Growing up I had a vague notion that we were created by a supreme being. I never really probed the existence question, so the “creator” answer suited my brian just fine then. However, the idea of God was something that wasn’t reinforced in my house. We never went to church, prayed or kept any religious symbols. What I did have reinforced, on the other hand, was the wonderful altruistic care of my parents. My upbringing was enough to let me know how rational, humane beings ought to treat one another.
Since I wasn’t instilled with such dogma early on, it didn’t take much logic to conclude, at age 19, there was no such imaginary being. I couldn’t rationalize how such a being could allow the innocent to suffer. The most often used argument just seemed to be one of the weakest none explanations: “We need to have faith that it’s all a part of God’s plan.” Any sensible person would (or should) be skeptical of a friend whose unknowable secret–one that’s supposed to benefit all of humanity–allows him to get away with bringing suffering and death to millions of innocent people, or gets him off the hook for not intervening in such acts when he clearly has an opportunity to do so. Or if the Magical Maker really needs people, can’t He do it without crushing, drowning or burning them from natural disasters or allowing them to suffer through horribly painful illnesses?
I’m now 26 with a wife and twin daughters of my own. I am fortunate to have met someone who shares similar ideals, someone who truly understands what’s in the best interest of our family. We want our children to always know the love we have for them, that our family unit will always be a place of security. We want them to know they will always have every bit of us, they will never have to share our compassion with imaginary sky fairies. We want to help fine tune their information processing mechanisms so they, too, can make rational decisions on their own. We want them to understand the importance of treating others with tolerance and understanding. We want them to experience the benefits of pursuing knowledge and to know it’s truly more rewarding and exciting than myths will ever be.
In the end, I think it’s rather easy to say why I’m an atheist: It was not God who raised me or sheltered, loved and cared for me; it is not God who I have the fortune of waking up to every morning by my side, and who I get to share the rest of my life with; it is not God who wakes me up at 2 a.m. form her crib or brakes my heart when she doesn’t want me to leave for work. There are real people who I have the great pleasure of having in my life. These are the people I am happy to put all my energy and efforts into. An imaginary middle man is counteractive to a happy, fulfilled life.