Tuesday, October 26, 2010

How atheism has helped me

In church on Sunday (oh, I should mention that I am talking about my UU church [I haven't been a Mormon for over 4 years]), the sermon got me thinking about how I don't need to be comforted so much anymore. It seems like when I was a believing Mormon, I was so often struggling (trying to feel closer to the Lord, trying to become more valiant and faithful, more assurance from God that he was pleased with me, trying to understand the meaning of my adversities, or understand why God was testing me in a certain way or what he was trying to teach me, wondering why God wasn't helping me more despite me doing all that I could to qualify for his help, struggling with being stretched so thin by all my callings and responsibilities, etc). Due to all my struggling, I was so often delving into the depths of my soul to find comfort (and answers). I prayed so sincerely and often to my Father in Heaven. Occasionally, I would feel close to Him, feel hope through Him and comforted by Him. But, those were but moments in a sea of struggling as outlined above.

When I first quit believing in god, I occasionally missed my "sky daddy", missed the illusion that someone was up there that cared about me and my life and was powerful enough to help, if he would. But, I would remind myself that it had always been just an illusion, that he had never been there even when I was a believer. I had found a way to make it through the hard times then without his help, so I could make it through now without his help as I always had, except this time believing he isn't there.

But, now, I find that I don't struggle very often at all anymore. I don't need to delve into the depths of my being that much anymore. I no longer struggle to feel closer to a Lord because I don't believe he exists anyway. I am no longer trying to become more valiant or faithful. I am no longer seeking the assurance that a god is pleased with me. I no longer try to understand the meaning or purpose of my tough times, because I don't believe there is any purpose or meaning to them. They just are what they are, and I just have to deal with them. Life makes so much more sense when one is no longer searching for divine meaning in them. And it is a relief. There is no lesson God wants me to learn because in all likelihood there is no god. I don't have to wonder why a loving god isn't helping me out. I am no longer stretched too thin by church callings and responsibilities because I am not automatically obligated to serve the church and magnify my priesthood. I get to choose how involved I want to be with no guilt for not being totally active and involved.

It is a huge relief to no longer bear the weight of all that stuff. I didn't even realize how heavy all that was to carry until I took it off. I feel a lot better because of it. I still enjoy feeling what I formerly called the "Spirit". I have gotten to the point where I can pretty much produce those feelings on demand whenever I want to, but I find I don't need to comfort myself that often anymore. Atheism has been good for me and my wife. I understand that it may not be for everyone, but it really works well for us.

I am not atheist because it works for me. I am atheist because I believe that it is very unlikely that a god exists. The fact that it works for me is just a pleasant side-effect.