Why I'm an Atheist
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