This I Believe

Samuel - west palm beach, Florida
Entered on October 9, 2006

When I was a kid, I used to pray. Every night I devised my own little ritual- One Our Father, one Hail Mary, and as I prayed I imagined a shimmering sphere of light encircling the house to protect me. Today, I kiss my hand and touch the roof of the car when I go under yellow traffic lights. I focus my Ki for martial arts. But I don’t pray.

I’m a practicing atheist. I follow only to the rules of science and psychology and my own personal ethical ideals. But despite how many times a second I disprove the idea of a god or a guiding force in this universe, I involuntarily believe. And with this belief, I’ve resolved that believing opposite things is better than not believing anything at all.

I suppose religion was born into me. Both of my parents were spiritual as a child. Not in that vexatious, loud way that is our country’s norm, but rather in a calmly personal way I still admire. And that I still emulate. I am quietly and thoughtfully atheistic as they are religous. They sent me to a christian school where I learned the rituals to express the feeling. As I got older, I lost the ritual, and the belief but kept the feeling, for some reason, that inspired both originally. I channeled it into studying Nietzsche, swordfighting, science, history and art. In this way, I gained new beliefs and new rituals but still retained the same feeling. The feeling of luck, security, and protection gained new explainations.

And the demonstration of my luck each day makes it hard to be a good atheist. Despite my reclessness and reliance on foolish intuition, I land on my feet, catch the train and always make it home alright. Randomness favors me most of the time, and I owe too much to the flip of the coin to feel lost.

It worries my friends that I swear by my luck, and yet I never take an illogical or magical answer for anything else in life. But I am unshaken, I’ve accepted it. Because I know it doesn’t make a difference in what you believe, just that you believe. I remember when I was 9, getting up with the sun to read the bible on our porch. Now, I read Jung. And I find the same feeling in both. Learning about every faith from Gnosticism to Islam, I now know why we invented God. There is a feeling that cannot be explained, not even through religion, and I am at peace with it. I’m an athiest with my eyes turned upward. On Earth, I believe what the earth shows me, but if I died tomorrow, I would smile at whatever turns out to be on the other side. Even if it should be nothing at all.