I am an Atheist.
I state that not as a means to bring on some new identity, or some type of spiritual coming out of the closet. Merely as a fact.
I do not mean it as a direct criticism of anyone who believes differently, although I suppose some criticism is inherent in this belief.
It has always been this way I think. When I was young and between the ages of 4-11, I went to a church aided Infant & Junior school. There were hymns sung during morning assembly. These through constant exposure would become somewhat routine, although I still remember the words to most of them, and find many still enjoyable. The school would have us walk to the nearby church, a historical wonder in some respects, for the occasional “special” event, usually a harvest festival service or a festive service. It made a nice change from being in the school. The church had a nice look, old smell, and that coolness that open buildings with high ceilings have. It had beautiful carved wood pews, some with mice carved into them which I would later learn was the work of Robert Thompson.The school would teach religion, but although there was an emphasis on “Church of England”, would teach about other religions as well. That might have been imposed by the government.
Despite all this, the religion never quite rang true to me. It seemed like stories much like any other story. I didn’t understand why there could be different religions with differences between them, but only one God.
As I learnt more about the world and how it works, more about the various sciences, what constitutes a fact, or a theory, or a statement, this seemed to me more evidence for there not being a God. I did not look for evidence to support my views, in fact I looked at it as a way to challenge them. I still look at science this way.
It does not make me an immoral being. I understand right from wrong. I understand when someone can be hurt, or when they can be happy, and that we all live different lives, even if they appear similar in many ways.
It does not mean that without God in my heart, that I cannot see the beauty of the world. I can see perfectly well how beautiful a waterfall might be, or how wonderful a stream looks flowing through a wooded area. Even if I understand the process the water is going through to get there, it does not make it less magnificent, but maybe more so. Understanding can bring enhancement. The word “breathtaking” can still apply.
It does not mean that I cannot see the beauty of a clear night sky, or the dizzying feeling when I look up at a star and remember we are moving through space just as it is. And that there is a lot of space out there which we have yet to discover or know about.
It does not mean I can not get caught up in a great story or find pleasure in a well written line.
In fact, I do not take leave of my emotions. I still love my wife and child loads, and other family or friends too.
I find that understanding and increasing knowledge allows you to see more, and appreciate more. If you can see what is happening and realize the details of it, it can add a lot, because you have a way to view , or listen, or smell, in many more levels. The aesthetic and the meaningful can hold each others hand and enjoy their interaction.
I do not need God in my heart to do these things.
Further info: I do not wish to debate whether God exists in this post, there are many very good websites and blogs which already do this. However if you are interested, you may find the following useful:
– Jerry Coyne’s book “Why evolution is true” which is a good examination of evidence, but also has a very good accompanying blog http://whyevolutionistrue.wordpress.com
– Richard Dawkin’s book “The God Delusion”
– Christopher Hitchens book “God is not great“.
– The church of the flying spaghetti monster.