Glad to be here.
This tells you all about why I am an atheist. Yes, I know it's long:
My personal morality is based on a sense of community, a responsibility to the species or tribe for appropriate behavior. This sense was inborn through genetic predisposition; it was further reinforced by the teachings of my parents and my culture, and through experience in interaction with other human beings. It was not brought about through religious indoctrination and brainwashing. I do not need the promise of reward or the threat of punishment in the "next" life to inform my actions in this one. My behavior is governed internally; I would think less of myself if I had to rely on external threats or enticements.
I am not content with simply not knowing things; but I would be even less satisfied with plugging the gaps in my knowledge with fairy tales and ghost stories. Blindly accepting ancient myths to explain what I don't understand would be less effective than drinking water to cure hunger: it might fill the void, but without substance or nutrition. To answer life's questions with religious explanations is to be satisfied, ultimately, with ignorance.
I have outgrown the immature desire to see my enemies "punished." I recognize that life isn't fair; there is little true justice in the world; and that part of my duty as a member of the human race is to add to the balance of fairness and justice, to make life better for others of my tribe, and, thereby, for myself. And not being corralled by religious labels or injunctions frees me to define that "tribe" more broadly, with greater tolerance for my fellow beings.
I am okay with the concept that this is the only life there is. I am not in any hurry to rush to the "next" life, and I am committed to experiencing what there is of this one to my fullest potential. If life is good, it is not through the providence of some father-provider; if life is bad, it is not through the malevolence of an "evil" being bent inexplicably on my corruption and misery. Indeed, witnessing the balance of good and evil throughout history, if I chose to believe, I would be forced to question which of these opposing forces is truly the more powerful.
I do not need to beg an invisible hand for happiness, riches, or luck; I take responsibility for my own happiness and riches, and I accept the whims of fortune, and move on. This leads me to a greater satisfaction and contentment than I believe I would have in praying for "god" to favor me and mine; and I am not forced to ignore the idea that bad luck would then also spring from this "benevolent" spirit. My head is neither in the clouds, nor in the sand. Shit happens; next question.
I do not deny my tribesmen the right to believe—or pretend to believe—in a personal god. I object to the compulsion many of them feel either to "share" their wonderful message, or worse, to force their beliefs on others. This encompasses door-to-door proselytizing, the printing of "In God We Trust" on our currency, displaying religious icons in or around government buildings, swearing an oath on the bible in a court of law, and drafting legislation at any level of government which invokes or favors any religion. I protest opening official public functions (be they military, educational, judicial, or civic) with prayer. I have pledged the majority of my working life to the defense of our country, so I feel no need to recite a pledge of allegiance to a few strips of cloth--but I cannot accept the inclusion of "under god" in such a pledge, which was originally intended as a civic oath, not a religious one.
I am offended by the underhanded actions of fundamentalists in rephrasing "creationism" as "intelligent design" in a transparent effort to sneak it past parents, communities, and courts. I think any group which posits themselves as the models and arbiters of morality should hold themselves to a pretty high standard. In this action, in particular, they fail. Epically. Their efforts would be comical, were they not so devious and dangerous.
This is why I have no need for a god. As for why I don't believe in any gods, I agree with Carl Sagan that, "extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence." I have seen no such evidence, and I notice that most religious adherents ignore the question altogether, blindly accepting what they have been told; else they invoke the teachings of their particular religion as a basis for belief in it: "My religion is true because it says so in my holy book." I cannot help but reason through such circular logic; the illusion fails.
I could not revere or worship—even respect—the gods described in most religions, based on their reported behavior. Humans aspire individually to transcend such base emotions as jealousy, vengeance, anger, and spite; yet they endow their gods with these very vices, in spades. I do not find any of the deities I have studied—Christian, Muslim, Hindu, Ancient Greek, Norse—worthy of worship, reverence, or respect...or belief.
Furthermore, I hope some day my particular tribe evolves to the extent that we are able finally to put away such childish compulsions, and at last to interact with each other and our environment as legitimate, responsible beings, as members of a tribe, as citizens of the world. I believe only then will we have any hope of finding true happiness, justice, and satisfaction.
For any who managed to read the entire entry, thank you for your attention. ~Brian
My head is neither in the clouds, nor in the sand. I hold it high and make good use of it to sense, wonder about, consider, treasure, and attempt to understand my reality.