The Faith of an Atheist

damnLast week I talked about my religious beliefs and how eventually I lost my faith and became an atheist. (Not that there’s any ceremony or anything in ‘becoming’ an atheist.) There was one thing I neglected to point out and it has consistently been the thing people seem to find most confounding about me because despite my atheist tendencies, I do have absolute faith in something for which I have no objective proof.

I have faith that it’s all going to work out. This is a malleable faith but it is also steadfast. Despite whatever adversity may occur in my life, I have an overriding sense that it’s going to be alright eventually. I have had life-threatening ailments. I’ve been in horrendous car accidents. I’ve had friends die. In one six-week period a couple of years back, I was hospitalized, my (now ex-)wife kicked me out of my house, my son almost died in an accident, my grandmother died, and my friend killed himself. I’ve had the shit hit the fan in many ways and sometimes all at once. And still I had faith it would work out.

Don’t get me wrong. This faith has wavered on more than one occasion, but it’s always come back. Sure, I’ve had two marriages that didn’t work out. Yes, I’ve had unimaginably painful losses, but I’ve also had incredible luck. Just because something didn’t work out the way I thought it would doesn’t mean it didn’t work out.

If I wanted to, I could list off all of the things in my life that don’t seem to be going my way and make the adversity seem insurmountable and overwhelming. And there are times that I do just that. Then I reevaluate it and realize that certain things are true:

– I am alive

– I am not in danger of starving or losing my home

– I have a support network of friends and family who are willing to help in time of need

– I have a job and means to get another one if necessary

– I’m not done yet

All of these things remind me that not only could things be worse but I have the capability of making things better. There are things you’re unable to change, but the one thing you can change is your reaction to the situation. Making positive changes isn’t easy. It requires work and it requires faith that it’s all going to work out.

There are those who might say that it does not always work out. One could even argue that things haven’t always worked out for me (though I would disagree). However, I contend that believing things are going to work out and working towards that goal is important even when it turns out you’re wrong. As with anything else, if you don’t think you can win, then whatever chance you had of winning is gone.

Right now I have a few significant challenges. I have faith that each of them will work out. When I worry that they won’t, I ask myself a simple question: What is the worst case scenario in that situation? More often than not, it’s not nearly as terrible as I’ve initially imagined. Yes, there will be times that your world falls apart, but that’s often because there’s a new world ready to be built.

I’m sure this all sounds fairly naïve or hopelessly optimistic. And maybe it is. But if I’m right then it’s worth it. And if I’m wrong then at least the disappointment is only at the end. I suppose someone could make a similar case for believing in the Almighty. And they’re welcome to do so. I just believe it’s all going to work out and you don’t need to believe in God to believe that.

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