Do you ever stop and ponder why am I even here? How do we find the meaning of life if we don’t believe in a higher power? Why do you exist?
Christianity gives its believers something to look forward to after death. A Christian is not afraid of death because they believe death is only the beginning. I was a Christian until I started broadening my beliefs and morals in college. I started living selfishly and sought a life that I lived for myself. Often times we are so caught up in doing or saying the right thing that we forget to just LIVE.
I was at a concert for one of my favorite bands (which happens to be a Christian group) called Skillet. They were headlining a free concert series with a few other Christian groups. I was broke and in college. It was a dream come true. However, as I was waiting in line outside in the freezing cold with another friend of mine, there were various anti-abortion protestors with signs that depicted actual grotesque pictures of abortions.
That was my first sign that I did not wish to have a belief system that supported this kind of behavior and attack on women. Later that night, the host of the concert series came on stage. He started preaching a sermon that ended with everyone being expected to give all the money they had in their pockets because it was God’s will.
The whole experience woke me up. I started questioning everything I had ever thought and believed. I decided that day that Christianity was not for me anymore. I had to start living a life that I would look back on and appreciate. I would not live a life of regret because I was worried about what the right action was.
Some psychologists believe that religion was born due to the human fear of death. Humans innately fear the unknown. They look for reason, cause and effect, a resolution to every problem. As humans, we are always looking for the reason for our existence.
For that dash represents all the time they spent alive on earth and now only those who loved them know what that little line is worth. — Linda Ellis
To most people, death without religion means that we have lived a meaningless life without purpose. We were born and then we died. We often forget about the dash in between. Life is about the experience, the happiness we felt, the memories we made, the lives we touched. The only meaningless life is the life lived in fear of the unknown and the life full of regret.
The end of life can be terrifying because it’s something we have never felt before. We don’t know where we will end up, if we will understand our last breath we take, if we will acknowledge the last moment our brain turns off. In our older age, death brings physical pain due to our bodies slowing down and emotional pain from the loss of loved ones, and we seek some form of comfort.
Religion gives us a reason for the pain and suffering. It gives us hope that our loved ones that have passed on will be on the other side waiting for us when our own time comes. Religion can gives us a close knit family after we have lost our own family and friends. It helps us to see purpose. Reading the bible or practicing meditation can bring us inner peace.
We also have the choice to accept death as it is. We can create meaning in our lives through our experiences. Death is just a part of the cycle of life. We are but a small piece of nature. We take our place in the ecosystem until it ceases to exist like every other living creature. Our mental intelligence abilities give us the need to make sense of our existence and to make sure humans continue to exist for generations to come.
If you talk to an elderly person, you may be surprised to realize that a lot of older people are ready to die. They have lived a fulfilled life. They have taken their place in the ecosystem. They have accepted that their lives will cease to exist at some point and they have made peace with that.
Death is just the end of one cycle. Our existence ends and our brains cease to be aware. Life around us will continue whether we are here or not. You can choose to feel depressed about it or you can choose to accept it and do your best to leave a positive legacy. We can show compassion and love to our family and friends. We can give them memories to pass one for years to come. We can get involved with causes and make a real impact on the world. Our purpose it to make sure this world continues to be livable for generations to come.
I’m an atheist, and that’s it. I believe there’s nothing we can know except that we should be kind to each other and do what we can for other people. — Katharine Hepburn
Dealing with depression
We are lucky to have 90 or more years to live. Years ago, the life span of humans was even less. We live in a wonderful technologically advanced time that affords us the ability to enjoy a longer life. Make the most of every day. We must come to grips with reality and accept that this is it. Yes, we will die eventually. What we can do now is to ensure that life goes on for future generations. We can try to live a life worth telling about. We didn’t ask to be brought into this world but it happened. We have to try to make the best of it.
A lot of atheists deal with depression. Religion gives people a sense of community, social support, a sense of purpose, and the belief that life continues. Without religion, we can still find these things. We can find enjoyment in things we enjoy doing. We can build relationships with friends, family, and even ourselves. We can pursue our dreams and passions.
We have to communicate our problems with our close friends and loved ones. We have to accept that it is okay to admit when we need help. If we talk to each other and we ask for help, we can make this life much more tolerable. Life is only meaningless if you believe that it is. Even if your life was meaningless, who cares? Be happy. Enjoy existing. Take it all in.
Finding purpose in a meaningless existence
Natural disasters, being in the wrong place at the wrong time, the family that you were born into — these things are random. We cannot change these things. There are so many variables against us. It is up to us to control how we react to them. Our reactions determine the consequences that we endure. I don’t believe that anyone is influencing the variables or causing things to happen to us.
The way we find purpose and meaning is individual to us. To most, it means feeling fulfilled and understanding significance in our lives. For me, I want to teach my experience in the IT world to college students. I want to impact lives. I want to give love and receive it. I want to enjoy life, give my words to those that need them, and to just be happy. If I live a life of happiness, make an impact, and ensure that I always stand up for causes I believe in, then I have lived a life of purpose.
Have you ever caught yourself just being happy in the moment doing something you love? Have you ever just been lost in something you’re doing where suddenly hours have passed? Sometimes I just stop and wonder, what is the point of this. Then I remember, it’s making me happy. Sometimes the purpose and meaning is to just be in the moment and enjoy life. Take a breath. Smell the flowers. Notice the sunrise or sunset. Feel the breeze in your hair. Maybe that’s just it. Your purpose is to LIVE.
Life is not meaningless or pointless without a declared religion. Without a central belief, it may feel that way sometimes. You have made strides towards becoming a better version of yourself than you were yesterday. That is a large feat.
Atheists have only accepted that our lives end at our last breath. We live our lives how we choose to. We do good things, not because we fear our next life, but because we want to affect people and be good people.
We can live in the moment, pursue our hobbies, try our best to make an impact on those around us. We can create memories for others to pass on about us. This is it. This is the one life we get. We have to try our best to accept things as they are and as our lovable little pal Dory says “just keep swimming”.