Many people, famous and not so famous, have written at length on this title. Having read quite a number, this writer has never therein found another’s reasons to be sufficient in explanation. Perhaps being an Atheist is a personal choice of multiple paths or it may be that sufficient inward motivation to explain oneself has not been properly utilised.
I believe the latter to be true. There may be a cacophony of experiences in life which lead to an Atheistic outlook being adopted but, considering the varying degrees of ostracism which go with the territory, a deeper and more meaningful state of mind must be inherent in the whole process. If this were not the case reversion would be a far bigger percentage outcome than reality shows. Once an Atheist on intellectual grounds, always an Atheist.
We, who are Atheists, have been through the mill of self-reprogramming over shorter or longer periods of time probably dependent on quantity and quality of indoctrination combined with genetic susceptibility. A most interesting observation is that the genuine Atheist can never be re-programmed back to a state of taking things on ‘faith.’ Not ever, not even under duress such as torture, nervous breakdown or mental incompetence.
It seems reasonable to explore why this approach to life is so immutable.
One would think that the self-interest ‘gene’ would have us jumping back into the imaginary world of hopes and dreams at the first sign of the normal run of emotional trouble that befalls humanity as a consistent theme. But how can we jump back when the following thoughts are mostly shared in common?
Our culture (Australian) is one where Christianity and the Bible support each other and in turn are both supported by overt and introvert people and organisations acting along traditional lines which disallow constructive or any criticism of accepted ‘truths’. After experiencing some kind of catalytic moment, the Atheist-to-be soon learns to what extent a powerful opposition will go in attempting to retain the status quo of acceptance on ‘faith.’ This is the first step in understanding human thinking processes and how they are so easily found wanting when critical thought is so much in need.
This unwillingness by the supporters of unreasonable propositions to listen to the voices of dissent is the beginning of a life-long distrust in that for which there is no evidence. I would say that it is the very petard on which all religions eventually hoist themselves and is the starting point for Atheists to expand their mental horizons.
Some of us are just thankful to shed a nagging burden and to be able to carry on a life without it. Others, with the help of this new-found freedom of assessment capability, begin to see the once hidden harm that is caused by a grossly erroneous product called religion. All religions in fact. We are now in a position of understanding a wrong and therefore feel obliged to correct it. I would hasten to say here that this correction process is no more altruistic than any other but has more to do with not being able to live with ourselves if no attempt is made to alleviate the suffering of others.
We have an enormous advantage over the pre-Darwin Atheistic thinkers. The rejection of the idea of a personal god has always been the domain of rational thought but the rejection of a Creator god would have been considerably more difficult without the benefit of the knowledge of a very old and very large universe. We owe these people an immeasurable debt. One only has to consider modern day thinkers to see religious ostracism at work, but imagine the plight of the Dark Age Atheist.
We can now picture a universe, moments after the ‘big bang’ or whatever, acting according to the understandable laws of nature instead of by spiritual decree. Understanding that life started, not how it started, and progressed by these natural laws without supernatural influence is the Atheist blueprint for an unchanging course. We begin to see that homo-sapiens are but one species on Earth and not the special species of a goddom.
The world, along with its beauty and grandeur, is a place of horrors and untimely death. Nature, in a never-ending process of entropic change, delivers earthquakes, floods, fires, famine, disease etc, not with discrimination but willy-nilly. The rich and the poor, the old and the young, the sick and the healthy, animal or human, the religious and the not so, if in the wrong place at the wrong time, then it is goodnight forever.
An Atheist is not taken in by the survivors of these occurrences uttering it is God’s will or some other token mind saving remark. If a god cannot use its power to prevent such unstable occurrences, then it is a god that has no right to teach a moral code of ‘do unto others’. There seems no other way to word this, but it is only a fool who will accept that kind of thinking.
Observing that nature does not react to the will or wishes of god or human, atheists are vitally involved with those promoting the alternate viewpoint. We begin to ask questions. What right does an adult have to indoctrinate children? How strong is this indoctrination? Why are the religious, in many cases, instrumental in formulating laws for the rest of us? Why are nations with alternate religions against other nations? Why is religious difference within nations worthy of animosity? Why aren’t sex education and population expansion hot topics politically and socially? Why do humans continue to see themselves as the end result of god’s work? Why is equal consideration not afforded to all sentient animals, humans included? Why has dominion over the environment translated to greedy exploitation? Why are the disadvantaged told to persevere, for their rewards will be in heaven? Why is religion a patriarchal affair and how does that impact on women? What other harmful projects impact on our planet via religious nonsense? The questions go on and on.
With the previous thoughts firmly implanted in the heads of Atheists there is no turning back. At last the struggle is now seen as a battle of mammoth proportions with the enemy utilising every evolutionary trick to their ‘evil’ advantage. The human capacity to follow without question the dictates of the herd or of its favoured children, the insecurity of life itself, the fear of pain and death, the desire to be wanted and needed, all play into the hands of those in power and they are aware of what they are doing.
With this insanity blanketing the face of the Earth and reaching into every place in which humans can exist, how can a reasoning Atheist not declare openly and strongly, the reasons good and true, why I am an Atheist.
By David Nicholls