When folks find out that I’m an atheist, some ask “How can you not believe in God?” My answer is simple. Because I don’t have proof that there is one. And, I’m not sure which one I should believe in even if i chose the path of believing without proof.
This is kind of a cheap answer in that I don’t believe there really ever can be sufficient proof to warrant a belief in a god or gods. Unfortunately, “faith is not a true path to truth”, as Matt Dillahunty says and, like him, I prefer to believe as many true things as possible. After all, you can believe anything on faith if you want to. Take, for example, the belief in Hindu gods versus the Abrahamic god. Who is to say who is right or wrong when you place all your eggs in the “faith” basket?
I’m not going to get into all of the arguments for or against believing in a god because it’s been done a million times in a million different places, so the point of this post is to just say that I am an atheist and it’s not really my choice.
Science is the only way to measure the real world and, to the best of my knowledge, there is no other way that has proven to be reliable. In time, scientific theories change based on the data, but that’s real data that is observed in the known universe. Since I live in the known universe, I kinda have to go where the evidence takes me. I’m not afraid to say “I don’t know” to the answers of life’s biggest mysteries or create answers of my own where existentialism guides me. Can we ever know what happened before the Big Bang? I don’t know if we can, however, can I know the meaning of life? Sure, I can. It’s my life and I can ascribe whatever meaning I want to it.
What about the afterlife? Do I have an answer for that? Nope, I don’t. And you may, but it’s not necessarily correct. It may shock you to learn that it doesn’t matter to me, either. After all, which afterlife is correct? Will I go to hell for being a non-believer? If so, which one? Is it Naraka or the H-E-double hockey sticks, fire and brimstone, Christian Hell? Or, maybe I’ll be reincarnated as he Buddhists believe? No evidence is available for any of them, so the odds are is that someone has to get it wrong.
The other argument is that theists give me is that without a god, where do I get my morality from? How can I be a moral human being? Well, I am. And, I’m not sure why, but I tend to agree with some scientists who believe our morals come from the fact that we are social animals. We have developed social contracts, implicitly and innately, because it benefits us as a species. Killing one of our own is counterproductive to species survival. We simply have to get along to survive. For the 1% of folks who are psychotic or sociopathic – well, they are an anomaly. All species have them. That’s what accounts for albinos (not to say albinos are psychotic or bad in any way). Plus, the morality of a god can always be questioned. The Judeo-Christian Bible has a god who does nothing to dissuade us from slavery and thinks homosexuals should be killed. As a species, we’ve largely moved past those ideals (although, I have to acknowledge that some of us have not).
When asked about his morality, Penn Jillette – famous magician, libertarian and atheist – has said that he has raped exactly as many people as he has wanted to. None. Zero. I can say the same and I made that decision without the need to consult a holy book to see if it is right or wrong. I am sympathetic towards others and, more so, I am empathetic. I can relate to their pain and suffering as well as their joy and elation. No god has told me how to do that and it cannot be proven those one has instilled those qualities within me.
Of course, I can blindly agree to worship a god, and I can select which one I want to adore and prostrate myself before. But, still, not making a choice is a choice in itself. Most religious folks, and I mean “most” and not “all” don’t make the choice themselves. Their selection is based on upbringing or geography. I find it very rare, although possible, that a baby brought up in a Southern Baptist household in Alabama would ever choose to be a Sikh or Jain. Likewise, I don’t see a child growing up in Calcutta choosing to be a Calvinist. For me, I don’t feel that I really need to make a decision, ultimately, so I am an atheist but not by choice.