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50 Reasons People Give for Believing in God

Guy Harrison has authored a book called  50 Reasons People Give for Believing in God.  In it, Harrison lists the things that people typically say to support their belief in deity and then asks provocative questions about the reasons given, and discusses the answers rationally.  I haven't read the book, but thought it would be fun to provide my own one-line commentary on each of the 50 reasons given.  So here goes:

1. My god is obvious. Not to me.

2. Almost everybody on Earth is religious. So? At times in world history, almost everyone believed the earth to be flat.

3. Faith is a good thing. Faith is neutral. It is good or bad depending on the object on which it rests.

4. Archaeological discoveries prove that my god exists. I call BS. Show me one.

5. Only my god can make me feel significant. Says a lot about you, not so much about god.

6. Atheism is just another religion. Only if you define religion so broadly as to have it lose all meaning.

7. Evolution is bad. Non sequitur.

8. Our world is too beautiful to be an accident. Seen any pictures out of Sudan lately?

9. My god created the universe. Well, if you say so...

10. Believing in my god makes me happy. That's nice.

11. Better safe than sorry. How safe is it, really? Are you sure you picked the right one out of the millions of gods out there to choose from?

12. A sacred book proves my god is real. Which book? Which god? Apply this to others who claim the same.

13. Divine justice proves my god is real. The lack of any evidence for such justice in the world tends toward the opposite conclusion.

14. My god answers prayers. All of them? If not, why not?

15. I would rather worship my god than the devil. False dichotomy.

16. My god heals sick people. But only some of them, right? So the suffering in the world is evidence that your god is a sadist, no? Why doesn't your god heal amputees?

17. Anything is better than being an atheist. Are you sure? Try it, you might like it.

18. My god made the human body. So you worship the Earth?

19. My god sacrificed his only son for me. Sounds like your god is a sick sonofabitch. If I killed my son and said I did it for you, what would you think of me?

20. Atheists are jerks who think they know everything. Some of them. But what do you call someone who overgeneralizes about a whole class of people?

21. I don't lose anything by believing in my god. Just your freedom.

22. I didn't come from a monkey. Who said you did, you moron?

23. I don't want to go to hell. Don't worry, you won't.

24. I feel my god when I pray. Quit putting your hand down your pants when you kneel.

25. I need my god to protect me. From your fellow believers, no doubt.

26. I want eternal life. Be careful what you wish for. See, e.g., the Highlander series.

27. Without my god we would have no sense of right and wrong. You need a book and preacher to tell you that murder is wrong? Really?

28. My god makes me feel like I am part of something bigger than myself. So does rooting for your favorite college football team.

29. My religion makes more sense than all the others. With all due respect, that's not a very high hurdle.

30. My god changes lives. For better or worse?

31. Intelligent design proves my god is real. I agree--your god is about as authentic as the science behind intelligent design.

32. Millions of people can't be wrong about my religion. Whatever your religion, millions more don't believe it than do.

33. Miracles prove my god is real. Is David Blaine god? Criss Angel?

34. Religion is beautiful. If you think Afghani schoolgirls with disfigured faces from having acid thrown at them because they were getting an education is beautiful, then sure, it's gorgeous.

35. Some very smart people believe in my god. Some very smart people drank the Kool-Aid in Jonestown.

36. Ancient prophecies prove my god exists. Name one.

37. No one has ever disproved the existence of my god. No one has ever disproved the existence of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, either.

38. People have gone to heaven and returned. People claim to have been abducted by aliens? Do you believe them?

39. Religion brings people together. Yes, it's working out so well for India and Pakistan. Or the Palestinians and Israel.

40. My god inspires people. To do what? Strap bombs to their chests?

41. Science can't explain everything. Give it time.

42. Society would fall apart without religion. Because it's doing so well with religion, right?

43. My religion is so old, it must be true. So what was the basis for believing it when it was new and competing with older religions?

44. Someone I trust told me that my god is real. Someone I trust once told me to buy Enron stock.

45. Atheism is a negative and empty philosophy. Why so negative? Don't you have anything positive to offer?

46. Believing in a god doesn't hurt anyone. Ever heard of Brenda and Erica Lafferty?

47. The earth is perfectly tuned to support life. Duh. If it weren't, we wouldn't be here.
48. Believing is natural so my god must be real. If I believe in unicorns, are they real?

49. The end is near. Only if religious people get their way.

50. I am afraid of not believing. Finally, the real root of religious belief--fear



Rawer! Nice round-up! And that last one's a doozy.


Oh man. Some of those are GREAT. I love 7. Evolution is bad.

You believe in God because evolution is bad. Okay. Sure. I DON'T believe in God because socks are AWESOME.

42. Society would fall apart without religion.

And it would fall apart if gays could marry! DON'T FORGET THE GAYS!


#24: so THAT'S what I was doing wrong all that time! Granted, it was the 80's and there was no way my shrink-to-fit 501's had room for a hand (yes, I was too dim to unbutton - heck, I was trying to pray for a warm fuzzy feeling and feeling unworthy when the ceiling didn't respond).

The Bearded Infidel

Nice list. I especially like #50. Do you really buy #10 & 21? You dismiss #10 out of hand, but might there be more to this? I can see how #21 can be true in many cases, but I think it is a pretty generalized statement. What do you think?

Michael Carl Eaton

Very nicely said. Witty and insightful. It won't change any closed minds of course. If you are a true believer, there is no way that logical fallacies will bother you. The favorite fall-back for any believer is "faith", even tho' the faiths of millions of human beings are mutually inconsistent. My faith is right; yours is not. My prayers get answered by God; yours get answered by the Devil or your own imagination.

I am 60 years-old and requested that my name be removed from the membership rolls of the Church at the age of 57. I'm a slow learner. It took me that long to finally realize that there was no way on earth that I could rationalize the differences between my beliefs in evolution, modern cosmology, and numerous social issues with the teachings of the Church. I feel like an idiot that I clung to my hopeful delusions so many years. Ah, well. Better late than never. Being free to think on my own is wonderful!

Bruce in Montana

You are a nasty person. May God have mercy on you.
Please stop your hatred and apologize to your beautiful family for not humbling yourself and seeking truth before it's too late.

Lunar Quaker

Hey there Bruce. Don't you see the irony in your comment?

I happen to know Equality personally and have found him to be a genuine, thoughtful, and kind person. The scathing indictment you received on the NOM board for your delusional fundamentalist Mormon beliefs was well-deserved.

Equality has spent a good part of his lifetime seeking truth, but like me, he prefers to find truth that is based on evidence, not subjective spiritual feelings.

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