Reading both sides of the debate produced a theist. Wait, there are only two sides?

This morning, I read this blog post by a Dr. Jay L. Wile, a Christian who happens to be a scientist (not a Christian Scientist). Wiles tells the story of an intellectual woman, Dr. Laura Keynes, who decided belief was for her.

The blog doesn’t surprise me. Why would it? If I heard of a person who read a Christian book that drove them toward atheism, I’d post something, too.

What struck me was the reoccurrence of the words “both sides.”

Dr. Keynes read both sides of the debate and chose belief. Both Keynes and Wile use the words “both sides” published therein.

Two sides?

This may be nit-picky, but are there only two sides? Must there be only belief and nonbelief?

Does Buddhism not count as a side? What about Islam or any other so-called view of the world?

Is it really that black or white?

My disbelief isn’t the result of reading books from the “new atheists.” My disbelief stemmed from doubts that were there from the day I was five years old and I memorized and recited, “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth” back in Sunday School.

Doubts lurked quietly until I finally got the courage to admit that the things I believed hurt me and they hurt other people.

I claim atheist as a title because I don’t think there’s any other word for what I am.

There are no words for a person who doesn’t play guitar, or a person who doesn’t collect stamps, or a person who doesn’t subscribe to cable.

I don’t subscribe to the limiting ideologies of belief.

This isn’t because there are two sides. Two sides is what happens when there are Republicans and Democrats. The Packers vs. The Bears. Duke vs. Carolina.

Atheism happened after learning there are many sides, too many to count. The world is not black and white. I personally like many of the disciplines I learned from Christianity. The ideas I learned in church influence many decisions I make every day. Cheating, stealing, lying, fidelity, friendships, lending helping hands, forgiveness, acceptance, tolerance, equality. Those are the ideas I cherish.

The ones I eschew are those that are completely fallacious. That god supernaturally changes people for the better only to learn that they aren’t better. They are not transformed. They hide behind the words “I’m a sinner” when they fuck up.

Rather than own up to their faults, blame is placed on invisible beings called “demons” or “satan”.

When I fuck up, it’s all me. That’s what I was taught. When I hurt someone, it’s on me to find out what I did wrong and work it out. It’s not to hide behind some invisible being and say, “Whelp, god granted forgiveness. What the fuck is wrong with you?”

I can’t prove god any more than you can prove he is. Apparently, according to people like Dr. Wiles, god is the only other option. Great. But which god might that be and why is it the Christian one?

If my rationale for disbelief is weak, that I’m full of bluster and bravado, as Dr. Wiles says, then so be it.

There’s a flatulent noise that emits whenever anyone claims there’s an inexplicable being who hears, responds and helps when one mental expression of help to find one’s car keys or thankfulness that the sun set is so pretty is the experience that leads one to bow down to the same god who — should he exist — doesn’t come bounding with grace to the bedside of a dying child or provide safety to the airplane plummeting out of the sky.

I know, weak, right? My absence of belief is unjustified.

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