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Sachin Singh

Grade: 11

University High School

Instructor: Jim Garrett

I am a Self-Declared Atheist

Personal Essay/Memoir

I am a Self-Declared Atheist

I am the descendant of a Sikh-steeped lineage; my surname is enshrined in religious royalty; my namesake, Shachindra, is adapted from the king of the Hindu Gods; but I am a self-declared atheist. Free from the bondage of theist disputatious doctrines, removed from an ironic institution that preaches peace with the left but bears arms with the right, and enlightened by the logical philosophy of Antony Flew and the outlook of William Occam, I am a self-declared atheist.

My religious grandfather refuses responsibility. On the 15th of May, 2020, my grandfather went for a walk, sat down to watch tennis on television, and had a stroke. After rapid treatment and intensive therapy, my grandfather was left without sensation throughout the right side of his body. The effects of the stroke, both physical and mental, were debilitating. My grandfather experienced stages of depression, feeling as though he no longer served a purpose in the world. Over a Friday family feast, he wept, "God has punished me. I wish I knew what I wrong I did, I wish I could fix it…." Not wishing to cause my grandfather further anguish, I suppressed my desire to vociferate the truth. He claimed that neither the years of chewing tobacco, nor his sedentary lifestyle, nor his poor nutritional choices, nor his genetic high blood pressure, nor his pre-diabetic diagnosis, nor his consistent alcohol consumption, nor the fact that heart disease rate among Indian males is double the national averages of the western world were the reasons for his situation. While he blamed himself, he believed that God was responsible for his fate. A wave of frustration crashed over me as I summoned every ounce of my will to remain silent. My grandpa took no responsibility, ignoring that his own conscious choices contributed to his situation. Believers claim, "God can move mountains, but he expects you to grasp a spade." My grandfather refused to enter the shed.

I am the son of two scientists. My mother is a doctor of Internal Medicine and my father is a doctor of Ophthalmology. Throughout my childhood, my parents encouraged exploration, observation, and inquisition. While the true extent of the effects of various early-childhood environments is disputed among experts, seventeenth-century philosopher-physician John Locke claims, "little and almost insensible impressions on [their] tender infancies have very important and lasting consequences." In my case, those consequences manifested in my insatiable desire for truth. For me, the truth of Darwinism succeeded the theory that God created biological diversity. The truth of the Big Bang Theory succeeded the scripture of Genesis, that, "In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth," (Genesis 1:1) The neurobiology-backed truth of indeterminism succeeded the notion of predestination. (Royal Society Publishing) By primary school, I was unconsciously using the scientific method to explore the world around me. By secondary school, I had the intellectual tools to conclude that "God's existence is a speculative hypothesis of an extremely low order of probability," (Britannica). By tertiary school, I was a self-declared atheist.

The second point of justification for my stance partially builds upon the belief that religion is inherently contradictory. Historian Luke A. Bean calculates that Christianity and Islam, the two largest global religions, have accounted for approximately 15 million and 19 million deaths by religious violence respectively. Such a figure directly contrasts with the final words of the Prophet Muhammad. In his last-recorded public speech, Prophet Muhammad claimed, "Hurt no one so that no one may hurt you," (Human Appeal). How, then, after preachings of pacifism, can the Islamic institution justify the 19 million deaths that would come over the next 1,300 years? While I am by no means a pacifist, conflict is somewhat instinctual and simply inevitable, I struggle to worship such hypocrisy.

My final point of justification for my unique position is in the belief that morality, spirituality, and decency are not solely found in the worship of deities. I conclude with the defence of atheism from those who cite its worshippers as "indecent" or "apathetic" or "nefarious". Simply, the common religious values of compassion, generosity, integrity, moderation, and responsibility can be found without a deity. Aesop's "Lion and Mouse" explores altruism, his "Mercury (Hermes) and the Woodman" explores honesty, and his "The North Wind (Boreas) and the Sun (Apollo)" explores balance. Even without religious devotion, I have found the same universal truths, despite using alternate vehicles. Even without religious devotion, I strive to display integrity, moderation, and responsibility by my character. Even without religious devotion, I intend to exude compassion and generosity by my heart. As an atheist, I am without religion, but as an individual, I am not without rectitude.

Bibliography

Brembs, Björn. "Towards a Scientific Concept of Free Will as a Biological Trait: Spontaneous Actions and Decision-making in Invertebrates." Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, vol. 278, no. 1707, 15 Dec. 2010, pp. 930-39.

Draper, Paul, "Atheism and Agnosticism", The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Fall 2017 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.).

"The Farewell Sermon of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH)." Human Appeal, 30 July 2020, . Accessed 17 Sept. 2021.

Gianoutsos, Jamie. Locke and Rousseau: Early Childhood Education. Baylor University. Accessed 17 Sept. 2021.

Nielsen, Kai E.. "atheism." Encyclopedia Britannica, 27 May. 2021. Accessed 17 September 2021.

"Reasons People Choose Atheism." BBC, 22 Oct. 2019. Accessed 17 Sept. 2021.