Hello, I am a 15 year old atheist who lives in western South Dakota. I have been an atheist since I was ten and of my own violition. My father is Protestant(kind of, believes in god and Jesus) and my mother is Catholic. I am almost constantly harassed at school for my belief (it is a belief because there is no physical proof) that there are no deities in the universe. My definition of deity is an all-knowing, all-powerful being, either good or evil (just so you know my differing view). The only other atheist at my school is an ignorant guy who is 1/3 goth, 1/3 emo, and 1/3 punk who dislikes everyone (seriously). I have many friends from a peace program who are Jewish, Islamic, and Christian (my best friend is a devout Roman Catholic). I am reading the Qur’an, and am going to start reading other religious texts soon if I can find them. Everyone knows that I am atheist, and a few people still try to prostylize me. I understand the other religions remarkably well, considering the area I live in (thanks be to living 30 miles away from DC for eight years of my life). I wanted to bring up the major reason I am an atheist is the Omnipotetent, Omni-powerful, Benevolent argument. If there was a deity, why would it not help us unless it wasn’t benevolent? If it didn’t know we have issues, then why worship it? The same for if it isn’t all powerful. What if it doesn’t like us? It gives us enough natural disasters and religiously founded wars to keep our population down. I also think that extremists are the issues in our society. Extremists Muslims=suicide bombers following a corrupted Jihad, extremist Christians=Crusades I-XII(or was it X, dunno). Are either of those better then the other? Is anyone better then someone else? Only in choices is one better then another. No physical or mental issue spearates us from another, only our choices. I know I ramble and lose track of thought but I am just bringing things up. Why should we obey something just because it says it will set us on fire for eternity? That is like t it would have been like if Jewish people followed Hitler. Why should we follow something that kills us for fun with nice little earthquakes and plagues and storms. That is all I have for now (primarily because I can’t remember everything I wrote) Thank you for listening, and I hope you see some of my thoughts
Sorry to hear that you don’t have anyone on your philosophical side. The only other atheist at your school being a reactive atheist doesn’t help matters (because that’s what many people think atheists are).
I applaud your investigation of religion. I feel that knowing about religion makes it easier to be an informed, tolerant atheist. I also wouldn’t let people proselytizing bother you. I take it as a sign that they care about me, which is nice, even if I don’t agree with their position. I also sometimes take it as an invitation to learn more about their religion (and, along the way, perhaps help them learn more about their own beliefs).
You bring up the omnipotent/benevolent argument. There are actually a number of ways to get around this, from a theistic point of view. The most common is to say that God must allow evil if He’s going to allow free will. It’s much more difficult to get around the fact that there are natural evils in the world, and I find wanting the standard argument that these evils were introduced as a result of the fall of Adam and Eve.
I like what you say about people being equal and only their choices being different. Where many religious people run into trouble is they say that actions based on their religion are justified because they are doing what God wants, but they condemn people who disagree with them but also think they are doing what God wants. If person A says he is following God’s orders, and person B says she is following God’s orders, then either one of them has to be able to prove that they are hearing the “real” voice of God (which, in my experience, theists generally can’t do) or both sets of “God’s orders” are equal and should be treated as such.
Your question about whether we should obey God only because we are threatened is a good one. You might, during the course of a friendly discussion, as a theist if they would now be obeying Satan if Satan had dethroned God instead of being cast out of Heaven. (And don’t take “but he couldn’t have” as an answer.)
Thank you for writing. I hope you’ll write again as you come across interesting items during your investigation of religion.