When I say I am an atheist, it does not mean I hate whatever god/goddesses you believe in. It also does not mean that I hate the believers of any religion nor do I desire to kill them. It does not mean that I am pretending that a god does not exist so that I can “sin” without “consequences”.
Theists don’t really know what atheism is. It is not a worldview or a religion. We all have a worldview but our religion or lack thereof is only a small part of what we believe or do. If I had to pick from one of the religions of the world, I would pick Jainism because of the non-violence principle. This is not necessary though because I already disliked violence before I had heard of Jainism or Ahimsa.
My atheism is a description of the conclusion that I have come to after examining the religion I grew up in. When people talk about “evidence” of God’s existence, what they often mean is “I had an experience that I can’t explain. It must have been caused by God!”
Okay, if you believe that, fine, but I disagree. Rather I would say I don’t know what you experienced nor am I in a place to explain your whole life experience. This does not mean that I accept your explanation or that I even understand your explanation.
I am a very practical man. What I can’t use I simply dismiss. If I ever meet God, Jesus, Allah, The Flying Spaghetti Monster, or The Invisible Pink Unicorn, I imagine I will have to ask them some questions. Until then nothing that a human says will convince me.
If I ever have some experience that makes me a believer in some religion, the last thing I would try to do is convert other people by telling them my experience. Can I even prove that I had an experience? No I can’t. I can’t even prove that my favorite color is white or what I ate for breakfast last week.
Most historical events cannot be proven or disproven. They are just assumed to be true because they are written in a book somewhere.
But you may wonder, why don’t I believe in the traditional gods of Christianity, Judaism, Islam, or Hinduism? The short answer is because I don’t have a reason to believe they exist. The detailed answer is a little more complex but I can explain.
One of the arguments for the existence of a god is the “first cause argument”. Basically it is asserted that everything has a cause, but then an exception is made for the first cause. It must be uncaused or it cannot be the first. But this raises the question, if something can happen without a cause, then there is no need for the first cause at all!
It all goes back to the ancient chicken and egg problem. The eggs come from chickens and the chickens hatch from the eggs. You can claim there was a first chicken or a first egg, but how did it come to exist if it is the first.
The very concept of a beginning blows my mind. I don’t believe in a first cause because I am a hard determinist and therefore am of the opinion that everything has a cause. This requires an infinite regress of cause and effect that had no beginning and will have no end.
I think I am right about this(as nearly everyone thinks they are about their own beliefs), but even if uncaused events were possible, then it simply means that at any time, anything could happen and there is nothing we can depend on. Acausal events of that sort would be unexplainable because there would be no cause by which we could explain it or test our theories.
So either determinism rules out a first cause or indeterminism allows some uncaused events which could produce gods, chickens, unicorns, or anything else. It would be like a cartoon because usual laws of nature such as gravity would not always apply. So in short, I don’t know how to believe in a first cause without believing in all sorts of wacky things which sound equally nonsensical.
There are two types of people. Those who believe in a first cause and those who don’t, but there can be atheists in both groups. Even if the first cause existed at some point, it could have been the tooth fairy. It would not necessarily be the god of Christianity or Islam.
Does this all sound like nonsense to you? It does to me too and this is why I dislike the subject of trying to explain events that happened before I existed.
The truth is, in July of 2013 I finally admitted that I did not believe in the Christian god of the bible that I was taught to believe in since I was a child. I thought maybe it was all a bunch of lies but I was still looking for some evidence that there could be a god that was different. Back then I was sort of a deist who thought maybe a god created the world and then committed suicide after becoming depressed at the mess he started.
Additionally, the attributes of omniscience and omnipotence described to God were in conflict with each other. An omnipotent god could change the future into whatever he wanted therefore there would be no use for omniscience nor would there be any room for human “free will”. I later learned that free will was a false and nonsensical believe and published a book related to that.
Anyhow, I still don’t know how to make sense out religious traditions or the people who spend their time and money promoting them. I tried to explain to people why I no longer believed in god. That was a terrible mistake. I had no idea how much hatred I would get from the Christians who did not like their beliefs challenged.
So why did I tell people I am an atheist? Because I see the harm that comes from believing in things which are either false or bad.
I think the belief in an afterlife causes more bad than good. If you believe your next life will be better than this one, why not kill yourself? If you believe that you are going to burn in hellfire after death then how can you be happy and enjoy this life? Either heaven or hell sounded like something that would lead to depression and suicide.
On the other hand, if this life is the only life we get, then it is our one shot at doing whatever we want to do. I think we should live in peace and be happy.
Sadly, religion gets in the way of this. When I say “religion”, I am generally referring to the major world religions of Christianity, Judaism, Islam, and Hinduism. Defining what these religions are is an impossible task but if you grew up in one of them, you might see a problem.
There are many differences between the religions and the different sects within each religion. There are however two major things common to them.
1. The idea of gods/goddesses who are described mostly as being like humans who either created the world or are believed to be controlling some part of it.
2. The idea of an afterlife. A life that you experience only after death. The common ideas are heaven, hell, or reincarnation.
If it were possible to prove the existence of a god or goddess, my behavior would not change. I would not offer animals as a burnt sacrifice. I would not start a war to kill the infidels. I would not do anything it tells me unless I have a reason for doing that act. If I have a reason for doing something, I would do it without a divine command.
If it were possible to prove the existence of an afterlife, then it is possible that my actions would change with that knowledge depending on what living things experienced in that afterlife. When I say living things, that includes all animals. I see no reason to exclude dogs, cats, hamsters, cows, chickens, pigs, turkeys, or any other species.
I view all forms of life as being equal and therefore think that all of us who can should go vegan to reduce suffering of the types of animals that live painful lives only to be killed and eaten. One thing that I have noticed about a lot of religions is their special focus on humanity as a special species. The vegetarians and vegans stand in opposition to this and therefore are enemies to the anthropocentric nature of some religions.
To be continued