25 August 2008

"But What If You're Wrong?"

First of all, I'm an atheist. By atheist, it means I don't believe in God because I see no evidence for the existence of a magical invisible friend and father. At heart, I'm a scientist. This means that I accept things that can be proven by math or by means of reproduction. Today science and atheism are becoming swear words in United States. Most people say to me, "If you don't believe in God then why do any good?" Well, like nearly all other atheists, I embrace altruism. I do not need a greater power to tell me what is good and what is bad. If it is only religion and God alone that make a person do good things, then isn't that deeply depressing. I certainly hope that there is something more stopping a preacher from murdering than simply that somebody is watching.

When I was much younger I regarded myself as atheist rather quickly. I went to church with my grandmother and the Sunday school teacher told me that the earth was only 6000 years old and that all of us came from Adam and Eve. What race were Adam and Eve? If there were only two people who started life, and they had three boys (Cain, Abel, and Seth), then how did more children come?

I have to give a small amount of credit to my father who at a very early age instilled in me a love of science and history. By age twelve, I was extremely well informed on the subjects of evolution, biology, computer technology, and animal life preceding the cretaceous–tertiary mass extinction. I recognized that there were libraries of books and documentaries filled with scientific evidence and that only one dusty old book contained anything about Adam and Eve. I became an atheist because religion was silly and science was fascinating.

When I became a teenager I learned quite quickly that the word 'atheist' was a bad word. I knew that for sure Christianity was bullshit, but perhaps there was more in the world of religion and spirituality. From age fourteen to age twenty, I explored everything. Mormonism, Scientology, Islam, Judaism, Sikhism, Buddhism, Wicca, and every little sect in between. I found that Judaism was not as bad as Christianity and that Islam was a hundred times worse. I found that Mormons and Scientologists worshiped aliens from documents written by fiction authors. I found that half of Buddhists or Wiccans were only trying to seem different or exotic, and that those who were honestly Buddhist or Wiccan were just lovers of nature, earth, and mythology. When it came down to it, they were far more agnostic.

After all this searching, I found not a single shred of proof for god outside ancient writings and hearsay on miracles. It started to make sense to me. The only reason I thought God might exist was that the universe was complicated and surely there must have been something to create it. However, this is really only circular logic. If there is a God who created such a uncomprehendingly vast and complicated universe, then surely God must have been created by something even more complicated and so on and so on.

One day, I got fed up. I was so tired of Christian bullshit. So tired of the Christian community fucking up people's lives because they think god wants it to be that way. I went online and wanted to join a Christian bashing club. I figured, surely there must be some people who want to bash Christians as much as I do. What I found were not angsty teenagers, but extremely intelligent scientists, philosophers, and educators who were fed up with the amount of power and credit given to organized religion. I came across a really smart man named Richard Dawkins who had just published a book called The God Delusion. I went straight to my local library and read it in less than half a fortnight.

It opened my eyes up to what I was and what I knew I was underneath it all. I am an atheist. You've always been told that being an atheist is a bad thing. But in truth, we are all atheists when you think of all the religions of the world, I just take it one god further. Being an atheist means that I believe that all people diserve help in the world, not just those who have the same beliefs as me. It means that I believe that man and animal are equal and should be treated as so. It means that I use science and discovery to choose what I think about the universe. It means that when I do something good, I'm doing it because I want to do it, not because I'm trying to appease a god.

So does that mean that I think life is bleak existence with no purpose. No, it means that I believe life is teaming with beauty and elegance. You can look at the complications of protein synthesis or to the simple fact of evolution by means of natural selection. It is far more awe inspiring than any 'miracle' that is been claimed in the name of God. The purpose of life is to enjoy the one you have; to make it your best. After all, your mere existence is shockingly rare. Most people never get the chance to exist at all. A truly wasted life, is one wanting and hoping for a more perfect second life, when so few actually get one.

When it comes to God, I'm not 100% he does not exist. I am also not 100% sure unicorns don't exist, but I operate my life under the belief that they do not. Christians and Muslims claim that God is all knowing and all powerful. If he is this, then he surely cannot be that concerned about whether or not I eat pork, work on Saturdays, or what I do with my penis. I operate life in the idea that it does not matter whether or not God exists. If he wanted us to know he is there he would have proved it and cast away all doubt. My god is the god of universal constants such as gravity, evolution, physics, biology, chemistry, etc. It's funny, a friend of mine once said, "It makes me laugh that you know so much about Christianity and religion yet you don't believe a single word of it." It's precisely because I know so much, that I don't believe.

In a later post I will go into further detail on why organized religion is wrong and why it is far more destructive than productive to the future and existence of the human species. I end this post with a very short clip of The God Delusion's author Richard Dawkins' response to a question I have received time and time again, "But what if you're wrong?"

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