November 2, 2011

Atheists Do Not Need to Have All the Answers

Bertrand Russell

I do not remember the moment when I first realized I was an atheist. It was a gradual process that unfolded over at least a couple of years and did not end in some flash of realization. However, I do remember the reactions of my family and friends:
You're not really an atheist; you're just mad at god.

If you're an atheist, then why is the universe here?

Man, something really bad must have happened to you.

So you just worship yourself, huh?
What I remember most about these statements and the hundreds of others like them I have heard since I accepted reality is their tone. They were nearly always delivered with an air of conceited certainty, as if each posed some sort of insurmountable challenge for me. But that was never the case.

It is not that I have all the answers. I didn't then, and I don't now. But I recognize that some questions do not have answers and that others have answers we just haven't found yet. I also recognize how ridiculous it is to assume that god(s) must be the default answer for every unknown.

I used to wonder why so many Christians seemed unable to understand this. I suspect now that these Christians did not want to think because doing so might jeopardize their faith. Perhaps this explains why so many Christians seem so hostile when asking such questions. The atheist has to be wrong for them to be right.

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