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.

10 comments:

Carla said...
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Vol-E said...

Yes! Think of the time you've saved. How much more efficient to say "I have a problem -- here's the objective fact. Now what do I do about it? My options are [other people, resources, change of behavior, change of perspective, etc.]. Now let's take action." Done. If not the same day, then within a reasonable amount of time. Believers spend way too much time bargaining, trying to discern the "meaning" or the "lesson" in a problem. They wait and wait -- often because deep down, they're simply afraid to make a decision and find comfort in proclaiming that a certain invisible someone will ultimately come to the rescue and take the responsibility out of their hands.

It never fails to amaze me how believers often contradict themselves. I had a boss once who was very proud of his religious status. He looked down on anyone who wasn't a believer. But on his wall was a hand-lettered, framed plaque that read "If it is to be, it is up to me!" I wanted to ask him how he reconciled that "bootstraps" approach to what churches teach daily: That we are nothing, we should "lean not upon our own understanding" and always ask what God or Jesus would do, based on interpretations of the Bible.

The day I chucked religion out of my life, I went back to that plaque. Yes, if it is to be, it IS up to me, and that makes it so much easier to deal with it.

Rock said...
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Mister Zip 66 said...

Funny, thats been on my mind lately as well. I also think it frees up so much brain power, when you're not constantly struggling with the man in the sky to solve your problems. you just.... solve them. Or let them go if you cant. To me, thats REAL peace. Love your post.

Steve said...

It is interesting that those who find God have the same feelings about purpose and not wasting time. I hope you have found true happiness in your new life. Sadly, my personal belief is that if you have found happiness, it won't last long without God.

I firmly believe the only lasting happiness can come through God. Every action I have taken in my life testifies of this point. I have only been unhappy when I have made choices contrary to that of which God has warned me not to take. Sometimes it took a while for that unhappiness to really rear its' ugly head, but it always does eventually.

If you truly have an open mind. At least give place for the sliver of a chance that God is real. I guess I identify with agnostics more than atheists in this regard.

Good luck in your journey.

Hüffenhardt said...

Steve,

I am both atheist and agnostic. Hardly any atheists claim to know there is no god. I am agnostic because we cannot know for sure whether god exists or not. I am atheist because although I know that I can't know for sure, I really don't think there is a god. I don't believe there is a god, but I acknowledge the possibility that there might be one, I just doubt there is.

I am very happy and have been for many years. For what it is worth, there are many atheists that have been happy their entire lives.

Expat Choice Seville said...

How did you get that annoying little voice in your head that says, "This happened because...(enter choice of sin here)"? I left the LDS church years ago and still this meme enters my head and creates a sense of fear and uncertainty in my life. The LDS church has refined their brand of brain washing, or 'faith promotion' to a fine art and no matter how much I read or think logically upon the topic, it is a hard one to shake. Any tips or words of wisdom that you have found to be useful in shaking off the old hegemony of religion?

Timothy Mares said...

There is a God who loves you. He knows your name and the number of hairs on your head. You may have given up on Him for now, but He is not finished with you. Have you given up on searching for the truth? Have you and your wife settled for the illusions of this world? There is one who would want you to believe there is no God. He is called the god of this world. Do not give up on the prospect of eternal things. Jesus said, "These things I have spoken unto you, that in me you might have peace. In the world you shall have tribulation: But be of good cheer; I have overcome the world."-John 16:33 I don't know the kind of suffering you have gone through or the heartache you may have faced but I do know that, "all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose."-Romans 8:28 If you are interested in learning more my email is hewhohonoursgod@gmail.com
"For I know my thoughts toward you, saith the LORD. thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end. Then ye shall call upon me, and ye shall go and pray unto me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart."-Jeremiah (29:11-13)

Mikegs said...

Hi,
Having been faced with such spurious "evidence" for Mormonism that you have rightly perceived to be deceptive and false, I would be interested in your thoughts as to the four Canonical gospels and the claims to eye-witness evidence that they have for the resurrection of Jesus from the dead. Have you looked into them?

Hüffenhardt said...

Mikegs,

Admittedly, I am no expert in Biblical criticism, but from what I've studied, I don't believe any of the four gospels were written by the men who are claimed to be their authors. They were written very late in the first century/early 2nd, and three appear to have an older source document in common.

When I researched the origins of the Bible I started with the Old Testament and once I was convinced it was not what people take it to me, that meant the theology of the New Testament, which was built on the foundation of the Old, also could not be correct. After I came to that conclusion, I never bothered really, thoroughly researching every issue pro and con with the Bible.