OK, well, I suppose I've always been an atheist of sorts...I felt there was some sort of overarcing spiritual dimension but I've never seriously believed in any organised religion and neither have my parents so they basically let me get on with it, as it were. Only of late have I been looking more into neuroscience and so on and am coming to terms with the fact that I don't have a 'soul', that there is nothing else out there, and I'd be lying if I said it wasn't upsetting and painful. I suppose my first question would be - how DO you get over it? Not least as it's not definite, and it's very hard to jettison hope completely. I don't really enjoy life to the point where I can't help but wish some of my wishful thinking fantasies about there being reincarnation and that the lessons I learn, that suffering, has a purpose, are true...I can't help but feel like my life is needless. Not with any especially emo overtones, just a statement of fact, really.
At least I don't have to worry about the loss of a god or a community! It's the connectedness to things, the sense of karma in the world, that I don't want to lose. And the thought that I won't...meet people I'd hoped to meet, I suppose, and that nothing I do matters, that's the kicker. Sincerely, how do other people deal with this? I'm finding it hard to give any meaning to anything I do any more.
And on a slightly related note, I used to write fantasy stories based in this world and I find now...I can't. Partly because it feels like lying - there's no *chance* of any magic - and partly because it just feels stupid. Does that make sense? I have so much respect for Philip Pullman managing to complete a quasisupernatural series as an atheist. I know it's just for entertainment but firstly, there are people in the world who would take it seriously and that feels...unpleasant...and secondly, I suppose it still cuts to the quick a bit. Not that I believed any of my fantasy stories were TRUE or anything, but it was nice to think maybe there was the potential, almost...? Not that anyone will ever read them but that's by the by! Basically, everything I've ever been involved with has been very artistic, spiritual and internal, so I can't value it any more. I'm not sure where to start again and how. Or if I should even bother!
Oh dear. I know how foolish all that sounds! I hope this is also the right place to post. I suppose honestly, I'm just looking for some advice on...well, how to keep going, I guess. The trouble with a material world is, all your achievements have to be material and I simply don't have the capacity or the belief to do any. Again, there's no emoting there, it's just a fact. It was easier to have some self-tolerance when I thought, hey, at least I'm contributing to some sort of universal karma...!
Thanks for reading and apologies if I sound like I'm a whiny fifteen year old...
(Also, my replies may be sporadic, I'm being flooded out right now so my internet access is limited...! Hey, at least I know it's not a punishment from god for my sins!)
Worthy of note: Joe Michael Straczynski is an atheist, and yet he created Babylon 5 and wrote the vast majority of the scripts for a series which had a LOT of spiritual and religious notes in it. His atheism clearly didn't stop him, any more than Joss Whedon (another atheist) had no problem dealing with Thor and Loki in The Avengers.
So cut yourself some slack and write what you want!
I share a lot of your feelings about things. I was big into religion and the supernatural throughout most of my life. The world was full of amazement. A little over a year ago I came out atheist and was saddened that the supernatural is gone. Along with god went spirits, ghosts, faries, spacemen, and every scarey creature that your mind could ever think of. I can't watch a supernatural movie any longer and they used to be favorites of mine. Now they are just stupid! (I'm trying to deal with it.)
But your stories used to mean so much to you. This is a hurdle that you can get across if you try. Rather than base everything on truth as you know it, try to write and say
Octavia Kato, Have you ever thought of how many generations it has taken to have you be the scion of your line, that you have a very short period of existing in this universe, just a spark, actually? You have the here and now, and that is all. If you have any mortality it is through your offspring, or through your writing, or influences in your community. That is all there is. period! There is no heaven, no hell, no reincarnation, no magic, no mystery to your life. You are you, and that is all there is and that is enough. What a joy! Some people never are born, and they return to atoms before they see the light of day.
There is no planner for your life; it is up to you to decide the meaning of your life. There is nothing that answers prayers; it is up to you to find solutions to problems and conflicts. There is no savior to give you a chance at a second life after death; it is up to you to make your life whatever it is in you to produce. Your job is to reveal to the world who you are,
If you want beauty in your life, you have to create it. If you want peace, you have to create it. If you want joy you have to create it. You are bound by no laws that were created during the Stone Age to control people and then codified in the Bronze Age into sacred scriptures to support their religious institutions. The 21st century people have no obligation to know or understand those ancient laws or customs. They do not fit with the lives we live now.
We, because we are social primates, develop a natural moral code that makes living in a community possible. We don't have to look at ancient codes to know right from wrong. Our nature makes us not murder, steal, rape, plunder, assault, or think or act in anti-social ways. For those who do step outside the boundaries of acceptable behavior can be dealt with humanely.
I am so very glad you are here and joining in on the conversation! I am very sorry to learn of flooding in your area. We compare our different weather patterns around the world and can see climate changes.
Looking forward to more conversation,
I'm with Joan on this one. You get to assign meaning to your life. That is a VERY powerful thing that many people in the world don't realize. You are not a victim to the whims of a fickle god, you no longer have to be scared of demons at the end of your bed, you don't have to wonder if your house is haunted. You have the ability to reason and deduce and think with your wonderful brain. So figure out what is most meaningful to you and go after it with a big, fat stick. Grab a hold and hang on and ride this one life you get with all your heart.
As for the scifi/fantasy conundrum, I can tell you that I love both scifi and fantasy. I love immersing myself in the possibilities what could be (even if bloody unlikely). Not only do I read many scifi/fantasy books and watch movies, but I also play Rift, a fantasy MMO full of mages and magic and fanciful creatures. Just because your feet are firmly planted on the ground doesn't mean your imagination has to be stuck in the mud.
Good luck and hope you don't get swept away by the floods-Reg
I can't help but wish that the lessons I learn, that suffering, has a purpose, are true.
Suffering can make people stronger, more compassionate, can make them deeper human beings. And what it's worth is what we give to humanity and the world, including ourselves.
I've had a lot of dreams and fantasy, been mystical in my life without believing in supernatural entities. I didn't take it so far as to have concrete beliefs that a Being outside me would do stuff for me or was organizing the world.
Forsaking delusion doesn't have to mean forsaking dreams.
You've lost an imaginary world and you're afraid that the real world is bare and empty. Don't hold on to what you've lost: it's nothing. What you have left is everything, it only looks a bit different from what you've been taught in church. There's our amazing history, and the fact that you're connected to all of us and to everything that lives. And your achievements must be material? You're needed to give your attention to everyone crossing your path, for advise, a hug, a bowl of milk or whatever else you can share.
I think your stories will return and grow better once you've shifted your point of view.
All the best with the floods! If you cross the North Sea, bring a bowl of milk; the cats would love it!
I wouldn't, but if I was compelled to accept some kind of karma, it would amount to no more than the things that are good for us that happen and the things that happen that are bad for us in this life only through the principles of chance. For some, whether good or bad people, their lives had a greater balance of good than bad happen in them. Some are good people who for, whole the balance of bad things that's happened to them were greater than the good things during their lives.
It is enough that both good and bad happen to us all to greater or lesser degrees either way. The purpose of good and bad fortune is not, in reality, to reward goodly lived and punish badly lived lives No kind of retribution or reward really exists as some destined course.
Not believing in God gives me a sense of true freedom, I can live as I please in a way that does not harm my society or fellow citizens. If I'm not perfect I don't have to worry about eternal, conscious torment, for not shaving my beard right, or not even believing in a God at all. There's no afterlife, and that's a relief, at least in the matter of the Christian and Islamic Hells. So I feel at ease. I expect bad things to happen to me in life, good things too, but in one human life time either the good or the bad will outweigh the other.
It's good to know that death is the absolute end of me. Everyone before me dies, even those who have come after me have died (my younger sister). The longer life goes on the greater one's sorrow, guilt, suffering and misery. So it's good I think, for life to finally end, and end all our individual sorrow and suffering.
That's part of what draws me to atheism. The main the reason I am an atheist are the arguments' pros and cons. Another things that leads me to atheism is my love for knowing, and the research I do as a result. It is simply a fact that no facts of science whether biological facts, cosmological facts, particle and quantum physics facts, astronomical facts, chemical facts, mental facts or otherwise, support the occurrence of phenomena unexplainable by purely material, natural means.
That the nature of what I've learned from the sciences I study.
I think there is karma in the sense that doing evil things harms the people who do them. It affects their connections with other people and their inner peace.
And doing good things tends to be good for the people who do them.
Octavia, I had a more traditional Christian sense of the supernatural that you did, but the loss was really devastating for me. So much of my waking thoughts had been on that invisible realm. I remember feeling devastated at odd moments, trying to come to grips with the fact that I didn't have a mission or a specific place in a Grand Plan.
Then I realized something. I was in mourning just like someone close to me had died. Something very important had ended for me. Just because I knew it wasn't real anymore didn't mean I didn't miss it. I knew that studies show it takes about a year for someone to find their feet after a major loss - a death of someone close, a loss of a home, etc. A person can experience shock, numbness, hopelessness, and even feeling like they are losing their minds. I also found that I was going through five stages of grief for each aspect: loss of church family, loss of someone in my head to talk to, even loss of certain memories of "supernatural" experiences which now had to be reinterpreted in a material way.
I don't know how long it's been for you, but it took me well over a year before I started feeling better. I slowly noticed that I wasn't so lost in emotions of grief or fear anymore. I remember the very evening when I realized that I could finally let it go - of it all. I still miss some things a little, but the puzzle pieces of my brain are now rearranged and I'm doing great! I'm so glad to be free of the feeling that everything I do has eternal consequences. I use to be terrified of making mistakes.
You mentioned not feeling connected. Ironically, I feel so much more connected now - like I truly belong here on this earth. Because of my theology, I had always felt like a stranger in a strange land, waiting for something better to come. Now, I like knowing I'm a biological creature who actually belongs here. I belong here just as much as every flower or mountain or ocean wave. For some reason that kind of connection seems "magical" to me.
Anyway, that's a long way around of advising you to give yourself some time. It's reasonable to mourn and feel depressed but I'm confident it will get better for you. It takes different lengths of time for everyone. I bet you'll even find ways to write again. I'm not a writer but I actually enjoy books and shows about the supernatural better now!