I am an atheist as regards the Judeo-Christian God, meaning I believe such an entity as that described in the Bible and Koran does not exist and has never existed. I am also an antitheist. This means I do not take a relativist viewpoint on the Judeo-Christian religions: besides being untrue, I believe that the Judeo-Christian religions are harmful to Europeans, and we would be better off if fewer people believed in the Judeo-Christian God and if fewer people practiced the Judeo-Christian religions. As I am essentially exclusively interested in the beliefs and practices of my people – Europeans and European diaspora – for my purposes I will be discussing Christianity, and by extension the Judaism of the Old Testament. I don’t consider it my business what Muslims and Jews think and do, except inasmuch as they affect my people.
These are the reasons why I do not believe the God of the Bible exists and why I am not a Christian.
1. Lack of evidence. If there is a force that answers prayers and intervenes in human affairs, this should be a testable, observable phenomenon. I recommend God: The Failed Hypothesis by Victor Stenger for an overview of how utterly the research attempting to prove the existence of such a force has failed to pan out. Personal anecdotes of miracles performed and prayers answered do not have weight with me, as all religions are overflowing with such anecdotes, and anecdotal evidence is close to worthless from a scientific standpoint.
Burden of proof is on the person making the positive claim, so it is Christians’ task to provide evidence that their God exists, not anybody else’s job to provide evidence that that God does not exist, and that is evidence I have yet to see. Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. I would need to see consistently upheld evidence which tested the possible explanations for objectively-occurring miraculous phenomena in detail and on a large scale. Beyond that, I would also need to see experiments causing such phenomena to occur and testing the limits and patterns of such phenomena, to convince me of the existence of anything even remotely like an omniscient, omnipotent, omnibenevolent, and immortal entity, much less one that specifically favored Christians, particularly those who followed the laws laid down in the Bible. But not only is there no such research, there are no empirically observable “miraculous” phenomena to test or that would lead to having to make so extravagant an hypothesis as the existence of such an entity in the first place.
2. The Old Testament is clearly a product of individual Jewish men writing over a wide timespan, not the perfect, timeless work of an omniscient mind. For more on this subject I recommend Who Wrote the Bible? by *Russell Friedman.
3. The New Testament is clearly a Jewish (mal)appropriation of European mythology and pagan cults. The difference is that the Jewish writers chose to set the story in a recent historical time period instead of in the timelessness of mythology the way Europeans did, in order to make what was at the time pertinent social commentary. For more on this subject I recommend The Jesus Mysteries by Timothy Freke and Peter Gandy.
4. The Bible is internally inconsistent and self-contradictory (All That’s Wrong with the Bible by Jonah David Conner), provides bad moral advice (The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins), and is literally impossible to live by (The Year of Living Biblically by *A.J. Jacobs).
5. If Jesus appeared physically, in the flesh, in front of me right now and said, “You were really, really wrong. I exist. Everything in the Bible is true,” I might end up believing in God (or be completely convinced I was going insane), but I would still not convert to Christianity, because Christianity is inherently immoral:
- First there’s the premise that we are all born in sin, and that Jesus had to die on the cross to absolve humanity of this sin, because Adam and Eve ate the apple. The nature of “original sin” is people being punished for something somebody else did. This is unjust, and since God is omnipotent, this is something he is choosing to do, when he could have chosen to just not. If God existed, this system that makes blameless people suffer would be entirely his invention. The more you think about it, the more troubling it becomes. God chose to eject Adam and Eve from the Garden, and curse all of humanity, when he could have not; he invented the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil and chose to put it in the Garden in the first place; he also presumably let Satan into the Garden, since he is omnipotent and omniscient; he created Adam and Eve and made them the way they were – if he didn’t like their personalities, it’s his own fault for choosing to make them that way; and he is omniscient, so he must have known how this combination of circumstances would turn out before he even did anything, and then decided to make all humans suffer for it anyway. God made Christ die to fix God’s intentionally created and unnecessary problem, so even if all of this really did happen I wouldn’t feel particularly grateful or indebted to God for engineering a reason to make humans suffer and then inventing another totally unnecessary, suffering-filled method to “absolve” us from a punishment nobody deserved in the first place. It’s like an abuser expecting his victim to be grateful that he is being merciful and stopped hitting them, since they’d been “making” him hit them, when really everything was his choice all along, from first to last.
- Second, there’s the idea that all sins are forgivable (or almost all, in the sects that practice excommunication), except for the sin of not being Christian. This is unfathomably unjust. This would mean God tortures people for eternity for not having had blind faith in claims made without convincing evidence. If a man tortured someone, even for a day, not because that person did anything that hurt anybody, but just for not believing his fantastical and groundless claims, he’d be a psychopath.
- Thirdly, even if I were the most evil mass murderer in the history of Earth (and according to Christianity you don’t even have to be a bad person to go to Hell, just not be a Christian), I don’t think infinite punishment for finite crimes can ever be just, and people go to Hell for eternity.
- Finally, if I did think I deserved retributive justice for something I did and if the suffering I would receive in retribution was comparable to the suffering I had caused – in other words, a fair punishment – it would be the height of immorality for me to pawn that off on an innocent person who never did anything wrong in his life just so I could be better off, which is the whole basis of Christianity. For more on this last, I recommend “The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas” in The Wind’s Twelve Quarters by Ursula Le Guin. Christianity is the quintessentially Jewish practice of scapegoating, wrapped up in an attractive European garment of altruism.
Regardless, it certainly would be wrong to pretend that an entity that created such a setup is either remotely merciful or remotely just, or to rejoice in being helplessly trapped in such a (literally) hellish system, and against an omnipotent (but definitely not benevolent) entity you can’t hope to resist. I’m very glad that there is no substantive evidence that this horror story is actually reality.
As for agnosticism – being unsure whether God does or does not exist because of lack of evidence either way, and existing in a kind of state of Schrodinger’s God – belief in existence and nonexistence are not equivalent, or equally valid. In any other circumstance, rational people do not believe in something until they see compelling evidence that it is true, and yet they somehow think believing in the existence of an omnipotent entity is a special case. Nobody expects anybody to be “agnostic” about the existence of an invisible floating pink teacup on the dark side of the moon, or to think it’s equally valid that it might exist or might not exist, just because nobody’s “proven” that it doesn’t exist. Proving something is not true is both something that’s virtually impossible to do in almost all circumstances, and a logical fallacy – the rational stance is to believe something does not exist until there is darn good evidence that it does exist, same as the burden of proof is on proving a claim is true, not on proving the claim is not true. The only reason people feel the need to be agnostic about the Judeo-Christian God but not about Krishna or Hera is because they were brought up in a culture where belief in the Judeo-Christian God is much more pervasive.
As for deism – the belief in some creator force that made the universe, but does not respond to prayer, interfere in human affairs, give moral instruction, or otherwise interact with humans at all – I don’t see the point in believing in something like that, if it has no impact on how you live your life. I also find it disingenuous. The usual line of reasoning I’ve seen is something along the lines of, “The universe didn’t just happen. Why is there something instead of nothing? It’s too miraculous. Something must have created it.” But positing a God to explain why the universe exists, instead of not existing, is not a solution at all; it’s just backing up the problem onto something even more unanswerable. Why does the universe exist, instead of not existing? “I don’t know….an omnipotent, eternal force created it.” But nobody asks the new question that arises from this “answer,” namely: So why does this omnipotent, eternal force exist, instead of not existing? You could posit creators for creators for creators ad infinitum, and you would not be a jot closer to actually understanding or explaining why reality is the way it is. It’s scientists who are the ones who are actually working on figuring out why there is something instead of nothing, and answering other cosmological questions. The best book I’ve read on this subject is The Comprehensible Cosmos by Victor Stenger, but it’s not “a bit of light reading,” except maybe by Hermione’s standards. It’s more math than writing in some parts.
Speaking as an European, it’s not a bad thing that the Semitic God doesn’t exist. Christianity and nihilism aren’t the only two options. We make our own meaning in the world, and Europeans were making our own meaning out of life for at least tens of thousands of years before Christianity ever darkened our doorstep with centuries upon centuries of religious wars and en masse murders of witches and heretics, causing the deaths of untold and unfathomable numbers of Europeans. Christianity has always been an incredibly pernicious cause of strife for our people, and I think radically changed the trajectory in which Europe had been headed before its emergence, in many ways not for the better. Christianity has also had a long-term dysgenic effect, on top of the dysgenic consequences of perpetual wars and mass murders, by removing a significant portion of every generation’s top stratum of the most intelligent and virtuous European men and women from society into religious orders, and preventing them from reproducing. I hope that more and more Europeans can free themselves of this Jewish religion and its alien influences on our people, and return to our native culture and spirituality, either through pagan practices and celebrations, or through humanism. Or a combination of the two – one can still celebrate the Wheel of the Year, adore the real marvels of life and nature, and participate in rituals marking our experiences of gratitude, forgiveness, renewal, etc. without having to confront more metaphysical practices.
Speaking as a woman, European women in particular should be happy that the Christian world is not actually the reality we live in, as the Church, alongside the government, has been one of the key instruments of patriarchy in the oppression and exploitation of women, and the Bible is fundamentally patriarchal and misogynist. There’s a reason virtually all anti-feminist books, including all the modern “submissive wife” books which basically advise women on how to abnegate their personalities and desires in order to survive being married to an abusive man, are written from a Christian perspective. Beyond the millennia of destructive social forces that Christianity has leveled against women, I think Christianity is also destructive to women at a core psychological and spiritual level. I really think that worshipping a male God as the creator prevents women from appreciating their true power as the actual, literal creators of humanity, or realizing what a tremendous responsibility that power lays on us. The concepts of woman being made from man; man but not woman being made in God’s image; woman being the originator of sin, suffering, and death but not of life; childbirth being a punishment; and the mother being a vessel for the creator rather than the creator of her own child, are just a very few of the ways I think such a religion is destructive to women’s sense of self on a fundamental level. Some of the books I list below go into this subject in more detail than I have space to here.
I can appreciate that Christianity meets a lot of important needs for people. It provides rules, and a reassurance that you are doing right and living a moral sort of life. It provides a feeling of identity and belonging, and a larger community to be a part of. It provides someone to look to when you have nobody, and a benevolent, powerful agent to trust in when everything seems wrong. In some measure it mitigates fear of death, and grief. It gives a sense that there is meaning to life and purpose to the universe. In a society of postmodernism, for many Europeans I think it also provides a feeling of traditionalism and a return to our roots, even though it’s Jewish, because it’s an older Jewish influence on our people than Hollywood, Freud, etc. etc. These are all important needs to meet, and I know it must be a wrenching experience to give up on something so integral to one’s life. But when it gets down to it, I value what is true, and I cannot advocate anyone basing their morality on or building their life around something that seems patently false. There are other ways to meet all of these human needs that Christianity might have been meeting before: ways that I think are more effective at serving life and less costly to our people. Though that’s easy to say, as it would be hard to find any belief system or cultural practice that has been more costly to our people than Christianity.
“Why were you so ungrateful to our Gods as to desert them for the Jews?”
Emperor Julian, addressing the Christians
Atheism: A Very Short Introduction by Julian Baggini
Breaking the Spell by Daniel Dennett
Science and Religion: A Very Short Introduction by Thomas Dixon
The God Argument by A.C. Grayling
The Portable Atheist, edited by *Christopher Hitchens
When Religion Is an Addiction by Robert Minor
God and the Folly of Faith by Victor Stenger
Julia Sweeney’s talk Letting Go of God is also very good.
Women & Christianity
Does God Hate Women? by Ophelia Benson and Jeremy Stangroom
Beyond God the Father by Mary Daly
The Church and the Second Sex by Mary Daly
Women Beyond Belief, edited by Karen Garst
Women v. Religion, edited by Karen Garst
Women Without Superstition, edited by Annie Gaylor
Man’s Dominion by Sheila Jeffreys
Quiverfull by Kathryn Joyce
Enemies of God: The Witch-hunt in Scotland by Christina Larner
Witch Craze: Terror and Fantasy in Baroque Germany by Lyndal Roper
Humanism & Morality Without Religion
Liberal Eugenics by Nicholas Agar
Thinking and Deciding by Jonathan Baron
A Darwinian Worldview by Brian Baxter
Sense and Goodness Without God by Richard Carrier
The Big Picture by Sean Carroll
Encountering Naturalism by Tom Clark
Everything Voluntary, edited by Skyler Collins
The Little Book of Atheist Spirituality by Andre Comte-Sponville
Freedom Evolves by Daniel Dennett
Good and Real by Gary Drescher
Enchiridion by Epictetus
The Really Hard Problem by Owen Flanagan
The Morality of Everyday Life by Thomas Fleming
The Good Book by A.C. Grayling
Meditations for the Humanist by A.C. Grayling
Narrow Roads of Gene Land (3 vols.) by W.D. Hamilton
Understanding Human History by Michael Hart
The Chemistry of Connection by Susan Kuchinskas
Supercooperators by M.A. Nowak and Roger Highfield
The Elements of Moral Philosophy by James Rachels
Skeptics and True Believers by Chet Raymo
On Genetic Interests by Frank Salter
The Brain and the Meaning of Life by Paul Thagard
Sociobiology by Edward O. Wilson
The Moral Animal by Robert Wright
The Moral Molecule by Paul Zak
I don’t personally like Gnosticism because I find it much too nihilistic, advocating a philosophy of detachment instead of attachment, but it’s certainly the native European religious practice that’s most closely related to Christianity. It has a tremendous amount in common with East Indian religious practices, which makes me think it’s highly likely it was originally an Indo-European religion.
Ancient Mystery Cults by Walter Burkert
The Laughing Jesus by Timothy Freke and Peter Gandy
For comparative purposes:
The Jains by Paul Dundas
The Yoga Tradition by Georg Feuerstein
Indian Philosophy: A Very Short Introduction by Sue Hamilton
Buddhism: A Very Short Introduction by Damien Keown
Hinduism: A Very Short Introduction by Kim Knott
The Gnostic Gospels by Elaine Pagels
I’m not going to talk about paganism here because it’s too immense and subtle of a subject, and because my own family’s practice diverges quite significantly from “popular” paganism (Wicca, for example), so I can’t sum anything up with references to just a few books.