I have heard a lot of reasons why people are Atheist, but not often do I hear a detailed explanation of how they reached their belief. Even the use of the word belief may be conflicting in some cases. In any case, I wanted to tackle why I am Atheist as compared to some other presumed reasons why people are Atheist.
➡ You’re Just Atheist Because….
..you hate God – Spiteful Atheism
This is the stance similar to Job in the Bible; indignant to God. This is working under the assumption that the person is intrinsically Theist but acts as an Atheist out of spite. They do believe in God, but denounce him. This is nothing but a childish reaction out of anger – “I hate you! I don’t even know you!”
..you hate your life – Selfish Atheism
This is the indignant stance that people assume most Atheists take. People are so upset with life that they believe that either God does not exist or he does and he doesn’t care about you. This is, more often than not, an act for attention from the author. They intrinsically do believe in God, but feel as though denouncing him will hurt him somehow (or make themselves feel better).
…you experienced something traumatic – Indignant Atheism
This approach to atheism is born out of something happening that is so wrong that God must not exist. Often these people themselves seem to, deep down, wish God does exist, but think it not possible. However, to others they will say that God must not exist for [insert traumatic event] has happened to them. Thus, God could not exist because, if he did, he wouldn’t have that happen. This stance can hold some credibility in theodicy and may very well lead to an academic atheist, but I don’t think it the most reliable route.
➡ The Approach to Knowledge
The first step to take, in life in general, is to decide how you are going to judge knowledge, what is knowledge, and what is the best method to knowledge. A very subjective matter that cannot really be argued into objectivity, but I feel you can make a good case for it.
For me, personally, I can say that I first started as a child anglican theist. I believed in God because I was told to. It wasn’t until I learnt about the word “dogma” that I started to think about knowledge at all. I was young (around 9) and learnt that dogma is the term used for accepting a religious fact on faith alone. It took a while for me to grasp this, but it certainly makes sense how it would cause a child to question knowledge; do you accept something as truth based on faith or do you take another approach? I, (would hope) naturally, considered the alternatives. Those alternatives weren’t very well explained to me as a child and I didn’t really get a good grasp of Atheism or even Agnosticism. However, I eventually understood Deism, which was the belief that God created everything, but then left us to our own wits end and has no involvement in our lives. I didn’t know at the time that this contradicts every religious doctrine I learnt, but it best suited what I thought best. Now to explain the approach..
The most primary characteristic people usually boast is being open minded, as though being closed minded is a terrible thing. However, have you actually ever considered what each really is? What does it mean to be either? How do you know, for certain, that you are open-minded? You can’t just arbitrarily decide, “I am open minded” can you?
This video best describes what open mindedness is. However, as a child, all I cared about was making sure I took the right approach to knowledge. To me, it felt like two choices; science or faith. Do you treat knowledge from a base of faith or work up from the base of science? It was at this time that the Shakespeare play “Hamlet” sealed the deal for me.
Why, then, ’tis none to you, for there is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.
~ Hamlet 2:2
This quote alone made me question God. Shakespeare makes a good point; good and bad are subjective matters, not objective. God was, and is, always portrayed as a being with consciousness and characteristics. Those things are subject to consciousness, thoughts, and opinion. How can a God, who has a consciousness like ours, not be subject to the criticism, “Well, that is just your opinion?”. In addition, I thought of the worst case; intrinsic evils. Murdering someone seems naturally evil, but why? Whenever we assess whether or not it was murder, we have to take the context into play: was he doing anything bad? Was he trying to kill you? Was he defenseless? These are things that a conscience being has to take into consideration, a thought, and then arbitrate a decision. But shouldn’t God be an immortal judgement of morality? Perfect in judgment? So, why then, is “Thou shall not kill” so ill defined?
Whether or not the above can be debated, it plants the root for thought on the very foundation of God and his authority of reason. It wasn’t until in my later life that I learnt to appreciate this step, one that Martin Luther placed for all mankind when he questioned the authority of the Pope. This very step leads to much further elaboration.
➡ What Makes Truth..?
So, in my next step in life, I thought to myself, “What would make something true?”. So, again, I tried to make sense of a system that would make sure something is true. You would have a claim.. well anyone can make a claim.. so you need to have some way of proving the claim.. how? You do experiments.. well, anyone can do those. So, you set rules into place. How can you be sure they are reliable..? You make sure anyone can repeat the experiments and get the same results.. This is science! This is the very base of science! As a child, my initial response was that I shouldn’t simply jump onto the science train. Make sure I know what I mean.
Instead, I thought to myself, experiencing things is what makes people certain of facts. It is when you can, experience for yourself, a truthful event, over and over again, that you will believe it to be true. If I say, “I can do X” you may not believe me at first. However, if I do X, then you might. You might require further investigations in the experience, “Are you tricking me..? Are you lying..?” so I will vary the demonstration for your experience..
It was, at this time, that I realized that my alternative approach to science was still science. I consigned to science. Science is the most reliable approach to truth. The alternative, faith, makes the leap that you must simply believe.
Before continuing why I am Atheist, I must explain why I chose not to believe. Many say that the simple act of believing is meaningful and “human”. It has a lot of sentiment. However, they still all take a belief in a certain thing. So, I initially thought, “What do I believe in then?”. There are so many choices; buddha, anglican, presbyterian, catholicism, islam, mormon, etc. etc.
Even now, if you try to ask someone why they choose there’s over the others, you will only get the response along the lines, “Because mine is the true God”. “But how can you know?” “Because my holy text says so.” “But so does there’s.” “But mine is the true God.” “But how can you know?” “Because….” And the circular logic finally comes to the limelight. To this day, no theist can defend this argument because, if they could, there may be a reason to be Theist.
➡ Ok, science.. but why Atheist?
Most often the case is made that Theists can still believe in, and advocate, science. So why did I choose Atheism? Well, I initially made no decision on the matter and treated it like a scientific investigation.
The Holy Bible makes a lot of claims that can be scientifically investigated. So, why not investigate them? This is where I started. If I can find truth in their claims, perhaps I can find grounds to back up my belief in God! And a specific God! Perhaps one of the other Gods even..?
Most of the time, it starts with the beginning of everything, creation. But instead of barraging what would be a books worth of detail, I’ll quickly run through some examples:
Date of the Earth
Firstly, the age of the Earth is one of the most integral things to understanding our kind. The Earth is 4.54 billion years old. There are a lot of dating techniques, and I won’t delve into them, but this is the consensus. While many creationists and others will argue that dating techniques are bunk, I have never found there arguments to be persuasive enough. At this point, creationism is done with. I cannot agree that humans and dinosaurs lived together or any other religion claiming the earth to be the actual center of the universe.
This is the natural second step. Fossils are a dead give-away for a lot of things..
..but what of Adam and Eve..? The first two humans to be created by the commonly held Theistic God..? There’s no evidence of this! In fact, the fossils show that there are many humans developing all over the world over time.
Here are some actual scientific journal articles on this matter:
Toward a Phylogenetic Classification of Primates Based on DNA Evidence Complemented by Fossil Evidence+ A highly resolved primate cladogram based on DNA evidence is congruent with extant and fossilosteological evidence. A provisional primate classification based on this cladogram and the time scaleprovided by fossils and the model of local molecular clocks has all named taxa represent clades andassigns the same taxonomic rank to those clades of roughly equivalent age. Order Primates divides intoStrepsirhini and Haplorhini. Strepsirhines divide into Lemuriformes and Loriformes, whereas haplorhinesdivide into Tarsiiformes and Anthropoidea. Within Anthropoidea when equivalent ranks are used fordivisions within Platyrrhini and Catarrhini, Homininae divides into Hylobatini (common and siamang gibbon)and Hominini, and the latter divides into Pongina forPongo(orangutans) and Hominina forGorillaandHomo.Homoitself divides into the subgeneraH.(Homo) for humans andH.(Pan) for chimpanzees and bonobos. Thedifferences between this provisional age related phylogenetic classification and current primatetaxonomies are discussed.
Human Origins+ New discoveries combine to indicate that all the major steps in human evolution took place in Africa.Skeletal analysis of oldest human forbears around 3 million years ago reveal many anatomical similarities to African Great Apes. These and biochemical resemblances indicate a common ancestry for humans and apes, perhaps only a few million years earlier. Enlarged knowledge through recent recovery of skeletons of several successive stages in the line leading to modern peoples shows that many attributes or skills by which we define humanity arose much more recently in time than heretofore believed.
The Fossil Record and the Early Evolution of the Metazoa
Looks like common Christendom is out the window just based on this. That’s all it took for me. Adam and Eve are such crucial figures in this religion that how could I ignore this? I believe Richard Dawkins tackles this matter the best in the matter of atonement:
The Origin of Humans
So if humans didn’t originate from Adam and Eve, then where did they come from? This was my natural next question, in which there isn’t really a complete answer. Evolution describes a great deal, but not epigenesis of life. This is where most people make the mistake of thinking that evolution describes the beginning of all things, but it doesn’t. Evolution is simply the matter of changing species over time, not the creation of all time and life. When I learnt this, in combination with chaos theory, I felt I had a pretty good understanding of all things.
➡ Evolution & Chaos Theory
This is something I think ought to be taught in all schools. First, chaos theory. Chaos theory is the theory explaining how one event can lead to tremendously different things. Many people are naturally inclined to this theory anyway. The simple act of cutting someone off on the highway can tip that person over the edge where they are unhappy and then sentence a man to death in the afternoon. The most commonly explained example is how the flapping of a butterflies wings can cause a tornado on the other side of the planet.
It took a while for me to grasp this, but it makes more sense when you learn of exponential growth. With so many variables in life (I say life because chaos involves all things) there are many things that can propel one event into an astronomical one.
This is a graph of population over time. It is the most atypical example of exponential growth. Exponential growth is best understood in the example, “If you tell one friend.. they will tell two.. then they will each tell two more.. then they will each tell two more..” eventually, everyone knows. Remember this when approaching the next steps.
I don’t want to lecture on what evolution is, but it’s simple premise is natural selection. Many people confuse evolution as mutations happening over time and somehow procreating still throughout generations. However, this is not the case. What is the case is that small, ostensibly inconsequential, characteristics are chosen and reproduced. However, over time, these small mundane details make significant results. I feel that anyone that would read this would understand the premise of evolution. However, combining exponential growth with it is another matter. It was understanding exponential growth that really convinced me that evolution must be true because it made so much sense; one small change in one generation will eventually lead to significantly different results in generations to come.
➡ The Scientific Atheist
At the time, I conclude that God is not proven to be real or exist. No religion has provided enough reason or evidence for any case. Most reasons that are presented are actually reasons I use against Theism:
Most often I am asked, “Just look at the world.. how can you deny a God made this?” and I am appalled..
What is more beautiful:
A) The mona lisa being drawn by a man with a painting on an ezel
B) The mona lisa being etched in the sands of a desert by nothing but the winds alone and a lot of time
To me, the person is basically telling me that A is more beautiful than B. A creator does not make something more beautiful. A creator makes something less beautiful because it was intended and manipulated. I think most people would agree that natural beauties are held in higher degree than man-made beauties. Let’s compare some examples.
+ Pyramids, Eiffel Tower, the Acropolis, Mt. Rushmore Sculpture, paintings, etc.
+ Waterfalls, Aurora Borealis, Stars, Mountain ranges, beaches, etc.
What would you consider, over-all, more impressive? To make the case even more specific, take a case of each and compare the origin to your intuition:
What is more beautiful:
+ A man made or nature made waterfall?
+ A man made or nature made painting?
+ A man made or nature made light show?
+ A man made or nature made beach?
After this, I still maintain that I am Atheist only because I have no reason. Simply making observations about the world is not enough. You need to define God and then prove it. This is why I may very well still think a God exists, but has yet to be defined or proven correctly. There are certainly suspicions of mine as to what I would call “God” but it would be nothing of the traditionally theologian sense.
➡ What I may consider God..
So, the next thing I am asked, as an Atheist, what do I think created everything?
This is just my own opinion at this point as there is no scientific evidence for this, yet (GO CERN!). However, I would contend that we are living in a world of kinetic energy. Everything we know is the consequence of motion, time, movement, etc. which are contingents of kinetic energy. Kinetic energy is what propels all things in life to keep moving and changing. You must imagine the concept of time as being the contingent of kinetic energy, not the other way around. Time exists because motion does. Time is the result of kinetic energy.
So, where did kinetic energy come from? Well, static energy. We can see, even from experiments, that with enough energy being interacted, there is born mass. When something cannot go faster anymore, it starts to create mass. This is beyond my comprehension, but defined by CERN’s experiments in the LHC. This is where kinetic energy goes. They are still trying to find where kinetic energy comes from.
To best understand it, though, is to understand static energy. Static energy is simply energy, without movement. Not in the sense of souls or spirits.. but just energy. The beginning would just be this.. infinite, immaculate, intangible, energy.
At length, I am an Atheist only as a result as no alternative. My morality is derived from Humanistic reasoning, not faith. I feel so confident in Theism being bunk that I would willingly step into any debate or commit any sin without concern of Godly intervention. Of course, there would be human intervention, but that is my point..
Humans created God.
To put it best..
A humans life is of no more importance to the universe than that of an oyster.
~ David Hume