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Why by Paul Larson **Bonus post 3


I am an atheist; a practicing atheist.  “There is no God” is not a truth statement for me, it is a working hypothesis.  It has been my goal for the last nine years to falsify this hypothesis.  After nine years of reading whatever I can get my hands on from both sides of the argument; talking with hundreds of people about their personal beliefs; attending Bible studies to gain the church perspective; and discussing the topic with several pastors, as well as educated Jewish and Islamic individuals, I have yet to find any evidence that compels me to reject, refine, or rewrite my hypothesis.

For the 25 years prior to my goal, I would call myself an apa-theist, apathetic to the subject of religion as a worldview.  Then two world events occurred that were responsible for my transformation from apathetic to zealot: the 2003 fall of Baghdad, and the 2004 Red Socks win of the World Series; two world events that resulted in riots, destruction, and pillaging.  If 90% of the people on this planet believe in some type of god, then why did I not see it in their actions?  This is what compelled me to find out why the Bible has had so much influence over so many people for so many years.  I was determined to read the Bible cover to cover.  I did.  I still had no idea why that book has had so much influence over so many people for so many years.  It was obvious to me they had never actually read the book.  Prior to reading it, I considered it a book of etiquette: instructions for how people should treat one another.  After reading it, there is no way that book should be used as a source of morality for humanity.

I read it looking for the “God” that was supposed to be out there, revealed through His word (the book makes no sense this way).  But instead I found a book that appeared to be written by groups of people at different times throughout history to explain and understand the world around them.  The second time I read it cover to cover I did so with a better understanding of the history behind the book, as well as paying close attention to who said what to whom, and the connections throughout the book – Old testament to New and New to Old.  It made perfect sense that time through.  My third reading was done in a Bible study at a church.  My goal was to gain an understanding of the church perspective.  That was interesting and disheartening at the same time.  The greatest bit of information came from the Bible study; the understanding of one word in the book of Genesis unlocked the entire book for me.  My fourth focused read through was to collect information for a book I hope to compile someday.

My goal now, as a practicing atheist, is to understand “why;” why do people believe what they believe.  It turns out it has very little to do with whatever Holy Scripture they profess to believe in, and more to do with what makes them feel good.

I am an atheist, a practicing atheist.  I am also a son, a brother, a husband, and a father.  I am a friend, a neighbor, and a firefighter of 20 years (because it is the right thing to do).  Being an atheist simply means I do not believe in a God, or gods…that’s it.  It does not mean I am an amoral individual that can now destroy, rape, and pillage any and every one and thing that come my way.  Knowing my life and future depends on me and my choices, places the responsibility exactly where it belongs…on MY shoulders.  I developed my moral code from the example shown me by my parents and my life experiences.  I give my life purpose.  I believe in humanity’s ability to direct its own future away from destruction and suffering.  Empathy and education will be the forces that drive this movement.  Let’s all make a choice.  We are all where we are today because of the choices we all made yesterday.  Let’s all make better choices today so we can all end up in a better place, together, tomorrow.

Live a good life.

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Paul Larson


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