How does one become an atheist? This is a question that is often asked by theists as they try to understand the mentality of those that state that they don’t believe in a personal god or any god for that matter. They assume that a person just wakes up one day and decides to renounce the biblical God and become an atheist overnight. They say that you allowed yourself to be persuaded away from the faith by Satan and that you were led astray because you were not spiritually strong enough to resist the wiles of the “evil one.”
In some cases your quest for knowledge is also questioned since they believe that all knowledge and understanding comes from God. According to Proverbs 1:7; “The fear of Yahweh is the beginning of knowledge; fools spurn wisdom and discipline.” (NJB) So if this is true then even searching for knowledge outside the context of a belief in God is sinful. In keeping with the suppression of knowledge the church conducted several inquisitions and attempted to keep everyone illiterate as long as they could. Later, when the bible was translated into Latin, English, and many other languages; they then tried to suppress the reading of certain books by actually making it illegal to own them.
Humans in general are social animals; we seek out companionship and relationships. We long to meet people that share our opinions and views, especially when it has to do with what we believe. Religion is a societal phenomenon it gives people that sense of belonging. That is why most people don’t look towards beliefs that are going to harm their status within a society or alienate them from their peers. Atheism does just that and more! When you make it known that you don’t believe in God people look at you differently. They see you as a rebel and outsider and in some cases they think you are mentally imbalanced.
Atheists have been associated with evil, immorality, arrogance, unpatriotic, etc. The road to atheism is so varied that there is no set way that one becomes an atheist. Some of the means to which they have come to atheism are irrational or emotional. A lot of people have leaned towards atheism due to having too many bad experiences with organized religions; others have left because religions doctrines could not satisfy their inquiring minds. When they asked difficult questions they were given the old “God has many mysteries that have yet to be revealed,” or the old “We will know all things when we get to heaven.”
Some people were fortunate enough to never have been exposed to religion and so being an atheist comes easy to them. There are no doctrines to unlearn or renounce, there are no so called truths to discredit. They live in a world where science and observation can help them indicate fact from fiction and the word faith does not exist to these few.
There are those that have been so deeply indoctrinated that even doubting that God exists causes them great stress and uneasiness. They lived and breathed according to what they believed to be the word of God. For these individuals the road to atheism is painful and paved with glass, it is hard to change your views and opinions on life after all those many years you have committed to believing and teaching about God. Those that were once clergy and had devoted a lot of time and energy to their beliefs are the ones for whom it is hardest to renounce those beliefs. There is a little joke amongst atheists that basically states that the best way to becoming an atheist is to read the bible. It is almost impossible to read the bible in its entirety and not come away disgusted with its deity and the bibles many obvious contradictions.
The most glaring contradictions in the scriptures are contradictions of historical facts. The bible is wrong about the 400 year Egyptian enslavement of the Hebrews; to date there has been no archeological evidence to support this. Biblical scholars have come to even doubt the existence of Moses! The Red Sea which the Hebrews supposedly crossed on dry land is now thought to be a mistranslation of the Sea of Reeds. Not to mention the outright cruelty which God exercises freely to deal with mankind in the Old Testament. But nothing is crueler than the idea of an eternal place of torment called hell.
According to the New Testament not believing in God is punishable by death and eternal torment in the afterlife! The road to atheism is actually not a single road since there are actually many ways to get there. Every individuals experience is unique and varied; therefore, there is no definitive way that one actually becomes an atheist. Atheism is a learning experience and a sort of growing up and growing out of superstitious beliefs. It is coming into the modern age and embracing change and seeking out knowledge about who we are and where we come from. Most importantly it is about where we are headed.
Many theists demonstrate their blatant ignorance of facts when they state for instance that atheism is a religion! The beautiful thing about atheism is that not all atheists agree on a lot of subjects related to religion and the sciences. One of my favorite terms from the 1600’s is free-thinker and that is what makes atheism so special that fact that we are free to think whatever we want. We are not bogged down by rituals and dogmas or nonsensical doctrines; we are simply searchers of facts and truths. Therefore, atheism is not a religion and does not resemble one in any way.
We don’t need a god to dictate to us what is moral and what is not. We understand that we get our morals from society and our own life experiences. We are not evil; anyone can be evil whether he be a theist or an atheist. We don’t accept the existence of gods, angels, demons, etc. We see the world from a naturalistic perspective and value life greatly because we understand the fragility of life. We live in the here and now, not hoping to live in some imaginary realm after death where the streets are paved with gold and life is eternal. We don’t waste time on delusions we live in the real world and are proud of who we are and what we as individuals may believe.