I believe there is no God. This statement earns me distrustful, often accusing looks from many of the people who hear it. I, however, view it as very positive thing. It is not depressing to me that there is not an invisible self-contradicting man in the sky that I must always obey. The fact that I can be happy knowing full well that I will die and will not necessarily reawaken in some floating place where everything is good and golden, the fact that I can be happy with only myself and the people I love, sunsets and sunrises, the ocean, makes me feel stronger. I can stand by myself; I can bend and not break. I do not need any deity to lean on. I can lean instead on the truly solid people that love me. Not to say that anyone who has this faith is weak. I actually admire them, their ability to believe in something so fiercely and irrevocably. It is simply not the way that my head or my heart works.
Not believing in God means that if I make a mistake, yes, I feel guilty. But not in the same way as I would if I felt I had “betrayed my God”. I would have to pray and pray, apologizing, and proceed to wait for a good sign, that said it was okay, never entirely sure that it would come. Not believing in God means that I can make a mistake and learn from it, and it strengthens my belief in my ability to live independently. All I need to receive forgiveness is kindness. If I hurt someone, I need only to worry whether or not that person will forgive me. I can spend less time worrying if this is the mistake that will finally land me in Hell, and more time just smiling.
Part of this belief started because my mother, while believing in God herself, did not force me towards any one religion. I am infinitely grateful for this. If I had been raised, say, Catholic, I would now be feeling so guilty for having doubts. For my faith not being as steadfast as other’s. I would be agonizing over why this God that I had been taught to love was allowing things like genocides, and abusive parents to happen, and had been for centuries. Why everything is not always good and fair. I’d be wondering if He had just given up on us. This way I know that people cause all of those things, and that people always have the power to stop them. If there is a God, why try to change what is going on? He will fix what He thinks needs to be fixed if He sees fit. Since I started with no belief in God, I had an incredible number of options available to me. I could explore the whole spectrum of ideas and then decide what felt right. It turned out that the here and now was what I could trust. Pop tarts, asphalt and laughter. The feeling you get when you meet someone that you realize right away is going to change your life and the feeling you get when they leave. These are the things I believe in, in place of God.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.