In class, I gave my presentation on some of my life experiences and how they have affected me. I will touch a little more on that in this post, but I really want to add on in some areas I didn't have enough time to fully focus on. As I stated, at one point I was very fundamental in my christian beliefs. I was devout and determined to spread the good news of Jesus Christ. Ever since I was a kid I've had this overwhelming need to help somebody out when they are in a bad situation. This is not an uncommon trait, but it seemed more prevalent in me than those around me. Still to this today I can't stand the thought of people being treated unfairly or to see them suffer. I always attributed this to my unwavering belief and faith in Christ. I don't say any of this to try and make the point that I am some super compassionate and sympathetic being. I say this for the purposes of an experiment that I have run and evaluated in my own life. The question to be answered is, "What happens when you take my belief in God out of the equation?" I have come to the conclusion that there are three possible paths I could take at this fork in the road. The path on the left that represents a decrease in compassion, continuing on the road that I'm on that represents no change in compassion, or the highway on the right that represents an increase in compassion. So which road did it lead me too? The highway, undoubtedly. To be clear let me rephrase it. Yes, I'm saying that not believing in God has made me a better person. I say this because of the changes in my life that I experienced led me to a very different point of view. I no longer help those in need for the purposes of being more christ-like. I want to help people because they are connected to everything I am. We share the same condition that is life on planet Earth. This isn't a bad condition all things considered. I would rather exist and suffer a little for a short time than to not ever have existed at all. Even as frustrating as some people can be they are still connected to me and connected to everything I can see. Now that you have an idea of some of the positive effects I've experienced through my deconversion, let me shed some light on the negative things.
When I first discovered I no longer believed in God, the first feeling I had was not of relief. It was of absolute terror. I had come to the realization that there was no divine being that had taken favor on my life and that was willing to protect me. I was all alone. Even worse than that, 90% of the people that I love in this world still believe in God. I have no problems with them believing what they want, but it started directly affecting me in a very negative way. My family thought I was depressed, my friends thought that I had fallen in with the wrong crowd and changed, and everybody I knew had the opinion that my soul was in jeopardy. The next feeling I experienced was utter despair. Knowing the opinions these people have of atheists gave me every reason to be upset. I had heard so many people say that atheists should be put to death if they thought life didn't matter or that killing wasn't wrong like God says. I had heard people talk about their unwillingness to trust somebody that didn't fear God's wrath. While I still feel this feeling of sadness that people might think of me like that I started to have other strong feelings as a result of this deconversion. The next feeling was a feeling of anger. I was angry at religion, my friends, my family, and basically everybody that regularly quotes bible verses to people when they ask for help. I was outraged over how non-believers and dissenters were treated. I was a second class citizen incapable of morality and lost like so many other non-believers. Or so they think. These things still make me angry, but I have moved on to the feeling I feel most often now. That feeling is excitement.
This has been by far my favorite feeling associated with my deconversion. I am optimistic in thinking that this feeling might last, but this feeling has certainly stuck around the longest. I am excited by the fact that I am a collaboration of those that came before me. I am excited that there are still so many things for science to discover. I am excited about the possibilities of science and technology as society progresses. The thing that excites me most is this feeling that my consciousness is not eternal. One day I will assuredly die. Why does that excite me? It excites me because the here and now are all that I will ever be guaranteed. I have been baptized in the spirit of the present day. I am more present than I ever have been. I am no longer an observer, but a participant. To put this outlook on life in an metaphor that most students will sympathize with I reached a point in life where I was metaphorically pulling an all-nighter studying during exam week and I was reading words, but they didn't matter any more. My deconversion is the equivalent of drinking about 4 Red Bulls. My life had been pointless, and then all of a sudden I became aware of my longevity. I knew that I only had a finite period of time before the metaphorical and literal final I would ultimately face. The time spent in preparation for this final will ultimately determine the mark I leave on the world.
I still face a lot of problems with people thinking I need serious help and prayer. It irks me that they would spend time from their life worried so much about how I am living mine. They worry because they care, I only wish they would understand that there is no need to worry. I have not lost my sense of morality, my ethical standards, or my love for life. These things have simply evolved and taken on new forms. I sometimes hate that I have faced some tough words and feelings from people that I love, but it has made me a stronger person. I only hope that one day I might be able to help out somebody that goes through the same things that I have. I want people to know that they are not alone. I want people to know that they aren't bad people for not believing in God. Most importantly, I want people to know that life without God can be even more beautiful than life with God. There may not be some ultimate maxim that describes the absolute point to life, but I hold out belief that there is a point to life. It is just not the same for everybody. To me, that is far more beautiful and unique than facing an ultimate end that is identical for everybody that believed the same as me. This may not be my ultimate point for living, but my ultimate goal that drives me is to help people suffering from the same condition I face. Life is really shitty sometimes and people need to be reminded that it does get better and that there is help available. I want my life to be lived for every person that has ever had theirs taken because of their race, beliefs, religion, sexuality, gender, or for any other reason. I want to live my life for all of those that struggle constantly on a daily basis. For every child that goes to sleep hungry, and for every parent that has no means of feeding them. I want to live on behalf of every person that has been sold into slavery and for every person that has been told that they were not good enough. Most importantly, I want to live my life for me. I want to learn, seek, feel, cry, lose, win, worry, and ultimately love. My father always told me as a kid that when you go places that it is important that you leave them in better shape than when you found them. If there is one motto that I live by, it is that. I want to leave the world in better shape then when I found it, or rather when it found me. We are just a reliant on our planet as it is in us. The life that thrives on our planet keeps earth from being another lifeless rock, which there are so many of. We make the earth unique, just as the earth has made each and every one of us unique. I don't want to seem arrogant or pretentious, but I would like to share with you my "commandments". Keep in mind, there is no eternal threat of damnation attached to not following these and I will never know if you abide by them. I can only hope that they might help guide you the way that they have guided me. Peace, Love, and Harmony to you all. I've enjoyed discussing things with open minded people for the first time in my life. I wish you all the best of luck and may the force be ever in your favor. (Don't even be mad about me mixing star wars and the hunger games together, we all have our own "galactic empire" to defeat whether it's a Sith lord or the Capital.)
My Maxims and Mottos for a More Marvelous Materiality
1.) "Every day should be passed as if it were to be our last" -Publilius Syrus
2.) "One word frees us of all the weight and pain of life: that word is love." -Sophocles
3.) "Whatever else there may be in our nature, responsibility towards truth is one of it's attributes." -Arthur Eddington
4.) "Great is the human who has not lost his childlike heart." -Mencius
5.) "Hatred does not cease by hatred, but only by love; this is the eternal rule." -Buddha
6.) "Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony." -Gandhi
7.) "Things turn out best for the people who make the most of the way things turn out." -John Wooden
8.) "The greatest use of life is to spend it for something that will outlast it." -William James
9.) "It is far better to grasp the universe as it really is than to persist in delusion, however satisfying and reassuring." -Carl Sagan
10.) "Take the risk of thinking for yourself, much more happiness, truth, beauty, and wisdom will come to you that way." -Christopher Hitchens