In The Beginning
Even the Bible declared it. In the beginning there was nothing until god created it. Null is the hypothesis. Before there is something there is nothing.
Pay close attention: No baby is born with any belief in any god.
A theist/polytheist is a person who believes in a god or gods. An atheist is a person who does not believe in any god, whether out of ignorance or not. A non-theist is a person who has no particular belief in a god but necessarily understands that there are those from which to choose. A baby cannot understand any such concept. It is beyond their cognitive abilities. There is total ignorance of any concept of god.
Therefore, this much is clear: Every baby is an atheist, by its very definition. Period.
Religious belief is adopted only after one or more options is presented and the child makes a conscious decision – whether the decision is well informed or not. And I use the word decision (not choice) because we ALL know how it invariably goes down 99.9% of the time. Children follow the religion of their parents or the more dominant parent if their beliefs differ. It’s more of a decision to accept or not accept what is taught [read: forced] in bias. But choice? There is no fucking choice. And shame on you for being so intellectually dishonest about it.
I have been asked too many times to number, “When did you decide to become an atheist?
What the WTF fucking fuck? No. Sorry. Wrong question. You’ve got the inquiry backward.
The only valid question is, “When did you decide to become a THEIST?”
But far more interesting (and disturbing) is what prompts the question in the first place.
Let’s face it. Atheism, by its very definition, labels those who believe as deluded. (Sorry, it does.) And so believers knee-jerk in a weak, panicky, defensive manner to try to turn it around – like somehow belief in god is the default position and that it’s you, the atheist, who’s made a decision to the contrary.
Non-belief is the only default position.
In all fairness, most atheists do go full circle from that default position to some flavor of god-belief and then back to rationality, but the first move (if there is one) is always to believe. Always.
Many atheists, like me, simply never budged from that default position. And this is what pisses off theists so much. From their perspective they see the atheist attitude as, “They fell for the con, we didn’t.” We think they’re deluded (and weak and cowardly and gullible), and deep down inside they feel silly about it. And they’re offended. I mean, how could they not be? Their deep religious insecurity renders them incapable of walking away in their perceived truth, with pride, and in silence – and so they spew the aforementioned tripe.
The Mother of Invention
Ignorant primitive people invented god(s) to:
1. Provide a crutch for their own inherent human weakness and fear of death
2. Explain the nature of the world around them when they couldn’t find logical explanations of their own
3. Control man and maintain order in society
So What’s Your Excuse?
Modern man with a heightened sense of awareness and a robust understanding of science and the natural world doesn’t have the easy out presented above. He needs a little something else to justify his patently silly beliefs. So when it doubt, blame your fucking parents.
Today’s average bible-punching idiot believes in god primarily because he was brainwashed as a child. Add to that some fear, cowardice, gullibility, and weakness.
Basically, people get together and form a society because they’re tired of mayhem, rape, and looting. Societies promote “the greater good” and “the general welfare.” The rules that members of a society follow to ensure the general welfare are what we call laws. Our social contract stipulates that we agree to abide by the laws of our society or else we’ll be excluded (jailed, exiled, sent to bed without din-din, etc.) and lose all of our membership privileges.
There are two levels of moral or ethical behavior: rule-based and principle-based. Individuals of malformed or immature ethical development (e.g. children, gullible adults, career criminals, common street vermin, Raiders fans) need rules to know what appropriate behavior is in a civilized society. People with a more highly developed sense of ethical behavior don’t need rules; principles like “do unto others” are sufficient.
Critics of religion like Gore Vidal have characterized the Judeo-Christian deity as an “angry sky god” – typically one that will judge and condemn you. Now I don’t know what psycho/sexual/logical need that meets but, as Karl “Opiate of the Masses” Marx observed, religion has been pretty good at keeping the lower classes in their place. The extreme right wing still believes in the supreme judge (“god is just”), but in general I think that the Christian god has evolved more into a Santa Claus who’s going to check if you’ve been naughty or nice and reward or punish you accordingly.