I was raised in a small conservative village in East Tennessee. I joined in with the rest of the Baptist congregation, indeed my whole community, in taking as a matter of fact that Jesus Christ died on the cross for my sins and arose the third day to return to heaven to await the Second Coming.
This meant I did not openly question what was taught but even as a youth I had a sneaking suspicion that something was wrong. I had a deep desire to either know Christ or move on to another path to spiritual enlightenment. I was unfulfilled by what seemed to me to be huge gaps in the foundation for belief in Christianity.
The major change for me came when I took Ancient Political Philosophy in college. In class, we read the various works of Plato. In Plato’s Apology, he stated that Socrates said, “The unexamined life is not worth living for man.” It is such a simple and obvious act in hindsight. Yet, all of those years of attending the Baptist church, not once did they ever say to really question and examine your beliefs and how you arrived at said beliefs. Belief was simply a foregone conclusion.
So Socrates got me to thinking, why do I believe in the Christian faith. Once I really examined my beliefs, I found them lacking. This allowed me to move on to explore other belief systems. After several years of introspection and study, I came to what for me was an obvious conclusion. All faith and dogma are based on belief that the supernatural exists and that it interacts with us in our physical realm. I knew I could never accept such an important aspect of my being on faith without facts. I know that there are no gods as described in all the religions of humanity. I leave open as a possibility that there are beings in the universe greater than us but nothing like the religious texts have described.
My Atheism has allowed me to see the world in a new and better light. I know I have just this one life to live and I have to do the best I can because there will never be another opportunity. I want peace, justice, and understanding for all the people of earth because conflicts in the name of a god are so wasteful of our precious resources and human life. By growing past the need to have faith in the imagined supernatural, I can see the world for what it is and now how some dogma wants it to be. My Atheism has freed me to be a better person and it has placed the burden of my actions squarely on me. I have no deity to “forgive” me, therefore I must be responsible for all that I do. For this I have to thank a man who lived more than 2000 years ago… Socrates.
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