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Why I'm an Atheist

Updated on April 23, 2013

Have you ever stopped to think about what kind of person God is? Does God even exist? Sure He does! Just look at yourself and you will see Him. He is in your head. That is why He knows so much about you. That is why what He wants and what you want are so often the same. That is why only the parts of the Bible that you agree with are true and the rest is just an allegory. God exists in your mind. That is the only place you will find God.

Not too long ago, I came to a very deep understanding of myself. I had been searching my whole life for this level of self-awareness, and I finally achieved it. I realized that I was an atheist. I had called myself an agnostic for a long time, so why take this step? Well, I didn’t have a choice. You see, people don’t decide to become atheists--they simply are atheists. Since I have started to openly profess that I don’t believe in a God, it has become obvious to me that many religious people do not understand atheism. Hopefully this article will help some of those people to better understand what leads an atheist to the realization that they have no belief in God and no need to believe in God.

Before I go much further, I would like to make a clarification. When I refer to Christianity in this article, I am referring to the modern version of the religion. I respect most religions when they are lived as a personal philosophy. I can find value in the teachings of Jesus, Muhammad, Buddha and many more religious founders. I still try to live by the Golden Rule, but I do not attribute that to Jesus alone. When an individual lives by a set of principles and makes it a personal matter, they are living a philosophy. When an individual, or group of individuals, adhere to a set of ideas and make those ideas into a dogma that must be obeyed in order to attain a status of righteousness, that is no longer a philosophy and immediately becomes divisive, polarizing, and dangerous.

Something that I immediately noticed as I studied and discussed atheism, was a high level of disbelief among Christians that anyone could reject the idea that God exists. This level of disbelief causes them to seek reasons why people are atheists. One of the first things a Christian said to me about my being an atheist was that, “One thing common among many atheists is wounded theism. Many came to atheism not just from pure logical thinking, but through disappointment in God because of mistaught or misunderstood religion.” I am fairly certain that this comes from some book of Christian apologetics, but I am unsure which one.

It is obvious from the above quote that Christians cannot comprehend what would cause someone to not believe in God, and so, they have to rationalize it in some way. This disconnect with unbelievers exemplifies a very common, condescending attitude of a lot of Christians. They assume that everyone needs to be a Christian, and it is their job to make unbelievers see the error of their ways.

To say the least, I was insulted by this. It implies that reason is not why I am an atheist but that I was an atheist because of emotional damage. I’ll admit that there are probably some unbelievers who have come to atheism through this route but certainly not the majority of them. Abusive religion may be what wakes a lot of people up and makes them start to study what they believe, but generally, the furthest emotion will take anyone is to a different religion or a different, gentler version of the same religion.

Abusive religion is why I originally began to question my Christian beliefs and eventually rejected them, but that is not why I am an atheist. After realizing that the sect of Christianity that I was in was abusive, it didn’t take me long to see the issue with the entire religion. As Dan Barker said, “The very concept of sin comes from the Bible. Christianity offers to solve a problem of its own making! Would you be thankful to a person who cut you with a knife in order to sell you a bandage?” Abusive religion awakened me to the many problems of my religion but did not shake my belief in God. I still believed in God even after I rejected Christianity.

Christianity was actually easy to see through after I started to search it out. As a Christian, I had never read one non-Christian author. Christian apologetics and its absolutely ridiculous way of thinking and making excuses for the atrocities of the Bible are what eventually opened my eyes to the dangerous thinking propagated by Christianity.

Christians are usually highly opinionated people who believe that everyone needs to believe their brand of Christianity. Another Christian told me that I just needed to “read my Bible and pray” and God would “show Himself to me.” Once again, an assumption is made that I have simply lost faith in God and that faith will come back if I just seek God. Christians can’t seem to wrap their heads around the idea that someone could be an atheist without having done something wrong or having had something wrong done to them.

I sought God fervently for years. I would answer every altar call and go through every prayer line. I would lie on my face in my room and cry out to God to make Himself real to me. I would pray for hours without ceasing, and I read the Bible through many times. I was a fervent Christian, but God never spoke to me. God never touched me. I knew it was my fault, and so I would fast for up to three days at a time and drink only water, but still God would not speak to me. My passion for God and my passion to be a true Christian cannot be questioned, yet God never showed Himself to me.

These experiences made me realize that I was just talking to myself when I prayed. I was saying words intended for God, but I wasn’t getting an answer--because God wasn’t listening. It was at this point that I became a Deist. I believed in a God, but this God was non-interventionist. That made perfect sense to me. God must have created life and then just stepped back and watched everything, like a carpenter admiring his work.

So why didn’t I stop there? I had gotten to a point where God was not a part of my life, and I had no need for God and religion; why did I have to go further and reject the very idea of God and an afterlife?

I began to study evolution, (this was for the first time in my life, since I was homeschooled and my homeschool curriculum taught creationism) and that is when I found Richard Dawkins’ book The Magic of Reality. After making it through the first chapter, I could easily see the absolute, stunning brilliance of evolution. After reading the entire book, I knew evolution was more than a theory- it was a fact!

Evolution completely removed a need for my Deist ideology. No longer did this world need a carpenter who was quietly standing by watching his handiwork. Evolution took care of that very easily, and after reading more on the theory of evolution, I am absolutely convinced that science and logic are the pathways I need to take to find fulfillment in my life.

I have actually heard the argument that God created things to appear as if evolution is true in order to confound the wise people of the earth. If that is the case then I am too smart to get into heaven. I would not want to serve a God that creates evidence to make it appear as if He doesn’t exist and then sends people to hell for believing the evidence He placed there. What kind of sick, twisted monster would do that?

It wasn’t long after I read The Magic of Reality that I read The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins. This book opened my eyes, not only to how ridiculous some parts of religion are, but also how dangerous religion can be. Religion is incredibly divisive, and no one can argue that there aren’t dangerous sects of both Islam and Christianity. Murdering abortion doctors in the name of God is just as wrong as blowing up a car in the name of Allah. Unfortunately, radical religion is not the only part of religion that is dangerous.

One thing that Christians do is assert their ideas as absolute truth. The problem with that is there are thirty thousand denominations and most of them vehemently disagree with the others. So not only are unbelievers wrong, and going to hell, all the other Christians are too. This can divide nations, communities and even families.

The divisiveness of religion is unhealthy and completely unholy, but the belief in an afterlife is also dangerous. It can be used as a tool to motivate people to do terrible things with the promise of a great reward in the afterlife. Religion is manipulative and dangerous; I am convinced of this.

Because of these beliefs, I have been accused of being closed minded. Nothing can be further from the truth. I believe in science. Scientists have to present their new ideas to be reviewed by their peers. Religion discourages people from reasoning with its tenants. Science is open ended. If something new is discovered in the world of science, the text books have to change. There is nothing new in Religion. The Bible is the absolute word of God and the only thing that changes is which parts of the Bible people decide to discard to get an interpretation more favorable to their ideology. Religion is closed minded not science. There are no new discoveries in religion, just old ideas that get rehashed over and over and used to manipulate and control people.

I am not closed minded at all. If someone could show me one tiny sliver of proof that God exists then I would believe in a God. Why would that be hard for an all-powerful God? Why can’t He just simply show everyone that He is God? He did it in the Bible why can’t He show His power today? Why can’t my Christian friends just pray that God will show me that He is real? I thought the God of the Bible was the same God today. Why does He not vindicate Himself the same way as He did before?

I am not closed minded, I am just very logical. I need proof. The more fantastic the claim the greater the need for proof, and the Bible makes some fantastic claims. Where is the proof? The burden of proof does not lie upon me to prove that God does not exist. The burden of proof lies on the theists who claim that a supernatural being listens to millions of people a day and answers their prayers. The burden of proof lies on the creationist to prove that the earth is only six thousand years old and the entire universe was created out of nothing. The burden of proof lies with the Christian to prove their claims that a woman can have a baby when she is a virgin. The burden of proof lies with the Christian to prove that a human can be dead for three days and then come back to life. The burden of proof lies with the Christian to prove that Jesus even existed.

I am an atheist not because I didn’t try to be a Christian. Not because I didn’t read my Bible enough. Not because I was hurt by some bad religion. Not because I am angry at God. I am an atheist because I don’t believe in magic.

“I am an atheist because there is no evidence for the existence of God. That should be all that needs to be said about it: no evidence, no belief.” Dan Barker

Dan Barker, Losing Faith in Faith

Angel Ripper, Meme

Richard Dawkins, The Magic of Reality

Richard Dawkins, The God Delusion

Richard Dawkins, The Greatest Show on Earth


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    • Jnich2 profile image

      Jnich2 4 years ago

      You may be on to something there. Thank you for the comment.

    • Paladin_ profile image

      Paladin_ 4 years ago from Michigan, USA

      Thanks for sharing your story, Jnich, from another former believer.

      After so many years of being an atheist, and looking back at my own transition from belief -- as well as the stories of so many other former believers -- I'm beginning to suspect that, in the end, the harder one looks for God, the sooner one tends to become an atheist. From what you've stated here, I'm sure you know what I'm talking about.

    • Jnich2 profile image

      Jnich2 4 years ago

      I understand your position, and thank you for your comments. Please remember that I said, "I am referring to the modern version of the religion. I respect most religions when they are lived as a personal philosophy. I can find value in the teachings of Jesus, Muhammad, Buddha and many more religious founders. I still try to live by the Golden Rule, but I do not attribute that to Jesus alone. When an individual lives by a set of principles and makes it a personal matter, they are living a philosophy. When an individual, or group of individuals, adhere to a set of ideas and make those ideas into a dogma that must be obeyed in order to attain a status of righteousness, that is no longer a philosophy and immediately becomes divisive, polarizing, and dangerous." You are not forcing your ideas on others, are not dogmatic. That falls into the philosophy side of religion. I am not advocation the destruction of the belief system but of the organized systems that do more harm than good. :)

    • anniebetty profile image

      anniebetty 4 years ago from Pennsylvania

      You make some interesting points, but I would caution that you paint with a broad brush. I am a Christian who can certainly believe and understand how others might not believe in God. There are a lot of Christians like me who are not so absolute as those you describe. So while I am not offended by your assertions, I am disturbed by them. I, personally, wouldn't want to have anything to do with those Christians either.

      My job as a Christian isn't to bash your head in until you believe. My job is to do the work of Jesus Christ in the world. My job is to be His hands and feet and to love my neighbor. Period. My job does not include judging people who believe differently than I do. I am completely comfortable with science and evolution, and further understand that the Bible is full of TRUTH but much of it is not FACT ... it is full of song and story ... oral history ... poetry. It's a wonderful book that tells a lot of stories that reveal truth to me.

      Anyway, don't want to preach. I suppose I wish we could have a cup of coffee and chat about all of this. Not so I could try to change your views but so that I could better understand you and you could better understand this Christian, who doesn't seem to match other Christians you have known.

      Thanks for this HUB!

    • Titen-Sxull profile image

      Titen-Sxull 4 years ago from back in the lab again

      I went through a very similar deconversion myself, including a period of time when I was a deist. At the time I figured if it was good enough for the Founding Fathers and the folks in the age of enlightenment than it was good enough for me.

      I believed all sorts of crazy stuff in my life, everything from reincarnation, to alien abduction, and even spent a time as an amateur paranormal investigator. I bounced from belief to belief sometimes with strong convictions that something was real and other times with a much more noncommittal attitude.

      There was a time, immediately after I lost my faith in the Christian God, that was characterized by fear. Fear that I would be punished for doubting, fear that those things drilled into me from birth would somehow turn out true.

      A lot of people get frightened right back into their beliefs. God is portrayed as a bully, and it is better to be on the bully's good side, if you fork over your lunch money at the start of the day he doesn't have to give you a black eye after school.

      As you said the emotional damage isn't the whole reason for abandoning religion, in fact in a lot of ways the emotional damage can hinder your escape from religion. If you're afraid that doubt or disbelief will bring retribution or a falling out with your family you might repress logic in favor of living the comforting lie. Many of the world's atheists are "closeted" atheists trapped by the emotional bullying or cultural pressure of religion.

      Great hub!

    • profile image

      Deepes Mind 4 years ago

      Thank you for sharing your story.