Always an Atheist

(Via Roy Fischler)

I was always an atheist, as far back as I could have an opinion on the matter. My immediate family members were all atheists. Even my large extended family were virtually all atheists, as I gradually learned in more recent years.We're Jewish, ethnically, and I've read that Jews have the highest rate of atheism of any group in the US. Only one of my grandparents was a closet religious person to some degree, surrounded by atheists, and I didn't even know it until she died.

Not that my parents indoctrinated me -- far from it. The only thing I can even remember as far as my parents talking about the subject was my mother saying, once in a great, great while, "Isn't that stupid. How can people be so stupid.", while watching something about religion on the TV news. Mostly, they had a passing interest in science, which turned into a life-long passion in me. They exposed me and my brother to various scientific things. We traveled to the Bay of Fundy in eastern Canada and saw the phenomenal tides there, saw 2 total eclipses of the sun (the most awesome experiences ever), went to planetarium shows and museums. We had a small telescope. Near my grandparents' place in upstate NY, we used to go fossil hunting at a quarry. We'd collect seashells at the beach, and thereby learn about various forms of life. They subscribed to National Geographic, with their excellent science articles. But what had the most profound influence on me was the 1964 NY World's Fair, which portrayed a wondrous technological world of the future. I got the feeling that rationality and science and technology were the keys to making the world a better place.

While I can't claim that I figured out all by myself that religion is nonsense, as probably most atheists in the US (who came from religious backgrounds) can, I'm sure I would have even if I'd come from a religious family. Though my parents claimed that Santa Claus brought us presents each year, I remember figuring out by myself that the whole story made no sense, for a variety of reasons.

I was never one of those atheists who practically memorize the Bible in order to refute it. I never wanted to waste a single second or brain cell on religion, just ignore it. But with what's going on in this world now, between the Bible Belt and the Middle East, and being persuaded to join our atheist group, reluctantly at first, I finally took an interest, and it has been a (pardon the word!) revelation. Especially, I started reading websites pointing out all the craziness and blatant self-contradictions and outrageous evil in the Bible, and can't believe what "fun" I'd been missing. I am astonished at how 1.5 billion people can claim to follow that book and agree with it, and yet surely never have read it all or have much idea what's in it! Apparently, they all think that the next guy has read it and had no objections, but the next guy is thinking the same about them!

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