I don’t know how to explain to someone with religious faith the convictions of being an atheist. I can build my essay up a million feet high with facts and evidence, but I feel like it calls for my own personal beliefs, rather than the knowledge of others. A concept that dominates my life is truth. I believe that truth is unequivocal, no matter how much someone believes otherwise. While the concept of God is undeniably comforting, I believe there is no higher being, there is no Creationism, there will be no man in white behind a golden gate waiting to judge me when I die.
When I tell people this, most automatically feel pity. My mother regrets not encouraging me towards God as a child, because to her, the love of God as a youth was extremely comforting and grounding. She never questioned her faith. While she no longer takes religion literally, and no longer stresses about her sins, she tells me of the virtues she carried with her throughout her life instilled in her by her faith.
As a child, I remember longing for faith. I bounced between religions, Southern Baptist, Buddhist, Christian Scientist, and finally realizing that it wasn’t faith I desired, but rather acceptance of the emptiness I felt regarding faith. God just isn’t fathomable to me, it never has been. I prefer to take the world at face-value. When I look into the sky, instead of gazing upon heaven, I’m reminded of just how diminutive I really am. This in no way makes me feel alone. While I believe there is no higher power, I do believe in people. I believe in the beautiful and fantastic connections that can be formed between people. I believe in love, creativity, collective experiences and loss. As a human being I am an animal endowed with a remarkable brain. There is no end to the beauty that can be found in the world and within ourselves, but I don’t attribute any of this to Creationism. Believing that there is no God is just a feeling, a faith of sorts. I just know. I know that I evolved from an extremely simple creature, into an amazingly complex one. I know that the universe is majestically vast. I know that I’m here now, and no matter how faithful I want to be in a higher power, my life could end at anytime, and when its over, I’m not going to heaven or hell or some waiting room, my brain and body die, and along with them dies my personality and experiences.
I choose to be good to my fellow man not to keep myself far from the fiery pits of hell, but rather be honest and compassionate for the sake of humanity. We’re all sharing this experience, there’s no reason we shouldn’t do it together. The Christians can have their Santa Claus and their Easter Bunny and their God, I’ll stick with my sky and my earth and my empty faith.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.