I've spent a lot of time studying religion, philosophy, science and other subjects regarding life and the universe.
I've always been intrigued by the "big questions" of life. So intrigued, in fact, that when I was 21 and all my friends were going out to clubs and getting wasted, I'd always be home, researching and learning about life and the universe.
I used to be a Christian, then gradually left the church and became "spiritual." At this time, I believed heavily in the Law Of Attraction. Then, as time went on, I started to question more.
Eventually, I became an atheist, and I must say, I've truly never been happier. My decision has empowered me, but atheism still holds an unfortunate social stigma.
I can't speak for all atheists because atheism isn't a religion by definition, but hopefully, I can provide a relatable perspective:
The word "atheist" is commonly confused with the word "anti-theist." I prefer to be called an atheist, which means to not believe in God because of the lack of evidence.
In other words, if anyone can provide solid evidence for a God, I will not have to believe in one because I'll know there is one.
This has had a positive ripple effect in my life because I tend to not believe in anything without evidence, which has served me well.
Alternatively, an anti-theist is someone who claims to know there is no God.
I don't claim to know this, but it's a reasonable position, given that most would claim to know the tooth fairy isn't real, despite no evidence proving he or she doesn't exist.
I'm aware that some say you need faith to know a God exists. But, faith isn't a method by which to distinguish which God of what religion is the right one in which to believe.
So, having faith seems to make matters worst when trying to find an absolute truth.
I'm still not sure what the difference is between a miracle and a rare event. I suppose you can say a miracle is something that can't be explained, and a rare event is something that can be explained.
But, you must agree that not all things that cannot be explained should be considered miracles. If it can be explained later, will it remain a miracle?
I think it's better to just say, sometimes, rare events happen; sometimes, they can be explained and sometimes, they can't.
Miracles are religious explanations for anything science can't explain at the moment. I have yet to hear of any miracle that defies the laws of the universe and is, therefore, unexplainable.
Heaven And Hell
To me, it's obvious neither exists.
Human behavior is so complex, it wouldn't be fair or wise to offer humans eternal salvation or eternal torture as a consequence for ever-changing human behavior.
There are perspectives, ignorance, behavior learning from parents, subconscious influences, biological triggers, mental health conditions, etc., that all affect human behavior.
It seems nearly impossible for a God to fairly conclude whether a single human is overall bad or overall good. There are just too many moving parts, too many "buts" and too many contingencies.
Angels And Demons
Even if angels and demons exist, I don't see their purpose.
Guardian angels serve a redundant purpose if you believe you can pray to Jesus for guidance. The idea of guardian angels also interferes with the idea of a divine plan — so does prayer.
As for demons, if they are here to influence us to do evil, but yet, we're sinners by default, I don't see their ultimate purpose. We will sin, anyway, even if we get baptized or saved, so we don't need the influence of demons.
Also, how do you distinguish being guided by an angel or a demon anyway?
Thoughts can influence your emotions. So, just because something feels good, it doesn't mean you should do it. Surely, if a demon can influence your thoughts, then your thoughts will influence your emotions.
Some assume I believe religious people are stupid or inferior in some way.
I think that's an oversimplification of my perspective and obviously not the case. I think they're just choosing a different methodology and philosophy for getting through life and understanding the universe.
Sure, I may think their methodology and/or philosophy is inconsistent, but I can't assert they're stupid for thinking differently than I do.
However, if an inconsistency is demonstrated and they refuse to acknowledge it, I can say they're being/acting stupid.
Big Bang Theory
Religious people argue that the Big Bang Theory implies something came from nothing and, therefore, is impossible. This can be a complex idea.
I think the lack of something in particular doesn't mean there's nothing there at all. In fact, I'm not sure if "nothing" is even a reasonable concept. There's never truly "nothing;" there's always something.
Recent science confirms if you look deep enough into a microscope, you will find particles popping in and out of existence from what appears to be nothing. We can't explain where these particles come from, so it does demonstrate that something may come from nothing.
Yet, the law of cause and effect demands there to be a "something."
So, when the Big Bang is described as a universe coming from nothing, it doesn't mean nothing as in non-existence, but rather, that the universe came from the lack of anything we can currently observe.
What Is Evil
Evil, by definition, is "profoundly immoral and malevolent."
To be immoral, by definition, is "not conforming to accepted standards of morality." Morality, by definition, is "principles concerning the distinction between right and wrong or good and bad behavior."
Right and wrong is based on the well-being of a collective society. If you're not contributing to the well-being of a society by disregarding the consequences of your actions, then you're probably committing some immoral act.
Evil can be based on perception, too. To me, it's evil for people to (sometimes publicly) condemn others for their sexual preferences. For religious people, it's not evil.
Mocking Religious Beliefs
If we're allowed to mock anything that can have a negative emotional reaction to another human being (such as mocking someone for believing his or her favorite team will win the Super Bowl), then religious beliefs should be no different.
If it's not okay to mock religious beliefs, then it's ultimately not okay to mock any belief, whether religious or not.
But, if you're going to subscribe to that idea, then you must be consistent. If you're religious, let me ask you this: Have you ever mocked scientists for believing we came from monkeys?
I'd like to offer advice to those who are leaning toward letting go of religion, but are still unsure. The easiest thing to do is to watch debates. You'll learn a lot; you'll hear what both sides say, and you'll also learn how to debate on your own:
1. Check out videos from The Atheist Experience on YouTube. On the show, Christians call in to debate atheists. It's great to hear what both sides argue on different subjects. There are plenty of videos on YouTube that cover almost every imaginable subject.
2. Check out interviews, debates and books from Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris online.
3. Watch "Cosmos" on Netflix by Neil Degrasse Tyson to learn about how the universe works and the history of science.
4. Watch "Religulous" by Bill Maher.
5. Send me a message! I'm happy to answer any questions you have directly.