Because I am an atheist: Rebecca Watson

Today’s contribution comes from a Twitter conversation I had with Rebecca Watson, who took a decidedly minimalist approach to her response:

Because I am an atheist…

Rebecca: "I don't know that I really do anything bc I'm an atheist, except maybe cringe at the things atheists say, haha"

Rebecca: “I don’t know that I really do anything bc I’m an atheist, except maybe cringe at the things atheists say, haha”

I have been intentionally selecting the responses from people who have been saying that their atheism makes a big difference in their lives, but there is a large contingent of the atheist population whose atheism simply does not play a meaningful role in their decision-making. While the way I framed this issue does presuppose that a lack of god belief is something that makes you do things, the fact is that many people simply do not see it that way. A response of “nothing” is an entirely valid way of answering the question of “what does your atheism change about your life?”

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Because I am an atheist: Scotlyn

Today’s contribution comes from Scotlyn via email

Because I am an atheist…

…I enjoy a private life.

I was prompted to reflect on the singular importance of this when an evangelical relative posted the following:

“No single piece of our mental world is to be sealed off from the rest and there is not a square inch in the whole domain of human existence over which Christ, who is sovereign over all, does not cry: ‘Mine!’ ” – Kuyper

(PS – I don’t know who Kuyper is, this is the only attribution that was given in the post).

I can’t tell you how much that quote, and the concepts embodied within it, fills me with utter revulsion.  How can anyone live authentically, truly, bravely, when their very thoughts are not, cannot be, their own?

I grew up as the daughter of evangelical missionaries, and going to college was a catalyst, for me, to assess my faith, and find it wanting.  This process was lengthy, taking place over a number of years, but I remember with extreme clarity a moment when I realised how lacking my childhood had been in mental privacy.  I was on a visit home (age approx 25) and met a family acquaintance who was unfamiliar with the then painful process of my communicating my doubts and workings and my eventual departure from their faith with my family.

This person casually enquired, “so how is your walk with Jesus.”  And several realisations hit me with sudden force: [Read more...]

Because I am an atheist: Lunatick and phoenix_860

Today’s contribution was submitted as a comment by 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.

…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.

phoenix_860 replied:

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.

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Because I am an atheist: Zinnia Jones

Today’s contribution is courtesy of fellow FTBorg Zinnia Jones, who can be found at her eponymous blog.

Because I am an atheist…

…I’m able to pursue my own chosen path in life, free from the fear of displeased deities and controlling religions that would tell me what I must do with myself. Most religions have little of any value to say to a woman who was raised as a man, assuming they have even the most basic grasp of such a concept. And when going through a process of self-discovery and change that’s so intensely personal, the hostility from a world that views you with suspicion and doubt is challenging enough without having to guess at the desires of a god and whether you’re in compliance with them – desires which the religions of the world still can’t come to an agreement on.

Because I’m an atheist, I’m free to explore who I am and decide what’s best for myself, and that’s exactly what I need for this to work. It is necessary for me to be someone who’s truly happy with herself, and this is too important to let a god get in the way. Because I’m an atheist, I’m unattached to any religion which would try to push me into a conservative, hetero-normative, gender-typical life that would never fit me. [Read more...]

Because I am an atheist: OleanderTea, a really, truly gumpy bunny

Today’s contribution was submitted as a comment by OleanderTea, a really, truly grumpy bunny

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?)

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Because I’m an atheist: Adam Lee

Today’s contribution comes from Adam Lee, from Daylight Atheism

Because I am an atheist…

…I don’t have to spend my energy justifying the unjustifiable.

As I’ve written before, I can imagine how I could have been a religious person. A different roll of the dice, a few chance encounters that happened differently – there are possible worlds where I became a believer rather than an atheist. I could have become seriously interested in the Jewish heritage I inherited from one side of my family, or the Roman Catholic tradition I’m descended from on the other. I could imagine worlds where I became a member of a mainline Protestant denomination, or an evangelical Christian in the emerging church.

And the funny thing is, I like to think that it wouldn’t have made that much difference. I’m fairly certain that the religious me would still care about equality, would still value social justice, would still think of the world as spectacular and beautiful, would still want to bring about as much goodness as it was in his power to do. It would have taken a much harder shove, a much more improbable chain of coincidences, to send me down the path of one of those more distant possible worlds where I ended up as an anti-choice advocate, or a believer in the imminent apocalypse, or a young-earth creationist. [Read more...]

Because I am an atheist: Richard Carrier

Today’s contribution comes from fellow FTBorg Dr. Richard Carrier

Because I am an atheist…

When I realized I was an atheist, I realized we needed godless and non-supernatural answers to important philosophical questions that have usually been assumed to have a godly, or supernatural, or wooish answer, or otherwise swept under the rug as if we didn’t need to answer them. But we do. Not only does it become the Achilles heel of atheism when we don’t have satisfying or even plausible answers to them. But in each and every case we actually need at least a good working hypothesis, because we constantly act on the assumption that we do. Our every decision is based on assuming answers to every one. So I got busy answering these questions, in a way and manner I had never done before. Which culminated in my first book, Sense and Goodness without God. [Read more...]

Because I am an Atheist: myatheistlife

Today’s contribution was submitted as a comment by reader and blogger myatheistlife

Because I am an atheist…

…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.

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Because I am an atheist: Timid Atheist

Today’s contribution comes from the Timid Atheist, who was luckily not so timid that she couldn’t e-mail.

Because I am an atheist…

…I am a better person and a better mother.

I accepted my atheism about a year and a half ago.  Which came about via my search in regards to feminism.  Since then I’ve learned more about atheism, humanism, feminism and LGBT activism than I ever thought possible.  I’m still learning to be a better person, but I’ve come a long way from how I use to be.  And I’ve donated more to worthy causes in the past year and a half than I have my entire life. And I did it because I wanted to not because I felt guilted into it by my “faith.”

I have more patience for my child and I have better responses to her questions than ever before. And I’m so glad this happened before she experienced puberty so I can be there for her when all of the really difficult personal things happen.  While my daughter doesn’t know that I”m an atheist yet, she knows that things are a bit different for me in regards to how I view god and the bible and she is okay with that.

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Because I am an atheist: Hank Fox

Today’s contribution comes from the incomparable Hank Fox, author of Blue Collar Atheist.

Because I am an atheist…

…I understand that the real world is the real world.

That means I know that praying — wishing, whining, begging, whatever you want to call it — doesn’t work. What works is doing it yourself. Hard work by PEOPLE.

You learn, plan, think, and DO for all the best results in life. Not every plan works out, but when you compare the people who plan and work to those who depend on fate, or luck, or prayers to a supposedly benevolent god, those who depend on their own efforts manage to make good stuff happen a lot more often. Those who sit back in learned helplessness, who believe their best hope is for some outside supernatural agency to swoop in and solve every problem, they suffer whatever fate happenstance dishes out to them.

Yes, there are plenty of unpredictable things that will enter our lives, but that happens to everybody. What doesn’t happen to everybody is voluntary good planning. In fact, it doesn’t happen at all unless we DO it. [Read more...]