Most of us who are interested in religion have pondered about the idea of a creator God at some point in our search. I too had considered whether such a being exists and I came to the conclusion that such a being does not. I’ve never penned down the reasons why I think this way.
Nevertheless, it’s better late than never, so here are the reasons:
Reason 1: First Cause?
If the Universe needs a creator, then who created the creator? If we can accept that the creator don’t need a creator, then why can’t we accept that maybe it is the Universe that don’t need a creator?
Many people feel that the Universe is so grand and wonderful that it must have been created by a creator (a “higher being”). Then the next logical question to ask is who, then, created this creator (since this being must be even more wonderful and complex than the Universe it created)? If people can accept that the creator don’t need to be created, then why can’t we accept that maybe it is the Universe that don’t need to be created by some “higher being”?
No, this argument does not “prove” that a creator does not exist. Nevertheless, it does weaken the argument for one tremendously. It shows that it is a matter of preference where we draw the line on what we feel is the correct answer.
Reason 2: God of the Unknown
Before the advent of modern science, people have a limited understanding of the world around us, for example, why are there different seasons, what are the moon and stars made of and why the sun shines so mighty and bright. People of various cultures created stories of gods and goddesses to explain these natural phenomena.
Thanks to Science, we know better now. The stories of gods and goddesses that used to be taken seriously are now treated as legends and mythologies, made into movies to entertain us. Nevertheless, the belief in gods or God can be very hard to shake off. Even as our knowledge and understanding of the world expands, there will always be things that are just beyond the horizon of our knowledge, beyond the reach of our understanding. Proponents of gods and God will then say that that must be where the divine lies!
Reason 3: Limits of Human Experience
Nevertheless, many intelligent people (Scientists among them) still believe in some higher divine being simply because of the sheer complexity of the biological world. Within the cells of every living being, thousands or perhaps millions of things need to go right in order for the cell to function, for life to be possible. It seems untenable that all these are not the work of some higher forces.
I think that the reason why people feel this way is because of the limits of our human experiences. A typical human lifespan is about 70 – 80 years, it is very hard for us to appreciate processes that took thousand, million or even billions of years to evolve.
Yes, every cell has thousands or millions of parts that need to work right in order for the cell to function. But nature has billions of years and trillions upon trillions of “proto-types” to work with to “perfect” these biological processes (In fact, it seems nature did require billions of years to “perfect” these processes).
Reason 4: It’s about suffering
The natural world is amazing both in its beauty and diversity. The amazing shapes, colours, sizes and numbers of creatures that filled our world is truly breath taking. Many people attribute this to the power and creative energy of an almighty, all-loving God.
Nevertheless, this is only half the story. The truth is nature is as cruel as it is beautiful and amazing. Every creature, from the smallest single cell organism to the biggest blue whale feeds off each other in order to survive. – The natural world is a massive battle ground where millions of creatures die each day so that other beings can live.
If I were to give everyone a piece of paper and ask them to draw an imaginary world of any shape, colour or form they like, how many of us would even conceive a world as cruel as the one described above, much less draw it out? So how could an all-loving God create such a cruel world? If an almighty God wants to awe us with his power, surely there must be less sadistic ways to do so.
Reason 5: It’s still about suffering
Suffering can be a great teacher, it can shape us into stronger and wiser people. But not all kinds of suffering are created equal. Some suffering is clearly unnecessary. In the last few years, we have witnessed how natural disasters like earthquakes and tsunamis have kill hundreds of thousands of men, women and children.
People struggle to explain why an all loving, all knowing and all powerful God could allow such terrible events to happen. The deaths are indiscriminate (in fact, the young, old, weak and poor are more likely to suffer) and I’ve not read any convincing argument being put forward by any believers to explain these events.
And let us not forget the millions of deaths that are occurring “silently” around the world each year from malnutrition, wars and diseases. They may not have the same visual impact as roaring tsunamis, but the suffering of the victims is just as real.
Suffering is not reserved only for the modern times. In fact, the situation was worse in the past! For thousands of years, human lifespan was a miserable 30 – 40 years. Infant mortality rate was high and even adults routinely died from various diseases. The Black Death killed atleast one third of all Europeans in the 1300s more recently, the Spanish Flu killed more people around the world in 1918 than World War I!
Again, no almighty God came down to intervene nor a more careful reading of holy scriptures lift the veil on such senseless suffering. It was the advent of modern medicine that stopped the spread of these deadly diseases.
Reason 6: Touched by an Angel?
Many people express the belief that they have been touched by some divine being or have felt their presence. I do not profess to be able to explain these experiences, but what I can say is that these experiences are not the monopoly of only one religion.
Stories of such spiritual experiences are common among all religions and cultures throughout the world, both present and past. If we do a survey of Buddhists, Christians, Hindus, Muslims or any other religions, I am sure you will find testimonials of such spiritual experiences.
I think it speaks more about our shared humanity than the supremacy of any religion.
Reason 7: Faith, comfort and hope
Many people choose a particular religion because the religion gives them comfort and hope. These are also some of the reasons why I choose to be a Buddhist. But more importantly, for me the religion needs to satisfy my intellectual quest.
I like Buddhism because it fits the modern scientific world view, gives a coherent explanation to why suffering exist and explain the diverse spiritual experiences by various cultures and religions.
What’s more, Buddhism focuses on universal compassion for ALL sentient beings and not limited only to human beings. In Buddhism we also believes that our destines is decided by our actions rather than who we have faith in, that there is no eternal damnation. In my opinion, all these make Buddhism a more spiritually equitable, compassionate and hopeful religion.
Finally, Buddhism offers not just comfort, but more importantly, wisdom. In Buddhism we say that the Mind is the forerunner of all states. So rather than constantly looking outside to seek for help, Buddhism ask us to look inward; Calm the mind so that we can see ourselves and the world clearer, so that we can learn and grow and to be better equipped to help ourselves and others.
I find this approach much more intellectually, emotional and spiritually satisfying.
 The explanation on why I feel this way is too long for this post. I will touch on it in due time in a future post.