Posted by on Nov 27, 2012 in Essays | 14 comments

Name: Rob Coulter

Born: 1965

Location: Grand Prairie, Alberta, Canada

Former Religious Affiliation: Never baptized

Label: Independent Atheist

Gradual Awareness

Things that aren’t rational really bug me.  I believe about half of what I see, and even less of what I hear.  I prefer to find things out for myself, and if something doesn’t make sense, I’ll tear it apart to see why it doesn’t work.

My parents never had me baptized; my older brother was baptized, but my parents decided to leave it up to me, or maybe they had doubts, or maybe they didn’t see the point in it.  Whatever their reason, I never thought it was any of my business.  If I’d wanted to get baptized later, I probably could’ve asked, but I didn’t.

Now, rapidly approaching middle age, I started questioning why.  Not just the baptism thing.  I mean the BIG “why.”  I started looking around at what was happening to me, my family, and society and why things didn’t seem to make sense.  I started to read things I’d never been interested in before, thinking that maybe someone else had the same problem I did and had figured out enough of an answer to let them ask better questions.  I read George Carlin’s autobiography; his explanation that God doesn’t exist made sense.  I started digging through the internet to look for other opinions and, on YouTube, I found Penn and Teller’s ‘Bullshit’ (self-explanatory), The Thinking Atheist, and The Atheist Experience and Matt Dillahunty.  Matt explained things so clearly and directly:

“Assuming god exists and assuming a person has a soul, if god created everything, including hell, god also created the rules by which the universe operates, including the criteria by which souls are judged.  Since everything happens according to god’s will, god is ultimately responsible for everything, and that must, by logic, include whether or not people go to hell.  Therefore the decision to send anyone to hell is made by god.”

For me, this means that god is judgmental and vindictive, not kind and merciful.  Are we to believe that a kind and merciful god would arbitrarily condemn someone he previously granted free will?  If not, are we required to spend our lives apologizing for having been given the freedom to make our own decisions?  I refuse to put any belief in that kind of system.

Why do I believe what I do?  From Christopher Hitchens’ God is Not Great:  How Religion Poisons Everything:

“Religion comes from the period of human prehistory where nobody – not even the mighty Democritus who concluded that all matter was made from atoms – had the smallest idea of what was going on.  It comes from the bawling and fearful infancy of our species, and is a babyish attempt to meet our inescapable demand for knowledge (as well as for comfort, reassurance, and other infantile needs).”

If one believes that God’s word is eternal and applies to everyone, then why do some Christians ignore sections of the Bible – which is said to be the word of God – and choose to follow only those parts with which they agree?  The Old Testament includes references to God permitting slavery (even selling your own daughter!) and genocide (the killing of the first born of Egypt, for one example).  Some Christians might say that they follow specifically the teachings of Jesus Christ, who said that “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.” (Matthew 4:4)  Therefore, if you follow the teachings of Jesus, who said to live by EVERY word of God, either you live by ALL of God`s words, or you live by NONE of them.  If you live by every word, you`ll have to agree with the practices of slavery and genocide; if you live by none of them, you can`t call yourself a Christian, because you`d be disobeying the teachings of Christ.  You don`t get to pick and choose which parts of the Bible you`ll follow.  I find the whole idea ridiculously self-contradictory.

So I used my ability to think and determined that since there is no proof of the existence of god, instead of “commandments,” I adhere to these morals:

•       Treat others the way you want to be treated.
•       Constantly look for knowledge and facts, and form independent opinions based on your                             own reason and experience.
•       Always respect the right of others to disagree with you.
•       Live in peace with everyone and without regret or need for apology.
•       Protect the defenceless.
•       Be kind to the ignorant; they don’t know any better.
•       Hide your face in shame if you dare to harm a child.
•       Don’t think about using people as private property.
•       Don’t condemn people on the basis of their ethnicity or colour.
•       Leave valuable contributions for future generations.
•       Teach a man to fish, then fish with him.
•       Be willing to renounce any god or faith if any of their “commandments” contradict any of the above.
•       Support those who follow these ideas

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