Atheism, Religion, and PTSD

And my unwillingness to disregard the Oxford comma, apparently. 😉

In case you hadn’t heard, I have PTSD. I suppose at some point I will get an updated diagnosis of CPTSD but for now we’ll stick with the official one.

Also, in case you hadn’t heard, PTSD sucks. In fact, it sucks as bad as whatever gave you the PTSD/CPTSD in the first place except it’s actually worse because you absolutely cannot get away from it. I can cut off communications with an abusive parent, I can divorce my abusive husband, but the PTSD is within me and it won’t be leaving any time soon.

Religion has long promised relief from such suffering. Just do what God requires, they claim, and he will heal you. Just pray the right way and you will be delivered.

Of course, they also have a list of excuses when none of that works. I receive these lists from friends as a reminder now that I’m wrong about God, that God causes suffering because it makes us better people and that we ought to just suck it up and praise him.

I’ve already dealt with how abusive that is. And each time one of my religious friends sends me I cringe and fight off the flashbacks. Meanwhile, they pat themselves on the back and think that this will show me. Honestly, all it shows me is that you are OK with abuse. And I trust you just that little bit less.

Atheism has made me no promises. Atheism does not promise to heal my PTSD. It does not promise to get me a good job. It does not promise me that my relationships will be fixed. It gives me no magic formula for anything.

As my sub-title for my blog says:

Sam-Harris-Atheism-is-not-a-philosophy

That’s all Atheism is. There’s nothing more or less to it. Religious people like to say there is, I know, I was religious. From my experience on both sides, I think religious people do that simply because they cannot comprehend anyone being able to not believe in a god and worship something.

And from an evolutionary standpoint, that makes sense. To borrow and distort an argument from Dawkins, our minds have evolved in a world where religion is the norm. We cannot even begin to imagine anything else.

We like to think we can, but in reality, until we have ourselves experienced this state of disbelief, we cannot comprehend that a person can believe in absolutely no deity and have no desire to worship anything.

Our thoughts are further distorted by our very religious texts that claim we all have to worship something, that’s how we are supposedly designed, with some sort of “god-shaped hole” in our psyche that forces us to worship.

However, when we realize that religious texts were written from men observing the world around them, we see that all they were seeing was this natural desire to understand the world around us. In our desire, in the minds that have evolved to need to understand, we invented thousands of religions over the ages to fill that need when we couldn’t understand.

In short, our minds have always demanded we fill in the gaps with a deity. We have always thought we needed something outside ourselves, outside our world, to fill in those terrifying holes in our understanding.

Nowadays we abuse this pre-historic need by claiming that if science hasn’t figured it out, then god.

It was this thinking that kept us in the dark ages, it was this thinking that kept us from multitudes of scientific discovery. Since science began to throw off the shackles of religion, we have made far more discoveries than we did under religion. Once the mind is freed from the tyranny of having to prove god, it is free to prove the truth.

As a Christian, seeking treatment from a condition like PTSD can create a problem. See, scripture promises that God will heal me if I just do what he wants. Then, of course, it then says he won’t. It’s like being in an abusive relationship where your husband promises one thing, then does another, and lies about even promising the first thing. “You intentionally misinterpreted what I said.”

Religion just adds to the insanity, especially once you actually study scripture and begin to think in terms of present reality, instead of just glossing over the parts you don’t like and thinking in terms of supposed future glory.

Atheism does not promise to heal, but as science has broken free from religious fundamentalism it has found ways to heal. It’s not perfect, but it’s not a false hope either. If I’m realistic, then I face a better chance at being healed. If I’m realistic, I won’t spend as much time in despair.

But there is no guarantee. It is entirely possible, and actually very probable, that after nearly half a century of abuse, my mind simply will never fully recover.

That’s reality. And that’s where Atheism lives.

 

4 Comments Add yours

  1. Lesley says:

    I liked your Oxford comma comment 🙂
    And I’m sorry you have experienced so much hurt from Christians and people arguing with you instead of showing you love. It really bothers me when people teach that there’s some magic key to healing and it’s just a question of doing the right thing or praying the right prayer. I’ve been hurt by that too and I don’t believe that’s what the Bible teaches, although I know it’s what some Christians would say.

    1. sarasamomx5 says:

      It’s not as painful as it used to be. I realize that people are very insecure and they are uncomfortable with other’s suffering, so they grasp onto this idea that it’s the victim’s fault at some level. It’s sad, and childish, but it’s actually pretty common.

  2. jmcollis says:

    If someone tells you that the way the world works is other than what is obvious about how it works – get outta there.
    Coming from a strong Christian upbringing from a dogmatic church – I understand too well the false sense of security and lack of critical thought that passes for everyday “common sense” which actually completely nonsensical and uncommon by most external peoples values. Thinking rationally and using your own knowledge based on rational thought can be fraught initially as you start re-evaluating everything you thought you knew. For me, I knew I had got somewhere, when I didn’t immediately feel like I had to answer back how someone’s reading of a piece of scripture was so “wrong, innapropriate” etc.etc.
    But with a real trauma you may need to find reliable help that understands. There are good secular ways to be healed. (I’m using the word secular, here to mean not based on a religion, mysticism, magic etc.). I really hope you can find a real medical professional, who really understands the full psychological effect of your past life and properly help you fix it – because it will be you doing it of course. After your experience I would think you wouldn’t trust just anything that anyone just says, that supposedly offers an easy solution would you?
    BTW Contrary to what a lot of christians will tell you, compassion, love and understanding isn’t just found in Christianity. These are common human traits. Also in my experience the people with the most compassion, love, empathy and human understanding are most likely to not be christian.
    Best wishes and my thoughts are with you.

    1. sarasamomx5 says:

      Thanks. Getting out of the small church circle when I got my job definitely exposed me to the world and how, yeah, good isn’t just from a set religion (and neither is evil). It’s been helpful.

      I have actually been able to find an atheist counselor. I know they are in the minority, which makes since as Atheists are in the minority. He’s been helpful in teaching me to redirect some of my self-destructive thoughts that came from years of being told I wasn’t enough. I have just started with him but I am finding it useful. Hopefully it will continue. 🙂

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