Why I am an atheist – Jim

[Sunday Bible study class, 1973; I’m 12]

Me: So, how can we PROVE that God exists?

Teacher: We can’t, we just have to believe.

Me: We can’t prove that Jesus exists?

Teacher: No, again, we just have to believe.

[Two days later, to my devout Catholic mom]

Me: I’m never setting foot in church again.  It’s all a fairy tale.

My home life was not pleasant for about a week, but she gave up when she saw I was serious.  Except for weddings, funerals and looking at the architecture, I’ve kept that promise for 40 years.



  1. says

    Same thing, same age, slightly different question: “What do you mean by ‘three Gods in one’?

    Answer: you just have to believe, and I didn’t, either.

  2. chrislawson says

    At least your Bible class teacher was honest. Most of ’em would have pulled out one of the usual “proofs” of God and tried to ram it into your head and make you emotionally dependent on it before you were cognitively developed enough to see the flaws.

  3. lpetrich says

    Decrees of the First Vatican Council

    Canon 2.1: If anyone says that the one, true God, our creator and lord, cannot be known with certainty from the things that have been made, by the natural light of human reason: let him be anathema.

    As Bertrand Russell had noted in Why I Am Not A Christian, the Catholic Church has a dogma that the existence of God can be proved with unaided reason. No faith necessary.

  4. tfkreference says

    Faith, when you think about it, is faith in what people have said about gods, not in the gods themselves. Even if there were value in having faith in a deity, there’s little if any value in having faith in what people say without evidence.

  5. robster says

    I remember years ago, that whoary old preacher, Billy Graham arrived on our shores for a tour, announcing that there was a crisis of faith in Australia. I felt so proud. There’s nothing about faith to be proud of.

  6. Ganner says

    So it is a dogma of the Catholic church that God can be proved by reason. Dogma’s are unquestionable truths given to us by God. You must believe in that on faith. You just have to believe that God makes sense… My head is spinning in circles.

  7. Crudely Wrott says

    Other things that can only be taken on faith (because empirical proof is lacking) include:

    Fords are better than Chevys.

    Macs are better than IBM clones.

    Peacocks are prettier than chickens.

    Dogs are better companions than cats.

    The people on the other side of the ridge deserve to die.

    There is only one way to have sex.

    There are only two ultimate fates.

    All questions boil down to two simple choices.

    My tastes are better informed than yours.

    The above list is complete and exhaustive provided it includes faith in the baby son of the full grown father who are both the same exact entity as long as you stir in the ghost of both but they don’t die first, OK?

  8. Crudely Wrott says

    Oh, one more:

    My old man can beat your old man.

    And thanks to Jim for being a precocious and thoughtful child. You bring back fond memories, friend.

  9. crylock says

    Good show, Jim!
    I had to comment because, like michaelspencer in #1, my own experience was similar. I was younger, maybe 7 or 8, and at an unfamiliar church for Sunday service. All the children were sent downstairs for Sunday school, where we sat on the floor to listen to a lady who told us things. I can no longer remember what she told us, but I kept raising my hand and asking questions, and she was having a hard time answering. She finally shot an appealing look toward an older man behind us, who came over and told me that “We don’t question these things.” My response was, of course, “Why?” but he didn’t answer. I still remember the expressions of smug superiority and patient, long-suffering beatitude on their faces during this exchange. At the time I didn’t understand, but I knew I didn’t want to go to church; a few years later, I began to realize the wrongness of anything that can’t bear questioning.

  10. michaelpowers says

    Something similar happened to me about a year earlier (I was also 12). A dusty, hot summer morning on what was then the outskirts of Phoenix.

    Me: “But Jesus couldn’t have been perfect. Otherwise, why make him human?”

    Admittedly, things are a bit of a blur after that. I remember hearing the kid next to me saying, “uh oh”. As I turned to look at him, I felt something fly past my head (found out later that it was a bible). I turned back, and saw the psychopath sunday school teacher making his way toward me, tossing folding chairs out of his way as he did so. It was apparent that civil discourse was out of the question, so I ran. Fast.

    It was a long walk home, and I had time to think. It could have been the realization that it was all a scam, or it could have been the 105 degree heat, but by the time I got home, I was a tad cranky.

    “I’m not going back”, I said. “Those people are idiots.”

    And I never did.