I have been blogging for a month or so about what I don’t believe in. It’s time to take a stand and state for the record what I do believe in. I would like to state, for the record, that I do not speak for all atheists – just this one. I truly believe that life is random.
In a comment, Bible Student states that I worship a religion of common sense and reason. Thanks for the compliment. I fully admit to being a polytheist and I worship the gods of rationality AND probability. Even though I believe life is random, I do have hope. The decisions that I make affect the randomness. I am not an alcoholic and I am not a Christian, yet the serenity prayer makes so much sense to me (modified for atheists):
I need to accept with serenity the things that cannot be changed, courage to change the things that should be changed, and the wisdom to distinguish the one from the other.
That’s what I base my hope on. There are things that I can control and things that I can’t. If I focus on the stuff that I can control by consistently making good decisions, my life seems to go pretty well. Every once in a while, bad things seem to happen, but I can will my way through it by making good decisions. Over time, I like to think that I have learned from my experiences and these lessons guide me to help make better decisions.
The rough patches of my life were not predestined in order for me to learn a lesson. They were either a result of bad decision making or random. I do not need to believe in the supernatural to feel better about myself or my life. My faith in myself , my family, and my friends carry me through.
OK, so I’ve laid out the concept that stuff happens and I am in control of my destiny, how can this possibly compete with heaven? What do I have to offer someone? Here are the gifts I plan to give to my son:
The Gift of Life
This is the only life we get and it could end at any time. I could get ill or hit by a bus tomorrow, so that means today counts! Life is wonderful and meaningful. If I do not like aspects of my life, I have to make decisions for change. My happiness is my responsibility and I accept that. I have the power to make myself happy and to care for my family. There is no afterlife, so this life must fully be appreciated in every moment.
The Gift of Reason
Since I am responsible for my decisions, I need to make my decisions carefully. I need to be comfortable with this responsibility. I need to constantly learn to ensure that I make the best decisions possible.
The Gift of Morality
I know right from wrong and it’s my responsibility to raise my children with good values.
It is my responsibility to ensure they know they need to leave this world better than they found it.
The Gift of Forgiveness
Strange concept for an atheist, huh? I do have experience with forgiveness… When I was a younger man, I dated a girl who was pretty and nice and sweet to me. I was a dick to her. I know this. I lacked the maturity and the honesty to say to her that I couldn’t give her what she wanted. When I broke up with her, I was spiteful and hurtful because I lacked the emotional intelligence and honesty she deserved.
I met this girl in a chance encounter years later and I looked her in the eye and said, “Hey pretty lady, I’m sorry that I was jerk to you when you were so sweet and nice to me.”
And she smiled and said, “I understand. You were young. You didn’t know how to handle yourself. You have said you were sorry, and it’s OK.”
She hugged me and kissed me on the cheek and I was forgiven with no supernatural interference. It happens all the time. I can be a jerk to my wife in the morning and then IM her in the afternoon and she says, “It’s OK. I forgive you.”
Sometimes I get too hard on myself. I make a decision and the outcome isn’t what I expected. I analyze and analyze to try and figure out how I got to the outcome that I got. If I made a mistake, I forgive myself and move on.
The Power to Change
Life throws curveballs and one path may seem right at the time and then later it’s not. I do not ask the supernatural for intervention or guidance. I am responsible for change. Nothing in this life is written in stone and there are always options if we look for them.
All five of my gifts are observable and open for analysis by a third party. My gifts will guide my son to be a good person and reach his potential. They will guide his life and empower him to make the difficult decisions that he will face in his life. None of my gifts require the divine. All of them should give him hope. They are all free to him so long as he is willing to accept the awesome responsibility of being in charge of his own life. Life is random, get over it – take responsibility and make good decisions.