This is the most commonly asked question that I get, “Why don’t you believe in a God?”. Note my use of the word “can’t” instead of “don’t” in the title of this blog. We live in a world where the vast majority of the population believes in some sort of a supernatural deity in one form or another. This makes me part of the minority who doesn’t. However, as I don’t believe in one, that means I must have my reasons. There must be some critical evidence, some vital piece of information or resource(s) that are available to 90% of the population but not to me. I must not have access to that information which might convince me of a divine God(s) and it’s existence.
The evidence for God must be so overwhelming to convince 90% of the Earths population of his existence, and let us assume that the other 10% of us do have access to the same evidence as the believers do in God, but we refuse not to accept it. This, to my mind anyway, concludes that, in the face of presented theological evidence, it’s not that I don’t believe in a God, but that I can’t believe in a God even when the evidence has been presented to me by a believer. Let’s look at a hypothetical conversation between me and a theist (a person of belief);
Theist: Why don’t you believe in a God?
Me: I can’t.
Theist: Why can’t you?
Me: Because I can’t! The evidence you have presented is not good enough to believe in one.
The lack of evidence presented by a theist isn’t the only reason why I can’t believe in a God, there are a number of reasons why I can’t. My list of reasons is in no way thorough, but it should give you a good idea of my arguments against the existence of God.
The reasons are listed below (in no particular order):
1. Coincidence of inherited faith
There are two assumptions to make here that 1) my birth to Muslim parents was purely coincidental and there was no divine intervention or plan for me to be born to Muslim parents, or 2) that it was planned by a supreme supernatural being that my birth should be to Muslim parents.
If we take 1) to be true, it just so happens, by sheer coincidence, that I was born to Muslim parents, and thus the direction my upbringing will take was obvious. I was to be brought up as a Muslim, believing in ‘La ilaha illal la hu, muhammadur rasullallah’ (‘There is no God but Allah, and Muhammad is his messenger’). This was the doctrine that I was to follow from birth. As a young child, I had no choice but to follow this.
What if I had been born to Christian parents? Or Jewish parents? Or Hindu parents? Or Buddhist parents? Richard Dawkins puts this wonderfully in a Q and A section in 2006 during a lecture:
“If you were born in India, you’d be a Hindu. If you were brought up in Denmark in the time of the Vikings, you would be believing in Wotan and Thor. If you were born in classical Greece, you’d be believing in Zeus. If you were born in central Africa you would be believing in the Great JuJu up the mountain.” – Richard Dawkins.
It just so happens that I was born to Muslim parents, and my God was Allah. If I had been born to Hindu parent’s, I would have been worshipping Krishna, and then I would have believed that Krishna is the true God and all other non-hindu Gods were false.
If 2) happens to be true, that my birth to Muslim parents was pre-destined by a supreme being or God, then one must ask, “Why did I deserve such a privilege?”. Why was I the one chosen to be born into this correct and true religion? If God wanted me to be born into Islam, and give me this advantage, a big boost that will help me get in to heaven, why then deny this privilege and advantage to the other billions of babies born to non-Muslim parents? Why must they suffer the ills and wrongs of “false” religions and gods and seriously cut their chances of ever getting into heaven by worshipping the wrong type of god(s).
This to me, sounds like favouritism. God chooses some people over others based on criteria that only he knows. A baby born to non-muslim parents in some remote part of the world has no chance of discovering Islam and making it into the Muslim heaven.
2. God’s morality
God has a strange way of showing love, compassion, and mercy. It is claimed God has power over everything. He can control nature and where he can prevent natural disasters, he also has the power to create them. If he controls the power to stop natural disasters, then why does he let them happen?
At this point, religious apologists say something that I find absolutely repulsive, that:
- God had a plan for the people who died
- These people paid the price for being sinful
- These people died so that others can see the dangers of disobeying God
- It’s a demonstration of God’s wrath so others maybe believe and go on the path of righteousness.
If you think I made that list up, think again. These are actual reasons that people have given me! Some very nice, honest, decent human beings say such vile and nasty things when they have to show loyalty to their religion. To think that an innocent young girl died in a flood, her body washed away miles from her house, drowning in water and in complete agony, that God at this point was thinking, “It’s ok for her to suffer like this because I’m trying to make a point”.
I refuse to believe in any God that has this sort of morality, and will definitely not worship something so gross and lacking in any moral decency. There should be NO excuse for any life, innocent or not, to be wasted in such a manner for the sake of other people’s salvation.
3. Absolute claim to truth
The Quran and the Hadiths claim that everything in the Quran is the absolute truth, and that it can never change. Our sense of morality has changed over time. We no longer think it is acceptable to keep slaves (A); to allow women half the rights of that given to men; adulterers and homosexuals to be severely punished or in some cases executed; and apostates to be killed.
(A) Regarding slaves
Surah 004 Verse 024
YUSUFALI: Also (prohibited are) women already married, except those whom your right hands possess: Thus hath Allah ordained (Prohibitions) against you: Except for these, all others are lawful, provided ye seek (them in marriage) with gifts from your property,- desiring chastity, not lust, seeing that ye derive benefit from them, give them their dowers (at least) as prescribed; but if, after a dower is prescribed, agree Mutually (to vary it), there is no blame on you, and Allah is All-knowing, All-wise.
Also check out Quran (33:50), (23:5-6), (2:178) regarding ownership and treatment of slaves.
Religion with its bronze age scriptures can never change their texts. Even as when our societies evolve and we become a more enlightened species, the scriptures will still insist we keep to the same tribal morals and ethics that were considered the norm back in the days. We now consider child marriages to be a violation of human rights, and an ‘eye-for-an-eye’ punishments against human decency.
4. Contradictions in scripture
The claim by Muslim apologetics on the divinity of the Quran falls flat when you begin to see the many contradictions within its texts. They often claim that the absence of any contradictions in the holy scriptures is proof of its revelation by God to Muhammad. These people often have not fully read the Quran in a language they understand. If they did, they will begin to see one verse claiming one thing, then another one that completely contradicts it.
Will Christians enter Paradise or go to Hell? Sura 2:62 and 5:69 say “Yes”, Sura 5:72 (just 3 verses later) and 3:85 say “No”.
How merciful is Allah’s mercy? He has prescribed mercy for himself [6:12], yet he does not guide some, even though he could [6:35, 14:4].
What was man created from? A blood clot [96:1-2], water [21:30, 24:45, 25:54], “sounding” (i.e. burned) clay [15:26], dust [3:59, 30:20, 35:11], nothing [19:67] and this is then denied in 52:35, earth [11:61], a drop of thickened fluid [16:4, 75:37]
Source: Answering Islam.
These are just a few examples of the contradictions within the Quran. A Muslims response to such contradictions is that the verses should be read in context. The whole Quran is arranged according to length of the Surahs, with the shortest at the beginning and the longest placed at the end. Every verse can be read in context, and you will still get the same meaning and end result.
It was these contradictions that to me was proof enough that such scripture could not have come from a divine revelation. The contradictions were consistent with what you would expect to find in something that was a product of human invention.
5. Scientific theory
I heard a lot of Muslims make claims that there is a lot of science in the Quran. What I realised was that it’s not the Quran that makes these claims, but rather desperate Muslim apologetics who try to find some defence against the advancements made by science that contradicts the existence of God and other supernatural powers. They see this as a direct threat to their beliefs, and desperately try to find verses in the Quran that they can interpret into anything remotely scientific. Take the following verses for example:
Does man think that We cannot assemble his bones? Nay, We are able to put together in perfect order the very tips of his fingers.
(Translation by Yusuf Ali: Surah 75:3-4)
Muslim apologetics say the above verse is shows the uniqueness of finger prints. Here, they themselves do not read the verse in the context of the previous and later verses.
I do call to witness the Resurrection Day; And I do call to witness the self-reproaching spirit: (Eschew Evil).
(Translation by Yusuf Ali: Surah 75:1-2)
After reading the first 2 verses that come before it, you soon find out that the Quran is actually talking about resurrection of the body, and that God can create the human again, including his bones and his fingers. There is also no mention of “finger prints” – just the tips of the fingers.
There are also many false claims made about salt and fresh water not mixing, the human embryo development, the shape of the Earth, the rotation of the Sun and the Moon, and the role of mountains. I have always been interested in the sciences, and always try to educated myself on how our natural world works. When I heard these “scientific” claims being made, it pushed me further to find out the real scientific explanations.
Suffice it to say, anyone who has read an A-Level science book on physics, biology and geology, would never accept the “miracles of the Quran” to have any scientific value.
6. Lack of evidence
When asked for evidence about God’s presence, you would normally be presented with personal experiences, anecdotes, and that fable “God won’t present to you because you don’t believe in him”. What utter potty. Religion makes counter-claims to science; laws of gravity can be suspended to allow humans to fly off and sometimes biology can allow virgins to give birth. These remarkable claims have no evidence to back themselves up, but instead we are to rely on the testimony of a few 6th century tribal ignorants from a desert of the middle-east.
7. Conditional love
Whilst a believer, I found it really odd that there was a condition attached to receiving heavenly rewards after you die. It did not matter if you had lived a good life full of good deeds as a decent human being, but if you didn’t accept God, then that was enough to condemn you to a lifetime in eternal hell.
My kindness, generosity, charity, good will, and good behaviour towards my fellow human beings and all things living were not enough if I didn’t prostate 5 times a day; if I didn’t fall on my knees and begged for forgiveness, and gave thanks to the almighty creator for giving me a brain and a mind to think for myself, to question my existence, but then punishing me for doing just that.
8. Dominion of men
It is no doubt that when the Quran was written, it was a world dominated by men. This was more true in the Arab world and in the tribal societies of the middle-east. The Quran speaks in most parts directly to men – “they”, “you”, “we”, “them” are words addressed to the male audience. At other parts it speaks to the reader in general. The odd time when it does refer to a woman, it is often to remind her to be obedient to the men.
Muslim apologetics at this point say the Quran needed to speak to the male population because they were the most influential, but this contradicts the claim that the Quran is universal and speaks to everyone; men and women.
We have moved forward in regards to female rights, and woman have now been empowered with the same rights as men in most countries and societies. If we are to follow the Quran with its unalterable scripture, we will fall back in our progress made for human rights, and women will once again find themselves losing out. This contradiction was enough for me start doubting in the “divine revelation”.
These were some of the reasons that made me question religion, but the biggest influence has been the “age of reason” – the ability to look at supernatural claims with skepticism and credulity, and questioning everything.