Whenever something bad happens for a theist, one thing that I often hear from some (or if not all) of them is "it's God's plan". At first, it sounds like rubbish, but if you analyze the intent behind why they believe in such nonsense, what they're actually saying is that they need a reason or justification for believing in themselves and believing that there is some order to the relative chaos in their lives.

As Atheists, we don't have the same supernatural kind of reassurance. We know that we're born into this world as a result of a long line of primates that have gone through an indefinite process of natural selection. There is no god, and the only reason why we're here is because we were the most fit among our parents' genes to become an embryo and subsequently develop into a human being.

So in layman's terms, if things go bad, what kind of reassurance do we really have? I thought about this problem for a while, and it turns out that while there is no supernatural reassurance for why things happen the way they do, there's a "natural" explanation that I often tell myself when things just don't go my way or whenever I have doubts about myself and my abilities.

What I do is that I tell myself that I (for a lack of a better explanation) was "naturally selected". No, this isn't some crazy illusion or delusion of grandeur--it simply means that we (as human beings) have been chosen as the best fit from our parents' genes, and by definition, it's our biological imperative to surpass them. Whenever I feel like I can't do something, I always tell myself that there have been millions of primates up my ancestral tree that have died so that I could live the life that I live now, and that I can't let them down.

It sounds pretty strange, but you could almost say that a primate died 150,000 years ago just so I can be sitting here with my laptop, drinking my latte, and pondering about the wonders of life with a few thousand of my closest Atheist buddies.

The point is that we're all here for a natural (not a supernatural) reason, so whenever you feel like you just can't make it, all you have to do is tell yourself that millions of your ancestors have died just so you can live, and among them, you are the most fit among their seed.

After all, who needs a 2000 year-old Jew nailed to a cross when you have several hundred thousand ancestors who have died for the sake of your survival?

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Comment by Tim Connell on November 26, 2009 at 6:56pm
interesting article - and a great idea to look for comfort outside of religion. I can't say that I would use that method in particular as I would think the DEATH of those previous primates had really no effect on our coming into being, would it not be more to do with when they procreated (hopefully while still alive ha ha) they didn't really die so we can survive but had sex for our survival. "make love, not war" takes on a new meaning for me now!
Comment by Philip Laureano on November 26, 2009 at 7:01pm
Or maybe the word 'died' isn't the appropriate term here--let's try swapping the word "died" with "lived", and see if it sounds better. :)
Comment by Wendy on November 26, 2009 at 10:43pm
I've definitely found more peace in atheism. When horrible things happen to good people, I don't torture myself wondering what they did to "deserve" it. It is no judgement on them, it's just shitty luck. I don't have to try to reconcile a loving & forgiving god with the horrors on earth.

Example: I have an acquaintance that really struggled to get pregnant. 3rd try of IVF worked - TRIPLETS. Then she went into labor at 26 weeks (14 weeks early). One of the babies ended up dying after I think 12 weeks. Heart breaking.... but there was a sense of peace that it's just the way the dots lined up... it isn't that they deserved to lose their daughter. It wasn't that the daughter filled her purpose in 12 weeks. It's just the way the cookie crumbles. A lot of theists think this is bleak thinking, but I think it's much better than the idea that God is really letting these things happen.
Comment by Lord Atheist on November 26, 2009 at 11:09pm
Philip what are you talking about? Everytime I'm in trouble I call on the almighty Atheist he is my strength.

Oh Heavenly Atheist I come to you a wretched soul fatherly Atheist
Comment by Philip Laureano on November 26, 2009 at 11:34pm
Philip what are you talking about? Everytime I'm in trouble I call on the almighty Atheist he is my strength.

Oh Heavenly Atheist I come to you a wretched soul fatherly Atheist

Heavenly Atheist? What an Apostate :P I prefer the Flying Spaghetti Monster--at least I get "pesto from heaven" if my prayers are heard...but The Noodley One is too drunk to hear them :( Oh well
Comment by Ashli Axtell on November 26, 2009 at 11:51pm
When speaking of religion and religious persons, I try not to be disdainful, but sometimes I just can't help myself.

Being atheists, we don't have that wonderful crutch of religion to lean on when the goin' gets rough. We can't shirk responsibility and blame it on the devil weavin' his wily tricks, we can't look at something bad and hope that it's part of God's plan and we can't take something wonderful and say, "Oh, it's a blessing from the Lord." And (my personal favorite) we don't acquire something through hard work and perseverance and then say, "Look what God has given me! Isn't He so wonderful?!"

The beauty of atheism is the clarity of truth - and it is in truth and truth alone that I can find solace and comfort, no matter how discomforting, harsh, or difficult the actual truth might be.
Comment by Dave G on November 27, 2009 at 11:18am
We're made of star stuff, and that's wondrous enough for any lifetime.
Comment by Andres Kazan on December 22, 2009 at 9:09pm
I like this. I'll probably start using this way of thinking for motivation :) Thanks!


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