"I don't believe in God because...."

Conversations about religion don't come up often in my day to day life (shocker!), but on the occasion that they do, I am often asked why I do not believe in God. That's not a difficult question for me to answer, but it's a really difficult question for me to answer concisely. It seems that the most common answer is something like, "Because there's no evidence that God exists." But that just opens up a whole can of worms, because some nincompoop is going to say something like, "Oh yeah, well then how did the universe get here?" or "Just the fact that something exists instead of nothing is evidence," and then you get dragged into a conversation that you really didn't want to have while you were out drinking with your friends.

So, I've been trying to come up with a concise answer to the question – one that leaves the believer more humbly inquisitive, rather than provoking them to ask pompous follow-up questions so obvious that you'd think we handed them notes. I'm not completely satisfied with the following, but it's the best I've got thus far:
I don't believe in God because I see a natural world that is cold and indifferent to the suffering of all living things. I don't believe there is anything about our world, including our own existence, that is adequately, or even better explained by claiming that God was behind it. On top of that, I am a good person, and I live a happy life. So I don't see any reason to believe that God exists, or if he does, that his existence matters.

And I'm curious: to my fellow non-believers, how would you concisely answer the question, "Why don't you believe in God?"

Comments

  1. I tend to sum it up like this: I know what I know, and I don't know what I don't know. I don't know whether or not there's a god, so until evidence suggests otherwise, I will assume there isn't.

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  2. Hi Mike - my name's Ajay and I've been a long time reader of the blog (and your last one) but have never posted before.

    I think this is a good question. As for your formulation, I worry that you'd have to bring a note card to bars with you to remember it ;-)

    I stick mainly to the last sentence you wrote: "So I don't see any reason to believe that God exists..." In fact, I usually say there's "no good reason" or "no compelling reason". The value in this formulation is implicitly stating where the burden of proof lies - with the believer, of course. So this puts them on the defensive to explain their reasoning, and it's usually not too great.

    Anyways, great blog.

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  3. P.S. By the way, I had a real hard time posting a comment. The 'word verification' thing was visible but there was nowhere for me to input the word. So I had to highlight it and drag the screen down until I saw the input box. I'm using Google Chrome, so I wonder if that's the issue.

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  4. Thanks for the comments guys. I'm not sure what the deal is about the word verification. I'm just using one of Blogger's default templates.

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  5. I think I would go with some variation of Laplace's "I have no need of that hypothesis."

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