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Feb 17 2012

Why I am an atheist – George Harris

I was born an atheist. Fortunately my parents, and their parents let me decide what I thought of religion, while always explaining that they thought it was complete nonsense.

As a result I never took faith seriously despite attending Church of England schools, as there was never any evidence offered for the claims of the bible. I became less passive during adolescence when I reflected on the damage religion does to civilisation, and after September 11, my father and I became avid followers of the various luminaries of the Atheist movement.

There is no need to explain why I am an Atheist – it is my natural state and it falls on the religious to convince me why I should be otherwise.

George Harris

14 comments

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  1. 1
    Don F

    Succinct.

  2. 2
    ismenia

    Nice and concise.

    I initially wasn’t sure you could seriously be born an atheist but then I realised that everyone is an atheist at birth.

  3. 3
    forodrim

    very nice.
    “natural born atheist” might be a good tshirt :)

  4. 4
    concernedjoe

    George I think at least in the USA that most of the adults today were born mostly neutral, then were indoctrinated as children into faith/religion of some sort and to some degree, and then without much thinking or trouble remain at least socially convenient members of the majority professed believer faction.

    Simply put: there is no upside to bucking the group-think, and there is no downside to pretending (to self and others) that one believes at least “in a higher power”. It is just intellectually and socially easier here to be a professed though not necessarily REAL believer.

    To wit, people here generally don’t really believe ‘Buddha drives’ or really trust god over secular action when chips down. But heaven forbid [even our vernacular illustrates how hard it is to escape the group-think] one state “I am atheist” or even “I have no trust in god” and the raised eyebrows can be palpable. And forget about a professed atheist running for even dog-catcher in many parts of the Country.

    Again my point: there is no upside and there is downside to being atheist here for most people, so they are not motivated to face and expose their inner atheist. And for most people there is not really intellectual conflict because their daily lives are secular – lived secular – thought secular – and they only enter into the spiritual world for some warm-fuzzies and for social purposes that can be compartmentalized.

    I for myself abhor the charade and cannot as a person go along with it. And I think it dangerous and stupid that society promotes such hypocrisy and invests so much power and approval in the woo industry. So I am not saying people’s deceit of self and others is a good thing. Just saying it is a fact of life.

    Until there is a net tangible positive to being atheist we will be in minority for longer than we should.

    Oh yes, I am with you George on this point: “.. [I am atheist] and it falls on the religious to convince me why I should be otherwise.” That is it really in a nutshell.

  5. 5
    John Morales

    concernedjoe:

    Simply put: there is no upside to bucking the group-think, and there is no downside to pretending (to self and others) that one believes at least “in a higher power”.

    I disagree, because I can’t see how that’s not a compromise, and to have to compromise means accepting some downside relative to not compromising.

  6. 6
    concernedjoe

    John #5

    Of course there are downsides in the absolute – but they are not evident nor relevant to the individual internally unless the individual consciously allows them into their value system.

    Fat, dumb and happy comes to mind.

    There is no compromise for most people because there is no decision process. It just “is” for most.

    If people were “forced” to think about it there would be more atheists I believe. People eschew thinking about it – unconsciously for the most part. The path of least resistance is there and they take it.

    As I said – for me I’d be compromising and hating myself every minute. But I came to be atheist because my nature and profession forced me to be intellectually honest. Not all have such impetus.

  7. 7
    concernedjoe

    And I might add.. there is little infrastructure that “forces” critical thinking when it comes to religious things.

    Faith gets a free pass in circles otherwise intellectually sound and esteem in society.

    Religion and faith are protected by the Constitution! Let alone coddled by our general mores.

    Try being a PS teacher and overtly challenge the group-think. And I bet PZ does not “attack religion” in his college classes. They are not cowards. No the very policy in any State endeavor is neutrality.

    You can teach critical thinking in the general but do not get specific when it comes to religion.

    People are not forced to think about it – the system was rigged from the beginning. The Establishment Clause was itself a compromise that allowed a secular nation while protecting the privileged state of religion. The sword cuts both ways and it shows by the irrational persistence of religion in our modern society.

  8. 8
    humanape

    I was born an atheist.

    Everyone was born an atheist. And everyone would still be an atheist if not for the indoctrination of gullible children (AKA child abuse).

  9. 9
    Synfandel

    Everyone was born an atheist.

    I was about to say the same thing.

  10. 10
    Synfandel

    …and they only enter into the spiritual world for some warm-fuzzies and for social purposes that can be compartmentalized.

    I find it highly irritating that our most special times—particularly weddings when we’re celebrating great joy and funerals when we’re grappling with grief and loss—almost always get highjacked by religion. Weddings often just turn into Sunday church services at which the rented clergyman eventually remembers to say, “Oh , I nearly forgot. Sam and Mary are getting married. Let’s have a round of applause. Now, where was I? Ah, yes, Exodus 21:7: When a man sells his daughter as a slave, she will not be freed at the end of six years….”

  11. 11
    jimmauch

    Your simple and succinct statement saying that there is no reason whatever to be anything but be an athiest hit it on the head. Rather than getting roped into the contorted apologetics that religion goes through explaining itself we should simply state that religion as just another one of those failed beliefs that should have been dismissed by a civilized people ages ago. It is not worth our energy explaining why we don’t believe in outrageous metaphysical claims having no grounding in reality.

  12. 12
    DLC

    for some reason I keep thinking of “The Big Lebowski”, where the Nihilists piss on Lebowski’s rug. Churchmen are like those Nihilists. they got the wrong guy, storm in and demand the money, pissing on your carpet if you refuse. Somehow I doubt that it was the intent of the Coen brothers to convey “Religion poisons everything” in that scene, but it’s the analogy that’s been bouncing around my head.

  13. 13
    another

    for some reason I keep thinking of “The Big Lebowski”, where the Nihilists piss on Lebowski’s rug.

    Jackie Treehorn’s thugs pissed on the Dude’s rug, man. (It really tied the room together, did it not?) The Nihilists dropped the ‘marmot’ in his bath.

  14. 14
    Dhorvath, OM

    I am atheist born and raised as well. Yay on not having religion to fight through while growing up.

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