A couple of weeks ago someone asked me why I was an atheist, and the words were out of my mouth before I had given them much thought:
"Well, look around…"
I wasn't paying the conversation much attention, but I have given these words a lot of thought since. I realized that they are the most sincere reason why I don't believe in something other than science to explain life.
What I meant with this frank and borderline rude answer was that I don't see any evidence of a higher power, and thus I don't believe in one. I was raised Catholic, so this wasn't always laid out this simple in my head as it is today, and honestly, it took me a while to fully come to terms with really believing in nothing. I took a class freshmen year about religion, and my professor always said that what makes people believe in something is having some sort of evidence that it works. It seems safe to assume then that people stop believing in something if they have various examples of this something not working.
I like doing things that produce solid, palpable results, and in a way, this is what most motivates me to do something, whether it be schoolwork or a personal project. Following this mindset, praying has never produced any results for me, but rather, produced a number of examples of cases in which I went to a higher power for help and wasn't helped, or in other words, produced various examples of prayer not working. Having my prayers not answered deeply impacted me, and were the beginning of a turning point in my beliefs.
But the "look around" part of my comment is more directed towards my thoughts after reflecting on my own prayers. Suddenly, I couldn't accept the fact that God could coexist with the great amount of poverty and crime that exists in the world. I remember talking to an atheist friend about this, and she told me that if a God exists and watches the terrible things that happen in the world, she has no interest in worshipping or talking with this God. The more I thought about it, the more I agreed with her. It took me about two years to really come to terms with this being the way that I thought, but accepting this atheist mindset has been surprisingly liberating.
A negative consequence of accepting this change in my beliefs though, is that now I find it hard to understand people who whole-heartedly believe in a higher power, whether this is God or Karma or something else. It is so obvious in my perspective that there isn't anything out there, that I find myself giving blunt and ironic contributions to conversations about religion, and often have to hold myself back and not be too in order to be respectful. It is almost as if I forgot what it was like to believe in a higher power, as if I hadn't been raised Catholic and have a mostly Catholic family. Christmas is still my favorite holiday, and even though I spent Good Friday away from home I didn't eat any meat.