Up till I was 19 I had been dwelling into the murky waters of faith, mainly switching between a haphazard belief in some sort of higher power if not god per se and agnosticism of the ‘If there had been a god, then surely he wouldn’t have allowed all this cruelty and suffering?’ persuasion. Now I really don’t think there is a god. The reasons are many and most of them are obvious to and shared by most other atheists: no real evidence for the existence of god/ gods, a respect for and inclination towards a humanitarian and human-centric idea of morality, too many vulgar disputes amongst the believers themselves about who exactly this ‘one true god’ person that they all keep banging on about might be, to name a few of the top ones. But I vividly remember the moment I started thinking of myself as an out-and-out atheist and it wasn’t any kind of anger or frustration or hardcore empirical analysis that made it happen. It happened when I heard Douglas Adams speculating about the origin of god.
He says that the idea of god probably came into existence because after looking about and seeing what a well oiled machine this world was, we humans made the foolish mistake of asking the most ridiculous, naive and treacherous question: ‘So who made this then?’ ‘This’ being the world, of course. ‘Someone must’ve made it, you know? Like we make stuff?’
And from there we just went on improvising and thinking that since we’re the only ones who ever actually make anything, it must’ve been someone very like us, much more sizable and capable than us, and much more invisible, obviously.
I completely buy that theory and it may seem trivial but if we are to move on from all this violence and disharmony that happens in the name of god, we have to see the whole notion for the triviality that it is. Let’s not- for a moment- try to answer that absurd question with the first thing that comes to your mind and we’ll be fine.
To put forth a simple if slightly cheap analogy, the idea of god is a bit like non-degradable plastic. It’s man-made. It’s not found in nature. It was created by throwing a whole bunch of random stuff together. It’s a relatively recent invention considering how long we’ve been around and even if it may look like it at first glance, our lives do not depend on it. It’s a quick, immediate gratification based solution for an eternal problem which is why it’s dangerous. It seemed like a very good idea at the beginning and most people still think it’s pretty handy but now that we have it, we don’t seem to be able to get rid of it and it’s all beginning to get a bit out of hand. And lastly, living things are suffering and dying horrible deaths because of it. Atheism on the other hand is way more ego-friendly.