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Aug 12 2012

Why I am an atheist – Meggan

As a child, Christianity never made sense and seemed unfair and rather limiting. After learning about mythology and how people believed the Gods to be real and the source of phenomena that can now be scientifically explained, I made the connection that the same could be said for Christianity. My parents weren’t non-believers, but they had no interest in religion. And when I felt the inevitable social pressure to go to church, my dad flat out said “No, church is for people who need it. They go in on Sundays and act holy, but the rest of the week they are assholes.” And after witnessing numerous examples of such behaviour over the years, I decided he had a point.

I grew into adulthood and kept searching. After examining many religious and “spiritual” ideas and philosophies, I picked up a book in the library to add to my investigation. It was “Atheism: The Case against God” by George Smith. I read it and it made sense. I pretty much knew at that point I was an atheist. This was in 2004. When I first came to this realization, it was tough; the first year I wished that I wasn’t thinking like this and looked again into paganism. I have lived in West Texas for the last 12 years and it was very lonely then. But things are getting better, there are many more secular people than I realized around here. I just had to reach out. The publication of the “New Atheist” books and the explosion of the atheist community online were vital in the early years for maintaining my sanity. 

However the how and why of my atheism isn’t as important as what it means to me. As a nursing home employee, the understanding of why the quality of my care is so important(especially palliative care for hospice patients) is on a deeper level than most of the other employees. They think things will be alright because Jesus will take care of it. I want people to have the best in the here and now. I strive to do the best I can for the most vulnerable of people. They deserve this as we ALL do. 

My atheism also pushed me to value my life and stop saying things like “I wish this day would hurry up and be over with.” I try to value every moment I get. I don’t want to waste anymore of my life wallowing in sadness or anger. My atheism makes me want to push for social change, as I think the sheer amount of waste on all levels of our culture is tragic. For all we know we all just get one shot. Why does one person deserve so much better than another? Why do people want to waste their lives worrying about some bullshit someone made up about death? The scale of it is enough to make me tear up.

That’s the how, why, and where of my atheism.

Meggan

8 comments

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  1. 1
    inflection

    If the author of this one is still around, I’d be very interested in hearing more about the interaction between your atheism and your work setting. I’m impressed that you use it as a positive motivator in your work. Does it ever come up openly on the job? Do you discuss religion with patients who bring it up? If so, how honestly?

  2. 2
    generallerong

    ” my dad flat out said “No, church is for people who need it. They go in on Sundays and act holy, but the rest of the week they are assholes.”

    You had me hooked right there.

  3. 3
    skmarshall

    Speaking as someone whose mother is in a nursing home, “Thank You”.

  4. 4
    stonyground

    I was surprised that you found G. H. Smith convincing straight away. I think that his book is pretty much irrefutable but I had to read it several times before I completely got it. One of the reasons for that was that he uses the word ‘agnostic’ in a somewhat unusual way. Most of us think of an agnostic as someone who is undecided about the question of whether or not gods exist. Smith’s agnostic is someone who claims to know that God exists but when pressed to define this god is found to have no knowledge of what it is that he claims to believe in. Because he doesn’t actually spell this out in advance, it took me a few readings to catch on. Once you do catch on, you can see that the theist has no case and that the book is devastating.

    The chapter entitled ‘The Sins of Christianity’ is a favourite too.

  5. 5
    =8)-DX

    As a work-demotivated ex-catholic atheist I highly applaud your lack of religion being capable of motivating you. For me the rejection of my religious past led me to heave a deep sigh of relief and relax, and then start interacting with atheist communities online, but this has never affected my work-motivation. The thing I did find motivational about atheism was the realisation: oh we’re all just humans. The realisation of the basic truth of egalitarianism was really liberating.

  6. 6
    Storms

    We find Atheism because we seek truth AND require evidence, verification and internal consistency. I’ve also found being an atheist highly motivating toward political and human rights activism. I also applaud you’re use of atheism to motivate your care of the elderly. Thank you.

  7. 7
    Dick the Damned

    I want people to have the best in the here and now. I strive to do the best I can for the most vulnerable of people. They deserve this as we ALL do.

    Meggan, that’s good enough to be the Humanist’s credo.

  8. 8
    conway

    Meggan, your dad sounds like a really cool dude.

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