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The Making of an Atheist

According to atheists, the term "atheism" refers to the lack of belief in a deity or deities. The word derives from the Greek a(n)-, a negative prefix, and theos, meaning "god" or "deity". I only mention the origin of the word as a reminder that despite the negative connotations associated with it, the word itself has a very unspectacular meaning.

The roots of my atheist beliefs began about twelve years ago, when I was a freshman in college. At the time I was a fairly typical Christian. I believed in God, heaven and hell, and had a passing knowledge of the Bible. I knew of its teachings through hearsay, the occasional trip to church, or memories from my mother reading it to me when I was young. At the very least, I knew that being bad meant I was going to hell, and being good meant I would make it to heaven. Life sure was simple.

During that first year in college, one could hear me saying things like "the Bible says no sex before marriage" and "being gay isn't right". These are words that now make me want to beat the Rob of ten years ago to a pulp. It wasn't long before I started questioning my beliefs. I wondered how all of these people I was meeting were going to hell because of their choice to have pre-marital or homosexual relations. Was God really willing to send these decent human beings to hell? Something didn't add up. I wrestled with these thoughts for some time, then put them aside for a while and worried more about girls and, later, beer.

It wasn't until about five years ago that I again found myself in a position where I was questioning my beliefs. At the time, I didn't believe or disbelieve in deities. I was working for a company where several of my peers seemed to be religious, and I'd hear an occasional utterance that would make me say to myself "Hmmm, weird. These people are really religious, what the hell am I doing here?" It wasn't until after September 11, 2001, that my conversion to atheism began to move at light speed.

After September 11, the things I was starting to hear from people turned me off to Christianity, and theistic religions in general. How could religious ideals and such devout belief in one's god fuel such hatred and hostility toward others? Would Allah really approve of flying planes into buildings, killing thousands of people? Would the Christian God really want us to respond by attacking Afghanistan? Iraq? The growing neo-con movement also became (and still is) quite disturbing. Really, Kansas, creation in schools? C'mon. We were starting to return to a system of values that would have been common a hundred years ago or more, and the crazy religious fanatics were coming out of the woodwork with their pro-Christian, anti-everyone-else mentality. It would be a boring read for me to dive too much further into all of the factors that fueled my conversion to atheism, and it would take much more of my time than I'd like this evening.

I don't consider myself to be a member of the atheist movement. I don't go to rallies, or attend atheist meetings, or donate to anyone. I am an atheist in the literal sense of the word in that I have no god. I don't believe that the existence of deities will ever be proven or disproven, but here are some reasons that I don't subscribe to the idea of gods:
  1. Too many people are driven to hatred by the god of their choosing. In many cases, these people praise the benevolence of their god while committing acts of hatred, deception, and judgement. Some might argue that those people are not practicing the religion correctly. I don't buy that. Maybe they are, maybe they aren't, but since gods are so often claimed to be omniscient and benevolent, one might hope they would make their views clearly known.
  2. People pick and choose the parts of their religion that suits them. For example, a Christian might be an ademant "pro-lifer", but at the same time might be committing adultry in their marriage. If we follow Christian doctrine, they are enforcing belief in one of the ten commandments as it applies to someone else, but they can ignore one of the commandments as it applies to their own situation. A simple prayer and a trip to church will rectify this? I have a problem here and I think contradictions like this discount the idea that an omnipotent and flawless being exists.
  3. How can killing as an act of vengeance be more noble than murder committted out of hate, greed, fear, or envy? Why is killing bugs or animals more acceptable than killing humans? Would a benevolent god really condone all of this killing?
These are three reasons that really form the core of my atheist beliefs. Some might argue that they are flimsy reasons. I don't doubt they can be debated, but they've worked for me for some time, and I've not yet heard viable rebuttals to these questions.

Comments

  1. A very interesting view of the world. I think that in the end though there is a God and that he has given to everyone the Free Will to choose what they do. If Christians choose to not follow the 10 commandments or act in a manner respectful of God or their fellow man, then that is their choosing. Is it right for someone to kill in the name of God/Allah or who ever, no I don't believe so and to use religion as your backing is cowardous, IMHO.

    Your view is very interesting and I believe that you have some good points yet in the end, I believe, we have our personal faith and that is what carries us through until the end of our journey here on Earth.

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  2. Who can argue with that? Most atheists I have met have been more obsessed by no god than some goddy folks. Ironic maybe? Anyway, whether there is God or not seems to have no practical consequnce, so I think you've eliminated a big time waster. Cheers!

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