"But, if you don't believe in God, then you believe there's no point in life."
This is something that was written to me once, over the course of a dialogue that involved one's use of religion as the basis for attributing "right" versus "wrong" in any given situation.
I'm always surprised by comments like this, or questions like:
"But if you don't believe in God, what's to stop you from just killing everyone?"
Um, the fact that I'm not a psychopath? I mean, shit. If the only thing that's keeping you from murdering me is the belief of salvation, please don't tell me that because it's terrifying. Keep that a secret, would ya?
For me personally, I'm a "live and let live" sort of person. I always thought I was, to be honest. But looking back at when I did hold a belief in a god, I recognize now that that was not the way I lived my life. In fact, when I was a god-fearing gal I was quite selfish. Instead of hearing other people, seeing their own needs, struggles and life experiences, I focused on how they weren't living up to an ancient book of standards... that, let's be honest, has some pretty whack ass stories. I was so focused on certain things that I thought made me a good person that I held a very elitist attitude about it all... one I was never aware of, in hindsight. I was also an extremely judgmental person in terms of people's lifestyles, whether I viewed their behavior as a choice or not.
I wasn't a terrible person... just a really ignorant one by design. I didn't want to challenge myself, or be open-minded to anything or anyone that didn't fit one specific set of life rules... because isn't that all that matters? Well I thought that for some time.
My waning belief in god (and that "everything happens for a reason" bullshit) accelerated as I traveled the country and met people from all different backgrounds, races, home environments, countries and beyond. It's something I wish for everyone... to get out of their comfort zone and to actually have to listen to other people. Not talk... just let them tell their stories and be humbled by their honesty.
The person I am today is very much a tribute to all of the people who graciously shared their lives with me... along with tossing my beliefs to the wind. Now here's what happened when I identified as an atheist (GASP):
I didn't murder anyone.
I stopped insisting that people live their lives according to my beliefs.
I found an empathy for others that I didn't know existed.
I grew a strong passion for advocating for everyone to be able to do whatever the fuck they want because when you're dead, it won't have mattered for the small blip of time you had that you got a tattoo.
I found MORE meaning in life...as it's our one and only, and no one should dare have a say in how we live it as long as it's not causing tangible harm to others.
I take death extremely hard. It devastates me more than it did before as I know longer have a belief of being reunited in eternity. This would be the only reason I wish I still believed.
I perform satanic rituals.
I became a better listener.
I found value in asking questions and doing actual research.
I still like cute animals.
I still don't have some weird urge to murder people.
I still know the difference between right and wrong.
I know, it's wild — common sense.
I actually respect everyone's right to have their own belief in whatever they want. I'm your biggest advocate for freedom of religion... even if you don't want to accept my freedom from.
Instead of just praying for someone else to help you, I'll probably actually help you.
My politics shifted from financial priorities to civil rights and equality.
I still say Merry Christmas.
All in all, I'm pretty sure some of us Atheists aren't half bad... but I'm not here to speak for anyone else besides myself.