LIFE HAS MORE MEANING AS AN ATHEIST

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As a devoutly religious person finding increased meaning in life as an atheist was not something I could have even imagined, nor anticipated. Or for that matter desired by me at the time either.

It did come as a massive surprise that once my religious faith was gone my new perspective gave me a tremendous sense of connection with humanity like I’d never experienced as a Mormon. I felt more compassion, & more empathy with people than I’d ever experienced before in my life. And I thought I was a compassionate man before. I personally stopped judging others & became more accepting of everyone as individuals, and again I had not thought of myself as judgemental in the slightest before.

Being an agnostic atheist, secular humanist & scientific naturalist, and striving to become an actualist, has transformed the way I perceive the world, life & everyone in it in ways I could never have believed had I not experienced it myself.

I have more optimism for humanity, more joy in my relationships, and I feel a greater sense of urgency to live my life to the full.

This life has gained added value. It seems to mean more to me. Everything seems to mean more without the superimposition of a belief in life after death.

Since realising there probably is no personal God I feel that my life actually has more intrinsic meaning.

I surprisingly feel more excitement for life. More awe & wonder at the beauty of the universe. My curiosity about the laws of the Cosmos have intensified beyond belief.

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And I cherish this ‘one life’ that I know I have more than ever before.

The potential for each human life feels more special.

I am truly shocked by these changes in feeling, but realise that some things which I had attributed to coming from God are actually intrinsic in my humanity & arise from my evolution.

I have always liked Stephen Covey’s moto of, “Live, Love, Learn & Leave a Legacy”, & it now seems more meaningful in my life than when I felt my ‘purpose of life’ was imposed on me by a Divine Creator.

Please, don’t feel that my personal experience of the way my life view has evolved is in anyway a criticism of your personal life view. It’s just my observations of what it has been like for me to transition from being a stalwart faith believer to becoming a secular humanist.

Having spoken to many others who are ex-Mormon, & in fact formerly religious people from many other faith traditions, I find I am not unique in this experience.

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Having said all that, I now feel that religious belief in an afterlife can be detrimental to the human condition & to the progress of humanity as a whole.

I guess for many people this one life does not have the opportunities we have. Or the relative ease & peace of living in a modern industrialised country. Our life experience is vastly different from many who are born into poverty, or born into a criminal lifestyle.

We all have a life based on chance, choice & consequence. Often not as a result of our choices, but for most it’s other people’s choices which affect us, even our parents.

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I just don’t accept there is any compelling evidence for there being any other existence for us besides this one. It may not be fair, or just. It just is. 

As a secular humanist I believe very strongly it is our duty to help improve the lives of every single human being on this planet. To do our best to enhance the human condition so that everyone has the optimum conditions to thrive as a person. So everyone gets to choose their own life experience with the best opportunities for developing their talents and skills.

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I think it is beholden on us to work towards this goal.

Belief in an afterlife is at best a distraction, at worst an excuse to squander it on preparing for a fantasy which might never happen.

So much time, thought, effort & money is spent on preparing for something which is just based on a hope.

I have no concern about receiving eternal blessings from a god, or avoiding his eternal punishments either. I think that if there is a god he would prefer we concentrate on this one life we’re living right now and on improving the life experience of all the inhabitants of this planet.

Any time we focus on an afterlife at the expense of this one we’re living right now we’re reducing our effectiveness in mortality.

Any belief system which idolises the afterlife is distorting our priorities. Some people would rather they or their loved ones died rather than change their beliefs. It is sickly tragic when religious beliefs are held in higher esteem than human life, but it happens far too often. It happens in many religions. 

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Atheism, I now realise, is not the great bogey man of non-belief that I’d been led to believe. But actually the default position of humanity & allows us to develop our best attributes without the expectations of future promised blessings or punishments by God.

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I Didn’t Realise The Cage Existed Till I Left

http://m.washingtonpost.com/blogs/on-faith/post/how-do-atheist-find-meaning-in-life/2012/01/18/gIQAbiFP8P_blog.html

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/on-faith/wp/2013/08/21/an-atheists-guide-to-the-good-life/

This entry was posted in Mormon Issues, Religious Epiphany, TRUTH and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

14 Responses to LIFE HAS MORE MEANING AS AN ATHEIST

  1. robert bridgstock says:

    Steve, I like your message here and I really like the pictures and there message. I share the view of increased compassion and a deeper love for humanity. I also noticed a spring in my step and spontaneous humour bursting out all over the place. The only big difference for me though, is that I still held a strong belief in an afterlife, which I feel, has not diminished from my sense of appreciation for life and my love for people. I do think though, that profound levels of gratitude, compassion and love, are truly ‘spiritual’ in nature and need have absolutely no connection with religion, God or a possible after-life.

  2. Brother Ben says:

    A pre-ocupation with the afterlife is not an admirable trait of a theist. Did Jesus look toward the afterlife or toward his duty to mankind when facing betrayal and death? While Paul viewed the afterlife as desirable did he not also identify his current ministry as more important?

    There are certainly strains of Christianity where getting people “into heaven” is more important than building within them the discipline to live rightly. Yet, Jesus did not command his disciples to “convert the globe” but rather to “disciple the nations.” The difference between the two is vast.

    Acknowledging that an individual’s decision to leave “the faith” is usually more complex than a single issue, I thought it would be worthwhile to show, for the sake of others, that perhaps your (generic ‘you’) particular religious community is focusing too much on “conversion” and the “afterlife” than they ought, and needs instead to focus on training others to be, among other things, good stewards of their relationships and resources.

  3. bluestone49 says:

    To many in my extended family “atheist” is a four letter word. Thank you for showing the joy that can be had in the here and now, instead of the fear of later. So many put off acting for positive change now in hopes that it all gets sorted out in the millenium.

  4. M. Dollickson says:

    Reckon I don’t much care for this article. I read the bibe quite a bit. Reckon I don’t understand all of it, but I understand a great deal of it. There’s a great deal of people that have had experiences that allow them to know there is a god. Reckon if you are happy being an atheist, you ain’t hurting nobody. You ain’t no count in my opinion, but I reckon your mommy and daddy still care for you a great deal.

    • SteveBloor says:

      Hi Mildred, Thanks for your comment. I’ve stopped believing in the Mormon God, and I’ve also stopped believing in any God, except the one between my own ears. I think God, in fact gods, exist. In fact I’m sure of it, but I think they exist in men’s heads. I think ‘man created gods in his own image’ to help explain the world around him, which he couldn’t explain without science (at the time). Due to our psychology, we project a ‘theory of mind’ onto other things around us, including other people, animals, even plants & inanimate objects. In other words, because we ‘think’, we project that ability to ‘think’ onto other things etc. The concept of “I think, therefore I am!” Because we think, & we’re aware of our own thoughts, (self-aware), we project that ability onto others. So, we expect animals to think like us, anthropomorphism, and even inaminate objects. Children do this with teddy bears, adults with graven images which they pray to. We all want to understand the world, and universe around us, but in the absence of facts, we are content to believe in fantastic stories. Our brains don’t like gaps in knowledge, so they fill in the gaps. In my view, sometimes God/gods fills the void. Now, I’m not saying I ‘know this is true’, I’m not a gnostic anymore, but it may help explain our predilection as a species to beliefs in supernatural beings like gods. When someone can objectively tell me the difference between confirmational bias and inspiration from God then I’ll take another look at the concept of there being a supernatural being called God. For now, my belief is in Secular Humanism. Humanism is a belief system which can exist without reliance on a concept of God.

    • DaveKeo says:

      Yes they do. They cared so much that they freed me from total indoctrination of the thinking people of the Bronze age. You my friend are as is the bird in the cage. Your cage is the church. You know of no other way and are afraid to think that other possibilities exist. If you even consider it the Bible has told you that you will burn in a hell fire for eternity. I consider what has happened to you is child abuse. Think about spending eternity anywhere. That would suck big time.

  5. Jen says:

    This is such a beautiful post, and actually discusses some of the same ideas I just blogged about myself. I think it’s important for more people to be open about how atheism is not the scary, evil thing we’re taught to see it as. Rather, it is a world view that is full of joy, love, compassion, understanding, and a shared responsibility to one another. You expressed all these things so eloquently. Thank you for your post!

  6. Stormin says:

    Wonderful thought on the focus should be on the now and others —- you have very excellent insights. I respect your right to be an atheist after being totally burned by false prophets, lies, and brainwashing ——— Mormonism which really should be considered a “four letter word”! I will not try to convince you there is a God as I cannot prove it. However, the benefit to me seems very significant to believe someone is there watching over, blessing and protecting me. I personally have recorded hundreds of spiritual warnings, guidance, (some much more than feelings because I am now asking for more —- voices, lead to find useable information, etc.) etc. in a journal and have really not kept up very well to capture all of the more significant ones. Could it be our ‘fantastic minds and senses’ or just Faith in something good, etc. happening —– possibly. Admittedly, I do not keep up on the psychological studies of what our minds are capable of doing. I have noted studies where people that pray tend to have shorter hospital stays and less health problems but again God or Faith or power of the mind —- who can say for sure. In my own life, when a Mormon, I tried the self improvement books on visualization and affirmations in the past with some limited success. However, since becoming a non-denominational Born Again Christian (and listening to positive preachers that focus on Faith (e.g. Joel Osteen —- don’t agree with him on all doctrinal issues especially his comments about Mormons and Mitt Romney) it seems like my success and feeling of fulfillment has skyrocketed in various areas of my life. By taking everything to God, because I feel I have a “personal relationship” with him and he wants me to feel success and fulfillment (inner peace) in this life, seems like that has far surpassed any limited success in the past about help I actually asked for on various goals. Well that is my thought on God that I felt I needed to make, but really did enjoy your thoughts!

  7. So very well said. I grew up conservative evangelical and after about 30 years in the faith, I left a little over a year ago. I completely track with your experience that compassion grew upon leaving the faith. Thanks for writing.

  8. DaveKeo says:

    Just another thought. Part of the problem stems from way back when “Madalyn Murray O’Hair was once described by Time magazine as the most hated woman in America.” That left a stigma on the openness of Atheism. I myself was scared of that word and simply went about my business. Then there was the murder of her and some family members. It went unsolved for a long while. Even more reason for a young person as a nonbeliever to keep quiet. It wasn’t until the creation of Face Book did I realize that there are many of us out there. And of course there is strength in numbers. Now I’m proud to let people hear what I think about myths and fairy tails.Education is the best weapon a person can have when debating with an educated theist. Not so much with uneducated people.

  9. Pingback: Overcoming the FEAR of The Bogey Man: Atheism | Steve Bloor's Blog

  10. sldhfm says:

    This post really moved me. It put into words exactly how I feel about religion and the human experience. One of the biggest problems I have with the Mormon faith, or religion in general, is that you are so busy jumping through all the hoops someone dictates you need to do in order to get to the next life, that you miss the big picture of being a good, compassionate human being in this life without an agenda. I find religion to be very self serving. Compassion comes from a sense of duty, a way to ensure that God checked your compassion box on your entrance exam. I know there are genuine compassionate religious people out there, but in my experience they are rare.

  11. DaveKeo says:

    I have a general question concerning one of the hoops we have to jump through. When testifying in a court of mans law we have to place our hand on a bible and swear to tell the truth. The whole truth and nothing but the truth. OK fine. But what if a Theist lies? As an Atheist I find this to be as realistic as the act of raising your right hand and proclaiming “I do” Raising your right hand apparently sends a invisible confirmation to the invisible department of sins in the Heavens. It seems the Bible has its own definition of what is a lie. I’m sure we all know the difference between the contradictions in the Bible are not considered a lie but simply a whoops moment. Seldom if ever acknowledged by religious people.

  12. Pingback: Humanism vs Atheism | Steve Bloor's Blog

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