Talk Me Out Of It

mark says:

I’ve been a christian all my life. I now want to be reasoned out of it. Please help


50 Responses to Talk Me Out Of It

  1. Mike Johnson says:


    If I may ask, how old are you and how would you describe your experience with religion or Christianity?

    You say you’ve been a Christian all your life and now want to be reasoned out of it. If you already put value to reason, could it be true that it’s actually by reason that you’ve held to Christianity thus far, and that there may be some other impetus to reject Christianity?

    At the risk of assuming too much, there are many reasons people may choose to abandon faith, i.e. a bad past experience with a particular church or denomination or another Christian. Knowing a little more of your story may help to see what applies in your case.


    • mark says:

      I’m 23. I was brought up a christian and made personal commitments at various stages. My experiences with God, with family at home and in the church have been overwhelmingly positive.

      My impetus is cowardly and selfish; I want to end my life, I don’t want to go to hell. I’ve fought with depression for a long time and I’m tired. I’m getting meds, therapy, etc – don’t feel burdened to counsel me.

      God says to never get tired of doing good, to put His and my families wishes ahead of mine, and that as His property I have no right to destroy “my”self.
      Dawkins has said that the universe is neither good nor evil but indifferent, and there’s no big purpose.
      I want to believe that (devestation to family and friends excluded) my actions are ultimately inconsequential.

      • Mike Johnson says:


        Fear of eternal judgment can be a strong motivator, and I could say in your case if it encourages you to persevere in life then it might be a good thing. But thankfully, the Christian life is so much more than fearing death, as Jesus said, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” (John 10:10)

        I have not experienced the level of depression you seem to have and am in no way qualified to counsel. I would only add that you’re right in that as God’s children we do not have the right to take our own lives. But just as valid is the truth that as His creation we have tremendous value, and as Christ’s followers we are called to serve and take part in life “to the full” while we’re here. To end this life early is to miss out on a lot of blessing, in addition to the suffering others would experience in losing you.

        I imagine it’s very hard to have clarity and see all that past your own suffering. If you haven’t truly embraced the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the suffering and death He endured to pay for our sin, and His triumph over it all in His resurrection and the salvation He promises to those who believe, take a fresh look. Praying for you, Mark, for healing.


      • Sue says:

        Mark –

        You cannot reject God to use it as an excuse to end your life. God is a loving God who always was and always will be. Metaphysics and psychology teaches us that love is a LEARNED behavior – animals (including man) are inherently selfish (think of young children). The ONLY way that mankind could have learned to love and be compassionate is from a loving God – it isn’t an emotion that just “appears” – it is taught. Please do not give up the greatest gift – life – if you sincerely turn yourself to God, he will not abandon you.

      • Tails Prower says:

        I used to be in your shoes, I remember in middle school I started to kind of back away from god. I started to believe in things that sounded more like atheism, Scientology-like, and even paganistic. That was until I returned to my christian faith, but then I felt kind of guilty. I started believing that God would never forgive me for my sins; this drove me into major depression. About a year later, I found that all of your sins can be forgiven, so long as you keep your heart with God. If you are depressed by what you did, I recommend you (I don’t know of what denomination you are, but I am trying my best) confess your sins, either to your family or your pastor, repent for them, and then forget about it, because we all make mistakes, but it is not the end of the world. If you are depressed by how your life is, then I recommend you do something fun (as long as it is safe), something that you love doing, something that makes you happy. God want you to do his work, but he doesn’t want to see you unhappy about doing it, after all, he gave us free will. If you feel like you are being forced to do stuff because you are a christian, then you need to stop, because in order to do good you must choose to do good. The goodness you do has to come from your heart, not someone else’s. If your family is using religion to force you to do something they want, then they are perverting God’s message; they are abusing God’s message for their personal gain. If they do this, ask them “is this what God wants, or is what you want.” That might sound rebellious but you have a say in this as well. As for suicide, why do it? Why throw everything away? You only get one life, live it. Enjoy it. If you feel like you don’t want to live anymore, then stop what you are doing and get out. Go Camping, go walking, if you are out in nature you will feel a lot better, take up a hobby. Do something that makes you happy. Don’t waste your life. As for Dawkins, don’t listen to him, though he may be a professor, he is just a man; his opinion has no more significance than mine. I may be no professor, (and assuming a persona of a two-tailed cartoon fox from a video game is not a formal thing to do when writing on a topic like this) but why should you listen to him more than me. I don’t know why you want to give up being a christian, there is no reason to. I recommend you join a small faith group to help you since that is what they are there for. I also recommend you find a group of friends; just a group of friends, no need to be picky. I hope this helps.

        T. P.
        Proud Roman Catholic
        Proud Christian Furry

  2. The Atheist says:

    Hi, mark. I’m very sorry to hear the level of suffering you are having to endure. Honestly, I don’t think being “talked out” of your religious beliefs is the answer unless your beliefs are actually contributing to your depression. Instead, I’d strongly recommend that you consider participating in support groups – either in person or online – like some of these for example. You can learn from others who have had to struggle with exactly the same thing that you are going through now – especially those who’ve struggled for decades and have learned how to cope. And you can help others by sharing your own experiences – both the successes and the failures – which is also a very positive thing.

    • mark says:

      Thank you both. But I do want to hear the atheist argument for there not being a God, a purpose, an afterlife. I’m being vague, but God has been the strongest part of me for so long that I don’t know where to start. I hoped you would as you’re used to discussions like this.

      I apologise for how uncomfortable you must feel about this given my honesty above. My decisions are not your responsibility, but please defend your beliefs.

      • iridescentsheep says:

        Your actions are ultimately inconsequential. A single persons death does not greatly affect the world or the course of the world. The problem is that at the same exact time your life is more meaningful than any other humans. That is because you mean everything to your family.
        You only get to live about 80 years on this earth and then that is it. Why rush to the end? Instead you should continue to fight to be happy. Forget what the Bible says and stop god first and put yourself first. Do you REALLY want to die? Or is it that you want the pain to end? Find what is causing you this pain and change that (counselling is a start).

        I believe that people have a right to end their own lives but it is a selfish immoral act.

        My argument for no God is that there is no evidence. The bible contradicts science, fossils and even itself.
        My belief about life’s purpose is that there is no purpose. The only meaning in my life is what I give it. I have a son and being a mother means a lot to me. I mean a lot to him because I take care of him. If we were to both die it would ultimately not matter to the world. Just like me not being born did not matter 100 years ago.

        I believe that after I die will be the exact same before my parent met. I did not exist.

        I see that the reply I am repling to is from April, I would like to know how are you doing?

        • Iridescentsheep, there are several self-contradictory statements in your post, so I was hoping you could clarify.

          1) You say that Mark’s “actions are ultimately inconsequential” but you also have the ultimate conviction that Mark’s life has consequence because you assume he has family. Is the presence of Mark’s family the only thing that gives his life value?

          2) You say that the only meaning in a person’s own life is whatever meaning that person gives himself, but you’ve also prescribed meaning to Mark’s life. Does meaning come from the self or from others? Or is it the presence of family?

          3) Perhaps most importantly, you claim suicide is a “selfish immoral act”, an obvious regard of objective moral obligation, yet assert that there is no God and therefore no giver of objective moral law. If morality evolved within the human mind and is thereby subject to change, how can you morally judge the act of suicide, or the moral “goodness” in pleasing one’s family, or the moral value of giving yourself value and meaning?

          4) You claim that “the bible contradicts science, fossils and even itself”, yet on pure naturalism (no God/no Biblical truth) the universe is purposeless matter in motion. What then is your basis for the reliability of reason, without a circular appeal to reason to defend reason?

          Thanks :)

          • iridescentsheep says:

            I will try to clarify. Let me know if I miss something.
            1. If Mark were to kill himself he would not effect the world or the universe. If he has family or friends, they would be effected. I also do not believe there is an afterlife, so I do not believe burning in hell would be a consequence.

            2. Mark’s life means nothing to me, I did not even know of his existance until this post. I assume he has family or friends that care about him which would mean that they would be hurt by his death. I believe that humans create the “meaning of life”. Which could be what one decides for themself (my life means something to me) or what another perscribe ones life (what my son’s life means to me). If my son or I were to die the Earth would not stop turning and the universe would not collapse.

            3. I was wrong to say it is immoral and I do believe that people have a right to end their life. I was saying that I disagree with that decision. Anyway, I am a little confused by what you have said. You said “If morality evolved within the human mind and is thereby subject to change, how can you morally judge the act of suicide,” I am confused because I do not understand why morality being subject to change would mean that you cannot judge something as moral or immoral?

            4. Can you rephrase this beause I do not quite understand what you are asking?

            My beliefs are flawed and I am trying to improve them. Thank you for the complex questions because they really forced me to observe my beliefs. I do not think I contradicted myself. My belief that life is meaningless and we are just matter and have no effect on the universe does not contradict my belief that our brains appoint ourselves and others with meaning. I love my son and his life’s meaning is limitless but in the universe he is meaningless.
            A US dollar is worthless and yet is worth a dollar to people in the US. Just because the dollar is worth something to John Doe, it does not mean that it actually is worth something.

            • iridescentsheep, thanks for elaborating a bit, and I appreciate your honesty in trying to solidify your beliefs (I am doing the same thing).

              The view that humans do not have inherent value is consistent on atheism, but I don’t think that anyone can truly live that out. You say that Mark’s (or anyone’s) value is determined by what they think of themselves or what others think of them. Now, if Mark had no family or friends that cared about him, and if Mark didn’t think his own life had value (thankfully Mark is not one of those, but there are people like this), would you honestly say that person was of no value? I would argue that if we were standing in front of a person we didn’t know who had no caring family or self-esteem who was about to kill themselves, there would be a great compulsion within us to stop him from doing it. Wouldn’t you agree? Similarly—and perish the thought—but if you died and your son was left to the state without family or friends to care for him, would his life cease to have value if he lost his own sense of self-worth (or was too young to develop it)? Perhaps this wouldn’t be the case for your child, but for others it is. Do they have no inherent value?

              I think you have done as many do when they realize the implications of talking about morality. In order to avoid the necessity of an objective source for moral obligations, such as the one that tells us we ought to regard human life as valuable and that it is right to love and protect others, we have to redefine it as something subjective/relative to the individual. But nobody actually lives as if morality can change or is different for different people. Everyone assumes that moral law applies to everyone, everywhere, at all times. To clarify what I said about morality being subject to change (as it would have done if it evolved within humans), it would help to consider this:

              Is murdering a child wrong?
              Was murdering a child wrong 1,000 years ago?
              Was murdering a child wrong 10,000 years ago?
              Would murdering a child be wrong in the future?

              If morality evolved within humans, there is no basis for saying yes to any of those questions beyond the 1st one, because murdering a child would necessarily at some point be right. And really, on atheism, question 1 should be answered “no” because children have no inherent value—just the opinions of others and themselves. There is nothing about human evolution that would demand our moral sensibilities be the same in every person (in fact, most people different their ideas of what should be moral), yet when we have discussions like this or make any kind of argument at all, we are assuming that others should see the moral truth behind what we are claiming. Also, the very first evolved moral act or thought, whenever or whatever it was, would logically require a pre-existing moral standard by which we measure it. That’s why our source for morality cannot logically be evolution, but must have a source outside of human convention (A post I wrote on this is here…

              I believe that the Bible provides the only basis for the morality we can observe and use everyday. Likewise, and to clarify #4, I think Christian Theism provides the only basis for our use of reason. What is there on Naturalism that says we should regard reason as our highest authority? Reason is what we base science, debate and all rational thought upon. But why should it be so, especially if the universe is merely the product of matter in motion? The Bible describes a God who uses reason as a part of His nature, created man in HIs image to use reason, and invites him to use it. That’s why I say the use of reason isn’t really justified on atheism, but Christianity alone makes sense of it. (more on this point here…

              Hopefully that is clearer. :)

              • iridescentsheep says:

                I would like to say that while this abstract idea may be consistent with Atheists; it is not an Atheistic viewpoint. Atheism is simply the lack of belief of a deity. You stated “atheism, question 1 should be answered “no” because children have no inherent value”. Not believing a God does not mean that you automatically think life has no inherent value. You are an Atheist when it comes to other Gods and you do not believe life has no inherent value.
                I would argue that I was not speaking of value but instead meaning. I suppose my analogy to the US dollar may have caused that confusion. I was saying that the dollar is not worth anything just like lives are meaningless and yet humans create it. I was not trying to say that lives are worthless. I do not believe that there needs to be significance or a purpose to life in order for it to be valuable or important.
                I do not follow a Bible or believe in any God and yet I do not kill and rape people. I do not do this because I have no desire to. Not because I fear God or Hell or jail. You state “I believe that the Bible provides the only basis for the morality we can observe and use everyday”. I disagree and I actually do not see how the Bible could be followed and the basis for everyday life. In the bible:
                Deuteronomy 20:10-14, Deuteronomy 22:28-29 NLT, Deuteronomy 22:23-24 NAB, Leviticus 20:13 NAB, Exodus 21:15 NAB, Deuteronomy 13:13-19 NLT, Deuteronomy 22:20-21 NAB, Nahum 1:2-8 NLT and many more.
                Do you think that all of these should be followed or seen as true? One of the Ten Commandments is to not kill and yet God approves killing. Do you think that rape victims should be forced to marry the rapist? Do you think everyone who dies in a natural disaster is bad? What about any baptized babies who have not yet had the chance to sin, why do they die in these natural disasters? If you do not believe in God you go to Hell. But being Christian depends almost entirely on being born into a Christian family. So anyone who was born into the “wrong” religion would automatically be doomed unless somehow they found God. Are children who are born into another religion supposed to find Christianity on their own? Are people who are isolated and have never heard of the Bible or Christianity supposed to just know?
                How do you define reason? I ask because you say that Christianity is the only basis for reason (I disagree) and that reason is what we base science on (I agree). I would define reason as the use of facts and critical thinking in order to come to a conclusion. With Christianity there are no facts because it is faith based and faith is the belief in the absence of facts.
                My final question is, why do you believe in the Christian Bible? It is a book that has been written by humans that are supposedly speaking for God. If God is so powerful, why did he not write the book himself? Why wouldn’t he create a book that could not be altered or destroyed so people would know that no one has changed anything? The Bible has been translated, who is to say that the translation was accurate? Why not believe any other religious text?

        • Iridescentsheep, the columns are getting impossibly small, so I posted this up here. :)

          “Atheism is simply the lack of belief of a deity.”

          Well, not “simply”… The lack of belief in something necessitates the belief in something else.

          “You are an Atheist when it comes to other Gods and you do not believe life has no inherent value.”

          Correct, but the God I DO believe exists is the one that makes sense of the world, while others do not. The Biblical account creation comports with what we observe about life, so the worldviews that I dismiss don’t affect that.

          “I would argue that I was not speaking of value but instead meaning.”
          “I was not trying to say that lives are worthless. I do not believe that there needs to be significance or a purpose to life in order for it to be valuable or important.”

          I don’t think it’s that easy to separate value from meaning. Something is worth keeping because we value it, and meaning gives value to life. If meaning, significance or purpose doesn’t give life value, then what does? On atheism, if meaning or value depends on our own opinion or the opinions of others, life’s value goes away if those opinions change.

          “I do not follow a Bible or believe in any God and yet I do not kill and rape people. I do not do this because I have no desire to. Not because I fear God or Hell or jail.”

          Everyone has a sense of morality because we are all made in the image of God (Gen. 1:27) who wrote moral law on our hearts, of which our consciences bear witness (Rom. 2:15). We don’t need to be religious or read the Bible to have a sense of objective moral law, we only need to be born human. :) People are different and have different ideas about the details of moral law, but anyone who denies objective moral law affirms it by how they live.

          “But being Christian depends almost entirely on being born into a Christian family. So anyone who was born into the “wrong” religion would automatically be doomed unless somehow they found God.”

          Family and culture will usually have a strong influence (it’s called parenting :), but this is by no means exclusively true.

          When I say the Bible provides the only basis for morality, that doesn’t mean we follow the rules perfectly. We CAN’T follow God’s law perfectly because we sin, and that’s the reason God sent His Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sin. We can’t achieve righteousness on our own.

          The Bible is a contains both prescriptive and descriptive content, and reading with consideration to historical context (just like you would read anything else) makes it clear that what happened in history is not necessarily to be carried out by followers today. God exacted judgment on evil nations and commanded the Israelites to carry out His judgment. Anyone who thinks this is instruction to kill shouldn’t be allowed to pick up any history book. I have debated many atheists on the OT accounts of violence and there are valid reasons for each, but to respond to each passage here would blow up this forum, so I’ll stay on the more relevant discussion. I recently debated a Muslim on his claims of Biblical violence here ( if you are interested. It’s quite lengthy though. :)

          “How do you define reason?”

          I define it as most people understand it and define it. I maintain that we have reason and value reason because God does. Without God, your highest commitment is human reason. My highest commitment is God and His word. We both presuppose these ultimate commitments because we can’t prove them—they are our most basic and foundational beliefs to be taken on faith. Is there anything that justifies your devotion to reason? Because it seems to work in the past? Faith in something because it’s worked in the foreseeable past is something else we can’t prove and must take on faith. So nobody can pretend that at our most basic beliefs aren’t based on faith. Ultimately, Christians hold to Christianity on the basis of Christianity, which is a circular argument. But likewise, the atheist holds to autonomous human reason on the basis of autonomous human reason. All reasoning about ultimate presuppositions is circular. What differentiates them is what makes sense of our view of reason (and other things).

          On atheism, reason is an enigma. It’s sought after, used, loved, critical to any argument—yet it’s origin can’t be explained. All science is based on reason, yet there is no scientific reason for letting reason rule the show. At best, it’s philosophical, open-ended and relative (science is not supposed to be). Our logical arguments rest on reason, but what line of reasoning justifies reason as a basis? Reason is reasonable, therefore we reason.

          On Christianity, reason is part of God’s very nature. Just like God, reason doesn’t have a cause or basis other than God Himself. Human beings are made to reason because our minds are created as a (limited) reflection of the mind of God.

          Most atheists think this is crazy, but only on the presupposition that God doesn’t exist. If He did exist as the Bible describes, this is completely coherent. On your own worldview, there is no reason to rely on reason (you have to actually borrow from Christian Theism to do it).

          “With Christianity there are no facts”

          This is simply untrue and self-defeating. This statement is in fact a statement of fact about Christianity.

          “My final question is, why do you believe in the Christian Bible? It is a book that has been written by humans that are supposedly speaking for God. If God is so powerful, why did he not write the book himself? Why wouldn’t he create a book that could not be altered or destroyed so people would know that no one has changed anything? The Bible has been translated, who is to say that the translation was accurate?”

          The evidence for the reliability of the Biblical text is extremely compelling, but extremely lacking with other religious texts. This evidence is readily available, and I talk about manuscript evidence in the debate I linked you to above. Beyond the manuscript evidence (tens of thousands of very early ancient Biblical text from 3 continents, numerous languages, all of which textually agree more than 99%, and doctrinally 100%. There is also prophetic and archaeological evidence that other scriptures lack.

  3. Adam Benton says:

    For a reason based argument to hold stead more than an emotional desire for the position to be true is needed. Naturally, one must hold the foundational positions on which such an argument is based.

    Namely that knowing the truth is preferable to not knowing it and that our senses provide an accurate description of reality. One provides us the method to identify the truth, the other the will to do so.

    However, many people hold additional assumptions along with or in lieu of these. Presupposational apologetics, for example, bases its foundational principles around the existence of a God.

    As such, first you must identify what your foundation is and whether it is conducive to accepting a reason based argument.

    • mark says:

      Massive emotional investment but I want to know the truth. Why don’t you believe in God – specifically the christian God?

      Anyone think that euthanasia is right?

      • Adam Benton says:

        Emotions are allowed, I wouldn’t ask you to be an unfeeling robot. It’s just they cannot provide the core motivation for holding a position since emotions stem from people and people are fallible. If one wants to know the truth one cannot base this claim on emotion. After all, we don’t want the saftey of an aeroplane to be based on someone’s gut feeling.

        Instead we rely on evidence as objective as possible. When trying to determine what is out there we do our best to ignore intuition, feelings and try to seek out data that is asaccurate as possible. Only then we can be sure our conclusions are correct.

        Of course, evidence isn’t perfect. We don’t have a complete knowledge of the universe and there is still the potential for human error. Maybe when collecting or processing it someone made a mistake.

        As such to suggest we have reached absolute truth is absurd. There remains the possibility that some new evidence might be discovered; a correction to existing data be made, and suddenly our view of reality will have to change.

        But until that time we are unjustified in believing the alternative to be correct. It is possible, but possibility alone is not sufficient to make a claim accurate. It’s possible I might win the lottery tomorrow, but I don’t burn through my savings believing it to be the case.

        Until there is sufficient evidence for God, one is unjustified in accepting it as true. The only reasonable position therefore is to not accept that a God exists. To be an atheist. Some take it a step further and suggest that there is no God, although the difference between these two positions is relatively minor. The latter is simply suggesting that since there is no evidence, despite thousands of people searching for thousands of years, not only is it unjustified to believe in a God but it is likely there is no God.

        As for euthanasia, it’s an unfortunate conclusion. You only have one life. One chance to exist, influence people, enjoy yourself and change the world. To put a stop to this only existence is to give up an incredible amount. To give up everything, in fact. But at the end of the day it is your body and so, if in sound mind, one earnestly wants to end their life I will not stop them. I would urge them to reconsider, but it is ultimatley their life and their choice.

  4. Lauren says:

    I suggest reading The Case For Christ by Lee Strobel and then coming to your own conclusion. It was written by an athiest on the hunt for facts about whether or not Jesus really is the “unique Son of God.” Learn all the facts to help you make an informed decision. But also, I want you to know that my best friend commited suicide and it nearly killed me. You can have no idea how big of an impact taking your own life has on others. The depression they will then go through themselves. I myself have been depressed and it took years to find the right medication and dosage to work but i can tell you that it was well worth it for the happiness i am experiencing now. Talk to your doctor about new medication. And i strongly urge you to find a good counselor to help you get past the pain. That was the hardest part for me but well worth it.

    • Anonymous says:

      Well said. Just last weekend there was a suicide in a local high school that deeply affected many classmates who happen to be kids in our youth group. Spent a long while with them just tonight listening to a lot of pain and confusion. And a 2nd student in the same school made an attempt just a couple hours ago. There are obvious theological differences on the table here, but what we all seem to agree on is that we think you should stay with us, Mark. We hope you agree.

  5. Mike Johnson says:

    It’s true that we don’t have a complete knowledge of the universe (and in that sense we are all at least a little agnostic), but I think what we can observe with reasonable certainty points to a Creator, the same way anyone looking at a painting can be certain of a painter, whether or not they see him.

    We know that nature logically had to have had a beginning, so that means that nature’s cause had to be beyond nature—supernatural.

    Everyone (even atheists) treat morality, which couldn’t have evolved without a pre-existing standard for it, as if it is universal and absolute, applying to everyone for all time—even to the idea of God. This points to a moral law-giver outside of humanity, not to a set of rules we contrived for ourselves.

    There are many arguments for God (ontological, cosmological, teleological, etc) that rely on reason rather than emotion. Concluding that God exists—or something just like Him—is not simply an emotional response.

    No doubt that it requires faith to accept something we can’t see or prove empirically. Atheism requires faith as well. There are presuppositions in hard or soft atheism, for instance, of a natural origin for nature, universal morality that somehow evolved locally, certain laws of uniformity in nature, and alternative explanations to fact that somewhere around 85% of the world are theistic in the belief. Complete knowledge is not required for belief, but sufficient reason is.

    Something else to consider is that there is some debate over whether many antidepressants actually include suicidal thoughts as a side-effect. That may be something worth checking into.

    • mark says:

      God has spoken to me directly (I heard a voice) three times, through visions twice, and through the bible (I asked for guidance on specific issues and found answers in my daily reading or weeks sermon) countless times.

      Is this a coincidence, or me subconsciously fitting verses to circumstances? Have I been ‘brainwashed’ from childhood?

      When people of different beliefs become genuine christians, they describe a joy and fulfillment, they want to share it with everyone. Do converted atheists also feel like this?

      • Adam Benton says:

        People are great pattern seekers, at identifying a link between different things. Often this can lead to spotting a link where there is none – think of all the people who have a “lucky habbit” based on something good that happened a couple of times when they wore the same underwear or something.

        Without meaning to sound dismissive I suspect that finding answers in the Bible is merely the result of that. Combine someone trying to find links and a suitably vague text (especially one trying to give advice) and its inevitable that some connection will be made. It’s how horoscopes work, after all.

        It’s not brainwashing, just the brain doing what the brain does very well – being mistaken.

        As for the joy of being an atheist, many people to experience a sense of liberation. On the other hand there are real counselling groups out there for people who stop being religious but have been pyschologically harmed by the religion and so have difficulty readjusting. I wouldn’t go for atheism because of any “fulfillment.” It is there to be had, but shouldn’t the sole reason one believes it.

      • fran says:

        i have had similar experiences – i ask god if i can move to a certain place that is impossible for a grade elevner to move to, and then someone rings up and tells me i have been given an oportunity to move out of home and go there – without me having ever told anyone that i wanted to go there.
        but my more foundational reason for my belief is that fact that in a room of twelve people, 6 of them had seen at least one miracle (one lady had seen multiple sure miracles). one of them was one of my friends who had cancer and lukemia (there were scans of the mass) and then with prayer with her grandmother, the next check-up she came in and the doctors were completely baffled. the cancer was gone and the imune disease was no longer life threatening. the doctors said it was impossible. it clearly wasn’t for god. two other people in the room had similar experiences with fatal illnesses, however, i don’t know them well enough to back their stories up with my word, so i would take them with a grain of salt.
        then of course there is me. i wouldn’t exactly call my experience impossible – just highly improbable. as a child i was run over by a car. i escaped with tire marks across my legs and chest.
        also, with depression, i have struggled with it for as long as i have lived. my first suicide attempt came at seven years old. i was going to throw my off something high (not high enough to kill me, but i figured if i landed correctly i could at the very least turn myself into a cucumber. i was about to throw myself off the ledge when a voice said to me, “There will come a time when you are needed. be ready.” i suddenly found that i wasn’t exactly happy, but i had optimism and peace. i began working on preventing negative thoughts, and i eventually grew into a very joyful kid. and for a few years my existence was close to god and i was happy, having regular communication and talk with him. then i lost my way, got depressed again, tried to die again. a few times. it’s only in grade nine that i really came back. i’m still not as close to him as i was in my younger years, but i’m working my way up to it.
        anyway, when someone says they have witnessed a miracle, the first thing people question is their sanity. i can assure you i am completely sane (minus the suicidal tendancies) – i suppose you’ll have to take my word for that.
        the next is whether what they think happened actually did – medical scans and opinions don’t say that a miracle happened (with my friend’s case) but they certainly say the impossible did. it so happens that it happened and continues to happen after prayer.
        the next is a lie – am i lying. you know, i think that it would be more than cruel to encourage someone to continue existing if existing was pure torture, and that existence was entirely useless. unless i believed beyond doubt that there was a purpose for you mark, one that is irreplaceable, then i would opt for euthanasia too.

    • mark says:

      You’re right about the antidepressants, but this side effect, along with agitation, should wear off in the first few weeks. Personally suicidal thoughts was one of symptoms I had before I began taking them.

      ( I don’t want to discourage anyone from engaging with treatment like this if they feel it’s needed, extra support is given during this dangerous time. I’ve seen antidepressants – and non-medication treatments – really work. (trainee dr) )

    • Adam Benton says:

      The thing which entertains me about the painter analogy, or any of the similar phrases, is that it doesn’t support the conclusion most theists think it does. Painters don’t create something ex nihlo instead they are merely rearranging existing materials into a new shape. Thus even if we were to grant the starting premise of the painter argument, that there is design akin to a painting detecatble in the world (a premise I’m far from convinced from) the real conclusion of this train of thought shold be that God did not create the universe but simply reorganised existing stuff into that which we see today.

      As for morality, it’s worth noting there is a distinction between what people think and what is actually the case. I, for convinience’s sake, have treated Pi as 3.14. That doesn’t mean it is. Just because people act as though morality is absolute doesn’t make that the case. Further, provided morality is an evolutionary stable strategy (ESS) then it could potentially evolve and every indication we have is that it is.

      Also, the arguments you hint at have been presented before and debated for a great many years. I would highly recommend taking a look at, which provides a good grounding in why those arguments fail to convince. Whilst I am not affiliated with the site and so cannot attest to everyword they’ve written I do find it a handy resources none the less.

      Finally, it’s worth noting as an aside that atheism does not require one assume a natural cause for the universe. Atheism is the rejection of a God, not of all supernatural causes. Buddhists, after all, are atheistic yet have their own supernatural explanation for how the world is.

  6. The Atheist says:

    I have close relatives and friends who suffer from depression so I’m not at all uncomfortable with the subject. So no apology needed. My only discomfort is my feeling of empathy toward anyone who suffers, including of course anyone suffering with depression. So my first comment wasn’t “holding back” in any way, but rather attempting to deal more directly with what I saw to be the motivation for your question.

    I agree with Adam’s post regarding reasons for disbelief. You also asked about purpose and afterlife.

    The reason I doubt that there is an afterlife is that an afterlife suggests that there is something more to my being than my physical being. However everything we know about the brain and consciousness suggests the opposite. Damage to specific areas of the brain have a direct effect on consciousness. Completely numbing the brain with certain general anesthetics causes consciousness to cease completely until the effect of the anesthetic wares off. Stimulating certain parts of the brain with electricity has a predictable and profound effect on consciousness. We have no evidence whatever of a disembodied mind.

    I don’t agree that there is no purpose as your question suggests. If the universe is the product of natural causes (and the evidence we have points to that conclusion), then there was no purpose behind it’s coming into being. However we should understand what we mean by “purpose” before we decide if there is any purpose to existence, even in a universe that came into being without any purpose.

    When we say “purpose”, we mean “the outcome that something serves”. We also mean that there must be an agent who conceives of the outcome he wishes to bring about, and that the outcome has meaning to the agent. For example, if a god created the universe, then the god had to have an outcome in mind for which the universe serves, otherwise the universe would have no purpose even if a god created it.

    If this is what we mean by purpose (and I believe it is), then our own actions have purpose. We are agents and outcomes have meaning to us. We act to bring about the outcomes. Our actions therefore have purpose. Because we humans are in the universe and purpose exists for us, then purpose exists in the universe.

  7. kathy says:

    being an athiest is not about doing what ever you want and that includes suicide. Just the fact that you are human comes with responsibilities to other people, family included. Your first consideration should be your family andtheir feelings. It really hurts a mother, father, sister, brother, wife or Children to loose some one . Death is never easy for the person left behind.. Infact suicide is the ultamite selfish act.

    a caring Athiest

  8. Mike Johnson says:


    While it’s true that painters use existing materials, they are not randomly rearranging them into a new shape. They are rearranged according to the designer’s purpose. We recognize structure and design because the painting communicates a message on a level of clarity and intelligibility that can’t be claimed for by undirected processes.

    “Just because people act as though morality is absolute doesn’t make that the case.” Yet it isn’t true that only some people treat morality as if it were a system of objective moral laws and some don’t. It appears that ALL recognize the fact that, even though people may interpret them differently, everyone lives as if they are laws that are supposed to apply to everyone, everywhere, at all times. We dutifully seek to follow these laws because we know intuitively that we didn’t write them (Romans 2:15). “There can be no such thing as duty in isolation.” (Richard Taylor). And as Kathy above rightly says, “the fact that you are human comes with responsibilities.”

    Can you conceive of a way for “good” to have evolved in the mind without an objective standard for “good” already in place? Some of the reasoning at is: “Simply because one cannot conceive of something happening without a cause, does not mean that we can assume everything needs a cause.” A similar argument can be made for morality: Simply because we cannot conceive of truly subjective morality does not mean we can assume morality is completely objective. While this is plausible, it is far from practically observed. Because we see that all observable things in nature need a cause, it’s a very reasonable belief that nature we don’t observe also needs a cause. Because we observe that moral law is treated exclusively as if it’s something we’re supposed to follow, it’s very reasonable to believe that morality was something written for us to follow, which therefore must be outside of human convention. Only by unnecessarily assuming something contrary to what we observe do we reach the opposite conclusion, and from Occam’s Razor we know that entities should not be multiplied beyond necessity.

    Thank you for the link, although I wasn’t too impressed with the arguments I saw at, at least the few I looked at. Certainly nothing that hasn’t been refuted elsewhere, and the section on Biblical inerrancy was particularly weak. I would offer as an alternative.

    The Atheist,

    When Mark asks the question (as we all do at some point) about purpose in life, my guess is that it’s the larger view of ultimate purpose—the “big purpose” as he stated. Any purpose that we invent and ascribe to ourselves is temporal and dies when we do. Things we do may have lasting effects beyond our lifetime, but this is still not necessarily the purpose given by our Creator. An atheistic worldview naturally brings the horizon much closer, simply because there is no affirmation within atheism of anything beyond it. It’s this worldview that limits consciousness to a healthy brain, and mandates that morality be evolved within humanity and must be subjective in nature (even though the way we speak and act shows the opposite). Mark noted that “Dawkins has said that the universe is neither good nor evil but indifferent, and there’s no big purpose.” Sadly, on atheism, this has to be true.

    Fortunately, Christianity is justified as belief not solely on the basis that it provides hope and purpose in Christ, but because it’s a very reasonable belief.

    • Adam Benton says:

      Indeed, paintings are (normally) not random and if you look at my original post on the subject, you’ll note I never said they were. My point, which I’ll reiterate here for your benefit, was simply that creation from nothing is not the necessary conclusion of design as we have many examples of design that weren’t created ex nihlo. Even if you could show the universe was designed that doesn’t demonstrate that God created it from nothing.

      Such distinctions are also important when thinking about how everything in nature has a cause. Again, we don’t witness things – caused or uncaused – appearing from nothing. As such it is hard to justify extrapolating from the examples of cause and effect we have to this unknown situation. Do the same rules apply when something comes from nothing? Do the same rules apply if the starting conditions of the universe were different to the conditions we observe now; if time, gravity etc. were non-existent or different in some way? These situations are so far removed from what we know that we can’t really apply our everyday reasoning to it.

      As for morality, again, the fact that someone thinks something is true doesn’t make it true. The fact a lot of people agree with them again, does not make it true. Argument from popularity is after all a fallacy; pretty much every functional equation involving Pi treats it as a number with a finite amount of digits, this does not make it so. And I’m not quite sure what you’re trying to get at with your evolution argument, could you please elaborate on it?

      • Mike Johnson says:


        Sorry that I missed your point. It’s true that obvious design doesn’t necessarily mean ex nihilo creation. Reversed, an ex nihilo creation would support design, since design is inherent in creating anything. Although creation from nothing (no pre-existing natural materials) and design are two parts of one event according to Genesis 1, I wasn’t trying to use one to prove the other.

        In a chain of causes there must be a first cause. Since the first cause of the universe is in the past, we can’t observe it, and all we are able to observe are causes and effects from it. We know the first cause didn’t have an effect because that would be logically absurd, and we know the starting conditions of the universe were different, in that the universe, time, gravity, were non-existent. That is very different. :)

        You’re right, if every person thought that the scope and authority of our sense of morality extends far beyond humankind, this doesn’t make it true. I think what we observe about objective morals is an observation about the law, not what people think of it. Though people may interpret it differently, moral law presents itself as something fixed and immutable. We know this but sometimes deny it. I think objective morality is denied when there is fear of theistic implications, though there may be other reasons. If what we observed were subjective rules adopted by individuals or the majority, it could not be denied that torturing children can some context be morally right. I don’t think anyone on earth is prepared to say that, and maybe that’s presumptuous, but in any case it ought to be the norm, not the extremely rare exception. Everyone treats morality as if it’s universal, objective and absolute law relevant to everyone, everywhere, for all time, because that is our observation. Even in fiction, we can’t imagine morality that isn’t universal. Every film or book I’ve ever seen about encounters between humans and aliens, representing isolated beings that presumably would have evolved very different moral systems, subject each other to a larger, universal system of law, in the idea that alien invasions are a violation of universal rights to freedom, dignity and so forth. Further, any atheist who has ever considered the Biblical idea of God to be a moral monster admits that whatever system of morality the atheist appeals to is large and over-arching enough to encompass the deeds of the hypothetical infinite creator of the universe, deeds done in a distant culture millenia ago. We can’t imagine morality any other way, although we may try to frame it in an argument when we feel the need. Such arguments fail as soon as they’re voiced, as they are always voiced objectively. My argument against moral evolution is that the way we regard morality would be impossible if morality evolved within humans, as it would then only be understood to govern humans, and not even every, therefore any, human would be necessarily subject to it.

        • Some humans hold that moral obligations evolve.
        • Moral obligations that evolved in humans should only be applied to humans.
        • Humans apply moral obligations to humans and also to intelligent beings in the universe including God, whether real or imaginary.
        • Humans do not apply moral obligations exclusively to humans.
        • Therefore, humans who hold that moral obligations evolved are inconsistent.

        Put another way:

        • Moral obligations that evolve cannot be universal.
        • Humans observe that moral obligations are universal.
        • Therefore, moral obligations did not evolve.

        I also recognize that it’s logically absurd to call something morally “good” before a definition of moral good existed. If a standard for good existed before a being thought of or performed moral good, then morality could not have evolved within humans. Then moral law existed before humans, and consequently was prescribed by a Being that exists outside of/prior to humanity.

        • Humans exist, therefore humans had a beginning.
        • Humans are moral beings, performing moral good.
        • There must have been a first morally good act performed by humans.
        • Something that first occurs is something by definition.
        • Therefore, a definition of moral good must have existed before the first human moral act.

        On another point you made in a previous post: “… atheism does not require one assume a natural cause for the universe. Atheism is the rejection of a God, not of all supernatural causes. Buddhists, after all, are atheistic yet have their own supernatural explanation for how the world is.”

        If atheism allows for a supernatural cause sufficient to create the universe, why does it exclude God as a possibility? Aren’t you already accepting a good portion of the standard definition of a divine Creator? The need for great power is obvious by the resulting universe. In every observable case, intelligence comes from greater intelligence. In every observable case, functional complexity comes from greater complexity. In every observable case of moral application, the evidence leads us to a source outside of humanity. The simplest answer to the question of God’s existence seems to be that, without multiplying unnecessary assumptions, it is at least very likely that there exists a universal, supernatural cause that is powerful, intelligent, complex, and moral—and if moral, personal. That seems to be the doorstep of God, anyway.

        • Mike Johnson says:

          To clarify “We know the first cause didn’t have an effect because that would be logically absurd…”, I mean that the first cause was not caused/not the effect of an earlier cause, because then it wouldn’t be first.

  9. TaraZ says:

    Mike, You are not an atheist and should identify yourself as a Christian when you comment. Believing in Christ includes accepting numerous impossibilities which are brushed away by those having “faith.” It’s NOT reasonable.

    Mark, I agree completely with Kathy that being atheist does not justify suicide. Atheism is not about doing whatever you want, and it can’t be used as an excuse for taking your life. It’s still not right, even if you don’t believe there’s no afterlife.

    And I speak as someone who has struggled with suicidal thinking for a long time, both when I identified as a Christian, and when I identified as an atheist.

    • Mike Johnson says:

      Sorry, TaraZ, I think it’s pretty clear that I’m a Christian by what I’ve commented. :) There is no attempt to deceive there. Which “impossibilities” do I brush away?

  10. Kathy says:


    I dont think you understand athiesm at all. The only difference between us is you beleive and I don’t. We only have one life and that is the here and now. You make the best of what you got and treat every one with respect as long as respect is earned.. Just because we dont beleive in God or gods does not make us monsters. There are more similarities in the people of the world then there are differences.. The ones that seem to embrace the differences are the fanatics who think there religion is the superior.


    The caring athiest

    • Anonymous says:

      Kathy, you are right that the only real difference between atheists and theists is what we believe. I haven’t made a case for anything else, and I would never classify atheists as monsters. You are every bit as capable of moral good as anyone, and I believe you are probably a “kind atheist”. We are all made in the image of a moral God and really can’t help but live as if bound to moral obligation. And are you not arguing that your beliefs are superior?

  11. Kathy says:

    dear anonymous
    No argument from me. I dont think my lack of beleive is superior. My sole purpose was to let our dostraught friend know that regardless of what ever religion or lack of it, moral or non moral basis suicide is never an option. The one thing I find is there are a lot of closet athiests and this is due to the fact that we are discriminated on.

  12. Anonymous says:

    The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God. They are corrupt, they have done abominable works, there is none that doeth good.

    Psalm 14:1

    • gram says:

      Belief in God is fully consistent with residing in folly. You are the night calling the day black. You are a disease calling a cure bad.

      • Anonymous says:


        Belief in the God of the Bible is actually the only rational way to account for reality. Ultimately you accept the laws of logic and reason on faith, and on atheism you must attempt to anchor your commitment to the laws of logic in some completely unknown source that must derive from a universe of matter and motion. Is that logical? Who wrote the laws of logic and why do you ultimately accept them on faith? You defend reason by virtue of reason, which is circular.

        Christian theism presupposes the truth of Christian theism. In fact every ultimate belief relies on circular logic, because ultimate principals can’t be proven. Faith is a logical necessity at the most basic level of every belief.

        The reason Christianity is the only worldview that makes sense of the world is that it alone offers a rational explanation for our use of logic and reason. God is logical and created man in His image, according to the Bible. It’s accepted a priori, but makes sense of the world. Atheism assumes a priori natural cause to nature, an amoral source for objective morality, a non-intelligent source for the laws of logic, etc. This isn’t logical at all, and is therefore folly.

        Psalm 14:1 states that it’s at the level of the heart, symbolic for volitional belief, where the fool has essentially convinced himself that God does not exist. The root cause for this self-deception is a sinful pursuit of autonomy and rejection of the Creator (Romans 1).

        “There are none that doeth good” is the reality of the universal effects of sin. All humans sin. The good news is that all sin was paid for by the blood of Jesus Christ, God’s sinless Son, as a sacrifice for us.

  13. Sam says:

    How about laughing you out of it with
    “Crispy Krishna” &

    “Jesus Christ Antichrist”

  14. Paul S says:

    Hi Mark,

    I have two questions.
    1) What do you mean by being a “Christian?”
    Reason for this question, there are numerous claims of Christianity. They all cannot be true, given if any one is even true.
    2) Why do you want to give up your Christian faith?
    The only reason should be if it is not true.

    Paul S,
    a professed Christian.

  15. […] claimed to be a Christian who wanted to be talked into atheism in a question he posted at Mark revealed that he is depressed and suicidal, and he fears eternal judgment for taking his own […]

  16. […] claimed to be a Christian who wanted to be talked into atheism in a question he posted at Mark revealed that he is depressed and suicidal, and he fears eternal judgment for taking his own […]

  17. anonymous says:

    hey mark dont give up . deal with the issues in your life . please accept the consequences for what you have done . after that things will be alright . you will find support in that ,through that and after that . so do think .

  18. Dustin Schell says:

    Mike Johnson: Your aessertions to the universality of morality, or in layman’s terms, there are certain “morals” that are accepted by all humans, or at least such an overwhelming majority of humans that it can be taken as all minus outliers, casts an awfully broad net. One that I’m sorry to say, makes me think you have not seen much of the world outside of western culture.

    I realize that I am weighing in a bit late on this thread, but here we go.

    There are very few morals that extend to all four corners of the Earth. Your assertion that we all can agree that not torturing children is a universal moral is easily debunked by the stoning and beheading of people often teens and pre-teens, in much of the Middle East, South Asia, and the sub-continent for immoral behavior. This is not only socially acceptable, but applauded in many parts of the world. The point is, that there are very few “morals” that are in fact universal and those that are are very easily linked to a brief survey of evolutionary trends in pack animals specifically, in pack hunters. We’ll at a couple of the easy ones:

    1) Don’t kill each other: Wolves, chimps, and dolphins are all pack hunters that do not make a habit of killing each other. I would venture to say that it is not a leap to extrapolate from this that it would not behoove them to kill their team-mates / hunter partners / the reason for their ability to survive and those packs that did lost the broader evolutionary fight for food and territory and therefore, evolutionarily, the basis for not killing each other lies in a biological imperative for survival. This translates outside of individual pack groups to a “moral” aversion to the killing of a memeber of one’s own species as is evidenced by the lack of carnage between the male lions, wolves, elk, etc during the competition for females. It is very rare indeed that the fight concludes in death, rather it is fought to submission and finished with.

    2) Don’t take each other’s stuff: Evidence for the roots of this also can be traced back to food and hunting territory, wherein, taking that which belongs to another will result in turmoil of some form and is best avoided unless you are prepared to fight.

    You seem like an intelligent person, so I’m not going to belabor that any further. I will, however, take a moment to impress upon the evolutionarily based, and not uniquely human, trait of empathy. Empathy for fellow members of our species serves as the root for many of the “morally” based aversions that humans have toward violence or harm against said members of our species. This empathy for our “pack-members” serves a very utilitarian function in terms of the survival of a species reliant on cooperation and is not restricted to humans. Empathy has been documented in dolphins, chimpanzees, wolves, dogs, and many other species of animals whose survival depends on cooperation with other animals.

    In short, most of us do not care to see the suffering of another (unless our own framework for perception intreprets that suffering as being justified, ie: the execution of a murderer, the stoning of an adultress, or the burning death of three-thousand infidels one sunny morning in September) simply because we are biologically hard wired to have the interests of other members of our species at heart because it serves the over-arching purpose of the survival of our species. Of course, we have extended the scope of these empathy-based moralities, not through a universal knowing, but through trial, error, and public discourse. The tools of societal evolution.

    The idea that any morality extends beyond the most rudimentary functions of survival for cooperation-based species is universal, is to ignore the regularly changing definitions of what is and is not moral that have occurred throughout history.

    This can be seen most explicitly in the “moral” restrictions on sexuality, which have almost categorically always been slanted against women and which in fact, a brief survey course in the history of western civilization at you local community college would reveal, that these all served a very definite function, that being the protection of patrimonial inheritance of land rights. In colloquial terms, it’s hard to know if the kid your passing your land to is yours if she’s been out on town. Back to the point, western civilization, upon which it seems the majority of your ideas of moral universality rest, has dramatically change its perception of what is and is not moral sexually and evolved, once again, through trial, error, and public discourse.

  19. You might find some reasonable arguments against christianity at Also, try reading Divinity of Doubt by Vincent Bugliosi, The End of Faith and Letter to a Christian Nation by Sam Harris. This will give you a very strong foundation for questioning Christianity.

  20. Anonymous says:

    you are already out of it Mark

  21. Alan R. says:

    I hope you are feeling better. If you are still out there, don’t give up hope. I along with many of the other commentors here have battled depression. I had given up hope of ever being happy or being able to live a normal life so I left home to live on the streets believing that at least in this way I would do less harm to others. My family came and found me and had me institutionalized for a short time which was followed by a very difficult 6 years. The good news for me was that it was all worth it. My family was right in telling me that there are effective treatments for depression and psychosis. I believe you said you are 23 years old. You are young and it may be hard to imagine your life without depression and suffering. But the great likelyhood is that in time, your depression will be gone and you will look back at this time with a mixture of gratitude and purpose in that you will likely be able to help someone else because you have a first hand experience of thier suffering. Often times someone with depression will listen to another person that has lived through very similar times. If your medication is not working or the side effects are troubeling, tell your doctor right away. See your doctor regulary. Change doctors if you continue to experience depression. Avoid drugs and alcohol as much as possible because they really can wreak havoc with your moods, medication(s), and treatment and often lead to behaviour that causes you regret.

    You may find peace in learning that there is no reasonable argument for God’s non-existance not withstanding the protests of athiests. They are simply wrong. All of the arguments for God’s existance use logic and experience to show that faith is not opposed to reason but are in no way a cause of faith…despite the protests of some believers. Your faith is not something that you can be reasoned out of unless you desire to loose your faith in which case just about any athiestic argument will do. But if you desire to maintain your faith no amount of reasoning will be able to convince you that God is not real. I’m just trying to save you some leg work. I was loosly raised Christian, practiced Budhism (sp), went to college and became agnostic then spent years reading everything I could get my hands on to give me some reason to believe in God (or not) and nothing really convinced me one way or the other. But once I was given the gift of faith, nothing can convince me that Jesus Christ is not God.

    I know this leaves you in a difficult situation; desiring to end your suffering by killing yourself but fearing at least in the back of your mind that you might spend eternity separated from God. I would encourage you to form and follow your conscience. You believe in God now so continue to pray for his help which you know to be the right thing to do. You believe it is wrong to kill yourself so do not, please, do not do that.

    Peace be with you,
    Alan R.

  22. Anonymous says:

    I’m not going to reason you out of a specific faith. That would be too disrespectful, but you might consider the following:

    The faiths manage to post proofs under argument and evidence, but this is always low quality proofs in induction and testimony. They will even manage to hybridize low quality proof (in inductive testimony). Search for a belief system that offers high quality proofs in deductive argument and physical evidence and don’t settle for the skepticism pervading much of outspoken atheism. You desire to continue but it must be reasonable in that it has nothing to do with magical wishing power. There is a way and may you find it.

  23. gram says:

    The above wasn’t written by Anonymous. It was written by Gram.

  24. AtheistThink says:

    Well put simply, why is your faith better than any other? There are hundreds of religions that you view as wrong so why is yours right? Could it be because that is what your parents thought? maybe.

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