You see, I'm an Atheist because I have no reason not to be one. Atheism is simply the default state in the absence of any reason to believe in a god. From the time at the age of nine, when I realised there was no more reason to believe in the locally popular god than there was to believe in any other god, I realised I had no reason to believe in the locally popular god either. Being an Atheist wasn't a conscious decision; being an Atheist is simply the consequence of not having any reason not to be one.
Now, you can change all that. All you have to do is to tell me what it is that convinces you that there is a god and what convinces you that it is your particular god. This has to be something I can verify for myself so don't just expect me to take your word for it. I never took the word of my parent's, my grandfather, my uncles and aunts, the local vicar, the headmaster of my school, my close Muslim friend, my Christian fundamentalist work colleague or of my devoutly Catholic assistant when I was a departmental manager, so I won't take your word for it either.
Just a few things to remember, though:
- Don't expect me to believe because you believe I'll burn in some mythical fiery pit if I don't, because I don't believe in the god you're afraid may have made it.
- Don't expect me to believe because you threaten me with your god. That threat only works on someone who believes in your god in the first place.
- Don't expect me to believe because you tell me your god will like me for believing or will give me some special reward. That also only works on someone who already believes in your god.
- Don't expect me to believe because you can't think of a purpose for your life. I can, and have, and it doesn't require a god and I certainly don't need a god to tell me what I should do.
- Don't expect me to believe because it makes you feel special. It would make me feel ashamed to believe something for which I had no evidence or so I could tell myself I am superior to other people.
- Don't expect me to believe because you can't tell right from wrong and need a book you believe was written by a god to look those up in. I have no problem with telling right from wrong.
- Don't expect me to believe because you need an invisible friend to say sorry to when you have done wrong. I try to avoid doing wrong and I am accountable to the person wronged if I do. I don't need an invisible friend to let me off instead.
- Don't expect me to believe because you believe you once had some contact or other with a god. I can think of several physiological, psychological or psychiatric reasons which could explain your experience.
- Don't expect me to accept that you are privy to some secret knowledge acquired by some mysterious process because, frankly, I won't believe you.
- Don't expect me to believe in your god because you have a gap in your knowledge, or believe there is something science hasn't yet explained and so you have filled that gap with a god. I don't believe in a god, remember, so I don't fill gaps with them.
- Don't expect me to believe in your god because it has been written about in a book, otherwise I will wonder why you don't believe Harry Potter or Peter Pan are real too, and I will realise you have had to use double standards to persuade yourself.
- Don't expect me to be convinced by a quote from a book you believe was written by a god. To convince me the book was written by a god you first have to convince me the god exists.
- Don't expect me to believe in a god because someone else does. It does not matter how famous or clever they are or were. Unless they have provided any verified, definitive evidence, their opinion counts for nothing. If they have, you should tell me what it is and how it proves the god exists.
- Don't expect me to believe because a lot of other people do. No known religion has ever been believed by a majority of the world's people and truth is not determined by opinion poll. This will simply tell me that you are afraid to think for yourself and seek safety in numbers.
- Don't expect me to believe 'on faith' because that just tells me that you have no evidence and that someone has fooled you into believing that something must be true just because you believe it is.
- Don't expect me to believe because you believe someone died for you a long time ago. I do not believe in a god so I do not believe I carry 'sins' the consequences of which someone needed to die to save me from. I do not believe in a god which would need to sacrifice itself to itself in order for it to do something it wanted to do. And I do not believe someone else's death absolves me of any personal responsibility. To ask me to do so would be asking me to abandon reason and to believe something I find morally repugnant.
- Don't expect me to take any leap of 'faith', or to abandon logic and reason, or to ignore facts or to distrust reality or to accept evidence-free assertions as fact because that will simply tell me that your reason to believe is based on intellectual dishonesty.
- Don't expect me to believe because you insult me or post abuse because that will tell me you are not worth taking seriously and don't believe what you claim to believe. It will tell me my question had threatened you and made you react aggressively, almost certainly because you think you believe a lie.
- And lastly, don't lie to me because that will tell me you know your belief is a lie.
If you cannot, you may wish to consider just what it is you believe and why you believe it. The chances are that you don't know either but are too afraid to admit it to yourself.