Dear Christians is a recurring column that deals with my intersection between belief and nonbelief. It looks at my personal views of belief and deals with the myths of nonbelief that I was taught growing up. All opinions are, of course, my own. To see more Dear Christians columns, click here.
It recently came up in an online forum, one of those catchphrases that I had heard about from my fellow nonbelievers, but not experienced myself.
"You have faith too."
I know that it is hard to believe, but no, atheists don't feel like they have faith. I don't personally believe that I have faith, because I have relied on reason and evidence to come to my conclusions--a rather noticeable departure from my prior belief system.
The idea that atheists have faith tends to come from the idea that they take a leap of faith in believing in no deities, but I don't find that accurate either.
For me, I see no good reasons to believe in a god. I see no clear evidence of one. Thus, much like unicorns, or manbearpigs, I feel justified in believing that no such thing exists.
I am, however, open to evidence that I am wrong.
This is a vast departure from my prior state of faith. When I built my life around faith, I actively protected it by avoiding sources that could throw it into Christian. When we learned about evolution in high school, I would return home each evening, mulling over my A-Beka science book that stated the case for creationism. I avoided even watching television programs that would cast doubt on my beliefs. Things like Ancient Aliens were even off-limits to me personally.
Today, I am open to reading anything. I visit a number of blogs that don't align with my worldview--those blogs give me the chance to see things from different perspectives, and I value that. I read books that don't match what I believe, because in such books there's a wealth of perspective. I feel like more important than safeguarding my own experience is understanding the experience of others.
In the meantime, I do have answers to the "big questions". Can I be good? Yes. I'm perfectly able to tell right from wrong without a several millennia old anthology. Where did I come from? I understand evolution better than ever, and I see it as the clear progression of the planet and its lifeforms. Where will I go when I die? I will not exist. My body will enter the ground, and decompose (or preferably, be cremated), and I will only live on in the memories of those that loved me and those whose lives I touched. How do I deal with doing wrong? I make amends, as best I can, and put myself in the other individual's shoes.
So religion has no comfort for me that I don't already see in my nonbelief.
What would it take for me to believe in God and accept that there is ample evidence for him?
Well, a personal visit would be a ringer, but photographic or video evidence would be a nice start. I'm sure there's other evidence that could lead me to deduce that there is a greater being, but I have yet to see it produced.