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Why I am an atheist – James Grimes

It’s not all of the terrible things that happen on Earth that make me think god isn’t real. We’ve all heard the argument that god wouldn’t help quarterbacks win football games while letting children in Africa starve to death, but this doesn’t make me think he’s not real; it just makes me think he’s an asshole. It’s not that bad things happen to good people or good things happen to bad people, it’s that anything happens to anybody. The cause of my atheism isn’t tragedy, but the arbitrary nature of human existence.

Perhaps I expect too much from god, but if he is real, why isn’t everything beautiful? Why isn’t everything perfect? People mention sunsets and that special feeling you get when you are with someone you love as evidence of god’s existence. Even things like death and heartbreak stir up emotions just as profound, if not as pleasant. But they seem to forget that god created everything, that everything is a part of his plan. Love is all well and good, but I can’t believe that a perfect being thought it would be best to include shitting as an unavoidable biological function of human beings.

I can’t believe that a perfect being would create anything less than perfect. Call me crazy, but it seems like a contradiction. Forget the elephant man; pimply faced teens are enough to convince me that god doesn’t exist. If god is real, why isn’t every man an Adonis and every woman his Aphrodite? Why do people have unibrows? Why is my moustache thicker on one side than it is on the other? These may seem like petty questions, but when it comes to the existence of god I truly think they are just as important as questions like why do people feel pain or why is there so much suffering in the world. I can believe that god makes hurricanes; maybe he really is trying to punish those queers. But what intelligent reason could there be for creating say, asparagus?

I must conclude that there is no god, no plan for existence. There is too much imperfection, too much asymmetry in the world we live in. This is of course not to mention the fact that the bible is completely full of shit. On the principles of solipsism and critical thinking I must admit that it is possible that god exists. But if he does, mankind’s reverence for him is matched only by his indifference toward us.


James Grimes
Kansas, United States

Comments

  1. says

    I knew a guy that came to work one day with exactly half a mustache. I asked him several times what had happened, but he totally ignored me. Thanks for triggering a 25 year old memory!

  2. Samphire says

    Our Queen doesn’t do that poopy thing and I’m pretty sure Doris Day doesn’t either.

    Michele Bachmann clearly doesn’t do it otherwise she wouldn’t still be full of it.

  3. nazani14 says

    Many Christians would answer your questions with “because there is sin in the world.” Everything was perfect in the garden of Eden, and then a woman and a fallen angel screwed it up for everyone else, causing pimples. Same concept as Pandora letting all the bad stuff out of a box, really. Women, curiosity, disobedience to men- bad; men, giving orders without justification – good.
    At this point we discuss how powerful God actually is, if he lets the Devil run half or more of the world, and trigger those endless talks about free will. You can’t even win with recourse to evolution and brain chemistry as behavioral determinants, because they’ll tell you that God made DNA.

  4. ManOutOfTime says

    Yay! Comical and irreverant – that’s what I’m talkin’ about! It definitely seems you-know-who is an a-hole and he was already on my shit list before I heard about your malformed ‘stache. That tears it!

  5. Gwynnyd says

    No, no. It’s not asparagus that’s the deal breaker. It’s artichokes. Just how hungry was the first person who tried eating one? And why would something that looks like that be quite yummy food underneath all those inedible prickles and fiber? No one sane would design it that way!

  6. AgentCormac says

    I always thought that carnivores just about disproved the existence of god. I mean, what kind of monster knowingly and willingly creates lifeforms that must rip each other to pieces just to eat? What sadist comes up with a survival system that requires pretty much every living creature to spend its life in constant fear, and for most of those creatures to get consumed (usually after a brief period of terror and agony) by something bigger or quicker or more intelligent? Hardly the work of an intelligent (or caring) designer.

  7. Matt Penfold says

    Well there is the issue of smelly pee with asparagus.

    Why would a competent deity designed a tasty vegetable that makes the pee of a significant number of those who eat smell horrible ?

  8. Coyotenose says

    AgentCormac wrote:

    I always thought that carnivores just about disproved the existence of god. I mean, what kind of monster knowingly and willingly creates lifeforms that must rip each other to pieces just to eat?

    Seriously! I once saw a documentary on lions where a pride had brought down a zebra and was busily tearing into it. They had stripped all the skin and flesh from the ribcage and were beginning to really work on the muscle, when it kicked its legs and tried to get up and escape.

  9. zachpidgeon says

    So what your saying is that you don’t believe that we live in “the best of all possible worlds.” For the sake of argument I suppose that an omnipotent God could create any sort of existence it liked. If this world has a creator I agree with your supposition that he/she is an asshole.

  10. Dr. Audley Z. Darkheart OM, liar and scoundrel says

    Bravo James!

    Perhaps I expect too much from god, but if he is real, why isn’t everything beautiful? Why isn’t everything perfect?

    Along those lines, I always wondered why God would make so many different types of frogs. I mean, a perfect being could feasibly make one über-frog that could survive different climates and ecologies*, so what’s up with the trillions of specialized froggies?

    (I’m really enjoying the hell out of these posts.)

    *Is that a word? You know what I’m getting at.

  11. says

    I refuse to believe (no pun intended) that PZ’s pulling these at random; they’re just so varied and unique. Nice entry, James.

    @17 Mike:

    Yeah, another from Kansas. The original 1903 “Why I Am An Atheist” campaign had several from Kansas. This would be explained by the hours toiling a farm and having to battle nature while trying to grow things. One letter writer even questioned how a nice God could make it so that weeds grow ten times faster and farther than anything edible. God, the practical joker.

  12. says

    Asparagus was designed to be held easily by the human hand. It was also designed to fit into several different orifices, besides the obvious one, the mouth. Asparagus is proof of the existence of god, and proof that he is very kinky.

  13. EvoMonkey says

    I’ve been pampering my back the past few days because of a slight injury, but disproportionate pain . Although I enjoy bipedalism, the human spine is at the top of my list of reasons that demonstrate either god is an asshole or doesn’t exist. I can’t see how anyone with chronic back pain can give the oxymoron of intelligent design a second thought.

    BTW, James, I agree about asparagus. That is one freaky looking veggie. Blech!

  14. Nerdette says

    More atheists in Kansas. And here I thought my husband and I were the only ones before we escaped (joke – it’s what we tell people when they ask how we came together).

  15. Rey Fox says

    Because there has to be evil for there to be good and the bad makes the good more good and we need things to strive against to truly be good people handwave handwave handwave.

  16. says

    And in a universe that has bacon in it, this essay? Wine (or beer) isn’t proof that there’s a God who loves us?

    More seriously, many people look at the perfections and suppose that there “must be a God,” to make up for all the shit (apparently, shit is literal in this case). “God is an asshole” might “explain” (as much as “God” can, that is) the imperfections of the world as much as the imperfections of prayer, although it might call into question the sort of afterlife you might have.

    I guess I’d have to say that the actual injustices are and always have been the worst indictment of “God.” Sure, he might in fact not be good, but “good” is usually what people mean when they say “God,” and “all powerful” is generally meant as well. Something goes by the wayside if “God” exists, including the expectation that “wrongs will be righted.”

    Still, if there evidence of an asshole God (Biblical God, essentially), well, follow the evidence. Fortunately, there’s not.

    Glen Davidson

  17. Richard C says

    Asparagus is awesome! It’s actually some pretty evidence for God’s existence and almost makes up for pimples and shitting. If only brussels sprouts didn’t also exist and complete disprove him.

  18. says

    “God is an asshole.”
    “Asparagus heretics!”
    “…what’s up with the trillions of specialized froggies?”
    “Why would a competent deity designed a tasty vegetable that makes the pee of a significant number of those who eat smell horrible ?”
    “I think you underestimate the joy of a good poop.”

    I just love high level, intellectual and philosophical discussions, don’t you?

  19. Sheila says

    Oh, yeah; my whole life I was taught how ‘perfect and beautiful and miraculous’ the human body was designed by gawd.

    What total nonsense; why does the male urethra run right through the prostate organ, which swells up with age and thus requires the ‘roto-rooter’ surgery? Why do humans have two sets of teeth? Teeth are made of the same stuff as bones; our femurs don’t fall out at a certain age and a new one grow in; why aren’t we born with one set of teeth that grows as we do and that FIT in our mouths so we don’t have to have tooth extractions before we get braces because not only are our teeth too big and too crowded, they are crooked too! ETC.

  20. Mr.Kosta says

    But if he does, mankind’s reverence for him is matched only by his indifference toward us.

    Very nicely said, sir.

    And I’m with you, asparagus sucks.

  21. stevegray says

    Just wanted to say how much I look forward to reading these submissions as part of PZ’s blog.
    There is enough of us (and growing) that there should hopefully be sufficient submissions to last my lifetime.
    I guess I will have to pull my story together (now that I think of it it may already be posted on RD.net). I’ll go check it out.

  22. me says

    I can’t be the only one who finds this line of argument annoying. Why isn’t every male an Adonis? Why isn’t every woman exactly lined up with my idea of beauty? How dare there be any variety in human appearances?

    That ranks right up there with “I am an atheist because I prayed to get a pony when I was six and didn’t get one.”

  23. redgreeninblue says

    Asparagus is just delicious, and growing it yourself makes it worth the wait for the six weeks of the year when you can cut it. The bindweed (Convolvulus arvensis) that keeps on invading from the poorly-tended neighbouring plot at the allotments and trying to choke it, on the other hand: now that is an argument against the Christian god…

  24. Ronster666 says

    Have to agree with the asparagus opinion :P, but what about brussel sprouts? Oh yeah, that’s right, they’re a cultivar and were created by humans as a result of genetic manipulation, just like broccoli and cauliflower (which I like). We created a new plant, we must be gods.

  25. Pan says

    @31 myeck waters

    Asparagus was clearly designed by gawd to enable easy entendres for the dialog in 1970s German soft-core porn.

    Or so I’ve heard.

    No. German porn’s favourite plant for starting dialogues is straw.

  26. says

    If asparagus makes your pee stink, then you are not of the elite class, and should not be allowed to consume it. More for me that way :)

  27. James Grimes says

    Thank you all, you’re too kind. Except you “me”. You aren’t very nice at all.

  28. me says

    Sorry, James- nobody comes here for niceness.

    You ask why everything can’t be beautiful. Because beauty, not to mention being in the eye of the beholder, is relative. If someone is more attractive than average, you consider them beautiful. If they are less attractive than average, they are ugly. If you were to magically rearrange the looks of all the below-average people so that they were above average, then the average would be shifted up. But you’d still have people who were below average, and you’d whine that their ugliness proved that there’s no god.

    If a theist posited a proof of god on this blog that was as vapid as yours, it would be submitted to fstdt.net.

  29. Hazuki says

    I think the larger point being made here is a dig at the concept of theodicy itself, specifically the logical problem of evil: Given an all-powerful, all-knowing, omni-good God, why is there evil?

    This is a much bigger stumper than theologians want to admit, and the absolute best defense so far (Plantinga’s Free Will defense) still falls horribly short. Since theologians have (rightly!) guessed that no one will worship a cosmic schmuck who means well (i.e., is not maximally powerful and/or knowledgable in all possible worlds), inevitably theodicy reduces to gaslighting over the question of what evil is and whether we have any right to judge.

    This is the old “God’s ways are not our ways” defense, and it also falls apart. There needs to be substantial overlap, or else the entire theodicy reduces to a form of Lovecraftian Calvinism (one may argue that they all do anyway).

    So I think the OP’s thrust was a gently sarcastic nudge in the direction of theodicy.

  30. Garrett Buffington says

    @me

    Nothing is, or can be, relative in the eyes of any all powerful being. There can only be absolutes with such a being. Your arguement itself falls apart when you say that there is such a thing as relativity in the approach to beauty but then use the statistical approach. You fall into the same trap that any god would when creating the universe.
    Furthermore, there is a yawning difference between an atheist complaining that things aren’t perfect pointing toward a lack of divinity and a theist pointing to the same imperfection and making the antithesis of the atheist’s arguement.
    You clearly have no sense of humor either.

  31. Emmet says

    I’d agree with “me”. Vapid is the word. I’m sure he/she, like me, sees that it’s meant to be slyly funny as well as thoughtful, but it’s put forward as an argument for atheism but yet falls well short … and all the atheist readers cheer it on.

    I’ve been increasing my reading of atheist blogs recently and I find all the back-slapping often quite fascinating (and very similar to what you find going on after supposedly slam-dunk arguments on Christian sites) and it makes me think, “For supposedly enlightened, non-delusional, right-thinking people these atheists sure are soft-headed in this instance.”

  32. James Grimes says

    I don’t understand where your problem is with my argument. It doesn’t seem logical that a perfect being would create something that is not perfect. It would be like a perfect musician singing off-key. Are you trying to say that the world is perfect? Or perhaps that god isn’t?

  33. devbiologist says

    I’m still tripping over the line “If god is real, why isn’t every man an Adonis and every woman his Aphrodite?”

    …trying to figure out if that is one of the dogly ideals that a perfect god would have implemented, like world peace and no starving children, only tasty and visually pleasing vegetables &c; or, is that supposed to be secular man’s ideal, that each man on earth is a unique version of the Old Spice Guy and each owns his own beautiful sex-pot?

    Either way, disappointing. One of the great benefits of a god-free, reason-based mind is that one who possesses such a treasure has the ability to rise above religious and cultural stereotypes and biases, possibly even recognizing the essential equality of all humans regardless of their sexes. Not only would such an enlightened person be unlikely to describe a perfect world as made up of hunky men matched by their ideal, subjugated beautiful female(s) but such a one would also would acknowledge the possibility that if god did exist, he might be a she (aack).

    Prevents me from appreciating the first and last paragraphs of the piece, which are nicely constructed and conveyed, sadly fixated as I am on these points of circa-1950 male privilege. Sigh.

  34. James Grimes says

    @devibiologist

    I used Adonis and Aphrodite only as an analogy to illustrate that the world is not perfect. I don’t claim to know what the “perfect” human being would look like, but I do know imperfection when I see it and I have seen it in every human being that I have ever laid eyes on. As for my male privelege attitude, frankly I don’t know what the fuck you are talking about. I didn’t say anything about subjugating women. I said, or at least implied, that every man and woman on Earth would rather be more attractive than they are. By and large I think that is true.

  35. says

    James Grimes:

    As for my male privelege attitude, frankly I don’t know what the fuck you are talking about.

    Privilege is something we all have, to a degree. Some people have more simply by virtue of being a white male. This might help you out a bit. There’s no need to be defensive. The regulars here are often immersed in threads on sexism and feminism and we deal with more than our fair share of assholes who have no interest in learning about such issues.

  36. Raymer says

    That ranks right up there with “I am an atheist because I prayed to get a pony when I was six and didn’t get one.”

    And why exactly is that a bad line of reasoning? I quit praying when I was 12 or 13 for essentially the same reason: the things I prayed for never happened. Granted, it’s still possible to believe in a God that exists but simply doesn’t answer prayers. But then you’re left with a neutered God that might as well not exist. Not every argument against the existence of God has to be some sort of philosophical mind-bender. Personally, I’ve always preferred empirical evidence. And “God answers prayers” is a statement of testable fact that can be readily disproved by empirical knowledge. Someone that becomes an atheist due to their empirical nature isn’t something that should be considered a fault or shortcoming in philosophy.

  37. Pan says

    @Raymer:
    It’s a bad line of reasoning for atheism. No one answered your prayers? Well, god just doesn’t like you. Deal with it.

    Claiming that there is no skydaddy because he doesn’t help you is as absurd as saying that racists don’t exist, because racism is disproved bullshit. They are assholes, but that doesn’t affect their existence.
    The same is true for a god. We can’t disprove it, but we can look at the world and decide, that if there is a creator, it’s not a praiseworthy one. Injustice, starving people, carnivores, suffering, unibrows and cruelty are a reason for not praising or obeying this deity. This argument answers the question, whether or not it is moral to belong to a flock, it might bring you to heresy, but not to atheism.

  38. clarysage says

    Unibrows are beautiful. Seems like you let fucking rags like Cosmo determine your sense of what is beautiful. This is such a piece of shit essay.

  39. Phahad says

    I can appreciate that as a humor piece. However, I also never liked this argument, since it assumes that whatever “perfection metric” we have would be shared by a god being. Maybe we really are living in the most perfect possible world, and if we had a society full of eternally content people with unaging and equally gorgeous bodies, free of all disease and hunger, our society would be actually worst and we simply can’t see that.

  40. John Morales says

    Pan:

    It’s a bad line of reasoning for atheism. No one answered your prayers? Well, god just doesn’t like you. Deal with it.

    You are wrong; it’s a perfectly good reasoning if the claim is that God answers prayers and loves everyone.

  41. says

    Hi James, The Bible explains why the world we live in has pain, suffering and death. And it explains what the remedy is. This world is a work in progress.

  42. devbiologist says

    James, you’re swerving to miss my point. I’m not objecting to your ideals on attractiveness, that’s your subjective opinion which is what it is.

    You need to say what you mean and pay attention to the meaning of what you say. If you mean:

    “…every man and woman on Earth would rather be more attractive than they are. By and large I think that is true.”

    Then you shouldn’t write:

    “…why isn’t every man an Adonis and every woman his Aphrodite?”

    Can you see the difference? Cussing doesn’t make you seem more intelligent or credible, and it doesn’t help you figure this out. Give it another try.

  43. James Grimes says

    Let’s see if you can follow my reasoning, devibiologist. A perfect god wouldn’t make an imperfect world. A world where people are content with how they look is better, i.e. more perfect, than one where they aren’t. If people were metaphorical Adonis’ and Aphrodites, it follows that they would be happy with how they look. So I posed the question, “If god is real, why isn’t every man an Adonis and every woman his Aphrodite?”

    Also, for your information, I didn’t say fuck because I thought it would make me look more intelligent or credible. I said it because your accusation that I am sexist was contrived and entirely uncalled for. To be honest, I was a little angry.