I Finally Found Peace When I Accepted Atheism

Faith: By definition, it can’t be proved, but it can make life’s journey so much easier … and perhaps yours as well.

I was raised in a Christian fundamentalist home. The Bible was taken as literal truth:

  • The Earth was created 6500 years ago (give or take a year or two).
  • Noah’s Ark is somewhere on Mount Ararat, and
  • You had better believe in the Bible because Hell is a very real destination for non-believers.

Attending church twice on Sunday was mandatory. Evening meals were inevitably followed by Bible readings, missionary stories, and obligatory prayers around the table.

My childhood would have perfectly reflected the country folk in the movie classic Inherit the Wind and Give Me That Old-Time Religion theme.

The overbearing implication was that the Bible, and its teachings were all just so painfully obvious there would be no need to question any of it.

None of it made sense to me, even as a child. 

My simple question, “Where did God come from?” was answered with a wave of the hand and a sigh that it was all so evident … “God always was.”  

“How do you know there’s a heaven and hell?” was also an easy answer … “Because it says so in the Bible.” 

Those rote responses always left me angry and confused. How could anyone find satisfaction in those answers?

My father lived and breathed by several Bible verses. He took great comfort in Proverbs 22:6. Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old, he will not depart from it.

That meant carte blanche, indoctrination. Hammer hard enough, and anyone will eventually come around. That’s a promise right from God’s word. 

Try as I might, I just couldn’t square the teachings of the Bible!

There was too much contradictory stuff going on. But the thing that tormented me was my inability to embrace the “obvious” truth. After all, how could people believe the Bible so thoroughly and literally if it wasn’t, in fact, the words of the creator himself?

To be honest, I’ve always envied those who found certainty in their faith. 

We’ve all known people who said from an early age, “All I’ve ever wanted to do is be a doctor, or a missionary, or an accountant” (well, maybe not that), but these people who seem to be born with a singular passion for their life’s pursuit were … well, lucky. They would never have to confront the question most of us face: what the hell am I going to do with my life? 

Faith is the same … perhaps even more so. People who have been “lucky” enough to have found faith in something – or just not care one way or the other – avoid the torment of questioning what happens after we die?

I was a lost soul who couldn’t stop searching for satisfactory answers.

Not surprisingly, I was haunted by the Bible verse from Matthew 26:24.

The Son of Man indeed goes just as it is written of him, but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been good for that man if he had not been born.

That was the big one.

If, on the outside chance, the Bible was the literal truth, how could I ever be part of bringing a child into this world? What if my child was a non-believer? According to the literal truth, that child would spend all eternity suffering untold torment simply because they failed to place their bet on the right belief. Was I willing to subject a soul (my child) to such a fate? Not a chance!

I was in my early thirties when I finally accepted the fact that knowing what I didn’t believe was my first step to finding my faith. By then, I could no longer try to believe in the teachings of the Bible and its overhanging promise of “believe the right thing” or face eternal torture.

But rejecting the literal truth of the Bible didn’t deter me from pursuing a belief in God.

I read endless books by other believers (not Christian fundamentalists)  … but it wasn’t until I read Discovery of the Presence of God by world-renowned psychiatrist Dr. David Hawkins – who wrote a series of books on the path to enlightenment  – that I could find a way to pursue a belief in God, without having to accept the Bible as literal truth.

For quite some time, I was obsessed with his teachings. I was so moved by the way Dr. Hawkins could rationalize and explain almost any spiritual concept. His description of Hell was perhaps the most chilling and poignant thing I had ever read. 

In Discovery of the Presence of God, he described his psychological descent into Hell;

… the intense meditative state led to realms of severe despair and eventually to the depths of Hell in timeless dimensions of eternal agony in which one is forever cut off from the Light.

The depths are endless, and one comes to the knowingness of the meaning of “abandon hope all ye who enter here.”

The terror of eternal isolation followed without any hope of its termination or even relief by extermination, for there was not even the possibility of death as the ultimate escape. Next followed the surrender of hope itself, which was replaced by a timeless dread.

Having read that, I began to consume his books in search of my own path to enlightenment.

Months later, I attended a weekend with him in Arizona, hoping to glean the spiritual path from the master himself.

There were perhaps 1,500 attendees. Hawkins spoke for hours about his spiritual journey and discovery of God.

At one point, he turned to Applied Kinesiology (AK) to demonstrate the body’s spiritual connection to universal truth.

According to Applied Kinesiology (AK), a universal, spiritual intelligence runs through the nervous system. By measuring muscle resistance to various objects, one can determine the health of bodily organs. 

Dr. Hawkins took it a step further. He declared that applied kinesiology is so reliable that he could detect truth from falsity in any statement.    

The audience was thrilled to line up and have him divine the truth to their questions.

Muscle Response Testing by leezsnow from Getty Images Signature

Holding their arms outstretched, Dr. Hawkins would ask them a question – or ask one back of them that they requested. If the answer was true (affirmative), they were strong and could resist his downward push on their arm. If it was false, their arm lost all strength and had almost no resistance.

That was it! According to everyone there, Dr. Hawkins and his applied kinesiology technique was the verifiable diviner of truth.

I was in disbelief at what I was witnessing

The obvious fact that none of these questions could be verified scientifically didn’t seem to matter.

(Applied Kinesiology has been thoroughly debunked by double-blind scientific testing)

As I witnessed this charade, my disappointment suddenly transformed into my own enlightened moment. 

I suddenly realized I was witnessing the formation of faith. These people were finding comfort in something outside of themselves. They were finding faith and inspiration in Applied Kinesiology, a belief in a universal spiritual connection, and unquestioned faith in Dr. David Hawkins and the veracity of his spiritual journey.

I didn’t need to stretch out my arm to verify anything. I was witnessing the birth of blind faith.

Everyone present got what they had come for: reassurance and peace of mind. Incredibly enough, so did I. 

It finally hit me. I had been trying to force fit some “agreed upon faith” into my psyche all my life, and the more I tried, the more resistance I felt from my inner consciousness.

The more I searched for answers outside myself, the more frustration and anxiety I felt. 

At that moment, I became an Atheist. I had found my answer. 

I didn’t require a God or a particular faith to settle my tormented soul. With total peace of mind, I could accept that there doesn’t have to be a God. The universe could just be a beautiful mystery.

With this simple realization, I could embrace life as it is, with the same unquestioning joy as an innocent child.

I didn’t have to invent or conjure anything to calm my soul. I didn’t have to force myself into mental contortions to follow someone else’s belief; I could happily accept that there are many questions to which I will never know the answers, and I’m okay with that.

It’s Okay to Change Our Most Cherished Beliefs 

Our beliefs are like our possessions; we will go to great lengths to preserve them. But what happens if we experience cognitive dissonance (anxiety that results from holding contradictory or incompatible beliefs), or perhaps worse, we no longer have faith in our old beliefs that previously defined who we were and what we stood for? 

For example, there are ministers, priests, pastors, and other clergy worldwide who have invested a significant portion of their lives in theology but can no longer manage to hold supernatural beliefs, people who have moved away from their previous faith.

To abandon one’s professed beliefs requires great courage.

Many others cannot accept the loss of their religious investment, so they continue to practice a profession inconsistent with their beliefs.

This is not a knock on one’s faith whatsoever. If a person is living consistent with their beliefs, they won’t experience the torment of cognitive dissonance. 

A change in beliefs isn’t limited to “Spiritual” faith

People run into cognitive dissonance with their beliefs in religion, medicine, the law, an occupation, a relationship or any other important matter in which they’ve invested much time and effort. Mental anguish only results when we continue to pursue sentiments that we no longer believe are valid.

True “faith” feels right.

I was trying to force-fit what my mind could not accept. When I stopped doing that, I finally found peace. Atheism is my faith – it’s not right or wrong; it’s just what I believe … and I haven’t the slightest desire to convince anyone to share my faith.

My cognitive dissonance was trying to make my faith fit my geography. If I were born in Iraq, would I be Muslim? In Japan, a Buddhist?  I didn’t want that. I wanted my faith to be meaningful; I didn’t want it to be something I was born with, like dark hair and blue eyes.

True faith – results from honest introspection. Whatever that may be. When you find faith in something that satisfies your soul, that’s truly something to celebrate. 

If history has taught us anything, there’s very little we can honestly know. Finding faith is a uniquely human experience that makes the challenging road of life a little easier to travel.

I’m sure that many people with religious faith look down on Atheists as lost souls; I know I did.

But many years of searching, thinking, deep introspection, and an acceptance of Atheism have finally given me peace of mind.

People ask, “What’s your faith?” They don’t ask, “What do you know for sure?”  Faith, by definition, is; “firm belief in something of which there is no proof.”

And that’s why it’s categorically wrong to push our faith onto anyone else. I’m NOT trying to sell Atheism … “God” forbid. I’m selling the concept of searching and finding your faith.

Whatever that may be, I sincerely hope that you find your faith, as I’ve finally found my mine.