This I Believe

Elaine - West Jefferson, North Carolina
Entered on February 7, 2007

“Why, Honey, He knows the number of hairs on your head!

This was my friend’s retort when I bravely (or brashly) informed her that I no longer believe in a supernatual being out there somewhere who cares a whit about my well-being or lack thereof. I asked, “How could such a phenomenon possibly be true with billions of beings to be concerned about?”

Her answer served only to reinforce my lack of faith in a benevolent God who I have spent almost sixty-five years trying to reconcile with my search for truth, integrity and a belief system I could adopt as my very own. The only part of any religion that makes sense to me is the “love thy neighbor” part and this philosophy only works if one truly loves one’s self. However, I do not believe a religious faith is necessary for living a moral life or our ability to care deeply about others while trying to make this a better world for ourselves, those around us, those in distant lands, and for those yet to arrive on this planet.

The fear tactics associated with the religious belief with which I grew up are at best useless as inspiration, and, at worse, harmful. Belief in rewards and punishment as the foundation on which to base my behavior is not worthy of an intelligent, mature adult. I, alone, am repsonsible for my behavior and happiness without relying on some unseen force to be my guide and benefactor. Conversely, I have no one to blame when things go wrong.

I would not deny anyone their belief, as I realize that a religious faith at its best can provide solace, comfort, and inspiration to be one’s best self. Also, the fantastic art, music, and literature that have come from belief in a deity are enriching.

I have to fight the feeling that I now have “arrived” and have the answers. I remind myself that no one will ever know for sure what is truth and that each person has the right to his or her philosphy without fear of being judged or ostracised. I feel that atheists are even more mistrusted and judged than any other group which, in my view, is a real tragedy, as such bias prevents some very intelligent, capable, and caring people with brilliant ideas from holding publc office.

My truth (and I’m still searching) is that I, as a part of the universe, am unique and wonderful, and capable of charting my own destiny. I have within all it takes to realize my dreams while doing all in my power to help my fellow passengers have an easier time trying to realize theirs. I do not need to rely on Santa Claus, the tooth fairy, a fantastic supernatural being or belief in an afterlife as my reason for being happy and content and for being and giving my best.