I don’t get too many overtly religious comments on my blog, but since I read all the comments you guys leave, I do read the occasional “you’re wrong, love Jesus” remarks. I have no problem with people disagreeing with what I say – I don’t pretend to be infallible or anything. But recently someone commented with a religious remark that I hear all the time and is a big pet peeve of mine (emphasis mine):
“…See the whole picture. There is plenty of proof there is a God, but you need to see what you see and believe what is clear. “Faith is the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen.” So… there is evidence… look for it and you will be satisfied. ...“
The old “you’re just not looking hard enough” idea. It drives me nuts, particularly because I hear it over and over. They don’t claim God is making it difficult for me to believe in him or anything – I’m just too lazy or in denial to see the truth. One, it’s an ironic statement since it usually comes from the very same people who deny scientific facts in order to support their faith, and make no effort to actually understand said science. The vast majority of people who don’t believe in evolution don’t even know how to define it.
But the main reason it bugs me is because it implies atheists haven’t tried. Most atheists were at one point religious, and many of them had religious experiences that theists would say were evidence for God. They, however, realized such experiences were just their mind playing tricks on them or pure human emotion, not some supernatural force. And often those people take a long time to actually become atheists because there’s a period where they investigate their faith closely and look for proof of god. And you know what? They don’t find any. Are they really not looking hard enough?
I would even hazard a guess that many life long atheists have tried this at one point. I know there was a time in my life where I really wanted to believe in a God. I asked for all sorts of signs for evidence, I hoped beyond hope, and I got nothing. You know why my prayers weren’t answered? Not because I wasn’t trying hard enough, not because I hated God and I didn’t want him to exist – but because he doesn’t exist. I was talking to no one.
The idea that atheists aren’t trying to find truth is mildly insulting, honestly. We’re not sticking our fingers in our ears and screaming “LALALA GOD IS DEAD” every time someone tries to present religious “evidence.” No, we listen, think about it, and then (so far) come to the conclusion that it’s all bunk based on reason and facts. I say “so far” because I, like others, am open to the idea of God if given real proof. Our lack of belief isn’t based on faith or hope. We aren’t wishing that God doesn’t exist, or going around ignoring all these pieces of “evidence” theists claim to have.
On the contrary, this is exactly what most theists do. The commenter said it himself: “Faith is the substance of things hoped for.” It’s not based on truth, it’s based on your desires. If you desire a God, your mind will start creating “evidence” to support your position. That doesn’t make the evidence true or real. Think of it like flirting. Sometimes you’re so infatuated with someone, that you interpret every smile to mean that they like you back. It’s because you desire that they like you, and you start looking for things to confirm this – not necessarily because they actually do.
So Christians, we have been trying. Maybe your God isn’t too keen on giving us any evidence, but until I see it, I’m remaining an atheist. What does he have to do for me to be convinced? I don’t know, but if he’s all-knowing, he can surely figure it out.