I fell behind in my classes shortly after starting middle school because I didn't think I good grades required effort. I went through puberty before everyone else and got bad acne. I was still good at sports, but not dominant. My peers made fun of me because I was socially awkward. Despite all this, I was still convinced I was “better” than everyone else, but it was not because I was actually better in a conceivable, recognizable way—I convinced myself I was better than everyone by being more politically knowledgeable. And by being an atheist. In my head, being a self-righteous democratic atheist made me a sophisticated individual. Basically, I became an atheist because I was deeply insecure. Atheism filled this insecurity by allowing me to criticize my peers and win arguments I had started just so I could make fun of the person I was arguing with.
It wasn't until my sophomore year of college that I realized I could never be a theist simply because denouncing atheism would put me on the same level of sophistication as the rest of my peers. I was motivated by my lust for superiority to research just how right I was and how wrong everyone else was. I acquainted myself with David Hume, Thomas Jefferson, the atheistic essays of John Keats, various existential authors, religious psychology, contemporary ethics, and formal logic. I learned more than I could ever possibly hope to learn in four years of college. Looking back on it, though, I realize I spent all that free time “studying” atheism because it made me feel smarter than everyone else.
Yes, I equate religions to cults and do not see any difference between the definitions. And yes, I believe religion keeps us from fully understanding morality by both not allowing us to justify all actions down to what has intrinsic value and encouraging “faith” over rationality. But now I am wise enough to know atheists do not do good deeds simply for the sake of doing good deeds; in every action there is always significant egoism, which, more often than not, plays a larger role than our knowledge of morality and self-utility. We atheists might attempt to convince the religious we are not egotistical and, if we do attempt this, I beg the religious not to believe us.
The more approachable and humble we atheists are, the more the religious folk will listen to what we have to say. This creates quite the dilemma, as we have so much fun tearing others’ beliefs down for self-gratification, yet the endpoint—our goal—of a secular world requires severe restraint against our desire for superiority. For this reason, I will attempt to side with religion in the majority of my future posts. So watch out, atheism—I’m 99% sure you’ll still win in the end, but I’d like to make things interesting.