Huffpost Religion
The Blog

Featuring fresh takes and real-time analysis from HuffPost's signature lineup of contributors

Dori Hartley Headshot

The Soulful Atheist

Posted: Updated:

I think one of the most popular misconceptions about atheists is that we don't believe in anything, that our lives are void of spirit, belief and or any of the other things that theists think make the world go 'round.

You know what? It's just not true.

Now, I'm not one of the militant atheist-supremacists. In fact, I refer to myself as an atheist simply to clarify that I do not believe in a deity. Outside of that, I'm not married to the title nor do I use it to define myself. It's one of those "for lack of a better word" words.

I do not represent any particular way of thinking, other than my own. And as an "atheist," I can tell you this:

I pray.
I have faith.
I believe in the cosmic consciousness.
I live in gratitude.
I am moved to tears by the beauty that is nature.
I feel the intensity of great love.

So, a believer in deities or a single deity might ask: How is it that you pray? All prayers are to God.

I do not pray to a deity. It's that simple. I pray, just as anyone else would, with the same intention: "Please let so and so happen..." Perhaps I'm praying to the great cosmic mass mind, a way of putting a creative thought into the pool where the good will of other minds are swirling around, creating, manifesting, sustaining. Because I don't have a figurehead on the other end of my prayer does not mean I am without direction. My focus is clear: I am on the other side of my prayer. In some version of my own higher self, I am the one who will lift me up, grant me peace and/or take my prayer and manifest it. I own complete responsibility for my prayer.

There is no such thing in my world as, "Give it to God." This is a concept I don't understand. Sounds like giving up to me, and I feel that if I'm to give up, I would prefer to give up to a higher source of energy as opposed to a word that is interpreted 10 zillion different ways by 10 zillion different people. The word "God" is so unspecific, so vague and seems almost to belittle the enormity and wonder of the infinite -- how could a word be attributed to a thing of such magnitude and mystery?

How can you have faith? Faith is directly related to a belief in something invisible, intangible...

I have faith in exactly that. I believe in the invisible and the intangible. I have absolute faith in the universe, in nature and in the balance of energy. My faith is unshakeable. I just don't have faith in the same power "name" as you.

Cosmic consciousness? Isn't that just another catchphrase for God?

I suppose it is -- if you believe in God. And if you don't, then, it's just the concept of endless energy, all being projected and retracted on a nonstop basis, forever and ever, inwards and outwards, in every angle, etc, etc. That's big enough for me.

Who do you thank when you say you have gratitude?

Does someone have to be thanked when one has gratitude? Can I not just feel gratitude? Can I not issue the words, "Thank you" to the sky, and let the flow of positive energy flow back on me without having to know myself as beneath a higher power? Maybe I'm just grateful to be alive, or that my loved ones are happy. My gratitude feels sincere when I take full responsibility for what I feel, as opposed to thinking there's "someone out there" who's doing me a favor. I, along with all the other praying minds of good will, am creating the vibration that will deliver our good fortune. In my opinion, we are ALL the "mind of God," once again, for lack of a better word.

If you're moved to tears by the beauty of nature, then you are witnessing the presence of God.

No, I'm witnessing the manifestation of energy, and I love every minute of it.

The intensity of love? You feel this and you don't call it "God"?

They -- you know "them" -- say God is Love. They also say God is everything. So, then, God is hate too, and all the other good and bad things, no? See, there's never a clear explanation on this principle, which is why I cannot believe in it.

Now, let's go back to "love."

They say God is love. I say love is love. Whether it's the attached and heartfelt love that humans feel for each other on so many different and worthwhile levels, or it's the detached love that allows the human being to experience oneness with everything. I feel love. I've felt it all my life. Not a day has gone by when I've had any loss for love or it's many manifestations. And yet, I'm still an atheist, so there's a discrepancy here. I don't believe in "God" but I do feel LOVE around the clock.

So, yes, atheists can feel love, gratitude, faith, even spirituality. Like I've said, I'm not one of the militant types who needs to put anyone else down for their beliefs. I'm truly into the "live and let live" idea. While I do love science, I'm not here to shove Darwin or Hawking down anyone's throat. In fact, if God is what you believe in, I'm all for it if it makes you happy, because that's all we can ask for in this life: A little bit of happiness.

And a little bit of tolerance goes a long, long way.

Live and let live! Viva la Whatever!

Around the Web

Atheism and Spirituality: Are there any Spiritual Atheists? Can ...

American Atheists | Welcome Free Thinkers

Atheism - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Atheism : Pictures, Videos, Breaking News