Skepticism for the win!

My atheism sometimes acts as a guiding light keeping me level-headed when life feels questionable. I don’t need to find comfort in faith, I feel relief in common sense. I know you have to be willing to ask questions to get answers. Putting your hands together in prayer just doesn’t cut it. Everything has an earthly explanation — even if we haven’t figured it out yet. Bring it on — I got this.

Atheist mom: 1
Fantasy fairytales: 0


One Isolated Atheist

Sometimes it’s painful to watch the people close to me follow religion so blindly. God, Jesus, the Bible — that’s just how it is to them. That’s what their parents and grandparents believed. Indoctrination passed from generation to generation — no questions ever asked.

How can you not be at least a little curious about what else might be out there? Is there something out there better for you? I’d like to think they question and are too afraid to admit it, but unfortunately, they probably don’t. Blind faith is comfortable. Why rock the boat?

Back to the painful part — I’m alone. My family, my friends, coworkers — all believers. The only one who feels remotely similar to what I feel is my husband. 

I hate it when Christians attempt to “save” me, so I don’t think it would be right for me to do the same in return, no matter how much I want to pop the bubble and break the trance. 

It is so confusing trying to figure out how Christianity could possibly still be relevant in present-day life. What value does it hold in the modern world? I’d like to think it’s just superficial — professing belief for outward appearances — but where I live I would probably be wrong. People actually believe in those fairytales. 

Is anyone else feeling isolated?

“Psychotic” doesn’t mean what you think it means.

I see it everywhere but especially on Facebook — people using the term “psychotic” to describe someone that’s angry, violent, or out of control. 

I’ve been psychotic many times and I am absolutely none of the above. I was diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder in my early twenties and psychosis is one of the main symptoms. 

Psychosis actually refers to having hallucinations and delusions, not anger or violence.

Personally, I experience visual and auditory hallucinations that leave me feeling anxious, distracted, and sometimes isolated –probably the exact opposite of how people describe someone as “psychotic”.

The term “psychotic” is extremely stigmatizing when used incorrectly. Having a mental illness is hard enough and stigma just makes the stress — and asking for help — even more difficult.

So now you know. Please speak with care.

Are atheists more ambitious than theists?

Are atheists more ambitious than theists?

I’d like to think so.

I’m living for this life only so I aim high. Why not? In meatloaf and in life, I take as much as my plate can handle (and then some). Sometimes I feel like there are too many options. It’s hard to narrow down the things you want to explore and pursue in what little time we have. I try my best to stay organized and focused. That drive often comes from knowing my one life here on Earth is my final destination. I’m not racking up the points for a fantasy afterlife in heaven. This is it.

Maybe I’m looking for enjoyment. Maybe I’m looking for a way to be remembered. Either way, I am going to live life to the fullest.

What do you do when your beliefs are questioned?

How do you guys feel when people want to debate your beliefs in person? Do you welcome it?

I automatically assume that if someone is questioning my beliefs that they see them as beneath theirs. Maybe their questions come from a place of curiosity, but somehow I doubt it. The judgment is written all over their face. Sly smile. Smartass questions. I’m not “enlightened” to them. Poor me. Sorry, you’re not going to save me today.

I really don’t care that I’m different from them, but I do care that I’m treated with respect. I want my beliefs to be respected in the same way they demand respect for their beliefs. We have the same basic needs — take care of our families, enjoy what we can of life, and feel safe. Can’t we just stand equal on that common ground?

I might write up a storm but I would never single someone out or put them down in person. The truth is if someone presented me with evidence of god and Jesus, I would become a Christian. Common sense, right? Unfortunately, it doesn’t work the other way around. I’m not interested in converting anyone anyway, but it would be nice to have my points validated. 

Some people are just small-minded and mean. My tolerance is low but somehow I just sit silent.

On A Side Note…

I feel weird calling atheism a “belief”, but not sure how else to classify it. To me, it isn’t a belief but rather valuing reason and common sense. How do you label atheism when you group it into a discussion about religion and spiritual beliefs?

Define “Marriage”.

How do you guys feel about marriage? 

My husband and I have been married for 10 years. We had a small ceremony in Vegas which was an absolute blast! The wedding was important to me — I liked the pledge of commitment and celebration of love — but it was certainly not a necessity. We had been living together for a while so it’s not like anything really changed. Our wedding is an awesome memory that we will always share together. But let’s be real — having a baby together was the bigger commitment.

So what is marriage? How should it be defined?

I’m going to confess a guilty pleasure — I love the TLC show, Sister Wives. I am so fascinated by it. You can’t get any further away from my own life which is probably why I can’t look away. 

Believe it or not, I don’t think polygamists should have to hide. I think it should be perfectly legal. (Obviously, I’m not talking about the Warren Jeffs child bride variety here, but for the adult women who freely choose this lifestyle.)

Okay, I’m not going to lie — I’m watching season 2 of Big Love on Prime Video as I write this as well. It’s probably why this post idea is in my head in the first place.

Marriage equality passing a few years back was a huge step forward for the US, but I really feel the government shouldn’t have a big say in what defines marriage. If it includes consenting adults and no one is getting harmed in any way then I guess I don’t see anything wrong with it.

What do you guys think?

I never dreamed about my wedding as a little girl and I really hope my daughter won’t either. One day shouldn’t be the end all be all. I had dreams about my career and traveling, and well, that hasn’t changed. Those are things I still have a lot of hope for. I think it is so important for little girls to work on being a self-sufficient individual with meaningful goals. Aim high. That’s something you have to tackle before you bring another person into the picture.

I also hate how marriage is an expected milestone — just one of the required steps to a fulfilled life, right?  It is absolutely not necessary and let’s be honest, those thousands of dollars people spend on a big wedding could probably be better spent elsewhere. A down payment on a nice house for example. Experiences like traveling or taking up a hobby together, etc.

My husband just came in the room and offered a million different scenarios of marriages that could be legal if the law went by the perimeter I stated above — consenting adults and no one is being harmed.

I will try my best not to judge.

Marriage is often tied to religion, but if you take the religious element out, I think people should be allowed to organize their family how they wish.

How do you define marriage or should marriage even be a thing? 

Secular Meditation

I meditate with mala meads daily — sometimes several times a day if I feel I need it. It obviously has no spiritual meaning for me, but it has been incredible in relieving my anxiety and improving my focus. Surprisingly, it has also become an influential part of my creative process as an artist and writer. Being more focused really lets me organize my thoughts hone in on my better ideas. 

I started using mala meads last summer to cope with anxiety surrounding a traumatic situation and they became a part of my daily routine. I wear them around my wrist every day. 

I’m not going to lie, when the going gets tough at work, I hide in the bathroom for about ten minutes and meditate with my mala meads. They very well could be why I still have my job. 

I think it’s very interesting as an atheist to take something steeped in spirituality and find a very secular use for it. My mala beads are right up there with my phone — I feel naked if they’re not on me. 

Just Curious…

Does anyone else meditate?

Do you have anything important in your life that started out as religious? How did you make it meaningful in a secular way?

My Mental Illness Recovery is Rock Solid Thanks to Atheism

Being an atheist is an integral part of my recovery from schizoaffective disorder, a mental illness I’ve dealt with for most of my life. Some of my most troublesome symptoms were frequent auditory and visual hallucinations which have been treated with antipsychotic medication since my early twenties. 

Explaining My Hallucinations

My hallucinations were frightening and before receiving treatment, I thought that maybe they had a spiritual explanation. However, taking medication cleared my speculation. When I was able to practice skepticism, I felt grounded and stable. It’s empowering. This has been absolutely crucial to my life since I have a history of losing touch with reality. Religion will throw all sorts of explanations at you, but it is comforting to rely on common sense. 

Being Open to Treatment

I accept my diagnosis and recognize my hallucinations as symptoms of my mental illness. I am in awe of the power of medications and I never miss a dose. I know I need them. Science and modern medicine are life-changing and I’m very grateful. Treatment makes sense to me and I am very willing to comply. This is often very difficult for people with diagnoses similar to mine.

It is really easy for me to make these fundamental realizations as an atheist. There are many recovery and treatment programs that incorporate spirituality, but if others experience symptoms like mine, I think that would be confusing as hell.

Keep God Far From My Recovery

I don’t need god for an explanation, purpose, or meaningful life. I know what I need to do to stay well and it certainly doesn’t involve religion. These statements are not only powerful but also come as a relief as a person living with a mental illness.

5 Things This American Atheist is Thankful For

1. Spending Time in Europe as a Teenager

At sixteen years old I became an exchange student and spent a year in Denmark. That was over 20 years ago and it still affects my life to this day. My exchange year dramatically shaped my values and how I view politics, social issues, and religion. It was the first time I had met anyone that was openly atheist. Back home in Northwest Ohio, I was surrounded by conservative Christians, but in Denmark, conservative Christians were a small minority. I felt inner turmoil questioning spirituality back home, but meeting other atheists calmed my fears. It’s okay. There are other people like me.

2. Other Atheists – Even Though We’re Sometimes Few and Far Between

So after moving around a bit in my early twenties, I came back home to Northwest Ohio where I now live with my husband and daughter. My family has lived here for several generations and I have no plans on leaving. However, living here as an atheist can feel isolating, so when I meet someone I can connect with, it feels really special.

3. Online Communities and Social Media

I share the hell out of atheist memes on Facebook. Sometimes social media feels like the only safe place for me to really express how I feel. It’s also a way to feel less isolated. Online communities provide a safe haven for learning from like-minded people.

4. The Constitution or At Least Fighting for It

My husband and I get pretty involved in politics. Separation of church and state is a key issue for me. I love that the US is a technically a secular nation – now if it could just be enforced.

5. Feeling Grounded in Common Sense

I love being an atheist. Everything makes sense and is backed up with evidence. I don’t live with guilt or shame and I make my own decisions. Common sense conquers, empathy rules, and love wins.

An Atheist’s Views on Society

As an atheist, how do you feel about people and society in general? Are you optimistic, pessimistic, somewhere in between? Do you trust people? How does atheism affect your views? 

I used to be really optimistic. Religion spreads hate, shame, and guilt and I would pride myself on seeing the good in people. I thought maybe this was a trait that many atheists share.

A recent traumatic experience has left me questioning my views and I’m really sad that I will probably never return to my optimistic self. 

Considering atheists are few and far between where I live, I think it’s really important to keep my head up and stay positive. I don’t want people to see me as cynical and negative, and although I’m not always open about my atheism, I still don’t want to feed any misconceptions or stereotypes. 

I know there are so many factors that play into a person’s views on people and society. Can atheism be one of them?