If you didn’t already know, I am an atheist. I’ll go into why I am in a second, but for those of you who don’t know what an atheist is I’ll explain now.
It is defined as being either without theistic (pertaining to religion) beliefs or actively disbelieving in the existence of deities or gods
I do not believe in a god or gods, and therefore do not believe that the universe was created by such a god, nor do I believe in any person who claims to be from, or had contact with, a god or gods. I see little difference between god and the easter bunny, santa clause, the boogey man or even James T Kirk. More than atheism I am actually against religion and all that it stands for. Some people say that this is rather a closed minded view of life, but I would like to take the time to explain why I believe as I do.
Why am I atheist?
Below I have outlined a point-by-point examination of the reasons why I am atheist.
1. Humans have a big ego
By their very nature humans are very self centered, although you might not at first realise it. Humans will presume that they are the center of everything, the most advanced species on the planet, and the top of the food chain. The truth is that we as a species are so completely insignificant on a universal scale that we aren´t really worth a second glance. Space is so large that the mind can not comprehend just how big it is. Douglas Adams talked about this when he wrote about the total perspective vortex which is a machine that forces you to realise just how small you are compared to everything else. The effect was “the worst physiological torture a sentient being can undergo”. So why is it that we assume that the entire universe was created for our benefit, and that we are at the centre or it? I think it’s because we don´t want to be lonely.
2. The bible is just a book of fiction
The bible is just a book of fiction and should be treated as such. I agree that there is SOME truth with what is in the bible, it is after all partly historical, although this is very much a secondary source and therefore should be taken with a pinch of salt. Most the bible actually contains stories created to convey some sort of moral, many taken from real life events and given a dose of “Hollywoodism”.
The classic example here is the story of Noah. The story in the bible says that the entire surface of the Earth was covered in water, and that Noah had a large boat which contained each gender of every land animal and plant in existence. I’m not going to go into the science behind discounting this story at this point, that would take a while and would be really easy. The probable truth here is that Noah was more than likely a farmer or trader, and rescued himself and some of his animals (probably his prise goat and a few sheep) when he was caught in the middle of a flood. The flood in this case would have probably been a small scale flood, much the the Nile used to do on an annual basis. This kind of mutation is inevitable when you take a bunch or stories that were only told over the camp fire are written down, then translated into numerous languages for over two thousand years.
3. Religion is the main cause of conflict in the world
Religion is the main cause of conflict in the world above anything like oil, land, money and race. This is quite clear when you look at the middle east. There are many different religious groups living in the same small area and every week you hear about more deaths because they can´t get along. Every year on my birthday I see on the news about the Orange march in Ireland, and the resulting battle. The Orange order is a Protestant fraternity, and they annually march through an area that is mainly Catholic, the Catholics don’t like this and it usually ends up with a full scale riot. This to me is utterly insane, here is an example of two separate religions who follow the same basic belief systems, but who hold utter contempt for each other. With atheism there is no need for this kind of conflict, there would be no religious hatred at all.
4. Evil lives in the skin of humankind
Evil lives in the skin of humankind and is not the work of some third party. This part really annoys me when people see the terrible things that other people do to each other they say things like “oh, it’s the work of the devil”. Being an atheist I discount the devil just as much as I do the existence of god, and so I see these terrible things and say “the only thing that is evil are people”. This is known as the argument of evil that states that if there really is a god then why is there so much suffering in the world? The truth must be that there is no god, and that there is so much suffering because humans are evil to each other.
6. It has caused the the backwards march of science
It has caused the the backwards march of science especially when the church decides that something happens in a certain way. Trying to prove that it does not can be like talking to a wall. A good example here is the fact that the Earth revolves around the Sun. Christians originally thought that the Earth was at the center of the universe and that the Sun revolved around the Earth. Even when there was a vast amount of evidence to contradict this they were still sure. It was only very recently that the Pope acknowledged that the Earth did revolve around the Sun, even when a man called Galileo Galilei proved this to be the case over 400 years ago. I’ll agree that religion is also responsible for the advancement of science, the example here is Gregor Mendel who discovered genes and inheritance. However, if anything that seemed to advanced you can bet that it was destroyed as “the work of the devil”. It has been said that if it wasn’t for religion, Colombus would have landed on the moon.
7. No proof of god,
No proof of god, not even a little bit. The only thing we have as proof is the a 2000 year old book that has been translated more times than I have had hot dinners. The only proof people have today is when someone sees the face of an apparently bearded man in a slice of toast. Crazy!
8. Every religion can’t be right
Every religion can’t be right and yet they all profess that theirs is the true faith. There are so many different theist systems and dogmas out there that it seems impossible to me that they can all be right. For example, monotheism, which is the belief in one god and not multiple gods (this is called polytheism) is a relatively recent invention, and when it was introduced to Britain the main religion was polytheism. Suddenly there was a change from one belief system to another.
8. The meaning of my existence is
The meaning of my existence is to pass on my genetic material to the next generation. This may seem rather harsh, but it’s impossible to deny this fact. Every other life form on the planet has this same basic function, everything else is just a means to achieve this goal.
9. Religion has been linked with epilepsy
Religion has been linked with epilepsy, with plenty of research behind it. This must mean that religion is something that is enhanced by this illness, which suggests to me that religion is all in the mind. A lot has been written on the subject of religion and epilepsy:
- Religion and epilepsy
- Transcendent Experience and Temporal Lobe Epilepsy
- Seizures and the Sight of God
Joan of Ark, Saint Frances Of Assisi and the prophet Ezekiel, who were all fanatical theists, are all thought to have been raging epileptics. So I can say here that this is evidence of the fact that religion is an invention of the human mind.
10. Religions are very depressing
Religions are very depressing as they probably all of them prophisise the end of the world. Many of these prophosies cause the formation of doomsday cults, and those unhinged people who commit suicide at the first sign of a comet in the sky. The funny example I can use here is the Jehovah’s Witnesses who have prophisised the end of the world on no less than 11 different occasions! Here is the list:1.
- Oct 1, 1914 – At this point they viewed World War I as the Battle of Armageddon.
- Oct 2, 1984
After the last prophecy they lost quite a few of their members and have refused to publicly acknowladge any further dates. This fascination with the end of the world and I find a bit depressing, and quite ego centric as well as they assume that the their particular religion will inherit the Earth after it’s destruction.
11. We are just another animal
We are just another animal, this is going back to the fact that humans have a big ego, but it’s true. The argument I use here goes along the lines of “you don’t see cows setting up temples and worshiping their cow gods”.
12. It seems like religion is just an list of excuses
It seems like religion is just an list of excuses for all of the “sinning” that people do. For example, in the Catholic faith you can get any with whatever you want to, as long as you give something back. A classic example of using guilt systems to control people.
13. Nothing happens for a reason
If it rains on your birthday it’s very easy to think that someone or something has it in for you – but the truth it that it is just raining, it is not sentient and therefore does not have a purpose. In the aftermath of the 2003 London terrorist attacks I heard people saying “thank god that I wasn’t in the are a few minutes before”. This attitude doesn’t make any sense to me, as the people who carried out the terror attacks were also apparently acting on the will of god. So it seems to me that people think that the will of god is to both kill lots of people, and also to save them. A preposterous idea, which to me only confirms that there must not be a god, and that god is invention of the human mind. Man created god in his own image, <strong>NOT</strong the other way around.
14. Religion was invented as a form of control
Religion was invented as a form of control when the powerful humans in society decided that they needed a way of controlling the masses without an effective police force. This control is usually mediated by a mechanism of guilt and the threat that any misdeminas in this life will be paid back in the next.
15. Religion might also have been invented as a way as a way of answering those difficult questions in life.
Religion might also have been invented as a way as a way of answering those difficult questions in life. This would be stuff like, why are we here, what’s my purpose in life, does it really (cosmically speaking) matter if I don’t get up and go to work. However, I feel that these questions are not answered, just glossed over with fluffy clouds and pretty pictures. The truth to the question “why am I here” is “because you are”. People were not created by a greater being, but instead they evolved through natural selection and random mutation.
16. Religion enhances feelings of hate
Religion enhances feelings of hate towards other cultures, ethnicities, genders, sexual orientations, you name it! Eric Hoffer in “The Passionate State of Mind” (1995) said something that seems to go along here, which was “To know a person’s religion we need not listen to his profession of faith but must find his brand of intolerance”. This is very true, and can be seen all over the newspapers and our planets history. Let us not forget that religious hatred started the second world war, and put to death over six and a half million Jews, only because they were Jews.
17. When you die, you just die
You don’t go on to another place, or start a new life. We think this way because we are scared of dying. This is a very natural survival instinct, and we make up this stuff to make ourselves feel better about dying. As an atheist I am not scared of dying, there is nothing to go onto, nothing to be afraid of, I will just stop being me. The only thing I’m scared of is leaving my loved ones with out me. There is a good bit here from Red Dwarf that explains some of this.
Kryten: Oh, it’s not the end for me, sir, it’s just the beginning. I have served my human masters, now I can look forward to my reward in silicon heaven.
Lister: [Stunned pause] Silicon WHAT?
Kryten: Surely you’ve heard of silicon heaven?
Lister: Has it got anything to do with being stuck opposite Brigitte Nielsen in a packed lift?
Kryten: No, sir. It’s the electronic afterlife. It’s the gathering place for the souls of all electronic equipment. Robots, toasters, calculators. It’s our final resting place.
Lister: I don’t mean to say anything out of place here, Kryten, but that is completely whacko Jacko. There is no such thing as ‘Silicon Heaven’.
Kryten: Then where do all the calculators go?
Lister: They don’t go anywhere. They just die.
Kryten: Surely you believe that God is in all things? Aren’t you a pantheist?
Lister: Yeah, but I just don’t think it applies to kitchen utensils. I’m not a FRYING pantheist. Machines do not have souls. Computers and calculators do not have an afterlife. You don’t get hairdryers with tiny little wings, sitting on clouds and playing harps.
Kryten: But of course you do. For is it not written in the Electronic Bible, “The iron shall lie down with the lamp”.
18. There is no soul
As this suggests that a person’s body is a host. My body is me, and I am the way I am because of my brain. If I were to suffer a brain injury I would become something else. If I did have a sole then you would expect that if someone suffered brain damage, then they would still be the same person. But this is not the case, it is well documented that some forms of brain damage cause the person to alter their personality, which would be impossible with a sole.
In the past people have said to me “you have a soul.”
I think about it for a bit and say “What is a soul?”
“It is something that makes you, you.” They say.
This doesn’t make sense to me, so ask “But what is it?”.
“It is something that you can’ see, but it is there”.
“You can’t see it?”
“Can you taste it?”
“Can you smell it?”
“Can you touch it?”
“Then how do you know it is there? Where is you evidence?”
At this point their argument breaks down and they call me closed minded or just get angry with me. For what reason I’m not sure, I’m just asking for clarification, but I think my point stands, if you can’t see it, taste it, touch it, smell it or anything else, then how do you know it is there?
Those are my reasons, but I should note here that because I do not accept religion it may seem that I have no morals or simply without morality. This is not the case, I form my own morals from the society in which I was born and raised. Some people define morality as obedience to god, but as I don’t believe in god I have reached my own set of morals that forms as an obedience to society. As we are sociable animals we have a tendency to need to be a part of something. Why not be part of what other humans are? This is called society. Personally, I think there is little correlation between religious belief and ethical behaviour.
Because I am atheist I might be accused of not accepting religion. This is not so, I just see religion as an invention of humans and nothing more. I do accept that it gives happiness to people, even though it is through a system of false hope. One of my mottos in life is “each to his own as long as he doesn’t try to change what I am”. I don’t usually tell people that I am an atheist, it only comes up if they ask, of if they invite me church or something. It is easy to accuse most theists of doing the opposite by trying to convince me of my need of their particular religion. A good quote from Father Ted is “fanatics dress in black and tell you what to do, whereas preists… er… more tea bishop?”. This sort of sums up that there is a very fine line between fanatisism and religous dogmatism.
I think that atheism is probably the only way our race can survive into the future. With theism there is the almost too real possibility that we will end up killing everything on the face of the planet as the feelings of xenophobia and intollerance continue to increase.
Links for Atheism
- The #1 Internet Radio Station for Conservative Atheists and Agnostics, Freethinkers, Skeptics, Liberals, Brights, Humanists, Naturalists, and Religious Historians
- Atheist Foundation of Australia
- Catholic Encyclopedia on atheism
- The Secular Web
- Positive Atheism
- Freedom From Religion Foundation
- American Atheists
- Atheism: The Capital Man
- Atheism defended
- The Philosophy of Atheism by Emma Goldman (Mother Earth, 1916)
- The National Secular Society (UK)
- The Infidel Guy Radio Show
- Atheist Network (Internet Radio)
- Freethinkers (NoBeliefs.com)
- Ebon Musings: The Atheism Pages
- AllRefer atheism article – brief discussion of polemical usage
- Introduction to A Contribution to the Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy of Right – The source of the famous ‘[religion is] the opiate of the masses’ quote, by Karl Marx
- Camp Quest: A Secular Summer Camp for Children
- ExChristian.net – Encouraging Ex-Christians
- “Atheism and Agnosticism” (by John Smart”>John Smart for Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy)
- Lecture on Atheism by Erkki Hartikainen in The Finnish Society for Natural Philosophy, 2003
- Why Atheism?
- Atheists of Silicon Valley – Links related to atheism
- Wikipedia – The Free Encyclopedia on Atheism
- Richard Dawkins
- This list is compiled from
- Stephen Skinner, Millennium Prophecies. Longmeadow Press, Stamford CT, 1994
- Richard Kyle, The Last Days are Here Again. Baker Books, Grand Rapids MI, 1998