Quantcast

«

»

May 07 2012

Because I am an atheist…

Those who wish to demonize or denigrate atheists are rather fond of telling us what we believe as a consequence of our atheism. You’ve undoubtedly heard the shrieking refrain of “you’re an atheist? That means you believe in nothing!” Who can argue with that kind of airtight logic? Or the similarly bulletproof “atheists just say they don’t believe so they can be sinful!” Thanks, Mr. Comfort – any other gems you want to lay on us? “Atheists have no moral centre – if there are no gods, any depraved act is permitted!”

The accusations are as tedious as they are false. There is no evidence whatsoever to suggest that people who lack a god belief are less moral than those who have one. Indeed, one could make the argument that the association between the most vile behaviours humankind struggles with – anti-gay hatred, suicide bombing, tribalist racism – and fervent religious expression suggests the exact opposite: that god-belief provides a convenient excuse for those who wish to do evil. Whatever the truth is, theist apologists are perhaps the least qualified to tell the world what atheists do as a consequence of their atheism.

Many of you have undoubtedly seen PZ Myers’ “why I am an atheist” series on Pharyngula. His purpose is to provide a variety of answers to the question “why are you an atheist” that go beyond the simplistic tautology of “because I lack a god belief”. In a similar vein, I thought I would share some of the specific ways that acknowledging my atheism has changed my life:

Because I am an atheist, I am more open to new experiences

Being an atheist has made me far more impatient for getting the most out of life. I realize that I am lucky enough to get to experience a slice of self-aware existence. Whenever I am confronted with an opportunity to try something new and challenging, I can’t help but return to the fact that this is the only chance I’ll get. When I am looking back on my one and only life, will I be regaling my friends with all the tales of the times I took the road more traveled? I doubt it. The reality of my finite window in which to experience things makes me much more willing to do things that I might not otherwise have been ‘up’ for.

Because I am an atheist, I am on the organ donor list

Far more pragmatic and less self-reflectively thanatophobic than the first one, I realize that my body is a meat machine that has a lot of parts that can be inordinately useful to others when I’m dead. I hold no reverent sentiment toward my meat – when I die, that’s the end of me caring what happens to my body. Bury me, burn me, freeze me, shoot me into space, carve me up and use me as a bizarre sideshow in a Hallowe’en display – I won’t be around to have an opinion. However, I am cognizant of the fact that there are a lot of people who are literally dying to have a fresh shot at my slightly-used organs. If my atheism-fueled joi de vivre leads me to a premature death in a freak motorcycle-jousting-with-a-tiger accident, let those salvageable bits of me go to some use!

Because I am an atheist, I feel connected to all life

I recognize the link that I share with all living beings. We are the byproducts of the same inexorable laws of physics and biology – I just happen to be the particular part of that chemical reaction that knows how to work a PS3. I recognize this, and it gives me a feeling of obligation to do my best to protect and safeguard diverse life, ensuring that we can minimize suffering and maximize well-being.

Because I am an atheist, I think of my actions on a long timeline

My life is not an adjudicated exam for the ‘real thing’ to come later. Whatever consequences my life has will ripple outward forever. The way I treat others may influence the way those others go on to behave. If I act selfishly, avariciously, or short-sightedly, I have made the world a slightly more selfish, avaricious and short-sighted place to be. Those are not the qualities I wish to encourage in a world for those who would come after me. I want to live the kind of life that future generations will look at and find a net balance of praiseworthy merit. If my life means anything, it’s that.

These are just a scattered, random handful of reasons my life is shaped by my atheism. What I would like to invite you to do is give the topic some thought, and submit (either in comments or by e-mail) something in your life that is a direct result of your atheism. Like PZ, I will periodically post some of your submissions, and give you the opportunity to expand on them if you like. So please, if you are an atheist, tell me your story.

Like this article? Follow me on Twitter!

92 comments

6 pings

Skip to comment form

  1. 1
    scottplumer

    Great idea!

    Because I am an atheist, I don’t pray for people who are in dire straights, I do stuff for them. A friend of mine has melanoma (which now is in remission). While many of his friends and family prayed for him, my wife and I made him and his family dinner and took it to them. I also helped him fixing some things around the house he was too weak to take care of himself. I changed the battery in his van, replaced the CPU fan in his computer, and a few other things.

    I don’t say this to gloat, or to show how wonderful I am. I say it because I know praying doesn’t do a damn thing, but it makes some people feel good. What I did was a burden, financially (we paid for the meal and the car battery) and on our time. It didn’t make us feel good, but it accomplished something. I like to think that it also contributed to his recovery, since some of the stressors in his life were lifted, so he could focus more on his health. So far, so good!

  2. 2
    Doubting Thomas

    Because I am an atheist, I can sleep in guilt free on Sunday morning.
    Because I am an atheist, I will never run short of people to have ‘spirited’ discussions with.
    Because I am an atheist, I don’t have to expend so much mental energy reconciling the absurdities, contradictions and lies of religions.

  3. 3
    Jennifer

    Because I am an atheist, I am able to truly appreciate my marriage. It’s not foreordained that I love my husband, which means that every minute I spend with him is a conscious choice to invest time and love and energy in this relationship. I don’t feel like I’m failing God when I fail to do my part to maintain the relationship; instead, I just recognize that it’s a failure on my part to put in the work necessary to sustain this choice that makes me so happy, and I fix it. I don’t get complacent about it because, again, it’s a choice, and it takes work. We’ve only been together a few years, and we are a good enough fit that it hasn’t felt like work yet, but in the more difficult moments we’ve had I have reveled in the fact that no, I am staying *here* because it is what *I* want, and that he is doing the same, because we love and value one another, not because we feel like we have to. It’s glorious.

    I’m also more amazed at my children, and I wonder more what impact they will have on the world, because that’s the only way that I will live on: through teaching my values to other people. I’m fascinated by watching my daughter grow into this compassionate, articulate little person who is going to grow up to be a big, fierce, empathetic, brilliant adult, and who will hopefully be better than me. I don’t need an afterlife if I have that (although I’m not getting an afterlife anyway). I may end up with a book or something anyway, but I want to live on through what I can do for other people, and my children are one of the most at-hand ways to do so.

    As a note, I’m not saying these things to push marriage and kids; other people find meaning in different areas, and if I talked about music and how I find transcendence in nature and literature then we’d be here all day. I’m just amazed at the connections that we’re able to form with other people, and with the universe in general, and at the fact that all of that is a product of chemicals firing off in our heads rather than of some divine hand reaching down and making it so. I’m in absolute awe of what simple chemicals can do, and my life is vastly better and happier for the recognition of it.

    I’ll also say that it takes a lot of pressure off to think about the vastness of time. Eventually everything is going to end, and things that seem huge and traumatic to me seem less so when I realize what a blink of an eye my lifetime is. Feeling small in comparison to the universe–not in the sense that Neil deGrasse Tyson details in his amazing Cosmic Sermon, but in the sense that I am legitimately very small in terms of size and lifespan–permits me to put things into proportion. I’m a lot more at peace now than I was before.

    I do not think that atheism is absolutely necessary to any of these things, but it was for me and I would not be surprised if it was for most people.

    I love your writing, by the way. Thank you.

  4. 4
    chigau (違う)

    Because I am an atheist the only things I have to fear are mundane.
    - no world destroying floods or fire
    - no eternal condemnation because of my diet
    - etc.

  5. 5
    Rory

    Because I’m an atheist, I recognize that apart from those rules necessary to keep society safe, there is no reason for one person to impose his/her moral beliefs on anyone else. This has helped me to be a lot less uptight and a lot more accepting of other people.

  6. 6
    ged

    Because I am an atheist…. death holds no fear.

  7. 7
    'Tis Himself

    Because I am an atheist I don’t worry about following some arbitrary rules just to keep a sadistic bully of a god happy so he won’t punish me forever.

    Because I am an atheist I do not suffer guilt about having sex in some manner besides the missionary position with the lights off.

    Because I am an atheist I recognize the sheer hypocrisy of god’s authoritarian mouthpieces who control other peoples’ lives and demand large amounts of money to do so.

  8. 8
    Mark

    Because I don’t care one way or the other about gods, or what happens after I die, I am happy, joyous, and free.

  9. 9
    LJ Briar

    Because I am an atheist…

    I actively direct my life, instead of waiting for “the universe” to do things for me. I say “no” more often, and don’t keep people in my life because I think I’m fated to put up with them.

    I have become a critical thinker in terms of racism, sexism, ableism, and all the other “isms” I come across, and have become a more conscientious, accepting person as a result, and a more sympathetic listener.

    I try and counsel my nearest and dearest away from BS alternative medicine treatments, because I care for them and want them to actually get better and live longer.

    I understand a bit about how and why the world is the way it is, but that doesn’t mean I will just accept the crap parts of it as a divine plan to make us all suffer.

  10. 10
    carlie

    I love this idea. I’m not in the right mindspace to give a good answer right now, but I’ll think about it over the next couple of days.

  11. 11
    maethor

    Because I am an atheist, I help people when no one is looking and no one will know. There is not even a God to see me do it. I help them because I want to. And that sets me free

  12. 12
    kagekiri

    Because I’m an atheist, I can take reality as it comes and with free honesty, instead of trying to cram evidence into my pre-conceived notions of reality and running away from anything that doesn’t fit.

    Because I’m an atheist, I don’t have to ignore thoughts and desires lest they cause me to fall into “sin”. I can assess them more calmly and still find reasons to not do evil besides “because if I do them, I’ll go to Hell!”

    Because I’m an atheist, I no longer have to blame myself or others for our suffering or short-comings. I can love myself as and others as we are instead of tearfully thanking God for loving us despite our sinful selves.

    Because I’m an atheist, I can be happy now, instead of suffering with depression and self-loathing for the sake of an afterlife.

    Because I’m an atheist, I love my family even more than ever, because I realize life isn’t all about worshiping God: it’s about those we love and interact with.

    Because I’m an atheist, I can take a clear look at how my life will impact the world beyond Christian evangelizing. All meaning is relative, but the world is important to our species, so I can fight for it rather than feel guilty that I should be doing things to get people to a better afterlife.

    Because I’m an atheist, I care about our collective future, because God isn’t going to magically step in and fix everything/blow everything up.

    Because I’m an atheist, the world has become far less black and white, and I’m far more able to understand and empathize with others and their differing outlooks and experiences in life.

  13. 13
    Leo Buzalsky

    Thanks, Mr. Comfort – any other gems you want to lay on us?

    I’m quite sure Mr. Comfort was not the first to at least imply this even if he may have been first to directly say it.

    Anyway, this is definitely a good idea, Ian. I’ve actually been needing to put some posts on my own blog regarding this topic as my wife (who is not an atheist…yet) found herself having to explain what I believe as an atheist to her coworkers after we got back from the Reason Rally and American Atheists national convention.

  14. 14
    skeptiverse

    Because I am an atheist, I appreciate how truly magnificent the universe is. There is no comfortable, easy position, there is no God done it. The universe has no creator and we are not special. That makes my life and the universe that much more incredible.

  15. 15
    Dave

    Because I am an atheist, I had no excuse for my early teenage homophobia to be anything other than MY issue that i tried to work through, instead of an excuse to badger people for not being like me.

  16. 16
    Don F

    Because I’m an atheist . . .

    . . . I don’t spell it “athiest”.

    . . . and I can go shopping in nearly-empty stores at 10:30am on Sunday.

    (There are other more significant benefits, but these are the ones that popped into me ‘ead.)

  17. 17
    Patches

    Because I am an atheist, I have no excuse for hate.

  18. 18
    SomeDork

    Because I am an atheist, I can accept that a loved one is gone without worrying about whether or not their afterlife is good.

    Also, because I am an atheist, I can enjoy having tarot cards as playing cards without feeling weird about it. Some of them have nice art.

  19. 19
    kagekiri

    Yup, Comfort wasn’t the first.

    The apostle Paul says the basic “atheists are evil people who know God is there but disobey anyway, and are the source of all kinds of evil because of their atheism” in Romans 1. It’s also where Paul says homosexuality is an unnatural curse given by God to evil people.

    Fricking Paul: sexist, homophobic, intolerant, and lying scumbag who pretended to use reason and love, all while demonizing all non-believers as misled by God or directly rebelling against God, and dismissing any disagreeing believers as misled by false teachers or demons…

    He truly was the predecessor to the Popes.

  20. 20
    Cuttlefish

    Because I am an atheist, I approach religion in my classes the same way I approach other cultural elements–food, song, government, etc.–matter-of-factly, as if there were no prohibition on skeptical analysis when it comes to this topic. Because, for me, there is not. Invariably (or nearly so), my class is the first where my students hear the word “god” prefaced by an indefinite article (“a god”–or more likely, “a god or gods”), and realize that it’s actually possible to treat religious belief without kid gloves. It’s actually refreshing, like turning on the lights in a room that has always been dimly lit, but which they had been dying to explore.

  21. 21
    TV200

    Because I am an atheist, I don’t feel bad for asking questions.

  22. 22
    HP

    A couple of comments (I’m still working on my contribution).

    “Because I am an atheist, I am more open to new experiences”

    - Because I’m a skeptic with an interest in social psychology, I think you may have cause and effect backwards here. “Novelty” is generally considered an aspect of personality that is fixed at a fairly early age, and people who score high on novelty perhaps are more likely to become atheists.

    “Because I am an atheist, I feel connected to all life.”

    - This. This is important. I was just reading an Accomodationist critique of the New Atheists that pointed out the role of religion in promoting cooperation in social structures that transcend kinship (think early city-states, Axial Age). I think is certainly true historically (or maybe, paleohistorically), but what Atheism offers is a new definition of kinship. We don’t need religion to bind us together at some higher level, because we are already kin to all living things, and to the hearts of stars, and the deep structure of the universe.

  23. 23
    Otrame

    Because I am an atheist, I understand how insignificant and small my life is. And I look around at how important it all is to me, my kids, my family and friends, my species, my planet and I love it all so much that the insignificance doesn’t matter. Because I am an atheist I know that in a few more decades at the most the atoms that make my body and whose interactions create me will go wondering off to do something else. Because I am an atheist I kinda like that idea.

  24. 24
    Lunatick

    Because I am an atheist
    I could not rationalize suicide. As much as I wanted out, as much as I was done and wanted a break from my reality, I knew it didn’t make sense. I believe when life is over it’s a fade to black and nothing more. I wasn’t going to get the break I needed; it was better for me to stay and work through it.

    Because I am an atheist
    The pain of my father’s death is so raw, but I know he is gone. He was here and now he’s not. He hasn’t gone anywhere else, he’s just ceased to be. The rawness lets me see how the idea of heaven is comforting, but reason makes me wonder how people ever enjoy sex if their loved ones are looking down upon them all the time.

  25. 25
    abeille

    Hitler was an atheist.

  26. 26
    mnb0

    Ah, you beat me.
    I haven’t been around for 13,7 billion years or something and haven’t suffered the least for it. Why would I suffer after the few years that I walk around on our globe?

  27. 27
    mnb0

    And another one who beats me. Realizing that I’m small compared to the universe, that my life is ultrashort compared to the age of that same universe I don’t think myself important.
    Because I’m an atheist I don’t have an excuse to inflate my ego.

  28. 28
    mnb0

    Except that he wasn’t.

    “My feelings as a Christian points me to my Lord and Savior as a fighter. It points me to the man who once in loneliness, surrounded only by a few followers, recognized these Jews for what they were and summoned men to fight against them and who, God’s truth! was greatest not as a sufferer but as a fighter. In boundless love as a Christian and as a man I read through the passage which tells us how the Lord at last rose in His might and seized the scourge to drive out of the Temple the brood of vipers and adders. How terrific was His fight for the world against the Jewish poison.”

    22 april 1922.

  29. 29
    Steven Olsen

    Because I am an atheist, I feel the responsibility to be kind to other people is impossible to ignore. We have one shot at this and we have to make it count.

  30. 30
    mnb0

    “This Jewish bolshevist annihilation of nations and its western European and American procurers can be met only in one way: by using every ounce of strength with the extreme fanaticism and stubborn steadfastness that merciful God gives to men in hard times for the defense of their own lives….”

    24 february 1945.

  31. 31
    mnb0

    Hitler was also a creationist.
    Jews and Germans the same ancestors? No way.

    http://coelsblog.wordpress.com/2011/11/08/nazi-racial-ideology-was-religious-creationist-and-opposed-to-darwinism/

  32. 32
    Cate

    Because I am an atheist, I was the only one in the room who cried watching Passion of the Christ.

    They didn’t understand why I was crying, and I couldn’t understand why they weren’t.

  33. 33
    Kevin McCarthy

    Because I’m an atheist, I know that when I act correctly, I’m being good… not because I’m afraid of punishment.

    Likewise, if I act poorly, then I know that it is my problem and not the devil making me do it. I also know that I have to correct myself and can’t just pray it away.

    I can look at the majesty of the world and appreciate it for what it is.

    I can be me… rather than a caricature of a bronze age myth.

  34. 34
    DaveG

    ^Not true, dumbass.

  35. 35
    Dave

    Because I am an atheist, I have become more open to people being able to live their lives the way that they want. If you want to have a same sex marriage or dress like the opposite sex, then you have the freedom to do so.

    I also relish in the extra time I have in my life to enjoy it, instead of locking myself in a building every week wishing to a nonexistent entity.

  36. 36
    sceptinurse

    Because I’m an atheist I can accept my children’s choices for their lives without feeling like I should have done something different or that it’s my fault that they have made their own choices in life. Actually it is my fault that they have made their own choices in life since that is the way I raised them even though I was a christian at the time. It’s more that I don’t feel guilty that they are doing what they want to do even when people think I should have done things differently.

  37. 37
    skeptiverse

    Clean-up on thread 1

  38. 38
    Crommunist

    I’m almost positive this is either a bad joke or abeille’s account has been hacked. She has been a valuable and constructive member of this commentariat since before I migrated to FTB

  39. 39
    abeille

    A bad joke, I assure you. I hear variations of, “You’re an atheist? Hitler was an atheist! You must be like he!” Another airtight logical argument.

    On a more serious note,

    Because I am an atheist, I feel less helpless; there is no god-ordained cosmic plan. I am free from the threat of hell.

  40. 40
    Strong Toes

    Because I am an Atheist…I’m okay with saying I don’t know.

  41. 41
    stubby

    Because I’m an atheist, I am more charitable. I no longer believe prayer is an acceptable response when someone is in need.

  42. 42
    H.H.

    Because I’m an atheist, I can masturbate without feeling like my dead grandmother is watching me.

  43. 43
    flippertie

    Because I am an atheist I have to deal with my 15 year old daughter going to church on Sunday with her friend’s family because “it’s going to get my dad *really* worried”…

  44. 44
    sminhinnick

    Because I am an atheist I belong to a massive international group of intelligent, funny, strident, fascinating and caring people who passionately stand up for Truth.

  45. 45
    DaveG

    My pejorative was aimed at abeille’s Hitler comment, not mnbo.

    Crommunist, this is my first time here and I’ll be sure to return. I like your tiered comments, but your comment vetting, not so much.

  46. 46
    jetboy

    Because I am an atheist: Neither death nor life hold any fear for me. I am a happier person knowing there is no purpose other than that which I assign. I am happier knowing that each atom in my body is as immortal as any being could wish for. I no longer wait for inspiration; I work until it comes.
    Because I am an atheist, I no longer have any thing to attribute or any one to blame for the situations I find myself in. This means I can more easily extricate myself from those situations, or deal with events as they happen.
    Because I am an atheist, I no longer tolerate the notion that one’s lot in life is predetermined or the result of cosmic justice. I no longer tolerate the idea that it is right to enjoy privilege while others suffer.
    Because I am an atheist, I embrace the notion that each of us is only here once, and the only right thing to do is to make it as enriching as possible to as many as possible.
    Because I am an atheist, I listen to my doctors and remain active in pursuing the cures to my illnesses, ones that remained untreated for too long. I exercise, I track my diet scrupulously, and spread the word about the diseases I previously thought were mere symptoms of some punishment laid against me.
    Because I am an atheist, I am at peace. Even though I pursue my humanist causes with zeal and passion, I am at peace in the middle of struggle. I know now that there is nothing more that can be done to me than kill me.
    Because I am an atheist, I am returning to school to finish my degree. I intend to spend my twilight years interpreting data from probes.
    Because I am an atheist, I no longer feel obligated to tolerate the ridiculous and poisonous ideas infecting my friends and family. I am a happy, centered, life-enjoying, astronomy-loving ass. And I have most of you to thank for it.

  47. 47
    digibud

    Because I’m an atheist I have no fear of death. All the blasphemy, all the sodomy, all the bestiality, all the coveting, all of the murdering and all the making of craven images and worshipping of idols (I’m just making stuff up here because I lead a pretty boring, simple life but you get the point) I do is of no real concern. I don’t worry one whit about hell.

    Because I’m an atheist I lead a moral life due to my own thoughtful consideration. I don’t bother with blasphemy, sodomy, bestiality, coveting (much :)) or making craven images (is that really a christian worry? sounded right) because it’s either just not part of my personality or I have given thoughtful consideration to such acts and chosen to not engage in them. I’m not sure what all the other christian rules are but you get the idea; I don’t act good because of threats, I do it based on my own moral compass or simply due to my own personality.

    Because of my atheism I don’t fret over my gay friends going to hell. Or my atheist friends going to hell. Or my muslim friends going to hell. Or -anyone- going to hell. To hell with that nonsense.

    Because of my atheism I lead a more peaceful, truthful life.

  48. 48
    helioprogenus

    Because I am an athiest, I can look past the baggage of Christianity within my Armenian cultural heritage, and appreciate the unique worldview it provides.

  49. 49
    Crommunist

    There is no comment vetting process at this site. I don’t think I’ve ever banned a comment.

  50. 50
    peicurmudgeon

    Because I am an atheist I think through moral dilemnas rather than rely on bronze age (or modern) mythology for answers. That is not to say I don’t consider bronze age philosophy pertinent.

    Because I am an atheist I accept people for who they are rather than criticizing them based on bronze age mythology (see above).

  51. 51
    DaveG

    Moderating, then. It disrupts the flow.

  52. 52
    Alex

    Because I am an atheist, I spend more time arguing with idiots than I would ideally like to.

  53. 53
    Crommunist

    Are you talking about the comment threading, or the fact that comments that you don’t like get approved?

  54. 54
    phoenix_860

    This.

    Because I’m an atheist I stopped taking the pills that would have killed me. Even in the midst of all my pain I was able to realize that I needed to unlock the bathroom door and tell my boyfriend to call an ambulance. Because I’m an atheist, I didn’t believe in some heavenly after-life that would be better than this one. I believed that if I continued I would be gone forever. I’m finally getting help for my severe depressive disorder.

    Because I’m an atheist I know now that my disorder was not due to lack of faith or prayer, as I had been told by Christian counselors in my youth. I know now that my disorder is due to brain chemistry and unresolved familial/personal issues.

  55. 55
    daenyx

    Because I became an atheist, my commitment to making a positive impact on this world – the only one we have – was underscored, reinforced, and set as a primary life priority. I rejected the nebulous, complacent warm fuzzies that result from believing oneself to be in communion with an invisible sky wizard, and began to seek out situations that challenged my comfort as well as my capabilities.

    Because I became an atheist, I stopped feeling any shame or guilt about my sexuality. (Ironically, being bisexual never caused me much angst, even as a Christian, but actually enjoying what my body did? That took a bit.)

    Because I became an atheist, I stopped believing that I was “helping” people by closing my eyes for a bit and having a conversation with an imaginary friend, and actually started thinking of tangible ways to make their lives better.

    Because I am an atheist, I actively, vehemently reject “common sense” and “I know it in my heart” and “because that’s how it’s *done*” as explanations or reasons for anything. I constantly examine my own assumptions, and how they’re contributing to emergent problems in my life, and very often, I throw them out the window. One of the most emotionally empowering moments of my life was (recently!) realizing that I didn’t have to follow any of the culturally-mandated scripts for dating, marriage, kids. That I could say no to all of that, if I wanted, and go my own way.

  56. 56
    abeille

    Do first time comments get held for approval?

  57. 57
    Crommunist

    They do. It’s either that or disable them and have to deal with spam and pingbacks and a bunch of other nonsense. Most comments clear approval within an hour or so (unless I am asleep)

  58. 58
    SnowyBiscuit

    Because I am an atheist, I know I won’t get to see my deceased spouse in a magical “someplace” after I die.

    I honestly believe it to be true, but it is also heartbreaking.

    My belief that there is no “eternal life” reminds me to be a useful, compassionate, kind, fun, wacky, helpful, and amusing person while I am here, so that my legacy is one that people remember fondly.

    (Sorry about the rain on the parade. Umbrella, anyone?)

  59. 59
    Mike

    Because I am an atheist I can enjoy other atheist’s words without worrying about their burning for blasphemy. Mine too!

  60. 60
    ethanmyerson

    Because I am an atheist, my children are growing up in a household where they can question everything, where they can explore their curiosity, where they are not lied to, where they are not beholden to magical thinking, and maybe most importantly, where they will live free of the self-loathing and fear with which religion too often burdens its victims.

  61. 61
    otrame

    Because I’m an atheist, I can masturbate without feeling like my dead grandmother is watching me.

    Well, unless you like that sort of thing, of course. In which case, go right ahead. Won’t hurt her a bit.

  62. 62
    Jeni

    Because I’m an atheist, when I work towards something and achieve it, I don’t have to thank god. I also accept that if I don’t achieve something I work towards, it’s not because I didn’t pray hard enough, or because some deity doesn’t love me.

  63. 63
    Dorid

    Mine was too long to add here. So I posted it on my website: http://theradula.blogspot.com/2012/05/because-i-am-atheist.html

    I tried to stay serious. There was so much more I could have added. And I loved reading some of the comments here (notice I said “SOME”) I think we can all relate to ending up arguing with the religious who want us to be friends with their imaginary friend, and who think that their imaginary friend (or dead relatives) are watching them masturbate or defecate or any other “ate”…

  64. 64
    skeptiverse

    Ignore my comment, it was somehow cross posted from a comment to another blog

  65. 65
    Mike Haubrich

    Because I am an atheist, I can make moral and ethical decisions based on what I observe and believe to bring about the best possible outcomes (which aren’t always great) for myself and the people affected by what I do. My “long run” is still in this lifetime and not in an eternity where I will either bored in glory, or bored in agony.

    It’s all about the real, tangible effects of what I say and do.

  66. 66
    I'm_not

    Because I am an atheist I can appreciate the art, literature, history and architecture of all cultures with an open mind. This is a truly great thing.

    Great idea Crom, truly great idea.

  67. 67
    Steve

    A “freak motorcycle-jousting-with-a-tiger accident” will likely leave you with few salvageable parts. As far as traumatic injuries go, head injuries are the best for organ donations.

  68. 68
    Crommunist

    The tiger might break my fall. YOU DON’T KNOW!

  69. 69
    Trebuchet

    Because I am an atheist…I’m mostly hiding in a closet. Except here on FTB. Sorry. It would hurt people I care about more than I’m willing to do.

  70. 70
    Thomas Lawson

    -
    Because I am an atheist, I don’t have to destroy or damage the personalities of my children.

    -
    Because I am an atheist, I can accept my own fate of death and the deaths of others naturally and truthfully.

    -
    Because I am an atheist, I believe in myself.

    -
    Because I am an atheist, I choose to believe in humanity, and humanity fails me much less often than anyone’s god.

    -
    Because I am an atheist, while watching Hubble on Omnimax at Science World, when it showed how far into the universe Hubble has allowed us to see, I teared up, because I was proud of our species for inventing something to achieve such a feat. It almost made up for inventing religious dogma.

  71. 71
    Jeff Sherry

    Because I’m an atheist, I reason there is no need for the supernatural to explain what is unknown presently.

    Because I’m an atheist, I have no need of a myth system to compel me to have ethics.

    Because I’m an atheist, I have to wonder why most people adhere to counter productive belief systems of religion.

    Because I’m an atheist, death is a part of and an end to life.

    Because I’m an atheist, an eternity of praising god in heaven sounds as attractive as hell, which makes me wonder is there truly a difference between heaven and hell?

  72. 72
    phhht

    I’m an atheist, so I get to dodge the whole Christian salvation-extortion speil! Neither heaven nor hell for me, thanks! Take that, Pascal’s Wager!

  73. 73
    Anna Yeung

    Because I am atheist, I was involved with the freethought community far more than I ever was with any other community. Because I embraced the atheist label, I became an active volunteer, then later an organizer with the University of Melbourne Secular Society and Global Atheist Convention.

  74. 74
    Buffy

    Because I am an atheist I am free to evaluate people as individuals rather than pre-judging them according to criteria imposed by a “holy book”, clergy or dogma.

    Because I am an atheist I do what is right because it is right, not because I’ve been told to by a “holy book”, or because I want a reward from my god.

    Because I am an atheist I strive to make life better for everyone in the here and now, because this is all we have.

    Because I am an atheist I support human rights for everyone.

  75. 75
    Broggly

    You sink we are kidding? Making wit the funny stuff? We believe in nussing, Lebowski, nussing.

  76. 76
    Kevin, 友好火猫 (Friendly Fire Cat)

    Because I am an atheist

    I am no longer afraid of being who I truly am inside. I am no longer closerted as far as my sexual orientation or my gender identity. I am taking the first steps to correcting the mismatch between my gender and my physical body. I am happier, more confident, and less anmxious than I have been in years.

  77. 77
    Denis Robert

    Because I’m an atheist, I no longer feel cursed.

    I’m an Aspie (Asperger’s Syndrome), and throughout my life, I felt like I was targeted by whatever my conception of the divine was at that time for “special attention”. I kept having difficulties no one else I knew had. I had no relationships, or bad relationships. I just couldn’t adapt to my educational environments, even when I excelled (perfect GPA, Dean’s list).

    Once I finally gave up on the concept of some sort of Agency underlying the Universe (I went through a dozen iterations of the concept, from my Catholic upbringing to a very new-agey/pagan view to a relatively long interest in Aleister Crowley), I was liberated of this delusion. I really saw that my “condition” was just that: a condition, a state of being. It was up to no one but myself to make the most of it, and no amount of wishing could make it any different; only acceptance of who I was, and hard work to dull the hardest aspects of my “condition” would make my life any better.

    And it has. I’m free of this overarching sense that I’m “specially targeted”. It’s given me a sense of self I never had, a belief in my own power, and a healthy dose of modesty: I’m just a human being. And that’s more than good enough for me.

  78. 78
    hall_of_rage

    The ripple effect is a wonderful thing. Too many people are too cynical that human nature will never change, even though humans do have influence on each other.

  79. 79
    JenniferT

    Because I am an atheist, when shit happens I can say “shit happens” and move on.

  80. 80
    myatheistlife

    Because I’m an anti-theist

    Today I did what I did yesterday, and the day before, and the week before and the month before and the year before. In fact, being an atheist has not changed my life. I still pay my bills, work hard to be able to afford vacation and health care. I do handyman work around my house and walk my dog. Because I’m an atheist my life really has not changed…

    Although…

    I no longer thing a god is responsible for my hard work. I no longer think that praying for people is useful, I’d rather simply give them a helping hand. When bad things happen I know I’m just a statistic, not the victim of a vengeful god. When times are tough I know that I can’t count on help from a skydaddy… I have to take care of it myself just like I always had to do.. but now I get to take credit for fixing it.

    I am no different than your cousin, brother, or friend… except that I don’t pray. Instead I do. I don’t say ‘why me?’ I say ‘damn, not again!’ I am responsible for my life… all of it. The good and the bad. I’m proud of both of them, they are me.

    If you need a god crutch that is your problem.. please don’t bother me with it. I’m quite fine all by my lonesome, and I’m doing well, thank you very much.

  81. 81
    NathanDST

    Because I am an atheist . . .

    When my best friend, my true brother in every way that matters, suddenly collapsed at home on Monday, May 7, I didn’t pray. I took his wife to the hospital to be with him and babysat their daughter. And when he was stabilized, I looked for something to do to help him, and his family. I started communicating with our mutual employer, so his wife didn’t have to worry about that. I made sure someone was dealing with his responsibilities. When another friend of ours started a fundraiser online to help cover his medical bills, I donated what I could, and wrote a blog post to tell the world what kind of a man he is, and beg for donations.

    Because I am an atheist, I couldn’t simply tell myself that he would make it, and it would all work out, so I started thinking of ways to honor him, if the worst happened (or happens, though it’s now looking good for him). I’ve been watching how his friends, family, and total strangers have responded, and my heart has swelled with pride and delight that humans are coming together to help humans, and not just relying on prayer and their god. I appreciate all the more the efforts of the hospital staff and doctors, and am pondering ways to thank and honor them. I understand how incredibly fortunate he is at how it worked out: if he hadn’t taken a half-day to watch his daughter while his wife was at a meeting, he would have been on the road coming home when it happened; if his wife hadn’t realized he wasn’t joking around almost immediately, and dialed 911; if the paramedics hadn’t been so fast in responding to the call; if modern medicine was less advanced, if the doctors weren’t so skilled, if if if . . . I understand that it’s all coincidence, and there was no plan or destiny, and I think this makes my relief so much more palpable, if that makes sense.

  82. 82
    Erik

    Because I am an atheist, I make my own luck.

  83. 83
    bethy

    Because I am an atheist I value human life. I know this will be my only life on earth and so I intend to make the most of the time I have with my loved ones. Because I am an atheist I know it is my duty to do everything I can to ease suffering when I see it because there is no man in the sky who will intervene. I chose to help people for a living. Because I am an atheist I marvel at the beauty and fragility of the world we live in and I want to protect it. Because I am an atheist I live by the mantra that if an action harms someone it is immoral, rather than turning to a book which condones genocide to guide my moral compass. Because I am an atheist I have a beautiful, loving relationship with my future wife and I have never felt even a hint of self hatred or guilt for being gay.

  84. 84
    BigWoodenSpoon

    Because I am an apatheist, the only thing that controls me is…me.

  85. 85
    Anymouse

    Because I am an atheist, I have the time to put into -real- charitable works in my Nebraska village, rather than spending time and money at the church here:

    Volunteering time and organizing fundraising for our Public Library (the smallest town in the state with one), including volunteering summer reading for children and adults, painting new library space, and repairing library equipment at no charge.

    Helping my elderly neighbors.

    Working with the village government.

    Working with the volunteer fire department.

    Investing time in the fight to save our village’s post office (and winning).

    Helping to refurbish the elementary school

    As such, doing things that help the entire village, not simply to pump money into the church across the street from my house.

  86. 86
    Sophie

    Because I am an atheist, I am content with a question mark in place of a wrong answer.

  87. 87
    Jason

    Because I’m an atheist, I worry about dying, my consciousness ending, and utilizing my life to the best of my ability. I see having the privilege of living as an issue of maximizing limited resources.

  88. 88
    sambarge

    Because I’m an atheist:

    1. I can see the world without blinders on.

    2. I can know that my inability to understand another person’s point of view is a shortcoming of my intellect or empathy and not an indication of their malevolence.

    3. I can teach my daughter that she owns her life, her mind, her body and that she is beholden to no one but herself.

  89. 89
    myatheistlife

    Jason,
    I’m not trolling, and do want to know. Why do you feel that you maximize limited resource? Perhaps just hanging out on the beach for a lifetime is good. Why must life be more than that? Why do we feel a need to be successful and happy? How do we reconcile our own success and comfort with the discomfort and pain of others? Why isn’t just ‘being’ enough?

  90. 90
    Geoff

    Because I’m an Atheist, I’m very conscious of how well I’m treating my one and only body. I try to take care of myself and, in a greater sense, I try to take care of this one and only earth as well.
    There is no room for fanciful thought-wishes about a new body or a new Earth – this is it. Live life to the fullest, be busy and have fun!

  91. 91
    Ken

    Because I am an Atheist…

    I do not have to have an answer…I don’t know is perfectly acceptable.

  92. 92
    Kid Hakins

    good I’m glad I’m not the only one

  1. 93
    Telling Better Deconversion Stories

    [...] why I’m delighted to see that Free Thought Blogs’ Crommunist is starting a “Because I am an atheist…” series, meant as a compliment to PZ Myers’s “Why I am an Atheist” posts. [...]

  2. 94
    Why Atheism Inspires Me to Seek Social Justice | The Heresy Club

    [...] month, Ian Cromwell started a series asking atheists at large to contribute what being an atheist has done to improve their lives. [...]

  3. 95
    Because I Am An Atheist | Brute Reason

    [...] few months ago, blogger Ian Cromwell wrote a post about how atheism has affected his life and titled it “Because I am an atheist.” In the [...]

  4. 96
    One Life to Life: How Atheism Inspires Me To Do Social Justice « In Our Words

    [...] month, Ian Cromwell started a series asking atheists at large to contribute what being an atheist has done to improve their lives. [...]

  5. 97
    Because I’m polyamorous… « atheist, polyamorous, skeptics

    [...] relationshis trackback Ian Cromwell has been running a series of essays submitted to him entitled “Because I’m an atheist…” and I have been reading them for a while.  Today, my answer went up, which caused me to think [...]

  6. 98
    Because I’m An Atheist « In Our Words

    [...] few months ago, blogger Ian Cromwell wrote a post about how atheism has affected his life and titled it “Because I am an atheist.” In the [...]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite="" class=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>