Answering why I’m an atheist

I received an interesting little letter, and I thought it might be a good idea to post it on the site to let others know how I feel about my atheist views

“Hey, how’s it going? My name is Anthony I was browsing around and saw you profile [on myspace.com]. I have a question. Just curious, why did you decide to become an atheist? What convince you that there is not a God?”

Hi Anthony,

If you’d like to hear the reason I became an atheist, I’d be more than happy to explain it to you. I hope you don’t mind that I will include this open letter to you on my site, www.thegoodatheist.net.

I never in actual fact decided to become an atheist. I have always been one. My parents were not very religious, but their philosophy was to allow their children the opportunity to decide for themselves what they would believe. I was lucky enough not to have that decision made for me.

As a young child, the issue of God never really came up that often. Although my school was a Catholic one, and although they made prayer in the morning mandatory, for me, they were mere words. Just as children may not fully comprehend the significance of the song “ring around the rosie” (which is about the bubonic plague), the prayer “Our father…” was just routinely memorized in order for me to avoid the floggings handed out for not chanting it aloud.

As I grew up and became more curious about this notion of God, I couldn’t help but feel as though the answers everyone claimed to have were simply guess-work. A priest would inform his parish that a man was born of a virgin, and somehow this person was supposed to be my lord. But where was his proof of that if this was true? His reliance lay in a book that, just a few hundred pages earlier, claimed that one man had fit 2 of every animal on a single boat. Clearly, such a tome was not to be trusted.

Also during this time, my high school class was being taught Greek mythology. The comparisons between the two were immediately obvious, and I began to understand religion served not as a historical account of human history, but rather was a way for confused and superstitious people to explain the world around them. In my own lifetime, the mysteries about the weather, earthquakes, and even the development of life on earth have been satisfactorily answered by the sound and tested methods of science.

I used to feel as though religion did no real harm; it was just a way for people to bring comfort in their own lives. However, I began to realize a strange and deadly hubris is formed when individuals assume their improvable theories are tantamount to supreme truth, especially when these truths conflict with the equally improvable claims of others. Clearly, no one was willing to have a rational discourse on the matter simply because the foundations of their arguments were irrational to begin with.

In any case, the ‘decision’ to become an atheist was simply a refusal to believe any claim made that isn’t supported by evidence. There are some hard core believers who try and fabricate evidence to prove God’s existence (such as citing miracle). It’s ironic that these efforts obviously undermine religion’s claim that only faith is needed to believe. It is quite obviously not enough for the human mind to accept treatises that fly in complete opposition to what it knows as fact.

You might be religious. Odds are you consider me strange for not believing in the same mythology you do, but in reality, you might not fully appreciate just how strange it is to believe in the invisible, or the improvable. A pagan who believes in fairies in Ireland, or a cargo cultist in Taanu (who think a man by the name of John Frum will come and deliver life giving cargo) would consider the idea of a son of a god being born of a virgin as completely ludicrous. It’s easy to dismiss the strange beliefs of others; but in so doing we ignore the nonsensical things we hold dear. It is better to face the possibility that we may be wrong, rather than foolishly hope we are right.


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Comments (2)

  • avatar

    homer

    Decent answer. I’d fit that description, though I would include a phase (probably around 10 or 11) when I really thought there must be a weakness in me that I couldn’t accept this whole God thing. I wanted to believe it, seemed like a Santa Claus for adults, but it just didn’t click. As an adult I’ve read the bible and many other religious books just to see if something made sense, but, still no light. I’m excited about the “coming out atheist” movement. I think the proportion of people that believe in god(s) is probably much smaller than stats show, just because of the overwhelmng societal pressure to conform. I gain immense comfort and life satisfaction knowing that we (humans) are all in this together (and alone) and its up to us to appreciate nature, care for each other, hold memories of our ancestors dear (i.e., ‘create’ eternal life), and enjoy the day.

  • avatar

    Rohit Sidhu

    I will assume nothing to be true of false until I have evidence of it’s existence or non-existence.
    So the question of God, it’s just statistical probability, it’s more probable that it just doesn’t exist.

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