When I stopped believing in the Christian God I felt a hole in my life, honestly. Religion was a huge part of my identity, most of it. and suddenly I had ripped away my covering from the reality of the world. Religion was my clothes and my protection. I watched this series of talks between Jordan Peterson and Sam Harris, and this is when I came to my conclusions that there is no god, or at least not the one I was taught to believe in. I put the final nail in the coffin and laid the Christian God to rest.
Before I lost all faith. Before when I felt like there was some gods eyes watching all of us and keeping us safe, I slept a lot better, I cried a lot less. I didn’t fully connect to the reality of the malevolence of this world. But how can their be a God who is all good, and all just, and all powerful, and all the suffering of the world. I think some would argue that humans have freewill to choose and some choose to do bad. (which is true) But that would mean that god is not all powerful. Well maybe he might be able to influence the choices of humans. Ok, but then he is not all just. Well his will is above our will and we cannot understand the ways of the Lord. That means he can use any means necessary to ensure a certain outcome, meaning using “his people” to slaughter other human beings (like in the Bible, you know…). Which is murder, which is not good. Remember, God even says its not good in the ten commandments. You could defend it even further by saying, its the humans doing the murder, not God, so God is still good because he didn’t actually kill those in the ancient biblical battles, but what about plagues, and famine, and disease, shouldn’t God be responsible for that? God sent the plagues on Egypt didn’t he? Or is that Mother Nature, not God? And doesn’t God know the time and place we will die? Wouldn’t he know that “his people” were going to murder “his enemies”? And here we arrive back at square one, saying god is not all good.
It just cannot work for me.
Even now, I call myself an atheist, even though I’d be classified agnostic because I never want a religious person to think I believe in the God of the Bible. I certainly do not believe in any sort of deity. But the hard thing about that is, as soon as there is no “God’s will” what is there?
At first, for me, there was nothing. I logically could conclude that there was no point to life. There is no point to suffering. What is the point in trying? We call this existential nihilism, but I guess its a mistake to go from reading the Bible to reading Fredrick Nietzsche.
When I read Nietzsche and I feel hate. Hate for humans, hate for community, hate for closeness to another soul. The nihilist cannot care about another’s suffering. They cannot extend themselves far enough to feel for anyone because their pain is too distracting and overwhelming. The nihilist cares only about its well being, because no one and nothing will ever care for the nihilist. Life is meaningless and because of this, they can do whatever they please. The nihilist’s actions effect no one because nothing they do matters. And why not believe this? Suddenly there is no such thing as responsibilty. (awesome!) Everyone’s outcome is by chance so why try hard.(Yay for laziness!) Chaos is much more realistic. (Who cares who gets hurt!) But that takes away hope for the future, which leaves the individual powerless in the present. Suddenly the nihilist is consumed with themselves and is inherently depressed. Without purpose, a person becomes destructive, self sabotaging even, because pain is to be avoided.
I believed all of this for a while. It makes sense at first but then I felt hateful, unempathetic, selfish and gross. I could only focus on me and this was getting in the way of everything in my life. My depressions were the lowest of low, because suddenly pain had no meaning. Sure, before I thought there was a diety willfully inflicting hardship on my life to teach me a lesson, but at least that meant it had a purpose to hurt so much. Now, without a God, life just hurts and there is no one to protect me. Human existence is a never ending cycle of painful lesson after painful lesson. Which isn’t entirely false, but there’s a lot more to add to that. The point of suffering isn’t to succumb to it. I make this mistake much to often. And I’m tired of rolling over like a pathetic loser. The point of suffering is to overcome it, become stronger, and face more adversity. It’s as Jordan Peterson says a “call to adventure”. Would life be easier to endure if we were living out story line after story line that one day would be an entire orchestra of lessons to learn. That sounds much more enticing and exciting to me. It would make me feel like I could get through some of the really hard things I have faced. I also don’t like feeling like a loser all the time. So I have to believe this all means something. I have to let that motivate me. Not in the way it motivates religion by saying everything we do matters for a specific outcome. There is no room for error there and thats the plight of my religious self. It’s just means to mean that any effort put forth in a particular direction will get me to that destination. Failure is still necessary, mistakes are still critical in getting to the destination, but there is no punishment attached to failure. Hell only exists for those who don’t try.
However, that requires me to face my fears, and boy do I have a lot. It requires me to push myself when I want to stop, which is a delicate balance when you are learning how much you can handle. I run to learn this. I’m trying to push myself to try harder and go longer and endure more pain. I do it cause it feels good after, I get repaid with endorphins. This is a reason I can’t believe that everything is meaningless when certain actions yield a positive result, like a runner’s high. Aside from that I believe that enduring more physical pain allows me to endure more emotional pain as well, which is another benefit to me. So suffering now seems to benefit me. Unless you think, why want to face more suffering? So I’m not a spineless loser forever who cannot handle the stress of her life. I already feel that way and I don’t like it. I believe in myself and have hope in the future. Everyone gets stronger when they try. Somehow facing the pain has always been more comfortable than avoiding the suffering.
Life cannot mean nothing unless you want it to mean nothing. And that’s why nihilism is not for me.
So what did I fill that hole of religion in my life with? Philosophy, psychology, cosmology, physics, science, art. Essentially, knowledge and beauty. Instead of dedicating my life to God’s will, I dedicated it to my will. I have dreams, things I think I can achieve, things that I think will benefit others who think like me and I’m working daily towards that.
I have a lot more to say on that, as well as some other philosophies of life I’d like to explore.
Thanks for reading.
Think for yourself.