When realizing my atheism, one of the hardest things for me (besides the fear of Hell), was my feelings of hopelessness. I finally had to get to the point where I determined that I must follow truth, even if it meant utter depression and hopelessness. Many longtime atheists don't realize how real and terrifying this is.

Once I accepted this initial pain, I was able to gradually find peace. It was very similar to losing a loved one or breaking up with a lover. I had to learn my life would have the meaning and purpose I gave it. I eventually got to the point where life was more meaningful and precious then before.

What were your experiences?

Where do you find hope?

Where do you get peace?

I bet some of you are still suffering with these realities. Please share them with us.

Tags: depression, hope, peace, purpose

Views: 21

Replies to This Discussion

Since you asked!
Yes, it is akin to grief, losing that fantasy of the god(s). It is grief, truth be told. Grief and freedom, what a paradox.
So through the loss of the fantasy is shining the freedom of running without shackles.

I am struggling in times when I am concerned about my kids, or other family. Once upon a time I prayed that God would keep them safe. Then later I prayed that the saints or goddess would keep them safe. Later I would ask Great Spirit to watch over them on their journey.
Later I decided to visualize a bright golden light of safety and love around them.
Now? It's not a comfortable position to feel vulnerable. There really is nothing I can do. Yet I still go to thinking of them and sending them my love. Sending them the intent of protection.
Do I think it's real? That I can send and focus energy? I don't know. It makes some sense to me, but I'm not educated. I know there have been experiments.
That said, it's not like I'm giving up power, as there never was any power. It was just the comfort. Like a good bed time story taking the cares of the day and replacing them with a tale for sleeping.

I find my hope in the flowers. In the trees. In a thunderstorm. In children. In nature. The cycles of life are predictable and refreshing. I am often awed at the power of a dandelion, or a grass blade to conquer asphalt buy pushing up through a seemingly solid barrier. I think that the more educated the children are, the more they will learn to separate fantasy from reality. They may not have these struggles of religion.

Peace I find in reading. There are books like The God Delusion, and forums such as these where I get a peace about my non belief. I find peace in the garden, where I work the soil and feel the sun on my skin. I find peace in the woods and on the beach. This is where I connect.
Plus, meditation is wonderful.
Live music is best, and dancing with friends is a wonderful way to be at peace with the real, with the now.
Kitty,
Your response really resonated with me. I'm not sure that I find a sense of 'hope' in nature, but the connection to nature, the weather, the ocean, are what give me sense of peace.
I did not grieve losing christian belief. It was a great releif. But I still have a knee-jerk, fearful reaction to the actions of some christians.
One thing that gives me hope is the knowledge that so many vibrant, good, intelligent, people are becoming open and unapologetic in their atheism. It makes me feel that the entire planet may not be going to hell in a religious handbasket.
"One thing that gives me hope is the knowledge that so many vibrant, good, intelligent, people are becoming open and unapologetic in their atheism"

I agree. I'm truly surprised and delighted. Also, I feel stronger, somehow, in this knowledge.
Actually, giving up god gave me a sense of lightness and peace. Of course I'm upset that I was misled for so long, sad I wasted so much time feeling guilty and ashamed of being a sexual person (bisexual, no less). But giving up the fear and guilt just felt so GOOD.

I get hope from knowing my own son will never grow up being told he's inherently evil, and from knowing that people can be kind and generous and caring. And from learning more than I ever thought possible about science and the natural world. I was one of those fundamentalists who sticks their fingers in their ears and sings "llalalalala!" whenever science came up, especially evolution, and now I'm fascinated by it all. And awed by the beauty of the world.
"I get hope from knowing my own son will never grow up being told he's inherently evil"... you said a mouthful, Sister!~
Just escaping that mindset has been a lifelong struggle for me. For a while whenever I wondered, "uh oh, what if all that god crap is true?" I'd think of my children. How I never want to have them live with that guilt and fear. No way is abusing the minds of children a good thing.

Rock on, Angie!
Initially the freedom from guilt and religious law was thrilling, and I gladly plunged headfirst into life. Maybe a bit too fast, because I made some logically foolish decisions which I will literally pay for all my life. But I have enjoyed my experience so far, and love the freedom.
However, the first rush of joy and liberation was eventually clouded by a sorrow and gap that I still catch myself trying to fill with "prayer" and such groundless fantasies. It's hard to accept that I do not have "power over demons and animals" as I was raised to believe. That people can hurt me, because I'm no more special or supernaturally protected than anyone else.
I was recently assaulted, and it came as a vast shock, even a wake-up call, to realize that I am just as vulnerable as the next girl. Despite the wounds associated with such a violation, I think that the wake-up may have been needed.
But I have found much comfort and peace in music, and nature, and the cycle of life. May I suggest the music of Within Temptation. Their song, Never-Ending Story, is one of my favorites.
Somehow, even though at times I miss the assurance of other-worldly value, the thought that I'm simply weaving my small part in a great story, and don't have vast spiritual responsibilities, is comforting.

Armies have conquered, and fallen in the end
Kingdoms have risen, then buried by sand
The Earth is our mother, she gives and she takes
She puts us to sleep, in her light we'll awake
We'll all be forgotten, there's no endless fame
But everything we do, it's never in vain

We're part of a story, part of a tale
We're all on this journey, no one's to stay
Wherever it's going, what is the way?

Forests and deserts, rivers, blue seas
Mountains and valleys, nothing here stays
While we think we witness, we're part of the scene
This never-ending story, where will it lead to?
The earth is our mother, she gives and she takes
But she's also a part, a part of the tale

We're part of a story, part of a tale
We're all on this journey, no one is to stay
Where is it going, what is the way?
We're part of a story, part of a tale
Sometimes beautiful and sometimes insane
No one remembers how it began...
It's true, we ARE part of it all, not just observers, but one thread in a life tapestry.
NICE!
When I became an atheist, I was still at a Christian college. I lost all my friends and eventually a girlfriend. But I became an atheist by realizing the nature of my mind which was actually much more exciting and awe-inspiring that the heaven-hell map I had prior. And besides, now there were lots of new friends to make. So I was fortunate -- no pain, mainly joy.
Hi Bro, and my LACF friends. I was in what once was considered one of the most dangerous cults in America until that f'n Jim Jones showed up, oh and David Koresh showed up and oh yeah the Heavens Gate people. O.K. the Way International was just a fart in the wind of the 1980's but we had guns, and some fertilizer and we knew how to use 'em!

My guilt wasn't in becoming Atheist, it was years before when I left to pursue other things, outside the cult, at which anything was wrong. In 2000 when I heard the leader was accused of some otherwise unwholesome extramarital activities I kind of thought you know this all might be bunk. I did some research into mind control, and learned about the techniques the way used.

At the time I decided for various reasons my consumption of the fermented and distilled hard beverages was at an unhealthy level. So I enlisted the aid of a well known anonymous 12 step program, which suggested a form of spirituality would be helpful. I knew Christianity was out, so I picked one of the things the way said was evil, Buddhism. I bought the only Buddhist book I knew about, the Dalai Lama's book "Live in a better way" funny it's been 8 years since I bought that book and just realized it has "Way" in the title. So after reading that book I realized there's more that Buddhism agrees with christianity then it doesn't, I also found another Dalai Lama book of lectures on the Four Nobel Truths.

So I found Buddhism, a philosophy that did not require a god or even deities, the ideas presented only asked me to observe and experience the world and see if the Buddhist perspective is valid and helpful for me. I embraced it, and dabbled in denominational christianity. which I ditched in 2006 after a horrible retreat experience that is for another blog.

I find hope in the fact that around the world every moment of every day people can do things that can consistently be reproduced without praying for it, or being the right religion for the lights to work or if someone didn't light a candle in church their car still won't crash into mine. I have hope in the idea that science and rationality still work whether or not people believe in them or not. My hope lies in the knowledge that around the world people are alive because of scientific medical breakthroughs discovered by Atheists, and shared with all regardless of their faith. I have hope that I'm not the only one who feels this way because I'm the happiest I've ever been, except before I was told I needed a god I didn't know about.

I get my peace every day I know I'm no longer polluting the minds of the innocent with tales of faeries in the bottom of the garden, or of invisible sky giants who will damn them to an eternity of elevator music and food poisoning in a barbeque pit if they don't believe in santy klaws. My peace is living everyday knowing if I die tonight I'll never know it.

P.S. unrelated I loved the one "Bill Payers" ad, it was for Dianetics, thought it was a joke so I clicked on it! Damn Scientologists almost had me hooked, was some damn fine acting and effects.
After years of self-imposed depression, my "de-conversion" was what truly "saved" me and helped enjoy living my life again...wondering if there may or may not be god(s) would have kept me in lifelong delusional prayer, begging for my salvation.

I'm finally free or "awake" to the truth of the world through proclaiming I'm against religions with the pre-conceptions of god(s).

No depression here, thank reality!
Seth,

"polluting the minds of the innocent with tales of faeries in the bottom of the garden, or of invisible sky giants who will damn them to an eternity of elevator music and food poisoning in a barbeque pit if they don't believe in santy klaws"

Great imagery! It helps me look at fundamentalism in a different way.
I experienced grief for a period when I deconverted. I cried like my best friend had died off and on for weeks. So I completely understand what you are saying.

I find hope in the faces of my children. I know that I have broken a cycle of fear and abuse that was passed down in my family for so many generations. I find hope in groups like this, also. It's easy for me to get discouraged here in Atlanta, GA because I feel completely alone at times. But hearing your stories and your thoughts helps me to know that the world is beginning to awaken to a new dawn.

I find peace in comparing what I thought I knew to be true as a Christian. I thought that I, along with all of humanity, would face judgement day with a god who frankly scared the shit out of me. I lived in fear that I may have misunderstood scripture since it is so vague and so widely interpreted, and ultimately "failed" the test. Because we were taught that the devil was tricking all the other religions of the world, I often feared that maybe Christians were the ones who in fact were being tricked, and that I'd end up in hell anyway. SO I guess what I am saying is that while not having all the answers is difficult at times, it beats the HELL out of having them! Doesn't it?

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