end up burning in hell or the equivalent punishment of the true religion.
So I don't really see how not believing in God puts you at any more risk of hell or punishment than believing in him. Other religions also promise eternal punishment for not believing in their God.
(Note: Although I took the example of Christianity, it is in fact true of some divisions of religion to promise punishment for those too 'ignorant' to find the real division of that religion, not just the religion itself. I.E Some believe that people who fall outside of their Church cannot go to heaven. For example, Catholics believe that true protestants cannot go to heaven because they are outside of the church - sourced)
3. Good things happen to me
I have heard a lot of "I pray to the almighty God and he rewards me" and "I am happy in life because of God" as an answer to why they believe in God. This includes very lucky or "miraculous" events in people's lives. But how can you know that your happiness is a result of God? After all, there are atheists who are perfectly happy in their lives, good things happen, without prayer or belief. It's of course a great thing that people are getting good things in their lives, but I don't think attributing it to something higher than us is a logical conclusion to make from them.
Another point against this is for all of the people who pray, and get nothing. Or people with faith who end up with terrible luck and misfortune. If there was a God that was capable of interfering with out day to day life, then why does he do so for some and not for others?
Arguing that "we do not understand God's motives" to me seems like giving up on argument altogether.
4. The Bible/Qu'ran/Torah/Other Religious Texts are very old
A lot of people argue that because the text that their religion is based on is very old, it somehow makes it more believable than if it wasn't. I don't understand this logic because when it comes to all other knowledge: cars, medicine and laws for example, being antiquated works against those things. This is based on the idea that what was said/made in the past may not have been the most true and useful for our society in which we live now. Why is this view not applied to antiquated texts whose real authors can only be guessed at?
Another point to note is that there have been many holes and inconsistencies found in these ancient texts which point to the idea that they were written for a human purpose (to control the masses) and not by a divine entity who would supposedly have gotten everything right in his texts. If taken literally, a lot of the events in ancient texts seem to greatly contradict modern day science (creation, walking on water, etc.)
5. I can feel God inside of me
This is the most understandable point for me as sometimes it feels like there is more to being a human than just being an animal who eats, sleeps and reproduces. This may be why so many different religions have been made in the past. It could be a natural urge for us to find something to admire as our authority figure, something larger than us.
But I fail to see how this feeling of spirituality, that there is something bigger than us, can definitely mean that it is a God who makes us feel that way. Is this feeling telling people "I am God, read the Bible/Qu'ran/Torah and follow it's guidelines?". Why does this feeling mean that we have to go to a particular place and read a particular text and then lead a particular life necessarily.
So I don't understand how people can say things like "I just know it's God" when if they didn't know religions existed, and words like "god" and "bible", they would not have been able to follow the guidelines of their religion. They would have still perhaps felt the "presence of God" but to me it seems unlikely that they would go to church every sunday and forbid gay marriage, or not eat particular animals, or get circumcised by the urge of the feeling inside of them.
Of course, if you feel this spirituality and decide to call it God, then this point does not really apply. But I would argue that what you are calling God is not "God" by standards of religion and so you've just made up a new name for spirituality or feeling inside of you.
6. The God of Gaps
Another false reason for believing in a God could be said to be the argument that "since science cannot answer A, then God must be real, since with his existence we can answer A". I don't really understand this, because by using God as an answer to fill a gap of knowledge, you are only opening up even more questions. How did God come about? What shaped his personality (if you believe he has one)? Why is there pain on Earth? Why doesn't prayer work? etc.
I could see how gaps in science might make you agnostic, since there hasn't been conclusive proof of any cosmology as of yet but I personally don't see how using God to fill in gaps works as an argument.
It seems to me like you're filling a gap with a hole.
Also to note is that in a lot of the 'gaps' there is evidence for what the gaps might be, and evidence for the truth of the theory. It's just not absolutely conclusive, as the picture explains.
I am unsure about the naming for this point and so am very open for suggestions, but as for the point, I am. Thanks to @Jenubouka and the ever useful comments section for pointing out that a lot of people become religious in jail.
I believe in any situations of hardships (disabilities, diseases, financial trouble, loneliness), we naturally look for something to lean on, some form of support or comfort. I think because of the availability of texts such as the Bible, many people seek solace in Christianity in particular when they are experiencing hardships. I must stress that I think what religion does in these cases serves a positive role overall, because it teaches some fundamental morals such as killing and stealing is wrong, and loving and caring is right. However, I do not see the reasoning behind believing in something only because you want to feel comfort in something, it seems like using religion and belief for your own benefit, which has little to do with truth.
This reason may be considered as the reason for the positive correlation between poorer, less developed countries and higher religious numbers. As living standards increase, the need for a higher power decreases.
Although religions such as Islam and Christianity are growing in terms of population and % of the world population adhering, these increases are only seen in poorer countries such as Nigeria (accounting for most of the Christian growth). In the developed countries where living standards are high, religious numbers are rapidly decreasing with 9 countries said to see the extinction of religion entirely in the near future. For more information on this, see my hub '6 Reasons Religion is Dying'.
All in All
All in all, I think that these 7 reasons are understandable, but they should be exposed and addressed. If anyone has any input that they think might be useful in terms of adding or discrediting this hub then please do go ahead and post it below.
Thank you very much for your time,
Have a nice day,
Note: I do not wish for this hub to be an attack on religions or God in itself, I merely wanted to express my view that a lot of people are religious for the wrong reasons. Non believers also face similar problems and I am in the process and I have now written the reverse argument, see "5 Common False Reasons for why People do not believe in a god"
For people who wish to be more moral and satisfied in like, reading my hub "5 reasons it doesn't matter whether God exists or not" is advised.
Important: (important for those who enjoy learning both sides of an argument, that is!)