Atheism is not a dirty wordMikey 123 comments
Do I like being an atheist? Does anyone indeed? What we like seldom has anything to do with what we believe. You could ask a Christian if he wants to worship God, or does he do it simply because he believes in God's existence? Does believing in God obligate you to worship and if so, could that make you resentful? Perhaps not. As an atheist, I do not believe in the past or present existence of any God whether I like it or not. It's simply what I believe. But if anyone could show me irrefutable, hands on proof that God exists, then I will concede and fall in line like everyone else.
But just because I am 'godless' please do not confuse me for a Satan worshipper or anything else remotely associated with a cult. I am an , pure and simple. So before you dial 1800-Dob-in-a-heathen please hear me out.
Some of you may pity me - that's fine, but I don't need pity. You could even silently believe that perhaps there was some traumatic event in my life that led me to be atheist. Whatever makes you feel better is fine with me. But I can assure you that is not the case.
Being openly atheist can have drawbacks for some of us. Your God fearing boss might not give you that promotion - or worse. You are often confused as having God hatred. The ignorant think you belong to a cult. Your girlfriend's parents might disapprove of your union - even if it were over a slightly different religion.
Beliefs aside, you and I are not that much different, and I am probably a little more open minded than you think. Just like you I have a moral compass to help me distinguish right from wrong. I am good to my family, friends and even strangers and they are good to me.
But I am a man of reason and logic. If you say 'cows can fly' I will laugh heartily in your general direction but not completely dismiss you. Show me evidence of the orbiting bovine and I will take that laugh back.
I have been asked why I choose a life of atheism, but the question itself is unfair. Like many other atheists I did not choose anything. The question incorrectly implies that at some stage there was a fork in the road; choose religion or choose nothing. While that may be the case for some people it wasn't for me.
"...I have never been exposed to anything that remotely proves the existence of any Deity..."
You see by default everyone is born atheist in the technical sense of the word. Children are too young to understand the complexities of religion and what it means to believe in a God. And as I have never been exposed to anything that remotely proves the existence of any Deity, I have not had to choose atheism - my atheist status simply remained the same.
I might add that unlike a lot of my God fearing friends, I believe children should be exposed to both facets of life - one with religion and the other without. I want my children to learn about God and read the Bible, and when they are old enough even explore other religions if they so desire. But I will never force either atheism or religion onto them based on my personal beliefs. This isn't the dark ages after all. And besides, I would consider that a form of child abuse.
The reason I want my children to learn about religion is because although no-one can prove the existence of God to me, I on the other hand cannot 100% disprove the existence of God, even though every last shred of evidence would seem to. Nobody can with any certainty, not even the Richard Dawkins' of the world.
This is what separates believers from atheists. Religious people will not allow for the possibility that God might not exist. If they did, then they are technically Agnostic. Science however acknowledges the possibility of God however remote, because good science is about the collection of evidence to support theories, and the subsequent process of trying to disprove said theories.
When my children get older they will naturally follow what they believe or disbelieve, and I will want it to be their choice - not mine or anyone else's. They are too young to understand now but one day they will thank me for it.
The chances are high you were doctrined into the same religion as your parents. But I think to be truly religious or atheist, to truly be able to claim preference of one over the other, you need to have at least experienced one (or more?) other religions before arriving at that decision. You could argue the same can be said for atheists - that they need to have experienced religion before simply discarding it. That may be an overstatement, because you could say 'how do you know you wouldn't like Nazism if you haven't tried it?' - as there are some things we can all be certain of without trying. But religion differs in that there is a common theme of peace, harmony, enlightenment etc...and one main difference of course being the Deity in question. Jehovah? Ganesh? Christna? Yet some people will kill in the name of rather than concede there may be more than one God. Its sheer lunacy.
I am happy to report that I have experienced both religion and atheism although I don't profess to be an expert. I have fond memories of Sunday school as a child and bible studies, even though my doubtful questions annoyed my teachers. I briefly lived with people who followed the Hari Christna faith. And during my early teens my Mother would say "If anyone asks, tell them you are Roman Catholic".
"...The mere fact you are questioning religion says you are probably more open minded than your religious colleagues..."
In hindsight my Mother's comments were probably the point in my life when I actually started to question religion on a more conscious level, but it wasn't an act of rebellion on my part. It was simply me asking "Why on Earth would she want me to say this?" Up until then I was still a 'God Sceptic', for not have been exposed to the word 'atheist' at that time.
I don't blame my parent's generation for religion on our family. They are a product of their parent's religion as were their parents, ad nauseum. But I like to think that this generation (my generation) might be a little more open minded when it comes to religion. If we don't keep asking the question, we will be slaves to the religious concept forever without knowing an alternative.
So why have I bothered to write this? Partly as a 'guess what?' to those who didn't know this about me, and also for anyone who might be afraid to explore atheism.
If you are the latter, let me be the first to assure you it's not a big a deal some people will have you believe. The mere fact you are questioning religion says you are probably more open minded than your religious colleagues.
"By all means let's be open-minded, but not so open-minded that our brains drop out."
~ Richard Dawkins.