Judas and Cain

Why I Am An Atheist.

(PZMyers is looking for submissions for a regular feature on his blog. While I won’t be doing that, it is a good topic, and one worth revisiting.)

I was raised in a strict Presbyterian household that went to church every Sunday. I liked church, everybody always was so nice. And the Music! Oh I love church music…

Things went along swimmingly until I was 13. At that time, it was decided that we should study the great stories of the Bible. Among them were the stories of Cain and Abel, and the story of Jesus and Judas. Once I’d actually read the stories, I was startled by the unfairness. God was a just god, everyone knew that! But this was horribly unfair.

And so I began to ask questions. What was I missing? These grown-ups were all really smart, surely one of them could explain it, my dad who was an actual genius…the reverend who spent his life studying this stuff. No one could explain to the satisfaction of a 13 year old why a just and loving god rejected perfectly good produce in favor of a living sacrifice, causing the “first murder”. No one could explain why Judas, that poor patsy, has been criminalized even though he had no choice in the matter, and “God’s plan” could not have gone forth without what he’d done. Eventually, it always boiled down to “having faith”; something you feel, not something you can learn. And I didn’t feel it.

I began to find more and more issues in the Presbyterian church, especially once I grasped the true nature of women within Christianity; virgin, whore, or mother. I wasn’t particularly interested in any of those things. I wanted to be a mechanical engineer in the Navy.

I quit going somewhere during high school, being that I was involved in sports plus working part-time gave me an excuse. I still felt a lack, however, because I was the only one around that didn’t believe in something. I felt like there was something wrong with me, so I kept searching. When I went to university, I tried a ton of different religious things, eventually settling on paganism for a while. It was the only thing that didn’t seem violent, harm none and all that. I tried really, really hard to believe, but I just never really did. Eventually, I gave up and just stopped doing anything of that nature. But I still had questions, questions that no one could ever answer. Where did we come from? Why am I here? What am I supposed to do with my life? (Things that most twenty-somethings go through I imagine.)

I knew next to nothing about science upon graduating from high school. The only thing I knew about evolution was that it was something the scientists had dreamed up to get God out of the picture. I wish I was joking. Oh, sure, we studied Mendel and genes, and I made a DNA molecule for a science fair, but I never really understood evolution until I was almost thirty. No one ever put in a format that I, a very bright student, could really grasp. I imagine my parent’s certainty in the church didn’t help with that. (They weren’t fundies at all, were actually fairly progressive for their time. They just never questioned their faith.)

I believe it was a news article (back in the days of paper) that made a question hang out in the back of my mind, driving me crazy until I looked it up (in an encyclopedia no less!). Eventually I taught myself enough to get a pretty good grasp of how science explains just about everything, and what it doesn’t explain, it offers a pretty damned logical guess. (I became aware of the rigor of peer review and how the bad science and things that didn’t work were winnowed away. And knowing how things really worked made them only more incredible to me.) Having this knowledge cleared away the last of the fantasy cobwebs that were still hanging around in my mind. Religion doesn’t make sense and it doesn’t work.

I am an atheist because I’m a logical, rational, intelligent human being.

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7 Responses to “Judas and Cain”

  1. Mine’s a lot easier.

    I’m an atheist because I was raised, not so much atheistically as faithlessly—left to make my own mind up.

    I’m an Atheist because of the many wrongs I see done in the name of religion.

  2. I belive in god but not the bible I think the stories are made up or manipulated to make a certain person great

  3. Not getting answers to those big questions can be really frustrating, but I hope you don’t give up. Logical, rational and intelligent human beings can also be religious. Also, Daz is right to say that alot of wrong is done in the name of religion…and that can be really confusing. But we see the small group of people doing wrong, and tend to judge the rest of the people following that religion…people who are honestly trying to live holy lives by the teachings of the Church. I encourage you to keep seeking. I wrestle with doubt and grapple with the paradoxes and seeming contradictions within religion, and man, sometimes I feel like I’m crazy…but it’s so worth it. May peace be with you always.

    • At least one of those wrongs is the way religion makes belief without evidence into a virtue.

      Try seeking enlightenment instead of dubious tail-chasing religious apologetics. You’ll find it has much more to offer.

  4. Not getting answers to those big questions can be really frustrating, but I hope you don’t give up.

    …science explains just about everything, and what it doesn’t explain, it offers a pretty damned logical guess.

    Logical, rational and intelligent human beings can also be religious.

    Logical and rational people don’t believe in invisible magic beings.

    I encourage you to keep seeking.

    I always seek to acquire knowledge. I encourage you to try not to sound like a patronizing jerk.

    I wrestle with doubt and grapple with the paradoxes and seeming contradictions within religion, and man, sometimes I feel like I’m crazy…but it’s so worth it.

    I encourage you to keep trying. Breaking religion’s hold can be very difficult for some, but it’s so worth it.

    May peace be with you always.

    May doubt and questioning be with you always.

  5. I’m really not trying to be patronizing or a jerk. Sorry if I offended you, that’s not my goal here. Take care.

  6. I love these religion vs atheism debates (I fall in the latter camp although I would class myself as agnostic).

    Religion is superseded, intellectually and logically by the advancement of science and the resultant technological progress it brings to humanity. Arguments surrounding its validity conducted on a rational framework are ultimately doomed as it is based on inner conviction which cannot be proven or demonstrated.

    Someone recently told me that the atheists are starting to sound a bit like religious zealots themselves. I think there could be a danger that ‘faith’ in science can become misinterpreted. As rational human beings we don’t put our faith in science, we are simply and rationally judging it to be the best methodology for progress and understanding that we have. If we concentrate on spreading this rational and ultimately irresistible system then religion will become redundant.

    As Alice so laconically puts it. May doubt and questioning be with you always.

    Amen!

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