Following is my account of converting to a consistent worldview using the tools of skepticism, science and reason. This has led to a rejection of pseudoscience, alternative medicine, paranormal activity and other irrational ideas, to include religion. Thus, my theological position of atheism is the result of the consistent use of my tools to best determine reality.
In light of my present worldview, this blog is established to respectfully discuss the role of reason in virtually every area of the human experience.
How and why I am now an atheist
I am a 67 year old man who finally accepted a consistent worldview about 15 years ago, after approximately 25 years of growing cognitive dissonance. And they say your worldview is set before early adulthood!
I was a "Cradle Catholic" and was very serious about my faith until middle age. This included decades of teaching religious education at elementary through high school levels, functioning as a Eucharistic Minister, membership on the Parish Council and even consideration of monastic life prior to college. Oh, by the way, I did not leave my faith due to any negative experiences or a desire to act against the teaching of my church, and I loved my father. I mention this, as many theists believe that these are the main reasons why someone turns to atheism. Check out this apologetic blog generally, and this post in particular regarding the father comment, to see what I mean.
I had been a skeptic (a questioning attitude and follow the evidence) in all areas except religion since college. I credit Eugene Michels (One of my professors, and President of the American Physical Therapy Association when I was at the University of Pennsylvania as a physical therapy student. He also was a recipient of a Penn faculty Award for Distinguished Teaching a few years later.) as the prime mover in my progress towards skepticism. He was very much a skeptic. Ironically, he was also a fellow Catholic and had a qwiverfull of kids. Can you see how this would confirm my theism? By the way, prior to going to college, I was in the US Army and met my first atheist. He really was an evil guy --- he told me that he would hang around Catholic churches to try to seduce the gals. With this background, can you see why it took me so long to "see the light?"
As I continued to experience life and noticed that the vast majority of fellow skeptics were also atheists, I gradually began to critically study the foundations of my faith. However, as anyone in my shoes can attest, the mind works very slowly in changing a worldview so drastically. Compartmentalization rules early on! Eventually, the internal conflict became so great that I realized that had to seriously reassess my worldview or suffer medical problems. So, I essentially "wiped the slate clean" (tabula rasa) and looked at religion without any assumptions. Through critical and free thinking on appropriate information, it is my opinion that the most reasonable conclusion is that the probability of a personal deity is quite low. Sadly, however, I didn't come "out of the closet" for a few more years ---- religious social pressure does that.
This process of wiping the slate clean and restarting without any assumptions is very difficult. It requires valuing the seeking of truth (and being satisfied when the answer is “we don’t know”) over being comfortable, secure and certain. It also requires a humble understanding that we all have biases and tend to want to confirm them when confronting an opposing view. It culminates in submission to impartial, objective evidence wherever it leads.
I am now a retired physical therapist with a loving family, to include my wife of 40 years, three daughters and three granddaughters. Although most family members and friends do not agree with me regarding religion, for the most part, we do respect each other and have a close relationship. However, as is typical with such a change, some of my closest relatives and friends have distanced themselves from me over this issue. Ironically, it is those who are the most devoted to their religion who have done so. So much for witnessing for the "truth" of a LOVING faith.
Contrary to the stereotype that some theists have of atheists, I give to charity, perform volunteer work and am generally considered to be a positive member of society. I am happier and at greater peace since changing my worldview. I treasure every moment more. I determine my own purpose in life consistent with common secular morality that is at least as “good” as any theist morality. I clearly see that the reality of the world is more consistent with a non-theist universe and I no longer have to perform mental gymnastics to reconcile it to my faith.
- - - - -
Click on Quotes and Random Thoughts next