Why I am an atheist – MD

I had been an atheist for over a decade but hadn’t realized it. It took a child to make me see that. My own child. He asked me one day why I didn’t go to church like others in our family. All these reasons flew through my head in a matter of seconds, but they all boiled down to one. “Because I don’t believe in it,” I answered him. “Me neither,” he said.

That was a year ago. I can now say that I am an atheist. Not agnostic, not searching, not anything else.

I was raised in a Catholic family and in officially Catholic countries, and mostly sent to parochial schools. Even as a small child I saw through so much phoniness in the Catholic Church, in the doctrines, in the way people behaved, but bought into the whole idea of “you should believe in SOMETHING.” So I looked and I looked. Some religions seemed comforting at first, like a cozy blanket, and I would dip my toes and go to a few services, but I couldn’t actually come up with BELIEF. It was more of going through the rituals because they were fun or created a sense of awe. Inevitably I would let the ritual practice slip away.

I grew up, got married, had children. I had a near death experience. I looked with wonder at my babies’ tiny forms. I lost my best friend to cancer. In none of these experiences did I ever see a deity, not in the good times or in the bad times. I saw myself, my friends, and my family.

I can tell you why religious fanatics fear science. My son is growing up in a cultured steeped in religion, with family members that routinely talk about church and god. At the same time I nourish his inquisitiveness and talk to him about dinosaurs, astronomy, biology, physics… any topic he is interested in. And when he was seven years old he casually commented, “if you make me choose between god and dinosaurs, I choose dinosaurs. I have SEEN their fossils, but I have not seen god.” His greatest shock came recently, when he found out that people believe that the bible is literary true. “You mean they think there really was a talking snake? They believe the earth was made in 6 days? But we KNOW about planet formation and evolution!” That shows you how religiosity is not a default state in humans, but something that must be programmed into us.

I guess I am lucky that the programming didn’t take. And lucky that my son pointed it out.



  1. McC2lhu saw what you did there. says

    robinjohnson @1:

    Yes, but his kid was in it too. So there’s two people who have to say why they’re ateismo, so two posts..so…yeah…I was never good at on the spot excuses.

    Yes, I will just go straight to detention hall.

  2. reliwhat says

    We’re so lucky to have this free thought blog, where we can express our thoughts freely, without fear of being persecuted. We can come on posts like this one, and really speak our mind on the comment section, which is great. So here’s what’s on my mind after reading this post: ( . Y . ), boobs, obviously, because boobs are always on my mind.

  3. Dhorvath, OM says

    You may want to reconsider your interpretation of free thought. Free thought isn’t unencumbered, it comes with a responsibility to consider the reaction of people among other lines of evidence.

  4. says

    Oh I am so with you on the whole feeling of HAVING to believe in something. I experimented with Buddhism for a while.

    Eventually I realized that the only reason I was interested in Buddhism was because of the lack of God and then came to the quiet conclusion that I am in fact an atheist.

  5. jose says

    This looks a lot like my generation in spain. Raised catholic, never much thought given, atheism comes out when the issue is confronted… except “atheist” is still considered an ugly adjective and people prefer to insist in avoiding the issue entirely.

    The last funeral I went, I learned with a bit of a shock that my parents are both atheists. But they won’t use the word.

  6. says

    I still don’t understand how people can really truely believe in God. I think most know it’s just wrong, but keep doing what they always did hoping someday they’ll understand why they’re doing it.
    My dad read Jr. science books to me on his lap when I was young, and took me down to the Chicago Museum of Science and Industry every year for many years. Today he’s on the board of directors at the church where I grew up at, too. Funny, I just thought it was strange to write “the church where I grew up at.
    Good story.

  7. mirror says

    My son is very like the boy in this video in that the result of his never having been told some faith bases thing is true and he must believe it is that the ridiculousness of the proposition that there is a god is obvious because it makes no more sense than saying that Hogworts is a real place. It is such a silly thing to my son that it also made me more forthright in my own atheism. And he’s not an egg head or anything, just an average person.