Some people believe in a supreme being, an afterlife, reincarnation, or some other form of the divine or supernatural. Some people, simply do not. Here, the latter category, atheists, talk about their thoughts.
Thanks to everyone who contributed. If you would like to read more thoughts like these, be sure to check out the source link at the end of this article. Comments have been edited for clarity.
Lack of proof.
The default of any unknown answer to a question should always be the neutral one. Otherwise, anything could be claimed as truth.
An absolute truth ought to be convergent in society, not divergent. Religion naturally diverges and breaks into separate sects. If anything, the principles of science are the only thing that converge in our society. The ideologies of evidence, logic and reason are all that I try to follow.
Also, realizing how much geography determines religious belief. Again, absolute truth shouldn’t be reduced to something this crude.
Realizing that my childhood and the way I was raised is the only reason I was ever religious. If I was taught religion from adulthood, I wouldn’t believe a shred of it. Religion only persists, in my life, because of indoctrination. Why should an absolute truth be reduced to this? There’s a pattern here.
Realizing that our species’ place in the universe is so vastly small and we know an infinitesimal amount about it. We don’t know a thing, despite how much we think we do. Why should the god flavor of the millenia/century be considered absolute truth?
Realizing the psychological and sociological reasons why religion persists. It preys on unanswerable existential fears and questions, while simultaneously providing positive emotions and a social support network. It takes all the needs and fears of the mind and acts upon them. Educating myself on cognitive biases and quirks of the human mind, and how religion takes advantage of them. Absolute truth shouldn’t need to prey on these to become apparent.
Being aware of how humans evolved and how religion is a natural response for emergent cognitive beings. Natural doesn’t always mean correct, though. Evolution “selects” the first thing that works and moves ahead accordingly. Religion helped society become more and more pervasive and increase our species’ growth. Understanding where it came from and why, makes it easier to realize its flaws.
I don’t think believing in God should be the first thought. If I said I could teleport, you wouldn’t believe me immediately. You assume it’s false, until shown otherwise. Similarly, I assume God doesn’t exist to begin with, and then if I think there’s significant evidence, my mind will be changed.
I had a childhood full of abuse.
I can’t count the numerous times I’ve lay awake at night, crying out to God to help me. To please stop leaving me alone. I’ve begged and cried for hours at a time, saying I’ll do anything.
Help never came. I always woke up to face the abuse once again.
I turned 18, moved out on my own, and haven’t dealt with it since. However, I do have a lot of phycological problems now.
I’ve come to the conclusion that god is not real. No God would allow children to be beat, starved, abused. Especially if he had “the power to do everything”.
I’m atheist because having to choose 1 out of approximately 4200 choices, makes me think there’s a whole lot of bullcrap going on.
Ricky Gervais summed it up best:
“If you took every book and record of every religion and destroyed it, 1000 years from now, those religions would NEVER return as the same. Ever. There might be religions, but they would be different.
If you took every book and text about science and destroyed it, 1000 years from now, they would ALL be back. Exactly the same, with the exact same information.”
I don’t believe in god for the same reason I don’t believe in Zeus, Odin, Ra, Krishna, Raiden, Quetzalcoatl, or Santa Claus.
Most religious people are 99% athiest, if they think about it. They are willing to dismiss and laugh at all the other gods in world, but somehow THEIRS is real.
When you apply the same lens that lets you laugh at other gods to your own god, it’s really hard to keep believing.
Why do you believe?
I tried to be religious, as I was raised that way. But I could not reconcile that I am a logical, thinking human being, yet believe in something that honestly, seems ridiculous, (not to be offensive), and thus requires intangible “faith” to believe.
In addition, I began to see how people act with religion, how they use it, and how it plays a part in society. Though I like the sentiment, (anything that makes some people be better than they are can’t be too bad), I could not get past the abuse, the inherent power seeking, excuse making, or creating clearly defined out-groups and in-groups.
It just seems like a way to control the population and each other, though I know it’s not just that.
Lastly, there is little evidence. No evidence has been presented that has convinced me, but if it was, I would obviously rethink.
I’m an atheist, but saying why I became an atheist is sort of silly. I simply do not believe in the higher powers, much in the same way believers do believe in the higher power. There is not really a lot to it, other than where your beliefs lie.
I think religion is important to many aspects of the world, and it helps many people. I’ve gone to church, I’ve prayed with friends and family, and generally just kind of go with the flow when it comes to that stuff.
People sometimes say that makes me agnostic, but I’m not really here to mince words, I don’t believe in a god, or any god, so that’s just atheism. Granted there are a lot of jerkwad atheists that just want to rant about religion and take every opportunity to try and disprove it. But hey, those guys can go suck on an egg.
Non-belief just seems like the default setting. No one is born religious, no one discovers faith, it’s taught to you by people who were taught by people who were taught be people and so on.
I used to be religious, but now I find it more comforting believing there is no afterlife, better make the most of this one.
At some point I thought, “Wait a minute, why should the default be to believe in god and the atheists have to justify their stance? It should be exactly the other way round: Default should be atheism and you have to give me a pretty darn good reason not to be one.”
I haven’t been presented with a pretty good reason, yet.
The fact that every supposed holy book mercilessly contradicts itself started my disbelief.
The fact that people use their religion to justify horrible things drove the nail into the coffin.
That said, I’m Agnostic, not atheist, but organized religion is, in my opinion, horrible.
I developed a simple life philosophy just by observing the world and people around me. The philosophy is simple:
Don’t be a jerk to people, and help out when you reasonably can.
Everything else I do in life stems from that philosophy. No religious subtext or divine end goal is needed.
If it wasn’t so randomly, geographically dependent without indoctrination from birth and I could pick one, which one should I pick? They all seem equally arbitrary to me.
I read about the history of the bible and how it was compiled into the book we have today. That made me realize that it’s all obviously (to me) not true. The old testament especially. And I think once you remove the dogma surrounding religion, all you are left with is the question, “Do you believe there is an invisible omnipotent being with magical powers?” And the answer to that question for me is, “Probably not, no.”
Also the problem of evil, I’ve never heard anybody come up with a satisfactory answer to that.
I always like what Ricky Gervais says: “It annoys me that the burden of proof is on us. It should be you came up with the idea, why do you believe it? I could tell you I have superpowers but I can’t then say to other people prove that I don’t, everyone would want me to prove that I can.”
I don’t think that’s exactly what he said, but it’s pretty close.
It would have to be because my priest tried to groom and assault me and other boys who were innocently trying to learn their place in this huge universe. Once I took a step back, it was pretty obvious to me that those in charge were all there for horrible reasons, and the religion part was pretty far down on the list of what they cared about.
After that, I moved, became involved in the LDS (Mormons) church and BOOM, it was all happening to kids in that religion too. The true crime was how much it is covered up and handled “in house” and none of this hits the media.
Religion is the breeding ground for pedophilia and everyone who turns a blind eye is a culprit.
If there was a god, why does he allow those who speak on his behalf to harm children? No god would do that, therefore, in my opinion, there is no god.
I believe that religion is a scam. The greatest scam of all time. It’s used to control people. But hey, I guess some people need to, or benefit from, having that control over them.
Please don’t hate… it’s my complete, personal opinion. I do not judge people who have faith, and I should hope they don’t judge me either.
There has been nothing presented to me that makes me inclined to believe.
I think, as human beings, we naturally fill in our cognitive blanks. Gods were created to explain unexplainable events. Now, however, science can fill in most of those blanks. The only mechanisms to continue belief in gods are fear, tradition, and metaphysical loneliness and insecurity.
I think of faith like an abusive relationship. The abused is afraid to leave because he or she is afraid of the consequences, fearful that no one else will love them, worried about ending a marriage and being a divorcee, afraid of being alone. They think about all the bad, but then remember that feeling when it was good. They defend their abuser. Then they finally get up the courage and leave.
They realize that all of these fears were, in fact, constructed by the abuser. They are not going to be alone forever. They are not worthless without their spouse. No one who’s worth a lick looks down on them.
This has been my experience with religion and faith. Now that I am no longer fearful, because I no longer believe, I live a much more authentic and free life. I still have the same values.
Because my parents were not religious, just like how probably many people are religious because of their family.
Environmental influences shape a lot about one’s identity. If you were raised by non-religious parents, most likely you would have no religion and therefore, no reason to believe in god.
Being gay means most religions consider me anywhere from an perverted abomination doomed to heck which they would be glad to assist me in getting to, to merely being tolerated, but not fully accepted. Why would I want to put up with that in my life, when I can decide to live up to my own moral standards to treat others fairly and work on my own personal development without the assistance of a 2000 year old book or a mystical sky god?
I don’t think 2000+ year old desert nomads are the go-to people for life advice when they didn’t know what causes diseases or that the Earth wasn’t the center of the universe, etcetera.
If you grew up in the jungle in some 3rd world country, and never met a Christian or saw a bible from the day you were born till the day you died, would that make you an Atheist? You wouldn’t believe in god because you would know nothing of a god. You only know what you learn from your environment. A person in this situation, could still understand gravity, rudimentary physics and mathematics from simply experiencing life around them, but would never know of a god. The best explanation for why Atheists do not believe in god is that you can prove or disprove nearly every other claim in our comprehension, but not the existence of supernatural entities. No one has EVER provided definitive proof that a man named Jesus actually walked on water.
There is no evidence of religion to be true. Religious people have told me time and time again, “Well evolution is just a theory, yet you accept that. Why can’t you accept religion?” I think religion makes no sense. It isn’t feasible in my mind. Theories like evolution, the big bang, etc., have evidence, but can’t be proven unless we could travel through time. Plus it’s a whole lot easier believing in nothing and just accepting things for what they are.