I am an Atheist. I do not believe in the Christian God, or the Muslim Allah, or the Jewish Jehovah (or Yahweh). Perhaps there is a Creator Being, but if so, human dogma has clearly got it all wrong.
Don’t misunderstand-I hold no ill will toward those who choose to believe in a Creator being, a pure mind who created logical absolutes and the intrinsic moral scale, not to mention mankind. I hold no ill will, even, toward those who believe the Earth was created less than 10,000 years ago (in six days), that the fossil record is a series of satanic plants, that humankind has no common ancestor with modern primates such as apes and chimpanzees. That God flooded the entire world at one time to wipe out his tainted creation, while somehow saving two of every extant species from extinction in an ark that must have been the size of a small island.
But I digress.
Articles of Unbelief
My articles of unbelief, if you will, are relatively simple. I am no scientist. I do, however, consider myself a critical thinker. And so my first and most important article is summarized thusly:
I will not believe in a God who requires me to sacrifice his greatest gift to me, my intellect, in order to believe. Isn’t this one of the fundamentalists’ arguments when they run into an unimpeachable wall of reason? I believe it was Kirk Cameron (he of Growing Pains and the abominable Left Behind movies), who said “Here are some strategies that will allow you to get around the unbelievers’ intellect …” (paraphrase, emphasis mine). I have to shut off my brain to think that Adam and Eve, Jonah and the Big Fish, and even the miracles of the Gospels are anything but mythology. Humankind has been searching for a meaning for its existence since the dawn of the species, and have created a wide variation of mythology to explain it. But perhaps the search for meaning is the meaning in and of itself. As a people, we grow, change, even gasp evolve into something greater than we once were. Perhaps we will someday no longer have to rely on two-thousand-year-old texts to give our lives purpose and fulfillment.
The following articles are perhaps subordinate, but taken together they form convincing support.
Believe or be tormented endlessly, or semi-endlessly until finally consumed in the lake of fire. Couldn’t unbelievers be granted a peaceful end? Y’know, since God is omnipotent and all? Ah—but that would not generate the necessary fear of unbelief and disobedience. So the wrath of god is just—and we are to be killed slowly and horribly. Perhaps some deserve this. Perhaps some do not. God claims to be “jealous.”
As Bill Maher pointed out, this is rather a base human emotion to ascribe to the perfect creator of the universe. He is jealous and requires belief, praise, and perfect obedience—even to the point of killing our own children—from his creation. Why is this mortal life so sacred, where we cannot see, hear, or otherwise commune with god on any measurable level? Why is it that everything we do in this life impacts how we are to be rewarded or tortured in the afterlife? Why is the afterlife eternal and mortality so fleeting? It must be a test of some sort—a test of worthiness to be with our father. Give us nothing but old stories of miracles and punishment, as well as tax-exempt status, and see who comes on board. And if we, imperfect creatures that we are, are found wanting (basically for not believing the dogma and mythology of the Only Begotten Son, since none can be perfect), we are then thrown into the pit to be consumed by the devil and his angels. Too many wrongs are committed by those who claim to be in perfect contact with the author of our existence. Why would he permit this? What could be the possible gain?
By any current societal standard, the Catholic Church is systemically ill. It preys (prays?) on the weakest of its flock. Yet by any biblical standard, it is still Mother Church. It is the oldest Christian institution and claims the earliest interpretation of Christ’s laws and teachings. And by all appearances, it is rotten to the core. Wars, inquisitions, abuse of the weak—these are the legacy of our Church. Circular logic. When one questions the dogma or divinity of Jesus, we are told that Jesus was the only one who “fulfilled the prophecies of the Old Testament.” Frankly, I am surprised that’s good enough for most believers. The Old Testament is a series of books written more than 2000 (much more) years ago by Semitic nomads. Occam’s razor suggests that it is much more likely that the gospels were written to prove Christ’s divinity, rather than Christ’s divinity is proved by the gospels. Everything comes back to “because that’s what the Bible says.” Sorry, not good enough. The Bible was written by man. Man is fallible. The Bible cannot therefore be the unimpeachable record of God—even if it was “inspired” by Him. This is the argument used by Christians to explain why Jesus is the “Way and the Door” and the only way to God, and why Christianity is the one true religion.
I will say that there are certain things that give me pause; that make me think “well, perhaps I am wrong and there is a god after all.” One of these is the theory of logical absolutes. This states at its most basic that “things cannot be what they are not.” In other words, a rock is a rock and cannot be anything else. Believers say that someone had to create these laws of the universe, and they say that this “perfect mind” is god. I would argue that just because we don’t understand how these logical absolutes came into being, it does not therefore necessarily follow that Noah built the ark, the earth was flooded, Jesus was God, etc., etc. It does not necessarily even follow that there is a Person behind these laws—the answer could be that existence itself has always existed, and these are the laws it must follow.
Another concept that gives me hiccups was put most succinctly by C.S. Lewis, a brilliant author and Christian apologist. He stated that there is a “moral scale” common to all humanity—this thing is right, and this thing is wrong—and that this scale exists apart from all of our reason and logic and physical being. This is the most compelling argument for a god Person, in my opinion. However, this can be explained by other means as well. It could be, in the process of evolution of lower animals into the human form, that certain societal instincts were burned into our genetic code. A society could not function if humans readily turned on each other, murdering, stealing, committing adultery, etc., etc. A sense of fair play is also necessary to function as a cohesive society—and also necessary for self-preservation—and could therefore exist without the necessity of an all-powerful God.
In conclusion, Pat Robertson simply cannot be speaking the truth. It is anathema to any rational thinking person that the fundamentalist Christian worldview can possibly be the correct one. And yet, the bible says so. Therefore, it is my conclusion that the bible is simple mythology, and we should not be basing our political and practical lives on a 2000-year-old text and the supernatural beings it claims to represent.