In the lead-up to the Global Atheist Convention, taking place in Melbourne in April this year, we're running a series of blog posts by participating speakers.
Today, we hear from writer and commentator Catherine Deveny on exactly what fuels her atheism.
'So Mum, why did you used to believe in God?' asked the 13-year-old atheist. This is the same boy who says 'If creationism was true God would be a monkey', 'Perhaps God does exist and only atheists are going to get to heaven because religion has done so much bad stuff', 'Why would people care if their kids were gay? What difference does it make? The only reason my mum would chuck a spastic is if I became a Christian' and ‘You can’t be an atheist unless you understand religion.’
(Yes, I'm bragging. Christians always accuse atheists of being arrogant. 'Hang on a minute, we're not the ones who says there is a supreme being and we're their favourite.' Atheists aren't arrogant. We're smug.)
'Because I didn't know it was optional,' I responded.
I became an atheist at the age of 38. Yes clearly I'm not the sharpest knife in the drawer. Why did I suddenly become an atheist. At 38? Was it the gnawing injustice of the unequal distribution of power and wealth in the world? Nope. Was it because of the amount of suffering that has gone on throughout history in the name of religion? Nah, I was fine with that. Was it because to cherry pick from the a book from the bronze age which is simply social engineering embedded in fairy tales and horror stories choc full of misogyny, homophobia, xenophobia, division, discrimination, torture, intolerance, rape and genital mutilation that I hadn't even read was probably not a good idea? No. I was A-OK with that.
I became an atheist after answering my son's question 'Who was Jesus?' Halfway through the explanation I stopped and said, 'this sounds like a croc of s**t.' That was it. Instant atheist. True story.
I am vocal and active on dozens of issues; same-sex marriage, workers rights, freedom of speech, helicopter parenting, rights for carers and people with a disability, equal treatment of GLBTQI, asylum seekers, the disproportionate amount of middle-aged middle-class white straight (or acting) god-fearing or pretending with access to power, a voice, a platform, decision making, control, money and leisure, the list goes on.
The only thing I cop more hate about than being an atheist is being a cyclist.
I often consider atheists and what fuels them. For Dawkins it's science, for Hitchens it was truth, Sam Harris, morality and not to draw comparisons with them but to reflect on my own I realised discrimination is the number one thing that fuels my atheism. See you at the Global Atheist Convention in April.
Catherine Deveny is a writer, comedian, author and social commentator most recognised for her work as columnist with The Age newspaper and as an ABC regular. Catherine will be performing at the Gala Dinner of the 2012 Global Atheist Convention.
The 2012 Global Atheist Convention takes place April 13-15 2012 at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre. Find out more at www.atheistconvention.org.au . Readings is a major partner and official bookseller of the convention.