When I was a child I accepted what I was told without proof. From a very early age I was content to hear the stories of Santa Claus bringing presents, and the tooth fairy replacing a fallen tooth with money. I cannot really say I believed in the existence of these mythical creatures, but instead didn’t have the mental fortitude to question the idea that I was being given nice things in exchange for silly concepts.
From my very first memory of these myths I can honestly say that I knew it was my parents who participated in the adventure, and saw these fairies as a necessary part of the process. They (my parents) talked about themselves in these third person guises and I never saw a reason to not go along with the analogy.
When it came to the idea of religion and God, again I always saw these stories as a necessary mechanism to teach me things. I read the bible (children’s version) with large print and color images at a very early age. In fact I remember asking my parents if I could read the bible, and they bought me the children’s version. I loved the stories, they were well above the level that I could read anywhere else, were both scary and exciting. But I never saw them as more than stories. They clearly were not true. Now I was maybe five or six when I first came to that conclusion, but I saw absolutely no reason to discuss their truthfulness with anyone. These were great exciting stories, and just like any other story it never occurred to me at that age that anyone would think they were literally true.
I still love the power of the biblical stories, and I really do find a lot to learn from the rituals and ideas of religion and myth alike. The only thing that really separates religion and myth for me, is now knowing that some people actually believe that the religious stories are entirely true while myth is known by everyone to be just stories.
It took me until my teenage years to be able to truly articulate to myself a logical discussion that proved the non-existence of God. Before then I knew that God was just a story like all others but I couldn’t explain why.
Here’s what I discovered:
For God to be a fact, several things must be true.
1. God must listen to prayers
2. God must act to improve the universe
Well there are thousands of mutually exclusive versions of God that are prayed to right now on earth. Assuming that god listens to prayers and acts to improve the universe, then surely all but the true believers lives would be in the shitter. Clearly this is not the case, so God doesn’t listen or answer prayers. And thus is not a factor in our lives.
The laws of the universe do not require a God of any description to be active. Who knows what happened before the big bang. Frankly it makes no sense to assume some bloke with a white beard decided to squirt out everything from nothing and then had absolutely no interaction since then.
It makes much more sense to assume that there is no God, and that existence is the beautiful thing we see around us that has been growing by the mathematical principle of entropy and the logical extension of this, evolution.
Thinking this way means that I treasure every experience I have while these trillions of atoms that were forged in the center of stars hold together in my physical form and create the sentience that is I. I know my time as this sentience is limited and that I need to spend every moment experiencing. This leads me to want to do as much good as I can, smile as much as I can, work as hard as I can, think as deeply as I can, and experience all that I can.
Knowing what I know, makes me want to be honest, ethical and as good a person as I can.
I know time is just a concept that I have been taught and has no true meaning, but I don’t know enough to deal with the universe I see without this concept.
Knowing these things helps me deal with the idea of loved ones who I will never see again.
I cannot explain love, but I can explain hate. I know enough not to hate, and I know enough to treasure love wherever and whenever it can be found.
I know consciously and empirically that there is no God, and this knowledge means I have no excuses. There is no excuse to lie, cheat, kill, steal, hurt or abuse. There is nothing to forgive me, I need to be as good as I can simply because when this life is over there is no second chance. All that comes after of me is the good things I leave in this universe.
I plan to enjoy every moment of my sentience, to bring joy to me, my family, friends and beyond.
Being honest and accepting the simple facts shouldn’t need to have a name, it should be every sentient beings standard state. I don’t believe in anything that I can’t know to be true, so why take one of an infinite number of absurd ideas and put it on a pedestal (the idea of a god).
I can enjoy the warmth of custom, and learn from the stories of many generations without needing to blindly follow things that cause both harm to others and limit thought.
I suspect, this is why Atheists generally don’t start wars, they see the longer game.