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Why I am an Infidel

I often use the label "atheist" to describe myself, and even though some tend to add meanings at will, most people have a general idea what that means.

That's a fine label and all, but it doesn't tell you why I adopt that label in the first place.

It turns out that is pretty easy, one sentence in fact:

I have seen no reason to think any religious belief is true.

That's it. No one has presented anything to me that would warrant even the slightest glimmer of hope that their religious or spiritual beliefs are true. If fact, most of the time the object of the belief cannot even be defined in any coherent manner at all.

Some people are sure there's more to my un-beliefs than simply "no reason to think it's true". Some of the common reasons I have had projected onto me include:

  1. There's just so much suffering in the world.
  2. I treat science/Thomas Paine/<insert random thing here> as a god.
  3. I really want to sin and can't take the rules.
  4. Religious believers have done so much harm.
  5. I'm arrogant and/or I hate authority.
  6. Some personal tragedy occurred in my youth.
  7. I had a bad relationship with my father.
  8. I'm "mad at God©", and so I choose not to believe in Him™.

I can assure you it is none of these. If I truly felt there was a god (capitalized, pluralized, feminized, or otherwise), none of the above reasons could possibly make me "unbelieve" that. I believe in gravity. Even if I found it to be terribly inconvenient to my personal wishes, I can't "unbelieve" it as some New Agers and Yogics do.

True, many people might actually be atheists for one or more of these reasons, but their beliefs can hardly be applied to everyone who decided there's no reason to think any of it is true.

But wait, you say, what would it take to make me think it's true? What would I accept as proof? First: I'm not asking for "proof", just any evidence or any path of reasoning that makes objective sense. Second: you tell me. If I said "There is a giant, invisible, massless bowling ball in orbit around Mars, and it cares deeply about you", what evidence would you want? What evidence or line of reasoning could I present that would convince you? Find a good response for that and let me know. That's what I'll say when people ask me.

Finally, there's the question of why the non-existence of deities should be an issue for me in the first place. Really, it shouldn't. After all, most people don't believe in Zeus but don't call themselves "a-Zeusists".

It is a big deal to me because 85-95% of people around take it seriously. For a certain percentage of them, the existence of deities (and one in particular) is a huge deal. Coincidentally or not, nearly 100% of elected officials take it seriously, some very seriously. It's such a big deal to them they feel it should run their lives, and more importantly to me, they feel it should run my life.

If 90% of people around you believed in the Great Martian Bowling Ball (GMBB) so much they tried making laws based on their belief, wouldn't you be very worried? Wouldn't a Bowling Ball emblem on the car in front of you annoy you even a little bit? If the GMBB's wanted to change the school curriculum because math class contradicted a portion of their beliefs, wouldn't you care?

I would. I can say without hesitation that I would be labelling myself as an aGMBBist.

2005-11-13 #religion