When I Say I’m an Atheist, I’m Not Saying . . .

When I say I’m an Atheist, I’m not saying life has no meaning.
When I say I’m an Atheist, I’m not saying death
is the dark dismal end to a dark dismal life.
When I say I’m an Atheist, I’m not saying the belief in god
is a sad delusion or an excuse to go on living.
When I say I’m an Atheist, I’m not saying
anything goes, I’m not saying
I have no need for morality or that I have
no sense of moral guidance.

Atheists are familiar with evil.
And we’ve experienced goodness — speechless
heart twisting goodness.

When I say I’m an Atheist, I’m not saying
I have the ability
or even the right
to do whatever I want, however and whenever
I want to do it.

It’s true, when I say I’m an Atheist, I am saying
I believe god doesn’t exist.
But in the end, what do I know about god?  

When I say I’m an Atheist,
what I’m really saying is the belief in god
does not make me a better person,
a more kind person, a more generous,
compassionate person.
When I say I’m an Atheist, I’m saying
the belief in god does not give my life
more purpose.

And yet, when I say I’m an Atheist,
I’m not saying the belief in god
is meaningless.  I’m not saying your faith
is based in delusion
and your sense of meaning and purpose
delusional —

I am not saying that.

Being an Atheist doesn’t make me
smarter than you, more educated,
more capable of rational thought.

When I say I’m an Atheist,
I’m not saying I have no emotions,
that I’m just a brain
trying to logically understand the world.
When I say I’m an Atheist,
I’m not saying I believe in nothing
but facts and evidence.

I feel love too.

and pain and disappointment and regret and anger
even that overwhelming sense
of wonder and awe at the universe
something believers call a manifestation
of The Spirit.  
We just don’t call it The Spirit.  
We don’t call it anything.

Please remember, Atheists are human too.
We bleed just like you do.
We hope too.
We try our best to maintain
a sense of hope for humankind –that we won’t
destroy ourselves.

As an Atheist, I often lie awake at night,
caught between dream and wakefulness, imagining a future
more peaceful than our present,
more kind,
more conscious,
more capable of empathy and, yes, more focused
on faith.

When I say I’m an Atheist, I’m not saying believers
are full of shit.

I am a believer.

When I say I’m an Atheist, I’m saying to you,
hold on to your faith, may it grant you
a greater sense of wonder, a greater sense
of kindness and understanding.

May your faith save us,
Just as I hope my faith can save us too.

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