I hope I was always destined to grow up as a rational thinker and a questioner of the questionable. And I think I tended this way even as a child, however I recall a defining moment when I was aged 10 that had to have an influence on my world view.
I was raised mildly Anglican in a very secular New Zealand. My church going experiences were limited to the usual christenings, weddings and funerals as well as the occasional Sunday visit with my grandparents. I was interested in learning about this concept of an all powerful god who looked after the day to day running of my life and who I sometimes prayed to. On this particular Sunday the minister was explaining a bit about the nature of god and how omniscient and omnipotent he was. The minister revealed that god was in every plant and rock. He was in every atom of air and every fabric of our being. He knew everything I thought and he saw everything I did. He was literally everywhere at once.
A disturbing revelation came to me … god was in my underpants!!
Even as a ten year old boy I was relatively sure that the space inside my undies was my domain – my play ground, and god had no business and no right to be down there.
The absurdity of it all struck me – along with the story of a place called hell where you were made to suffer eternally, man being formed out of clay, woman out of a rib, a talking snake and a boat that had all the types of animals in the world on it – even kiwis and kangaroos from my very own hemisphere.
As I got older and read more the absurdities only grew more numerous. Demi-gods having sex with humans. Women suffering pain in childbirth forever due to their key role in original sin. God being angry because one brothers offering was not as good as another. Fore skin fascination. The mauling bears. Satan. Witch craft. The rapture.
My attitude to all religions and pseudo science now is one of incredulity and, admittedly, intolerance. I know that the majority of the billions of religious humans are good people and are not stupid. But I have no qualms with calling them ignorant. They ignore parallels in other religions and myths. They ignore the psychology of the brain and the reasons humans believe things. And they ignore scientific knowledge which explains what we currently know about how our world and universe works. They may make a conscientious choice to ignore reality but that makes them no less ignorant.
Whilst I’ll be long dead in 2,000 years time, I am currently embarrassed for our recent, current and future generations who will be considered by humans in the 40th century as living in an exponentially advancing age of technology – but still hamstrung by religion, superstition, pseudo science and other silly beliefs. I blame indoctrination. It is frustrating is it not?
So I am an atheist not only because of my propensity for rational thought and science based research, but also because a minister once informed me that his god was spending way too much time in my underpants.