An interest in God, meta-physics, and religion dominated Tessa's life for half a century. A decade ago she walked away to become an atheist.
Does God Exist?
There’s a great similarity between the methods used by detectives and those used by scientists in order to establish the truth of a thing. Each of them needs to establish the facts, and each of them has a pile of information and clues but don’t know what is relevant and what is inaccurate. So they painfully sort through that information until they reach the point that Sherlock Holmes elucidated so eloquently in his immortal words “When you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.”
I am often asked why I don’t believe in God, so using the above method, I want to set out my personal evidence for why I conclude that there is no personal God.
Cause and Effect
When a patient gets ill, he visits the doctor. The doctor will then dispense antibiotics, and the patient will take them. A few days later, the patient will have recovered, and all will be well.
The patient, however, explains this process of healing as one that was in answer to prayer. When it is pointed out that it was actually the medication, a result of scientific study, that brought about the cure, the response would be, “But God instructed the doctor what to do.”
So the question then becomes, “Did God influence or not influence the doctor to provide those particular pills?”
Using the detective method, one sets a trap for the crook to see what will happen. Using the scientific method, one will devise a series of experiments to see what will happen.
The detective tells the doctor to take the day off, and he takes on the role of doctor. When the patient arrives, the detective, now wearing the white coat of the doctor, asks the patient if he has prayed for healing. The patient says yes.
The ‘doctor’ says, “Good, because I want to be sure that I have the guidance of God when prescribing you the correct medication.”
He gives the patient a placebo, and two days later, the patient dies because his illness was left untreated.
So, clearly, the prayers of the patient either did not work, or God felt the time was right to call the patient ‘home,’ or God didn’t care, or there is no God.
The scientist does a similar experiment. In his guise as doctor, he prescribes a placebo (a sugar pill), a tablet that causes diarrhea, and some cyanide. When the patient fulfills the prescription at the pharmacist, he is handed a bottle containing all three tablets. Before the phamacist hands the container to the patient, he asks “Did you pray that you would get the right medication?”
The patient says he did, goes home, takes the cyanide tablet, and is dead by morning.
So the scientist reaches the conclusion that either the patient didn’t pray to God, or God didn’t answer, or God purposely let the patient chose the cyanide pill, or there is no God.
Many Different Explanations
The point of the above story is that there are always many different explanations for any one event, and the hypocrisy of people who insist that God answered their prayers is that they omit the real reasons.
If they were cured of an illness, they say it must be God. They omit that their healing took place as a result of scientific enquiry.
If they found a job, they omit the fact that they went to see a employment consultant, had the relevant qualification and experience, and were therefore selected for the position.
If a child had been kidnapped, they think God guided the hands of the police who eventually returned the child safely to their parents.
So, at its heart, I don’t believe in God because when I have eliminated the improbable, whatever has remained, however impossible, is that there was no answer to prayer.
Why Prayer Isn't Answered
Epicurus - The Greek Philosopher
Of course, for as long as man has existed, he has wanted to believe in a God. And so he has either imagined him or created him, or there really is a God, and while God was willing to provide absolute proof in ancient times, he has declined to do so in modern times.
For equally long, there have been those who have said, “But there is no God.”
Epicurus, the Greek philosopher who lived between 341 BC and 270 BC, dealt with the conundrum very ably. I quote his words below.
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?”
The Role of Community
One of the common methodologies of reaching out to ‘unbelievers’ in fundamentalist Christian communities is to ‘witness’ how they came to God. The stories invariably involve some great loss, some bad habit, some despair, and then they turned to Jesus, and instantly everything was well.
Every single word of it!
And if not lies, then the wrong explanation.
A great many problems are solved by the community, especially when it is a helpful community.
So many explanations are simply that the proselyte now had access to solutions that he never had prior access to. For example, if the person had been a loner previously, and now he was part of a 10,000 strong community, he had 10,000 more possibilities of solving his issues. So the proselyte might have been desperately looking for a job but was unable to find one. The pastor then asked the congregation if anyone knew of a vacancy, and twenty five people in the congregation said they did. In no time at all, the Christian newbie had a new job.
He credits God.
However, the statistical probability is that it had nothing to do with God – just the community looking after its own.
This is why, in socialist countries like Denmark, Israel, Germany, Australia, and the UK, there are such a high number of atheists, agnostics, and ‘nones.’ When the State provides for emergencies’, then there is no need for an imaginary friend in the sky.
People only turn to God when they can’t solve their problems, or when they are miserable, or when they have some sort of loss.
A functioning, compassionate community solves a lot of problems in the daily grind of life.
Edward Bernays was Freud’s nephew. At the end of the Great Depression, many businessmen wanted to know how to prevent a recurrence of massive business bankruptcy. Bernays said he had the answer. He explained that the human brain believed everything it heard repeatedly – that it didn’t matter whether it was right or wrong. So if business repeatedly told potential customers that they had to buy something (advertising), they would comply.
It worked beautifully. The world has been in a state of over-production since the 60s. Consumers spend billions on items they neither want nor desire. Barns and garages are packed with goods acquired for a moment of instant gratification and dumped weeks later.
People are indoctrinated into believing in God. That is why it is dependent on which country you are born into as to which God you believe in.
That is why religious instituations insist that you attend their services every week. You will need the constant indoctrination to keep believing. If there is no constant indoctrination, after a decade or so of exposure to non-beliefs, you will begin to grasp the insanity of believing in something that clearly doesn't exist.
It is incredibly difficult to break out of indoctrination, and sometimes one has to go through heavily traumatic experiences in order for that indoctrination to be removed. Other times, just the constant exposure to an opposite idea will break the indoctrination. So it’s not unusual for believers to relocate to a secular country, and ten years after arriving, they no longer believe in God.
Why I Don't Believe in God
I am autistic. I might be high-functioning, but I am still autistic. Aspergers Syndrome, to be precise. I have a learning disability as well – Auditory Processing Disorder - which means I totally suck at verbal conversation. It also means that I did not learn the normal social cues (and a great many other things that other people my age learnt with ease) when I was growing up. At 42 years of age, I had the social understanding of a five year old. At 45 years old, I realized people lied. At 46 years old, I realized that men asked me out because they were interested in me. I thought they were asking me out because they were being polite and didn’t want me to sit at home alone.
The interesting thing about autism is how cruel people are when they can get away with it. And this includes the Christian community.
The gossip level and the basic nastiness was something I had never experienced before in all the secular communities I had been part of. I didn’t receive any help from anyone. And God most certainly didn’t answer my prayers.
The bottom line for me is this. If God isn't prepared to answer prayers in a very concrete way, i.e (Hey, God, I don't have a job or I don't have money to pay the rent), then s/he is less than useless to me. I see absolutely no reason whatsoever to have a God in my life who is unwilling or incapable of answering emergency prayer.
In any event, I must have prayed for something like 25 or 30 years. Not one single prayer was ever answered.
You see, if people don’t like you, they don’t help you. And the Christian community didn’t like me. I didn’t know, at the time, that I was autistic, and despite all their ‘words of knowledge’ and ‘holy spirit’ and ‘righteousness,’ they certainly didn’t know that I was autistic either. So they put down my ‘rudeness’ to being ‘evil,’ ‘sinful,’ and all sorts of other things. The bottom line is that if God was in the business of answering prayers, then my prayers should have been answered in spite of the Christian community not helping me.
By eliminating the Christian community as a source of help, it meant that I could only rely on God to answer prayer. However, there were no miracles in my life, no sudden solutions, and no help in any way whatsoever. Quite the opposite, in fact. So, by the time I left the Christian community, I had developed Post Traumatic Stress Disorder from all the nastiness and malice from those who professed themselves Christians.
It took me 25 years to eradicate that from my life.
By the time I was 55 years old, I did not have one ounce of belief in God.
The simple truth was summed up so aptly by Epicurus. And I repeat it, because it is worth repeating over and over again, “Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then he is not omnipotent. Is he able, but not willing? Then he is malevolent. If he both able and willing? Then whence cometh evil? Is he neither able nor willing? Then why call him God?”
Becoming an Atheist
Somewhere around my mid-50s, I gave up every bit of the theist, mystic, supernatural, and/or law of attraction belief system I had previously endorsed and believed.
And that’s when it all started pulling together. Life finally made sense. Atheists made sense. They were the most helpful, informed people I had ever met in my life.
Ignorance is not bliss.
Knowledge is empowering.
Learning how to help myself. Getting diagnosed. Finding the right experts to help me resolve problems. It all made a difference.
For the first time in my life, I had a community, and community is the single most powerful solution to all problems in this world.
Yes, certainly, there are things that one must accept. The chances of an after-life are not high. Death is death, and there is nothing that can be done about it. I accept that I will never again see friends and family who have passed before me. I accept that when I leave this world, I will not rise again.
There is a certain courage required to accept reality, but I have never lacked courage.
So, there are you are.
I don’t believe in God because God has never answered a single prayer. Those that tell me he has are simply misinterpreting the facts.
© 2017 Tessa Schlesinger
Tessa Schlesinger (author) on April 18, 2020:
You do know that there is a direct correlation between high intelligence/education and atheism and another one between being uneducated and pretty much stupid and unintelligent and believing in god, don't you? You might like to google that.
Clive Williams from Jamaica on April 18, 2020:
who made your shirt?
Tessa Schlesinger (author) on April 17, 2020:
I wouldn't know. I also don't care. You don't know the answer either. You just know so little that you suppose that God made it. Just because you don't know the answer, doesn't mean the answer is god.
Clive Williams from Jamaica on April 17, 2020:
Who made ants?
Tessa Schlesinger (author) on October 31, 2019:
Caught in the middle, are you? Yup, I know the feeling. :)
Thank you for your kind words.
Yup, aspergers tends to be hereditary. I'm pretty sure my late father had it. I keep thinking it's a mistake. But I keep passing the aspergers test, and I have an auditory processing disorder. I can only really connect with one person at a time, and I don't do flirting, sarcasm, irony, etc. Everythign has to be logical when speaking to me.
It's good that you found contentment. Not too many do.
I must admit that I'm fairly content at the moment. Just wish I could increase my income.
Cape Town, where I live, was voted the most miserable city with the least to offer in the world And it is. There is absolutely nothing here, and I am dying of boredom! :)
Doris James MizBejabbers from Beautiful South on October 31, 2019:
Wow, Tessa, you sure told them. My husband is a little older than you and has never been diagnosed with Aspperger's, but he is a classic textbook case, as is my oldest son from a first marriage. So, I've dealt with persons with the symptoms for years and understand where you are coming from. I don't want to debate you. In fact, I think I'll join you, although I don't actually consider myself an atheist.
I was raised by an atheist father and a Christian mother, and they both gave me the freedom to think for myself. I wrote a hub on this, but of course, I can't post the link here.
I will say that I was able to find true contentment and success in life when I left the narrow confines of the church (for good). I do believe in a quantum connection to the universe, but not a scientific one. I won't go into where I think we came from. Both the church and the scientists think I'm full of bull.
Tessa Schlesinger (author) on October 23, 2019:
I think you have something back to front here.
Attractive, desireable men and women tend to find partners, while unattractive men and women tend to have difficulty find partners.
In earlier times, because women needed to survive, and because they couldn't earn their own living, they were forced to partner with the kind of men they detested.
Now, because they can earn their own living, they prefer to be single rather than shack up with someone awful.
I also think that romanticism has led a lot of people astray. Until the 19th century, all marriages were arranged, and people did not get married in order to 'find love.' They marriage had strictly to do with survival and finance.
Certainly women are different today than they used to be in the past. They don't have to put up with awful, abusive men. They don't have to put with incompetent, weak men. They don't have to pretend not to have a brain. They can say what they like because there's not a man who will say to them "If you're not nice to me, then I won't give you any food/money."
Women stayed with men previously because it was a matter of survival.
The 'niceness' wasn't because they were 'nice' women. It was a matter of survival.
Now they don't need men to survive.
So men need to have something more to offer.
Atheist Man on October 23, 2019:
God never gave a good single man like me a good wife and family, especially when he gave it to so many millions of other men today since i am no different than they're. It is very sad that God created so many rotten evil low life women nowadays that just like to Curse at many of us men for no reason at all, especially when we will try to start a normal conversation with a woman that we would really like to meet. I know friends that had it happened to them as well since they never expected to be single either. Women today unfortunately changed for the worst of all which is why so many of us men can't find love at all, unlike the old days when most women were certainly Real Ladies back then. Today it is the women that are totally different from the past which back then, most women had very good manners along with a very good personality as well. Now women just don't have any respect at all for many of us men that are very seriously looking for love today. And now that Feminism is all over the place these days which it has really made it worse as well, and with so many women that have their Careers today which they really think that they're so very high and mighty too. It is very sad that God didn't create women just like the good old days when love was very easy to find back then, the way that it happened for our family members that were just very extremely lucky to be born at a much better time back then than we were. Never expected to be single and all alone today at all, and it is a real shame that many of us good single men missed out on a lot that we could've had. Very hard to believe in God when so many others have their lives so very complete, especially when our life is really very sad.
Tessa Schlesinger (author) on July 22, 2019:
And that is perfectly true. But you see, it happens without God. All these things get back to one thing - when one is focused intensely on one thing, it relaxes and hones the brain.
One switches from Beta rhythm to alpha rythym and from alpha to theta. It is easy to reach these states using sound and light equipment. It's the method that Dr. Lloyd Glaubermann uses for brain entrainment.
I used brain entrainment equipment for a while. Now I can just switch into a deep state within a minute or so. Don't need prayer. Don't need mindfulness. Just switch the rythym of ones' brain from fast to slow.
This is what I mean when I say that a lot of things attributed to God can actually be explained in other ways, and if it can be explained in other ways, then there is no evidence that it is god. :)
Sharlee on July 22, 2019:
Prayer offers one the opportunity to look deep inside, and provides comfort yes, but also clarity. It opens my mind to possible flaws and an opportunity to realize what I have to be grateful for. I find it helps me put all into perspective, and accept others as they are, not what I think they should be. I guess prayer helps me open my mind to be understanding.
Tessa Schlesinger (author) on July 22, 2019:
And I'm betting that every single 'answer to prayer' that you've received can be explained in another non-spiritual way. Been there. Done that. And, yes, of course, God comforts you. That is one of the reasons people so desperately need comfort.
Someone once said something to me that really stuck. He said, "If you look deep, deep inside you, you will find all the comfort you need, and that is true."
Sharlee on July 21, 2019:
I have always believed in God, and he has answered many of my prayers. He gives me comfort like no human being could. We all have different beliefs and ideas about religion and come about our innate beliefs in trough different experiences. I found your article interesting.
Tessa Schlesinger (author) on December 20, 2018:
Chris, no, you were never an atheist. It's impossible to convert someone who is an atheist. Certainly, you might have lived a secular life, but that is not the same thing. You just never considered it before.
It might also be useful is you wrote grammatically and I could actually understand what you were saying.
Chris on December 20, 2018:
I don't take medication and yes I heal Ive been shot in the head, stabbed, drowned,ran over,and electrocuted by 240 volts while wet from head to toe in poor as they come yet I still eat, I'm not stupid I was raised in a home full of drug addicts and one of them are responsible for the drowning and another for my resurrection I don't have family anymore I lost them when I was 13 I'm 31 now and have lived on my own since I was 13 I've had no guidance in life but out of all I've been through God has fed me clothed me and been there when I was in need he's let me live and has now given me a awesome family and a church family that is unbeatable it's summit holiness church millbrook al you should come and meet us some time but your tactics are off you can't make God a science project and give someone poison and demand he save them that would be testing God which the kjv says it's a no no and it goes against free will that he gave us God is bound by his own rules if he wasn't he would be a liar please reevaluate your decision and go about seeking him out to be true or false a different way I was also an atheist but when you hit rock bottom and can't support yourself then you will see him step in and keep his promise. God always pays his bills!
Truth on November 22, 2018:
God is a real filthy scumbag for punishing many of us good innocent people to suffer on this rotten filthy earth, especially when many of us never asked to be born.
Maria Collins on September 22, 2018:
Okay but... that detective basically killed people just to get his point across???
Tessa Schlesinger (author) on November 11, 2017:
Hi Kari, I like the Chinese Qi concept that there is a life force that infiltrates us all. It is not a God, however, and it does not answer prayer or in any way have a fatherly relationship with us.
Nope. Quantum scientists are not even remotely beginning to prove our connectivity. In fact, quantum scientists get rather irritated when religious people start twisting their research.
The misunderstanding comes from a book written some 20 or 30 years ago when a religious author gave a very loose interpretation of how he saw Quantum Science. Since then, many Christian authors have taken their cue from him without having the faintest idea what quantum science is really saying.
Kari Poulsen from Ohio on November 11, 2017:
Hi Tessa. This is a very interesting article for me because I do believe in God. But I do not believe God is some guy in the sky. I believe He is more like energy. Energy that connects us all, and connects us with our world and even the universe. I also believe God is a god of many names. I do not think that there are several different gods. I think that there are several different ways of interpreting God. I have believed in God since I was about 7. However, I do not go to church. I so understand the PTSD you developed from going to church. I developed it after our pastor told me what an awful person I was and how my parents did not deserve to have a daughter like me. Can I ask, do you believe in the interconnectedness of us all? I really think quantum science is starting to prove this and soon we will know for a fact that we are.
cheaptrick from the bridge of sighs on November 11, 2017:
Hi guys...I've pounded my head against the religionist argument for many years and I've come to realize one primary point...You Cant Convince Them of Anything through logic and reason;they just don't comprehend either.Arguing the existence of God with them is a waste of your time and energy...I heard Ricky Gervaise say"I wonder how things would be if it were not aloud to introduce God and religion to people until they were 20 years old"...I suspect we'd see very few religious fanatics running around...
Paladin_ from Michigan, USA on November 11, 2017:
Good to hear some new material from a fellow atheist, Tessa!
You cover a lot of ground here, and have hit some very relevant points -- especially your comments about indoctrination. Without indoctrination of the young and constant reinforcement in the old, religion would largely die out in a couple of generations. It's the ONLY thing that sustains the ludicrous and insane notions of religion, as Sam Harris so eloquently observed in your quote.
Normally, I would be using this comment to rebut some of Oz's more outlandish points. But since you won't allow him to post any more comments, obviously that wouldn't be ethical. In any case, I believe you've responded quite well yourself.
To my subscribers -- hopefully, I'll be posting more of my own hubs soon. I'm closing in on finishing an historical piece, then will return to this topic, which is most near and dear to my heart.
Tessa Schlesinger (author) on November 11, 2017:
Let’s go through your responses one by one.
I am alive for the following reasons.
1. My IQ has been variously measured at between 165 (66 points higher than the average IQ in the United States of America) and off-the-graph. I, therefore, despite being autistic, had sufficient brains to survive.
2. I was considered a very beautiful woman, and as we all know beauty opens doors.
3. I have excellent genes. The photo of at the top was taken when I was 65 years old. I think it’s safe to say that 95% of 65 year old women do not look like that.
4. I grew up in a fairly prosperous family so I attended an excellent private school.
5. I have guts, courage, and am able to get up no matter how many times I fall down.
None of this ability to survive has anything to do with God. It had a lot to do with my DNA and my birth parents.
You have no idea what I prayed for and are making presumptions. You are also rationalizing because you have to find a reason why God did not answer my prayers. However, the New Testament is pretty clear that God will answer our prayers. “What father among you, if his son asks for a fish, will instead of a fish give him a serpent”
That said, I asked simply that I would know what was wrong with me and that I would do God’s will. I never prayed for wealth. It didn’t even occur to me to pray for wealth. I never grew up in a world that worshipped wealth. Nor did the ‘prosperity cult’ exist in South Africa at that time. In fact, the country was Calvinist which meant it was a very, very old fashioned form of Christianity.
With regard to religion, my knowledge of the Christian bible and comparative religion was such that when I had finished converting to Judaism, I was elected to the committee of the leading synagogue in South Africa. I was highly regarded for my knowledge. I have read the Koran, studied Hinduism, spiritualism, and many other forms of religion. I am highly, highly informed about it. At one point, I read the bible for 3 hours each day. Then I spent another three hours in prayer. I could place any verse in the bible within a chapter of where it was. Some I could just give you the chapter of verse.
You say “It appears you were brought up in a narrow band of materialistic Christianity that recently evolved in western culture where prayer becomes a magic lamp for wishes.”
Really? Let me see, because I say there is no God, it must be the result of ignorance?
Again, I went to an Anglican Church school where real Christianity was taught. We were to put ourselves last (I did until 10 years ago). I turned the other cheek and got trampled by everybody. I tithed 20% not 10%. I gave away 50% of my salary and lived in poverty because it says that if we owned two fields, then we were to give the other field away. Did you know that New Testament teaches communism?
“Cultural genocide?” Do you even know what culture is?
Your understanding of atheism is a result of indoctrination. You don’t know any better.
“Eugenics and atheism have gone hand in hand since the ancient Greeks.”
Wow! Hitler was a Christian. Did you know that? Do you have any idea of the slaughter, the torture, the slavery, the murders that have been done in the name of Christianity? No, I didn’t think so. Get an education.
Oztinato, with respect, as a good Christian, you will allow others to have a voice now. I will allow one comment from every Christian that wants to debate this. You have had your turn now. Any other future comments from you will be deleted.
Andrew Petrou from Brisbane on November 11, 2017:
Trying to "get what we want" from prayer is a misconception. God is not a genie in lamp or Santa Claus.
Wishes or wants or desires etc are blamed by Buddhist philosophy for all our problems.
You may be surprised to learn that nearly all atheists accept Buddhism. Often this is due to the misunderstanding that Buddhism is not a religion. Of course it is and yes they have gods etc.
Classical Buddhism believes in praying for an end to desires. The desire to end all desire!
Likewise classical Hinduism.
Likewise classical Islam.
Ditto for Taoism etc.
It appears you were brought up in a narrow band of materialistic Christianity that recently evolved in western culture where prayer becomes a magic lamp for wishes.
Other hubs, amongst other things, deal with the sad fact that new atheism can result in cultural genocide.
Sadly the peak of new atheism recently promoted the infanticide of faulty or unwanted children up to age one and beyond. Only stringent opposition by religious groups stopped this appalling trend.
The new atheist trend was trying to end the lives of faulty and also plain unwanted actual children.
There is no doubt that autistic children would have been endangered by this bizarre atheist trend.
Perhaps a prayer you never uttered was answered for you by a God like force in people known as compassion. In other words you are alive and so are countless other autistic people due to "God" and not due to atheism.
Eugenics and atheism have gone hand in hand since the ancient Greeks.
Ashutosh Joshi from New Delhi, India on November 11, 2017:
Although the numbers are dwindling but its always a pleasure to come across such well-articulated hub.
Let there be light... Cheers!!
Poppy from Enoshima, Japan on November 11, 2017:
I believe religion was created by those in power to control the masses. Ingenious, really - they've created a system that cannot be criticised, and in some extreme cases, people are harmed or even killed for trying to leave. Very good article.
Turfa Aziz from Karachi on November 11, 2017:
Ma'am your work is incredible