Why am I an atheist?
I wasn't always an atheist. I was brought up Catholic like most kids where I lived. I believed that there was a god. After all, everyone around you believes in it and they can't all be delusional, can they? It even made sense to me that there would be. But I didn't know a lot about this god except that he was good and fair and that he saw us as his children. As a child I even thought the priesthood would be a perfect place for me.
But then one day the mass changed from Latin to English, and I got a shock. The priest started talking about all kinds of people being sent to hell for sins they had committed. There were a lot of sins that could get you in to hell apparently. Some of which I thought rather unfair. This wasn't the god I knew or had been taught.
And it was this inability to come to terms with the idea that god could be benevolent and fair while at the same time being vengeful and even cruel that sent me in to a life of study and thought. I went through a lot of religions in a few short years and noticed a problem. There was one god and yet many takes on what this god was.
That was my second clue that something was not right. All these factions said they were the only ones with the right answers, yet they all had conflicting answers. It was impossible for them all to be right. So which one was right? How would I know?
But a better question was: how did they know? I soon found out that they didn't. In fact they couldn't And yet every one of them was telling people they did know.
Why couldn't they know? Because none of them had ever seen god and none of them was speaking to him. They took all their beliefs from a book. All of them took their varying beliefs from the same book. Up till now I hadn't read that book, so it was high time I did. Oh they tell you they talk to god but there is no way to verify that they do. And since they all again, have conflicting messages, it seems unlikely what they are talking to is anything more than their own subconscious. I've written extensively about my own experiences with the mind and mysticism elsewhere. Doctor Persinger of Laurentian U has an EM pen that can make you see and talk to god or demons or aliens or anything you like. Personal evidence of that sort is not evidence at all.
I kept studying the bible and its history. The more I studied the more I understood that it was written by people who believed that there is a god, but they never spoke to him either. They were inspired to write, to be sure. But like any writers they were inspired by their subject matter. There was no actual god required for them to be inspired by the god character, just as there was no real James T Kirk inspiring Rodenberry to write about him in Star Trek.
So then how does anyone know there is a real god? They do not. They take it on faith that there is, and faith is required by the religions that preach it. You have to take it all on faith.
There is no real evidence that a god exists. You can say: “look around, how do you think all this got here? It did not create itself.” This has been the argument for centuries, and it is no more a valid argument now than it was then. Just because you do not know the answer does not automatically mean it has to be a conscious god let alone the god of the bible if a benevolent being had anything to do with it at all. After all, there are several thousand candidates in all the gods the world and it’s many varied cultures have produced probably since before the stone age.
Science has given us one more candidate which is not sentient: nature itself. The nature of the universe and of energy/matter. Turns out science has found a way to bypass the gods all together. And it all makes perfect logical sense.
Not that science has found all the answers, to be sure. But so far no god seems to be required.
Now I realized something about all this very early on: No one knows for sure. No one. Not the religions and not science. But at least science keeps looking. Religions think they have already found all the answers, when it is clear they haven’t, because there is no way for them to have found all the answers.
Anyone who says there is a god is speculating. They may believe it with all their heart, but if they say they know it beyond faith alone, they are lying. Perhaps not knowing they are lying, but they are lying none the less. To you and to themselves.
One cannot rely on personal feeling or belief to present you with the truth. Truth is what it is. No amount of faith or belief can change it.
So what are the odds that there is god? Strange question perhaps but interesting. The odds are 50/50 that some god exists. Why 50/50? Because there is no way to know for sure short of him coming out in public to all of us at the same time. Christianity has a load of excuses why that won’t happen, including that he does not have to show off for us.
Well no he doesn't A simple hello would be nice. Well never mind... The Christians will then claim to know your mind and tell you that even if he did say hello you wouldn't accept him because you choose not to believe in him. Or worse, the devil has you by the family jewels. Oh well...
What are the odds that there is no god? Same thing. Same reason. There is no way to prove that there is not a god out there somewhere. Either there is or there is not. That’s the fact of the matter. The only fact.
But we can say the same thing about Bigfoot, alien abductions, invisible pink squirrels, spaghetti monsters from space, or anything else we can imagine. With no evidence they all have a 50/50 chance of existing.
See, that’s the problem with speculation and imagination. If you can’t prove your hypothesis, and can’t disprove it, you have no way of knowing whether you are right or wrong. In science your hypothesis is then in limbo.
Is anything possible as we so often hear? No. When we say anything is possible we are saying it when we just do not know whether something is possible or not. Most often when we have no facts. Many things are possible, but not all things are possible. More things are plausible when we start finding evidence, but without it you can’t say something is plausible.
Even fewer things become probable as we see more evidence and more facts. But the facts themselves are actual and often hidden.
It being possible that god exists is saying nothing at all. Is it plausible that a god does exist? On the basis of existence and origins it becomes one possible answer among many. But we don’t have enough evidence for its existence for a determination of plausibility.
It is possible natural processes have created/produced us? The answer is yes, of course. Is it plausible? Yes. Is it probable? I would say it is given the facts. But is it fact? No. It is a model based on the facts.
What I learned over the years was one very important lesson. Belief is useless and faith is the giving up of reason. Belief that a fact is a fact is not required. It should be self evident from the evidence. Belief in something speculative is useless. Something is true or it is not. Speculation does not make it true if it is not, and no amount of belief for or against will make it so either.
So that’s why I am an atheist. I will not say that there categorically is no god. I don’t know and no one else does either. So I do not believe that there is no god, because that would be belief in something speculative. Why bother? And I do not believe that there is a god for the same reason.
Probability tells me there probably isn't one due to lack of evidence and the requirement of faith as opposed to hard evidence. On the other hand, nature and what it can do is self evident, so there is a good probability that it is god, so to speak. That being god defined as that which produced us. But one doesn't need to put faith in probability either.
Atheism does not mean a belief in the lack of a god. It means that we do not actively hold the belief or faith that a conscious god (or an invisible pink squirrel for that matter) exist. Atheists lack the belief that believers have. The logical atheist does not then believe that god does not exist, because they cannot know with certainty, anymore than they can know that invisible pink squirrels do not actually exist.
Atheism is not a choice as so many Christians seem to think. So the idea that we would all be better off to just believe in god just in case, doesn't fly. For one thing, the god of the bible should be able to see through such a ruse and probably punish us for it. It is dishonest.
I said that I did believe once and that now I do not. Well it’s the same kind of thing that Saint Paul experienced. He had a vision which made him convert. Before that he was hunting down and helping the Romans kill Christians. After his conversion that option was closed to him. So too is my option to believe now that I have seen that belief is useless and faith worse if you want to know what the truth really is.
So atheism is not a choice, it is a realization after long study and thought. At least it is for me. I am willing to accept truth no matter what it is. But I must know for a fact that it is the truth before I accept it as such.
My advice to everyone is: Don’t believe anything. That’s the only way you will ever find answers.