They say you catch more flies with honey than with vinegar. If this is true, and I believe it to be so, then the contents of this essay will likely leave me with very few flies indeed. But quite frankly flies aren’t something I particularly desire.
My policy has generally been not to publicly breach the topic of religion unless it is first breached by another. Throughout my daily life religion has been a very present undertone. Therefore my mind is clear of any guilt from discussing the subject. So now I’m writing this.
I, as some might know, am an atheist, and a proud one at that. I’ve been an atheist since fourth grade. Growing up in an America that not only didn’t share my views but actively sought to change them as if they were some disease that needed to be remedied was challenging. I do not say this to evoke sympathy, but rather to help those, who might be inclined to get upset, understand where I’m coming from.
I have, since my earliest recollection, had some notion of a god. However, the idea of a god was not some inherent idea that I had held deep inside of me since my birth. It was an idea that society had introduced to me, for I held equal stock in the idea that I could control wind with my mind or cast spells. But then around fourth grade I realized I couldn’t cast spells or control the elements through my mental ability. So, I began questioning things including the existence of god. “Do you believe in god?” I asked my mother, who, with her encyclopedic knowledge of the world, I was sure would be able to answer me as she had always done. But to my surprise she responded “I don’t know.”
So, I figured that there was no more reason to believe in god than in witchcraft and decided to become an atheist or at least not to care about seeking answers that couldn’t be, or haven’t yet been, scientifically found. Whenever one of me classmates would talk about church, or something of the nature, and ask me in his or her youthful ignorance what type of Christian I was, I would respond, “None actually. I don’t believe in god.” They would react in shocked outrage berating my beliefs. “What?! How do you think all this was created?” and so on. So, to those who share their outrage and questions, I would have you allow me to briefly explain in a logical manner why it is I have come to the conclusions I have.
The question I most often get when people discover that my views are not in congruency with theirs and the one I first asked myself is: How do you think everything was created? I don’t know. I couldn’t really say. I’ve got some ideas but none of them are definitive. But I find the idea of a “creator”, some omnipotent all powerful being, a trifle irrational-in fact inherently illogical. Now, bare with me here: If a creator created all of existence, who created the creator? Some may say “Just accept that there was a creator who created himself or that the creator has always been there.” If we can accept that, why then can we not accept that existence created itself or that existence has always been there? Why is necessary to have “god” as a middle man? Are we so attached to the idea that a humanlike being is responsible for existence? I simply reject the idea that some sentient, humanlike being begat all that there is.
The more concerning question I intend to address is this: How can there be a clear good and evil if not for god? One of the reasons people find it necessary to conceive of some godlike being, is that we like the idea that there is some sort of ultimate justice-that the good will be rewarded with eternal goodness and the bad with eternal badness-that god ordains what is good and evil. I don’t believe that good and evil are absolute things. For instance I don’t think working on Sundays or that gays practicing sodomy are evil things. I think historically the lines of good and evil have been forever shifting, and have been determined only in a general sense by the society of the time on how we as humans can best coexist. How can I best serve my own interests while respecting others? That’s how I try to live and feel that I have good values.
I don’t say these things just to ruffle feathers, though I do enjoy the occasional feather ruffling. I think it’s good to be religious-spiritual I should say. People’s spiritualities have been responsible for fantastically wonderful things. I just find the presumption that someone who doesn’t believe in god cannot have good values insulting and irrational. So don’t write a brother off, huh?