Why Atheism?

Several times I’ve made reference to the fact that I do not believe there is a God. I consider it highly unlikely. I thought that readers may be interested in why I’ve come to this conclusion, especially if it may just be a response to being raised in a group such as Jehovah’s Witnesses and then realizing that it is all wrong. I can assure you that more was involved in my decision making process.

Studying the Bible

It definitely all started with discussion my wife and I had that called the doctrine of Watchtower into  question. I had already held doubts for quite a long time, and I decided that I would set out to prove what was true and what wasn’t. At this point in my life, God was a fact of life. I couldn’t fathom how things could come into existance without there being a God. This wasn’t entirely from ignorance either, because while I didn’t fully understand evolution (or even accept it) at this point, I made an effort to meditate on it principally. I would think to myself such arguments as, “Even if you trace Evolution back and back and back, you must still reach a point where something had to have come from nothing. You must reach a point where there is neither anything animate or inanimate. And therefore, the very elements that would come to react and create life would still need a creator. Therefore: God.”

So, I set out to study the bible. I bought a Strongs Concordance and a Vines Dictionary and, being unemployed for quite some time, I studied for many hours a day and late into the night. I studied various subjects such as:

  • Are all Christians required to preach?
  • Is the Governing Body of Jehovah’s Witnesses the Faithful and Discreet Slave?
  • Does the bible teach that there is a Hell?
  • Does the bible teach that there is a Trinity?
    • Does it teach Jesus should be worshipped?
  • Is the bible moral?
  • Did Jerusalem fall in 607 B.C.E as Watchtower teaches?
  • Did the bible actually prophesy future events or not?
  • Does the bible truly harmonize?

These are all questions that I sought out to answer for myself. Interestingly I set off on this adventure twice, because the first time I just used the bible and watchtower library, found everything was up to snuff and thought, “See? I knew I was right.” But this first effort nagged at my consciousness like friend who just wont tell you what you want to hear. I kept thinking how strange it is to ask the question of someone or something’s truthfulness, but rather than investigate it just ask that entity and accept when they say, “Yes, we are telling the truth.” So, after a couple months I began buying books. It wasn’t just the earlier reference works which I purchased either. I bought books about Jewish culture during the first century, jewish history, books written by scholars about the new testament, and a couple books about rome.

What I found when I set off on this path the second time was very different from my first, dishonest attempt. After many weeks of very lengthy study, I could answer all the above questions. This brought about a new dilemma, because what I learned did not agree with what I had been taught all my life.

Belief in God Continues

I had proven that the Watchtower doctrine was wrong in numerous ways, and done so using only the bible itself. In my view this did not mean there was no God, it meant that Watchtower needed help. Maybe if I wrote them a letter, or spoke to the elders, I could show them the things that were wrong so that it could be corrected. This was my next course of action.

I spoke with a couple different elders about whether or not there was a way by which the elders could contact the branch if there is a problem with doctrine. They claimed that there was, and so I elaborated (more so with the second elder) on all the things that were wrong. I used the bible to show that preaching does not apply to all Christians, that the Governing Body cannot be the Faithful and Discreet Slave, that Jerusalem could not have fallen in 607 B.C.E., and that the bible clearly and concisely says Jesus is supposed to be worshipped in the same way that Jehovah is to be worshipped (it literally says this word for word at John 5:23, I will discuss this more at a later time).

I was told that I didn’t understand properly what I was reading. As a Witness, maybe you agree with them. Here is why I did not: the bible says what it says. As a believer, as a Christian, you must decide for yourself whether you will accept what the bible says itself, or what someone else says the bible says. At the time, as a believer, I felt that I should accept what the bible itself says rather than what an imperfect, sinful man says about it. I based this too on the bible. At Matt 24:23-26, notice Jesus says that if anyone comes claiming something in his name not ot believe them, and at Heb 7:18-25, when contrasting  the Mosaic Law with the New Commandment, Paul wrote that because Jesus is alive forever in heaven there would be no other mediator than him between us and God. So why should I trust what any other man says about the bible? And then there’s the point that the bible was written by simple men, for simple men – so why do I need someone else to tell me what it means (Acts 4:13)? No, I did not agree with them and I had sound scriptural reasons to disagree with everything that I was being told.

Problems With Morality and Prophecy

There was a serious issue that continued to bother me. There are good parts of the bible, good lessons to learn. Good lessons in morality. But, in my research I found some serious issues.

  • It is well established via evidence that the prophecies in the bible, as well as other holy books, were all written after the fact.
  • There are also horrendous things in the bible, like slavery, the wanton murder of children and infants (quite separately listed at 1 Samual 15:3).
  • Even in the New Testament, Jesus chatises the Jewish people of his day at Matt 15:3-7 (calling them hypocrites) for making a way in the law that prevented them from having to murder their own children.

All of these things caused serious dissonance in my beliefs. If God is supposed to be perfect in love, mercy and justice, then why would he ever order the murder of infants and children? Wouldn’t he be wise enough to let the israelites raise them? Why would Jesus chastise the Jews for not killing their offspring?  Then there’s the prophecies being written after the fact; why not just admit you wrote it afterward?

Dispite these things, I continued to believe in God, somehow rationalizing all of these things to myself as best as I could. However, all the rationalizing would be struck down by a harsh blow from reality.

Unemployment Continues

I was in a fine mood through my unemployment. I had faith that God would help us, and I assumed that he had been. I prayed very often, and personal study had become a sort of hobby for me that I enjoyed. I prayed until it eventually got so bad I couldn’t justify staying at our apartment anymore. I felt that it was un-christian to continue to put upon our landlords financially (especially because they were family) and opted to make plans, after it was offered to us, to move in with my parents. It was while we were living with my parents that I had the interaction with the second elder. This had been what was, to me, my last effort to reach out to the Jehovah’s Witness religion. My wife and I had already decided, after the first effort with elder number 1, never to go back to a Kingdom Hall. After the second, that sealed the deal because I knew they weren’t, “the Truth.”

My parents seemed fine with this decision, everything was fine for a while. Until I realized I no longer believed there was a God.

The Tipping Point

Because I was on unemployment, I had an opportunity available to me that was sure to end our problems with money. The Government would pay for me to go to school to get my Commercial Drivers License, and I took them up on this. I spent a month and a half in an intense driving school learning to drive big-rigs. I felt that God must have heard my prayers, because I had found the way out. While I was there I even met a very nice instructor who also believed in God, and we had some good discussions about the bible. My experience with this gentleman taught me something that I still value about the bible, which is that I don’t think it was ever intended to be divisive. I didn’t worship God the same way he did, and I didn’t believe the same way he did – but we shared thoughts on the bible openly and without argument because neither of us was interested in telling the other they were wrong. We believed in God and we shared ideas, that was all. It was very different from my experience as a Jehovah’s Witness, where my experience with this man would have been all about converting him and not about having a meaningful friendship or discussion.

After a month and a half of prayer and effort at this school, and belief that God had made the way out. It was time for me to go through my drivers test. Looking back, I can now laugh about this because it is probably the worst thing that could possibly have happened. I was nervous, and all the praying in the world wouldn’t make it go away – but I had faith. I went out there for the test and I passed the part where you inspect the vehicle, the maneuvers part, and then we went out on the road. And I wrecked the truck into another semi.

It wasn’t a horrible accident because I wasn’t going very fast and it was another tractor so the vehicle was not one that would have just been crushed. When the tractor collided the steering wheel was ripped from my hand violently and it hurt so very badly that I thought it was broken. My hand swelled within minutes; it was gigantic. After a few hours of getting through the events that passed after that, waiting to talk to the officers (who were incredibly kind), being taken to the hospital, and then returned to my car. Everything hit me all at once.

This accident ended my belief.

My Drive Home

The drive home was difficult with one usable hand. But I was too upset to feel the pain. I prayed all the way home and let God know exactly what I thought of him. I told him he could go fuck himself, and I didn’t care what his son may or may not have done. I was so upset, I remember saying, “I hope he was your son, and he was cucifified – and I hope it hurt.” Obviously, this was an absolutely terrible thing to say and I would later regret those words even though they were said in private because they were just so, incredibly mean. But, I said them and I relate it here because I want to be honest about the events that took place. And, though these words were extremely inappropriate, I later felt that in this prayer I made some very good points:

  • Why am I expected to be grateful for something I have no evidence to believe ever happened outside of the bible?
  • Why should I be in debt to a man I never met who did something for me of his own accord without being asked to?
  • Why am I in debt to this man’s father for something he allegedly did for me? That doesn’t make sense…
  • Why do I and all other human beings suffer such horrible ways mentally, emotionally and physically all because an acestor allegedly broke the rules? No matter how you cut this, it doesn’t make logical sense. You don’t punish the children of a wrong doer, do you?

This emotional blow had completely broken my circular logic, and I was open for the first time in my life to the notion that God does not exist. Of course, while this event definitely played a major role in getting me to the point I am now, I would not make the jump purely because of emotional reasons. However, the way it forced me to be open to the idea allowed me to honestly examine all the evidence against God without having any bias.

The Evidence

There is none.

I bet you find that surprising to read. There is no evidence that proves God does not exist. But more importantly, there is no evidence that God does exist either. And the evidence that many claim is real, upon investigation, is invariably false. There is no evidence, for example, of a global flood. This is a huge blow against the bible because there is actually an incredible and ever mounting pile of evidence against the bible. But this does not prove that God doesn’t exist, it just proves that the bible is not 100% true.

The next thing that I decided to investigate is evolution. I read several books to learn about the subject. I fought evolution as a believer because it made no sense to me. However, the reason it made no sense is that I never researched it. After I read the books, it made perfect sense. It’s an extremely easy to understand fact. But, this does not prove that God does not exist, it only proves that God is not necessary for life to develop – not that he is not needed for it to begin.

You see, you absolutely cannot prove that God isn’t there. So why not believe in him?

God Is the Reason

The reason I don’t believe in God is God. After all the reading and research I’ve done over the last several years I’ve learned one thing is absolutely true.

“The God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully.”

-Richard Dawkins, “The God Delusion

The reason I don’t believe in God is because this sentence is true. It is proven by all the events of the bible, events like the ones I referenced above. But what is most terrible to come to understand is that all of the most horrendous acts being done by humans against humanity today, and the majority of those of the past, were all done in the name of God.

Just this past weekend in Orlando, Florida, a gunman opened fire in a nightclub just because in his religon God says being gay is wrong. So, in the name of God, he set out to kill as many gay people as he could. September 11, 2001, members of the same religion killed thousands of people by hi-jacking airplanes and purposely crashing them (along with all the passengers and themselves) into two buildings in New York city.

“Mothers were skewered on swords as their children watched. Young women were stripped and raped in broad daylight, then… set on fire. A pregnant woman’s belly was slit open, her fetus raised skyward on the tip of a sword and then tossed onto one of the fires that blazed across the city.” — C.W. Dugger, “Religious Riots Loom over Indian Politics,”, New York Times, July 27, 2002. Also, P. Mishra, “The Other Face of Fanaticism,” New York Times Magazine, Feb. 2, 2003, pp.42-46

As Sam Harris said in his book, “The End of Faith,” this may sound like something that happened thousands of years ago, but it was actually within the last twenty years and all because of God.

In small tribes thousands of years ago, God made sense. God was a figure that kept everyone in line and prevented chaos and disharmony because of how you would be punished after you died. But as the human family grew, and came up with different Gods, who was right? We are still fighting and killing one another over the notion that there is an invisible being for whom we have no evidence. While it was bad enough to have things happen like what you read about in the bible, today we have much scarier  possibilities. We live at a time when a man can buy an assault rifle at Cabela’s in the morning, and then go kill dozens of people after lunch.

While it’s true that these examples aren’t about Christianity, Christianity is by far not off the hook. Sam Harris makes an incredibly powerful point that the holy books of our species must be held accountable not only for the good they inspire, but also the bad. You can’t just ignore the bad things in them and claim they are perfect and infallable sources of morality. The fact is, they are not. Just like the Koran can be used to inspire terrible things in people, the bible could be used the same way. How much effort would it take to use scriptures to show that a person loyal to God should be killing the children of the unbelievers to prevent the world from being thrown into darkness? You can use books like the bible, book of mormon, and koran to prove just about anything. The book of revelation, for exampe, is filled with symbolic language that can be said to mean just about anything – and it would all harmonize with the rest of the bible too. And let’s not forget the crusades, the witch hunts, the inquisition – all of which lay soley at the feet of Christianity.

To imagine that these things should not be remembered, or should be left to the past is absurd. You would never say, “Sure the neighbor molested 5 kids 30 years ago, but they’ve got the best prices in town for babysitting and I really need to go out tonight.” We are not talking about minor infractions of morality, we are talking about murder of the innocent, we are talking about abuse of children, we are talking about evidenced corruption.

All of these crimes and atrocities share one common denominator – God.

So, after considering history, the bible, science, all the evidence I can find and, most of all, current events. I come to the conlcusion that it would be better for humanity to not believe in God. If humanity could leave this fantasy world behind we could be something great, we could be a global community that no longer allows an invisible, unfalsifiable and unproven entity to make us:

  • Kill one another in devotion to God
  • Break up our families out of “love”
  • Give up on our dreams
  • Not go to college
  • Spread judgementalism and intolerance of various kinds of people, such as gay people, by saying God hates them or hates what they do.

It’s time we stopped believing in God, and grew into evolutionary adulthood. Accepting that God most likely is a figmant of ancient imagination is my part in this step for humanity. That is how I feel on the subject, and that is why I no longer believe.

-Rich

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