“I worry that people will stop using their common sense because their holy book says otherwise—why vote to give equal rights to gays and lesbians when the Bible condemns homosexuality? I worry that people will stop wondering why the world works as it does because they assume everything is "God's will"—why fund science if it's trying to mess with the natural order of things? I worry that people believe a lie because it's more optimistic instead of a truth that's more realistic—my mother died, but at least I'll see her in Heaven. I also worry that parents will stifle the incredible curiosity of their children by saying that "only God knows" is the answer to something or answering their questions with Biblical mythology instead of scientific truths.”
Why I Don’t Believe:
Simply put, I have never seen any evidence of "God's work" in action. I've seen what people think is God's work, but which actually has perfectly natural explanations. Sick people don't get better because they were prayed for... they get better because of good medicine and skilled doctors. Your loved ones didn't die because God said it was their time. They died because of a long-term illness, or an accident, or a natural cause. It's not always a hopeful reality, but that's how the world works. I don't think we should make up stories when actual answers are out there.
What I Do Believe:
I believe that most people are good, even when nobody's looking. I believe our best path to discovering the truth lies in science, not religion. I believe that we have only one life so we must do what makes us happy without stopping others from doing the same. Hopefully, we'll leave behind a positive legacy for those still around.
Hemant Mehta is the chair of Foundation Beyond Belief, a non-profit group that encourages atheists to give to different charities in a variety of categories.
He is also the former chair of the Secular Student Alliance, which organizes and supports high school and college atheist groups around the country.
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