I wasn’t sure if I wanted to publish this. I haven’t “come out” to my parents as an Atheist. My close friends know my beliefs, but not much of my family beyond my sister. Ironically, my mom would be totally cool if I came out as gay. Actually, more people would vote for me for President if I were gay rather than Atheist. My mother knows I’m not religious, but I’ve not told her I don’t believe in God at all. So if you’re reading this and know her, keep it a secret. If she wants to bury me according to her Catholic or Christian beliefs, let her. Though hopefully I don’t die first.
A note before I get started, I’ll be publishing this in two posts. This post will be about how I decided to be an Atheist, the next will be how I live as an Atheist (how Albert Camus helped me through).
A little background
So as mentioned my mother is religious (as is my entire family). My mother was a Catholic, my father is a Methodist, but I’ve never seen him actually practice. I think he believes in god, but doesn’t feel the need to go to church or anything. I was raised Catholic. I was baptized, did communion and confirmation. I played in the church choir. I did my Sunday school classes and really believed there was a God in heaven and a soul in my body. I believed there was good and evil and that the Devil existed. When I did my confirmation and they asked me to renounce Satan, I honestly did.
Around my Senior year I started to have questions. I naturally think a bit analytically. My first two problem questions came when thinking about the fact that environment can have an affect on your personality. I’d started to read books on sociology. If a person is born in a certain environment you can predict the probability they will commit a crime. Then I took that idea further, if you’re born to a family that was Muslim or Hindu, then that’s the religion you were going to believe in, the same as I believed in the Christian God and Jesus. According to my beliefs if you weren’t baptized and didn’t accept Jesus, you were going to Hell. If I could understand that this was wrong, why wouldn’t God? I couldn’t condemn a people to death simply because they were born in the wrong country to the wrong family (I use “wrong” speaking from the point of view that my religion is the right one, and country being that the U.S. is overwhelmingly Christian).
If God is Omnipotent, Omniscient, Omni-Present, and Omni-Benevolent how could he not see this?
Then there’s the problem of brain damage or genetic preconditions. What if you’re more prone to violence, and you’re raised by violent parents in a violent environment? God could just say, “Sorry, tough luck getting dealt that hand. It’s Hell for you.”
That didn’t make sense.
A soulless creature
Like I said, I’m also very analytical. Most people probably never stop and think, “If I lose an arm do I lose part of my soul?” It may seem silly, but I kept going. How much of my body could be cut off before I would have no soul? How tiny is the soul? If I were just a head that was alive, or just a brain, would I still have a soul?
Then science made it even harder. If you can extrapolate through mathematics and sub-atomic particle collisions that some particle does or does not exist, why can’t the soul be discovered? If the soul leaves your body and enters heaven, by what process does that occur? Shouldn’t we be able do detect some sort of energy as a byproduct of this movement from earth to heaven. I’m assuming this is some sort of inter-dimensional transfer, wouldn’t there be quite a bit of energy given off? There are more scientific explanations for how the TARDIS works than the soul entering Heaven.
Forget Evolution, basic physics is what’s really the problem with faith. You can easily reconcile God and Evolution. Heck, I can even accept there might be a God, but the soul and heaven: no proof, no evidence.
How can there be a god with no Soul or Heaven? Simple, think about video games. The Sims is a self-contained world created by people, but when a character dies in a video game…they cease to exist. (granted they could be backed up on another computer and allowed to run again, but we’re talking copies which gets more complicated) But even then we’d see some code and understand what’s happening. This is where physics and math come in. Physics are the laws (code) of the Universe and the language they’re written in is Math. The fact we find no code that shows how we are backed up onto God’s external hard drive leads me to believe he isn’t backing up his data. So a god could have created everything with the Big Bang and then left it all alone (the blind watchmaker if you will). In fact, for us to know there is a god would require what happens in the bible, him telling us he exists. Burning Bushes, Talking Clouds, sending in an avatar, like Jesus(The trinity makes more sense in gamer terms – I’ll drop the computer metaphor now).
The Good Book is just that
Which brings me to the bible. The Bible would have to be true for us to know there was a God (at least mostly true). But why should we believe that The One True God sent his only son to Earth to die for our sins, but not believe that Zeus mated with an Earth woman and spawned Hercules.
I won’t go into more detail on the bible, but I’ve actual read a decent amount of scholarship since leaving college (I never took a class on it, because everyone who came from those classes sounded way too full of themselves – and I didn’t need anymore help in that regard). The bible as an ancient text is quite fascinating. The idea of Jesus as an historical figure is amazing. But to take the leap to the supernatural is one I refuse to make. There is simply no evidence of any supernatural forces here on Earth.
So what was I to conclude?
Faith is something I just couldn’t have. I simply can’t just “believe” in something without any evidence what so ever. We, with our little human brains, can explain nearly everything on the planet, but when it comes to God, Heaven, and Souls we fall back on “it’s magic”. I can’t do that. I came of age scientifically when we were searching for the Top Quark, which was discovered my freshman year of college. This is a particle that is not seen but detected by the signals they produce. It, and Higgs-Boson, show what science can accomplish. Science looks at data, makes a hypothesis, makes predictions, tests those predictions, and then either says, “this hypothesis is valid” or “we need to revise our thinking”. Faith just says, “this is the way it is” and ignores data, ignores predictions, and ignores conflicting hypotheses. That isn’t the way I wanted to live my life, nor how I wish to raise kids (if I ever have any).
So that’s it, that’s a synopsis of what lead me to atheism. Once you realize that there is no God, Heaven, or Hell, what do you do with your life? How do you live a moral life? How do you go on living? I’ll explain all that in the next post.