WHY DID YOU DECIDE TO BECOME AN ATHEIST?
Whoa, whoa, whoa! Hold up there. “Decide”? I did not decide to become an atheist. I became an atheist but it wasn’t a active decision. Why do you think becoming an atheist is a choice?
WELL YOU AT ONE TIME DECIDED TO BELIEVE IN JESUS, AND NOW YOU HAVE DECIDED TO NOT BELIEVE IN HIM.
No. I did at one time decide to believe in Christ, but now I can’t believe in him. It’s not that I won’t believe or choose not to believe, I have lost the ability to believe in God.
Losing my faith was a very strange experience for me. I felt like it was something happening to me, against my will. I did not want to lose my faith. I had everything a Christian could ask for; meaningful ministry, growing church, faithful wife, 3 wonderful kids, a decent salary, and a reason to live in service of God everyday of my life. Losing my faith put all that in jeopardy. Now that my faith is gone it’s put stress on my marriage, it will mean the loss of my job, I will lose the community that supports me and my kids in their development, I will lose friends, and now I have no god to rely on for the stresses that tomorrow will bring. I literally gain nothing by being an atheist, except the honest truth. And you know what, the truth freaking sucks. I have received no benefit to my life by losing my faith. Why on earth would I choose to be an atheist?
But here’s a better question: When did you decide to believe the sky is blue?
You didn’t decide to believe the sky is blue. You learned what the color blue was and can see that the sky shows a shade of that color. You don’t need to believe in facts that are plainly obvious. They’re obvious facts, you know them to be true, you don’t believe in them. It has become obvious to me that there is no personal god who watches over me.
WELL, THAT’S DIFFERENT. WE CAN ALL SEE WITH THE NAKED EYE THAT THE SKY IS BLUE. YOU CAN’T SEE WITH THE NAKED EYE THAT THERE IS NO GOD.
Burden of proof aside, ok then, when did you decide to believe the Earth is round? The curvature of the Earth is something that you’ve never directly observed yet you know, not just believe but know, that the Earth is round. Is this a conscious choice you are making to believe? Or is it simply the facts and evidence line up in such a way as to put to rest any doubt?
When did you decide to believe that lightning is made of electricity?
When did you decide to believe that earthquakes are caused by tectonic plates?
When did you decide to believe that there is Oxygen in the air that you need in order to survive?
You don’t make conscious decisions to believe these things, and you’d be crazy to reject them. But here’s one better: When did you decide to not believe in Santa Claus? HEAR ME OUT!!! I know how frustrating the Santa/God connection can be, but think about it. “He sees you when you’re sleeping, he knows when you’re awake, he knows if you’ve been bad or good so be good for goodness sake.” Santa is a supernatural being who judges people based on their morality and rewards those who have done good while punishing the immoral.
And we were taught, as kids, that he was real. To make matters worse, we are bombarded by movies and stories that attempt to demonstrate the folly of adults and cynical kids who no longer believe in Santa. But at some point you were presented with the truth; there is no Santa Claus, it’s just your parents. One day at the play ground in school, maybe you overheard some big kids talking about how Santa wasn’t real. Perhaps you rejected this assertion at first. No, of course Santa is real! He brought me a bike last year. What about the reindeer? The sled? The stories? The songs? The North pole? Heck didn’t the US government track Santa every year using radar? If Santa isn’t real then why does everyone (from your perspective) believe he is? And wait a minute, you met Santa at the mall one year. And your parents after all were the ones that told you he was coming.
When did you decide to stop believing in Santa?
You didn’t decide, you came to an irrefutable conclusion. In a sense, your faith in Santa was taken from you by the stark reality that there is no good reason to believe that Santa was real.
Now losing faith in Santa verses losing faith in God are not the same thing. For one, losing God is immeasurably worse. But the process was similar for me. You are a taught that God lives and he loves you. But then you hear of people who don’t believe in him. After some investigation you realize the doubters have a vastly more compelling case, and all your left with is some stories, songs, and movies. And no matter how beautiful the concept of God is, it’s still a lie. Beautiful fiction is still fiction, no matter how bad you wish it was true.
Reflecting on the God/Santa connection I just thought of a really depressing truth. How many Santa movies involve orphans hoping for Santa to bring them for Christmas? In real life there is no Santa to make an orphan’s day bright. How many lonely and hurting people are praying to God to fix their lives? In real life there is no God to rescue us.
I want to believe in a god that loves us, but I can’t. There is just no good reason to suspect that god lives. There is no heaven, there is no Kingdom of God, there is no hope outside of this world and outside of ourselves. I’d like to be wrong, but I’d also like to believe that Santa will bring my children presents.
This song is relevant:
Daughter, I once thought that I had angels in my room.
They were sleeping on my fan while I was dreaming of you.
And daughter, I once had such desire to believe
That our lives had been planned out by an unseen deity,
But you don’t have to waste your time holding on to beautiful lies.
Daughter, I once knew that everything that I believed
Was good, and fair, and true, and consistent with my needs.
But daughter, I am wrong almost as often as I’m right.
So daughter, just be strong enough to make up your own mind, Because you don’t have to waste your time, holding on to beautiful lies.