Joe (truth-saves.com administrator) recently posted a blog featuring Adam Corolla talking about his atheism, and it got me to listening to some of his other comments on the subject. On one of his radio shows, Adam stated that he is often asked “What made you an atheist?” I have also been asked this question many times over the years, and Adam’s response really got me thinking.
As America is the most religious industrialized nation in the world, it seems that most Atheists in this country have a “story” regarding how they transitioned from religiosity, or at least the tacit support of religion, to deciding to declare their rationality. Every time I told my “story” to a person who believed in the supernatural, they would declare triumphantly how I had a “bad experience with religion” and that it was those events that made me an atheist. I have never been comfortable with that analysis of my experience, as it minimized the role of critical thinking and reason, and emphasized a specific event that occurred. Yes, events occurred that got me to thinking, but that does not mean that those events caused me to be vengeful against religion. When the apple fell and hit Isaac Newton on the head, did the blow cause him to start thinking critically about physics? Or did the pain cause him to go on a tree killing rampage? Clearly it is possible for one to suffer through a traumatic experience and become a better person because of it.
First of all, nothing makes someone an atheist, and I mean literally nothing. Simply NOT having religious dogma forced upon you as a child, is all it takes. Christopher Hitchens often points out that every child in Sunday school can see right through the preposterous claims of the religious, as is evident by the astonished looks on their faces, and they only succumb to these irrational beliefs after being threatened and intimidated by their elders. Every child is born an atheist; they become religious when their parents teach dogma as fact. If you want atheist children, all it takes is to simply protect children from people who pretend to know about the existence of supernatural creatures and the divine authorship of certain books.
Some people become atheists after being religious. This takes a high degree of critical thinking, rationality, and understanding the difference between right/wrong and true/false (note that this is the definition of Morality). The ability to work through the various dogmatic teachings one has been raised with and to identify the errors, really does take a lot of introspection and self-reflection. Anyone who claims that changing your life-long beliefs is easy has never done so. While it is certainly possible that folks have become atheists due to a willful blind choice against religion, many of us are simply taking responsibility for our beliefs. This is something that the religious do not do, the responsibility for their beliefs, right or wrong, lies with their imagined supernatural creature.
I am an atheist, not because of an experience or event in my life; I am an atheist because I strive to know the difference between right and wrong, true and false, accurate and inaccurate. I am an atheist because I can think critically about new information, ideas and concepts, and am willing to go through the difficult process of changing my beliefs when they are proven in error or incomplete. I am an atheist, because there is no more evidence to support the biblical Hebrew gods, than there is to support Zeus and Thor. I am an atheist, because I do not believe in the supernatural. I am an atheist because I was born one, just like everyone else.