Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Why I Disbelieve

PZ Myers asked, and because I agree with the vast majority of what he ranted about and because it is something I have been working my way through lately, here it is. This is why I am an atheist.

I was raised in the Roman Catholic Church. Most of my (very extensive) family is Catholic, and I can't think of a single one of my many aunts, uncles, and cousins who has admitted to being nonreligious. Certainly I am the only one in my immediate family. Because I grew up in a family that was so actively religious, I was very devout as a small child. I was certain that God loved me and had a plan for me.

It wasn't, I think, until I was about ten and was told by my mother that the reason women couldn't join the priesthood was that we were more easily corruptible and generally didn't have the necessary leadership skills that I started to question things.

From there, I descended into a morass of guilt about doubting things that were unquestionable and disbelieving things that I should have had complete faith in. I believe that this, and more importantly the fact that I kept it from my family and everyone else, largely fueled my decline from what I think was "only" dysthymia into double depression. My parents eventually caught on to my altered moods, but only sent me to the church councilor.

I struggled, trying my utmost to believe all through junior high. Almost all of my friends belonged to the RCC, and I had no one to turn to with my doubts. I struggled most of all with the question of where God could possibly have come from, because if everything had to have a creator, then what created the Creator?

At the beginning of high school, my family moved across the country because my father got a new job and, ostensibly, God told my mother that we should. By necessity, I made new friends, many of whom were less religious than the old ones I had left behind. I became comfortable talking about what I was finally admitting to myself: that I was an atheist. I could not reconcile the science I learned with the God my family revered.

I could not admit this to my family, however, because I feared they would disown me, so it stayed a secret as I served on the parish's Youth Council, attended the state's Catholic Youth Conventions, and prepared for Confirmation. I remember distinctly my shame when I lied to my sponsor and the Bishop, affirming that I had not been coerced and was being confirmed out of my own will to do so because I firmly believed in and wished to serve Jesus Christ etc. I lied out of fear, and I was ashamed of that fear, that inability to confront my parents about the fact that I did not believe.

Around this same time, I developed a huge crush on my best friend, and had to confront the realization that I was bisexual. The fact didn't bother me, really, but having to listen to my family's comments on homosexuality did. I didn't come out to anyone but my closest friends, and that crush didn't develop into anything further.

It was more than a year later, when I turned 18, that I finally confronted my parents about my atheism. I was too afraid to tell them to their faces; I wrote them a letter, hoping that it would help keep things organized and understandable, instead of the inevitable misunderstanding and blame that would accompany a shouting match. They, foreseeably, were not at all happy with the revelation. My mother screamed about it and forbade me to identify as an atheist in the house or any of the family, saying, "You can't be an atheist because you can't prove that God doesn't exist!" My father tried to "reason" with me, but refused to give credence to any of my arguments. I tried to hold my own for a while, but eventually gave up in the face of their utterly dogmatic refusal to consider my position as anything but heretical and ludicrous.

As I started college, I also began to sort through my beliefs, or lack thereof, more thoroughly. This is basically the conclusion I came to:

1. A god is a omnipotent being that both deserves and requires worship.
2. If an omnipotent being existed, it would clearly have to be either uncaring or outright malevolent, based on the amount of undeserved suffering in the world.
3. No there is no reason an omnipotent being would require worship, unless it simply had some kind of stupidly large ego that needed stroking, in which case it would not deserve my worship, because said deity would be kind of a dick.
4. Furthermore, any omnipotent being that would require faith and worship in absence of proof on punishment of eternal hell would have to be an utter dick, and thus would not deserve my worship.
5. There is no proof of any being that satisfies these requirements of godhood, thus, there is not god for me to worship.
6. Beyond this, I have yet to experience any phenomenon that can be better explained by "God did it" than by science, even if science occasionally gives the answer "I don't know yet."

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