The debate over the existence of a god is a very interesting one. One reason is that not everyone have the same reasons for his or her belief whether there is a god or not. There can be any number of reasons and those can determine how firm one will stand when debating. To help, I've compiled two simple lists and done my best to provide a brief explanation. I won't address the flaws or either here, but perhaps another time I will try that.
Realize that these lists are not what all of either side hold, but instead are compilations of various reasons individuals might have.
Note: If someone has a strong opinion, it means they have deep concerns. We need to listen and figure out what they are.
Why someone might not believe in a God
- Problem of Evil: If God is so good, then why does he let us suffer?
- Parents: I knew a girl in college who surprisingly converted to a religion. Her explanation is that her hatred of religion was not her own, but her mother's. When she realized that, she found she liked religion after all
- Hypocrisy: seeing people who preach some values only to act against them.
- Doesn't Make Sense: Cannot grasp the various concepts of God and how they can tie together. How can a God of Love punish eternally? How can God be Infinitely Just and Infinitely Merciful? If he is all-powerful, doesn't that mean he can create something he cannot lift meaning he is't all-powerful?
- Misunderstanding of positions: Sometimes people have a hard time grasping one concept and once it's explained in a logical manner, they convert. For example, perhaps they were assuming a different definition of justice which opposes mercy completely.
- No Encounter: Don't believe to have had any miraculous events in their lives
- No reason to believe: Burden on proof are on the claimants, not the doubters.
- I'll be honest. I can't explain this one. I just know some people use it but I don't understand their explanation. So if you know how to explain it. Please share and I'll update this list
- Education/Indoctrination: Someone in a position of authority said there isn't a god
- Having to change my life: Realize that if they truly believe in a God, they have to change their ways and they don't want to.
- Too many wars because of conflicting Religious ideas
Why someone might believe there is a God
- Family tradition: one's parents promoted belief from an early age and to consider people you trust to be wrong on something important would make you question your whole life
- Can only see despair in a world without God: With all the evil and suffering in the world, they would only despair if there was no paradise.
- Too many coincidences: Seeing how one major event would have never happened if anywhere in a long chain turned out differently encourages belief there is divine intervention.
- Prayers: Might be marked as coincidence to some, but the fact that some people get what they prayed for makes them believe there is a God who is listening.
- Poetic Justice: In our world, too many criminals are able to get away with their crimes. A God who is just could issue perfect justice in the next life
- Someone they love is dead: They want their loved ones to be eternally happy and the idea of paradise is consoling
- They have heard or witnessed miracles concerning trusted sources: If you witness a scientifically impossible fact, like a 15-pound tumor disappearing within a night, an easy explanation is that there is some being who has power over nature
- Stories of saints inspire them: the testimonies of people who are highly regarded to be wise and virtuous act as highly trustworthy material. Since many of them cast away many worldly desires such as fame, fortune, and even sexual pleasure, they are not considered to be corrupted
- Some modern examples include Mother Theresa
- People with real faith become great people: The people who believed so much that it inspired them to act with great love and become saints act as a testimony to goodness. People who want to become better themselves see these saints and work to imitate them because they see their actions as good.
- The Martyrs, especially early ones: The death of people close to the time of the "revelation" because of their resolve in faith in their god makes people wonder about if it's true. Since they were willing to die for their god, there must be a strong reason why they believe it to be true.
- Evolution doesn't cut it: The idea that a single organism evolved into everything we have today is a bit far-fetched. Perhaps the biggest kink is the separation into sexes. Why go from self-replication to requiring a partner? Some things which became necessary had steps of evolution where it there was no point. An idea that there is design makes more sense to these people
- The universe is ordered: For physics and science to be possible, there needs to be order. For the variety of life, objects, and forces, things work pretty well together to the point that we can understand them
- Why believe Scientists?: It takes faith to believe what scientists claim is true, especially with the long track record of being wrong. Since they don't fully understand everything that's inside our own universe, how can they make a claim about something outside?
- Even the science community is at odds because their "discoveries" don't matter when it comes to proving there is a god or not. Hence some scientists believe there is a creator while others don't
These lists are not exhaustive and could use better explanations, but I hope they do help in some regard. If you have something to add, please comment below or tweet @ND_Moharo
N. D. Moharo