- The much bigger size of the universe, full of so many more possibilities. When I was trying to be a Christian, life and the universe had all sorts of boundaries and limits. The universe was SO small. I heard Christians dismissing science and what science was telling us about the size and age of the universe, and encouraging people to NOT explore science - things beyond the boundary of the Earth, things on a molecular level, and history beyond 6,000 years ago. People would say, "With God, all things are possible," yet, there seemed to be so many limits on possibilities for life. Now that I'm an atheist, the universe is HUGE, bigger and more complex than I could ever imagine, and I revel in how much there is to learn and discover.
- I get to have any friends and associates I want. When I was trying to be a Christian, I was told that I should seek out the company of other Christians - and who was or wasn't a Christian was deeply debated. I was encouraged to avoid certain groups - atheists, sure, but also those that my Christian sect weren't really Christian (Catholics, Mormons, Jehovah Witnesses...). I was told that a sinful, uncharitable Christian, seeking forgiveness after each transgression, was better company for me than a caring, philanthropic-minded, friendly non-Christian. When I expressed my doubts about faith as a young person, I had two friends tell me they could not be friends with me any more, that we couldn't talk anymore, because of my doubts - they had been told by their church leaders that a person like me - a doubter - was dangerous. By contrast, now, I can be friends with Christians, Muslims, Jews, Hindus, Bahai, Buddhists - and I am! I get to have a range of interesting, fun, lovely people in my life, regardless of their beliefs or doubts. I don't have to stop being friends with someone just because they aren't in my belief club - instead, I get to choose my friends based on the content of their character.
- No guilt for my doubts. I ask questions. A lot. When I was a pre-teen and teen, trying to be a Christian, questions about ethics, goodness, history and the origins of the Bible got me into trouble. I was chastised for asking questions, condemned for doubting, and discouraged from not just "believing." As an atheist, questions are celebrated, no one chastises me for asking for source material, and I get to be kind to anyone regardless of their religious beliefs or lack there of.
- Much less despair. To believe in God means having to either believe God allows children to be raped, or doesn't care that they are being raped. Either way, it means that he watches passively as children are forced into horrific acts from which many never recover mentally. Super magical friend supposedly has the power to stop such, but doesn't. Same for natural disasters that wipe out the lives of dozens, hundreds, thousands.... When I was a pre-teen and teen, trying to be a Christian, that thought that the God I was trying to believe in stood by while people suffered horrors, and that he could stop it all but didn't, made me crazy. I trembled at the thought of extreme misery inflicted on the most innocent, and that the God I was trying to believe in did nothing. The comfort offered by believers (God makes no mistakes, He has his reasons, He doesn't do anything to people they aren't strong enough to handle, blah blah blah), made me physically ill - I wanted to throw up every time I heard it. Still do. Now, I take comfort in knowing that natural disasters are, well, natural. I take comfort knowing that there is nothing personal in a hurricane or tornado or massive flooding or a non-preventable disease or whatever. And while I am still horrified at man's inhumanity to man, I also know that such happens because humans can be horrible, NOT because a magical, invisible being allows it, or even causes it.
- Humans get responsibility for their successes and failures. When a space ship successfully takes off and enters outer space, when a disabled plane successfully lands, when the surgery of a loved one goes well, I don't credit a magical invisible friend - I credit the people that made that happen. I love celebrating such things. Likewise, when a person makes a mistake, real reasons for that mistake can be sought: greed, insecurity, ignorance, etc. - rather than attributing such to a magical, invisible, evil entity. And that means so many problems seem so much more solvable - I don't have to beg a magical, invisible being for a cure for cancer but, rather, I get to support the many human-driven endeavors seeking a cure for such (and having some major successes regarding such).
- No guilt for sex. Woot!
- No shame in being the woman I am. I am childless. I love my job. Many years, I've made way, way more money than my husband. Sometimes, I insist a decision go my way instead of my husband's (really, just sometimes). I read and study whatever I want to. I assert myself. I sometimes draw attention to myself (really, just sometimes). I curse like a sailor in adult company. I state my disagreement with men if I disagree with their point of view. I cut my hair. I dye my hair. I dress how I want to. I go anywhere I want to by myself. Many of these acts would get me stoned to death in some religions - and condemned in most of them. I love my life!
Sunday, March 15, 2015
Why I love being an atheist
There are so many things I love about being an atheist, things that were not possible when I was trying to be a Christian: