Between making a couple videos on the Creation Museum following the 2009 trip to the Creation Museum with the SSA and running the largest atheism group on Facebook with 10,000 members, I believe I have question to answer: why I am an atheist.
I suppose it begins with nothing short of nature itself. I grew up in the hills of Kentucky. I shan’t hesitate to say that the hills of Kentucky are a lovely place – in stark contrast to everything else in Kentucky, which is pretty much the exact opposite of lovely. I spent plenty of time in the wilderness, observing the various forms of life, taking in the smells and the sounds, laying down and watching the sky. It was always regrettable when I had to put down the science books as a young child to attend the churches, which never felt quite right to me. Regardless of what I was told, something was critically wrong with the things they said. The loving Jesus message was nice, but the not-so-loving message of hell seemed a drastic affront to the idea of love.
The explanation that a loving Lord would punish people like me, who had done no other wrong than existing or doubting, seemed contrived, to say the least.
My parents were loyal southern Baptists and still are. One morning in my youth, prior to the age of ten, I was looking out our sliding doors, taking in the amazing sights of a Sunday morning. The birds could be heard loudly chirping, deer could be heard walking the hills, the sun was just about to break free from the hills and show itself to everyone. My admiration of nature’s overwhelming beauty was thoroughly broken when my father leaned a hand against the glass and mentioned some jazz about the beauty of god’s creation. Of course, something about the beauty of god’s creation seemed off. In my time, I had found dead birds, miscellaneous animal carcasses in the woods, and seen with my own eyes bugs fighting it out as a matter of life and death.
God’s creation, while beautiful, also struck me at times as particularly brutal and outright dangerous, depending on what you are. As a human, you don’t have many problems – bears and snakes – but as an animal or insect, you had a great many problems day by day. The contrast of such striking beauty with suck striking brutality was not, and is not, lost on me. Quite the opposite: there was more brutality than beauty, and the beauty was often a superficial facade which seemed to protect us from the reality of the other creatures in god’s creation.
Increasing scientific knowledge did nothing to quell my views on god’s creation. Seeing as my favorite star was eight thousand light years away, knowing that a light year is how far light travels in a year, knowing that my favorite star was at least eight thousand years old – and most likely far, far older – only made this doubt of god’s creation grow. Especially in a world where creationists and fundamentalists, a great part of the United States population (40%, as late), tend to believe the world is six thousand years old. If my favorite star were eight thousand light years away, and the oldest known sources of light were over thirteen billion light years away, what was the rationale for believing that the world were six thousand years old?
Only a book written by bronze age goat herders.
Noah’s ark I viewed as especially unlikely. Knowing the vast amount of species that exist, knowing that there were many more than I could ever know about, one hundred plus year old man and his family were unlikely to collect them all, build a boat the size of the Titanic that could last forty days on the water or hold all of these animals, how likely was this event to have occurred? Not at all, I came to realize very quickly.
So by twelve, the seeds of doubt had been well sewn. Before too long, I was headfirst into scientific research on every major topic I could cover. I saw vast amount of evidence for the science, and with that, less and less for creationism. By thirteen, I was an atheist in every aspect but title. It took two additional years to come out of the closet, but in the six years since (I’m twenty one at present), I have learned much more than I could have dreamed about how the universe works. Much more than my peers, much more than my family. I grew to realize that creationism held one back from reality as it was, and I grew to loathe it more and more as I went. I suppose, though I leave people to themselves, generally, I have become a stern anti-theist. 9/11 and the hysteria surrounding it certainly didn’t help keep me on the so-called ‘righteous’ path, and I wouldn’t have life any other way. There is no amount of ignorance that could satisfy my sheer lust for knowledge, and ever more of it.
While I learned much about willful ignorance from the Creation Museum, I can’t help but wonder how this life, a life of unknowing, is satisfying for anyone who has a great lust for knowledge, information, science, and truth. I cannot look at creationists with a sense of hatred, dislike, or what have you, but I do look at them and their kind with a great feeling of sadness and pity. I pity creationists. They deserve it.
In addition, my whole life I’ve had one key struggle that was in drastic opposition to my faith and the faith of my parents. My whole life, I have been well aware that I didn’t feel like the other boys I knew. That when I looked in the mirror, I was different. That I was wrong. My body was wrong. Some of my greatest early Christianity struggles, going back as far as I can remember, took place as the result of my feelings that I should have been born as the opposite sex.
As a male to female transsexual, I always pondered how I were supposed to be a Christian and live a life directly opposed to the gospels. How was I supposed to live happily as a female if the Bible condemns something such as the simple act of wearing the opposite gender’s clothes? I wouldn’t think it far out in the least that a good bit of my Biblical skepticism came from knowing that the way I felt was condemned, yet I never made a choice, nor asked for anything like what I had received from my earliest memories on. It had always been there, known to me, accepted by me, yet condemned by the religion I was raised into and by the people I had grown to love.
I still struggle with transsexuality, though on the basis of my family’s beliefs being in direct contrast to it. I will not be stopped by the faith of my fathers, but the pain caused by them is indeed very considerable. I hold religion itself in contempt for marginalizing people like me. My growing sympathy with homosexuals didn’t help their case, either. I figured out that if I felt this way naturally, so did the homosexuals, who were so demonized and hated… and that is simply unforgivable.
So why am I an atheist?
Nature. Science. Reality. Skepticism. Transsexualism. Lust for knowledge. A critical mind. No satisfaction in ignorance.
And I wouldn’t have it any other way.