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Atheism: why do people don't believe in God?

My question to all atheists is that, why don't they believe in God? Can't they see His signs and can everything that happens on Earth happen by chance? If I don't believe in Allah, Jesus, Buddha or any other God, how can I live? I'll have no direction or paths.

Ok. I agree. There are somethings that we don't know about God, i.e. where did he came from but I believe there is a difference between the knowledge he possesses and we possess. If we'll get all that knowledge, what will be the difference between Him and us? There are numerous points where his knowledge is way better than ours.

If I don't believe in any God, then (I suppose) we are saying that everything that happens, happens by chance. What will be the purpose of living then? Other than living for the betterment of the people, is there any other reason for living? We already live in such chaotic conditions, so isn't it better to die in this case?

Now, I am not trying to hurt anyone's feelings (and if I have done that, I apologize from the depths of my heart) nor am I saying that atheists should die or have no reasons to live but I still find it difficult to NOT believe in God. Thank you.

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    Sep 19 2012: Im an atheist an i enjoy my life very well, i have fun, i make the best out of the time i have left on this planet. i believe god doesnt exist, so what?? that doesnt steal my joy! were all going to die and thats a fact! i just believe that when i die thats it, no heaven, no hell. there is alot of things man cant explain, that we will be able to, eventually. in my personal opinion, i find it more terrifying to actually believe in god and have a peace of mind. the guy is a prick, a loser and if he is real, there is no way you can tell me he loves you. worship that? never. (and no, i haven't had a tramatic experience that made me covert to atheism) i just studied the bible and found multiple paradoxes and the true nature of this evil god, that murdered more people than this so called satan. god is a fantasy humans use to find solace in, they find believing in god comforting, and thats ok, i have nothing against that. but there is no evidence that there god exist, so they can pray all they want, it will never be answered. and if you pray for something that came to fruition, i can assure you, god had nothing to do with it. what made it happned was a result of cause and effect! god is a myth. tell him i said it and if hes real tell him text me. lol
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    Sep 17 2012: Thank you for the question, which I believe, we all consider at one time or other in life. I basically approach the question from the other side though : why do theists believe in God ?
    I can see and know too that for everything to happen in the world, chance plays a big part. I am not sure if that draws God question into life.
    The direction in life does neither seem to involve God, a particular God that is, to me. Spirituality, yes, but not God. I can pretty well live with sufficient peace, joy, enlightenment and more basic issues of life without ever believing in God. If that earns me a name 'atheist', well, I do not need it to write pay cheques.
    Strangely, correct me if I am wrong, your question excludes billions of living beings on earth because we humans are self declared sentient beings.
    I find it very easy, almost normal, NOT to believe in God.
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      Sep 17 2012: Hello Pabitra....good to see you here:>)

      As you may know, I do not label myself either, and after extensive study, research and practices, it also seems very natural and normal to NOT believe in a God(s).

      I believe some folks use God and religion as a valuable life guide, and some folks....not so much. If God's impact, or message is some of what we're seeing on this conversation thread, I am happy and content to NOT be a believer.
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        Sep 17 2012: Hi Colleen :) Yes, it's good to see you too.
        It's a free world as far as what we choose to believe and get inspiration from. It's just pointless trying to impose my kind of belief on others. Moreover, my belief does not make me inherently good, my action does.
        I am a bit at a loss to see the question with reference to Sam Harris's talk. I thought Sam tried to make a point about morality (the innate sense of good and bad) being independent of religion (and God, arguably).
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          Sep 19 2012: It is, absolutely a free world Pabitra, regarding what one chooses to believe. It is pointless trying to impose any belief on others, when others prefer to embrace his/her own belief. I recognize that as one of the big challenges in our world regarding god/no god. Too many people wish to impose their own beliefs in a god or religion on others. This imposition causes a great deal of unrest in our world.

          I agree with you that it is not what we believe in that makes us good or not so good....it is how we use the information of our beliefs in our daily lives.

          The discussion question was framed rather oddly, and I also perceive Sam Harris to clearly seperate science from religion or god.

          I believe many people may get moral ideas from a religion, or a belief in a god, then it is a question of how many of those people actually live what they preach. My personal belief is that we can use all available information to learn, grow and evolve as humans. If some choose to depend on, and trust information provided by a religion, that's ok, AS LONG AS they do not try to impose that belief on others, or use that belief to abuse or violate the human rights of others. If some folks choose to get information only from science, that's ok too, AS LONG AS they do not try to impose their beliefs on others. We need to learn to accept others and different beliefs, if we are ever going to experience peace in our world.

          I am not advocating behaviors that are not useful to the whole of humankind....only beliefs. Behaviors that suppress, abuse, or attempt to take away the rights of others need to be addressed by our global community.
  • Sep 5 2012: I can only post a quote to state it all:

    "The starting point of belief is the ending point of inquiry.

    When we believe in the supernatural, in theories, assumptions, we shackle ourselves in laziness, expectation, and authority. When you believe something, you do not inquire anymore. Believing something to be so and so, does not show you how it truly is. The inquirer that asks, investigates, immerses into the subject with blunt curiosity is the learner and the driving force of society. If you are willing to be courageous and challenge those long-held cherished beliefs, then you have become wiser my fellow one. The act of disproving or proving a belief arrives you at what truly is."

    ~Sapiens ad Aequilibrium
    • Sep 5 2012: I think this quote provides a very valid view on a subject, but it seems as if that quote assumes that all believers must simply stop thinking. I see how one could believe that, but I don't believe that is the entire case. Take for example these two different thinking processes.

      One man sees a flower bloom and thinks "wow, that is amazing! God's miracles are wonderful."

      Another man sees a flower bloom and thinks "I wonder why the flower blooms every spring? Why would God make a flower like this?"

      They are two different manners of thinking, but both have a belief in God. I personally do believe, but that certainly doesn't mean that I am complacent just taking the world as it is. I am incredibly interested in the world and want to know more about it. I question everything.

      It could be argued that I am making my world-view fit my view of God, but I dont think that is true. If it is, it is only in areas where science cannot explain. Examples would be the origins of the very beginning of the first universe. Another example would be in my philosophical views on right and wrong. I believe in God, but I really don't see how that limits my view of anything; in fact, my religious convictions actually motivate me to question more.

      I certainly see what you mean by the quote. I have to ask though, does believing in a God really equate to not questioning?
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        • Sep 5 2012: I can honestly say that I have questioned the existence of God. I have examined both arguments for and against His existence. From what I have read and what I have experienced, I conclude their is a God. This belief system comes through what ultimately comes down to personal thoughts. (for example, is there a true right and wrong? or is there room for a divine causation in modern theories of science? I say yes but others say no.) I may be one of the few that has questioned the core of my religion, but I still do. Thus the idea that believe must equate to not questioning is not true.

          Also a very similar scenario applies to those not-believing in God. People who assert that there was absolutely no form of divine interaction before the universe (or the multiverse/ universes before our universe) are misconstruing science. Science does not deal with supernatural areas. God is supernatural. The truth is that we simply don't know if there could of been a divine creation. We have theories that explain our universe right now; however, these most certainly do not rule out the existence of God. After all, who is to say that if there is a God, that He couldn't use the physical constants to create the universe.

          I guess that you could still argue that I'm fitting my world view to fit my religion, but even if that is true, I am still questioning and exploring everything. I don't see how this limits my curiosity or anything of the sort though. I still don't think that having a religious belief prevents questioning.
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        • Sep 6 2012: I think you bring up very valid points, but once again, the issue is not very simple. I'm assuming the statement that there is "no answer" is referring to no scientific evidence for or against any sort of supernatural power. This is entirely true; no one can prove or disprove God. But this is the nature of the supernatural; it is not "provable" by science.That certainly doesn't mean the question is meaningless though. Belief (or disbelief in a higher power) can certainly have a huge impact on someone's life. Even if it is, in the opinions of some, totally absurd, no one can deny the amount of impact belief in high powers can have on an individual.

          The majority of your second paragraph is based on as much as humans can perceive. We as humans are bound to this universe. God, being supernatural, is not though. He could of existed before "existence" because our definition of "existence" is bound by what we can perceive. We cannot prove nor disprove that there ever was anything before time because we are bound by our human perception of time. So if God is not bound by time, He could of been before the beginning of our definition of time. Once again, this is more of a philosophical topic that isn't able to be solved through scientific inquiry.
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        • Sep 6 2012: I do see the point your making. That if I examine my belief system, it is based upon the notion that God does exist. Everything is hinged upon that one crucial fact. I completely agree, but the alternatives are simply different philosophical views. If I did change my "lens" to a different idea, I really don't think it would change my view on almost anything. I would view the world as a complex mathematical machine which is based on physical concepts. This is not any different than my view now; the only difference is that now I believe that God set up these physical constraints on the world. It doesn't in any way or form mean that I have to stop questioning scientific processes. The only thing that would possibly change would be how much time I spend doing Christian activities (almost all of them beneficial; giving to charity, meditation, and trying to live by moral principles are good examples. This is not to say that people who don't believe in God do not practices these; I simply do it much more often because of my beliefs.) and what I consider my purpose in life. Now my existence is meaning in my eyes because of my relationship with God. I love Him, and He loves me. This is my main motivating factor, and I am not ashamed to admit it (It is not the promise of a reward in Heaven either; my fulfillment comes from simply loving my Lord).

          I understand fully what you are saying. I have seen other sides, and I have questioned the existence of God. I simply arrived at a different answer than others on TED. I doesn't mean that I don't question, nor does it mean that I support all that modern day Christians have done. It simply means that I have chosen a path that gives me much fulfillment. One thing that I really don't understand is why people are so adamant that believing in God is bad. Unquestioning allegiance to doctrine is, but I do question. After all, if I am wrong, (which I wholly believe that I am not wrong) it will not matter at all.
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        • Sep 6 2012: Mark, I did not mean to come across as offensive if I did. I simply was trying to broach that believing in a supernatural God was not always directly related to the absence of questioning. This is fairly evident because some of the greatest scientific minds in history had some belief in a higher power(they might not have believed in the Christian God exactly as I do, but Newton, Galileo, and Pascal all had some religious beliefs). I do not my belief limits me in the scientific field at all; I do not have problems with the controversial theories of the day. So in a practical sense, my belief in God does not make me unable to function in a scientific world.

          In a more philosophical sense, I have found personal "proof" of God through the ideas of good and evil, the incredible workings of the universe, and my personal relationship with God. Can I scientifically prove His existence? Nope, but that is the nature of the supernatural. And even if He is just simply an icon in my head, what does it matter? If it does turn out that all religion is wrong, is that hurtful to me personally? I don't think so because my personal relationship with God has brought a lot of joy to my life while also encouraging me to be a better person.

          I believe that my statement on "changing my lens" was misinterpreted. I have had periods when I did not believe God existed. Personally, that time was very not enjoyable. I thought that life was rather pointless because, in my view, nothing was desirable. Money could provide a lavish lifestyle, but I would eventually die and cease to exist. I could help others and make them happy, and I could benefit humanity. After that I would die, but nothing I would do would ever have any real impact on anything. I found it to be a depressing outlook (not everyone's is like this, but mine was). That is what I meant to express by that statement. My scientific view of the universe was the same in both though. Being religious doesn't make me a bad scientist.
        • Sep 6 2012: I'm not exactly sure what you meant by that last paragraph. I was stating that I can still believe in both modern scientific theories and God. The two don't conflict in that manner because I believe that God could use science to create. It is kinda like "eating my cake and having it too," but that is simply the nature of philosophical and theological concepts. I'm not really sure what that last paragraph meant though.

          You can still state that I am being blind to my own ignorance. It could be argued that I am still basing my entire world view to fit my beliefs. The truth is that the existence of God is a very philosophical topic. There is not really a "right" or "wrong" answer to philosophical topics. Any atheistic view is based on atheist beliefs. Probably the best defend-able stance is the stance of agnostic. I still believe that there is a God however. In a matter that is so rooted in philosophy, it is unfounded to deem believers as intellectually incapable of questioning.

          I suppose I did answer your question against your wishes, but the whole situation comes down to personal beliefs that really are not quantifiable. I think it is very absurd to judge one on this issue.
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        • Sep 7 2012: Mark, I would first like to say that it is a pleasure talking to you because of your tact and articulacy of ideas. It is very rare that I can talk to someone about this subject without the conversation becoming quite nasty. Text is not able to express tone, so I was sure how you phrased the message before I commented on being offensive. I would like to ask a few questions because I would really enjoy to see how you feel about the subject.

          In your view, is there an absolute moral right or wrong or is that just explained by evolutionary adaptation?

          What motivates you? I find my motivation in my God, but I know others have found contentment without religion. I have heard many people attribute it to "helping others" or "making the world a better place," but it seems that these all acknowledge some sort of concept of "good." It is a different belief system, but it still is a belief system. It is basically the same as God in regards to belief, yet people call their beliefs by a different name. The only other option I could imagine with out this system of "good" would be rather bleak. This is what I was referring to with my view of a God-less universe. You have a rather different outlook though. So, if you don't mind me asking, what motivates you?

          Finally, you said "concepts do not create reality, it only creates our perception of it, and we mistake that for reality." What should we be using to create our perception of reality? If I said science, we really do not know everything about science (take quarks for example), and our view of science is constantly changing(our knowledge of DNA's structure is only 60 years old, but it has had huge impacts in science). It seems that basing it on this reality would be incomplete. Belief is self-fulfilling, so you do not wish for it to be the basis of your perception of reality. Is reason the only thing left?
        • Sep 7 2012: I have one final question. Is it possible to make reason a belief system? We base things on reason and logic, but our entire system of reasoning is based on the facts that 1) logic is true and 2) everything follows logic. By perceiving the entire universe through the lens of logic and reasoning, is one believing (by accepting that that statement is true without proof) in logic like one believes in religious beliefs? Is belief in Reasoning a belief system in and of itself?
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        • Sep 8 2012: Those were very well-thought out answers. If you do not mind though, I would like to clarify some of the questions in addition to adding some more.

          You said that there is no absolute set of values. This is why I was wondering what motivates you. I really just wanted to know what drives you personally to keep on working, learning, or even just living. It may seem very odd, but I do understand what would provide meaning without any sort of "good" to strive for. I could see basic survival motivations such as eating and drinking. I could also see working for things that make one happy such as being prosperous or even having children. I do not see how that sort of reasoning could ever lend itself to a cause though. There would be no desire to help those in poverty(or any other cause) unless there was happiness gained from it; it seems that happiness would only come from those causes if one believed in some sort of ultimate good. To me, this would be a very bleak world view where nothing had meaning, so I really just did not understand what motivated you.

          Ironically though, the way you described belief is how felt when I had no belief in God. "If you look through the lense of belief, eveything seems dull, you get bored and frustrated, you wonder what's the point" is the exact way I felt without a belief in God. I should also point out though that my relationship with God is not the negative stereotypical example that is seen commonly in our society. You point out that religion is normally fear-based but I do not see my relationship with God like that. I simply love Him, and He loves me. I try to live a Christian life because I want to make Him happy(much like a married person ideally will try to their spouse happy. It is loved-based not fear-based.). I totally understand that you don't see religion like that though, and i respect that.
        • Sep 8 2012: I'm also a little confused on what you were stating when you were talking about reality. You claim that we should just look at reality as it is. You start talking about how reason and all thought processes are abstract, symbolic, or representative of reality. You state that science is another proxy of abstractions. It seems that you are saying that no matter what, we are not able to fully perceive reality. We must then formulate reality based on our interpretations of it. We often attribute much reputability to science and logic. However, science is not perfect, and logic is only logical because we believe in logic. It all ultimately comes down to personal cogitation. (Of course people could have faulty logic, but even that is only bad logic if we believe that true logic is true.)

          If that previous paragraph is true, I do not see why people are so hostile to the notion of God. You have been incredibly neutral in the issue and respectful of my beliefs. Thank you for that. I just don't get it though. If someone is agnostic, they should not care because in this mindset, it wouldn't matter. Atheism uses a belief-based argument which ironically it is criticizing. I can understand why people would accuse Christians but attacking God makes no sense to me. (sorry for the rant, I just have never got this.)

          One last question, If God is supernatural, is it really irrational to say He doesn't exist if we are basing it only upon what we can experience of reality? It seems that we are basing the rationality of God based entirely upon the scientific measurable phenomena, which by definition is the physical realm. If God is supernatural, He isn't measurable by these methods. Can we say He is either rational or irrational based on this?
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      Sep 5 2012: Jan :

      "The starting point of belief is the ending point of inquiry."

      You didn't provide any reasons for your quote --- I understand you , there aren't many , no relevant one in fact , that quote is almost entirely false . No realization would have happened without belief , no big deed would have been done without believing , without faith . Only if you are entirely ignorant about the history of the humans big realization you can make a bit of sense with that quote .
      Atheism and the art : I could never find 2 more opposite things .
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        Sep 5 2012: Hi Eduard (E G)
        To me, the quote makes a lot of sense. What it says to me, is that once we think we "know" the answer, we stop exploring. If we thiink we are already "right" with our beliefs, we stop being open to anything else. Those who ask questions, investigate further and are curious, can usually learn more than those who are "stuck" in certain beliefs.

        The reasons for the quote Eduard, and the relevance to this topic seem clear to me. I don't think Jan or I are ignorant, and it serves no useful purpose to suggest that Eduard.

        Atheism and art are not at all opposites Eduard....there are plenty of atheists who are artists, just as there are many artists who believe in a god.
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          Sep 5 2012: To believe doesn't mean for the most believers , for the all decent believers in fact , that 'they know the answer' . So what sense does that still make to you ?

          You can't be artist and claim that 'The starting point of belief is the ending point of inquiry' .
      • Sep 5 2012: There is where you perhaps are viewing things backward E G. It is when we begin to inquire that we arrive at realization, not when we believe, or think we know. No big deed would have been done without questioning. Take Isaac Newton. When he was taking a walk, an apple fell down a tree, and he asked himself: Does the moon also fall? That is when he arrived at realizing the Newtonian Laws he presented to the world. Would he have just believed the moon was a goddess of some sort, that would have been the end of it. No inquiry, no realization, no 'big deed'. The quote in itself is self-explanatory, that is the reason I didn't have to say much. It views things from an unbiased, unknowing standview. The greatest words that we can utter in life is: 'I don't know' (thus proceeding to finding out).

        If it were for belief, we would sadly still be living in the Dark Ages. Now on the other hand, imagination (hypothesis) is what propels the knowledge forward; another thing entirely. Believing something to be true, does not make it so; interestingly enough that often happens: Belief becomes a person's truth, and when this person tells others it is the truth, well, that is dogma. So attributing the unanswered to the doings of a supernatural being, is counterproductive. I am an agnostic myself, that doesn't know if there is a God or not; but when someone else claims the existence of Her/Him, that person better have some evidence to those claims (other than that person's word, oath, or faith). For that reason you can read 'The act of disproving or proving a belief arrives you at what truly is.' at the end of the quote.
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          Sep 5 2012: You're arguing the importance of the inquiry as if I was talking against it , I was't . I was arguing for the importance of belief and for the falsity of your quote . (your first paragraph)

          You're talking as if I said that the big deeds happened ONLY because of belief .......... this is another misinterpretation . (your first part of the second paragraph ) .

          "So attributing the unanswered to the doings of a supernatural being, is counterproductive"
          If only this is what happens with some theists , I would agree with you but it isn't , they are also for knowing God , that's why what they do is more than productive . Anyway your quote still remains false , you provide no reason for it .
        • Sep 5 2012: Jan, I certainly see what point you are trying to make about belief, but I do not believe that belief must equate to accepting adherence to teachings of a religious power. Take for example Galileo. Galileo suffered persecution from the church for opposing the idea that the earth was at the center of the universe, but he opposed the idea. He was still a Christian though. He was actually quoted saying, "I do not feel obliged to believe that the same God who has endowed us with sense, reason, and intellect has intended us to forgo their use." This is actually a very fitting quote for the point I would like to make. It is very possible to believe in God and still question the world. It is still possible to be productive in science while also believing in God.
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        Sep 5 2012: Dear Eduard,
        One can be an artist and believe whatever s/he wants to believe:>)
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          Sep 5 2012: I'm sorry Colleen but that isn't true . I'ts not here the place to talk about what to be an artist mean , yet..... .
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        Sep 5 2012: The following are among the artists who considered themselves atheists: Duchamps, Van Gogh, Matisse, Monet, Picasso, and Raphael.
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          Sep 5 2012: Hi Fritzie....haven't seen you in a couple days....nice to see you again:>)

          Eduard (E G)
          YOU brought artists into the discussion with your comment above...
          "You can't be artist and claim that 'The starting point of belief is the ending point of inquiry' "

          Now that evidence is offered of people being artists AND atheists, you say "I'ts not here the place to talk about what to be an artist mean , yet..... . "

          OK....fine Eduard....we won't talk about it if it is uncomfortable for you:>)
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          Sep 6 2012: Fritzie :

          In this case the single thing that have in common the atheists from here (TED) with that you mentioned is only the name .

          Colleen :

          It's not uncomfortable for me to talk about my ideas , I'm not sure about you .... ?
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          Sep 6 2012: I am comfortable talking about ideas E G.

          You expressed a concern/idea...
          "You can't be artist and claim that 'The starting point of belief is the ending point of inquiry' . "

          Fritzie and I addressed your concern, providing evidence, then you wrote...;
          "I'ts not here the place to talk about what to be an artist mean , yet..... . "

          YOU expressed an idea, WE followed through with addressing YOUR idea, then you say this is not the place to talk about it.

          If you were more clear with your communications Eduard, you might have more interesting conversations.
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        Sep 5 2012: Eduard,
        I understand that you may not want to look at this right now, but you brought it up, and if you do want to explore it at some point, here is some information.

        Listings of atheists, according to profession, and you will find artists under the catagory of "Visual Arts".

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          Sep 6 2012: Colleen :

          I'm afraid you got me wrong . I should have been more clear , that's true . I knew , I know there are artists atheists , it's too obvious to don't know .

          However , what we could be arguing about is that the atheism I met here has nothing to do with art .
          That quote is an evidence in this sense , it is obvious to me Jan Seidler and his words have nothing to do with art , and he is an atheist or agnostic. You don't believe in god and seem to agree with him .
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        Sep 6 2012: I agree E G...you could be more clear. I also agree that atheism may have nothing to do with art, but YOU brought it up. I am not arguing with you E G, you are arguing with yourself. Fritzie and I simply provided information to you, so you would see that there ARE indeed artists who are atheists.

        I agree that the quote Jan Seidler offers is very insightful, and addresses the topic of this discussion.
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    Sep 21 2012: This conversation is being closed early, due to a series of unconstructive and disrespectful discussions.
  • Sep 19 2012: Maybe God is a mystery that meant to be experienced not believed in. :)
  • Sep 4 2012: One of the reasons I've read here on TED is the fact there is no material, physical proof of God's existence. People who rely totally on material resources seemingly reject any possibility of spirit! I can't speak for anyone who professes not to believe, but I would encourage everyone to be fully honest with self and others regarding possibilities of a vast reality of spirit existence.

    The only real proof of God's existence is an individual's personal experience. These varied widely since the beginning of human beings and some people developed false beliefs, largely on ignorance. These false beliefs, be they obvious or subtle, I believe have driven some people to greatly distrust all religion. But, we people need true light! Humanity will emerge from great confusion. It will take patience and faith.

    My understanding is the original person who was planetary prince, a non-human invisible to human eyes, defaulted and went into rebellion against higher authority and took this planet into spiritual darkness. Adam and Eve defaulted and even more confusion developed. We have a long way to go to right things and we will be helped. Great spiritual growth will someday be evident.

    It is the errors of the past that caused spiritual disarray and we have problems including confusing religious position and prognostication.

    I hope this addresses your question.
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      Sep 9 2012: Hi Mark. Thumbs up for the comment.

      I would just suggest that as an atheist I do not deny religious or spiritual experiences. I tend to think they are just neurological events, however I do not deny the possibility of spirit.

      However, I would also suggest to the religious that spiritual experience could very easy be just brain/mind processes. I would suggest these are not evidence of spirit or god.

      In fact they seem so subjective in interpretation to not be a reliable indicator of any particular view point. Personal experience could simply be a trick of the mind, like imaginary friends for adults. And I'm not aware of any belief system based on revelation, scripture or authority standing out.
      • Sep 9 2012: Thank you for your thoughtful response. As I consider the larger topic of relating to the Cosmos, religions, and personal involvement, we are wise to remember the many events in which people actually saw and communicated with non-human beings. I am not familiar with all of them. There is the report of Gabriel appearing to Mary and to her cousin Elizabeth. A celestial appeared to Jesus when he was age 12; again a spiritual event witnessed by the Baptist John and James, the brother of Jesus after Jesus' baptism. They all heard the voice of the Father God approving of His Son. There could be thousands more examples.

        I question the doubting of such stories; maybe some details are missing but how can we honestly dismiss them. Also, this Jesus appeared 19 times to nearly 1,500 people in different places after his death. He talked to them and then disappeared from their view. These 1,500 people surely were not kooks or psychos, nor were they experiencing hallucinations, were they?

        What other evidence of spiritual exists that is worthy of your time and honest examination?

        Regarding neurological, I suggest no human being can separate spiritual from neurological life forces in mind. Yes, I do believe some mortals have experienced strong psychic events, but a balanced, truth seeking mind need not suffer fanatical results.

        If you want to discuss more privately, then send me an email.,

        In kindness intended.
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          Sep 10 2012: Hi Mark, perhaps it depends on your starting assumptions or world view.

          Gabriel apparently quoted the Koran to the prophet Muhammad over decades. The founder of the Church of Latter day saints and Swedenborgs and Christian Scientists also claim visions.

          Shamans and figures from different religions have had conflicting visions and revelation, divine dreams.

          Gurus is India today are performing miricales similar to those claimed by Christians or the bible. One guru even claims to be born a virgin and there are thousands alive today that attest to his miracles.

          Some of these visions and belief in miracles may be genuine. Some contrived.

          If genuine - people hallucinate or unconsciously subjectively misinterpreting or selectively filter and interpret sensory data all the time. You probably give legitimacy to the proposed visions that fit your world view.

          If an old holy book of another religion states something miraculous and that there were 1,501 eye witnesses, would you believe. Do you believe the living witnesses in India? Do you believe in the Koran quoted by Gabriel?

          I agree that the supernatural may be acting through our bodies and brains. I don't know how we could tell either way for sure because the proposed spirit is not detectable in normal means. So when someone prays or drops acid and experiences something we will never know if they touched this mysterious realm or not.

          What we know of the new testament is that the oldest texts estimated at 30 to 90 years after Jesus is supposed to have died. We don't know who the authors were of the gospels. The gospels may have developed as oral traditions for decades. Who knows. I see no reason not to be sceptical of anything written in the bible or Koran etc. Especially the supernatural claims. We don't know if 1500 people saw something, or someone just made it up.

          Appreciate the discussion. I guess we have different views on what counts as compelling evidence and whether it is appropriate selectively decriminate
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          Sep 20 2012: Mark Thanks for your studius remarks.

          In a way I'm like Obey, I do believe in some type of spiritual part of our material machinery, a life force if you will allow it. Something, perhaps, not detectible with the tools we have in science today. Many of us are aware of super human qualities of the brain, the body and the brain over the body and have seen demonstrations in the laboratory, but the life force that causes a rock to become animated and have self interest has yet to be detected. There have been adequate and possible explanations about how DNA arose in the primordial soup but no real laboratory reproductions of this process. The code of Life which is nothing more than an arrangement of atoms so to cause a perpetuating motion within a system of molecules and whence it came from is still a mystery.

          I notice that we humans categorizes ourselves in levels of mind strength and talent for discovering new and meaningful knowledge. These abilities are well and above the animal kingdom on this planet. Isn't it strange that we bear so much resemblance to a chimpanzee?
          Yet we are so far removed in brain strength.

          Sometimes I think that DNA is a manufactured product and cannot be invented by random chance in sufficient quantities to explain for the abundance of life on our planet. Science has demonstrated the possibility of us being able to manufacture it, even though we haven't done so yet.

          What many call evolution I say has more to do with environmental influences, until we discover life on another planet that is chemically different from ours.

          Do you sometimes get the feeling in TED that you are in a room with first graders all the way to 12 graders and beyond with only one teacher? The question swings from total ignorance of the nature of the conversation to the level where it is adequately being examined by confident intellectuals, interspersed with crackpots and smirking little children. :)

          So, I wonder and keep an open mind.
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    Sep 21 2012: The answer to the question why does something exist and not nothing, is energy. for it can neither be created or destroyed. And the only thing that does exist is energy in its infinite forms. My universe/energy is your God.
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        Sep 21 2012: Good day to you sir,

        I don't understand the last sentence. Own?

        Yes I do believe this to be true that all that exist is energy. I have some current problems with our current understanding of the big bang but that neither here or there.
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        Sep 21 2012: Yes 100% those are my words from my mouth and or finger tips. However you would like to look at it.
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          Sep 21 2012: Hey Casey!
          Your comments are short and sweet:>)

          I'm wondering if we are on the same page with this idea? I agree with you that energy is neither created or destroyed. So, I believe that the energy that powers the body, may be in another form (or no form at all, as we humans know form) when the body dies.

          When you say..."My universe/energy is your God", are you suggesting that you and I may call it energy, and others may call it God, and it is actually the same thing? I believe the terms god/soul/spirit are words created to try to explain the energy that powers our body.

          I also noticed another of your comments, where you said time is a human construct, which I totally agree with....energy has no time frame.
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        Sep 21 2012: Hello Colleen,

        Yes I am saying that what I (and most) call energy other call their deity. I actually am also a spiritual person I am a level 3 Reiki student which is a form of energy healing. I am short and sweet with my comments because I don't to loose track of what being said. And I and other people can go on wild tangents and it much harder to bring back full circle via text.
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          Sep 21 2012: Hi Casey,
          I agree with your perspective, and am familier with Reiki. I TOTALLY agree...short and sweet comments are good for the reasons you mention:>)

          You got the notice because of the TED reply sequence, which you must be familier with by now?
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        Sep 21 2012: Don,

        I think it is all in the same reply line. She had no place to reply to next to her name so I went with the closest reply button.

        Yes Reiki is very interesting and is the seeking of higher vibrational fields of energy. That is already flowing through everything and everyone. I am sorry she regressed. Also Reiki does not need to replace your spiritual deity they work hand and hand and the label that is given to them is your choice. Most people in my classes refer to it as spirit or god or even jesus as well as alluh . All these terms are fine, for they all mean and represent in that persons mind the same thing as the other persons mind.

        If you would like to talk more about reiki and maybe what happened with your wife and her regression in private manners, I would be more then happy to. cs3@email.com
  • Sep 20 2012: I ran out of space there oops. As predicted, I was starting to get waffly! I have lots of other little things about the idea of God and religion that irk me a little, but I feel if I keep going I'll get too far away from addressing your question.
    Can everything that happens on Earth happen by chance? I don't know. I'm fine with the idea of life having developed by chance, and think it makes more sense to believe that than to invent an answer so as to avoid uncertainty, i.e. God. What has happened here, I feel, is humans, as opposed to all other life on Earth that we know of, have developed big brains and begun to question their existence. The easy thing to do, is to say that there is a creator, a reason, a 'purpose', and all the mystery and wonder and uncertainty is gone. I think that when everything is taken in perspective, the more honest and defensible and, dare I say it, the more daring thing to do is to put oneself out there and say, "There's no reason to invent a God. I am brave enough to stand upon the precipice of my own existence, to answer to myself, to take the uncertainty and the drama and the harshness, to take this burdensome, glorious and beautiful thing that is life and bleed and love and die in all its brief fury." To imply that beauty can be appreciated and worth be gotten from life only when one is living for God, with a belief in God, is insulting. It's insulting to me, to animals, to the universe even. Take animals for example. They never contemplate their existence, so thereby have no reason to live? Have you seen the joy of a dog chasing a ball, a lion chasing a zebra, an eagle in flight above the highest mountain? There is beauty in the universe, and that beauty continues to exist in and of itself, in life, in rocks and molecules and empty space and all that there is, regardless of the pace at which it moves, regardless of the observer or lack of an observer, regardless of the existence or non-existence of god(s).
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      Sep 20 2012: Very beautifully expressed Jamie.......thank you:>)
  • Sep 20 2012: Your question seems quite genuine Arthur so I'll try my best to give you my reasons for being an atheist, in as simple and honest and non-contrived a manner as I can manage. I went to a Catholic primary school, tried my best to believe it and did my confirmation and all those things, said my prayers, told myself God was listening and all of that. I was always a little unsure of it and had my suspicions but at 6 or 7 my simple answer to these doubts was to give it a good shot and if it was all true and correct I'd feel it. I never had a big epiphany type moment, and I was at least a bit scared when I was moving away from religion because of course we were told that it gives our life its purpose and beauty and whatnot. I have always been very logical and questioning though, and my questions and my doubting eventually lead me to not believe in any God or gods or spirit, and I'm happy to be here. I suppose to answer your question this is the part where you'll be wanting my reasons for this, so here goes. I have a feeling I'm going to have difficulty being succint and clear here but I'll try.
    1. There are so many different religions, with so many different beliefs and gods and customs, they can't all be correct in asserting their god(s) and customs as the correct ones. It seems equally unlikely that just one is correct, and the others all wrong.
    2. The fact that most religions attribute some special importance to humans for me is enough reason to conclude that they are simply a product of human invention and have no relation to truth or reality. Perspective is important here to understand my point: humans have been around for roughly 1/1500 the time that the Earth has been around. Yet, in most religions their image of god bears some resemblance to a human? Why not a single-cell organism of some kind? To me this seems ludicrous and almost upsettingly anthropocentric, and at the same time a clear indication that God is an invention of ours.
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      Sep 20 2012: Very beautifully expressed Jamie....thank you very much:>)
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    Sep 19 2012: Arthur,
    There are many creation myths. I believe that Genesis is just another one. In none of these creation myths does it say HOW God created anything. Nor do they tell you ANYTHING verifiable about God. Religion says that God is good. If that were true, then we have a lot of bad by this good God. Religion says that bad is the result of the devil. But if God is omnipotent, then God allows it all to happen. Where is the virtue in that?

    I was raised as a Catholic. My parents believed in purgatory. They wanted me to be the perfect child so I wouldn't have to suffer in purgatory. My childhood was a nightmare.

    Today, we have many people who believe in God who would just as soon you were dead so there would be more for them to enjoy. Do you think that their belief in God is any less real than yours?

    You say without God (in whatever name), how could you live? You'd have no direction or paths. Since I was born, I have found no store or any item in them that was created by the being that you call God. Even food can be explained by ecology. I didn't find my profession in a church, and unless you are a minister, neither did you. Your profile says that you are passionate about technology. How is God responsible for technology? I found my paths in modern education. What other paths are there?

    In what points is God's knowledge better than ours?

    What is your reason for living if it isn't for the betterment of the people?

    What makes it difficult for you to not believe in God?

    Before you answer, you may want to look at my profile. I am not an atheist. But I came close to being one, and what I wrote in my comment are the reasons why.
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      Sep 20 2012: I agree with much you say Roy.

      For believers to assume what a god says via scripture or dogma or the pope/authority says is moral and good by definition is a totally circular argument.

      This not explain why these pronouncements are good. God says so is not a satisfactory explanation.

      Why is it okay if your god says kill homosexuals but not okay if someone else's says kill infidels?

      A morality based on reducing human suffering, increasing happiness/wellbeing and improving the human condition is so much more elegant. And it is based on somethings we know are true and real and reasonable - that sentient beings exist, that joy is preferable to needless suffering.
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        Sep 20 2012: Obey,
        These are all very good points. They need to be addressed by the church if the church wants to survive.

        The church has dictated much of what people are supposed to believe without explanation. They chose what books would go into their "Word of God". They rebuked spiritual gifts as the work of the devil. They were a very condemning lot. It came down to having to make a choice between evolution and creation. The evidence of evolution could be presented. The evidence of a God creating could not be. The church did not consider the evidence of evolution when I was growing up. And the pains of suffering in hell verses the joys of eternal happiness in heaven were the only driving forces for accepting the church over science. Once you see through that, science is the only logical choice. Science was growing. Science was producing results. Science was providing answers that made sense. I could understand science. I couldn't understand what the church was doing. If I had to make a choice, it didn't take rocket science to figure out which one to go with. Although science did offer rocket science if you wanted to know.
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    Sep 19 2012: I'm just going to answer your title question since the rest gets kind of messy...

    In my case I don't believe since there's no reason to, It's as simple as that.

    furthermore I'd like to end with a quote

    "Science adjusts it's views based on whats observed.
    Faith is the denial of observation so the belief can be preserved" - Tim Minchin
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      Sep 20 2012: Now I suppose you are going to tell me the great evidence that Tim Minchin discovered that proves, once and for all that God doesn't exist so we can put this argument to rest; right Jimmy?
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          Sep 20 2012: Gabo, I'll get back to you in a moment. There are 16 messages ahead of you. :)
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          Sep 20 2012: Ok. I read the nonesense again. I hope that make you happy.

          I don't read Minchin. I read John_Moonstroller. For some reason his world make better sense to me, I suppose because I'm so close and kindired in his thoughts and undersatndings.

          Minchin said: "Faith is the denial of observation so the belief can be preserved" - Tim Minchin

          Gabo there are two extreames in this God issue. The ones on the right:' We don't believe in God", and the ones on the left: "God is all there is".

          Neither side can scientifically prove the other side is wrong. So they pound it out with analogy's, metaphorical reasoning, hoping that one of the rocks will land on the other side and hit someone in the head, bringing them to reason.

          Just down the street where away from where this obscene war is taking place, is place of calm where people share ideas about their differences with respect and calm. We call those people. Open minded and reasonable.

          They are in the middle and treat all ideas with respect, weighing their potential and descriptively filing them away in their minds without upsetting the originator of the idea. They turn and smile.

          Is it pretentious? Yes it is. But it's a harmless form of pretentiousness. Kinda like a white lie. :)

          I have to tell you the truth. I've gotten more knowledge from watching Forest Gump then I have from reading the comments in this conversation.
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        Sep 20 2012: Well, Tim Mincin is an artist/comedian, I'm not taking His word as law (sound familiar?), I just like the quote.

        Can you prove to me once and for all the the "Flying Spaghetti Monster" doesn't exist? How would you refute this preposterous thesis? You see you can't do that, it's impossible to "disprove" something that has yet to be proved... And you (or your community, or any religion for that matter) have still failed to do so (your scriptures aren't proof they're hear-say stories past down and altered along the way)...

        Get started on the basic understanding of the burden of proof by clicking on the link ;-) http://lmgtfy.com/?q=burden+of+proof
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          Sep 20 2012: Of course I can't prove it..... silly boy :)
          I'm sixty years old and haven't seen him come around yet. But, I haven't' been to mars either or Lithuania for that matter.

          There is much I haven't seen in this short life.

          I'll probably never see it all but, my reasonable mind, knowing and understanding the vastness of realty, isn't going to wash aware possibilities just because I haven't seen it. In sixty years, I've yet to see anyone who has. But, I have spoken to people who have witnessed miracles.

          Were those miracles real? To them they were and I'm not the type of self-centered know it all to try to make them believe otherwise. It doesn't affect my life. It's a small thing. Something that shouldn't bother a big mind. Be sides, I've seen miracles myself.

          Things that are unexplainable by any means of science the defy my understanding of Physics and science. What am I to do? Pretend it didn't happen? That would be pretentious, something I am not.

          Can you:)

          The link you posted is cute.... that's about all it conveys. When you grow up and become a man, you will put away such childish behavior and take a manly course through life and discover many things. Until then, your just a child. Have some respect for your elders. What they know could keep you alive in hard times, and, son, there are had time coming for your generation. You should be preparing. Can you garden? Can yo saw a tree with a manual crosscut saw? Have you ever tried it? Could you watch your child grow hotter and hotter with fever and then die what you look on helplessly? These were the trials of your forefathers, who turned to God when science let them down.

          I was a combat warrior for Vietnam. I can assure you, there are no Atheists in Foxholes when the mortars start landing close to your hole in the ground.
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          Sep 20 2012: You have seen and participated in miracles John....I have seen, am called a miracle.....we are here! We have both faced near fatal head/brain injuries....correct? I need to ask you again John.....what do you think about Don Wesley's theory that those who have sustained head/brain injuries do not have any emotions?
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          Sep 20 2012: Gotta keep in mind Jimmy that burden of proof is usually a legal term. Science, against what many people believe, does not work as a court room, where an individual tries to make a case, brings facts and proof, and convinces an audience that a verdict is true.

          Many religion vs. science discussions start because people confuse the definition of "facts" as in the courtroom evidence, with "data" as collected during a scientific experiment, and theory (as a courtroom speculation) with a scientific theory (like the well established theory of general relativity) which helps make predictions that can later be compared to "data" as many times as desired or physically possible

        • Sep 20 2012: Andres,
          The burden of proof is also the philosophically obvious point. If somebody claims that there's a god, then it is that person's burden of proof to show that such a thing is there, not for others to prove the negative. This is logic, not courts. This logic applies to science just as much. Otherwise we would have tons of fantasy in the field helping understand nothing at all. After all, we can make claims about things and they would have to accept them even if the proponent did not show any evidence for the claim.

          Do you see the problem? Not courts, simple, straightforward logic. The burden of proof lies in the one making the claim for the existence of something, not in the one who prefers to hold verdict (metaphorically speaking) until shown some evidence.
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          Sep 21 2012: Ok dad...... :) I'll go read it again. Ok. I read the same nonsense again.

          You state: "For evidence that "God" does not exist (if you asked the proper person, one who has told you that "God" does not exist), you have to define which of all gods ever invented, believed to exist, you are talking about. For example, some are nonsensical, thus positively nonexistent."

          I say there are no rules in this game and if you can't handle that Lower your tone. I'm never messy. I'm usually clear and concise. I do notice you post is bloated with conflicting ideals and nonexistent notions about rules that do not exist and wavers a bit off the main message.
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    Sep 19 2012: Just for fun (for atheists, that is), heed the initial warning http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kr1I3mBojc0
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      Sep 20 2012: That guy has makeup on his eyes.... ;) Reminds me of Alice Cooper.

      I don't see the connection to the short remark you made the video you pointed me too. The video was a waste of my time.
      Just for fun, why don't you elaborate a bit on what it is you are implying Jimmy. Help me dispell my confusion on the thang..... :)
      • Sep 20 2012: He did not point you to the video. The comment clearly says "for atheists that is."
        I enjoyed it.
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        Sep 20 2012: Well you see John, from an atheists point of view it's funny because i't's true.

        The song kind of points to many religious mindsets which we find hilarious and very sad at the same time. At least that's how I interpret it...
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    Sep 17 2012: Hi Arthur,

    I would be interested to read what you have to say on this discussion... I went through the whole conversation but I could not see your comments anywhere.

    Sometimes this same topic becomes a battlefield, as many have pointed out. I for one certainly do not enjoy that kind of battlefield discussion, and would rather discuss the topic in a friendly way, able to learn and try to convey my point of view respectfully.

    Why do you think atheists don't believe in god? (and if you allow me to pick on the last sentence in the question, it's really not all that difficult!)

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        Sep 17 2012: Hi Don, thanks for pointing me to the University of Virginia debates. A ton of information there, for sure. I don't particularly like the debate format. I find it too much similar to the courtroom format, which i think is very constrained and polarizing, and way too much weight is given to the best speaker and not to the facts that are presented. But filtering out these aspects, i must say there is good information that can be extracted from those University of Virginia debates.

        I must agree with you, that our words not only convey our thoughts, but have embedded our feelings and subconscious background. As i have said before, the way we say something or ask a question reveals a lot about us as a person.

        Yes, people have a natural reaction when they feel their belief foundations under attack, having done a bit of research on that, I think it is because of cognitive dissonance... that uncomfortable feeling we get when we begin discovering that something we previously believed to be true, may not be exactly the way we thought.

        But different people react differently to cognitive dissonance. Some simply walk out to avoid receiving more information on the contended point of view... Some discard any alternative, fiercely attacking anybody who thinks differently. I must say that the scientific community has an advantage, as it lives with cognitive dissonance all the time. Even the most cherished ideas in science are put to test with differing alternatives all the time. I think there lies the secret. We must learn to control our subconscious (that unpleasant feeling when the dissonance is realized) and must be able to live our lives knowing that a different version of the truth might be out there. It takes some practice, but it has been done for a few hundred years successfully

        Someone mentioned that to be an atheist you need have considered god at some point. There is some truth there, at least in my case. But i don't think that qualifies as proof of existence

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    Sep 16 2012: Wow. Religion and politics ... no middle ground. I am not feelin the love here.

    If I showed you ten photos .. please select the one who represent 1) religious; 2) atheists; 3) non believers. Which of the three can do a good deed? Which of three can love his brother? Which of the three could be a friend in need? There is no need to go on. Any of the three could fill the need.

    Why is it that when this conversation comes up the need to convert someone is the highest purpose.

    This is no longer a debate. Trenches have been dug and barbs have been cast.

    My question now is this ... Is this an idea worth spreading? TED needs to evaluate this question and perhaps be more cautious of what discussions are more along the lines of ideas, questions, and debates.

    I was not even going to look at this site because of the gauntlet that had been thrown down by Authur McQueen. I could see the direction this would take and sure enough it did.

    The conversation monitors allowed Gabo and Don to duke it out and even spurred it on with placing the comments in the box of 12. Conversation monitors should be the voice of reason. One person, Colleen, did attempt to intervene and sought resonable exchange ... to no avail.

    I give thumbs up to Jimmy Strobl and Colleen Steen for the best comments. Thanks for lightening it up.

    All the best. Bob.
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      Sep 16 2012: Thank you Robert, for your kind words and recognition of my attempt. Mediating with convicted felons was sometimes easier than mediating with religious extremists/fundamentalists/religious enthusiasts! The criminals were a little more open minded.

      Bob, you ask...."Why is it that when this conversation comes up the need to convert someone is the highest purpose"?

      Misery loves company?

      I too am a little disappointed in TED for allowing this to continue. We see preaching, insults which question other people's integrity, mental capacity and stability, and a lot of very off topic rhetoric.

      Thanks again for your kind words.
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          Sep 16 2012: Don,
          The topic of this discussion is "Atheism: why do people don't believe in God?"
        • Sep 16 2012: "If we had quick Justice, you would have fewer criminals minds to change. " What does this mean?
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        Sep 20 2012: In your preachy statement colleen, I didn't see one word related to the topic, yet you hammer the others and call out to the TED god to do you homage?

        Can't you see how hypocritical that is Colleen?

        To Brian up above: That's Christian speak for the "coming of the Lord". If your going to disagree with someone you need to read the material your disagreeing with.

        To don. down below:

        I listened to that music the little girl sent to you. It was very pretty, like her. I had no problem playing along on my guitar. That young lady has very good taste in music. She looks a bit like Vennasa Mae, don't you think?.
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          Sep 20 2012: You are right John....my previous comment was off topic. I simply acknowledged Robert's insightful recognition of the fact that I was trying to seek reasonable exchange in this conversation.

          My intent was not to "call out to the TED god to do.... homage"

          My statement is:
          "I too am a little disappointed in TED for allowing this to continue. We see preaching, insults which question other people's integrity, mental capacity and stability, and a lot of very off topic rhetoric."

          TED has a "terms of use" agreement, which we all sign when joining the TED community. Generally, comments which are off topic, with disrespectful name calling, are removed by TED. I stated that I was/am "disappointed" that what generally happens, did not happen. I understand that to be a choice TED makes with each and every interaction.
        • Sep 20 2012: John, isn't that a fancy way of saying, when the lord returns to murder all those who do not pledge allegiance to his divine dictatorship? My point was that Don was essentially endorsing the murder of people on the fence about God, as a "quick justice", which is downright reprehensible.
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      Sep 16 2012: Mr. Winner I have to disagree that Ted should have intervened. I agree with most of what you said but it would be worse I believe if it was censored.

      Debates can get heated and trenches dug but that does not automatically invalidate the process. New knowledge can come from the process just as the ancient Greeks understood.

      What I learned here was how to articulate what my stance was succinctly and accurately to decrease any inaccuracies. And I could not have done that had my stance not been challenged.

      I agree that it can degrade into stupidity but that is the risk. It is somewhat new for some of us to debate in the online discussion format so we are all learning as we go. Mistakes can happen. But to censor this all the time would not allow people to learn. That would be sad.

      I do not think there are any easy answers but I really do not think that censorship is one of them.
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      Sep 20 2012: At least he's a nice person.......
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      Sep 16 2012: Jimmy!!!
      Great to see you again:>)

      Two of my favorites are Kuan Yin and Kali:>)
  • Sep 15 2012: Hi Arthur, it looks to me like your primary question is about how atheists assign purpose and meaning to a life not directed by God. I'll start by addressing your chance comment - Lack of belief in a deity in no way implies that everything happens by chance. Chance is a human construct created to help us conceptualize situations in which we lack the required information to definitively determine the result of an action. Things do not happen by chance, but through cause-and-effect principles. When people choose paths for themselves, be it through religion or not, they do so because they have found something which they enjoy and as such seek to let that enjoyment fill their life. Perhaps a good way to think about it is taking your purpose for living, and replacing the suffix of " because I believe in God" with " because I would enjoy such a life". Additionally, God is not the only thing which can provide paths. Society, family, friends, and everything else we experience in our lives provides us with direction.

    I'm afraid that I can't quite make out the point you were trying to provide in your second paragraph. If you would clarify it, I would be more than happy to give my viewpoint on that as well.
  • Sep 15 2012: "Can't they see His signs and can everything that happens on Earth happen by chance?"

    How do you know you're not just looking for patterns that aren't there? What's so implausible about things happening by chance?

    "If I don't believe in Allah, Jesus, Buddha or any other God, how can I live? I'll have no direction or paths."

    And I lament the fact that Bar Refaeli is not my girlfriend, alas, wishing something was a certain way doesn't make it reality.

    "If I don't believe in any God, then (I suppose) we are saying that everything that happens, happens by chance. What will be the purpose of living then?"

    I have a bachelor degree in physics but I've never heard of a law of physics that says life must have a purpose.
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    Sep 13 2012: "My question to all atheists is that, why don't they believe in God? Can't they see His signs and can everything that happens on Earth happen by chance? If I don't believe in Allah, Jesus, Buddha or any other God, how can I live? I'll have no direction or paths."

    If you believe that God controls everything that happens on earth then, along with his miracles, you must attribute every tragedy to him also. Would you rape, murder and torture? If not I don't see how you could suggest that you're made in his image. How can you live? Just like me, very well and always in the same direction.

    " If we'll get all that knowledge, what will be the difference between Him and us?"

    The difference is that we tend to share our knowledge with each other as we don't lose any of it by doing so.

    " What will be the purpose of living then?"

    The purpose is to enjoy it, to bask in its richness by collecting as much as you can of what you value most.

    "We already live in such chaotic conditions, so isn't it better to die in this case?"

    I don't think I could handle the dissonance of believing that God is responsible for the chaotic conditions that would make you want to die if you didn't believe in him. The headache is already starting.

    "nor am I saying that atheists should die or have no reasons to live"

    Right, you're not saying that we should die, just that we should want to die.
    • Sep 13 2012: My question to creationists, why don't they believe in science? Can't they see the signs and causation relationships in nature? If I don't believe in science then how can I use this computer, drive to work, skype my mom or fly to hawaii. I'll have no capability in this world, no gps to guide my path.

      The argument goes either way. It comes down to this:
      Some people choose to use their brains differently than others. A fashion designer spends a lot more time thinking about color and material and flow than most of us. They spend less time concerned about viscosity and temperature than a formula one engineer. So engineers wear the clothes and designers drive cars and hopefully appreciate the focus and talent that produced the objects of they enjoy.

      Science minded atheists spend more time asking why and how are we here than do creation minded religious people. This is not an assumption it is a necessary outcome of the world view of both. Creationists have an answer that suits them so no need to ask why, atheists do not.

      Creationism, religion in general, traditions, manners etc. are all mental shortcuts so that we can use our brains for things we find interesting or important. The problem is that the shortcuts are contextual and the world's contexts are dissolving into one. That is the reality. Evolve your shortcuts or your mind will become irrelevant your opinions suspect. We need all the minds we can get so please keep up with new science if that's your thing and evolve your morality if that's your thing. For context, creationists are more hardline than the pope when it comes to science issues. This is the same office that ran the inquisition, went on crusades and jailed scientists that disagreed with them. They evolved.
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        Sep 15 2012: The most concise and accurate statement in regard to religion is that "Religion is the opiate of the people."

        Originally from Marx and pulled from a longer statement about the role of religion in a society that is less than ideal, the parallels between opiates and religious beliefs are endless and potently precise.

        As someone who was once very familiar with the daily use of opiates, I will stick to what I know and you can make your own inferences.

        Everyone knows that opiates are administered to dull pain, and everyone knows that they are addictive. While opiates can make you more comfortable, they don't help to heal the source of your discomfort, they make you care less that it hurts.

        Unfortunately opiates don't just dull pain, they dull pleasure too. It is virtually impossible to orgasm while high on opiates. In the same way that they effect your sense of touch (physical feeling) they affect your emotions (mental feelings.) Opiates take the anger(pain) out of hate and the joy(pleasure) out of love; the shame out of remorse and the pride out of accomplishment. They put a "but whatever" at the end of every "I feel"

        Your body has natural painkillers (endorphins,) and when you take opiates, your body stops producing them. The longer that you stay on opiates, the weaker your natural system gets. This is what perpetuates their use and fuels addiction; if you stop taking them it hurts until your natural system regains its strength.

        A life on opiates is never great and never awful, it's a life in which you don't really care because you don't really feel.
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    Sky F

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    Sep 13 2012: “If every trace of any single religion were wiped out and nothing were passed on, it would never be created exactly that way again. There might be some other nonsense in its place, but not that exact nonsense. If all of science were wiped out, it would still be true and someone would find a way to figure it all out again.” - Penn Jilette

    I don't believe in the Christian god for the same reason I don't believe in any Greek god or Roman god or Egyptian god or Mayan god or Hindu god or Martian god or whoever turned Gandalf grey to white god.

    Also, God isn't ANY of our creators, our respective mothers are. I don't even need faith to believe that.
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    Sep 9 2012: There is no evidence or compelling reasons I am aware of to indicate the existence of a god

    Some believe in a god that created the universe, billions of galaxies with billions of stars, just for the trial run life of one species on one pale blue planet, before an eternal afterlife, and this god is particularly interested in our sexual habits and what we eat.
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        Sep 12 2012: There is a huge difference between legal evidence and scientific evidence. The whole concept of "reasonable doubt" is treated differently and you cannot equate one with the other.
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        Sep 12 2012: Hi don. The prevalence of belief indictes humans are susceptible to religions.

        Truth however is not based on a majority vote, rather by evidence and reason.

        If a majority think the earth was made in 6 days, or that the sun is a lump of coal floating around the eartth, that does not make them correct in their assumptions.

        You also ignore that religious believers have conflicting beliefs. Which indicates most must be wrong, possibly all. Religious beliefs are obviously not reliable when it comes to specifics.
        • Sep 13 2012: Hi Obey,
          --"You also ignore that religious believers have conflicting beliefs. Which indicates most must be wrong, possibly all. Religious beliefs are obviously not reliable when it comes to specifics"--

          There seems to be great difficulty in seeing and accepting the differences between the material/scientific world and the spiritual/religious world.
          When an accident happens each witness has a different perspective, but the accident still happened.
          Unless we have a watch or set a timer, the length of thirty minutes is different for most people in even a large group.
          Science can detect, measure and proof. In the spirit that is impossible.

          So with science you can talk about "specifics" and "conflicting beliefs" and thus possible friction. In a good spiritual environment there are no specifics and conflicts because good characters are based and constructed by mutual love.
          I want very much to emphasize that this only happens in a good environment! This also applies to marriage, parents and kids plus also humans and God.

          It is also that we are not here for this world. Our reason for being here has nothing to do with this world. This is only the seedbed of the next. Realizing that could make it much less hard for someone who lived this life without money or without legs or both. As people have found out.
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        Sep 14 2012: Hi Don,

        Most of my comments above are about the claims that gods exist.

        If you want to talk about reducing suffering, improving the human condition, that is another discussion.

        I would suggest that we can improve the human condition without religious dogma. In fact some religious dogma holds back the ethical and social development of humans.
  • Sep 6 2012: "If I don't believe in any God, then (I suppose) we are saying that everything that happens, happens by chance"

    No, we say that we have to find out how it works. While people who believe in gods refuse to think about many aspects of life, simply by saying "god knows why"...

    "If we'll get all that knowledge, what will be the difference between Him and us?"
    So in the end it is about staying small/infantile? You in person will know a lot more things than your parents did, your children will know a lot more than you ever did.

    So assumed there is a god or gods, then of course finally their children will overcome them in all aspects. It would be inevitable.

    "We already live in such chaotic conditions, so isn't it better to die in this case?"

    That is the, you may excuse this, most funny part about religious beliefs. The "paradise".
    See, you complain about chaos in this world, the evil, the sadness and unfairness of life. In your belief, there is a "next step", a paradise, a place where all this suffering makes sense.

    But, if we all go somewhere, it means, we all meet again. So the same "idiots" you find here, you gonna find "there" too. Nothing will change-and why should you like people you hated "here", once you get over to "there"?

    You can't forgive them their mistakes or sins down here on planet earth, but you think you can do this just by dying and moving to another sphere? It will still be you, and all your religious infantilism stopped you from becoming mature. You will have the same chaos anywhere, because the chaos is just in your head, because you fear to look behind the curtain and discover that there is no ghost behind it. That all the trouble you are in is selfmade, not by the devil, or gods bigger mind.
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    Sep 4 2012: Because I don't know what "God" means. Can you give me a definition?
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      Sep 9 2012: I agree.

      I have heard god is everything, god is the universe, to god became a man 2000 years ago, or we can become gods etc.
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        Sep 9 2012: Right. How silly would it be if people believed in something they couldn't properly define? Wouldn't that be intellectual laziness?

        Or perhaps they're worried that no two believers believe in the same thing, meaning God is, really, anything you want It to be... ?
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          Sep 20 2012: Yes Gerald, I agree it "could be". Can you define yourself, sufficiently so that someone, 2000 years from now will know exactly who Gerald O'brain is and is all about? What if that definition got tampered with along the way? Would it affect who you really were and what you were about?

          Food for thought.
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        Sep 20 2012: @john
        No, distortions in the definitions of God don't affect what God is.
        Except people believe in what they think to be true. And in a situation where truth is beyond the reach of rationnal explanations, faith is enough.
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          Sep 21 2012: So you can't define yourself sufficiently so the definition will last for over 2000 years. Is that your reply?
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        Sep 21 2012: @john

        Not in a single sentence, no. But a short book about me would work unless it was full of inconsistencies and contradictions.
        scientific theories are immuable, for instance. They get superceded all the time, but no one has any doubt about what Newtonian physics were about. This will last forever.

        The distortions you mention apply to poorly explained, ambiguous scriptures. Like stories written by a seven year old.
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          Sep 21 2012: I guess my point was too cryptic. What I am implying is that over time, the writings of some books have been distorted by copying, translating, etc. What truly happens in the past can become distorted. I was using the analogy to offer that the definition of who your are could also become distorted over the same period of time.

          The many doubts about Newtonian physics is the reason that gave rise to quantum Mechanics. Newtonian mechanics didn't hold true for the microscopic view of the atom and its' constituents (particles) Newton was limited to the technology and knowledge of his time.

          Einstein opened up a new door revealing the inadequacy of Newtonian mechanics in describing some phenomenon.
          "In quantum mechanics, due to Heisenberg's uncertainty principle, an electron can never be at rest; it must always have a non-zero kinetic energy, a result not found in classical mechanic" ~wikipedia.

          Newtonian Mechanics (although agreeing with relativity in some cases) does not work in a lot of modern physics experiments. So the forever part does not apply in certain experimental situations.

          I'm afraid I don't understand your mention of the stories I tell. Could you offer some help?
          The idea they are comparable to something a 7 year old might write is disturbing to me. If I need to improve on something I said I would be more than happy to alter the story in a suitable way. I'm not a seven year old, I'm sixty and have been studying these things for a number of years.
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        Sep 21 2012: @john, john, john

        Have you read my post?
        "They get superceded all the time, but no one has any doubt about what Newtonian physics were about."
        Classical physics have been replaced. But we know what classical physics are, because they were well explained.

        My point is that people who wrote scriptures and people who believe in them are either childish or lazy. Newton was wrong, but God damn it, we know exactly what his ideas were about. There is no ambiguity whatsoever.
        So good definitions are not endangered by the distortions imposed by time. That's what I mean.
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    Sep 20 2012: There is a code in everyone's body...... could someone tell me how it got there? The random chemicals argument has never been demonstrated in any laboratory on this earth. So much for Science. Perhaps far in the future they might work it out.

    I don't know. There's the way it is.... and the way it should be.

    Is God real?

    If there is an eternity of possibilities, that means that we cannot put all our knowledge of this subject under the bell curve because there is no set of data that can accumulate in one spot long enough to find the normal coordinates.
    That still leaves the possibility, not probability, that God is possible.

    If eternity exists.

    If in the beginning there was nothing there would be nothing still, having nothing to alter that situation with. Ergo, something has always existed. Ergo eternity is real.
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      Sep 20 2012: Do you mean genetic code? It got there by biological evolution which is a rather dumb and slow process of repeating copies with some rudimentary rules and changing a little bit each time. It can be mathematically shown that a system can become astonishingly complex, self generating (almost life like) starting from a simple combination and reiterating with simple mathematical rules for vast number of reiterations.
      The random chemical argument has been demonstrated in laboratory in this earth. Please check Miller-Urey experiment.
      'That still leaves the possibility, not probability, that God is possible.' As argument this is lame. You may like to check Russel's Teapot.
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        Sep 20 2012: Pabitra, I don't know you so don't take this personal. I have a hobby genetics lab in my basement where I study mushrooms :)

        I was just throwing that out to grab everyone's attention to the fact that scientific truth is an ongoing affair, and can't be used to settle the question of Is God or Is God not.

        I am currently very well updated on the frontier of Genetic understanding and what I don't know I can always ask Theodore A. Hoppe.

        Thanks for your lame and unending circular contribution to this question. Now,we are both lame... I hope you are happy. :)
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        Sep 21 2012: Gabo. I'm beginning to understand how this conversation got so out of hand.

        I'm done with you sir. I will not answer any more of your sentiments. What this site needs, for clarity, is an ignore user button that clears the conversation of clutter. I like the Newest first and oldest first functions but they still don't give the clarity of the conversation I need. I will suggest this to TED just as I suggest they install an edit/delet function.
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          Sep 21 2012: Why bother to suggest anything to TED John? You wrote....

          "TED is dead colleen. It always was... just an experiment."
        • Sep 21 2012: OK John, sorry that I bothered you again answering above about your turn of rhetorics on Tim's phrase. By the way, you can always erase your comments. there's a delete button right there. Anyway, just ignore my latest answer and we leave it there.

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      Sep 20 2012: I suggest there is no design just adaptation and complexity. Life struggling to survive.

      And who designed your designer.

      Strange how you can accept an inexplicable designer but not natural proceeses.
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          Sep 20 2012: Hi don just because there is no evidence of designer does not mean this is because of the devil.
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    Sep 20 2012: I think that Jihadist suicide bombers have this same issue. They don't think the world is a nice place to play so they want their life to mean something. I understand those types of personalities make good recruits.
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        Sep 20 2012: You are too cool for words daddy oh....
        How's it going Don. :)
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    Sep 19 2012: Well said Colleen.
    If I am not very mistaken the heart of Sam's argument is that morality can very well grow without necessarily accepting God as the epitome of absolute good. It can grow from science or scientific reasoning as well. As a corollary he also postulates that there is no such thing as free will.
    We can debate on his argument but I am not clear how Arthur poses the question with reference to Sam's stand. However, I am open to his points, if he chooses to place those.
    Otherwise, God debate does not interest me anymore.
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      Sep 19 2012: I agree Pabitra....the God/no God debate may go on forever! The main question, stated by Arthur in the introduction seems clear...."My question to all atheists is that, why don't they believe in God?" With that question, using Sam Harris' talk seems appropriate, because, as you say, his talk suggests that morality can very well grow without accepting the concept of a god.

      Acceptance of a god and religion has not proven to be the epitome of absolute good, and in fact, has caused chaos, unrest, abuse and violation of human rights in our world, more often than not.

      It would be great to have the facilitator pop in to clarify his intent.
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    Sep 19 2012: normal ..then i find the reason why i am being in that state ..i think i am so easy to be influenced by others .and do not trust myself firmly..that is it ...now sometimes when i think of that .i am a little scared..
    while it is very nice to share it with you. it is really a helper thanks for TED thanks for your time!
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      Sep 19 2012: Good observation Chen!! You see....you "find the reason". Be patient with yourself....trust yourself....yes?

      You are exploring, learning about yourself and others....I LOVE it! It is a good reminder for all of us Chen.....thank you for sharing yourself with us:>)

      What are you scared of?
  • Jon Ho

    • +1
    Sep 16 2012: Good question!

    And now my question to you is, why do YOU believe in God? I tried looking for clouds with Allah or Yahweh signature since I was an egg, still haven't found one. Is He busy or something? Having a hard time trying to fight off Satan? But I'm still alive, enjoying life and everything that comes with it, especially the touchy feely stuff. All the sadness, melancholy, the feelings of relief, anger, and happiness. I have made it my -goal, direction, path - to experience as much of these feelings as possible, good or bad.

    Now I'm not trying to hurt YOUR feelings, but.... until I see God write something like "Hey Jon Ho, I'm Yahweh/ Allah /Buddha /Tom Cruise, and I approve of this cloud, signed - Your God" using his cloud pen, I will have to say no.

    And don't give me that bullshit about God being too busy fighting Satan to spend 10 seconds for a single human. Or even worse, God works in mysterious ways and my human brains can't begin to understand how stuff works because seriously, that God is a failure if He can't explain the universe in simple terms to a human. I mean even Einstein can explain E=mc², and the God who works in mysterious ways couldn't? Epic Fail-Boat!
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      Sep 16 2012: Yes Don, you are absolutely right...we can easity identify those who bring evidence into a debate, and those who only criticize.

      Only you can answer your own questions Don, including how you managed to get a thumbs up IMMEDIATELY when your post appeared on the site. Also interesting, is the fact that your comment states:
      "Just count the sudden reciprocating rise in the number of thumbs-up. The crowds in the stands shout out their emotions." It's as if you already KNEW you were getting a thumbs up when you wrote that.

      I think you are shouting out your own emotions Don, and giving yourself thumbs up with another account.

      This is not a soccer match....it is a conversation on TED, which is supposed to be respectful. You are right again Don, there are a lot of things being revealed right here....right now.
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        Sep 16 2012: Oh my gosh! Can you imagine THAT debate:)
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          Sep 16 2012: Don,
          The topic of this discussion is "Atheism: why do people don't believe in God?"
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          Sep 16 2012: I do not EVER "invite a reply" from you Don, because I have learned about your replies...not desirable.

          Don, when you first came on TED, I tried to reach out to you and you accused me of being abusive because I did not agree with you....this is fact, as you say:>)

          The topic of this discussion is "Atheism: why do people don't believe in God?"
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        Sep 20 2012: Of course that is just speculation right colleen?

        Actually I think the author is trying to ask why Atheists don't believe in God.

        Do you have a legitimate answer?

        Don, Some people, don't believe in God. That's the way it is. You understand this.

        Colleen, Don's happy. He's just trying to help a fellow who doesn't understand why some people don't see the wonder of spirit that he does.

        Harmless really, nothing to make one's self look foolish about.
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          Sep 20 2012: Yes John,
          Anything having to do with the topic God/No God is generally speculation.

          I agree...the author asks "why Atheists don't believe in God".

          I answered from my own perspective John, as one who does not believe in a god.

          Here it is again....
          As a person who was born into a catholic family and forced to practice that tradition for many years, I was always questioning the dogma and teachings, which did not make any sense to me. Love thy neighbor...IF s/he was catholic. Things like that felt contradictory and hypocritical to me.

          I abandoned that religion at age 19, and did not practice any religion for 23 years. After a near fatal head/brain injury 22 years ago, I started questioning religions and philosophical beliefs, exploring, studying and practiced various religious traditions. After years of exploring religions and beliefs, I decided that I did not need a religion to be a good person, and I did not/do not believe there is a god.

          I don't know if this is "legitimate" in your perception John. You alone are the judge of what you perceive to be legitimate.

          I understand what Don is trying to do John...like you insightfully recognized and stated in another comment....I know Don pretty well. I totally agree..."nothing to make one's self look foolish about"....well said John:>)
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    . . 100+

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    Sep 14 2012: It isn't what people say but rather how they act and what good is caused by each that matters in the world.