In my last article in this section I wrote about three reasons people give for why they believe in a God. However, there are obviously also reasons for why people believe there is no God. Currently, even though belief in God is rising throughout the world and set to continue to rise, Britain (as well as much of Europe) is becoming increasingly non-religious and therefore presumably also non-believing. Between 2001 and 2011 the number of people who identified as Christians, the nation’s largest religious group, dropped by 12%. I am going to elaborate on three reasons why people don’t believe in God.
One of the most common arguments non-believers advance as reason for their unbelief is that suffering is everywhere in the world in which we live. There is war, there is disease, famine, natural disasters – the list goes on. Why would a divine being create a world in which such evils exist? Of course, it is possible that God created the world without a care for the being which existed within it. But that is not the God believed in by most religious people, who believe in an all-loving God – an image of the divine which, atheists argue, is not possible given the pain we see occurring in the world every day. And even if you argue that God gave mankind free will and that therefore the blame for the suffering caused by war can be placed entirely in the hands of human beings that does not account for all the other suffering which goes on in the world – only a tiny proportion of which is caused by war.
God as Grand Designer
Another argument often advanced by atheists is that if God is, as religious people claim him to be, omniscient and omnipotent – all-knowing and all-powerful – then how is it that the phenomena in the universe seems to have been so poorly designed? For example, our immune systems can sometimes turn on us and destroy the very body they are supposed to protect. Humans also have a defective gene which means we can’t create our own vitamin C. On a larger scale, 99% of all species that have existed on this planet are now extinct. Atheists therefore argue that God cannot exist because a divine creator would not have designed organisms which are so faulty and often die out because they are so ill-equipped to the world in which they live.
Where is he/she?
Atheists also often posit to theists that if God does exist then why is he so silent and seemingly vacant from the world? Why doesn’t he just show himself? If he wants people to get to know and believe in him, as well as love him, then he should come down and talk to the beings he created and save us a lot of time arguing whether he truly exists or not, they say - nobody would then be able to deny his existence. They therefore argue that the reason God has not made himself known is because he does not exist.
Image: By Wolfgang Sauber (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons