It was 20 years ago when I made the conscious decision to be an atheist. I had been agnostic before, and then made a decision that it was no longer a tenable position to hold, and that the atheist label was the one that matched my mindset best. Since I became an atheist 20 years ago, I never once regretted the decision. There hasn’t been anything at all that has moved me from that perspective, until this week.
I’ve seen the light, and I’ve realized that in some ways it was the wrong decision to become an atheist. I think it was what I needed at the time, and now it is not. I even changed my Facebook profile!
So, what changed my mind? Sam Harris did, in his lecture on the “Problem with Atheism”. Essentially, it boils down to the fact that we don’t need a word for not believing in something, and that to attach a charged word to it undermines the position. We don’t need, as he says, a name for “non-astrologer”. We just need to espouse the positive virtues of believing with sufficient evidence, for the quantification of uncertainty, of intellectual honesty and consistency.
So, in an effort to be more positive about my beliefs in evidence, rationality, and science, from now on I am not going to consider myself an atheist. If someone asks me if I believe in God, I will say I don’t believe in Zeus, Thor or Yahweh (or any of the other gods we’ve heaped on that pile we call mythology). If asked what religion I am, I’ll just say “None”.