Because I am an atheist: M

This post was submitted via e-mail by M.

Because I am an atheist…

…I know that justice will be done by human hands, or by none at all.

There is no celestial Eye to see a Wrong inflicted; there is no divine Judge adjudicating the balance of fortunes and cruelties; there is no deific Hand to intervene in the mechanical operation of the Universe in order to ensure just desserts for ethical or unethical behavior; there is no heavenly Realm in which there is a post-necrotic reward or punishment for what was not redeemed in life.

Justice by human hands, or none at all. [Read more…]

Because I am an atheist: kagekiri

Today’s contribution was submitted by kagekiri as a comment.

Because I am 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.

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Because I am an atheist: Pharm Sci Grad

Today’s contribution comes from Pharm Sci Grad via e-mail.

Because I am an atheist…

…I am more accepting of the transient nature of my relationships with people

There’s an old religious line that goes “People come into your life for a reason, a season or a lifetime” and I always had a hard time accepting that.  This whole religious concept of eternal life meant you never really let anyone “go” forever but I still didn’t like the idea that sometimes people would be friends and then friendships would fall apart.  I struggled with that.  Strangely enough, since I let go of any belief in eternal life, I realized that I would never really have anyone with me for a lifetime – and, well, since there is no god, it’s not like I’ve got any god with me either.  So all that leaves are temporary friends, those for a reason or a season, which means that is just the nature of life, of friendship.  What a freeing notion.

How much easier it is to accept the wonderful friends I have and to accept the changes in a relationship when the time comes, without anger or blame, because of course the time would have to come eventually.  That is just how it is.  You change, you adapt, sometimes you allow friendships to fade, but you move forward forever altered by the people who’ve entered your life.  Not because a god placed them in your path, but because we’re all fortunate enough to coexist together on this pale blue dot, and you and your friend, however briefly, recognized your shared humanity.

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Because I am an atheist: Lousy Canuck

Today’s submission comes from fellow FTBorg Jason Thibeault, who writes at the brilliant and therefore deceptively-named Lousy Canuck blog.

Because I am an atheist…

I’ve been an atheist since I was 13. This is well before I knew the word, or the implications, though I had a vague inkling that a lot of people were probably wrong about a lot of things. When I further realized that my own parents counted among those people, I figured it was a very bad idea to let anyone else know what I thought about theology.

Several years ago, my sister came out to me as gay. The way she approached it was to ask me, “what is the worst possible thing you could imagine me telling you about myself?” I joked, “that you vote Conservative.” So, she apparently took that as an indicator that I’m safe, and came out of the closet.  [Read more…]

Because I am an atheist: Carina

Today’s submission is courtesy of Carina from South Africa

Because I am an atheist…

…I no longer live in fear

I do not have to fear eternal torment that would be forced upon me because of my human nature.

Because I am an atheist I am a better parent to my daughter

I raise her to be independent in her thoughts, sceptical of accepted “truths” and above all to always question. She will never have to travel the long and painful road that I did and she will be better off for it. She will grow up to be confident in her opinion and able to accept and admit when evidence proves her wrong. She will not subscribe blindly to fairy tales and make-believe. She will fight for her rights, speak her mind and not be downtrodden by misogynistic and ignorant fools who would fit her into the cardboard cut-out that they perceive to be a lady. Though she is only 11 she has started her own blog and also writes for Teenskepchick. She will “rock” this world.

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Because I am an atheist: mouthyb

Today’s contribution was submitted by reader mouthyb via e-mail.

Because I am an atheist…

…I am not married to a Christian man who mistreats me, forced to have no more ambition in life than to have his babies and try to be obedient to his whims, because he is male and doctrinally superior to me. This is what I was trained to do, growing up: to say nothing, to think nothing, to do nothing which could be construed as competition for authority with the men around me. Being an atheist allowed me to start routing that bullshit from my brain.

Because I am an atheist, I know that my actions have consequences, and that if I do a bad thing, it is because I chose to do it, not because I was possessed by satan or because an imaginary god was ‘working through me.’ The action was mine, the consequences are mine as well, and the reward is mine. I am freed of the weight of being a pawn in a war between good and evil, free of the fear that an angry god is always watching me, even when I use the restroom. I am free to learn to behave more ethically, not bound to a predestined plan. [Read more…]

Because I am an atheist: Denis Robert

Today’s contribution was submitted as a comment by Denis Robert:

Because I am 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.

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Because I am an atheist: Brianne Bilyeu

Today’s contribution comes from fellow FTBorg Brianne Bilyeu who blogs at the most excellent blog ‘Biodork’.

Because I am an atheist…

I am very aware of time. I don’t believe that there is an afterlife, or a second chance offered by reincarnation, or a ghostly plane where I will continue to exist in some nebulous form. I have a few short decades in which to experience all that I will ever know.

Because there is only this I value the friendships and family that I have. I grieve for my loss when friends and family die. I wish desperately that I could see them again, but knowing this is unlikely I love deeply and fiercely while I have the chance, and take comfort in having loved them well when they are gone.

Because I am an atheist I am never hopeless that my life is out of my control. I know that the responsibility for my decisions and actions rests solely on my shoulders. I bear my failures and recognize myself for my achievements. If I’m in a rut, I don’t waste time praying for guidance; I seek guidance from earthly sources. I thank the people who have supported me along the way and I don’t diminish their efforts by giving the praise to fabled non-interventionist beings that have done absolutely nothing to help. [Read more…]

Because I am an atheist: The Radula

Today’s submission comes from atheist science blogger ‘The Radula

Because I am an atheist…

  • I no longer have to struggle to reconcile what I see and experience with what I want to believe is true, or what I’m told I should believe is true. I must evaluate everything on its own merits, not by comparing it to the requirements of my faith.
  • I can look at people who are different than me, people who are gay, people who are of different color, people who have different religions, people who have different ideas… and not see them as sinners that need to be saved, but as people who have had different experiences or made different choices. I do not think that making them believe as I do is an act of righteousness, although there are times it may be an act of reason.
  • I try to squeeze every bit of joy, knowledge, and experience out of this life. I know there is no other, and that some day I will be no more. If I want joy, I need it here. If I want to share my love, I need to do it in this lifetime. If I want to be remembered, if I want to leave a mark, if I want to know that something of me goes on, it must be that I’ve done something memorable, something that made an impact, something that changes some little piece of the world.
  • I am responsible for my own actions and my own inaction. Man is not “like an ass, ridden at times by God and at others by Satan” (Martin Luther).  Jesus does not take the wheel. Ganesha does not remove the obstacles, and the Goddess isn’t going to bless me. There is no divine will guiding my steps, and I can’t use it as an excuse for failure, nor can I use it as a reason for success (no, I’m not always right because God is on my side).

Go read the rest – it’s really good.

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Because I am an atheist: ZB

Today’s contribution was submitted via e-mail by ZB:

Because I am an atheist…

I was better able to deal with having cancer.

In May 2010, I was diagnosed with a form of cancer called follicular lymphoma.  It was in stage 3, and it only goes to stage 4.  I learned from my oncologist that the form of cancer I have is not curable, but it responds well to treatment.

From the first mention of lymphoma to knowing exactly what I had and what my treatment options were and the likely outcome was about two months.  During that time, many questions crossed my mind.  But I realized that being an atheist for more than two decades gave me a big advantage mentally and emotionally.  I never asked “Why me?” or wondered how this fit into God’s plan.  I spent that time looking into the details of my medical coverage, making plans for various  possible outcomes, etc.  But I didn’t waste one nano-second praying.

When I knew the full details of the diagnosis and the planned course of treatment, I told my family and friends.  Everyone told me they were sorry to hear about the cancer.  But I noticed an interesting difference in the response of atheists and christians.  The atheists offered real help.  I received offers to help with yard work, house work, pool cleaning, transportation to treatments, etc.  From the christians, with few exceptions, all that was offered was prayers.  One christian, who knows I am an atheist, told me he was going to pray for me whether I wanted him to or not.  I responded that it would not hurt me, and if it made him feel better to go ahead and pray.

I have been in remission since November 2010, thanks to my oncologist and his caring staff, as well as all of those scientists and doctors doing research on cancer over the decades.

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P.S. I want to extend my personal thanks to all those who have responded with their deeply personal stories. I am humbled and grateful to see such an outpouring of raw honesty and personal disclosure. If you’ve been enjoying this series so far, please consider submitting something yourself, either by e-mail or as a comment.