A few thoughts on this sad post called why i am an atheist. I think the person was a commenter here at some point (I had started a draft of this and never finished it until now).
religion was never a big part of my life. when i was a young child, i believed in God because my mother did. she was raised a Christian.
i’m less sure about the beliefs of my father, who died when i was nine years old. we rarely went to church, and we didn’t say grace at the dinner table. my memories of church are only impressions now, and consist mainly of the remembrance of feelings of utter boredom and intense frustration. my parents, especially my father, had always impressed upon me the need to ask questions and the danger inherent in unquestioning acceptance. hence, my time in the few Sunday school classes i attended was not unlike a form of torture. i recall intense feelings of rejection and isolation. after one such encounter, (when i was probably about six years old) i went to my father and told him what i had been taught. i told him that my questioning had been discouraged and asked him about the truth of what i’d been told, specifically about the business with the talking snake. i told him i didn’t believe it, and asked him if that story was true. ”of course not”, he replied. and thus the seeds of doubt had been sown.
Ugh. That is inevitable when churches are social clubs and people don’t take the Bible seriously. How many people in the pews know it is their jobs to educate their children? (Ephesians 6:4 Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.)
as i’ve said, we didn’t go to church often, and for that i am as grateful as i am for any other fact of my happy childhood. i have immense respect for those who have been subject to religious indoctrination and have managed to free themselves of it. things went on happily and peacefully until the sudden death of my father. although i had profound doubts about the existence of a god, i decided then and there that any being that could visit such cruelty couldn’t possibly be good or merciful.
It is sad that he lost his father, but he also does what other non-believers do: Sit in judgment of God. But if there was no God, then his father’s life was meaningless.
i adored my father. i channeled my grief and anger into striving to learn. the library was my sanctuary. the following year, Carl Sagan’s Cosmos aired on PBS. i was utterly fetched. the beautiful explanations of the world around me and the universe beyond captured my imagination. this soft-spoken man seemed to radiate…”goodness”, for lack of a better word.
Another irony: Without God, there is no grounding for “goodness.”
i came to see the scientific endeavors of mankind as the best expression of what goodness we are capable of as a species
That is illogical: Science deals with the material world, but things like goodness are immaterial.
(although all such endeavors have not been to our betterment), and i found in Cosmos an affirmation of my deep-seated questioning nature. i also began to understand that there is really no need for “god”. perhaps even more importantly, i saw no evidence for one.
Other than the cosmological, teleological, moral, transcendental, etc. arguments.
when i was twelve, i had a creationist answer my assertion that radiometric dating proves the earth much older than 10, 000 years with, “carbon-14 dating is the tool of Satan. you are deceived.” seriously.
So if an atheist gives a bad answer does that prove that there is a God?
as i got older, i came into contact with many believers, most (but by no means all) of them Christian. like anything else, i found some good and some not. i had many discussions with people of various faiths. i sincerely tried to understand not only what they believed, but why they believed it. i got many answers, but found only more questions. i attended a Baptist church with my grandmother. i listened to a grotesque litany of all the reasons that most people were going to hell. afterward, i told the preacher exactly what i thought. i don’t think he appreciated it much. i read the Bible – cover to cover. i’m not ashamed to admit that i found it one of the most boring exercises of my life, and i say this as a person who has also read James Joyce.
Good dig on James Joyce (I had to read him in college. Double ugh.). But I do give the writer credit for reading the Bible. That is always my aim with believers and non-believers.
but i really needed to see for myself what was in that book. i found virtually nothing uplifting and much that was quite appalling.
Yes, it lists countless sins of rebellious sinners attempting “deicide” each day by pretending God doesn’t exist or trying to take over his role by sitting in judgment of him.
i marveled at its many, many contradictions.
And apparently didn’t study the readily available answers.
i learned about who wrote it, and also about the apocrypha. i found that the arguments about what was to be included in the Bible as it is today were no less sordid or contentious as anything that occurs on Capitol Hill. i’ve had believers knock on my door to give me the “good news”, only to have them threaten me with eternal torture for my failure to believe as they do.
I wasn’t there, so perhaps those were poor presentations of the Gospel. It isn’t about believing everything we do, but about believing the truth about Jesus. In other words, it isn’t about us, it is about Jesus.
The truth is that the Bible never mentions torture (torment, yes). But it is for your sins against God and not for failing to believe like we do.
during these years, i was also encouraged in my quest for knowledge by some truly talented and remarkable teachers. i read On the Origin of Species and A Brief History of Time, among others works about the realities of our planet and universe. everything that i learned and everything that i saw around me lead me to the conclusion that there probably is no god. i found that i liked the idea very much. i found it very liberating.
I appreciate his honesty. Sometimes atheists do admit that one thing they like best about their worldview is the (apparent) lack of accountability.
i found that it gave my life more meaning.
Now that is ironic. If there is no God then life is truly and utterly meaningless.
i live in a very conservative area. i don’t know very many atheists. i’ve been asked by the few people with whom i discuss such things how i came to choose it and if i’m afraid of going to hell. my answer is this: i didn’t choose atheism any more than i chose my eye color. i am simply not capable of believing in things for which no evidence exists. because i have no reason to believe there is a hell, i have no fear of it. i wouldn’t care to spend eternity with a deity who would punish perfectly reasonable doubt with eternal torture anyway.
He apparently misread the Bible. Again, Hell is torment, not torture, and it is for countless sins against your creator and not for reasonable doubts. That’s a double straw-man argument.
i’ve been asked to explain my morality, and my answer is this: i am a good person for its own sake. i try to treat others the way i wish to be treated not because i hope for some reward or fear some punishment for not doing so, but simply because it is the right thing to do. i’m happy this way. i’m comfortable with not having all of the answers. i have no need to ascribe a supernatural answer to the unknown, simply because so many things that have been ascribed a supernatural cause have been explained by science. i see no reason why that would change.
why am i an atheist? because I can’t be anything else.
I hope God makes him spiritually alive someday.