An Atheist’s Perspective

December 12, 2009 § 12 Comments

“I believe in God, only I spell it Nature.” – Frank Lloyd Wright

Every year at around this time I feel the need to reflect on the year passed, and be thankful. While this may be trite, I do see the end of years celebrations as an important time, a time for reflection. We all feel it to some degree.

Why is it that we feel the need to reflect and be thankful? It’s a weird sensation, because I don’t have a God to thank for my existence. I don’t believe in a creator, or a benevolent overseer, so I can’t thank The Almighty. But what I can do, as a human and a social being, is be thankful to the real, the tangible, and the sentient in my life. The people I call mine, and who accept me as theirs. The teachers, the thinkers, the lovers and the visionaries. These are the real influences in my life, like gravity and sunlight. These things affect me, these things give me hope, these things keep me motivated to live, and try, and do.

When I think about it, the end of the year doesn’t really mean anything. Being that the calendar is a human construct devised to help us keep track of our lives, the end of year is really just a celebration of one more rotation of our humble little planet around our star.  The earth will continue to circle the sun, as it has done for billions of years, until our long after humans have disappeared. We spin and spin through space, coming from nowhere in particular, and heading to who knows where. My purist self sees the end of year as merely a marker.

But I still get caught up in the reverie, and the end of year becomes an opportunity to hope for a better future and reminisce about the past, about the people and places that make my life special. It’s a time when I can be with those I love and celebrate their existences, a time to gather with those who love me unconditionally and whom I love in the same way. Thanking those who matter in my life is a way for me to put my life in perspective, and perspective drives me, keeps me moving and keeps me motivated.  This is an important thing for us all to do, no matter what we choose to believe.

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§ 12 Responses to An Atheist’s Perspective

  • Afew interesting quotes that came to my mind after reading this interesting post:

    “God is conscience. He is even the atheism of the atheist.”

    – Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi

    Religion is an inevitable human condition: “the human psyque is by nature religious” – Carl Jung

    “Religion is an inevitable condition for rational beings.” – Roberto Ochoa

    Hopefully, the discussion about religion will be elevated to a higher level soon.

  • Vroblespac says:

    A fun time with kids, and sum up your year. My kids were taught at an early age the reason for christmas, a christain adoption of pagan celebrations, they enjoy it as a time for family. I like it like that…

  • Vizhnet says:

    Nice post, Martin. “But I still get caught up in the reverie, and the end of year becomes an opportunity to hope for a better future and reminisce about the past, about the people and places that make my life special.”

    Vizhnet (still after your hat!)

  • reggie says:

    Wonderfully said. Christmas is still my favorite holiday of the year.

  • This says something I have been trying to say for myself for quite awhile. I am going to post this message on my blog with a link back to your site. If this is a problem please let me know an I will delete it imediately. Thank you for putting my feelings into words. Stump

  • my pleasure and I have already noted a couple of times that this is not my work. I just returned to this page checking that my link would work. I am not quite as smart as I often give myself credit for being lol.

  • Also just to let you know I found this on Nexus

  • godlizard says:

    Beautiful post, though I was thrown off a bit by “Why is it that we feel the need to reflect and be thankful?” — why would anyone NOT be thankful? Taking time to reflect on the goodness of life isn’t the property of the religious, though many of them would have us think that. I’m not bagging on you for saying that (even though I know it might sound like that) I just have really twitchy sensors for anything that sounds like it had roots in one of those ugly rhetorical questions theists ask when they’re discrediting the character of non-believers.

    I actually think that when someone who has no religious affiliation engages in quiet gratitude, it’s more genuine and spontaneous – we have no jealous, vengeful presence in our lives which we have to try to appease at all costs, lest we spend eternity *burning* — burning! That’s some pretty powerful motivation there. With all the fear involved in being religious, it tends to cast some doubt on motives, doesn’t it? Whenever I hear someone say ‘if it wasn’t for god i’d have killed many people — that scares me, because you just know that person is one crisis of faith away from a tri-state killing spree.

    There is tremendous joy and peace in accepting the world as it is, and interacting with the world with ethics and kindness, not because Someone is watching, but just … because.

    And it remains one of my pet peeves when people go about thanking their god for everything — when they really should be thanking actual people, or just being happy that life and circumstances are what they are. Being thankful to a god can seriously screw up your ability to appreciate the actual things you should be appreciating.

    I’m sorry, this comment keeps sounding argumentative, and I certainly don’t mean to be all lecture-y. I just think it’s the most natural and wonderful thing in the world to feel gratitude and joy without there being some imaginary component to the whole emotion 🙂 And I tend to want to put a stop to anything suggesting otherwise I suppose.

    • Thanks for your comment godlizard. Yes I agree with you. I asked that question as more of a rhetorical question more than anything, and I had hoped to address it in the piece, but somehow I guess I didn’t. Glad you enjoyed it anyhow!

  • I think that the New Year has more to do with being human that anything to do with god. Time is a man-made thing, so I embrace it. It’s important to reflect on the past to improve for the future.

  • Yukon says:

    There are basically 2 things in the universe, “space” and “things in space”. We are made of atoms. Atoms are 99% space. Therefore I am 99% space. Where does my space end and the universe’s space begin.

    It’s all a great infinite spacious mystery. There are basically 2 ways to see the universe. One where we love and embrace being part of the universe, and 2, where we live in fear and try and fight against the universe, thinking (believing) that we are separate. I prefer to love and embrace the universe and its great mystery, knowing I am part of it. It feels better, and who doesn’t want to feel good?

    “Yesterday is but a dream, tomorrow is but a vision. But this day, well lived, makes every yesterday a dream of happiness, and every tomorrow a vision of hope. Look well, therefore, to this .”

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