Why I’m Not A Religious Man


I’m often asked by theists I meet, particularly evangelicals proselytizing at the local library I visit, why I’m not a theist, or more specifically, why I’m not a Christian. There are several reasons for this, but a few stand out:

First, like Bertrand Russell, I simply have learned too much to find any of the Christian dogmas credible, particularly the fundamentalist notion of Biblical inerrancy — I’m quite aware that the Bible has been repeatedly edited, reedited, censored, and “updated” many times over the centuries by theological and political opportunists, which would not be the case if the book were truly a perfect work written or inspired (whatever that’s supposed to mean) by an all-knowing God who you think could write a book, well, perfectly.

Second, even considering Christianity alone, some sources have estimated the existence some 30,000 Christian sects, churches and denominations, many of which do not even consider others to be Christian! Each claims the Truth™ for itself, at least implicitly, and there’s no objective way to tell which one is correct, which one to choose. After all, no matter which one is chosen, you still go to hell according to the devout believers of all the others for choosing the “wrong” religion.

Third, being “saved” does not interest me — WHAT MADNESS IS THIS????? — because I know just enough about psychology and neuroscience to strongly suspect that  souls and ensoulment do not actually exist or occur. Couple that with a strong suspicion of the nonexistence of any divine agency to do the saving, from hell or whatever, and I have what I consider good reasons indeed not to engage in theism.

Non-Christian religions, as interesting as they are, aren’t much better, and no religion has ever had a plausible way of convincingly showing it’s claims true to a critical and knowledgeable nonbeliever, causing further problems for the credibility of any religious belief system or invocations of Pascal’s wager.

This is why I’m a nontheist, and will likely remain one of full conviction to my deathbed, though I could be wrong…

About Troy Loy

I seek to learn through this site and others how to better my ability as a person and my skill at using my reason and understanding to best effect. I do fractal artwork as a hobby, and I'm working to develop it to professional levels, though I've a bit to go till I reach that degree of skill! This is a crazy world we're in, but maybe I can do a little, if only that, to make it a bit more sane than it otherwise would be.

Posted on Wednesday, 12:55, May 9, 2012, in Atheism, Religion & Secularism and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 10 Comments.

  1. Your last line says everything. One of my favourite books, Illusions by Richard Bach, has quotes from a book of wisdom in it. The last quote in the book is “Everything in this book may be wrong.” No matter what beliefs or current theories on reality I have at any given time I try to hold that in mind

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    • Yes, my view is that intellectual honesty demands the admission of error or its possibility. The further into the future we project ourselves, the less certainly we can really and honestly know our state then from now.

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  2. I would say one of the greatest perks of being an atheist is the ability to objectively study almost any subject related to faith or spirituality. There is no explicit dogma telling us how to think. I’ll use recent events as an example; I know of not one single non-believer, or even secularist, that disapproves of same-sex marriage. That kind of thought requires a dogma.

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  3. I have a similar post to this, Its nice to see some of my arguments well laid out and in a much clearer and concise form. I wouldn’t mind a harsh critique of mine if you have the time.

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  4. Wow, that whole warning about how to comment has completely ruined what I was going to do … J/K

    I like your thoughts here, look forward to more. I always thought that Russel was far to polite, but that is the English way. A man of his times I suppose.

    Thanks

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  5. As to Pascal’s wager, I’ll have to take the other side of that bet. It is still impossible to prove the negative of something that can not be measured. If I’m wrong, I still lose nothing except maybe a little pride for being considered silly. A loss I’m willing to accept. If you are wrong, you could lose your very soul, a concept you deny, except for a very sliver of a doubt. So, I will continue to leave most people’s beliefs alone, except for when they start getting demonstrably false. This is what keeps our discussions lively. So, here I continue to sit on the back pew in the church of BOB. (Beyond Our Belief)

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    • Hello Carl.

      First, it’s not the obligation of unbelievers to prove negatives, since the burden of proof always rests on those making the claims. Show me credible evidence in favor of the existence of souls or gods, and I might change my mind after examining it.

      Second, suspicion that something is not so does not equate to denial. I refrain from belief that souls exist, logically very different from claiming positive knowledge that they do not. Again with the burden of proof.

      Third, I also do not think you would lose nothing in believing if wrong. There would be the cost of large sums of money to religious organizations, in time spent on religious observances and rituals, and the risk to one’s intellectual integrity and honesty when self-deception and pious deception of others rears its ugly head.

      Thanks for your concern for my unlikely-to-exist and logically unnecessary soul, but I’m well aware of that part of the Wager and have been ever since I first heard it.

      Even if I’m wrong, if the claims of an all-beneficent, just, loving, morally superior and merciful God are logically consistent and to be taken seriously at all, then my soul is in no danger. It is logically impossible for a being defined that way to have created a Hell to horribly torture unbelievers forever.

      And if logic is no good…then apologists can’t use logic to try to prove God exists, either. Sauce for geese is sauce for ganders.

      It’s getting late. Say hi to Cyndi for me, and maybe I’ll see you at the shop next week.

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  1. Pingback: Re: Why I’m Not A Religious Man « Rayan Zehn

  2. Pingback: Some Thoughts on Religion from the Dude Behind the Dude Behind MrMary « A Spoonful of Suga

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