Believing you only get one life gives you more to live for, not less.
No, I am not talking about the derogatory term used to describe the lower backside of the human anatomy. The word I am talking about is perhaps even more controversial and less widely accepted. The word I am talking about is atheism.
The word sparks thoughts of skinny jeanclad millennials trying to upset their parents and trolling the internet. Being an atheist is not received well in our society, and I can’t help but be upset by that.
For years, I identified myself as agnostic. I liked agnosticism, because it was basically an easy way out. It was a somewhat common ground. It meant that I didn’t necessarily believe in a specific higher power, but I figured that there was probably something up there.
At the same time, I believed in evolution, believed in the Big Bang Theory, and didn’t take anything in the Bible seriously. Absolutely no disrespect to those that do, I just didn’t.
Then I had something of an epiphany. Well, it was more of a weeklong identity crisis that my girlfriend had to deal with, but it ended with a solid conclusion. I was an atheist. I had been one for quite some time, and I was finally ready to admit it.
Before I go any further, I should probably explain something. I am not here to trash your beliefs. I have no quarrel with any religion. All I hope to achieve is to show people that while having religion is fine and dandy, not having it is fine and dandy as well.
A common misconception with atheism is that we simply believe in nothing. That could not be further from the truth. I can’t speak for atheists across the board, because each person’s specific views differ from one another. However I can certainly speak for myself.
I believe in the same core values as theists. I believe in being a good person, that all creatures are created equally, and that love conquers all.
I did not, however, get these values from some external force. What theists refer to as their god; the entity that grants them salvation, is within all of us. Theists externalize it to give them something to worship and work towards, while atheists simply recognize its existence and further internalize it. The end result, however, is the same.
When I say “end result,” I am not referring to an afterlife. I am referring to a person’s core values. With this, we go back to being a good person. On that note, the afterlife stirs up another frequent myth about atheism. Because atheists do not believe in an afterlife, people often believe that we have nothing to live for. Again, however, this could not be farther from the truth.
“It’s a strange myth that atheists have nothing to live for. It’s the opposite. We have nothing to die for. We have everything to live for.” Ricky Gervais
All atheists have is life. That is why this myth doesn’t make sense to me. If there isn’t anything after death, we have to make the most out of life while we have it.
If someone were to ask me right now if I believed that there is a god or an afterlife, I would probably tell them that I did not. However, if someone asked me the opposite, I still wouldn’t say yes.
All I have to go on is science. Physical evidence, I believe, proves things beyond reasonable doubt. That is why I truly believe in the Big Bang Theory and evolution. However, science can and has only taken us so far. Science can’t prove whether an afterlife does or does not exist. It can’t prove whether or not there is a higher power out there.
I have no idea what there is out there, and I am completely okay with that. To me, that’s part of what atheism is. It is accepting the unknown.
Religion was born out of a fear of the unknown. People did not know what happened after you die, so they created religion to put in place of the unknown.
I believe in science, however, I also believe in the unknown. I have no idea what’s going to happen after I die, so I am going to live my life to the fullest in the meantime and cross that bridge when I come to it.
We shouldn’t be afraid to express our beliefs, regardless of what those beliefs are. You can be taught many different things, but a person’s true beliefs are no more a choice than the color of their skin. We can’t help but believe what we believe.
We need to embrace each other’s individuality and beliefs, rather than put them down if they differ from the status quo.
What happens after we die is going to happen no matter what our beliefs are. Life is what we have, and we only get one. Instead of worrying about what happens after it, we should start worrying about what happens during it.