Finding Peace Without "God"

Posts tagged ‘decision making’

The Hypocrisy of Sunday Afternoon

Going to lunch on Sunday, after church– This is a concept I have never been able to grasp and always made me feel guilty any time I went to lunch with fellow church members after Sunday service.  According to the bible, Sunday is the Sabbath day, right?  And we’re not supposed to work on the Sabbath, we’re supposed to go to church to worship “god” and then rest.  So why is it okay for people to go out to lunch  after church?  So they don’t have to go home and cook or clean (work)?  And instead  go to restaurants and make other people do it?  Does that strike anyone else as WRONG?

I live in a small town where a lot of businesses are closed on Sundays, including restaurants.  While it is an inconvenience for me I respect these business owner’s beliefs enough to not make a stink about it.  At least they aren’t making their employees work on what they presumably believe is a holy day.  But as for the rest of church-going population, this is just one of many hypocrisies that I will never understand.  What’s good for the goose is good for the gander.  If it’s not okay for you to work, it’s not okay for the people who serve you either.

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Accepting that bad things happen…

To believe “god” allows children to be abused, neglected or abandoned for a reason is absurd!  I don’t care how you coat it.  Children are innocent, even the bible says that (and yes, I believe there is a lot of valuable information in the bible) so why? WHY would it ever be okay for someone to harm a child?  Or worse, kill a child?  It’s NOT!  We all know that!  So why then, when it does happen, why do people say “’god’ will use this for good?”  Really?  I mean, R.E.A.L.L.Y?  I’m left with no other reason than to believe that it just makes them feel “better” about the ugliness in the world.

If “god” is so powerful, why doesn’t he just stop the acts all together?  I realize this is a common question when someone is struggling with their faith, but somehow it gets glossed over and eventually forgotten.  We convince ourselves that somehow, these despicable acts will be redeemed for “god’s glory”.   For instance, when someone loses a child and then starts a new organization to advocate for missing and exploited children in honor of the child who was kidnapped, abused, raped and murdered, it suddenly becomes a way for “god” to find a way to use it for “good”

Where’s the logic in that?  I’m not saying that founding a new organization to help for the better good isn’t a good plan or that it isn’t an excellent way to heal, but why does it have to be because of “god’s plan”?  I mean, come on!  How can that be “his” plan?   I just cannot for the life of me understand how ANYONE can justify any of this as “god’s plan”—

Unfortunately, no matter how many child welfare advocacy groups are established these disgusting acts will continue to happen because there are sick people in this world and sick people do sick things:  Cause and Effect.  It’s not a lost cause but it’s also not in “god’s” plan, so let’s be logical about this- instead of praying about it, or asking “god” why he lets this kind of thing happen,  let’s educate children how to stay safe and get the psychos off the streets as best we can.  And when something so heinous happens again, let’s allow ourselves to grieve and be angry and hopefully accept that what happened, happened and not look for an excuse for “why” but eventually be able to move on.

Why?

I do not understand why, we as humans can’t just accept things the way they are.  Does everything have to happen for a reason?

When I think about all of the terrible things that happen in this world:  People starving, children dying, mothers being killed in car accidents, and worse, we tend  to ask “why?”

This “why?” question is part of what led me to accept that there’s no such thing as god and solidifies my confidence in knowing that to be true.  There’s no master plan.  There’s no spiritual reason for anything to happen or not to happen other than cause and effect.

Baby cubs don’t go through life wondering why “god” let that hunter take his mama; they just go on eating berries and hunting fish- they move on and survive.

Supposedly, “god” made us different from the animals.  Supposedly, we are the only species on the planet to have a soul, we are the only species who know who “god” is and can make the choice between believing or not believing- that’s why WE get to go to heaven, right?   Supposedly this is “god’s” doing; he gave us free-will so that we could decide whether or not to accept Jesus as our savior in order to enter the pearly gates when we die.

BUT!   If you ask me, “god” had nothing to do with this because…there is no god.  We, as humans made up the whole god-thing and have been doing so for a LONG, LONG time.  Since even before the Greek, Roman and Egyptian gods- we’ve been looking for something to explain everything rather than just accepting things the way they are, THIS is what separates us from animals.  Faith is not about our choice to believe in god; it’s our ABILITY to make one up in the first place.

Acceptance:

Once you move to acceptance, just like the last stage of grief, you’re able to deal with life as it comes to you.  Cause and effect becomes the expected and you no longer have to wonder, “why?”  This sounds like a harsh reality, but it really isn’t.  It’s…life.  Life is hard, with or without “god”.  But when you let go of the illusion that an omnipotent being is in control you can grab the reigns and feel empowered.  You stop asking “why” and just like that cub, you can move on and survive.

Making a Decision Sans “God”

I am contemplating a new job.  I have become somewhat apathetic with my current position and I am not feeling confident that things will get better.  For the first time in a long time, I am feeling angst.  In the past I would have turned to “god” for guidance- asked for a sign of some sort so I would know what “he” wanted me to do.  But since realizing that there is no actual god with an imaginary neon light that will ever flash brightly in front of me with the answer, I’m left to figure it out for myself.

I realize that this is one of the reasons people “believe” in an all-knowing eight-ball in the sky; it’s much easier to ask someone else to make your decisions for you.   It’s easier to look for a sign to show you what you’re supposed to do.  It’s easier to dismiss one’s own hard work, networking capabilities, right-place-right-time happenchance as “God’s” way of telling us what to do next.  And it’s much easier to assume that the “god” has some noble plan for us when things don’t work out.

So here I am, trying to make this decision without the false-god-confidence and I’m forced to choose between two options, not knowing which one is better.

As I think about my current job versus this potential job, I’m left thinking, if I had to choose one or the other, which one would I choose.  In the past I would have turned to prayer, these days I turn to logic and then ultimately I think about which would make me happier.  This requires a great deal of honesty with myself.  Do I stay with the job I have because it’s easier job and even though I will make less money I’ll be able to maintain the freedom that I currently have?  Plus I know that I will have a guaranteed paycheck every month and I feel emotionally attached to this company since I worked there for the past five years.   Or, do I go for the new one, not knowing for sure if I will like it at all and even though the income potential is greater, I will not have a regular salary because it is commission-only sales and I’ll have to give up working from home and go into an office every day? Plus I’m going to have to work harder than I do now–This is where personal values come in; values that only we can define.  Values which ultimately determine the choices we make.

I remember when I was a believer and I had a big decision to make, I’d pray and pray and pray, asking for a sign, any sign!  “Please God, just give me a sign! One that I can see or hear or feel!  Just one so I will know that I am doing what You want me to do.”  But I never seemed to get a response.

When I would ask my other believer-friends how they know what God wanted them to do, they would tell me they knew they were making the right decision when they felt, “a peace come over them”.

So here I am wondering what I’m going to do realizing that I am the only one responsible for this decision.  What will I do?

***

Two days after writing the above, I was asked to come in for a second interview.  Without hesitation I declined.  I realized that even though there was more money to be made with the new company, the job itself did not appeal to me and I knew that I would not be happy if I took the position.  I am not unhappy in my current position I’ve just become bored and it’s up to me to step it up a notch.  So I did.  And this past week as been more productive than the several weeks prior.  I am happy with my decision and I made it all by myself.

Turns out, you don’t need “god” to feel at peace with a good decision you just have to make the one that’s right for you.

Calling All Prayer Warriors

One of the hardest, if not the hardest parts about being atheist is addressing prayer for others.  With this new age of social networking prayer requests are everywhere.  It used to be that prayer-trees were the way to get the word out when someone needed prayer and you were only on that list if you belonged to the church of the person requesting the prayer.  And even at that, you were only physically called upon in an emergency situation- like say, a member of the congregation was rushed to the hospital with chest pains or someone was in a severe car accident.  But now, if someone needs prayer for ANYTHING, all they have to do is post it on facebook—CALLING ALL PRAYER WARRIORS!  Actually you don’t even have to solicit prayer in order to receive it.  Just post that you’re having a bad day- stubbed your toe, spilled your coffee, got a flat tire; all those prayer warriors will pray for you and let you know all about it right in the comment section.  Furthermore, they’ll then take the credit for praying for you, like they are the ones who talked “god” into getting the tow truck there faster.

For an atheist like me, it’s a bit of a predicament.  As I’ve said before, when you move to acceptance, that is there is no god, you realize that prayer is nothing more than “best wishes”- support, encouragement, a way to say, “I care”.  But somehow, no matter how sympathetic you feel, telling someone, “I’m sorry your cat died.  I know how painful that is– it totally sucks “, sounds far less heroic than  “I’m praying that God will wrap His arms around you and give you peace and understanding during this difficult time”.   Death, sadness, hardship, pain, frustration:  means no time for logic; only prayer will do the trick.  Or so it may seem.

What gets my goat more than praying for the down and out is praising “god” for “miracles”.  Come on people, take some credit and give credit where credit is due!   YOU decided to take your kid to the doctor because you could tell that he wasn’t feeling good and the doctor did his job and prescribed treatment to make that kid all better.  That doctor went to school for 12 years to learn how to do that.  If you think “god” made your kid better then I’m guessing you could have opted to not go to the doctor, prayed really hard (asked your friends on facebook to do the same) and saved yourself the co-pay.

I could make a joke here about “god” reading facebook, but I won’t.  Actually I guess I kind of just did.  I mean come on!  Do you get brownie points with Jesus if you praise him on your social network or choice?

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