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Oct 05 2012

Why I am an atheist – Harry Salzman

This could be a much longer response, going over my background and
struggles with religion, how good it felt to believe that there was
always someone invisible watching over me, that there was someone who
saw all injustice and ensured that it all came out right in the end,
but frankly, I don’t think there’s anything there that you haven’t
already read or experienced yourself.

The last straw for me, the reason I am an atheist today, is simple: I
refuse to worship any God who won’t speak back to me. An omnipotent,
omniscient being who can’t respond to a simple “Hello, God, are you
there?” either doesn’t exist, or isn’t worthy of worship if it does.

Intellectually, I understand that there is slim chance of the
existence of a deity. I comprehend the evidence for the development of
religions, and the logical arguments for why we invent anthropomorphic
gods.

I still want to believe in a God; whether that is a lingering effect
from a religious childhood or not, I cannot judge. I still call out to
God sometimes, hoping that I’ve been wrong for the past few years,
that there really is someone who can hear me when I’m alone – but
until I receive a real, audible, not just “feel-Him-in-your-heart!”
reply, an atheist I will remain.

Harry Salzman

3 comments

  1. 1
    darwinharmless

    Interesting. I’ve never wanted somebody to be watching over me, taking care of me, or otherwise meddlng in my affairs. At least not since I reached adulthood. And if your dream comes true and “God” actually answers you, how will you be sure you haven’t just lost your mind or succumbed to a powerful wish fullfilment psychosis? I mean, which is more likely – that you’ve really heard from God or you’ve gone barking crackers like the rest of the religious nutters?

  2. 2
    lesherb

    Harry,

    If I read your post without your claim of atheism, I would call you an agnostic . That doesn’t mean I am right by any stretch but have you considered it?

    Life after death is an appealing idea as I don’t relish the notion of being mortal. Yet whenever I contemplated an afterlife in heaven, I just couldn’t be happy about it.

    Now reincarnation would be fantastic! Yet, I’ve never been able to force myself to believe something just because it’s what I wish for.

    Thanks for sharing your story. I have enjoyed reading how different people have come to their atheism.

  3. 3
    harrisonsalzman

    @darwinharmless: When I was younger, I thought of God like having an invisible friend who would be tirelessly patient and wise. It was only later that I started thinking about just why an omnipotent, omniscient being with literally all the time in the world would never reply in any kind of tangible form – but by that time, I’d spent enough time believing that I find it difficult to let go of the idea.

    Intellectually, I’m pretty certain that God doesn’t exist. Emotionally, I’m still attached to the idea, though I try not to let that rule me. Part of me hopes that I’m wrong, and that the synagogue I went to for so many years isn’t entirely built on fables – but I won’t allow myself to believe that without evidence to support it. Until and unless that evidence ever appears, I’ll call myself atheist.

    (Not to mention, believing in the existence of someone claiming to be God is not synonymous to worshiping that person. I know now about many monstrosities and tragedies I never knew as a child that would require some pretty tricky explaining as to why an all-powerful being would not have prevented them.)

    @lesherb: I’m glad you enjoyed reading it! I’m pretty terrified by the knowledge that there’s probably no afterlife. I have considered whether or not it’d be more accurate to call myself agnostic, but when it comes right down to it, I don’t think that there is a God or an afterlife.

    I would love to be wrong about that; I’m terrified by the idea that when I die, my mind winks out of existence, ceases completely without any part of what makes me me continuing. I am even more disturbed and horrified by the idea of it happening to those I love – my parents and family, my friends.

    But what I want to believe doesn’t enter into it. What I hope is true doesn’t matter. If I want to be able to call myself a rationalist, a scientific thinker, without making it a farce – then I must acknowledge the evidence I have available. All signs, as far as an afterlife goes, point to “no”.

    I can hope that I’m wrong, but that doesn’t mean that I can pretend it without cause. I hope that explains my viewpoint a little better.

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