Would you sacrifice your baby because God told you to? Do you think there is any moral justification for owning another human being and their offspring? Do you think punishment of rape should include the rapist marrying their victim? Do stories of talking snakes and global floods seem reasonable?
If you answered no to any of the above questions, you might already be an atheist.
One of the hidden benefits of our cushy, secular, western world is we are not forced to construct a worldview incompatible with our observations. Though many of us still do, the most reasonable among us know that mating animals looking at branches will not result in striped offspring. Reason also tells us people never lived to be 900 years old, the world is much more than 6000 years old, and that rainbows were not created as a reminder that god will think twice before he drowns all of us (again). The more we examine nature, the more we are forced to toss out the spurious “facts” presented throughout the bible, because our observations tell us the bible is wrong about almost everything.
My personal shift to atheism was slow and gradual. It wasn’t a quick transition and there were not many “eureka” moments. It was the slow recognition that the foundation of my parents’ religion was sandier than I’d ever imagined. Then one day I realized: I’m an atheist. What’s more, I’d been an atheist for a long time, and didn’t even realize it.
Below are the top 11 reasons why you might be an atheist and not even realize it.
- You’ve read the bible
Most Christians haven’t read much of the bible. The old joke goes “I’m an atheist because I read the bible.” When you read the Old Testament, it reads like a horror movie, one where god celebrates rape, slavery, and murder by the boatload – there are over 2 million deaths commanded by this god throughout the bible. If it seems odd to you that a god would spend billions of years creating a magnificent universe, and would then intervene by literally requiring people in a tiny corner of an insignificant galaxy to kill each other, you might be an atheist.
- Religions can’t all be right
Modern religions, such as Islam, Christianity, and Judaism, differ in meaningful and paradoxical ways. Was Jesus the most important human, or was it Moses? Mohammed maybe? They couldn’t all be right, yet each religion has practitioners that would fight and die defending it. Isn’t it interesting that those practitioners all seem to believe that the correct religion is the one their parents practiced? Face it, the most likely conclusion is that they’re all wrong, and you probably already know this.
- You don’t believe things happen that are supernatural
If you think ghosts, witches, and miracles are non-sensical mumbo jumbo, you might be an atheist. The biblical account of creation, along with what is implied with a god who “created” the universe, requires a supernatural intervention, one where the creator exists outside of space and time.The truth is even if we did observe consistent supernatural phenomena, we’d still need some way to measure it in order to know it means what we think it means. If the supernatural talk that happens in religious circles sounds screwy to you, congratulations…your analysis of the world is based in reality, and you might be an atheist.
- You are suspicious of claims of moral absolutes
It’s pretty easy to figure out why killing and raping people is bad, right? We wouldn’t want people to kill or rape us, or our loved ones. Plus, if everyone got murdered, there’d be no one else to rape or murder.In the real world, we have plenty of examples where there is gray area, such as cloning, war, and abortion. The fact that people have such a hard time agreeing on any ethical issue is proof of the uselessness of framing things in this manner. The existence of different denominations within the same faith is more proof that everything is more or less subjective…even what day the Sabbath is.
- You recognize unintelligent design
What would an undesigned universe look like? My guess is it would be big, with a lot of wasted space, with a lot of ongoing repairs and inefficiency. At present, the Andromeda and Milky Way galaxies are on a collision course; once they collide, the black holes in each of the galaxy will merge, and eventually suck in Earth, or eject it completely out of the newly formed galaxy. Does that seem like a design?Think of how many humans choke to death every year because their airway is so close to their esophagus. Think about how humans need 23 pairs of chromosomes – why not just have 1 big chromosome? Obviously these things occurred because of natural selection and slow gradual changes. I don’t know about you, but to me this suggests total absence of a supernatural engineer who designed everything.
- You’ve struggled with the deism/theism gap
Even if you get to the point where you conclude the complexity of the universe must have required some supernatural intervention, you still need to build a logically honest bridge between that creator, who created the infinite universe and the infinitesimal cell, and the one who required human sacrifice and took an extraordinary interest in Iron Age middle-Eastern populations. If you struggle to find a logically coherent method to build this bridge, you might be an atheist (or a deist or pantheist).
- You are uncomfortable with ignorance
If you’ve ever been curious about something, but lacked adequate information about it, it’s easy to understand the mentality of Bronze and Iron Age citizens. They didn’t have the first clue about what was going on…they didn’t even know the earth revolved around the sun. Imagine not knowing how to read, not having any answers about how the natural world works, yet having an insatiable human curiosity. In that context, it makes a lot of sense that a framework characterized by its absoluteness and simplistic descriptions of natural phenomena came to exist.
- You know about history
One of the obvious problems in Christianity is that Jesus Christ’s body was buried in a tomb after crucifixion. However, historical consideration reveals that part of the crucifixion punishment was that the body got desecrated after being crucified…the person was still alive after being staked to the cross, and scavenging dogs and birds would eat them. After death, crucified criminals were thrown into anonymous mass graves. Pontius Pilate was not the sort of guy who would have allowed an exception for Jesus Christ to be taken down from the cross and buried in the tomb, and there certainly would not have been a Roman guard to prevent access to it. This historical problem is the tip of the iceberg for religious claims.
- You understand logic
When a claim is made, the burden of proof is on the one making it. For instance, if I say I was abducted by aliens, I should have some pretty compelling evidence to support my claim, and I wouldn’t blame anyone for being skeptical of such a claim. The same goes for god. The absence of evidence should rightfully give rise to skepticism, and the inability to provide concrete evidence for such a god speaks volumes to its merits. If you’ve struggled with this problem, you’re not alone.
- You don’t worship Zeus or Osiris
A lot of gods have been invented by people over the past 20,000 years. You don’t worship those gods, do you? The reason you don’t worship them is the same reason atheists don’t worship Yahweh.
- You can improve the world without the bible
Do you feel bad when bad things happen to other people? Do you think people sometimes deserve help, even if they’ve never helped you? If so, congratulations, you’re a decent person – you don’t need Bronze Age literature to tell you that humans and animals deserve your humanity…and if you adhere to a strict interpretation of the bible, you’ll probably end up treating people and animals less humanely than you would if you were an atheist.