The holiday season always bring up religion and that's an odd thing my home because my husband is ex-Mormon, now "agnostic" and I am an atheist. It's taken us both a long time to get to where we are with our faiths (yes, I consider atheism a faith, maybe that's odd) and we still have many discussions about it pretty regularly.
Anyways. I don't like to talk about religion because I hate confrontation and I feel like being an atheist is something of a controversial thing. "America was founded as a religious country" and "under God" and "In God we trust" are just the tip of the iceberg. How many religious loonies have violently attacked so-called "abortion clinics?" How many so-called devout Muslims are reigning terror across the world? Things like that make me feel like a target. It's probably partly my anxiety but partly pragmatism from observing the religious atmosphere in my country and how aggressively atheists can be received.
The thing is, we don't need to find God. We found him, lifted up his skirts and felt around his beard, poked and prodded until we made the decision we could leave the idea of him behind, and so we did.
So here are some of my beliefs; mostly because I like to check in with myself an evaluate this from time to time and also because I think it's healthy for me to exercise having some opinions instead of smiling and nodding my way through life, hiding large parts of who I am.
I view faith as a fluid thing. It matures and changes throughout a lifetime and that's natural. Altering views doesn't negate everything we believe or make us fools, it's just part of being human. Within every religion, individuals have individual faiths with idiosyncrasies and exceptions and additions and the same is true for those of us that dwell beside or outside religion.
So. My beliefs. This won't be utterly thorough I'm sure but I'll try to cover the big ones and if anyone has any good questions or ideas I can explore those as well.
Where do we come from? I believe that all the elements here on Earth that make up life came from ancient stars that went supernova, so in that way we're all stardust. We evolved into the forms we are today and that's wicked cool just like all the other amazing lifeforms inhabiting the planet with us. We aren't "special" or "chosen" we're just the best at this evolving game.
On a bigger scale, I don't know where the universe came from and I accept the fact that I probably won't learn that answer in my lifetime. I believe science is the only way we can ever know, though I'm not sure we ever will. I'm okay with that. The unknown is okay, after all, we've been dwelling with it for quite a while and it hasn't totally demolished us!
What happens when we die? This is another unknown that I've come to accept and be friendly with. As far as our "souls" or our "spark," I think that nothing comes from nothing so I imagine it may recycle somehow, but I also see it as a something like the light that turns on when the coffee pot is brewing. If it's alive and kicking, the light glows, if it's off, the light does not. The light theory just doesn't fill out the picture for me though, and part of me believes that souls are a unique composition we have yet to discover and that like our physical bodies they too will redistribute after we die. I don't think they would recycle as a whole, no reincarnation business, but something recycle-y.
I don't believe in heaven or hell or an afterlife. Once we're done, we're done; and I don't think that's a bad thing. One lifetime is enough. I look at other animals and the lives they live and think we got it pretty good. I wouldn't want to be a fruit fly and I wouldn't want to be a giant tortoise spending 100 years+ munching greens, just not my thing. We live on in memory and those we leave behind and that's a wonderful thing. Not every species has that.
What about rules to live by? As far as morals and guidance, there is a lot of value in traditional religions but a lot of harm as well. I think that most people may have certain instinctual values from the get-go but other cultural things come with time, some good, some bad, many from evolution itself. Right and wrong is relative, so I find any arguments about morals generally to be shaded or biased. I am guided by Darwinian theories for the most part and if it suits the survival of our species, that's about as right as you can get in my book. That's not always pretty, but seems the most truthful to me.
What about God or Gods? Oh, the big one, I don't believe in a god or gods. Kinda forgot about that one. We are here, we evolved, we just are for however long. I believe in coincidence and while I sometimes fall into old habits of luck and superstition, I try to avoid thinking that way and reading into things searching for too much symbolism. Symbolism is important to bring meaning and connection to life, but a little goes a long way.
I don't believe we have anything or anyone looking out for us or guiding things a certain way. That can be a scary idea but once again, getting friendly with the unknown is part of life for me. There may not be someone looking out for us "upstairs" but that also means there isn't anyone trying to rip our souls out and ruin our lives "downstairs" and I like that idea quite a lot! Bad things happen, good things happen, sometimes for a reason and sometimes not. That's life. It's rough and tough but that's life. Any armadillo smushed by a car on a hot Texan highway knows that.
How do you live without faith? I've written before about Faith vs. faith, and I think it's worth repeating: just because I'm not a religious person doesn't mean that I don't have faith and that I can't be spiritual. Too many people see atheists as amoral heathens and that is just not the case. Anyone who has been reading my blog for very long can probably tell I have lots of values and even spiritual moments in my life and even I have faith, and with faith comes hope. It's a human trait, a necessity as I see it. I don't know if there are universities studying this type of thing but I think they'd find that everyone around the world and maybe some higher level animals besides us show hope and utilize faith. Falling asleep and believing tomorrow will come takes faith. Everyone is faithful in my book, whether or not they acknowledge it.
What's your reason for living? I don't really see an endgame in life, it's really just living for the now, for our lifetime and for those we love and care for and to experience lovely things and work hard to thrive instead of simply survive. I live for my husband and my son, my blogging community gives meaning to my life as does yoga and nature. I believe I would buckle under the pressure of trying to live a certain way to obtain or earn a certain end result and while it's not part of my belief system I struggle with a sense of perfectionism, so living for "just because" actually helps calm me down and take the pressure off.
And yes, I use words like "amen" and "Jesus Christ!" but that's a cultural thing, not a religious thing I think.... I can't imagine not exclaiming "Good God!" when a tree falls down or "Jesus Christ!" when we lose traction in the snow or some bit of unsavory news is dropped in my ear, but these aren't pleas to a deity, they're just curses, dammit ;) and acknowledgment of something awing. I hope that makes sense...?
I think that's enough writing for now. I'm sure there are more questions and topics to be discussed, but what I've written has made me feel better and more connected with my faith again, and that was the main objective.
It's a scary thing for me to post this. I'm afraid of what people may think, but I trust my readers and this community and feel like it is a safe and accepting place for me to explore these thoughts-and hell, it's my blog! I can post what I want to! :)