Help With Your Homework

Question from Sheena:
Hello, I’m currently studying Year 10. I would like to ask you a few questions with my Religion major assignment. If it’s okay.

Here are the questions:
1. What is your name?
2. What is the reason you became an Atheist?

Hoping for your immediate response.

Answer by SmartLX:
Sure it’s okay Sheena, but wow, that’s all they told you to ask? But then I suppose “why” is the only question that’s really on one’s mind when faced with a person whose position is so different from one’s own.

1. My name’s Alex, and you can give them any surname you want and they’ll accept it. Alex is a very common given name. Or be honest and say you asked a public blogger, this site will prove you right and they’ll understand my unwillingness to throw my whole name around.

2. I was a self-professed Christian until about the age of 11-12, when I was suddenly shocked by the fact that I didn’t have an answer to the Problem of Evil: why evil exists in the world if there’s a God who’s all-powerful, all-knowing and absolutely good. (Years later I didn’t just find one answer but far too many different ones; it became clear that no one really knows. But that was after the fact.) It was too hard to think about and I had teen things to focus on, and I moved from a Catholic primary school to a secular high school, so I didn’t consider religion seriously for almost 15 years. Without the constant reinforcement from within and without I barely prayed, I only went to church for Easter and Christmas and zoned out both times, and I only read the Bible when tracking down quotes (like the speech from Pulp Fiction).

Then in 2006 I read about Richard Dawkins and New Atheism, when journalists were all writing their first articles on the subject. Without reading any of Dawkins’ work or knowing any of his contemporaries’ talking points, I suddenly asked myself whether I still believed in God. It turned out that I didn’t, my simple opinion was that His existence no longer seemed likely. I was by definition an atheist. You should note that this is when I realised I was an atheist – the point when I became one could have been any time in the preceding years.

I recognised that this was a pretty big turnaround, so THEN I started digging into the meat of the debate to see if I was missing something. I searched the Web for the best arguments in favour of God, or any other god. Every one of them was plainly flawed (as I’ve chronicled in my Great Big Arguments series). There were certainly plenty of people willing to defend the arguments, but their defenses just weren’t convincing. I hadn’t known of this general weakness in the “apologetic” as a Christian boy, but it didn’t matter because I didn’t even know the arguments, I had merely accepted what I was told. I’d only known atheists existed because my father is one, and he only ever told me on two occasions.

So there you have it. I’m an atheist because I took a break from religion long enough to lose my emotional connections to it, and when I returned to the subject it was easier to see that faith was not intellectually justified. If the right justification finally came along it would be a different story, but I’m still waiting. In the meantime I live my life as if there is no god, and from that perspective much to do with religion appears pretty rotten.

4 thoughts on “Help With Your Homework”

  1. I will answer you question, too.

    I NEVER BECAME AN ATHEIST.

    I was BORN one, just LIKE you, but I, UNLIKE you, REMAINED so, because I did not see any reason for starting to believe that there is something people call ‘god’.

    SIMPLE AS THAT!!!

    As for you, I would like to ask you, if you permit me to do so, WHY ON EARTH did you CHANGE YOUR MIND, after having been born as an intelligent atheist, as all humans are born and started to believe the crappy lies your parents and the church and actually everybody around you were telling you, (but you should have known better) without any whatsoever proof to support their idiotic claims.

    YES, WHY?!

  2. Hey … that’s an interesting one.
    I am not sure if other atheists can answer, but I’d like to answer as well.

    1. My name is Rohit (its a pretty common Indian name)

    2. I became an atheist by accident. I was never into religious rituals – I always found them to be childish. Around college time, I started asking the “big questions” – what’s the purpose of life, why is there evil etc. For some reason these questions became very pressing to me (“dark night of the soul” as its referred to) and I delved into a lot of philosophy including what passes as philosophy in various religions to get to an answer to these big questions. I also read a lot of authors who have seemingly grappled with these questions in various ways (Dostoyevsky, Hermann Hesse, Camus, Sartre etc.).
    I was enamored with various concepts that various religions have to offer – the Christian emphasis on being Christ-like, Buddhism’s emphasis on equanimity, Hinduism’s emphasis on detachment etc. but I found no answers to be logically fully consistent with what one observes in real life.

    I got pretty bogged down with all this and I thought I’d take a break from religious thought (and even general philosophy/ philosophical literature) and turn back to science for a while to get to answers (I am a trained engineer). I let go of all this philosophical and religious thinking as an experiment.
    And the experiment was a success … the turning to scientific though worked wonders. I found that evolution, human psychology & evolutionary psychology answer most questions about why people behave the way they do, why there is evil etc. – there was absolutely to need to invoke the god hypothesis.
    Also, physical science explains most things about the existence of the universe and the processes that take place, again no god required. What is not explained is usually being actively researched or may actually be a meaningless question.

    Religious thought gave a lot of purposes regarding life & explained its meaning (in divine terms) in myriad ways … but it never answered the details to my satisfaction … the whys, the what ifs, the how can we etc. It catered to the emotions a lot, not much or at all to reason.
    Scientific thought tended not to give any answers on purpose or meaning … but it explained everything that used to confound me – it helped me think clearer and make better decisions in-fact. I found it very natural and easy to accept scientific thought and reject religious thought.

    I look at the time I spent in college delving into philosophy and religion (esp. religious philosophy) to be time utterly wasted. Its like Camus’s outsider with me … who when asked to confess and accept god by the prison pastor (just before his scheduled execution) grabbed the pastor by the collar and threw him out … saying that not even one of the pastor’s certainties was worth one hair of a woman’s head. I’d throw out the pastor too and settle for a hearty last meal to be enjoyed with a general science article instead 🙂

  3. It occurs to me, Sheena, that if you only need one response for your own assignment your classmates might be able to use the ones coming through in the comments. Just make sure no two classmates use the same one.

  4. 1) My name is Tim. I live in St Louis, MO.

    2) I became an atheist because I realized that all religious claims, including the claims of Christianity, cannot possibly be true. All religions propose (based on our knowledge at this time) logically and scientifically impossible things. Since there is no evidence for the existence of god creatures, there is no reason for me to waste my limited life span believing in them.

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