Why I Actually Call Myself an Atheist

I just tweeted something and was like, “Shit! I need to mull over that thought before it’s gone.” So here I am, mulling.

The tweet: “I’m not sure how it’s possible to truly embrace the probable extent of your own ignorance and still believe in god.”

This thought hits something to my atheist core. I am increasingly comfortable with calling myself an atheist, and I think this statement says it all. So much of believing in god rests on the mystery of god. If god wasn’t mysterious, it would mean that god was evident. We’d be able to test and prove god’s existence. With mystery, we can’t. We just get a bunch of ranting angry atheists looking like they need a nice calming back-rub from Jesus (alternately, a laying on of hands by believers if/when Jesus isn’t present).

I guess what makes this post so important to me is that I want to explain why I call myself an atheist. I call myself an atheist because I work toward an understanding of the fullest extent of my ignorance that I can grasp. The more I admit that I don’t know, the more I encroach on the territory that is “god” and admit that I don’t know those things. I admit that I don’t know some of god’s attributes. I admit that I don’t know god’s will. I admit that I don’t know if there is a heaven or a hell. The more I admit, the less obvious god is. I was finally able to admit that I don’t know if god is even there. Since I don’t know if god is there, I’m not sure how to profess a belief that god is there. Once I admit that I don’t know something, I don’t hold onto a belief in that something. My default for not knowing is not believing. It’s still possible for me to hope that there is a god, and sometimes I do. But I never believe that there is a god. I don’t think it’s possible to believe in god after embracing the extent of your own ignorance. I really don’t.

To those of you who do, please explain.

Now, I do need to clarify that I am also agnostic. Often people hear me explain my atheism and say, “That sounds agnostic to me.” That’s because it is! It is my agnosticism that informs my atheism. Because I don’t know that something is true, I am not compelled to believe that the thing is true. Without the knowledge, I am agnostic. Without the belief, I am atheist.