July 1, 2012

Everyone's Born an Atheist

This is main reason why, at around 19 or so, after being raised Christian, and trying to find answers in religion during college, I decided to become an atheist. It was because I realized that we are all born atheist, and we are taught to believe in God by people who were also born atheist, and so it went. I became Buddhist around age 30 because it I chose to do so. Nobody converted me. Nobody urged me (in fact, the monk I learned from urged me not to "become Buddhist"). I made the choice. And I'm still atheist.

I considered the idea that we are born spiritual and develop our spirituality depending on which culture we grew up in. I considered this both while in college, and later when I became Buddhist. I think it's a valid one which I eventually came to disagree with (although I can understand the perspective). 
This is why. I do believe, as most Buddhists do, that we are connected to each other and the entire universe on some level, and we know that instinctively, as we are empathetic creatures. Yet the story of a god (whatever that god may be) is not instinct. It is the result of a history of the human race trying to understand things they do not understand, using some "perfect" or "extreme" version of themselves or the things around them to to explain them. The use of a god figure had then evolved as a way to control as well. 
We are all born atheist - that doesn't mean we aren't connected in some way (that even science says is true, as we share the same particles as long-dead suns and breathe each others' dead skin cells), or that we aren't innately aware of that connection - only that the idea of God is not something anyone just believes because we have some innate God-believing-gene, but because it's taught to us.

1 comment:

Dan O. said...

It sort of depends which definition of atheism you use - "lack of theism" or "actual disbelief." That is to say, if you ask three people the question, "Does God exist?" and they answer "Yes," "No," and "I don't really have a strong opinion either way," clearly the first person is not an atheist, and clearly the second person is. The question is whether or not the third person is, and there are common enough definitions of "atheist" by which either definition could be considered correct.
By my preferred definition, though, I'd say the third person [i]isn't[/i] an atheist, but an agnostic, and by those definitions, I'd say that we're all born agnostics; that is, I agree that we're born not believing, but we're also born not [i]dis[/i]believing.