“People must know struggle, so they feel they have earned and learned what matters.” Richard Carrier – Why I am an Atheist

Much of my happiness and success is due to luck. The circumstances of my birth. Being born to moral, hard-working, privileged parents in a privileged time and place. Not having birth defects or major illnesses. Having good health and good health care. I have always had a strong sense of duty and ethics. I have toed the line, obeyed authority, kept a low profile, and done my best to fit in and to conform to expectations. I was brought up to believe we live in a just world and that being good and working hard will lead to success. I now know that is an illusion — one that leads to bias against people who haven’t done well. But I’m happy and I’m not scared anymore. I haven’t always felt that way.

My problems once seemed overwhelming. I used to suffer greatly from depression and anxiety. Some if it was of my own making, but I was not always to blame; my sheltered conservative upbringing, though it gave me good values and a strong moral code, left me nearly defenseless against the wider, urban world I found myself in. I didn’t have the support of a mentor in this strange new world. I had a husband, but that’s a story for another day.

I was a christian, but I felt there was something missing in my life; something I should be striving for — that I was wasting time until I found it. I thought if only I had more faith I’d find what I was seeking. But I always had doubts. I wondered if it was just me. There was no one to ask.

For decades I wondered if I would ever know happiness. I wasn’t even sure what it was or if I had ever experienced it. That’s how depressed I was.

I feel I have come through a long, dark tunnel. Becoming an atheist has been the most meaningful thing I have done. My main joy has always been in meeting and overcoming challenges, small and large. I have been lucky in that they have been mostly small. I have always loved to learn, and now that I truly understand the value of curiosity for curiosity’s sake, that is, science, I perceive a world of knowledge to explore. Sampling is all I have time for, but what joy!

Now that I have thrown off the shackles of religious belief, I feel truly alive. I don’t even regret the lost time. Whatever is left to me is sufficient. The thing I find most surprising is that it doesn’t bother me in the least to know that I don’t have a purpose, that the only meaning is what I make, and that when I die I will no longer exist. I no longer feel that sense of urgency, that nagging, vague feeling of guilt and longing. I am a freethinker. I am free.

Noreen
March 27, 2014

Noreen

3 Comments

    • Brian Broome

      Thank you for sharing Noreen! It is nice to know you are not alone in your journey. We can overcome our fears and doubts and truly be happy without faith.

    • Jeetha

      Thanks for sharing! My life is significantly better too without the existential questions brought on by faith. All the best to you Noreen 🙂

    • Dana Nourie

      The burden of believing in an invisible god who knows your every thought and is judging you on it is a heavy load to carry.

      Because I became an atheist so early, I didn’t have that burden, but the world and the universe made so much more sense when I looked at it through the eyes of scientists rather than religious people.

      Physical reality is an amazing place to be!

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