Because I am an atheist: scottplumer

Today’s contribution was submitted as a comment by reader scotplumer:

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!

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Because I am an atheist: Benjamin Stonier

Today’s contribution was submitted via e-mail by Benjamin Stonier

Because I am an atheist…

It’s really hard to sum up what being an atheist means to me. I’ve never really locked into a label like this before. Even when I was nominally Christian, I wouldn’t go out of my way to call myself that. I wouldn’t pick a denomination, though I attended many. I guess being an atheist has meant to me both enlightenment and sadness, though more of the former, unlike so many who tell their tales.

I’m an atheist because I try to think critically and skeptically – but because I am an atheist, I think critically and skeptically. Discarding the notion of a deity was the change in the way I think. Everything has simple factual merits, and we should make our decisions based on this. It’s let me toss the last vestiges of cultural oppositions to things like being against trans people changing their sex on their passports, being against gay marriage, or being against equal treatment regardless of differences. [Read more...]

Because I am an atheist: Mano Singham

Today’s contribution comes from fellow FTBorg Mano Singham:

Because I am an atheist…

…I experience a tremendous feeling of intellectual liberation. For many years I struggled to reconcile my scientific understanding of the world with the constraints imposed by believing in a god. When I tentatively tried out the ‘What if there is no god?” hypothesis, I experienced a sense of freedom so profound that I knew immediately that there was no going back. Now I feel free to go wherever my mind takes me and explore any idea without the sense that there are some questions whose answers will remain forever inscrutable. There are no “Stop! No Entry” signs in the intellectual road map of an atheist. The highways are wide open and call out for adventure.

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Because I am an atheist: James Croft

Today’s contribution comes from James Croft, vice-chair of the Humanist Community at Harvard.

Because I am an atheist…

…I know we’re in this alone, and that any change for the better in this world will be the fruit of human endeavor. There was never a eureka moment in which I realized there is no God: I was raised in a happy atheist household, and religion – except for the music, the art, and the architecture which my parents introduced me to – played no part in our lives. I only began to fully understand that other people weren’t atheists when I hit my teens, and began to have heated discussions with religious friends.

There are many things I can understand, even appreciate, about the best expressions of the religious impulse. I value narratives which frame our lives, strong moral communities where we can develop our commitment to each other, artworks which express our highest ideals, experiences of solidarity and transcendence, and I want to find ways for Humanists to enjoy these social benefits. [Read more...]

Because I am an atheist: NathanDST

Today’s contribution was submitted as a comment by NathanDST, who blogs at “Occasionally, I Think

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.

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Because I am an atheist: Heather McNamara

Today’s contribution comes from Heather McNamara, who blogs at “The McNamara Report

Because I am an atheist…

…I am no longer burdened with acquiescence to the moral superiority of an entity created by men from an era that loathed my gender, my orientation, and most of all, my autonomy. I can now understand my feelings for what they really are. They are not bogeymen or sinful desires of the flesh that seek to draw me away from anyone’s true purpose or plan for me. My feelings for women are no more or less supernatural than my friends’ feelings for the opposite sex. I am free to pursue relationships, love, and sex with whomever I wish so long as I treat them well. My heart and my bedroom are now happy, restful, pleasurable places instead of battlegrounds. I can now experience the kind of love and ecstasy my friends always have without guilt or fear of having disappointed my Father.

I have learned that I’m a better, more powerful person than I thought I was. Each accomplishment, talent, and triumph for which I previously felt unworthy and attributed to the graciousness of a higher power were in fact my own. When I have overcome poverty, depression, and severe anxiety, it wasn’t because a higher power finally saw fit to have mercy on me. It was because I fought valiantly and won. With my new confidence, I feel better equipped to handle the difficult situations such as the inevitable divorce and subsequent poverty that life has thrown at me since coming out. I don’t have to wonder whether a god will see fit to help me through this one or accept bad situations as my just desserts for straying from its path. I knew I would get through these things just like I got through everything else. And I have. I’m quite capable. [Read more...]

Because I am an atheist: The Uncredible Hallq

Today’s contribution comes from fellow FTBorg Chris Hallquist, who blogs at The Uncredible Hallq.

Because I am an atheist…

…I can view religion honestly.

I was raised a liberal Protestant, Congregationalist to be exact. I’ve joked that our family was one step away from being Unitarians and this made becoming an atheist not much of a leap, but this is a total lie.

The truth is that when I finally admitted to myself, “yup, I’m an atheist,” it had a couple immediate, beneficial effects on my life

As a young, liberal Christian teenager, I had no problem ignoring the scary stuff in the Old Testament, letters of Paul, and well everything except the stuff about Jesus. And the stuff about Jesus included some good stuff, “judge not least ye be judged,” the parable of the good Samaritan, giving to charity, the parable of the sheep and the goats (a good rebuke to fundamentalists who say it’s all about whether you believe in Jesus), and so on.

The problem was that not everything about Jesus was good stuff. Greta covers this really well in her “The Messed-Up Teachings of Jesus,” but one thing I’d highlight is the thought crime stuff. That messed with my head, especially since it was right there in the middle of the Sermon on the Mount, mixed in with the “blessed are the poor” stuff and stuff about not taking an eye for an eye.

The other immediate change once I started thinking of myself as an atheist was that I no longer felt any need to make excuses for fundamentalist Christians. Don’t get me wrong, part of me thought they were scary, but I also had it in my head that Christian = good so sometimes I felt obliged to think good thoughts about them. Once I stopped identifying as a Christian, I could see them for what they were, and see that the correct response to their quoting the Bible to support their views was not to argue interpretation but just say, “OK, if that’s what the Bible says, the Bible is wrong.” It’s really refreshing to be able to be honest about things like that.

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Because I am an atheist: WilloNyx

Today’s contribution comes from reader and bl0g-buddy WilloNyx, who writes at IdioPrag.

Because I am an atheist…

…I am more moral.  The confidence that I was doing “god’s work” kept me blind to the harm I caused with my religion. I believed the “hate the sin love the sinner” trope and I did not actively campaign for gay rights. Because I am an atheist, I no longer have doubts that fighting for equality is the most moral path I can take.

Because I am an atheist: I am a trans feminist. If it were not me seeking out other atheists like myself, I probably wouldn’t have found various atheist sites that taught me that feminism wasn’t a dirty word.  No matter how cultured I try to be I am limited by my geography. Atheism, and atheists taught me to look skeptically at my own biases toward feminism. Transgender atheists taught me to look skeptically at those feminists who would erase the experiences of women they deem not women enough. Because I am an atheist, I fight sexism against all women.

Because I am an atheist: I don’t  indoctrinate my kids. I no longer fear hell for their sake. Because I am an atheist, I can love my children for who they are rather than who god wants them to be. [Read more...]

Because I am an atheist: Alyson Miers

Today’s contribution comes via e-mail from Alyson Miers, who blogs at The Monster’s Ink.

Because I am an atheist…

I’ve wanted to be a writer ever since I was a kid who still prayed to Jesus, so I can’t credit atheism for my creative impulses, but it does have a lot to do with what I create. Because I know the Bible is only a story written by human beings, I am not afraid to build new worlds. In the beginning, God created the heavens and the Earth, and in 2012, the Plague wiped out nearly all of humanity and the survivors were left with nothing but arable land. The only difference is that I do not expect anyone to view my writing as anything other than fiction.

Without the constraints of religion, I decide what is prohibited or compulsory, and what is encouraged, optional or a necessary evil based on the balance of benefit and harm to real, living creatures that think and feel in this life, and I write my stories accordingly. I do not confuse timidity with nuance. I owe none of my talent or time to the putative interests of a God who probably does not exist. All my allegiance is to the people in my life and the worlds I create.

Because I am an atheist, I do not shy away from offending the sensibilities of those who believe the Bible (or any other “sacred” text) is something other than a book written by human hands. I seek to understand the perspectives of those who disagree with me, for they are my family, friends and neighbors, and like us, they have nothing but this life, but one can understand a contrary perspective without privileging it. I do my best to create works that are enjoyable to people who may or may not be religious without doing them the disrespect of pretending to agree with their superstitions.

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Because I am an atheist: Comrade Physioproffe

Today’s contribution comes from fellow FTBlogger, and master of concise writing, Comrade Physioproffe

Because I am an atheist…

…I organize my life around the principle that my overarching goal is to act in ways that enhance other people’s lives, instead of around a bunch of made-up bullshitte principles supposedly imposed by a fake sky-god but which really are just designed to provide cover for the worst of human impulses.

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