Growing up, I never truly thought about religion and my relationship to it in a systemic manner. I remember incidents – I remember praying for specific outcomes, like Huck Finn, and never experiencing these outcomes at a rate that exceeded what a combination of the situation and chance would suggest. I remember hearing that God created the universe, asking, “Well, who created God?” and not getting a satisfying answer. The idea of God just slid away from me – an overly complicated solution that explained nothing. The ancient myths of the Greeks, which I studied and loved, made more human sense, despite being fanciful and wholly implausible.
Despite my lack of acceptance of the ‘God hypothesis,’ I never really thought of myself as an atheist. Then, one day, I heard an episode of This American Life called “Godless America.” It was a revelatory experience to me, if you’ll excuse the term. I purchased Julia Sweeney’s audiobook of Letting Go Of God, and it was beautiful – as much a celebration of rationality as a description of the loss of God. I also appreciated her discomfort with the label of ‘athiest,’ and her preference that she be called a ‘naturalist,’ and theists ‘anaturalists.’
Ms. Sweeny quoted Dawkins in this monolog, and that lead me to The God Delusion, and other writings of Dawkins. I was then hooked on New Atheism. I was pleased to see that one of my favorite authors, the late and incredibly missed Douglas Adams, was of a similar mind, and I have revisited his works with a greater appreciation for that influence (are Vroomfondel and Majikthise critiques of NOMA? Genius!). The more I look, the more I see what evil comes from religion in this world, and how good and kind and un-blinded my non-religious fellows can be. I’ve come to be more of an active atheist; not just unconvinced by the God Hypothesis, but actively opposing all of the horrible effects it has on the world. I am very fortunate that my husband is of a similar mind, and we can face the world together without a barrier of superstition. I am also fortunate to work in a scientific/biological field where religion is not as pervasive as it is elsewhere.
Ironically, I see the only path to anything _approaching_ the paradise envisioned by many religions is to reject superstition and irrationality, and act on firm foundations of evidence and reason, with the compassion and foresight that we have evolved to guide us.
Keep up the good work – there are more waiting to come out of the closet, I’m sure!