Sunday, August 23, 2009
For Me, Belief Is About What I Think Is Real, Not What I Wish Were Real
I hear it a lot - "Why did you choose to be an atheist?" I didn't. I didn't choose to be an atheist. Choosing would imply that I had the option to believe in God.
My answer to that question is usually followed by - "But it's so easy! All you have to do is accept Jesus as your personal savior and your reward will be eternal life."
I get eternal life in paradise, freedom from all suffering, ultimate justice – all for believing in Jesus? Cool! What’s not to like about that? It sounds great. I wouldn’t mind believing in that – if it were real. The not being real part gets in the way.
Fairy godmothers sound awesome, too. I want a fairy godmother! I want a beautiful fairy princess, a tame dragon, a magic wand, and the ability to fly, too. Just because I want them, it doesn’t make any of them real nor does my desire make me believe that they are.
Maybe it's a personal quirk but I just can't make myself believe in anything I don't think is real.
Then they bring out the nasty stuff. "If you don't believe in God you'll burn in Hell forever and ever!" Often the religious person will go on to explain how the suffering in the non-consuming fires of Hell is unending, that a person never gets used to it because the Devil is endlessly creative in coming up with new tortures.
That sounds pretty scary. Only the impact is somehow lessened by the fact that no such place exists. The person hasn't frightened me into believing, they've only annoyed me.
So, there are two points to keep in mind when wondering why I don't believe in God -
1) I can only believe in things I think are real.
2) I'm only afraid of things I think are real.
Thanks to Mark over at Proud Atheists for inspiring this post!