Howard Bloom Explains ‘The God Problem’

This is an excerpt from The God Problem: How A Godless Cosmos Creates by Howard Bloom (Prometheus Books, 2012). Reprinted by permission of the publisher.



Imagine this. You are a twelve-year-old in a godforsaken steel town that once helped suture the Great Lakes to the Atlantic coast of North America and Europe. A city that, for you, is a desert — a wasteland without other minds that welcome you. Buffalo, New York.

Your bar mitzvah is coming up. (Congratulations — you are Jewish for a day.) And you are avoiding a huge confession. One that will utterly change your life. A confession about one of the biggest superstars of human history. God.

You are not a popular kid. In fact, other kids either ignore you or try with all their might to keep you from getting anywhere near their backyard play sessions, their baseball diamonds, their clubs, and their parties. When they do pay attention to you, it’s to take aim. They kick soccer balls in your face. They grab your hat and play toss with it over your head while you run back and forth trying to yank it out of the heights above your reach. Or they pry your textbooks from your arms and throw them on a lawn covered with dog droppings.

No one your age wants you in Buffalo, New York.

But at the age of ten you discover a clique that does welcome you. Why? It’s a clique of dead men. And dead men have no choice. The two heroes you glue yourself to, two heroes not in a position to object if you tag along and join them in their games, are Galileo and Anton van Leeuwenhoek. These are men who shuffled off this mortal coil roughly three hundred years ago. But they put you on a quest, a mission, an adventure that will last you a lifetime.

Your task? To pursue the truth at any price, including the price of your life. To find things right under your nose, things that you, your parents, and all the kids who shun you take for granted. To look at these everyday things as if you’ve never seen them before. To look for hidden assumptions and to overturn them. To look for really big questions then to zero in on them. Even if the answers will not arrive in your lifetime.

Why do this? Because your dead companions have lured you into science. And the first two rules of science are:

1. The truth at any price including the price of your life.

2. Look at things right under your nose as if you’ve never seen them before, then proceed from there.

What’s more, in science the next big question can be more important than the next big answer. New questions can produce new scientific leaps. They can tiddlywink new flips of insight and understanding. Big ones. Paradigm shifts.

New questions can even show the people who’ve rejected you how to think in whole new ways. And that is your mission. Finding the questions that will produce the next big perception shift. Finding the unseen vantage points that will allow others to radically reperceive.

So how does God get into the picture? Remember, you are twelve. Your bar mitzvah is coming up. Your dad is going to throw a party for all the kids you know — for all the kids who humiliate you at Public School 64. And this time you are invited. Yes, your bar mitzvah is the very first time that you will be allowed to attend a celebration with your peers. And it gets better. The center of attention will be, guess who? You.

But something is rumbling through your mind. Something you refuse to register. Something that could cancel your bar mitzvah. You’ve read the arguments that Bertrand Russell has made about God. These arguments hit home with you. God, in Russell’s opinion, is a silly idea. If it took a God to create a universe, then a thing as complex and as powerful as a God would need a creator, too. And who or what created God?

In other words, the notion of a God doesn’t make sense. And it doesn’t appeal to your emotions, either. So the confession that you are dodging is this: You are about to become a stone-cold atheist. But if you admit that to yourself right now, you will blow your bar mitzvah.

The result? The question of whether there is a God stays safely hidden in your subconscious. You never put it in words, even to yourself. But that’s just the beginning.

The party happens — a bowling party. It isn’t what you expected. The other kids show up. But they do what they’ve always done. They ignore you. You are left out even at your own shindig. Thank God the dead guys of science still welcome you. But the heap of presents is extraordinary.

Then it’s confession time. There is no God. You are as certain of that as you are that a bus slamming into you and your bicycle at thirty miles per hour at the corner of Colvin Avenue and Amherst Street could do you serious damage. And if there were a deity hanging around in the skies, what kind of God could he be? A monster, a pervert, and a serial killer? A demented and addicted murderer of plants, animals, and entire species? A torturer and slayer of creatures made in his own image, a mass murderer of human beings?

You’ve read the Bible from cover to cover, and one story in particular bothers you. The story of Job. Job is a good man, a man whom God has made successful and rich. And a man who believes profoundly in his maker. But God is sitting around heaven one Saturday afternoon with the Accuser — God’s chief prosecutor: a combination of security chief, head of Earth’s domestic spy agency, and district attorney. There is no Super Bowl and no TV. So what do two very macho guys, two guys on a power trip, do when they are forced to amuse themselves? They compete over who can do the best job of guessing the future. They make bets. (Why we humans and the gods that we imagine get a kick out of testing our prediction powers — and competing over them — is a subject for another time.)

Here’s how your twelve-year-old mind recalls the tale. The Accuser bets God that humans only believe in the Deity-in-Chief so long as he delivers the goods. God, the divine attorney implies, suckers humans into belief by paying them off, by putting them on the payroll. Cancel the flow of bribes, says the quibbling public prosecutor of the heavens, make life miserable enough for the greatest believer, and even the most pious human will turn on God and curse his very name. You’re on, says God. I’ll take that bet.

To prove his point, God puts Job in the crosshairs of a demonstration project. Wealth, in these biblical times, is based on the number of four-legged animals you own. And because God has been generous to Job, his flocks of animals are abundant — seven thousand sheep, three thousand camels, a thousand oxen, and five hundred “she-asses” to be precise. So God kills the sheep, the camels, the oxen, and the asses. He wipes out Job’s savings. He turns Job from a rich man to a poor man overnight.

Does this make Job turn on God? Not a bit. Strip Job of his fortune and he still swears his belief in his creator. So God takes the demonstration a step further. God has been good to Job in the fertility department, and Job and his wife have ten kids — three daughters and a whopping seven sons. So God kills the children. All ten of them. Does Job curse God? Not one bit. He hangs on tight to his belief.

God takes things even further. He takes aim at the one thing Job has left, his body. He turns Job’s very skin into a torture chamber. He gives Job boils whose pains produce an infinite hell minute by minute and second by second. Job sits in a pile of ashes and covers himself with them, trying to stop the agony. But does Job say screw you to the big guy in the sky? Does he curse God? Not one bit. He prays to God, he begs for God’s aid, and he sticks to God through thick and thin.

The bet is over. God wins. Then God, who is praised for his compassion but should be condemned for his mean streak, gives Job ten new children and a slew of new sheep.

In other words, God is a mass murderer. He has no compunctions about killing Job’s children. And he acts as if a new family will make amends for the kids whose lives he has snuffed. Why does God kill so casually? In this case, just to win a bet. What’s worse, God makes mass murder ordinary. He makes massacre an everyday reality. How? When you and I were born, only one thing was certain about the rest of our lives: that you and I would someday die. Just as billions of humans and over a trillion, trillion, trillion (1036) microorganisms, animals, and plants have died before us. Yes, God kills creatures by the trillions of trillions of trillions. In fact, trillions of tril- lions of trillions is an undercount.

A God who slaughters is no God at all. Or if he is, he is a God who has to be opposed. He is a God whose cruelty cannot be allowed to continue. He is a God who must be stopped.

Or, to put it in the words of the mid-twentieth-century American poet Archibald MacLeish, “If God is God, he is not good. If God is good, he is not God.” If God is all powerful, if God is omnipotent, then his brutality is outrageous. And if God is not the creator and the controller of violence, then God is not omnipotent. He is not all powerful. He is not God.

Your bar mitzvah takes place on your birthday, so you are now a grown-up thirteen. And you’ve finally confessed your atheism. But you see the dilemma of deity — the problem of Job, the problem of good and evil — in terms of another biblical story, the tale of Jacob. Jacob wants to climb to the heavens and palaver with God, to negotiate with him face to face. God plays this scene as if he were Al Pacino in The Godfather. He has a thug, an angel, guarding the ladder to heaven. You imagine this as a ladder about eight feet high leading to a heaven that hovers over the earth at roughly the height of a low-hanging tree house. When Jacob reaches the foot of the tree house ladder, the holy bouncer refuses to let him touch even the first rung. Jacob objects. Strenuously. The two — Jacob and the angel — get into a nasty fight, wrestling their biceps off. Jacob loses.

As you see it, it’s your job to do what Jacob failed to accomplish. It’s your job to toss the bouncer aside as if he were a crumpled candy wrapper. It’s your job to climb that ladder, to barge into God’s living room, to grab the little sucker by the collar of his robe, and to tell him that either he shape up or we humans will have to take over. Why? Because it’s your job to do some- thing we still have not learned how to do — to stop the massacre, to stop the new Holocausts and the new Rwanda’s. To stop death in its tracks. To stop the vicious little bastard we call God.

The first rule of science is the truth at any price including the price of your life. That rule also applies to morality. You have to stop torture, pain, and death even if doing so endangers you. Which means if mass murder is taking place, you and I have to stop it. Even if we risk losing our lives.

But the nonexistence of god and the cruelty of the cosmos is not the really big revelation. It is not the insight that leads you to a massive challenge for science — and to a massive challenge for you and me. The crucial bolt of lightning that hits you is this. You are still thirteen. A mere ten weeks after your bar mitzvah and your confession of atheism, the Jewish High Holidays arrive. Your parents believe in God so deeply that they literally try to outdo God’s bouncer — they wrestle you into a car to take you to Temple Beth El on Richmond Avenue. Why? Because High Holiday services are the most important services in the Jewish year. But when it’s time to leave the car, you refuse. So your mom and dad literally grab you by the ankles and try to drag you from their blue, four-door Frazer while you hold on to the rear right doorframe for all you’re worth. Or at least that’s the way you remember it.

What’s more, by then you’ve been in science for a whopping 23 percent of your life. Since the age of ten. So you’ve read a considerable amount of anthropology. And every tribe you’ve ever read about agrees with your parents. Every tribe believes that there is some sort of god, some sort of supernatural power. Yes, the gods of each of these strange clans scattered across the face of the earth and sprinkled through history have been different — gods who create, gods who keep things running, gods who destroy, gods with faces on the fronts and backs of their heads, gods with a third eye, gods who hold lightning bolts in their hands, gods who hold fistfuls of snakes, dog goddesses, gods of civilization, gods of music, Earth goddesses, gods and goddesses of death, goddesses of light, monkey gods, emperor gods, gods of jade, gods who handle heaven’s paperwork, gods who file reports on your behavior, gods with elephant trunks, goddesses with eight arms, gods with the heads of jackals, goddesses with the heads of cats, and gods with the heads of hawks. Nearly every tribe and nearly every human being has gods. Belief in gods is all over the place. It’s universal. It squeaks and squoozes from every pore of humanity.

So if there are no gods in the sky, on the mountaintops, or in rivers, rocks, and underworlds, where are they? The second rule of science tells you to look at things right under your nose as if you’ve never seen them before, then to proceed from there. The most obvious thing right under your nose turns out not to be under your nose at all. It turns out to be behind your nose. The gods are in our imaginations. The gods are in our emotions and in our passions. The gods are in our hearts and minds.

But take God out of the skies, put him in the minds, guts, and gonads of human beings, and you’re left with a massive question. How does a Godless cosmos pull off the tricks that every genesis myth tries to grasp? Back to your café table in the nothing before the birth of the universe. If you believe the big bang theory — and the story of what the big bang theory means for you and me is about to come — then once upon a time there was a nothing. From that no thing came the first some thing, the big bang. And it wasn’t just any something. It wasn’t just an undifferentiated mass like a black hole. It was a speed rush of time and space that had within it the seeds of an entire universe. The seeds of atoms, suns, planets, and galactic superclusters. The seeds of algae, cabbages, flamingos, termites, and trees. The seeds of you and me.

That’s a colossal act of creativity, a stupendous act of genesis and invention. How did it happen? Why did it happen? If there is no creator, no engineer, no omniscient and omnipotent consciousness presiding over the start of everything, no sleazy little bastard in the sky making bets with his buddy the public prosecutor, then how did this rush of time and space come to be? How did the universe create something so unlikely, something so surprising, something that broke every previous rule? Something that made brand new rules of its own? How did the cosmos create time and space? And why?

But there’s more. In the first 10-12 seconds of this cosmos’s existence, as you and I saw from our café table at the beginning of the universe, the space-time sheet popped forth the very first things — quarks. Then it showered protons and neutrons. But that was just the opening act. The cosmos shaped the flickers and flits of photons and electrons. It crafted the lumpy nanoballs called atoms, the giant sweepings of dust and gas called galaxies, the massive clench and screaming crunch of stars. The cosmos birthed giant ropes of molecules able to seduce each other into dances beyond the dreams of human choreographers into the most peculiar molecule dance of them all, life.

How in the world did the cosmos pull this off?

How does a godless cosmos make a heaven and an earth? How does she make crocodiles, crusaders, continents, and Milky Ways? How does a godless cosmos cough up insight and emotion? How does it burp forth you and me?

That becomes the quest of a lifetime for you. It’s the quest you will begin in 1956. It’s the mission that you will pursue for over half a century. It’s the question whose answer can change the way that hundreds of millions of others see. It’s the question that can help us utterly reperceive.

How does the cosmos create?

That’s not just any question, it’s THE question.

It’s the God Problem.

The full version of The God Problem: How A Godless Cosmos Creates is now available in bookstores and online.

If you’d like to win a free copy of the book, leave a comment below explaining the biggest problem you have with God :)

If you’d like to be in the running for the free book, you must live in the U.S. and include the word “quark” at the end of your comment. I’ll contact you if you’re the winner!

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.

  • Bruce Heerssen

    I think my biggest problem with the concept of God is that he never seems to rise above the knowledge available to his believers at any given point in time. Via science, we know that stuff is made up of atoms, which are in turn made up of smaller particles. If “God” were omniscient, as claimed, and the Bible were his revealed word, as also claimed my many of his adherents, then surely at some point he would have mentioned something–anything–new that would have helped the people of time during which the bible was written. A simple word or two about the true nature of the universe would have sufficed. Something that would have been otherwise unavailable to the people of the time. Say, how to make a very simple microscope.

    Also: quark.

  • Nick

    My biggest problem with god(s) is that they’ve made humans so divisive.


  • Phil


  • Sam

    My biggest problem with God stems from a quote by Alan Moore: “The one place gods inarguably exist is in the human mind.” The fact that gods don’t exist pales in comparison to the actions performed by those who believe they do. And these merciless gods hijack beauty and art, mock equality, and evolve while denying that they have.
    My problem with God is that he does more damage in his nonexistence than any real god ever good.

  • Randomfactor

    Just got my copy in the mail last week.  But I gotta finish Greta’s book on being pissed off, first.

  • Patience

    My biggest problem with god is that no matter what god it is, no matter what people group believe in him/her/it, they always give promises related to that god that don’t come true. I mean, come on, why not undersell your god’s abilities? It’s unbelievable how many people buy the concept of god when he/she/it clearly doesn’t even live up to the expectations of followers. Talk about cognitive dissonance.

    And quark.

  • David S

    My biggest problem with God: He is no great fan of critical thinking and makes people feel guilty for engaging in it. It’s not just that his proclamations are morally problematic, it’s that he takes away the mental tools people need to escape the madness. Being wrong is one thing; being unable to discover what’s right without undergoing self-loathing and crippling guilt is another.

    Also: quark

  • The Captain

    I love when people show up on a blog post thread and willingly inform everyone that they don’t posses the mental discipline to read a few paragraphs. 

    If this is too long for you too read, I assume the last book you read was a sticker. That should take you far in life.

  • Jason Hudson

    My biggest problem with god? Smallness. If religion had a god big enough not to depend on the ignorance of its followers, we wouldn’t have nearly so much to worry about.

    As it stands I worry every day about the world my children are growing up in. I worry that because I don’t want to lie to them that they will have to endure the hatred of their peers, or even the violence of oppression. I worry that zealots will continue to destroy faster than the rest of us can rebuild. I worry that the lack of zealotry in the name of sanity will result in us always one step behind, always cleaning up after the death and destruction that continues daily. I worry that because those with the power to do something about it directly don’t live the lives of those that suffer they will never give it the attention that it deserves. I worry that every religious person shrugs when religion causes suffering and says, “That wasn’t MY religion. That wasn’t the TRUE religion.” I worry that the optimism of the religious will leave the most critical problems in idle hands and I do not share their optimism. I worry that the world will never know what it’s truly capable of. I worry that the knowledge we will one day need has been lost amid the learning and progress that’s been stifled, suppressed and destroyed by religion.

    I have a determination to see this world made better, and precious few opportunities to make a difference.

    We all deserve better.


  • Jeff P

    It is interesting that “God” always seems to dislike the same people (or practices or systems) that the believers in said God dislikes.


  • LesterBallard

    I don’t have a problem with “god” since god doesn’t exist. If a god or gods or goddesses existed, I would have a problem with most, if not all, of them. I do have a problem with many, if not most, of those who believe in a god. If they would just keep it to themselves and not try to use it to dictate how others should live, there would be much less of a problem.  

  • Rainierrod

    I don’t really have a problem with god just like I don’t have a problem with the tooth fairy. If god did exist, my biggest problem would be lack of evidence. Me and the quark have no problems.

  • clear1048

    My biggest problem with a god is the lack of curiosity that results as a byproduct.  Why does that happen? God. What caused that? God. Done.  My bigger problem is religion and what people do with it, but that is a different issue… 

  • Rob Crompton

    My biggest problem with God? He gave me an intellect, rationality to be proud of. And then when I wanted to say, “Hey thanks, this is great and wonderful,” he told me that he had chosen  the foolish to shame the wise. (1 Corinthians 1:27)  Thanks a bunch, God.

  • Dofang

    He never calls, never writes.

  • Larry Meredith

     30+ paragraphs = a few?

    It’s a long read. That’s just the truth. The vast majority of articles on this blog are like relatively short, easy reading.

  • Dats3

    It’s difficult to have a problem with something that isn’t real.  However, the fact that so many people do is actually my problem. God, jesus, mohammad, etc, well religion in general, are all pushed by those who want to control the population much like a politician might. 

    I like this quote from Steve Weinburg regarding religion, “With or without it you would have good people doing good things and evil people doing evil things. But for good people to do evil things, that takes religion.” That’s sums up my problem with it.  Otherwise it would be like believing in Santa Clause, it’s childish and cute but eventually you grow up.

  • mikespeir

    I just bought the thing!  :-(  Haven’t started it yet, but it should be good.

  • Ladycopper5

    My biggest problem with god is the tragic way that that unfounded belief limits and stifles humanity.


  • Jack Maginnis

    The biggest problem I have with God is his claim of ultimate moral authority.  It affords self-righteous sanctuary to all manner of barbarism, exemplified early by Abraham’s maniacal willingness to slaughter his own child.

  • rhodent

    My problem with the concept of a god (as others have said, I can’t have a problem with any actual god because there’s nothing to have a problem with) is that the concept doesn’t actually answer anything and is usually a barrier to learning more.  Evolution?  Bah! God made us.  We don’t need to know the details!  Formation of stars?  Bah! God made the starts.  We don’t need to know the details!  And so forth.  The concept is an intellectual dead-end.


  • Jesusdoppelganger

    He’s a mindless enabler. An enabler of an infantile species that doesn’t want to grow up and face the fact that no one is going to save us from whatever befalls us.


  • Ira Hanson

    God claims to have created the whole world, but he only ever talks to a small number of the world’s people, leaving the rest to suffer for the crime of being born in a different place. QUARK

  • allein

    Not to steal from Dofang above me, but one of my (many)
    problems with God is that he doesn’t call. Whenever I see people say “it’s
    not a religion, it’s a relationship” I wonder, are all your relationships
    so one-sided? Even my deadbeat ex was better than that. If God wants a
    relationship with me, he can damn well pick up the phone. If he’s so all loving
    and powerful, why hide? Quark.

  • Jay Arrrr

    My biggest problem with gawd was that whatever the request, the answer to prayer was either a resounding “No.” or no better than random chance.

  • pablo

    I just wanted to put in a good word for Buffalo. It’s actually a liberal, progressive city, at least compared to some places I’ve lived in the midwest.

  • snoozn

    Hmm, yeah I can see Job as a big hurdle in viewing God as good. For me though it was the story of Abraham and Isaac. I think I was about ten or eleven when the pastor at my Lutheran church tackled that one in a sermon. He explained that it was difficult, but that true Christians needed to strive to truly love God above all others. I briefly tried to make myself love God that much. But I quickly realized that not only did I love my parents and my sister more than God, but that I had no desire to love God so much that I’d be willing to kill my family for him!


  • koseighty

    I have no problems with god (or the eleventy billion things one can image but don’t exist).  It’s the people who insist that they know this god persons will and are willing to deny others their rights to advance that will that I have a problem with.


  • EcksLibris

    My biggest problem withe concept of god is that is just doesn’t make sense.  Whenever I listen to a believer try to explain or justify their beliefs, I feel like that little black and white dog in the old RCA Victor advertisement, with my head tilted to the side and an expression of “Huh??” on my face.  Quark. 

  • dug_inn

    Which god? Even among christian sects there is disagreement about the ‘true nature’ of god.


  • Kacy

    I don’t have a problem with God because I don’t believe he/she/it exists.  I have a problem with the god I was taught to believe in as a child.  That  god commited genocide, condoned slavery, and created unjust laws regarding private behaviors, but was supposedly “good.”


  • Drew M.

    Yep. A few.

    I honestly don’t see how you can call this excerpt a long read.

  • Drew M.

    My biggest problem with god is the classical Epicurean question of evil:

    “Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able?Then he is not omnipotent.Is he able, but not willing?Then he is malevolent.Is he both able and willing?Then whence cometh evil?Is he neither able nor willing?Then why call him God?”


  • Guest.

    My problem with god is that god doesn’t exist.  Were god extant, we’d have some hope of whatever empirical aspect of ghod shows up unifying the otherwise culture specific host of supernatural entities.

    Else; god exists and screwed up badly.  God’s holy book (were god extant) should have not condoned slavery and genocide (to name 2 of many examples of bad-things(tm) to avoid).  Evenmoreso, the holybook should have had a periodic table of the elements, list of all the genes, their functions and regulation and a description of what that means for how to live your life and a design for a safe clean and everlasting energy source (collectively good stuff to know).

  • Mommiest

    My biggest problem with gods is that they never tell us about the fundamental nature of matter. Never has a god mentioned a quark.

  • Silo Mowbray

    My biggest problem with God, assuming He exists, is that he is a monumental dick.

  • Larry Meredith

     Well I’m sorry, I don’t know how I can explain it to you in any other way. Look at the other articles on this blog. They are almost all 4 or 5 paragraphs. It’s not a matter of perception. It’s entirely measurable that other articles on this blog are relatively short easy ready compared to these book excerpts that are posted every once in a while. This article is over 30 paragraphs. For a blog, that’s a pretty long read. I don’t know how that’s hard to understand.

  • Sam

    I forgot to say Quark

  • Joe Smith

    One of my big problems with believing in a god is that it allows you to give up on thinking about things and coming up with ideas of things we do not know.  I gave an example to my wife the other day, about why I think it is ludicrous for a scientist to be religious.  Basically I reference a math professor, if I asked him what 2 + 2 is, he of course would not write it down to figure it out, because in his mind he already has the answer.  If a scientists goal is not to prove a god exists, then he/she may not be inclined to look past the Big Bang for example, since he/she already has the answer in their mind.  Once you get the idea that all these so-called “holy books” are just fake, then it makes it a much smaller jump to get rid of all the gods that were created from them.  QUARK.

  • Mark Moziak

    My biggest problem with the concept of god is that humans use him as a crutch. God will save me, god will help me… I don’t have to depend on myself as much. Oh that and he’s a freaking credit-stealer! Someone surviving an accident should be thanking their doctors and nurses, not some mythical sky god.


  • Blacksheep

    “The vibrations on the air are the breath of God speaking to man’s soul. Music is the language of God. We musicians are as close to God as man can be. We hear his voice, we read his lips, we give birth to the children of God, who sing his praise. That’s what musicians are.”
    - Ludwig van Beethoven

    I love to think of nature as an unlimited broadcasting station, through which God speaks to us every hour, if we will only tune in. 
    - George Washington Carver

  • Ubi Dubium

    My biggest problem with god is his fan club.


  • nakedanthropologist

    My biggest problem with God is the question of clarification – so much suffering occurs because people fight over their religions.  If there were an all-powerful, all-knowing, and all-caring God – while would people be brutally murdered, raped, and tortured in his(?) name?  Why aren’t there better instructions and clearer moral codes?  Quarkity quark quark.

  • Kevin White

    My biggest problem with God is that in all of his “almighty power” He supposedly made people in his “image.” An image that apparently proves that he’s a lying, cheating bastard who would be better off as the villain in a season of Dexter.


  • Blacksheep

    “O you who look on this our machine, do not be sad that with others you are fated to die, but rejoice that our Creator has endowed us with such an excellent instrument as the intellect.”
    Leonardo da Vinci

    Maybe his faith was cultural, and today he would not believe. But his faith certainly did not limit or stifle anything. I believe it’s the opposite.

  • Vizbones

    My biggest problem with “god” is that “he” never gives you the courtesy of a reach-around.


  • allein

    I saw a comment somewhere today that said something to the effect of “we could have 10 times the population we currently have and God would make it all work in his gloriousness.” Frightening.

  • Richard Wade

    The biggest problem I have with the concept of God is that it keeps people emotionally immature:

    Thinking they have a a perpetual protective parent hovering overhead, many believers take less responsibility for taking care of themselves and others. They say, “God will provide,” and then ignore the fact that thousands of people starve to death or freeze to death every day.

    Thinking they have a perpetual punishing parent hovering overhead, many believers never develop beyond Kohlberg’s most rudimentary stage of moral development. They only do the right thing to avoid punishment, and they have no conception of any higher reason to do the right thing.

    Thinking they have a perpetual guiding parent hovering overhead, many believers respond to life’s ambiguous dilemmas with simplistic, pre-written cookie cutter moral/ethical rules instead of developing their own robust and conscientious adult judgment, making their own best decision, and then taking full responsibility for the outcome, good or bad.

    Thinking they have a perpetual all-knowing parent hovering overhead, many believers accept childishly simple explanations for the world around them, and are unwilling to put forth the intellectual effort to understand things in greater detail.


  • Marco Conti

    I don’t have a problem with god. I have a problem with those that claim to speak with him or for him.

  • Travis Dykes

    My biggest problem with god is that if hes real hes let so many versions of himself persist that its hard to talk to people about him, even they share the same faith as each other, without starting an argument.  And those arguments are often violent.  Why not keep everyone from fighting and make sure everyone has the right version?  Oh yeah there isnt one…

  • NogahdzNoughmasters

    God must be a trickster that hides his existence from those who aren’t afraid to see things as they are.  Allows the fearful and insecure to compensate by projecting their own egos into a collective godform shaped by bad ancient literature and mythology.  ….Oh and that literature makes him out to be a total douche.


  • Drew M.

    Fair enough, except you didn’t say, “It’s a long read for a blog.” You said, “It’s a long read. That’s just the truth.” I didn’t take your subsequent statement as a qualifier.

    You’re right though, it is a stupid argument.

  • DrExceptional

    The problem with God is he’s as suspiciously flawed as his spokesmen.


  • C Peterson

    The real God problem is that, in spite of our remarkable advances in the last few hundred years in understanding nature, humans are still so culturally and intellectually immature that we seriously have to address the God problem.


  • Patterrssonn

    On an iPhone it’s a long read.

  • Patterrssonn

    My problem with god is it’s such a crap ideas. And it just keeps hanging around like a bad smell.


  • Bruce the Moose

    He doesn’t call, he doesn’t write. In fact, he’s completely silent and useless.

    Three quarks for Muster Mark!

  • ImRike

    My biggest problem with god is that there are too many of them.  quark

  • amycas

     And how many billions of people were stifled by religion? How about, you know, most women up until the 20th Century. You’re using a sharp shooter fallacy here.  Basically, your data set is too small.

  • Blacksheep

    I’m responding to ladycropper5 who said that belief “Limits and stifles” humanity. I disagree, since arguably the most important scientific discoveries in history have been made by people of faith.

  • Blacksheep

    Fallacies cut both ways – you might be forgetting how many people were stifled by atheist regimes – including China, the Soviet union, and Pol Pot’s Cambodia. It’s humans who do bad things, and it’s definitely not exclusive to religion. (In fact if you go by the numbers, the three groups above have killed, stifled, enslaved, and abused hundreds of thousands more people than religion has, I wonder how many women were killed at birth in China because they were unwanted?) I have a sense that maybe women are treated as equals in North Korea?

  • cipher

    Thinking they have a perpetual punishing parent hovering overhead, many believers never develop beyond Kohlberg’s most rudimentary stage of moral development.

    That says so much. It’s an infantile subculture. We need mandatory testing of intelligence, sanity and developmental level as a prerequisite for voting (and, because I’m still convinced the large part of it is genetic, reproduction).

  • theallmatty

    Not rounding numbers, dividing by zero in black holes, and Gödel’s incompleteness theorems really grind my integers.  Why have math so complex? Quark

  • The Great Ape

    My problem with god is that he is a violation of reason and Occam’s razor.  If we approach the universe with a blank slate, then we have no reason to suppose the existence of a being for which there is no evidence.  If a person is able to believe in the existence of a god then they have a flaw in their capacity for reason.  This kind of person is able to believe all kinds of things which are unfounded.  They proudly proclaim their faith, but that’s just another word for gullibility.  The human race will never advance out of our ignorance and into the light of reason and knowledge until we learn how to put away our unfounded beliefs and walk by evidence.

    Quark.  also electron, photon, Higgs boson…

  • rhodent

    Being stifled by a government whose leaders are Christians is not the same as being stifled by Christianity, and being stifled by a government whose leaders are atheists is not the same as being stifled by atheism.  (Certainly the unwanted baby girls who are killed at birth are not being killed in the name of atheism…ultimately, they are being killed for economic reasons). 

    If you can show me the leaders of atheist movements who have ordered crusades and inquisitions against people exhibiting the wrong form of atheism, then we’ll have a valid comparison on our hands.  But that’s not what the communists in China, Cambodia, and the Soviet Union are.

  • Martin Lambert

    My biggest problem with God is that belief in him allows my family to rationalize the shunning of me and my brother. Quark.

  • BeasKnees

    My biggest problem with the concept of god, is that it is used as a universal excuse for hatred, oppression, ignorance, etc.  It allows people to close their minds to the forward progression of the human race, and to stifle those who want to explore further.  

    God is an excuse.  Quark.

  • Antinomian

    If you want some thing easy, read a McDonalds menu. You can get fries with it too.

    Anything worth having, achieving or knowing is always hard to do and requires work.

  • TychaBrahe

    My biggest problem with the whole God concept is that I think I’d do a better job.

    I have two cats.  I adopted them from bad situations.  

    When I adopted them, I basically promised to love and care for them.  In one case I did so literally; Lucy comes from a shelter that had to vet me.  I promised to make sure they have enough food.  I promised to make sure they had fresh water every day.  I promised to make sure they had clean litter boxes.   I promised to make sure they had medical care and toys and grooming and playtime.  I promised that they would get love and scritches.

    And they do.  

    When I’ve been too sick to stand over a microwave for two minutes to heat up some soup, they still get fed.  When I’m busy (read out of town) and can’t be home to feed them, I pay someone to come in and feed them.  When money is tight and I’m eating peanut butter sandwiches for dinner, they still get fed.  They jump up on my desk when I’m trying to write and they get scritched.  They decide that my knitting time is when they really need to snuggle, and the knitting gets put away.  There is a cat tree in the living room where I could really use the space better for another bookshelf.  The bookshelf against the other wall is purposely left unfilled in a path that allows a cat to get to the top shelf, where one prefers to sleep.  I’ve tripped over cat toys and been awakened to the sound of a game of soda cap hockey in the bathtub.  

    My cats are damn well cared for.  But that’s the deal.  They are wild creatures that we humans took in and made into pets, and it has become our responsibility to care for them.  I don’t let them outside to feed themselves on mice and birds, amuse themselves with bugs and feral rabbits.  I took them out of the wild, so I have to make sure they get the best domestication I can provide.  I make sure I live up to that responsibility.

    So here are all these things in people’s lives that they can’t control: severe storms, disease, hunger, poverty, bad luck.  And people are told that if they pray to some deity in some fashion that they will be provided for.  People are smart and capable and clever, but compared to this deity and it’s ability to create the universe, we are less than my cats are to me.  So does this deity provide for us?  Does it run the universe in such a way that there is food for the hungry and a secure place to sleep for everyone?  Does it direct hurricanes toward uninhabited areas the way I move my cats to another room if I’m going to vacuum?  Does it see that hard work is always rewarded?  Or do children still die from deadly diseases and people lose their jobs through no fault of their own?  Do bigots get their just deserts?  Are tyrants brought low by theistic means?  Or do people have to work things out on their own to the limits of their puny ability and their technology.

    So what we are positing here is that puny, ineffectual moi, creation of a deity of unknowable and incomprehensible power, takes better care of my cats than this deity takes care of me and my fellow and sister humans.  Sounds unlikely.

    Most likely there isn’t any such deity, but if there is, it’s either cruel or incompetent, and neither is worth worshiping.

    Quark that!

  • Ladycopper5

    Blacksheep, I used to be you. I hope you keep reading skeptic blogs – if your beliefs are true, they will hold up and you might convert some of us. Be a Berean and study the Bible AND opposing views.  Test all things.

  • Rob Caldwell

    The Lucifer Principle is one of my favorite books and would love to check out his new one!
    Quark :)

  • Blacksheep

    I appreciate that. I am doing just that – testing all things.

  • m6wg4bxw

    Those sentence fragments. Someone to proofread before publishing.  The entire book?

  • Waltz707

    My problem with god is that in the bible, he was all cozy with the human race, but now, when he/she/it could really do some good, he/she/it is silent, happy to let wars be fought over his/her/it’s existence and name.


  • Anna

    I think my main problem with the concept of a god (at least, the Western god) is that it seems to promote such a childish and self-centered view of the world. People aren’t expected to think for themselves, to come to their own conclusions, to develop self confidence, or to stand on their own two feet. It’s all about being protected by a parent-in-the-sky, as if they were five years old.

  • Bad_homonym

    My Biggest problem is which god? Oh and if you profess to believe the right one but have different dogma…same as picking the wrong one! Or if you say you believe but do terrible things you cant be a real believer. or…..


  • Tony

    My biggest problem with God (any god, really) is the reliance on Faith to ‘know’ the will and nature of God (or the gods). The main problem for me is that everyone’s Faith can tell them something different about the will or nature of God (or the gods), whether based on gut feeling or scriptural interpretation. One community’s Faith claim that their god(s) demands that all infidels must die is equally as relevant as another community’s Faith claim that their god(s) command that they love their neighbor. And then there are all the Faith claims in between. The point is, you cannot legitimately fight Faith claims WITH Faith claims (which I think is why violence so often results between opposing religious factions), because opposing Faith claims essentially cancel each other out. And the existence/defense of even the most positive and loving of supernatural Faiths  legitimizes the vengeful, blood-thirsty ones.


  • Elizawoodproductions

    OK, I don’t usually comment on negative stuff but that was seriously funny.

  • guitardrumvoice

    The biggest problem that I have with God is that he displays the same bad emotion/decision process of humans which, in a way, shows who really created who. . . try wrapping that around your quark!

  • Dana Pearson

    I am that child! All my life, trying to make sense of it all… and my biggest problem with “God” is it’s crude and simplistic. It doesn’t doesn’t consider anything like a “quark”