Monday, August 31, 2009

Why Are You An Atheist?

I mentioned in passing yesterday how recent polls have shown a marked increase in the number of people that identify themselves as non-believers. One study shows that the number has doubled in the past 2 decades with 15 percent saying that they do not identify with any religion, the only group that has shown increases in all 50 states. Why this growth?

I can only speak for myself but that information got me thinking as to why I became a non-believer.

Obviously, everyone is born a non-believer, often only becoming a believer in one form of religion or another after years of indoctrination by their parents and/or the environment they grow up in. I am no different having been raised Protestant going to Sunday school and Sunday services without fail for most of my formative years.

All through those years while going each week without complaint outwardly, I felt that what was being taught didn't make any sense and the older I got the stronger that feeling got. After leaving home for the military I stopped going to church altogether and to be honest never gave religion any more than a passing thought for the next 20 years or so.

Recently I began wondering why religion held no place in my life especially considering that I now live in the heart of the Northern Bible Belt where "clinging to guns and religion" is not just a slogan and where there is a church on almost every street corner. Given the fact that I grew up indoctrinated in Christianity, why then did I shun it despite being in a perfect position to continue the faith?

I've done a lot of reading on this since then and I've heard many stories from other non-believers. Many often revolve around the person in question not being able to get around the contradictions in the bible or the unprovable nature of religion in general, the latter reason is especially prevalent with those holding high opinions of science. I myself think that both of these probably contributed to why I have long been a non-believer, the stories in the bible after all are quite hard to believe. But this is certainly the same thing all but the staunchly (aka blindly faithful) religious deal with daily, it isn't called "faith" for nothing now is it?

Then I read something somewhere, and hopefully whomever said it will forgive me for not remembering where I saw it, but this one quote explains perfectly why I have decided to be more than just a quiet non-believer and complete my conversion from a Christian to an active Atheist.

"The biggest reason for the increase in Atheism is Christians..."

Think about that for a minute, I did.

I honestly believe that I would have gone through the rest of my life just ignoring religion as I had for the first 20 years after leaving home. Then recently I began noticing a whole new phenomenon from my perspective (I know, it's always existed). Christian fundamentalism.

Of course as Americans, we have been exposed to fundamentalism for most of our history and we got a re-enforcing lesson in the craziness of religious fundamentalism in spades on 9/11 but to me it wasn't us, it was them. Now though I was noticing more and more some of the same type of intolerance, hypocrisy, and downright hatred of others being exhibited by my neighbors, it was no longer just them to me, it was us as well.

In the past decade we have had a horrible child abuse scandal come to light, perpetrated by the Catholic Church. We have had a President, George Bush, using the biblical mythology of Gog and Magog as one reason for invading a foreign country not to mention his willingness to use religion for political gain and policy decisions. We've seen states like Texas attempting to re-write public school text books using the bible and we are witnessing the downfall of the party of Lincoln because of, I believe, the strong influence of the religious right. (It's amazing isn't it, the party that quotes the Constitution like scripture is likely hurting because of their ignorance of it?).

These are just a few examples of many that motivated me and this post has been a long time in the making for me. It took me 25 years to come to the self-realization that I have always had the "foundation" so to speak to be an Atheist only needing religious fundamentalism to trigger my complete religious de-conversion. Now that I have come to that conclusion I can honestly say that I am more content than I can ever remember and remarkably I can thank Christians for that. Apparently religion is good for some things after all...

If you are a non-believer or a doubter, what if anything motivated you?

1 comment:

  1. What motivated me? The truth. ;-)

    Actually (and I'm serious!) it might have been Star Trek. Every time some dude claimed to be a god, the Enterprise crew discovered some perfectly rational explanation (and probably a machine that could be blown to bits with phasers). That narrative, along with the general course of history, had some influence on my thinking. And now, Occam's razor does the rest of the job: explaining worldly events through the lens of science and rationality is easier and more practical than composing complicated narratives about a god with, at best, a very strange sense of humor.

    ReplyDelete

Anonymous comments are allowed as long a you pick a pseudonym and stick with it. Posting under multiple names is not permitted and will result in all comments being deleted.

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.