A little back history on me.  I was raised in a house where religion wasn’t a big deal.  We tried around with churches for a few years and ended up deciding that it was a waste of a full day, and stopped going.  Every now and then we would go to an Easter service, but most of the time we spoke very little about religion.  By default, I considered myself a Christian and held on to a thin, faint idea of what God should mean.

In middle school, as I began to notice conflicting evidence in history and science classes, I found myself questioning passages we read in Sunday school classes and church Sunday mass.  I was worried what my parents would think if I just decided that I no longer thought a higher power or omnipresent, omnipotent, omniscient God existed at all.  We didn’t talk about it much, but most, if not all of my friends, thought that they believed in God as well and I thought that it would be socially wrong to “come out” against Christianity.

In a way, it is a socially unacceptable thing to do if you do it in a hateful or spiteful way, but more about that later.

In high school, my freshman history teacher did a section on religion around the world.  During this section, he had a lecture that basically didn’t call anyone out, but wanted to make it clear that if we believe something, we need to believe it, not without thought, but after contemplating what it really meant to believe.

This sent me into a brainstorming session with myself.  If I was to come out and officially no longer be Christian, and not believe in a higher power, what would I be considered?  I landed on Atheist.

In high school, the word Atheist sounded pretty cool.  It had that sort of non-conformist ring to it.  But as I grew up, my dad, who also happens to not believe in a higher power, warned me about labeling myself as an Atheist.

I began to realize that the word had a strong taboo about it.  Many religious people automatically lump atheists into a immorality cluster, thinking that without religion, all morals are lost.  However, Christianity did its job to teach me right from wrong, and now that I know right from wrong, I need no higher power to fear but my parents and my government.

This doesn’t help the taboo of the word, so last week I sat down late at night and did a little research into atheistic religions and other names for atheism.

What I came across was surprising and satisfying.  Buddhism and Hinduism both have sects of members that do not believe in gods, but in moral guidance and paths to enlightenment or ways to better your life and come back in a higher place in your rebirth.  This sounds a little out there for me still, so I kept digging.

There are also several branches of moral atheism called secular humanism.  This philosophical group is a non-religious group that believes that morals can be determined through sets of societal rights and wrongs.

A branch of this group is called the Free-Thinkers.

Wow.  What a great name, straightforward and to the point.

This group was founded and spread to the US by German immigrants who are only inclined to believe things for which there is empirical evidence for the existence.

This is exactly how I think.  If you can show me empirical evidence of the existence of a higher being (show me a picture, describe to me how this works, etc.), then I will believe willingly.  This doesn’t mean that I don’t believe in things I cannot see.  If there is evidence to the existence of an object via a scientific study performed by reliable sources with viable procedures, then I will decide as to whether I believe it is possible or not.  But I am not inclined to believe that the Earth was created in 7 days by a single being, and that it has only existed a few thousand years.  There is a gigantic amount of scientific evidence that shows that the Earth is well over 4 billion years old (that’s 4000000000 years for those of you not savvy to math).  And while there are things called theories that are reasonably well founded enough for a large portion of people to believe, I think that Christianity, Islam, or any other religion based on the hallucinations of individuals (in my opinion, please do not flame me for this) are not evidence enough for a theory.

Now, all that being said, I do not pretend to be the authority on religion, nor do I pretend to know everything about the Earth and it’s inhabitants, but I am fairly certain that there is evidence to support everything that exists in some form.  I do not want people to be angry with me about this, because I am in support of the freedom of religion, but I also believe that there is an implied part of that that leaves room for the freedom from religion.

So don’t tread on me, and I won’t tread on you.