The Joy of Atheism

What Atheism Has Meant to Me

I seem to spend a great deal of time defending atheism and/or criticizing theism.  I spend a great deal of time trying to clear up common misconceptions about what atheism is.  What I do not spend much time on is writing about what my atheism means to me.  Why I am incredibly happy to be an atheist.  I want to take a moment to do that today.  Please know; the following words are what my being an atheist means to me—in no way should the reader think that any other or all other atheists share my thoughts and views.

I can honestly say that being atheist is a joy.  I cannot recall the day or time when I decided that I was atheist.  My road to atheism took the majority of my college years (in the mid-1990’s).  I do not recall all of the experiences that led me to atheism.  There was never an “a-ha!” moment.  Rather, one day I short of just came to the conclusion, “hmm…I guess I’m atheist”.

Since that day I have known a freedom that is hard to explain, though I will try.  I am now free to view all existence without having to conform it a religious point of view.  This is a very liberating experience.

Pic From: http://circlesquared171.blogspot.com/2012/06/o2.html

Pic From: http://circlesquared171.blogspot.com/2012/06/o2.html

I can study nature around me and look at the wonders of biology.  I can learn how evolution truly is, as Richard Dawkins puts it, “the magic of reality”.  It is an amazing planet that we live on.  To know that every living thing we see evolved from a “primordial soup” is truly fascinating.  To study how this occurred—and is still occurring is breath-taking.  The appreciation that this has given me for all life cannot be understated.  Simple daily things changed for me—like seeing a bird.  When I thought that some deity just made “birds” they were no big deal to me.  Don’t get me wrong, I have always been an animal lover and supporter of animal rights.  However, now I look at them in awe.  What amazing creatures they are!  It is amazing to think that they developed through completely natural processes.  It is amazing to study exactly how that process occurred.  The same goes for all other living creatures.

This naturally ties into my view of other human beings as well.  It is wondrous for me to think that we all are somehow distantly related.  Concepts like racism or sexism are absurd to me.  I look at every other human being on this planet and see an equality of human dignity.  I see people who deserve equal opportunities and rights.  Again, don’t get me wrong—I was pretty big on that stuff prior to my atheism.  However, since that day, my view has broadened significantly.

Pic From: www.fanpop.com

Pic From: www.fanpop.com

I can study the universe at large and be stupefied by its…well everything…its size, complexity, laws, etc.  I can’t help but think how silly the notion of “well god just made it” truly is when compared to the reality of what existence really entails.  It is quite humbling to realize how insignificant we are in the “grand scheme” of things, yet liberating to realize that fact.  It is fascinating to read books on theoretical physics and cosmology and look at the debates regarding the origins of the universe.  These hypotheses are far more breath-taking than the “god-concept”.  Yet, free from dogma, I am free to appreciate and contemplate the possible realities that led us to where we are today.  I need not feel guilty about “cheating on god”.

In short, my atheism didn’t really change who I am in any significant way.  To stick with the three examples above:  I was always appreciative of nature/animals.  I always believed in equal opportunity, treatment, and dignity for all humans. I have always been fascinated with the cosmos.  My atheism has only broadened the scope of those feelings.  I can now believe and study all of those things without being burdened by religious dogma or doctrine.  I don’t have to try to square what I learn or what is reality with dogma/doctrine.  I do not have to deny something because it would take away something from god (think god of the gaps).  It truly is difficult to put into words the effect that my atheism has had on my life.  It is the most liberating thing that I have ever experienced.

Again, please recall these are my views only and are not meant to represent all atheists.  Atheism is nothing more than a lack of beliefs in god(s).  What one chooses to do with that lack of belief is their choice, this short blog post is a glimpse into what I have chosen to do with my lack of god-belief.

Thanks for reading.  I look forward to your comments.

—-John

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8 thoughts on “The Joy of Atheism

  1. Hausdorff from Oak Park, MI, United States

    Great post, my feelings about atheism are quite similar. I will add one thing to your notion of freedom, no more thought crimes. For me, as a Christian I was constantly worried about accidentally being bad just because of an errant thought. I didn't even realize this until it was gone, but to me being an atheist has a very big component of relief. It's been a long time, and sometimes I forget about this, but I really do have a freedom of thought now, my ideas can just go where they go, I don't have to be constantly vigilant of errant thoughts leading me away from God.
    My recent post Don't Worship Satan

    Reply
    1. Paul Sunstone from Colorado Springs, CO, United States

      Hausforff, you may be interested to know that several people over the years have told me pretty much what you've said: That they hadn't realized what a burden it really was to be constantly worried about accidentally sinning against God because of an errant thought — until they became an atheist. That's a very good point you make!
      My recent post Free Will or Free Will's Lookalike?

      Reply
  2. Cephus from Redlands, CA, United States

    I don't really defend atheism or attack religion. My goal is to defend rationality wholesale. Atheism is just a logical outgrowth of living a rational, skeptical life. To be honest, I really don't draw all that much from being an atheist, any more than I draw anything from not collecting bottle caps (gotta say that because I do collect stamps). I honestly don't spend my days thinking how wonderful it is that I'm an atheist, I'm much happier that I have a brain in my head and the ability and commitment to use that brain logicallly and rationally. Once you are committed to doing that though, once you dedicate yourself to examining everything critically, once you actually give a damn if what you allow into your head is factually true, then atheism is a natural consequence. You will be an atheist, there simply isn't any way around it. However, it wasn't atheism that got you there, it was a commitment to use that 3-pound weight in your head for something other than keeping your head from imploding.
    My recent post Responding to a Christian Responding to Atheists

    Reply
  3. Loren Miller from Bedford, OH, United States

    It seems that, over the last decade or so, I've been in the process of getting shut of the BS in my life. This has included the end of a relationship and a job, both of which started out serving me and ended up not so much, to finding a BETTER relationship and recognizing maybe four to five years ago that I am indeed an atheist.

    And indeed, it is a joy to be at least relatively BS-free. It seems to me that people deal with a lot of BS in their lives, unaware of its real presence and weight and cost until they find a way to drop it … and all at once, with the extraneous noise out of the picture, things are easier, the mood is lighter and life in general is BETTER. While my life is probably nowhere near perfect, it feels better now than it may ever have felt … and the impact of the loss of religion as a component of that improvement is VERY substantial.

    Reply

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