I am an Existential Humanist or Why I Hate the Term “Atheist”

I know that I am one thing, even if there aren’t many things on that certainty list.

I am an Existential Humanist – I am sure other people have called themselves that but I did put that together for myself.

I am an atheist but I don’t like the term. I don’t like being defined as “without god.” I was never raised with god. I was never ever with god even remotely. SO, thusly, I don’t like being defined by something I have never been associated with except in opposition to. That tells you absolutely nothing about me.

I have told people this before and they have literally responded with “How Sad.” This is amazing to me. First of all it is rude. I would never dream of talking to a new person in my life and have them tell me they were Christian or Jewish or Muslim and have my response to be “I am so terribly sorry for your life.” That has never once crossed my mind. But when people learn about me they all of sudden see a poor orphan who was never loved enough. I know! I know exactly why they feel this way – I know so well that for those for whom damnation is a very real thing they see a dead woman walking. I know. And they suddenly feel bad for my soul – or worse, decide it is their job to save me. I get it. But please know, if this have ever been your response, it is quite rude.

Since I grew up having to explain myself (in many different ways as the years progressed) I became very good at it, very patient, and very tolerant. Not the common stereotype of an atheist – which is why I really want to be in my own category of Existential Humanist!

I don’t have anything against those who like the term atheist. My mother is one of them. But she was once part of that world. Catholic world to be precise. I never was. She is now without god – where as I have always been that way. It means something to people who have removed themselves, who have separated through their own very personal, very powerful journey. I would never dream of minimizing those journeys. Mine was different. I had to find a way to reconcile my beliefs for myself. I knew what my mother believed and I was essentially on the same page, but like anyone with their faith or beliefs, I had to make them my own. That is when I realized that atheist was not enough for me.

There are some atheists who are very angry – angry that god isn’t real in their lives anymore – and for me, for those people god still exists as an enemy for them. That is not atheism.

And ATHEISM is not a cohesive belief. We are only united by our lack, that does not mean we have anything in common. But if you tell me you are an atheistic existentialist – we necessarily have something to talk about.

I follow a lot of what Sartre says. I make my choices that define me in everyway. I am really into taking responsibility for my actions in the most essential way. This is how I define my life. This is how I define what is important. My actions and my non actions, my choices, my relationships and how I deal with life on a day to day basis. This is the most optimistic outlook for me. I am in complete control of my life and I can take any steps I want toward any possible end. It is exciting, it is scary and it is so alive and full of vigor and anticipation and happiness and sadness and all of that is ok! I am one of the most “look on the bright side” kind of people. I can get upset, but at the end of the day I choose to be ok or I choose to cry, knowing that that is my choice too – and their are time where I give myself permission to do that.

I believe in the potential of humans to create and place value in their lives, their creations, their worlds. I live for me and anyone and anything else that is important to me – my family, my art, my friends, and my love of all things worth my loving. I cannot think of another way I would want to go through my life.


2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Perspective Collector
    Nov 20, 2013 @ 06:04:31

    Totally get this!


  2. Donna Lack
    Jan 10, 2014 @ 22:23:13

    I lost my belief in god when I was was about 6 or 7 and saw the first trip to the moon on tv. I had literally been taught that heaven was on the other side of the clouds. Airline travel was only a few decades old then, so few people had actually seen the other side of the clouds. Everything was different after I watched as we went all the way to the moon and back and never found heaven, like finding out there is no Santa on steroids. I felt lied to. I felt like I had a deep, dark secret. I felt liberated!

    Thanks for sharing, Molly. Love your thoughts and artwork.


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