And here we have part 4. Originally published on my old blog on 23 January 2014. This was the first time I tried to articulate my arguments against religion, and I don’t think I did a bad job of it. Lately I have been wondering why it took me so long to figure out I was an atheist. Maybe I’ll write something about that in the next few days, if I can find the time.
Where part 3 left off I was 14 years old and a confirmed Roman Catholic. The previous parts of this series were mostly anecdotes, but I’ve more or less finished them. Sure, I could write the names of one or two people who influenced my way of thinking, but at 14, my indoctrination was complete, and thanks to my analytical thinking, I think that atheism was always going to be my final outcome.
Getting there, however, took a while. For several years, I found myself praying every night to a God I no longer believed in. Somehow I had become attached to Christianity, even though I no longer believed in it, and also there were some weird feelings of guilt involved. So I prayed, and I read the bible, looking not for moral lessons, but for some sign that it was true. Some sign of God. I found none.
Around the age of 21, I made a promise to my mother, that I would never convert to another religion. It was an easy promise to make. Atheism is not a religion. I didn’t convert to any religion, but rejected them all.
Before I could do that, I did a little research. What I found astonished me. There are similar beliefs, too similar in nature to be coincidence, throughout many religions. Were I still a believer, perhaps I could have interpreted this as supporting evidence in my belief, and that, ultimately, is what the religious do. They see signs, find ways to justify their beliefs.
But that’s not how I interpreted the data. To me it is obvious: Religion has “evolved” with man. All of the popular religions today probably had a common ancient religious source. People love to think there is meaning in life, and that somehow we, mankind, have lost something along the way, that ancient man knew the truth. But the truth is, ancient man knew nothing, but attributed superstitious spiritual significance to everything. The sun was a god up in the sky; the treacherous sea was a god; the moon was a god; even the rocks and the trees. At some point that evolved to a single god, a virgin birth, and other interesting stories.
Whatever the forgotten religions are, they don’t matter. What matters is that the modern religions incorporate pieces of them. Even the angels, named in Judaism and Christianity, are former gods of older religions. The people joined with the religions that became Judaism, bringing their gods with them. Old gods were not forgotten completely, but became angels.
It is impossible for me, as an atheist, ever to debate this with a religious person. [Edit, 28 August 2016. Haha! Why didn’t I take my own advice here? I wrote this before attempting to debate theists, and have done so frequently for the last two years. And I was right! Might as well debate the walls…] Religion, because of indoctrination, approaches the argument arse about face.
Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.
A religious person starts with the assumption that god exists, because that’s what they were always taught and they do not question it. If they debate with an atheist, they expect you then to disprove the existence of something that they believe in, despite no evidence that it exists. This is not a valid argument, but is backwards.
Yes, I’ve said it before, but you can not disprove the existence of something that does not exist, to the people who believe in it. They will not and can not argue rationally. It’s the same as trying to prove to someone who believes in a conspiracy theory or doomsday theory, that they are wrong. They can never accept it. If your argument is convincing, you become part of their conspiracy. [Edit. 28 August 2016. If your argument is convincing you become part of the conspiracy, in the case of debating a conspiracist. In the case of debating a theist, a convincing, factual, rational argument is often dismissed as coming from the evil that their religion believes in. So for Christians, the best arguments can be dismissed as coming from their devil. It’s a classic false dilemma: If you don’t worship my god, you must be under the spell of my devil.] A religious person knows that God exists, in their mind.
Some atheists seem to think that the religious lack intelligence. I am convinced this is not the case. I think there is no correlation between intelligence and religious belief. It’s all about indoctrination, and most people who have been indoctrinated into religion will never see the obvious fact that they believe in something that isn’t real.
I hope you have enjoyed this series. It was my first attempt to articulate my argument against religion, as well as explain how I reached this point. It’s probably not going to be my last.