People ask me to talk about my atheism way more than you would think. I think they are a mix between confused, concerned and just plain curious. I don’t really talk about it because I don’t see the point but also because there doesn’t seem to be a way to do so without sounding like an asshole or offending someone. But why are you offended? I mean, why does my lack of belief elicit such a defensive response, especially when you asked me in the first place?
It is just a weird spot to be in, mentally, physically and geographically. I live in the bible belt, there is a church on every corner, there are 3 giant crosses off the interstate right when you roll into Memphis and a giant, super creepy picture of a white Jesus’s face (that in my opinion looks more like Charles Manson) with “I love you” above it. It is just weird to me. If it isn’t weird to you, ask yourself if there were 3 giant upside down crosses on the roadside with a billboard that read “Love yourself, God isn’t real” how would you feel upon entering the town? Yeah, same.
But I get that too! Religion, especially Christianity, is seen as a default setting, so why not spread it everywhere? Plus, it is in the teachings of Christianity to spread the word of Christ and to help lead lost people to him, I remember that from Sunday school. Well, what about those that aren’t religious or lost? It is just very brazen in my opinion and unnecessary.
Amidst the droves of misconceptions about atheism and the fact that I don’t feel comfortable discussing it publicly, I love being an atheist, but unlike Christians who are in love with their faith too, I do not feel the need for it to permeate every conversation I have. I just live, I am free, I am happy. I have nothing to atone for, no one to impress, no end game, no masters. My morality consists of gratitude, humility, kindness, and intent. I am not trying to be a good person to gain acceptance or to save my soul from eternal damnation, I am trying to be a good person because I want to be a good person. I get one life and I am thankful to exist at all, to get the one shot on the earth to do what I can and do it well, to experience all that I can, to love people, to move forward, to set goals, to have thoughts and feelings, to create art, to drink coffee, to take naps, to climb trees. I believe that this is all there is, and that is more than enough motivation to live well and love people and be thankful and happy to be alive. I am not any less an atheist because I don’t discuss it. I appreciate the beautiful skyline, a cool autumn breeze, a hug from a friend, a laugh from my children JUST AS MUCH as a religious person. I am just as whole as a religious person. I am not lost, I am not suffering, I am not missing something. I am not an atheist because of anger or a bad church experience, I am not an atheist because maybe I just haven’t read the right things or been around the right kind of religious person, etc. etc.
I am an atheist because I have simply seen no evidence to substantiate the claims that religions make.
I feel the need to say that personal faith is not evidence. Personal belief and doctrine is not evidence. “Just a feeling” is not evidence. Every time I had a question, there either was no answer or the answer was “faith.” That is not an answer. If the doctor who operated on my grandfather’s aneurysm was doing so on faith, that wouldn’t have been acceptable either. Facts are what can change my beliefs, or lack thereof, and I have seen none. I am not asking you to mission, I am not asking for personal testimonial, I simply want tangible evidence. Faith isn’t enough. Belief isn’t enough. I can believe that I am a tree, that doesn’t make me a tree. I can believe I am a ghost, but that doesn’t make me a ghost. I can believe that there is a deity in the sky watching my every move, all knowing, all powerful, but that doesn’t make him real.
Anyway I said I wouldn’t rant, I won’t. I will just leave you with a few of my favorite quotes.
“What can be asserted without evidence can also be dismissed without evidence. - Christopher Hitchens
”That’s the point about beliefs, they don’t change the facts. Facts, if you’re rational, should change your beliefs.” - Ricky Gervais
“We are all atheists about most of the gods that humanity has ever believed in. Some of us just go one god further.” ― Richard Dawkins
“Death is certain, replacing both the siren-song of Paradise and the dread of Hell. Life on this earth, with all its mystery and beauty and pain, is then to be lived far more intensely: we stumble and get up, we are sad, confident, insecure, feel loneliness and joy and love. There is nothing more; but I want nothing more.” —Ayaan Hirsi Ali
“I don't want to believe. I want to know.” ― Carl Sagan