At times, atheism can be very comforting.

This is something no one seems to talk about. The positive emotional effects of being an atheist. I wonder why.

I was driving home from a “friend’s” house, when I started crying thinking about, “why? Why do I have to be this way? Why can’t I just be normal? Why do I have to deal with this shit?” Then I remembered something. I am the way that I am because of natural variation in the species, and I just happened to get the short straw in life. See, there is an explanation for why I’m trans*. No god did this to me, it’s just a natural part of life.  I don’t have to beg and plead to a supernatural entity with the false hope of changing, I can just deal with the cards on the table, make a plan, and get on with life. It was very calming. Reality has that effect.

I no longer have to fear hell, or the wrath of an unjust god. Any pain, any misery this life brings me will eventually pass, so why not try to be happy? It too, will eventually pass, so I might as well make the most out of this one life that I do have.

Religion, on the other hand, never gave me comfort. When I was young, I had a pretty severe anger problem. Prayer never helped with it. In fact, prayer made it worse. Only after being taught a secular version of meditation was I able to get control over my anger. Belief in god never brought me comfort. God was judge, jury, and executioner, and no one could ever live up to his standards. I crushed my sense of self, I crushed my attraction to guys, and never had a chance of being happy because I was a true believer in Catholicism. Prayer never calmed me. I was taught that god helps those who help themselves, so I never had any hope that God would do anything for me, but that I was still supposed to rely on him anyway. Religion fucked me right up. Even after I left Catholicism, even after I left christianity all together, none of the religions I tried out ever brought me comfort. Because I was relying on something that was never there for me. Once you realise that there is nothing to rely on, the universe makes sense, and you can just get on with your life. And you don’t have to worry about all the stupid arbitrary rules.

I think the reason most atheists don’t talk about this is that they don’t want to try to sway religious people into deconverting for emotional reasons. They want people to deconvert because of a rational argument. Well, I’m not trying to deconvert anyone here. I just think that the emotional side effects of the atheist world view need to be talked about. We shouldn’t let the religious dominate this dialogue, too. To my atheist readers, what have been the positive emotional effects that you have had since becoming an atheist?

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8 thoughts on “At times, atheism can be very comforting.

  1. I went through years of deep depression when I was a Christian, feeling like I was never good enough. And then since I was so depressed and had such strong feelings that way, I thought God must either dislike me or be punishing me for something, so that just made all those feelings worse. The knowledge that it is all just a part of life, or that my depression was an actual illness that I have for plenty of reasons other than being punished, I find it much easier to deal with and cope with, and I’m actually able to get real help for these things other than prayer.

    Also, even when I was an avid churchgoer, a fairly strong Christian, or even when I was just a kid, I always had my doubts. Because of these doubts, I could never get quite as “on board” with everything as all the people around me, so once again, I felt as though there was something wrong with me because I wasn’t acting like them.

    Once I finally took a good look at everything and realized that it actually wasn’t true, I immediately felt so much better and much more at peace. It’s so much easier to be able to accept that some things are just how the world works, as opposed to relying on some nameless, faceless being to do everything, and spending so much of your time begging and pleading for that being to change things, when in reality, (to use the cliche) it’s just the way of the world.

  2. I can’t tell. I was never religious (that I remember). I never had that feeling of ‘I can’t rely on God any more; God has a bad track record for looking after me’.
    But the view that I don’t have the privilege to be here, that I am immensely lucky just to exist, is one of the humbling thoughts that I recognise. All the privilege I do have is simply not something I am entitled to. I should value that I am alive, that I can be happy, that I have family etc.

  3. That’s a very good question to which the short answer is: Catholic, Christian, whatever the Beatles did…? Then one day I realised I couldn’t prove any of it. “Oh, dear. I’m an asshole.”

    I live amongst Christians so becoming non-theist is… what it is…? *shrug*

    Nice blog! 💋

  4. This is a great post–I should have said in my comment in “why I follow” that it’s mostly for posts like this, on atheism, trans feminism, or whatever you have incisive thoughts about.

    Well, for me, I was raised Christian but never actually believed in God, though I spent a while considering other religions to find a god I could believe in. So becoming “atheist” was more about getting rid of the guilt I felt for being a bad Christian. And then realizing that since I feel very strongly about morality, and I no longer have to argue against a god I view as immoral in so many ways, I can learn morality from real people instead. Which brought me to social justice…it doesn’t work this way for everyone, but for me, getting rid of my religion meant that I stopped using “god will tell me what to do” or “I will magically be guided to the right life path” as an excuse.

    It was more scary than comforting, really, coming to an understanding that to be a good person, and more importantly to be of any use to the world and others, I have to think for myself and reach out to people and learn from them; plus learning humility about that, and learning “the things I’m good at” won’t automatically line up with “the things I should do”. But wow, do I not miss the guilt that tried to trap me.

  5. @nonviolentrage Yeah, I definitely get where you are coming from here. “plus learning humility about that” Isn’t it funny how they always call us arrogant?

  6. I know, right?

    Though plenty of atheists are arrogant, and some people don’t think to look beyond the loudest ones. The rest of us are judged by the guys who are loudest about atheism and couldn’t care less about social justice in general. Like Richard Dawkins: I went to his talk once, and he was good at presenting science but then stepped out of bounds, and gave me massive red-flags with explicitly anti-feminist and coded racist evopsych. Having noticed his comments elsewhere last year and this year (even more after I wrote a post about him) I hate his guts honestly.

  7. @nonviolentrage

    It’s so maddening because he is so good at explaining science in an enjoyable way. I used to really love his work, and the stuff I love is still good, but I think that the past year has completely tarnished his legacy.

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