Because I am an atheist: jetboy

Today’s submission comes from commenter jetboy:

Because I am an atheist…

Neither death nor life hold any fear for me. I am a happier person knowing there is no purpose other than that which I assign. I am happier knowing that each atom in my body is as immortal as any being could wish for. I no longer wait for inspiration; I work until it comes.

Because I am an atheist, I no longer have any thing to attribute or any one to blame for the situations I find myself in. This means I can more easily extricate myself from those situations, or deal with events as they happen.

Because I am an atheist, I no longer tolerate the notion that one’s lot in life is predetermined or the result of cosmic justice. I no longer tolerate the idea that it is right to enjoy privilege while others suffer.

Because I am an atheist, I embrace the notion that each of us is only here once, and the only right thing to do is to make it as enriching as possible to as many as possible.

Because I am an atheist, I listen to my doctors and remain active in pursuing the cures to my illnesses, ones that remained untreated for too long. I exercise, I track my diet scrupulously, and spread the word about the diseases I previously thought were mere symptoms of some punishment laid against me.

Because I am an atheist, I am at peace. Even though I pursue my humanist causes with zeal and passion, I am at peace in the middle of struggle. I know now that there is nothing more that can be done to me than kill me.

Because I am an atheist, I am returning to school to finish my degree. I intend to spend my twilight years interpreting data from probes.

Because I am an atheist, I no longer feel obligated to tolerate the ridiculous and poisonous ideas infecting my friends and family. I am a happy, centered, life-enjoying, astronomy-loving ass. And I have most of you to thank for it.

Because I am an atheist: Stephanie Zvan

Today’s submission comes from fellow FTBer (and friend) Stephanie Zvan of Almost Diamonds:

Because I am an atheist…

…I am alive. That sounds hyperbolic, but bear with me.

There is much about my life now that I love–being able to write for (a small amount of) money, having the kind of love life that most people will never even strive for because they don’t believe it’s possible, having excellent friends and challenging work both as an employee and as a volunteer–but I had to survive long enough to get here. There have been plenty of times when that was in doubt.

I was physically and emotionally abused at home. I was pathologically shy. I was scared of everything. I was a year younger than everyone else in my class in school. I was serious and brainy. I didn’t wear the same clothes or haircuts as other kids. I attended six different elementary schools in three states. I wasn’t uncoordinated, but I had very little interest in competitive sports. I was poor in the exurbs in the 80s. I was targeted by one sexual predator when I was about nine and another (more successfully) when I was fifteen. I dated more than one guy who blamed me for his inability to act like a decent human being. [Read more…]

Because I am an atheist: GodVlogger

Today’s submission was rescued from the comment thread of Hemant Mehta’s post about this topic, submitted by GodVlogger:

Because I am an atheist…

STRANGERS: I feel more connected with strangers, somehow realizing that we are all just spinning through space together on this ‘pale blue dot’ of a planet called earth.

SPACE: Speaking of outer space, I notice the stars more, and am more likely to have glimpses of the vastness of the universe compared with our own comfort zones.

FEAR OF DEATH: I was on a commercial airplane not long ago when we hit a LOT of turbulence the pilot announced that we should prepare for a crash landing. We ended up flying through the storm ok, but what amazed me afterwards was how CALM and peaceful I was during that time. I had practically zero fear of death. Not that I wanted to die, and yes I thought about being gone from my role as a son, brother, father, husband, etc., but it was more of a calmly nostalgic “Hey, I’ve had a pretty good run of it here, and if I don’t make it well I think I’ve done a lot of good for others and they’ll eventually get by without me”, rather than a frantic anxiety that would not be able to change the outcome anyway (I don’t know how to make turbulence stop and I know that frantically praying it to stop would do nothing).

GAYS: I find myself much more sympathetic to the LGBT folks, knowing that almost all of the discrimination against them is based on mythology and fairy tales.

NEWS: I notice religion creeping in all over the place in the news, etc., whereas before I mainly noticed the role that religion plays in opposition abortion. Now I notice religion impacting a whole spectrum of women’s health issues, condoms in Africa, worldwide terrorism, the religious blame game after natural disasters, the preponderance of Catholics on the US Supreme Court, laws against buying a car on a Sunday, God Bless You when someone sneezes, national prayer day (days like that I would never have even noticed  before), etc. It’s like I see religion almost everywhere.

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Because I am an atheist: Rogue

Today’s submission comes courtesy of Rogue via e-mail:

Because I am an atheist…

Life has more meaning…and more pain.

There is only one shot.  I cannot look forward to anything after this.
Whatever my life if going to mean, I have to do it here and now.

I will not see my daughter after I die, I will be just as non-existent as she is.  Those who have died before me have only my memories and the memories of those whom they have touched.  I must carry on without them even as I hold on to those memories.

Pain and suffering is not admirable and has no spiritual purpose, it only detestable and should be fought against.  I cannot comfort myself with the “knowledge” that everything has a purpose from some wise director.

I am the only one who has the power to bring meaning to my life.  This is an awesome power, and a great responsibility.  And more than a little frightening.

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Because I am an atheist: Jennifer

Reader Jennifer offers today’s submission:

Because I am an atheist…

…I am able to truly appreciate my marriage. It’s not foreordained that I love my husband, which means that every minute I spend with him is a conscious choice to invest time and love and energy in this relationship. I don’t feel like I’m failing God when I fail to do my part to maintain the relationship; instead, I just recognize that it’s a failure on my part to put in the work necessary to sustain this choice that makes me so happy, and I fix it. I don’t get complacent about it because, again, it’s a choice, and it takes work. We’ve only been together a few years, and we are a good enough fit that it hasn’t felt like work yet, but in the more difficult moments we’ve had I have reveled in the fact that no, I am staying *here* because it is what *I* want, and that he is doing the same, because we love and value one another, not because we feel like we have to. It’s glorious.

I’m also more amazed at my children, and I wonder more what impact they will have on the world, because that’s the only way that I will live on: through teaching my values to other people. I’m fascinated by watching my daughter grow into this compassionate, articulate little person who is going to grow up to be a big, fierce, empathetic, brilliant adult, and who will hopefully be better than me. I don’t need an afterlife if I have that (although I’m not getting an afterlife anyway). I may end up with a book or something anyway, but I want to live on through what I can do for other people, and my children are one of the most at-hand ways to do so. [Read more…]

Because I am an atheist: Greg Laden

I am privileged and honoured to have a friend and colleague contribute the inaugural post in this series. Greg Laden writes for The X Blog on FTB. He submits this:

Because I am an atheist…

I “believe” in everything tangible and natural rather than stuff that is made up, and as a minor side effect of that there are probably things that are made up that I enjoy a bit more than I otherwise might (that stuff called “fiction” and “entertainment”).   I’m also an anthropologist (the good kind, don’t worry) so the word “belief” means something to me quite different than for other atheists and skeptics. I “believe in” belief in the sense that it is a human process of inference and knowledge tracking.  Rational, Boolean, deductive, whathaveyouistic thinking is far more ex post than most people “believe” it is, which is not a bad thing.  We use rational thinking to verify or reject what we are thinking.  Belief is a creative process that is inherently unrelated to religion and distinct from faith. While faith comes in handy in certain video games involving Indiana Jones (it’s a strategy for crossing abysses on foot) it is what I reject most completely…

… because I am an atheist.

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Because I am an atheist…

Those who wish to demonize or denigrate atheists are rather fond of telling us what we believe as a consequence of our atheism. You’ve undoubtedly heard the shrieking refrain of “you’re an atheist? That means you believe in nothing!” Who can argue with that kind of airtight logic? Or the similarly bulletproof “atheists just say they don’t believe so they can be sinful!” Thanks, Mr. Comfort – any other gems you want to lay on us? “Atheists have no moral centre – if there are no gods, any depraved act is permitted!”

The accusations are as tedious as they are false. There is no evidence whatsoever to suggest that people who lack a god belief are less moral than those who have one. Indeed, one could make the argument that the association between the most vile behaviours humankind struggles with – anti-gay hatred, suicide bombing, tribalist racism – and fervent religious expression suggests the exact opposite: that god-belief provides a convenient excuse for those who wish to do evil. Whatever the truth is, theist apologists are perhaps the least qualified to tell the world what atheists do as a consequence of their atheism.

Many of you have undoubtedly seen PZ Myers’ “why I am an atheist” series on Pharyngula. His purpose is to provide a variety of answers to the question “why are you an atheist” that go beyond the simplistic tautology of “because I lack a god belief”. In a similar vein, I thought I would share some of the specific ways that acknowledging my atheism has changed my life: [Read more…]