So there is a god. That god has created the world and has almost unlimited power; however he cannot mess with people's minds.

So far, so good. However, there's a problem: The god doesn't like it if people worship him. However he even less likes if people worship other gods, even non-existing ones. He'd prefer if all people were atheists.

Unfortunately most people in the world are not atheists. And he'd like to change that. But he cannot just turn them atheist because he can't mess with their minds. He can mess with the world, but anything obviously supernatural would be a proof of his existence, and therefore would be counter his goal. On the other hand, just keeping out and let the world go its natural way didn't work out either. He even tried to promote evil (in a way not easily discerned) so people would lose their faith because of all the evil in the world, but even that didn't work out.

So what can the god do in order to convince people that he doesn't exist?

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ So your god is basically going to deceive people? Because he's real, and therefor not supernatural and believing in him isn't religion/faith (since he's real) and even atheists can do it. And they still don't need to worship him. Especially if the god comes out and says "don't worship me". $\endgroup$
    – Erik
    Commented Jul 12, 2015 at 10:17
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ @Erik: Religion/faith does not imply the subject of it is not real. The problem with saying "don't worship me" is that people who don't worship him because he says so in some sense actually are worshipping him: They are doing something (namely avoiding to worship him) for the sole reason that that he wants it that way. $\endgroup$
    – celtschk
    Commented Jul 12, 2015 at 10:26
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @celtschk: well, people might not worship him because they don't find him worthy of worship. That's not really "atheism" though, rather "misotheism." If your question is mainly about a God convincing people he doesn't exist, though, you might just list this as his motivation directly rather than having it be an indirect result of not wanting to be worshipped. A God that doesn't want to be worshipped has other options theoretically, such as insulting everyone to get them annoyed at him... $\endgroup$
    – zeta
    Commented Jul 12, 2015 at 17:43
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Maybe this god can just do what all the others have failed to do and shed the very human emotions of jealousy, insecurity, and self-consciousness. Too much to ask? $\endgroup$
    – Samuel
    Commented Jul 12, 2015 at 18:59
  • $\begingroup$ There was a joke I read a long time ago that I think is apposite here. I don't recall the exact wording, so I'll paraphrase big time, basically rewriting the joke. "On the first day, God created the Heavens. On the second, He created the Earth. On the third, He created Beasts. On the fourth He created Man. On the fifth, He created fossils. On the sixth, He created the first evolutionary theorist. And on the seventh, He rested to enjoy the show." :) $\endgroup$
    – Deepak
    Commented Nov 12, 2015 at 8:46

4 Answers 4


Striking down believers with lightning is, obviously, counterproductive: at the least, the Church of Thor Triumphant would get a boost in attendance.

The best strategy I can think of is to make the lives of obvious believers miserable, but in ways which can be ascribed to bad luck, rather than divine intervention. Then those claiming public virtue will not be able to claim that their belief has made their lives better.

Let the Pope suffer a series of strokes. Let the Dalai Lama contract facial cancer which somehow resists treatment and disfigures him. Multiply this sort of thing as necessary. Call it the Job approach, without the final reconciliation.

Even better, since many people (including religious leaders) have public virtue but private failings, the aGod could boost their careers and then, when they gain prominence, arrange for their private sins to be revealed. Think of it as the Jimmy Bakker strategy. A constant succession of discredited religious leaders would probably have some effect.

And "he can't mess with their minds. He can mess with the world" allows some really sneaky loopholes. Can the aGod introduce small amounts of alcohol into a person's bloodstream? Being intoxicated is notorious for impairing judgement. How about a few micrograms of LSD or a few milligrams of mescaline? Uncontrollable visions, anyone? If not direct introduction, why not (with godlike stealth) introduce something like LSD into a person's food? A few hundred micrograms is all it takes. This sort of thing would probably be particularly effective when dealing with fundamentalist preachers of all stripes, particularly Christian and Moslem. In the short term it would encourage sects to become more and more bizarre, but with a little luck (and discreet nudges from the aGod) such groups would self-destruct when their craziness goes too far. Call this one (at its extreme) the Jim Jones strategy.

Buddhists would be a very hard nut to crack, assuming the aGod doesn't like Buddhists, but that may be just a reflection of my cultural ignorance, and real Buddhists might want to weigh in.

  • 5
    $\begingroup$ The problem is - if religious leaders too obviously have bad fortune, people would still think there was a god. They would either think that God was evil OR they would assume that people who got struck down were worshipping the wrong god OR that that must try harder. Whichever way they wouldn't be unbelievers. Several religions are/were based on substance taking and they haven't died out as a result.Example :- look up mescalin and peyote. $\endgroup$ Commented Jul 12, 2015 at 15:03
  • $\begingroup$ I never said it was foolproof. You'll note that I referred to Job "without the final reconciliation". Faith is ultimately (at least in some cases) independent of what happens in this world. $\endgroup$ Commented Jul 12, 2015 at 15:10
  • $\begingroup$ @chaslyfromUK - That's not the deal-breaker you think it is. If religious leaders are consistently shown to be crazies or perverts, a lot of folk will conclude that that's the kind of person who becomes a religious leader. not that being a leader attracts the attention of a malignant aGod. And if being a follower of a sect which consistently uses pharmaceuticals to approach the godhood consistently causes personal catastrophe, a very reasonable conclusion is that pharmaceuticals are bad for you, religious visions or no. $\endgroup$ Commented Jul 3, 2017 at 1:44

The best strategy would be to make everything easily explicable by science.

Maybe the laws of science would be much more obvious than our own. Instead of having relativity, God could base the universe on Newton's Laws. He could leave a really good fossil record with no missing links. This would encourage people to believe in evolution.

If it is too late for the above then God could start giving good luck to atheists and bad luck to believers. Not so much difference as to be noticeable but enough so that atheists tend to positions of power and privilege and can therefore spread their ideas on religion more easily.

  • 3
    $\begingroup$ Giving júst enough bad luck to believers that people starting thinking "sheesh, this believing in god thing really gives people poor judgement" might work. $\endgroup$
    – Erik
    Commented Jul 12, 2015 at 11:47
  • $\begingroup$ This would work for some people, but not all faith is founded on a desire for answers; There's scientists who are religous, for example, and see the things revealed by science as evidence that their god(s) really care about getting the fine details right. $\endgroup$
    – user867
    Commented Nov 12, 2015 at 22:46
  • $\begingroup$ The problem with simple laws is that they tend to have catastrophic behavior on their edge cases. To some extent physics is complicated by necessity. All sorts of weird things happen. And getting people to accept scientific theories doesn't necessarily lead to lack of religion. There is a correlation, but there are plenty of religious evolutionary biologists and the official position of the Catholic church is that evolution is quite possibly correct but that god set it all in motion via the big bang. $\endgroup$ Commented Dec 22, 2016 at 15:48
  • $\begingroup$ @Shufflepants Good comment. But regarding your counter-example of religious scientists: You are vastly understating the correlation between (especially biological) scientific education and non-belief — it’s in fact incredibly strong, and getting stronger all the time. In the long run, this seems like a good strategy. In fact, the answer — at least the evolutionary biology part — is closely describing actual reality: The Darwinian theory of evolution (and available evidence for it) is single-handedly responsible for today’s widespread atheism. $\endgroup$ Commented Dec 25, 2016 at 14:21
  • $\begingroup$ @KonradRudolph You're right that the correlation is strong. But unless you have some data I'm not aware of, there's no evidence that the relationship is causal in the direction you need it to be for that kind of plan to really work. Maybe the causal arrow goes the other way and it is that people who don't believe in god are more likely to go into evolutionary biology. Maybe there's some 3rd factor that causes both of these things. $\endgroup$ Commented Jan 3, 2017 at 15:05

I think you haven't been entirely clear about the requirements. There is a difference between not wanting anyone to worship you (as you first stated) and not wanting them to believe in you as you said at the end.

If you simply want to stop being annoyed by prayers and constant worship then I suggest the following:

Regularly strike down with lightning anyone who worships any god. People would still believe in god but they wouldn't talk about it or do any annoying worship. This would allow the deity some peace and quiet.


He could 'come down to earth' in a magnificent avatar form, explain and show he's the god they've been worshipping and telling them he is tired, seen it all, and he quits. Strips himself off his powers in a way that ends him up like a normal mortal man, climb a high cliff and jump off in a splat of suicide.

That should be pretty clear, straightforward and final, and if there ar STILL people believing in him and praying to him, then at least he isn't bothered by it anymore, since he's dead.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Nietzsche notwithstanding, there’s a huge difference between “god doesn’t exist” and “god is dead”. It’s an interesting solution but not, I think, the one OP is after. $\endgroup$ Commented Dec 25, 2016 at 14:22

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .