It may be pretty easy to find a generic definition of atheism, but it’s pretty hard to get a group of atheists to agree on it. Maybe it’s because we like to debate, maybe it’s because since we shuffled off the chains of religion we simply don’t like titles, but mostly I think it’s due to the fact that atheism isn’t any sort of organised philosophy and therefore has different meaning for different folks. For me, it’s pretty simple,it just means there isn’t enough evidence for me to believe in the existence of a god; sure, there “may” be one, in much the same sense that there “may” be a bigfoot or a Loche Ness Monster, I just haven’t seen the evidence to support the notion that a god exists. And it’s not like I haven’t looked.
I was christened into the Methodist Church as an infant, and as long as we were in town, I was in church nearly every Sunday. It was me, my parents and my grandparents, every week, sitting nearly at the front and sometimes on the front row, singing, listening and participating in the service. And so I grew up as a typical Christian kid in the 80’s: school band, youth group, Boy Scouts, church camp, scout camp and the like. I participated in church functions, prayed earnestly and even fasted but as much as I longed for it, I never really had that “Aha” Christian moment.
In adulthood, like many do, I drifted back and forth from church-goer to “backslider” (to use my grandfather’s term) and later spent some time examining and studying spiritualism, paganism, Eastern religion and philosophy and was even open to some proselytizing from a Muslim friend. But it was in only science that I found real answers about the origins of our universe and the origins of man. I was never able to make myself believe or “fake it” until I was able to “make it” as I have heard others do. I could lie to the rest of the world and pretend to be something I was not, but I could never lie to myself. I must have spent years praying to a god that I knew wasn’t there, hoping for him to one day show up like some celestial dead beat dad. But he never did, and I simply moved on. It did take some time for me to move past my indoctrination in the Christian faith, shake off old habits, stop adding a vestigial god where no god was needed and lose my old superstitions (it was just this morning, in fact, that I noticed a black cat crossing my path seemed to no longer be an “event”) and become comfortable identifying with the philosophy we know as atheism.
To me atheism is freedom. Freedom from religion and its outdated precepts, freedom from god’s insane thought policing and reprehensible notion of original sin, freedom from arbitrary moral codes and doctrines of hate and freedom to choose my own path and my own beliefs. I choose the term atheist, not only because it most closely describes my lack of belief, but also because it is the most accurate descriptor of my actions as they pertain to religion, education and the separation of church and state. I choose the term atheist because I feel it is important to show that one can be a good and moral person without the dogma and doctrine of religion, I choose the term atheist as a stand in unity with all who express no belief in god and I choose the term atheist because it is important we show the world that it is not a negative moniker!