Some that jumped out at me: (I think the source is pretty obvious but I tagged numbers just in case)
Cherie Blair, barrister
It’s been a journey from my upbringing to an understanding of something that my head cannot explain but my heart knows to be true.
Jh: I agree. It’s a heart thing.
 Paul Davies, quantum physicist
I am not comfortable answering the question “Why do you believe in God?” because you haven’t defined “God”. In any case, as a scientist, I prefer not to deal in “belief” but rather in the usefulness of concepts. I am sure I don’t believe in any sort of god with which most readers of your article would identify.
I do, however, assume (along with all scientists) that there is a rational and intelligible scheme of things that we uncover through scientific investigation. I am uncomfortable even being linked with “a god” because of the vast baggage that this term implies (a being with a mind, able to act on matter within time, making decisions, etc).
Jh: spoken like a good scientists/litigator = define your words clearly so that both parties are agreed on the exact argument at hand. Many people often fail at this and have differing interpretations of what is on the table. Very interesting definitions by this guy.
 Peter Hitchens, journalist
I believe in God because I choose to do so. I believe in the Christian faith because I prefer to do so. The existence of God offers an explanation of many of the mysteries of the universe – especially “Why is there something rather than nothing?” and the questions which follow from that. It requires our lives to have a purpose, and our actions to be measurable against a higher standard than their immediate, observable effect. Having chosen belief in a God over unbelief, I find the Christian gospels more persuasive and the Christian moral system more powerful than any other religious belief.
I was, it is true, brought up as a Christian, but ceased to be one for many years. When I returned to belief I could have chosen any, but did not.
Jh: “because I choose to do so” & “because I prefer to do so”. preferences and choices. are you really supposed to have them? Can you choose to believe what is true, or can you only Accept what is true? Altogether pretty weak justification by this guy. Largely a matter of preference it seems.
 James Jones, Bishop of Liverpool
One word: Jesus. All that you imagine God would be, He is. His life and His love are compelling, His wisdom convincing. …
Jh: I find that those who live in it are often the most poor at explaining themselves. This doesn’t really explain anything. *facepalm*
 Peter Richmond, theoretical physicist
Today most people reject the supernatural but there can be no doubt that the teachings of Jesus are still relevant. And here I would differentiate these from some of the preaching of authoritarian churches, which has no doubt been the source of much that could be considered to be evil over the years. Even today, we see conflict in places such as Africa or the Middle East – killings made in the name of religion, for example. As Christians, we recognise these for what they are – evil acts perpetrated by the misguided. At a more domestic level, the marginalisation of women in the Church is another example that should be exposed for what it is: sheer prejudice by the present incumbents of the Church hierarchy. But as Christians, we can choose to make our case to change things as we try to follow the social teachings of Jesus. Compared to pagan idols, Jesus offered hope, comfort and inspiration, values that are as relevant today as they were 2,000 years ago.
Jh: He’s kinda misappropriating the usefulness of something with the raison d’être. Not a stable platform
 Professor Stephen R L Clark, philosopher
I believe in God because the alternatives are worse. …
Jh: *wince* no go
 Richard Chartres, Bishop of London
I believe in God because He has both revealed and hidden Himself in so many different ways: …
 Nick Brewin, molecular biologist
A crucial component of the question depends on the definition of “God”. As a scientist, the “God” that I believe in is not the same God(s) that I used to believe in. It is not the same God that my wife believes in; nor is it the same God that my six-year-old granddaughter believes in; nor is it the God that my brain-damaged and physically disabled brother believes in. Each person has their own concept of what gives value and purpose to their life. This concept of “God” is based on a combination of direct and indirect experience. …
Jh: define define define. Some interesting concepts.
 Maryam Namazie
Human rights activist
I don’t remember exactly when I stopped believing in God. Having been raised in a fairly open-minded family in Iran, I had no encounter with Islam that mattered until the Islamic movement took power on the back of a defeated revolution in Iran. I was 12 at the time.
I suppose people can go through an entire lifetime without questioning God and a religion that they were born into (out of no choice of their own), especially if it doesn’t have much of a say in their lives. If you live in France or Britain, there may never be a need to renounce God actively or come out as an atheist.
But when the state sends a “Hezbollah” (the generic term for Islamist) to your school to ensure that you don’t mix with your friends who are boys, stops you from swimming, forces you to be veiled, deems males and females separate and unequal, prescribes different books for you and your girlfriends from those read by boys, denies certain fields of study to you because you are female, and starts killing indiscriminately, then you have no choice but to question, discredit and confront it – all of it. And that is what I did.
Jh: true, if I grew up in a different situation, I might be different. I believe that.
 Philip Pullman
The main reason I don’t believe in God is the missing evidence. There could logically be no evidence that he doesn’t exist, so I can only go by the fact that, so far, I’ve discovered no evidence that he does: I have had no personal experience of being spoken to by God and I see nothing in the world around me, wherever I look in history or science or art or anywhere else, to persuade me that it was the work of God rather than
To that extent, I’m an atheist. I would have to agree, though, that God might exist but be in hiding (and I can understand why – with his record, so would I be). If I knew more, I’d be able to make an informed guess about that. But the amount of things I do know is the merest tiny flicker of a solitary spark in the vast encircling darkness that represents all the things I don’t know, so he might well be out there in the dark. As I can’t say for certain that he isn’t, I’d have to say I am an agnostic.
Jh: hm hi Pullman, who received a fair bit of flak for his books.
Neurobiologist, writer and broadcaster
I am an atheist because I see no need for God. Without God, it is said, we cannot explain the creation of the cosmos, anchor our moral values or infuse our lives with meaning and purpose. I disagree.
Invoking God at best highlights what we cannot yet explain about the physical universe, and at worst exploits that ignorance to mystify. Moral values do not come prepackaged from God, but have to be worked out by human beings through a combination of empathy, reasoning and dialogue.
This is true of believers, too: they, after all, have to decide for themselves which values in their holy books they accept and which ones they reject.
And it is not God that gives meaning to our lives, but our relationships with fellow human beings and the goals and obligations that derive from them. God is at best redundant, at worst an obstruction. Why do I need him?
Jh: The necessity of decision and choices is something I repeatedly find contradictory in the world of religious thought. Humans don’t always make great choices.
 Paula Kirby
I stopped being a believer when it became clear to me that the various versions of Christianity were mutually contradictory and that none had empirical evidence to support it. …
Jh: very much hits home for me. Both hardcore iphone and Android fanatics are fools.
 Sam Harris
The most common impediment to clear thinking that a non-believer must confront is the idea that the burden of proof can be fairly placed on his shoulders: “How do you know there is no God? Can you prove it? You atheists are just as dogmatic as the fundamentalists you criticise.” This is nonsense: even the devout tacitly reject thousands of gods, along with the cherished doctrines of every religion but their own. Every Christian can confidently judge the God of Zoroaster to be a creature of fiction, without first scouring the universe for evidence of his absence. Absence of evidence is all one ever needs to banish false knowledge. And bad evidence, proffered in a swoon of wishful thinking, is just as damning. …
Jh: ah burden of proof. precisely why there’s the spaghetti monster.
In part because there is no evidence for a God (sentimental longing, desperation, ignorance and angst are not evidence) and in part because science is showing that it is capable of answering all the questions that the religious have argued, without any evidence, require the activities of a God, I dismiss holy scripture as evidence. I also discount the argument that a majority of people in the world claim to be believers, because truth is not decided by majority vote.
I acknowledge the power of cultural conditioning, especially when it is larded on to the young and impressionable, and can even accept that there might be an evolutionary advantage in believing; but neither is an argument for the truth of the existence of a God. Moreover, the horrors of the world, both personal and societal, do not convince me that the creation is an act of infinite benevolence.
Jh: ooh Atkins the textbook guy. “Truth is not decided by majority vote.” wow. “cultural conditioning”, “young and impressionable”, “evolutionary advantage”, creation as an act of infinite benenolence.
 Polly Toynbee
Journalist and president, British Humanist Association
The only time I am ever tempted, momentarily, to believe in a God is when I shake an angry fist at him for some monstrous suffering inflicted on the world for no reason whatever. The Greeks and Romans and other pagans probably produced the most convincing gods – petulant, childish, selfish – demanding sacrifices to their vanity and inflicting random furies. At least that’s a logical explanation. But an all-powerful God of goodness and love is evidently impossible. He would be a monster. Voltaire said so after the Lisbon earthquake.
Jh: interesting comparision with Roman gods. frown. never saw it this way. So why are roman gods antiquanted? Did somebody Prove that they didn’t exist? Did nobody speak up for them? We make clownish movies out of their stories? Why?
 Stephen Hawking
I am not claiming there is no God. The scientific account is complete, but it does not predict human behaviour, because there are too many equations to solve. One therefore uses a different model, which can include free will and God
Jh: what a philosopher
 Michael Shermer
Publisher of Skeptic magazine
…Fourth, there is overwhelming evidence from history, anthropology, sociology and psychology that human beings created God, not vice versa. In the past 10,000 years there have been roughly 10,000 religions and 1,000 different gods. What are the chances that one group of people discovered the One True God while everyone else believed in 9,999 false gods? A likelier explanation is that all gods and religion are socially and psychologically constructed. We created gods.
Jh: 9,999 false gods. Maybe some will say it doesn’t matter which.