I’m a Believer

If you’re reading this because you think this post is about the 1967 song “I’m a Believer” by the Monkees, it’s not. Not even close.

022D0AC0-1820-43FC-91E9-2EF94E30FEDAWhat this post is about is that I was talking to a friend of mine this past weekend. He’s a fairly religious person and he knows that I’m an atheist. He told me that he didn’t understand how anyone could be a “non-believer.” Apparently he believes, like many people, that being an atheist means that you’re a “non-believer.”

Do you tend to call those who don’t believe in God “non-believers”? Well, if you do, your definition of “believer” is way too narrow. You’re thinking that the word “believer” applies only to a belief system, a religious belief system. A belief in a supreme being, a greater intelligence, a supernatural deity. And for most Americans, that means believing in God, Yahweh, Allah, or whatever you call your deity.

As an atheist, I believe that God does not exist. I believe that Christians, Jews, and Muslims made up God in the same way that Greeks and Romans, for example, made up Zeus and Jupiter and all the other gods they believed in.

But just because I don’t believe that God exists doesn’t make me a non-believer. Because that would imply that I don’t believe in anything. I believe in a lot of things.

I believe that we didn’t exist before we were born and that we will cease to exist in any form after we die.

I believe that our universe is almost 14 billion years old and that the planet we live on is 4.5 billion years old. I believe in evolution. And I believe that we are working pretty damn hard to destroy our planet’s ability to sustain human life.

I believe in a woman’s rights to choose. I believe in free speech, in freedom of (or from) religion, in equal rights for gays, and in gun control. I also believe in the separation of church and state.

But wait, there’s more that I believe. I believe that humans are fallible and that we all make mistakes. Some more than others. I believe that most people are good, decent, and moral, regardless of their religious beliefs — or lack thereof. And I believe in my country. Just not in “God and country.”

Yeah, I know. You’re thinking that these beliefs make me a liberal, which is the next worst label a person can have after atheist, right?

You’re also thinking that these are not beliefs. These are philosophies. These are ideologies. And you’re thinking that I’m expressing political opinions, not, you know, beliefs.

Sorry, I don’t believe that. Yes, these are philosophical beliefs. They are ideological and even political beliefs. But they are, nevertheless, beliefs. Other than from a very narrow religious perspective, just because I don’t believe in God, doesn’t make me a non-believer. I have a whole host of beliefs. Because I am a human being and I am alive.

There is not one of us — unless you’re dead — who doesn’t believe in something.

And now, for those of you who took the time to read my 520-word post, here’s a reward for your effort.

FFfAW — Juxtaposition

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“Is that a lantern?” Jayne asked, pointing to the orange item.

Yes,” Tim responded. “It’s a battery operated lantern that my parents put out on our front porch every year on Halloween.”

“But that winged lion on the lantern’s top,” Jayne said. “Isn’t that a Christian symbol?”

“Yes,” Tim said. “It’s one of four creatures standing around the throne of the Almighty in the Gospel of St. Mark. The winged lion appeared in Prophet Ezekiel’s vision, where four winged creatures represented the four evangelists — Matthew the human, Mark the lion, Luke the bull, and John the eagle.”

“But Halloween is a pagan holiday?” Jayne said. “Why would a Halloween lantern have a Christian symbol on it?”

“Well,” Tim explained. “It’s a compromise between my mother and father. Juxtaposing a Christian symbol on the pagan holiday sends a spiritual message, thus satisfying them both, since he’s an atheist and he loves Halloween, while she’s Catholic and not a Halloween fan.”

“Oh,” said Jayne, But what does that make you?” Jayne asked.

“Very confused,” Tim answered.

(174 words)


Written for this week’s Flash Fiction for Aspiring Writers from Priceless Joy. Photo credit: wildverbs.

All Dressed Up and No Place to Go

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I probably shouldn’t do this. It’s against my better judgment. After all, my philosophy is “you do you and I’ll do me.” So I’d be better off just keeping my mouth shut and minding my own business.

I also suggest, should you decide to take a moment and continue reading this post, that you lower your expectations, since I have no special qualifications or knowledge on the subject matter. I am merely expressing my opinion.

So what, exactly, is the subject matter? No biggie. Just the purpose of life is all.

I read a blog post earlier today in which the blogger wrote, “the reason for life is for God to know me, love me, and serve me.” Then the blogger said that our life’s purpose, our mission, is “to know, love, and serve God in this life so we will be happy with Him in Eternity.”

Now I’m not being critical of this blogger for her beliefs. Hey, whatever floats your boat, you know. But what she wrote did confuse me. The two statements seem contradictory to me. Is the purpose of life to let God know, love, and serve us? Or is it for us to know, love, and serve God? Which is it? Or is it both?

The blogger also can’t understand why anyone would fear death, because death is what allows us to be happy with God for eternity. Death, the blogger contends, is life changed, not life taken away.

I think the blogger has a point. Why bother fearing death if the sole purpose of life is to “be happy with God for eternity” and death brings you closer to it?

You see, this is why I’m an atheist. I believe that death is the end, that there is no afterlife, no eternity to be spent at the right hand of God. So I want to live my life to the fullest because death, I believe, is life taken away.

The blogger ended her post by writing, “The atheist reasoning best explained from an epitaph etched on a gravestone. ‘All dressed up and no place to go.’”

Yes, I agree with that. When it comes to death, the end is not a new beginning. It’s just the end and there is no place else to go.


Written for today’s Your Daily Word Prompt, “qualification,” for the Word of the Day Challenge, “expectation,” and for Fandango’s One-Word Challenge, “moment.”

Mumbo Jumbo

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When I was in elementary school many, many years ago, there was a daily morning ritual. We’d stand up, put our hands over our hearts, and recite the Pledge of Allegience. Then we’d bow our heads and recite The Lord’s Prayer.

Given that I was a “go along to get along” kid at the time, I did what every other kid in the class did. I recited these by rote, not really understanding or even caring about the meaning of the words I was reciting. It was just something we were required to do.

It didn’t take me too long to grasp the meaning of the Pledge of Allegiance, but I had a harder time with The Lord’s Prayer, especially once I started paying attention to the words.

My father’s name was Alan, not Art. So who was Art and why was he living in heaven? And why did they hollow out his name? And what will would he be doing until it was done?

What was so special about having bread every day? As far as trespassing, my mother had taught me to not go on the lawn of the crotchety old man who lived next door, but why would he be trespassing on our lawn?

One night at dinner I finally decided to ask my parents to explain The Lord’s Prayer to me. Ours was not a particularly religious family. My father never went to church and my mother went only sporadically. When I asked the question, my father said, “It’s just a bunch of religious mumbo jumbo.”

My mother explained that it’s a prayer to God, but she said that if I didn’t want to recite it every morning, I didn’t have to. I could just stand there, head bowed, and be silent. “Use that time to reflect,” she said.

The next morning, I was sent to the principal’s office after telling my teacher that I wasn’t going to recite religious mumbo jumbo anymore. I received a week of after school detention for that indiscretion.

Perhaps that incident contributed to my becoming an atheist.


Written for today’s one-word prompt, “recite.”

Practical Pragmatist

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I am a pragmatist. And I think of myself as a practical person. Thus, I am a practical pragmatist.

So what is a pragmatist? A pragmatist is a person who is oriented toward the success or failure of a particular line of action, thought, etc.

A pragmatist is an advocate or adherent of pragmatism, which is the philosophy or conduct that emphasizes practicality.

Philosophical Pragmatism

The pragmatic philosophy is based on the belief that the best way to evaluate the practicality of ideas, policies, and proposals is through their workability and usefulness. Pragmatism stresses action over doctrine. The philosophy embraces the notion that ideas base their meanings from their consequences; that they are essentially instruments and plans of action.

So how do I know that I’m a pragmatist? When I was a young adult working a full-time job and attending graduate school at night to get a Master’s degree, the girl I was dating at the time lambasted me for putting more emphasis on “dollars and degrees” than on my relationship with her. I wasn’t, she bemoaned, giving her as much time and attention as I was giving my job and my school work. She didn’t like being the third priority in my life, yet she was.

I knew I needed to work hard at my job in order to pay for rent, food, school, and, well, life. I knew that getting a graduate degree would enable me to be more successful and secure in the future. I knew these things because I’m a pragmatist.

So what about “practical”? I describe myself as a logical, rational, and reasonable person. I am not ruled by emotions but by facts, observations, and evidence. That’s likely why, in addition to being a pragmatist, I’m an atheist. There is nothing logical, rational, or reasonable about religious doctrine or dogma. Rather than being based upon facts, observations, and evidence, religion is based upon faith and beliefs where there is no empirical evidence.

This is not to say that I can’t be open to beliefs or faith, either. Every time I board an airplane I have faith that the aircraft is mechanically sound and that the pilot and copilot are sober and competent. I just don’t buy into this whole God thing because there is no empirical evidence that such an omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent, supernatural being exists other than in the minds of those who have embraced ancient mythologies over logic, rationality, and reason.

Nor does my pragmatism mean that I am devoid of emotions. I am empathetic and have been known to shed a tear or two when I encounter the pain or suffering of others. I may not feel as intensely as others feel, but I feel nonetheless.

So bear in mind as you read my posts, should you decide to read beyond this first one, that, as a self-identified practical pragmatist, my perspectives are borne out of practicality and pragmatism.

And that works for me.