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Why I am an atheist
When I was a child, I was a Southern Baptist. This is a very conservative protestant sect. They believe every word of the bible is exactly correct and just the way God wants it, so every verse of the bible is equally valid and they ALL need to be followed equally. Some aspects of the southern Baptist teachings I do agree with - they believe in total separation of church and state, and they believe it's up to each individual to read the bible and interpret it.
When I was younger, I was a devout Christian and a devout Southern Baptist. I "witnessed" (proselytized). I handed out tracts. I read the bible through several times. I tried to show people "The Roman Road". But, the older I got, the more I questioned the bible and what I was told in church. My feminist tendencies started to emerge, which of course conflicted with many Southern Baptist beliefs. I studied the history of Christianity and the history of the bible. I studied the history of other religions. I studied mythology and how myths developed. The more I learned, the less I could believe the bible, particularly King James's interpretation of it. I still believed in god, I just thought I wasn't a Southern Baptist - maybe I was a more liberal protestant - I looked for a sect I could believe in, one who didn't believe the bible was the literal, infallible word of god. But as I continued to look for the "right" religion, as I continued to learn where religions and myths come from, I continued to lose faith in any sort of god. I became an atheist/secular humanist.
I am atheist because I don't believe in god, and a secular humanist because of what I do believe in. I don't really believe in anything "spiritual". I believe in things which can be tested and studied, proved or disproved. I believe in reason and science. I don't believe in anything "supernatural". I believe in doing what's right and moral, for all of humanity. I believe in volunteering and doing good works. I believe in democracy, justice, fairness, and freedom - tolerance and acceptance. I believe in avoiding needless suffering, for humans and all other species. I am against violence, dogma, discrimination, hatred, selfishness, and irrationality. Science and technology can contribute to the betterment of human life. Church and state must be separate, and every member of society must have the right to believe what they believe, and work out exactly what it is they believe. I believe you should enjoy life, here and now, and improve life for all people, by making moral decisions. I am skeptical of untested claims, and I refuse to believe everything my doctor tells me, some "expert" says on the news or at a pulpit, or anything published in a book, without investigating the subject myself.
One of the things that started my questioning of what I was taught in church was the teaching method of a pastor. He told a lot of urban legends as though they were true and happened to a member of his last congregation. Urban legends and where they come from have always been a hobby of mine, so when our pastor stood at the pulpit and talked about a girl in his last congregation who cooked her internal organs by tanning too much, or a woman who got a note saying "welcome to the world of aids" I knew he was lying. If someone tells an urban legend that happened to a friend of a friend, it's possible they believe it's true. But for someone to claim they actually know the original person it happened to, that they comforted the mother of the girl who's insides were cooked due to her vanity, it's a lie, plain and simple. And if he's lying about that, what else was he lying about?
A couple of years ago, my boyfriend and I both took a quiz online, called "What Faith are you?" Basically you answer questions about what you believe and the quiz tells you what religion most closely fits your beliefs. My results were 100% atheist/secular humanist and 99% Unitarian Universalists. My boyfriend was 100% liberal protestant and 99% Unitarian Universalists. So, we did some research on Unitarian Universalists and decided to attend some services and classes with a UU church. What I like about UU organizations is, unlike most churches, they don't believe there is one truth and they have it. They believe in each member discovering for themselves what they believe. People of all faiths or no faiths are equally welcome, and their thoughts considered equally valid. They believe in doing a lot of volunteer work, which I agree with 100%. So, my boyfriend and I are both now UUs, even though he believes in god and I don't. I see the UU church, not so much as a church, but a social organization which offers lots of opportunities for great volunteer work, so I'm very happy there.
first off, good video - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fdVucvo-kDU
Who's Who in Hell - a very useful, and funny, reference book
I've see a couple of good "Atheist Myth" lists lately. Specifically: http://humanists.net/avijit/article/top_10_atheist_myths.htm and http://wayofthemind.dehumanizer.com/2006/08/15/16-common-myths-about-atheists/
There are 25 million people in the United States who call themselves Atheists. I think if you go by the definition as an atheist as 'one who does not possess a belief in a god,' and add in all the agnostics and the people who haven't really thought about it, it's probably twice that. The myths that seem important to me:
"Atheists have no morals, since they don't believe in God"
I have a very strong moral system. It comes from a desire to do what I know to be right, and to not feel guilt from doing what I know to be wrong. People who need the treat of eternal hell fire to not do bad stuff, scare me. What must these people be like to think a moral system can ONLY come from a god or the treat of punishment? They aren't good, they are just being held back from what they really want to do! "When I do good, I feel good. When I do bad, I feel bad. And that is my religion." Abraham Lincoln Atheists make up 8-10% of the population at large and we only make up 1% of the population in prison.
"Atheists seek to remove religion from society, and to force all people to be atheists"
I don't care what you believe. Just leave me and my belief system alone. I don't want my tax money to support your belief system, whatever it is, and I don't want you getting laws passed to promote your belief system. Period.
"In God We Trust," is the government actively promoting religion.
"In God We Do Not Trust," would be the government promoting atheism.
We advocate the complete omission of the statement thereby rendering the money neutral. We feel the same way about the rest of the government. It should be the "Switzerland of the religious debate," while at the same time being the protectorate of the individual.
"There are no atheists in foxholes"
I was told I was dying a few years ago. It never once occurred to me to "pray" to fix this. And when I found out I wasn't dying, I didn't think some god being fixed me.
"This country was founded by Christians, on Christian values, and should therefore be a Christian country".
Some of the founding fathers were Christian, but some were Deists and some were ATHEISTS. They wanted separation of church and state. Freedom from religious tyranny. They did NOT want anyone to be able to tell them what religion they should practice, or if they should practice one at all. Period.
Atheists know there is a god, they are just too arrogant to admit it.
No. Really. Even deep down inside, all the way down, past the squishy bits and the crush I had on Vanilla Ice when I was 12, I don't believe there is a god. Really. I'm not pretending. I promise.
Atheists don’t really know anything about Christianity.
The more I learned about Christianity, the harder it was for me to believe in it. I've read the bible in it's entirety. A couple of times, in fact. I've studied religions, attended church services of many different sects. Still don't believe there is a god, though.
Atheists are depressive and nihilistic, since they believe there’s nothing after death, and therefore there’s no point to anything.
I am depressed. But I was depressed when I was a Christian. I don't believe there is anything after death, which is why I try to make the most of LIFE.
I think the main thing is, all atheists are not the same. I didn't get a card and a toaster when I "joined up with the Atheists." We are all different and we believe and do different things. The only thing we have in common is not possessing a belief in a god.