Well, I’m an atheist. I used to be mormon. I always had questions, and when I finally started researching the answers, it pretty quickly became clear to me that on the historical inaccuracies alone, mormonism was false.
I was okay with that, though. The way I figured it, all religions were probably false to a degree. I figured an ineffable, infinite, immortal, all-knowing being would be unable to properly communicate with finite mortal beings. It is, in a word, impossible. It would be like us trying to communicate with ants — we might be able to figure out some workable methods to get basic information across, but the intricacies of religious instruction? Bound to get all mangled in the transmission. The brain capacity is just too different. If an immortal, infinite being actually did talk to us like equals, I’m pretty sure our minds would just explode.
So I decided to research every religion I could and find out which was the most accurate. I didn’t get much past the big 3 (Christianity, Islam, Judiasm) and a little into some of the Eastern religions before I realized a few things:
- All religions appear to believe that man should be good — do unto others, love thy neighbor, etc. etc.
- All religions appear to promote showing respect and love to their deity/ deities.
- All religions have very different formulas on how to be good.
The different formulas + god(s) seem to be what cause the conflict. Everyone wants to be good and kind, we just have (as a species) really different ideas on what god/ religion says the best way of achieving said goodness and kindness is. So we (as a species) fight and scream over what an all powerful, invisible, infinite, immortal being may or may not have said.
I got to thinking about this immortal, infinite, omniscient being. I wondered why said being didn’t just prevent the strife. My religious upbringing gave me the answer — god believes in free will. Except, god gives us nothing we cannot handle, and god knew us before we were born, and god knows the path of our lives. By definition, god knowing everything means we cannot have free will. It’s impossible. Think of it this way — say you drop an egg. Now, you know the egg will fall to the ground and break. You know the path of the egg. You are the one with all the knowledge and all the power. So you can do three things:
- Drop the egg and watch it break.
- Drop the egg and catch it.
- Don’t drop the egg.
What happens to the egg is in your power, because you’re the one with all the control. You may be saying, “But we’re not eggs. We’re human beings.” Fine, awesome. Is god a human being, or is god an infinite being with perfect awareness of the past, present, and future? Does god know what choices we will make?
If god does not know what choices we will make, then god is not infinite and all-knowing. If god does know what choices we will make, then free will does not exist.
If we assume that god does know what choices we will make, then that means that god not only knows things like who will accept him/her into his/her heart, but god knows things like who will rape children, who will exterminate entire peoples, who will kill for fun. God knows all the awful things that will happen in the world, and god’s stance on this is apparently, “Eh, it’s for the greater good.”
Now, people often say that god’s ways are mysterious, and we won’t know the fullness of his/her plan until we die. The more I thought about it, the more I realized I didn’t want to know the fullness of his/her plan. I don’t want to ever be in a situation where I can look at all the tortures, rapes, murders, sickness, and sorrow and be like, “Oh, now I get it — good show, god, good show! Brilliant!”
Anyone who can look at infants in Africa dying of HIV and say, “Gods ways sure are mysterious,” baffles me. No. That’s not “mystery,” that’s just straight-up horrific. Anyone who can look at the war rapes in Bosnia, or the acid attacks in the Middle East, or the witch killings in Africa and be like, “God has a plan,” is ignoring the larger question of what plan could possibly justify this kind of horror?
I mean, a being would have to be sociopathically evil to incorporate that kind of suffering into their plan and do nothing to prevent it. God could prevent it, right? Because god is all-powerful, so it’s god’s choice to prevent or not prevent it. And when you cite free will or these “rules” that god has, um, god wrote the rules, supposedly. Supreme creator of the universe and all that. It’s up to god on whether or not he/she has to follow the rules he/she wrote. If god can’t break his/her own rules, then god is clearly not all powerful.
But neither could god be sociopathically evil. The world could be a lot worse. We have things like love, and learning, and science. We have gorgeous scenic vistas and literature and friendship and random acts of kindness. We have charities — entire organizations of people who band together to help the less fortunate. We have a lot of darkness and horror in our world, but there’s a lot of kindness and beauty, too.
So the only logical conclusion is that god, if he/she does exist, is neutral. Indifferent to our struggles. Uncaring. A vast cosmic awareness that neither helps nor hurts. After I came to this conclusion, I began defining myself as an agnostic — someone who thinks there may or may not be a god, but that it doesn’t really effect our earthly lives.
Then I found a definition of atheism that basically said atheists are those who do not feel the current evidence is sufficient to prove the existence of a god or gods, and that until sufficient evidence presents itself, there is no reason to believe.
I really identified with that definition. I’m perfectly willing to believe in god, if verifiable and replicable evidence presents itself. Until such convincing and incontrovertible evidence is presented, there is no basis for belief. So I’m an atheist.