Why I am an atheist – Tom Hail
March 14, 2012 at 6:44 am PZ Myers
This is a letter I wrote my aunt in 2007 after she asked why I wanted to take her faith away from her.
Why I am godless.
I don’t understand how perfectly rational, intelligent, kind, and responsible people can believe in a God. It baffles me totally. And I think about it a lot, not like I feel like I am missing anything myself but in wonder at how this belief can be corrected. You know, I wouldn’t trade our family for any other family, I enjoy and love them all and the fact that most have faith saddens me somewhat.
I do not see any god anywhere I look. From the maelstrom of quantum mechanics in particle physics, to the busy chemistry of each living cell, to the beautiful physics of aerodynamics, to the majestic geology of our earth, to the titanic forces in our solar system, to the stupendous forces driving our galaxy and universe… it is all so awesome and beautiful that to attribute any of it to God’s creation is, to me, insufficient. That there are questions and problems with what we understand only makes discovery all that more meaningful. It is all so hugely complex in total, but it all builds upon many simpler things. Evolution is perfect simplicity which builds very slowly into the complex beauty of life we have today. I feel that beauty in my heart much better than I can express in words. Even without the controversies of life and evolution, the complexities of the universe are so much beyond a god, needs no explanation with a god. God is so unnecessary.
I have a saying that has gelled in my mind over the last year or so… Atheism: Natural Morals, Real Meaning, Credible Truth.
Our morals come naturally, someone writing them down and calling them the word of God seems like plagiarism to me. And I think they added in the rules to help control the masses better, or at least to control the women better. It looks to me that our natural morals come from our need to survive, we can’t survive if we are killing each other, we are wired for survival and propagation of the population. Stoning women for adultery seems wrong and it is, it isn’t a natural moral, but the writers of the “messiah’s” words seem to have another motive, valid at the time maybe, probably to help control the population to their benefit. The need to survive and procreate is very simple but a lot of things derive naturally from it. Helping others, kindness to your children, education, it just builds and builds on it. To me it boils down to “relieve and prevent suffering, give pleasure.” If I am doing that in any way, I am being true to my morals.
Real meaning in life also comes from the need to survive and procreate, to do so means we must discover how our world works, adapt, learn, overcome problems, coexist with the individuals of our species, coexist with our world. This is real meaning to me. To worship a deity hoping for a good result when I die doesn’t provide any meaning. The discovery of our world may be the most important and leads us into our future. If we stop, we will stagnate and suffer. I think our species made a mistake creating religions, it is a dead end that we have to back out of to progress on, but maybe it was a lesson we had to learn.
Credible truth, the biggest being that this is it. This is heaven, hell, whatever you make of it. This is your one life. You are only borrowing the atoms you consist of for your sort life time and then they are recycled into the universe to be used again. I am ok with that. It doesn’t scare me. I wish it weren’t so but that is the way of the universe. We are such a small mote in just our galaxy which is a small object in an immense universe. But the meaning of life is to be all that you can be to your family and friends, community, and world. That is a real truth that I can believe in.
Why is this important to me? I see thousands dying monthly, sometimes daily in fighting to the death over what are to me fairy tales. Fighting over essentially worthless land, fighting for what boils down to power. Much of it in the name of their religion. It makes me angry. The war in Iraq has many religious overtones that disturb me. The trillions of dollars this is going to cost us is going to hurt.
I didn’t mean to write this on a Sunday, it just turned out that way, I’ve been busy and I had to compose it some in my mind first. I had a great day yesterday with flying passengers for the 99’s scholarship fundraiser. Allena came over and helped out the ladies. It was one of those things I do that gives real meaning to my life, showing 10 people their world from above.
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