Recently, I informed a long-time friend of mine about my atheism blog and was asked the question: “Why are you an atheist?” I was surprised to hear that question coming from someone who’s known me for 15 years, but perhaps I shouldn’t have been. After all, atheists typically don’t have a defining moment in which they are “saved” as Christians do. For me, at least, it was a gradual process that started with the erosion of my faith and eventually solidified into an evidence-based belief structure.
I suppose the easy answer would have been “because there’s no evidence for gods,” but I get the impression that he wasn’t looking for an easy answer. And I didn’t give him any answer, in fact. I just started a new blog on the subject yesterday and I need to build readership, so I just told him to “stay tuned.”
So, the full answer as to why I am an atheist?
The concept of God makes no sense to me. When I was twelve, I went to Sunday School. Once. The one time I went, the preacher was talking about the creation. He said that science says the universe was created by the big bang, but that Newtonian Law states that something had to have caused it, and that that thing was God. So I asked what caused God. I was genuinely curious. After all, this man had just told me that everything has to have a cause, that nothing can “just be.” And then he told me that God just was. Always and forever, He was timeless before the universe existed. Well, I may have been twelve, but I knew contradictory bullshit when I heard it. So I asked, “How come God can just exist forever with no cause, but the Universe can’t?”
He had no answer.
And that’s what it comes down to, really: answers. There are people that need complete answers, whether they make sense or not. Then there are others, like me, who are perfectly happy to know that there are mysteries, great big important mysteries, to which I will likely never know the answer in my lifetime. Like, how reality came to be. How the first organisms formed. What happens when we die. Things like that.
Science, which is a methodology of rigorously testing hypotheses based on evidence and observation, has answered most of the questions that people had when the Bible was written. We know why we have seasons, why we have night and day. We have answers to questions that the people of that age would never have thought to even ask. But in science, nothing is ever definite, nothing is Dogma. New evidence brings new answers or revisions to existing answers. It is in this way that we grow, as people and as a civilization as a whole.
Religion, especially fundamentalist denominations, asks that we ignore what we see, says that our own observations are not as valid as the words in a book written thousands of years ago. There is no evidence in the human body that it was ever made from clay, for example. Yet, millions of people literally believe this to be the case.
Why I don’t believe in religion,
Okay, so that covers why I don’t believe in religion, but atheism is more, isn’t it? Someone who agrees with all of the above can still believe in some non-Judeo-Cristian-Muslim “higher power” and therefore be agnostic, rather than Atheist. Well, the only “power” I believe in is the mechanical power of nature and physics. It isn’t a “higher” power, it is simply the ways in which the physical world works. What makes a power “higher” anyway? Something above us? Above our meager understanding? Are we so in need of a parent figure or someone to rule us that we have to make one up?
I just really don’t need any gods to be perfectly happy in my life. I don’t need to pray to find comfort in times of need, I find that talking to an actual person who can reply and give me actual, palpable comfort is far preferable to me. And I’m perfectly able to accept that, when I die, I will know nothing but oblivion, that I will live on only in the memories of those whose lives I’ve touched, just as my loved ones live on through me and others that they touched.