Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Are You There God? It's Me, Danielle.

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There isn't much talk in blog-land about being a non-believer. There's a lot of religious talk, a lot of "I believe," and many beautiful sentiments about life and thoughts and talk of whatever god people want to put their faith into. But there isn't a lot about the lack of god or lack of belief from the other side. I am one of that other side, someone who doesn't follow a religion, and someone who isn't really sure if they believe in anything, really. I believe in Science, if that counts. But as far as a god, or an afterlife, or even a higher power of any kind, I'm not sure. And my "not sure" leans a lot more towards no.

It's kind of scary to put that out there, when I know that it's easy to judge, but it is what it is and that's me. I have plenty of close friends who are religious, and plenty who aren't. In my world it doesn't make a difference to me what you believe in, just that you are a good person with a kind heart.

I grew up Catholic, going to a big, beautiful church in our New Jersey town. I was baptized as a baby, received Communion in the 2nd grade, and was confirmed in the 7th. I can still recite the entire Catholic mass, beginning to end, and have vivid memories of the confessional, memorizing the Ten Commandments, and even scary Monsignor Donovan who would slap your cheek if you took Communion the wrong way. I loved Church growing up, but not for any reason other than I thought that all of the rituals were fun, and I enjoyed hearing the stories each Sunday in class. Most of our friends attended with us, and I even had my first kiss right outside of those big wooden doors in the 6th grade.

We moved to Arizona when I was 14 and we went to a new church a few times, but my Mom stopped making us go, so eventually we stopped going all together. My Dad was actually born and raised in South America, where he traveled with his Reverend father and missionary family translating the bible, but by the time he became a parent himself he had taken a few steps back. My Mom was raised Catholic and attended a very strict private Catholic school and at that point still attended church on special occasions, but without the pull of our friends and our holiday traditions, we all slowly stopped attending.

In college I met quite a few friends who considered themselves atheists. For awhile I thought I could identify with that group, but I soon figured out that labeling myself as that was the same as labeling myself a believer. I wasn't sure either way. And at the same time I wasn't really agnostic because I wasn't sure if I believed in anything at all.

Maybe it's weird but this has never been a big deal to me. I'm not searching to figure it out, and to be honest, religion (or my lack of), doesn't cross my mind most of the time. Recently it's only been a bit more in the forefront as the election looms closer and there's this huge debate regarding the separation church and state, but for the most part it's a non-issue. At times I feel like it would be a bit easier to have a religion, to have faith in something. But at this point in my life, and maybe for always, I know that's not for me. If I had to really talk about my beliefs, what I think really happens when we die, I look towards physics and science and astronomy. I look to people like Carl Sagan, who I find to be incredibly inspiring, and whose words almost always make me think. Science is my jam. And on the other side of the coin I gravitate towards some Buddhist principles too. Really, I am open to the possibility that one day I might say, "Oh, hi there God. So there you are." And I'm also open to the fact that it's highly possible that when I die, I just die.

In a way, I think this outlook has allowed me to be fully in the now. This is my one chance to live and to love this life with everything I've got. At the end of the day I can say to the universe, "THANK YOU," and maybe someone's listening, and maybe they aren't. But I have gratitude, I have a love in my heart for every single day I am given on this Earth, and for now, that's enough for me.

I'll leave you with one of Hank and my very favorite quotes from Ann Druyan, best known as the wife of the late Carl Sagan:

"When my husband died, because he was so famous and known for not being a believer, many people would come up to me — it still sometimes happens — and ask me if Carl changed at the end and converted to a belief in an afterlife. They also frequently ask me if I think I will see him again. Carl faced his death with unflagging courage and never sought refuge in illusions. The tragedy was that we knew we would never see each other again. I don’t ever expect to be reunited with Carl. But, the great thing is that when we were together, for nearly twenty years, we lived with a vivid appreciation of how brief and precious life is. We never trivialized the meaning of death by pretending it was anything other than a final parting. Every single moment that we were alive and we were together was miraculous — not miraculous in the sense of inexplicable or supernatural. We knew we were beneficiaries of chance… That pure chance could be so generous and so kind… That we could find each other, as Carl wrote so beautifully in Cosmos, you know, in the vastness of space and the immensity of time… That we could be together for twenty years. That is something which sustains me and it’s much more meaningful…

The way he treated me and the way I treated him, the way we took care of each other and our family, while he lived. That is so much more important than the idea I will see him someday. I don’t think I’ll ever see Carl again. But I saw him. We saw each other. We found each other in the cosmos, and that was wonderful."

183 comments:

  1. Lovely post. I feel like so many people in the blogging world use their belief in "God" as proof that they're a good person, when in actual fact I prefer to be a good person for the sake of being good, not because a deity told me to. Thanks for the read, I enjoyed it :)

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    1. I was going to respond to this blog post, but Vintagfee summed up exactly what I was going to say. When people ask what my religion is, I always respond "love and kindness" is my religion.

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    2. Feel the same as the above about this. Religion shouldn't DEFINE anyone.

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    3. I could not agree more, Vintagefee. So well said.

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    4. Totally agree. When I took care of my dying father for 15 months it wasn't to get brownie points it was being a humanist - being a good person in the here and now because innately I know what is right and wrong.

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  2. I enjoyed reading this post. I felt like I was reading thoughts of my own.

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    1. Same here! Thanks for sharing these thoughts. My boyfriend is an atheist, but I'm still not quite sure what I believe. This post feels like one of my own diary pages!

      Love, Sari

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  3. i admire you for writing this danielle. my fiancee is an atheist and i am not really sure what i am.

    i would like to believe there IS a god, and of course, i grew up in a religious family, but my beliefs are to be good to one another, and things like gay marriage and contraception and other things which i have seen certain religions disagree with in the past, make me not want to be a part of organised religion so to speak.....

    my family would never push a belief or non belief on me, and they are ALL good people.. so i am lucky... i just feel like the more i know, the less i want to categorise myself.. you know?

    anyway i won't rant on your post, but i did want to say thank you for being honest and i totally feel what you are saying.

    xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx.

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  4. I loved this post. I have a lot of those same feelings and they seem to be not so common in the blogging world. Thanks for sharing, Danielle.

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  5. Very sweet post. Real and true. A belief in anything is good, whether it be in a being or in the stars.

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  6. Thank you so much for your honesty and for sharing this. As a newly self-identifying atheist, the process of "coming out" has been terrifying and liberating. It is really great to see people share this openly especially when they are awesome like yourself, and people who are not familiar with atheists can begin to understand that atheist does not equal bad.

    This was so brave and I really really enjoyed reading.

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  7. i'm also a non-believer and its great to see other bloggers come out and talk about it. thanks for sharing! xo

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  8. I'm also a "not sure" kind of gal. My favorite band growing up was Bad Religion, I considered myself agnostic (and sometimes atheist), and I studied evolutionary biology in college. When I became pregnant, though, I tried to lean more towards "god (or something) exists" and when I am able to do so I feel a little more at peace. It might be a delusion, but I'm okay with that.

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    1. i am in a similar position. whatever resonates right? arent we lucky we can sway whatever way we want?

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  9. Such an interesting post.Many not believe that God is really exist.
    They not realize if there is no God that create them they will not exist in this world.

    Water Damage Melbourne

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    1. Yes yes yes. I'm right there with you! I have many friends who have that same "glow" to them. But I believe this is due to their commitment to discover what ever resonates with them, i think. I believe it is different from person to person. Energy is what makes sense to me too. Being a good person and having compassion and gratitude. It works for me. Thank you for your perspective.

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  10. Thank you for writing this! I am also a non believer, and it is such a weird thing how awkward feeling it is to talk about it. I don't mind people who are religious talking to me about their beliefs, so I don't know why I feel like they would be offended by mine. I actually wrote about this a few months ago during lent. (http://www.peonyfish.com/2012/03/lent.html) Anyway, it is nice to see someone else talking about it online, as often it feels like religious people are very much in the majority.

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  11. Danielle, I have been following your blog for ages, and this is the first time i've felt I *needed* to comment. I am 100% with you. It is lovely to be able to see thoughts so close to my own on a blog, and to know that there are other people who are more concerned with being a good person and enjoying our time together, rather than focusing on an "afterlife" that may or may not exist. It's so refreshing and important to focus on our day-to-day activities and how they impact ourselves and others.
    Anyway, your blog post today put a gigantic smile on my face, and I thank you for that.
    Carissa

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  12. I never comment but I feel I need to now. I'm from the Netherlands and I follow a lot of US based blogs. I generally love the openness and welcoming enthusiasm and community feel that is not so common around here. One thing that always strikes me though is how many of the bloggers indeed are believers. I've noticed that in the US a lot of communities exist around church (and school). Here, not so much so. Religion is for the few, and hardly any of my friends ever went to church growing up. Most of my friends believe that there's "something" there, as do I, but it's not a common subject. Spirituality however is big: finding yourself and living in the now. I've worked as a nanny for a few months in Lancaster, PA and lived with a wonderful Christian family. Going to church with them every week I could totally see why religion is as big as it is in the US: it's not a religion, it's a life. If I ever were to move to the USA, I might even actually join a church just to get to know people. To cut my story short: know that there's different places around the world where religion takes a different place in society and that choosing how to live your life (and whether or not it includes a believe) is always a personal matter. Thanks for sharing your story (and reading mine ;) .
    And on a side note: I love seeing your sweet baby grow up! I have a boy around the same age and I love to see how others his age are actually going through similar phases. Sweet!

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    1. We're pretty much the same here in Australia, where religion really doesn't feature a whole lot, except in specific circles. I have noticed through reading books and blogs from the US that it seems to be heavily featured in many people's lives.

      I'm of the "I don't know" category but I guess I hope that something's out there where we can be reunited with our loved ones someday however it isn't something that dominates my thought processes.

      I must say I do envy a certain friend of mine who is quite religious as she always seems so at peace and happy with her lot through good times and bad times. She is loving and giving and has such a glow about her when she talks of her beliefs that I can't help feeling like I wish I could feel how she does.

      My dad was once Catholic but now is a non-church goer, instilled in us the 10 commandments - don't lie, don't cheat, don't do harm to others...and said if we live like this then we'll be decent people no matter what. I try to just be a good person and believe more in energy - the more positive energy you put out, the more flows back to you.

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  13. Hey Danielle,

    I have been following your blog for a long while and I feel the need to comment and let you know how grateful you have made me feel after reading this.

    I am a "not sure, not really interested in the above person", I wont say non believer as I really do not know, but definitley am not interested in knowing, haha. I live each day to the full and enjoy the love I have around me. I feel that yes if there was a "god" or if I was a "believer" it may make life a little easier, as in, if something went wrong I suppose I would "pray" to make it all get better. I see it as, that's life, this is the reality and that's what I live in.

    I live in the present, not the hope, the future or the what if.

    I too have noticed majority of blogs I read are somewhat religious, which I don't mind, but I am 150% pleased to know that this is not always the case.

    Thank you for being honest.

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  14. Yeah...
    I just really loved this.

    Really truly.

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  15. This is a beautiful post, I love reading little personal things like this from the blogs I love! I'm not sure whether I believe or not but this post makes a lot of sense. Jacob x

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  16. Loved hearing your thoughts on this!
    Amy xo

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  17. I loved reading this post and I actually think non believers get a lot more stick than people realise. I don't believe in any God or any religion either. I was cristened as a child but I think mainly just for the party. I now live in a strongly catholic country but religion just doesnt really cross my mind or affect me in any way.

    Scientists have explained how the Earth came about. Good and bad things happen to everyone, however you live, whatever you believe in. You have to enjoy life whilst you have it. Don't live your life always looking to what will happen next.

    Have fun, be kind, be generous, love, dance, work hard, play harder- all because you want to make the most of what you have right now. xxx

    Visit The Other Side Of Cool
    Tweet me! @othersideofcool

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  18. I loved this post!

    like you, I 'believe in science' and although I'm usually not much into labelling I do call myself an Atheist. I do however understand that for some people living is easier when believing in a God or in something else. so they won't feel lost or hopeless - and because of this huge topic in life called 'death'. I think it gives people hope to believe in heaven or a life after death - thinking that life never really ends. for me it's okay not to think that way - dead means just dead. the only downside is losing other people... and knowing you won't be able to speak to them or see them again, it breaks my heart just thinking about it. (that's the point where I just have to say how much I loved that quote!)
    I'm from Austria, Europe and where I live it's not a big deal to 'not believe'. of course there are religious people but most of them are only 'Christian' on paper, especially when you live in the city. because it's expected to go to church and because they grew up with it.. but reading many US blogs I always get the feeling that it's not that easy in the US.
    I'm glad you were so courageous and honest to post this, thank you :)

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  19. Hello Danielle,
    I'm from Germany and I read your blog for a while, but I think this is the first time I comment on a post. I love your honest and careful way to explain your thoughts. I consider myself an Atheist. For several reasons. But I have some negative experience with that.. Most of the time, when I talk to people who have a christian faith, we end in loud diskussions. In my opinion everybody can believe what they want, what they feel or what they need to. But often I experience a lack of understanding why I chose not to believe in anything (but science).
    I hope you won't experience the same thing.

    By the way, I love the way you write.

    Love, Marie

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  20. I'm with you on the lack of belief. I'm still trying to figure it out what I really believe and what I don't but just like you I don't really ponder it often or at all.

    I really enjoy reading what you have to share and it's so nice to read a post and relate. Thanks!

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  21. This is such a lovely thoughtful post about the 'faith' of a non-deist, and I really love the Ann Druyan quote. As someone who was once a Christian, and now is an atheist, I find talking about my beliefs hard, mainly because I know how easily statements can be taken as an attack on someone else's choices/beliefs. This is a really lovely way of putting it however - and thanks for being so open and honest.

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  22. This is such a wonderful post. It hit my beliefs, or lack there of right on the nose. I grew up in a non religious house so religion is not something I know a whole heck of a lot about. I just try to live my life positively and be a good person.
    That quote at the end was great, thanks for sharing this :)

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  23. Thank you for this post. I don't mind the religious tones in other blogs but it's nice to hear from the other side of the coin. I'm pretty sure I'm an atheist (not ready to commit just yet!) and it's nice to hear from others like me.

    Sometimes I also feel like it would be easier if I could believe in a God because unlike you, I think about it all the time. I question everything. I find myself wondering what's going to happen to me, my husband and my daughter after we die. I'm pretty sure it's nothing but it's a tough pill to swallow. But I just can't go back to believing, in my mind I know that there is no God. For now, anyway.

    That quote from Ann Druyan is very beautiful and very inspiring. I hope I can think like her one day.

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  24. Thank you for this. I hardly ever agree with bloggers when it comes to religion (which is fine), but it was refreshing to see this. Also, "Science is my jam" made me laugh.

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  25. I'm a recent follower, and I am actually a believer. I still loved the way you put your heart out there, regardless of my thoughts on death and the afterlife. I feel that so many "Christians" have so blurred the Truth and Life behind the Christian faith and some days I feel that Christians are simply trying to fit a mold rather than live by faith.

    I will say that life is hard not matter what you believe... and it will continue to be hard.

    Best wishes on your journey through life. I appreciate your transparency in this post, and I look forward to reading more.

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    1. Annie,

      I find that so many Christians use opportunities like this to tell the non-believer something about god or Jesus; something about having faith or living life according to truth. More often than not, they'll sing off by telling the non-believer that they will pray for them - suggesting somehow their lack of belief requires a stranger's help to save them from falling into the fires of hell.

      You, however, are respectful, kind, encouraging and accepting. When people speak of upholding Christian values, it is these things they should note, coincidentally, the same values held by non-believers who are aiming to be good people simply for the sake of being a good person.

      Much love to you,
      Julia

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    2. I couldn't agree more.. I was browsing the comments waiting for an 'i'll be praying for you' remark... this was classy and so needed!

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  26. Hey Danielle,

    Thanks so much for putting your thoughts out there. You did it in such a great, truthful and eloquent way. I also believe in science, but really don't think much about the rest. I believe a little of something, but mostly it's just about being spiritual. I realize when talking to a friend recently that we both read lots of blogs that put their faith out there. It's nice to read something about non-believers, cause there are more of us out there than people realize.

    The quote by Ann Druyan is beautiful and something I really needed to hear today (I lost a cousin a couple of days ago). Thanks so much for sharing this with us. I know it'll be an inspiration for lots of us.

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  27. Thank you for this, Danielle. I feel much the same way, and lately I've been so inspired after hearing Maurice Sendak's interview on NPR on Fresh Air that they aired after his death in which he said so movingly, "Live your life. Live your life. Live your life."

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  28. it makes me happy beyond measure that you were willing to put yourself out there as a non-believer. i come from a family of humanist jews [jews with no belief in god, but the belief of our traditions and our people, in case that's not a familiar thing to you], and i feel like most of the views expressed on blogs are christian-centered. 'god is good,' 'we are so blessed,' etc. a lot of people think that non-believers or people with tattoos shouldn't raise children, and i think it's great that you're combating those ideas by simply existing.

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  29. Thank you so much for this post. For everything about it. And that quote is beautiful, and absolutely how I feel! Again, just thank you.

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  30. My husband and I have done a lot of research to determine the right terms to describe exactly what we believe because, living in the Midwest, saying that you are an agnostic slaps a big fat "I am convertible" sign on your forehead. We've found that the term "agnostic atheist", meaning that we BELIEVE that there is no deity or religious truth, but we recognize, because of the definition of the word knowledge, that we cannot KNOW if our beliefs are correct. When people ask, we tell them we're "secular humanist agnostic atheists", showing that we do live by a moral philosophy, but do not connect that moral philosophy with religious beliefs.

    I love Carl Sagon's book "The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark", but I've never heard the quote, "Science is my Jam" before. I'm so putting that on a t-shirt.

    Thank you so much for sharing your beliefs in a thoughtful and non-offensive way. I really believe that reading this will help break down many people's stereotypes about non-believers.

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    1. I like that term, "secular humanist agnostic athiest"...may have to borrow that!!

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  31. This was really nice to read. I completely relate and it feels good to know that there is a blogger willing to talk about it. I truly enjoyed this post.

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  32. Danielle that was a great post - being true to ourselves is what we all love about blogging so much. We get a little corner of the interwebs to express ourselves and all that it entails. If I could, I'd give you a big high five for just speaking your mind despite what seems to be a popular "religious" undertone in lots of lifestyle blogs. I consider myself a Christian and most of my beliefs fall in line with that school of thought, however I still know that not everyone feels the same as I do about God. And you know what? That's cool with me :) I just love that you are you're own person and aren't persuaded into something that you don't feel convicted by. You are terrific mama!

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  33. I am so happy and appreciative you hit POST on this one. Voices like yours help the rest of us be more open - about the variety of our beliefs. People give me the stank eye when I say, 'well, it's sorta like science...'
    Thanks for the sweet honesty. very refreshing!

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  34. My friends refer to me as the happy non-believer. I attended Catholic school from K-6, but these days, religion never crosses my mind. My parents weren't much for religion growing up (I remember being chastised in 4th grade for being the only student whose family didn't attend church on Sunday) and they've parted from it even more as they've gotten older.

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  35. And this is why you are my favourite blogger. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

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  36. "We found each other in the cosmos, and that was wonderful.." What a beautiful quote. It makes me appreciate my family being MY family all the more. I grew up Baptist and while I don't believe anymore there will always be that foundation put inside by the church that won't let me call myself atheist. It's a good thing though because being agnostic always leaves me open to learn and grow and change in my spirituality, should I discover I have any at all!

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  37. we said. you pretty much read my mind.

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  38. I'm so glad you posted this. I couldn't agree more, with everything. I too am a non-believer, and it's nice to know there are others out there who are non-judgmental of those who are. I also love, love, love the quote.

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  39. What a lovely post. I've played with the idea of blogging about non-belief, but have been pretty intimidated because of the lack of non-believers online. It seems like every blog I read involves people bringing up their religion. At the end of the day, I'm totally fine with that as I respect their freedom to believe as they choose. But it still feels a little strange and scary to stand up and say I don't believe. Good for you. And the quote at the end was so beautiful. I think the greatest thing about being a non-believer is that life is totally about now. You appreciate what you have in this moment so much because there is no focus on some imaginary afterlife.

    Thank you!

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  40. I just clicked over to your blog from Lovely Life of Leah and this is the first post I've read. Love it. It's nice to know there are people out there who feel like I do.

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  41. Great post. But I'm gonna go against the grain and say I am a believer in God. I grew up Baptist (but haven't been baptized) and my husband and I are raising our children to be good, Christian people as well. However, I haven't been to church in almost a year, I believe. I pray to God all the time and look to Him for guidance. But, I also believe in science, like you. I think Carl Sagan is a magnificent thinker and in my own weird way, I find ways to relate science to religion. Almost as if God created this vast expanse of space and stars so people would look up to the skies and question what's out there and eventually explore them. I know when I die, my body will stay in the ground, but my soul, the essence of who I really am, will move on to another place.

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  42. I've read for quite a while, but this is my first time to comment. I understand completely what you are saying and I am in the same place. Kudos to you for owning it so publicly.

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  43. thank you so much for posting this. i was born and raised episcopalian but went to catholic school up until the 7th grade. i had some terrible experiences in that school and it took away a lot of my faith because i saw how people behaved, how the church tried to cover it up, etc. i'm in college now and i only attend mass on special occasions. i wouldn't say i don't believe, because i certainly do, but i believe i can worship in my own way, whether it be a walk by myself on the beach or just in my bed at night. the funny thing is, while i don't normally go to church, when my friend died unexpectantly last month, the first place i ran to when I heard was my school's church. it was the only place that seemed right. i feel like some people constantly need to label themselves (either i 100% believe in God and go to church every Sunday or I don't believe in Him at all) and I do believe there is a middle ground.

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    1. Oh my gosh - "how people behave, how the church tried to cover it up."
      This has ALWAYS disgusted me. I'm not Catholic, but I was raised in a Southern Baptist church, and if something were to happen in the church, the person was immediately outed and shamed for their actions. This has happened twice in my Southern Baptist days - once was when I was in junior high, our worship pastor was in the middle of a divorce, and instead of loving him in a hurtful time for him, our senior pastor asked him to step down from his position, as he was a bad influence on the church. Disgusting. Another happened in high school, at my grandma's church: one of the deacon's daughters got pregnant outside of marriage, and the church asked the FAMILY to leave the church entirely. Not just the deacon step down from his position, but asked their whole family to leave. I can't believe that church and the Christian faith has turned into this.
      This is not what it was intended for.
      sorry, that turned into a rant. But I just had to get that out!

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    2. This happened to my beautiful kind grandmother. The catholic church dismissed her when she had to use contraception after miscarrying over ten times. It makes me so upset to think about as she was a kind and gentle soul and loved the church and god so much. I don't wish to rant either but it's things like that which upset me. She believed til the day she died and we prayed to her as she passed on, but what kind of church would dismiss someone for something like that?

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  44. This is such a beautifully articulated and simply stated post. I applaud you for being so honest and open about your personal beliefs. I, like you, don't subscribe to any religion and honestly don't really ever think about it. I believe in science and that's enough for me. I try to live my life being the best person that I can, and to me, that's simply enough. Thank you for giving a voice to those of us who aren't "believers" and are just fine living our lives that way. I want to come through the screen and give you a huge high five for this post!!

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  45. Thanks for the post! Honestly I was in your exact position about a year ago. Then I picked up the book The Shack at our street garage sale and it helped me to understand things a bit differently. It was a great read (and fast!) and not super religious at all - just something to make you think about things - makes you go 'hmmmm' ;). Anyway thanks for sharing!

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  46. I really enjoyed this post. And while I myself am a believer, I respect this. I find that so often, people don't honestly share their opinions on hard topics such as this. It's crazy because there are so many bloggers out there that openly share their faith in their "About Me" or say something in passing in a blog post, but they never really take the time to say, "hey, this is what I believe, take it or leave it," such as you - and I believe that it is out of fear of criticism. Except for all the Mormon bloggers. They really put it out there. Ha!

    But I applaud you for sharing your beliefs, or lack thereof, so openly. It is something to be respected, no matter what religion or nonreligion someone chooses to live by. It's just silly that some people get so bent out of shape about all of this religion stuff. Whether or not you choose to believe, we are all humans with precious, precious lives. We need to be respectful to each other.

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  47. I've never commented before, but this prompted me to write to say how awesome I think you are. I've grown up Catholic, and my family is still very Catholic as my brother becomes a priest, but it's just never clicked for me. I like having traditions and rituals, and sometimes it seems easier to believe, but on the whole, I'm happy where I am. I really appreciate your honesty and openness.

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  48. I grew up as an Atheist in Alabama, so I know how it feels to be looked down upon for not being a Christian. I think the more people like you that come out and say that they are not religious, the more acceptable it will become. I don't really care what anyone else believes, but I expect everyone to be treated equally regardless of religion (or lack of).

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  49. When I read your disclaimer, about your lack of religion, I gave a huge sigh of relief. There really are so many bloggers out there that I come across who identify as religious. Most times I envy it. But there comes a point when I feel like a line is being crossed and I don't want to sit and read about a faith that I don't feel or believe or want to try to believe in. We are here and now, and as much as I love the thought of faith and something bigger, well life here and now is pretty big, and I'd rather have faith in that than be searching for something greater for the rest of my days. Thank you for providing a voice for the rest of us. As a young twenty-something, there are much more of us that don't believe than are making their voices known and I applaud you for honestly sharing your feelings with and for the rest of us.

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  50. It is always refreshing to read the perspectives of others who are not believers. I am a believer but really having a hard time with the Christianity I find in the mainstream and associating myself with that. I could never be Catholic and survive. It would make me run like hell. But I really love the man Jesus and all that he was and is and the example for living that wrecks my world everyday. I wish more people would take the time to look past the religiosity of the mainstream church and read his words. But anyway - that's not directed at you, I just am expressing some general disgust. It helps me to hear the voice and reason of others beliefs and I thank you for sharing yours.

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  51. I am a Christian and I very much believe in God and the afterlife, but I also very much believe in science. I don't think that either one disproves the other. I'm actually quite opposite of you however, in the sense that I grew up without any real beliefs, more of a spiritual state of mind and I became a Christian only seven years ago. I personally like to hear about other peoples thoughts and beliefs and non beliefs. Just like a lot of non believers, I am often offended by some Christians for "attacking" others because of whatever it is they believe. It is very much a non-Christian way to act and that is why Christians get a bad rap among a lot of people. (that and the out of their minds extremists, wow!) It is our duty NOT to judge others and to accept people from all walks of life, just as Jesus did. We are taught over and over that only God can judge, yet a lot of Christians do quite the opposite. Anywho, I enjoyed reading your thoughts on the matter :)

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  52. I very much appreciated this post, as I can definitely relate... when it comes to religion I don't know what I beleive if anything. I married an atheist, or rather as he would say an "apathist" - he just doesn't care and it's rubbed off on me a bit in ways.

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  53. Thank you so much for this, Danielle. I was also raised Catholic and I realized at an early age (around 14 or so) that Catholicism just wasn't for me.

    I've struggled for a while with what I do and don't believe. I've settled onto agnostic and am comfortable with it. But like you, that could change for all I know.

    People should have the right to think and believe whatever they want when it comes to God and religion but sometimes I feel like I'm being judged for being deviating from Catholicism. So again: thank you for being so open!

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  54. Thanks for this, Danielle. I feel like online, it's best to hide the fact that I don't have any religious beliefs. People are just too comfortable attacking others online. I believe in being a good person and that's about it, but I think that's enough.

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  55. I too am not a believer of any religion, though I was raised Jewish. Instead I like to put my faith in people and hope that they will do the right thing when it calls for it. I really liked reading your post because I found myself nodding along with what you were saying. My family went to synagogue when my brothers and I were little and then slowly stopped going. But I also have never really believed in anything and never really given religion much thought. For as long as I can remember, I've simply never believed in god and that's that. I'm fine if other people do because what's it to me. People think that non-believers are sad and mean, but I'm happy to say that I'm quite content with my life just as you seem to be with yours! Yay!
    ~Sara
    sarastrauss.blogspot.com

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  56. Hi Danielle:)
    I wrote a darling heartfelt comment... And then my phone ate it. Who knows where it went. I applaud your heart and courage in sharing. I am a believer raised in the church. I really wish that more of my fellow believers had your kind heart, joy and acceptance of others. I detest that the title of my faith is associated with a general judgy judgerson non loving attitude. I just want to raise my children to be kind and loving, to encourage others and help them when they are in need. I don't want people to feel hated because their beliefs are different from ours. It is refreshing to see your believer readers kind responses... Thank you for posting. It was so beautifully stated:)

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  57. I love this post, Danielle. Very personal. Very brave to post it, as we all know comments can get mean because others have strong opinions and just don't think outside the box they live in - specialy when it comes to religion and politics. Thanks for sharing this with us. I agree with you in a lot of points and it looks like a lot of your readers do.
    xo.

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  58. I'm glad to read a post from a fellow non-believer (I didn't realize you were!) - sometimes in the blog world I feel really out of place with everyone thanking God/Jesus/whomever whereas I find myself thanking science more often than not. I think this was a great post that shows how people can live without a god and still live fulfilling, complete lives - can't tell you how often I've heard that atheists must be miserable because "they just assume everything is random and meaningless." I beg to differ; my life is extremely meaningful because of the meaning I have attached to it.

    I'm rambling, but this is awesome, and I also direct you to this, "You Want a Physicist to Speak at Your Funeral." http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=4675953

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  59. I'm really glad you shared this. I find myself in a similar realm, not saying I don't believe there is some greater force than me (in fact, I think nature and "the universe" are such forces) but also not being okay with labeling myself atheist or as a total non-believer. I'm...just not sure what I believe, and I think that's okay. I try to live my life as a kind person, accepting of everyone and open to the possibility of anything happening and not really being sure all the while.

    "In my world it doesn't make a difference to me what you believe in, just that you are a good person with a kind heart."

    I believe that very thing and that it is actually more important to be kind than just about anything else, all religions aside.

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  60. Thank you so much for always bringing such intelligence and openness to the blogging world- it's one of the things that always makes your blog such a pleasure to read :) It seems like there's a definite gap in the online world of people who don't have a definite stance on religion and it's really refreshing to hear your outlook.

    I wasn't really raised with a religion, but my mom & step dad were very into buddhism and hinduism when I was younger, and my mom took my sister & I to hindu temple with her for a few years when I was a pre-teen. I was told by an English teacher in my very secular high school (in very secular Canada) that it's next to impossible to fully understand modern English language literature in context without having read the bible, and a few years ago I bought an NIV study bible to read through. It has explanations throughout the pages that tease out the way different kinds of Christians interpret important passages differently and give history, context, and explores the questions and controversy around important issues. I've found it incredibly helpful to understand the nuances of Christianity, and of other people's outlooks, which has made me more thoughtful about the strong views that I sometimes come across.

    As a Canadian, the blog world is very different than where I live because I read so many blogs by Americans. People wear their faith proudly and put their testimonies and faith front and center (which I'm sure is also made more prominent because of the specific venue I find them through), and it is SO different here! Blogging has definitely made me more aware of religion and how important it is to others, and I really appreciate what learning about Christianity has added to what I learned from my eclectic upbringing :)

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  61. Such a relatable post! I've been a follower of yours for years and knew you'd mentioned your "non-religious status" before, but it was even more interesting to read about your background! I went to a VERY closed-minded Christian school from Kindergarten through 12th grade, and I think seeing how a lot of people acted and what some of my peers were praised for (a teacher to a classmate, for instance: "YOU are the MOST Christian girl in this whole grade!" ....WTF.) just really turned me off to most aspects of anything to do with being "religious" in that way. I'm not sure what I believe. I do know, though, that this was one of the first times I've read through a post's comments section, and was so relieved to find that so far, people haven't reamed you and this post and tried to change your mind.

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  62. Oh girl, you're so right on.

    I grew up exactly as you described yourself, but now, if I were to label what I am, it would be agnostic atheist because while I accept we don't definitively know whether or not there is a god, that leads me to a belief that there isn't one. However, the majority of my family is catholic or christian and if I were to tell them that about myself, it would be like "coming out" of the closet about it. It would be a huge deal, and I don't think a lot of people realize what it's truly like. I think more people need to also realize that a non-belief is not a bad thing, and we're not a threat or trying to take anything away from anyone.

    Anyway, this was a wonderfully honest post and the comments are just as intriguing to read. :)

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  63. I have been reading your blog for a couple of years now, and have always loved the way you put your heart into words. This post was no different! I am actually a believer, but I struggle with the religion aspect of my faith. None of us are perfect, and none of us have the right to judge one another. We should be living lives of love, not judgment.

    No matter what you choose to believe in, life is going to present challenges. My grandma always taught us kids that no matter what, you cherish the ones that you call family, and love everyone you meet. I don't know you personally, but from what I gather from your blog, you do that. :)

    This post is by far one of the best posts I've read in the blogging world in a while. Much love to you, my dear!

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  64. It's so refreshing to follow a blog that isn't defined by the writer's religious views---you are simply a good person, dedicated wife and mother, and living a beautiful life; no belief system needed! I admire your eloquence, openness, and respect for others. Thank you for your bravery and honesty, Danielle! Sincerely, One of Your Fellow Non-Believers ;o)

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  65. I have been following you for some time now. Love to read your posts because you are so full of life, a quality that I truly admirer. Let me first say, I AM a believer! But let me also say that I have struggled with the idea of Christians trying to force others to "believe". To me, having faith in God, is something that should not be forced. That's the beauty of faith. I really admire your courage to write this post. I have all types of friends, believers, non-believers and in between. I try and find the good in all of my friends. That's what's important to me. I would never think someone is not a good person simply because they do not share the same beliefs as myself. I can deny that I do hold hope in my heart for those who don't believe. That they one day will. But, I choose to love everyone the same, treat everyone the same. No matter their beliefs.

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  66. There isn't much to say beyond what others have so eloquently said, so I'll just leave it at thank you!

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  67. What an amazing quote! I can't wait to share it with my husband :)

    ♥ Naomi {Starry Eyes + Coffee Cups}

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  68. I wish I could organize my thoughts enough to create a post in regards to my "religion." I am so all over the place. Like you, I believe in science, but I also believe that science doesn't have all the answers and can't explain each experience, occurrence, etc. The spaces in between make me believe in something. I grew up going to different churches. I was baptized Catholic and attended an episcopal church through childhood, so it's all that I can really compare my "belief structure" to. I guess I believe in some sort of energy that ebbs and flows. A little spark that perks up in our lives. It's not omnipotent or all-knowing, but if others want to label it "God" or "gods," that's fine. I guess I believe that there was probably a dude named Jesus, who was probably really kind and spoke some wisdom. And if we're all created from this energy, then sure, in some metaphoric way, he was "God's" "son," just the same as I am a child of that energy. Somedays I believe in a Universalist's afterlife, somedays, a lot of days, I believe in reincarnation- that our energy can latch onto something and become new life. I have found a lot of truth in Buddhist principles, but I consider it a philosophy far more than a religion. Pantheism- nature, the cosmos, Gaia, hold a lot of truths for me too. Ah, there is far more to say!

    Have you ever read any of Brad Warner's books about Buddhism? Hardcore Zen was one of the first I read :)

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    1. Ahh! How can I forget transcendentalism? Emerson and Thoreau are big guys for me. Finding "God" through nature and in nature sounds about right to me.

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  69. Thank you for this post. I'd heard this Ann Druyan quote before but had forgotten about it. It twists my heart and makes me feel calm. Thank you again for reminding me of it and sharing your thoughts.

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  70. This is EXACTLY how I feel. I like the thought of god, but i'm a science person true and true, I'm afraid i'll always be a "not sure" person. LOL I'm totally okay with that though.

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  71. It was really very refreshing to see someone be so transparent about their "unpopular" belief (so to speak). My brother recently "came out" as an athiest--we grew up in a Christian home--and it took a lot of courage for him. Though I am a Christian and do believe in God, I have a tremendous amount of respect for anyone who can be so honest and gracious about their beliefs, particularly when those beliefs differ with others' opinions. Thank you for sharing your thoughts, and I wish you all the best!

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  72. Danielle, I know you struggled with putting this post out there and I'm glad you did. I respect your views and am glad to hear your heart on this matter.

    It's pretty blatant on my blog that I love Jesus and follow his teachings. I was raised in a church-going home and chose to believe in God at the age of 19. I love my relationship (not religion) with God, but understand that there are so many out there who don't believe, can't believe, and are searching. I think it's good to have conversations and posts like this because it is each person's right and choice as to what their belief system is - God, religion, science, nothing etc.

    I love a healthy debate, but I am in no place to tell others what to believe. I try to live my life as Jesus did - He demonstrated real, tangible love to everyone through acts of service, words of encouragement and quality time. I'm not always good at living this out daily, but it's my goal and I hope others can see that I do it not to get praise for myself, but because it's the right thing to do. Love always wins.

    Again, I'm glad you shared your heart on this - obviously many of your readers share your sentiments on the matter and needed to hear it too! Hugs!

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  73. I really loved this. I'm so happy you decided to share your views. I definitely have similar ones on the subject and it's really refreshing to hear someone else in the blogging community talk about them. I shared the quote at the end with my husband and he loved it just as much as I did.

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  74. I consider myself spiritual ~ not religious. I don't attend church ~ and don't feel that going to church is an act of being spiritual. I can have "church" while going on a hike. I can have "church" while watching my children sleep. I don't think it's about who you believe in, as long as you believe in something! :) Great post ~ Loved the honesty.

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    1. I attend church and stuff but I am starting to get sick of the rituals. I agree with you that you can find church anywhere. and that church shouldn't be confined to a building.

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  75. I appreciate your bravery and willingness to go against the grain. I also happen to agree which intensifies these feelings. :)

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  76. I desperately wish I could believe. But I can't. Not for the first 30 years of my life, anyway. I also believe in science and I believe in a "higher power" such as the universe is. I believe everything in the universe is interconnected. That energy is very powerful to me. We are all star stuff, etc. But it does give me GREAT anxiety to believe that "this is it." Thank you for posting this. I find it a bit isolating to read all of the blogs that focus so much on faith -- but you have made me feel a lot less alone in the blogosphere. :)

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  77. Danielle,

    I am actually a Christian. But it was interesting to read what you had to say and Thank you for being bold enough to share your beliefs. I have to echo what other people have said, sometimes people use God and Jesus as crutches on their blogs and such. So again, Thank you for sharing and for respecting people like me who are Christians. It means a lot that you respect people's beliefs because I have run into a lot of people who shut me out because of what they hear from the church and then they judge me because I am a Christian.

    Jessica

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  78. I was nodding along in agreement the whole time, thinking yes yes yes these are so close to my thoughts. And then I got to the end, and the quote from Ann Druyan, and I just choked up.

    Thanks for sharing your voice, and providing a platform for those of us who are in a similar camp to raise our voices. I think my favorite part was the beginning, about loving and accepting others regardless of the beliefs or lack there of. The whole piece was beautifully put together.

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  79. Danielle, I love that you wrote this post. I've written a little bit about my own journey (http://amy-estes.com/write/on-faith/ and http://amy-estes.com/write/40-day-transformation-yoga-challenge-4-weeks/) away from the Christian faith I was raised in. My boyfriend is an atheist and I used to feel like it was so "negative" but I now really appreciate his logic, and the way he just appreciates things for what they are. It's inspiring.

    I know you've been doing yoga recently, too, and for me, that has really helped me find a spiritual place that's non-religious.

    I admire you for writing such an open post, especially in a blog world where so many are religious. You're an inspiration, as usual :)

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  80. So agree!! I have lived in Northern Ireland all my life and I see religion as a huge dividing element in society. You can be off the 'wrong' type and thus die becuase of it - it's even more obvious when we look at the present terrorism, bigger than just my island... As a very famous man here once said 'Religion...Shit it' (Stephen Fry)

    I have friends who are christian, I have a best friend who is a minister, I have many friends who don't think about it one jot. Most of my newer friends as I grow older, I haven't a clue and I really don't care about their beliefs, I am just glad they are happy and healthy.

    I, like you believe in science and live my live in a slightly Buddhist way - in the now, appreciating the moment. Your quote made my husband and I tear up a little and we had a kiss...my family will never understand me and I think that's fine - I don't need religion to pull me through, yet I am glad that they have it to help them.

    Lastly - this is a topic I could write about for far too long than it deserves - I have known pain, I have known a life time of pain and it was caused by Christians - irony!

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  81. As eeeeveryone is saying it's great that you have been open and honest in this post!! I would class myself as agnostic because I can't find it within myself to believe anything with absolute certainty, even that there is nothing. Because really...how on earth can we know?!? Buddhism definitely has some wonderful aspects...as a brought-up-in-church girl too...i have felt like quite the rebel looking into it!! :)

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  82. Perfectly stated. Thank you for being honest.

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  83. oh my goodness! i feel like you just wrote my thoughts in a way that i couldn't. i have trouble with getting my thoughts out in a way others might possibly understand so i never really try! you've inspired me to one day share my own beliefs on my blog (which i've always avoided). it shouldn't be avoided, though! and you're right ...i think it IS easier to just 'go with it' and call yourself a believer and go to church like the rest of society. thanks so much for sharing this with us! xoxo

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  84. this! I seriously feel like you took the words right out of my mouth.. but in a more beautiful and eloquent way haha. but seriously me and my fiancé have this conversation and with a super religious mother it causes some conflict but maybe if i share this with her shell understand mores. Thank you so much for this! your amazing :)

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  85. I became a Christian as a child, but in my early twenties I had a cancer scare. As death became much more of a reality, I started really questioning my faith. Two books, of many that I read during this time, were especially helpful: "Mere Christianity" by C. S. Lewis and "I Don't Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist" by Norman L. Geisler. I very much appreciated their logical, rational, and scientific approaches on the side of Christianity. So, if you'd ever like to do more reading on the topic, those are my suggestions.

    I've really enjoyed your blog over the past almost year and a half. My son is about six weeks younger than Henry. I've loved getting your take on parenting along this crazy, lovely journey. Thank you!

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    1. P.S. Science & Christianity are certainly not mutually exclusive. Here's another helpful resource: http://www.answersingenesis.org/get-answers#/

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  86. Sent chills up my spine - this describes me to a T. I grew up Catholic, loved the rituals but never really believed. I described it as having it in my head but not my heart. And my family too, fell away from the church little by little after we moved to Colorado from California (I was 13). I grew up in an Italian Catholic family, so some of family is devout. My grandfather was an atheist/agnostic (as was my father), so I saw both sides of the coin. I also mostly feel a lack of religion and no real need to pursue a label. The older I get though, the more I feel atheist and science call my name. Here is a blog that you might find interesting. The author is heavily involved in parenting "beyond belief" (the actual name of one of his books, it focuses on raising kind rational thinkers) and provides tons of information on some of the overlooked famous atheists and agnotsitcs of the past.

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  87. This was a lovely thought out post and I completely enjoyed it. Thanks for sharing your views and feelings. And the quote was icing on the cake I shared it with my husband and he loved it.

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  88. Thank you so much for writing this! I really appreciate it. I'm sure it will offend some, but I get annoyed with mom/fashion/lifestyle bloggers writing about religion and Jesus - I just have to roll my eyes. It makes them seem less intelligent to me. But I know believing in things like that give them the comfort and community they need - I find that elsewhere in things that are real to me. I love the quote from Carl Sagan's wife. Sure, I would love to have an eternity to spend with my amazing husband and daughter, but I'm not going to waste our lives chasing a fiction that still wouldn't make that possible. I'm very happy to focus on enjoying my loved ones in this life.

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    1. I actually agree with you. Sometimes I disgust myself with how militant I can be as an atheist - but some religionists (as I refer to them en masse) show such astounding ignorance, selfishness and hatred that I can't help it.

      To me life is the wonder, the miracle. Science is so full of miracles humble and gigantic, that I can't understand why people would choose a work of fiction on which to base their lives. How is the tiny, tiny statistical chance that we're here not the true wonder of the world, why does it have to be creation rather than evolution? I can't understand either the way people will commit such atrocities, such hatreds and bigotries in the name of a god. It really breaks my heart to see the wilful ignorance really devout people wear as a badge of honour. And I truly believe that forcing your religion onto a child is brainwashing - I find it difficult to accept that it's ok to tell a child that if they behave in a certain way they will go to hell. That to me is bullying. Finally, the monopoly religion has on the world - especially given the puling and whining a lot of religionists perform as they moan about their religious rights being suppressed really bugs me. Religion should be entirely separate from church and state and the way some Americans seem to ignore the fact the founding fathers specifically stated that America was built separate from religion, with religious freedom for all - the attitude that God is watching over the US as his chosen land, the way Jesus is represented as Caucasian, thanking God for saving lives that medical professionals saved... ugh. I could rant about this for days but I will leave it there! :)

      I want to respect the right to believe what you want to, but Sam Harris puts it extremely well in his book The End Of Faith, that religion is extremely dangerous to our survival as humans. I wholeheartedly recommend the book.

      Much love Danielle, this was a great post, and extremely brave, especially given you're American (I know that sounds patronising but I mean it - it really doesn't seem to be publicly accepted to be atheist over there; the most alienated and unhappy fellow atheists I've spoken to have been American).

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    2. Lisa,

      I was so encouraged to see such a healthy, open and respectful string of comments and how open and honest Danielle's post was about her beliefs without bashing anyone else. I must admit, I was a bit stunned to see your comment:

      " ...Mom/fashion/lifestyle bloggers writing about religion and Jesus - I just have to roll my eyes. It makes them seem less intelligent to me. But I know believing in things like that give them the comfort and community they need -"

      I think the very point of this was to have open communication about what we believe and not liking it when others judge you for not sharing the same. Just thought I would point out that your comment was somewhat doing the opposite of that.

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  89. Thank you for sharing! I really enjoyed reading it. I am a believer, however, I think everyone has their personal journey through this life and that you have to respect everyone's beliefs or non-beliefs. I enjoyed reading this post and I thank you for sharing even if I do believe in God.

    Enjoy your blog!

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  90. Amazing post. I too find that there are many blogs where beliefs and religion are the main focus or mentioned often and they always leave me feeling a little left out. My science education has defined my beliefs and while I am very spiritual, I don't necessarily identify with any religion either. Honestly, I feel like my training in critical thinking alone prevents me from following the entire doctrine of any religion, but then you throw in my science background and most conventional religions go out the window. My mom teaches a course at a Catholic highschool called World Religions, in which they cover most of the major religious groups throughout the world other than Catholic and Christian. She has a wonderful philosophy she shares with the students at the beginning of the course and I try to use it as well. She tells her students that they're going to come across things in every religion that they like and dislike, just like they have in Catholicism, but that they each have their "toolbox" where they can put ideas and beliefs they want to live by. Since taking the course myself, I've looked for ideas from each religion that I like or want to follow and have added them to my own personal toolbox to come up with a sort of grab-bag of beliefs that 100% fits me. It's a very personal approach to spirituality and one that has suited me well! I also agree with you that Buddhism is the one I relate to the most, but I have beliefs from nearly every religion that mold my life.

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  91. That quote is beautiful. I've found that secularism/atheism becomes so much more complicated with having children. My 3 year old asks questions about where people who have passed away are and it's so hard to explain. You want to protect them and give them answers that will be comforting but you also don't want to lie or mislead them. And I'm sure the conversation will only become more complicated! I'm trying to find a way to give her a sense of spiritualism and wonder about the world without becoming dogmatic. I think that quote might help me do just that.

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  92. Hi Danielle!
    I've followed your blog for some time, but never felt the need to comment until now. I really appreciate this post. I grew up Mormon, so believe me the separation of church and state is VERY apparent to me. I left the Mormon church a year ago, removed my record and haven't looked back since. I don't know what I believe really. There might be a god out there, there might not. I'm not going to fret about it, but to live my life each day to it's fullest, because it may be my last. Hence, I feel like I can really resonate with your sentiments about religion. I too, don't like to label myself atheist or agnostic. To me, it seems a bit harsh or absolute, like there's no turning back if I were to state I'm an atheist. I really appreciate yoga, because it helps keep me centered, focused and channeled into a deeper part of myself, to me, that's religion enough! Thanks for being bold and sharing your thoughts. I've done the same thing on my blog and have found that while there are different opinions, people are generally accepting of other viewpoints.

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  93. I feel like I grew up in a similar way to you. I went to Catholic church and school until 8th grade. Did all the rituals and stuff. My dad's family is super Catholic, but my family really wasn't. Eventually, I stopped believing in high school.

    However, I became a believer again, but this time around it is a lot harder to just have the faith. I constantly question my faith and beliefs. Even so, I still believe in God.

    I enjoyed reading your post though. I like learning about the other side and I think it was great of you to share it. We can't be ignorant to other's views.

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  94. Long time reader first time commenter:
    I have to admit i'm surprised to here many people say they "believe" in science. Do some people not believe in science, I think that's just called ignorance. As if that is in the stead of a god? Some of the greatest scientists used to be philosophers and theologians. Even in Stephen Hawking's book brief history of time he mentions St Augustine and his revolutionary ideas of time. Science and religion/spirituality: I don't find the two to be opposing but rather complimentary fields. All of us search for things to help us understand reality, especially when difficult things come up, nothing wrong with that. Religion brings into question important philosophical truths that we should all confront in our lives. I agree that there should be more open dialogue about this kind of thing. If religious people could share with each other without the mask of thinking they are "right" and others are "wrong" we would realize that the world's religions have much more in common than not. And we can learn so much more from one another.

    Great post!

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  95. I loved this post! I may hold some different beliefs but I love and admire your honesty! Even though we have different perspectives, I can relate to a lot of what you said. There are still some many things I just don't know, or agree with but I am starting to realize that, that is okay and it wont change how I am grateful for each day I am given.
    I loved this part...
    "In a way, I think this outlook has allowed me to be fully in the now. This is my one chance to live and to love this life with everything I've got. At the end of the day I can say to the universe, "THANK YOU," and maybe someone's listening, and maybe they aren't. But I have gratitude, I have a love in my heart for every single day I am given on this Earth, and for now, that's enough for me."

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  96. I was thinking about writing a post like this just earlier this week (about my particular non-beliefs and the reasons behind them), but was afraid there'd be some nasty commenting backlash. Not that I've had issues with nasty commenters, but a topic like this can rile people up. It's heartening to see such a positive, supportive response to your post, which in many cases matches my thoughts on the topic exactly (and which you expressed so well!). Apparently there are more non-believers in the blogging world than we realized. :)

    Thank you for writing this.

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  97. You know before becoming committed to blogging- I have been browsing other bloggers' way of blogging/sharing things. I find that there are some who's very straightforward with their belief, some are not. As a Christian myself- I just don't want to dedicate my blog to what I believe in. I've been struggling a bit on this decision because it does make me feel like a bad person BUT it's MY blog after all and after reading this entry- I appreciate your point-of-view. I'd say I am reassured. I am fine with different beliefs as long they don't try and preach/slap my face in their printed doctrines. Again, I believe a HUGE difference between religion and belief. Thanks for writing :)

    http://lucyndiamonds.blogspot.com/

    -C

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  98. Great thoughts. I actually really prefer blogs that don't take a religious "stance". I find the references to God kind of alienating. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

    Kacie

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  99. Danielle -- I can't thank you enough for this post.

    I'm also a non-believer who attended Catholic school for a few years, etc. My beloved, late grandma was a devout Episcopalian and, later in her life, became a Eucharistic minister. So while I was raised Christian, I silently questioned it all at a very young age, until I stopped believing around age 13. For over a decade I went back and forth between "atheist" and "agnostic" before settling on atheist. Because at this point, I can say I 100%, for-sure, do not believe a god exists. Like you wrote, "science is my jam." (Love it!)

    And this is such a hard belief to hold. While I try not to, I sometimes get frustrated when I hear about Christians supposedly being oppressed or discriminated against in America. Because for me, it really, really feels like non-believers are far more discriminated against in this society. Atheists are one of the least trusted groups in America, and believers generally think we are terrible people. While coworkers talk openly about their religious beliefs, I don't feel at all comfortable being open about my non-belief at work. Which must be, I think, how a lot of non-believing bloggers must feel in the blog world.

    Outside of work, I've actually encountered questions like, "if you don't believe in the Bible, what's stopping you from murdering people?" Which, quite frankly, is scary, because, wait a minute! Does that mean that you want to murder people, and the Bible is all that's stopping you? Because, um, while I don't believe in the Bible, I have absolutely no desire to murder, rape, steal, etc. In fact, compassion, kindness, empathy, charity--all these things just feel natural and right to me.

    I've totally gone off on a tangent here, when all I really wanted to say is, coming across someone like yourself being so open about her lack of belief makes me happy and hopeful. As more non-believers open up about their beliefs, I hope more believers will begin to realize that we're not automatically untrustworthy monsters who need to be saved.

    Also, I love that Carl Sagan quote--so, so much. It perfectly sums it up. As an atheist, dealing with death is especially hard. There are no comforting thoughts of a "better place" or someone watching over me, until we are reunited in heaven or the next life. I often think about my dead grandparents and wish that they were "right" in their beliefs, and are in Heaven watching over me. When the sun shines in rays through the clouds, I tear up because I still wish--so hard!!--that those were rays shining down from Heaven as our dearly departed watch over us, like my grandma told me as a child. Because how sweet it would be to know she's right there, now smiling down at me; to know I will see her again someday.

    But I feel certain that is not the case, and when a loved one dies, that is it. To say it's hard doesn't begin to describe it. But I've come to terms with this reality, and like you and the Sagans, it makes me appreciate this life more than words can describe. At least once a day I look up at that gorgeous sky, and am reminded of how lucky we are to have this life, how beautiful this planet of ours is, and how insanely wondrous the vast universe is. I think about how this life we have is just a BLIP in time and how it's an impossibly short time to take it all in. And for me, this is all the more reason to be kind and compassionate and giving in every aspect of this one chance I've been so blessed with. Because this? This is the prize.

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  100. Another reader but first-time commenter here! Thank you for being brave enough to share your thoughts. That quotation really resonated with me (and I will share it with my boyfriend tonight!).

    This was a great reminder of how important it is to live every day to the fullest and surrounded by people we love. I think I will adopt it as my new non-belief stance on life. :) -J

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  101. i really like this post a lot. my husband and i both are non believers / not really sure but don't label ourselves as anything. my family is very religious, his is not religious at all.

    the thing that i always find frustrating is those people that have a religion feel it is perfectly okay for them to speak about their beliefs and feel its ok to push their beliefs on anyone with an open ear. however, as someone that is not religious, when i give my opinion i get nasty looks and get ganged up on that it isn't right for me to state my opinions. i have never once pushed my beliefs or made anyone who is a believer feel that they are wrong. i actually like listening to other people and try to understand why they believe in things they do. it doesn't sway my views at all, but i like being educated on other's thoughts and feelings.

    but i definitely feel its a one sided venture. when i try to discuss how i feel - i have found that those that believe are not accepting to anyone elses beliefs if they don't match their own. I find this interesting actually. because i would think "believers" should be an accepting people, but again in my experience this has not been the case.

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  102. I am one who sit on the other sides with my belief and faith in God. But even though we don't have the same beliefs I love and respect your post! You have such a way with words, I love reading your thoughts on things controversial or not!.

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  103. I've been following your blog but this is my first time commenting. Like you I am also a non-believer and speaking up about my non-belief makes me feel very vulnerable and judged so I keep it to myself. Ultimately it only matters to me. Anyway, I love this post and your quote by Ann Druyan brought tears to my eyes. It's beautiful and poignant and definitely something Im going to share with my husband!

    Thank you.

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  104. i retweeted this link on twitter (@littlegirlkatie), and put a couple of quick thoughts, but i wanted to reiterate again: you are so brave, and i thank you for this. even conversing with some of my close friends about religion can turn into something way more than i ever meant it to be (i am incredibly interested in religion - i minored in it in college, but rarely share this information), so opening this can of worms in the blog world is a huge step. i stopped going to church in the 5th grade, after writing a lengthy letter to my parents about how disappointed in my youth group i was. i spent many years after that trying to understand god and religion, going to several different churches with friends and even truly considering attending a christian university (partially due to money). i never felt ANYTHING. sometimes, i feel like there's something wrong with me, but i really do just think that i just "believe" in being kind, enjoying life, and never wronging anyone. i agree with you - labeling myself as "atheist" or even "agnostic" implies more than i even want to.

    that's a novel, but thank you again. <3

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  105. I agree with everything you said. I also liked the quote...made me cry though. I dont like to think about never seeing the people I love again.

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  106. Wow, it takes so much courage to write a post from this side of the fence...actually from either side! I do believe in God, and there is no room for judgment. Even with my belief it's hard to shout it out. So I commend you for writing this. This is you and that's what blogs are about, writing about us. Thank you for sharing! I love your blog!
    http://ineverylittlemoment.blogspot.com/

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  107. How funny... my first thought was to respond with an "Amen!" :) But seriously, your post is refreshing to read and I really appreciate the quote at the end... that really sums it up.

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  108. Just wanted to chime in too and say thanks for this post. I have similar experience of being raised Catholic and appreciating the rituals and story-telling, but never actually believing that those stories were true. Science is my jam too! So many bloggers I like do make a point of writing about their religion, which I don't identify with at all. I still enjoy their blogs, but it's awesome to have someone like you talk about your beliefs.
    P.S. I loved the quote from Ann Duryan! There is a really lovely story about her, Carl Sagan, and the Voyager golden records on a RadioLab episode from awhile back.

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  109. Thanks Danielle for a very honest and thought provoking post. I love the quote from Ann Duryan. Very touching.
    I'm also a non-believer who was baptised and confirmed and attended sunday school until I was 14. My parents aren't religious either so go figure why I was sent to sunday school in the first place ; ) At 14 I began to question belief systems and read widely about all beliefs and decided that I too believe in evolution and science. What directs my beliefs are my morals and my ethics, I don't feel the need to believe in a supreme being to be whole or to be a good person.
    I wholeheartedly agree with what Trisha says in her comment to your post.
    There seems to be more freedom to express your religious beliefs, than there is to put out there that you don't believe. So thank you again for your honesty and for writing about your beliefs.

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  110. Hi Danielle! I, like so many others, have been reading your blog for awhile now, and I thoroughly enjoy it. I just wanted to write to tell you that I really enjoyed this post. I grew up in a Christian (Lutheran) family, and worked as a counselor at a Bible camp for four summers. I was pretty strong in my faith until the fourth summer (it had been slowly weakening throughout college), which is when I pretty much ceased to be religious. It was a huge change for me, and I have not been as outward about it as you, because almost all of my best friends are from that camp and are still strong Christians. It's not that I think they'd necessarily judge me, but it was something that bonded us together for so many years, and I don't want to have "that" discussion and make them feel like they need to try to get me back on the bandwagon.

    Anyway, short story long, I think it is absolutely wonderful that you are putting your thoughts on this out there, and I envy your bravery. Religion is a touchy subject. I hope that someday I can be more open about my current beliefs (or lack thereof). Love your blog mucho!

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  111. Thank you so much for being so honest and putting yourself out there like that! So refreshing and inspiring. What a wonderful quote and beautiful way of thinking.

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  112. I feel oddly relieved that you wrote about this. I am also a person who leads towards not believing but can't quite claim to be agnostic or atheist. I love science and logic. Somehow most of the blogs I follow are written by Mormon women or other very proud believers. They are great blogs and the women and families are beautiful and inspiring but I feel a little like an outsider. It is refreshing to see someone with similar values not claiming to live their life to serve God.

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  113. I always enjoyed all of your posts... always so inspiring, unique, transparent, clear, honest, and full of truth. I love this one, beautiful quote! Thanks for sharing your life and for teaching and inspiring at the same time.

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  114. Wow, you just summed up my thoughts WAY better than I've ever been able to. Growing up in a somewhat religious family but it never really clicking with me, I've never really been able to explain how I feel as eloquently. Great post!!

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  115. I'm a Catholic-turned-Atheist-slowing-converting-to-a-Buddhist (is that a real term?) as of recent and I think the best part of Buddhism is the idea that there really isn't a god and that it takes "us" to make the world a better place. This was a fantastic post and it made me cheer a little inside.

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  116. I feel very much the same as you and commend your courage to be so straightforward and open. You write very eloquently.

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  117. Yikes! 126 comments...where do you even start? High fives for expressing your opinions openly in this space where so many people are watching, waiting, judging. While I don't consider myself to be religious, I believe in something greater than myself. I believe that when we die we return to the light, to the place we came from. I believe that we are all light, that each and every one of us is a spirit within a body, and whatever you believe...I feel like that in itself is undeniable, but that's just me. I've never read Cosmos, so I don't know where he's coming from or understand what he and his wife are saying...and maybe for me, and so many others, it's easier to believe in something more because without it life can feel so hopeless, pointless, and downright cruel...but I really truly feel that I see spirit in everyone, a soul, something that is more than just a walking-talking-breathing-beating bag of bones. I feel that we have chosen to be here and that the purpose of life is to live and learn and love as much as you can so that you feel fulfilled in this human experience before returning to the other side. When my loved ones pass, I feel them and sometimes see them shortly after and sometimes even long after they're gone...I'm not imagining it, it just happens...and for me that makes it impossible to believe that there is nothing beyond this, thinking that once you're dead you're just dead doesn't make sense. Religious? No. Spiritual? Yes. The other day I posted a link to some videos we've been watching on YouTube, a series called "The Spirit Science"...if you've got some time, or if you're interested at all, you should watch at the very least the Human History movie (I even posted the actual video on my blog if you want to just watch it there). It poses questions that you may have never asked, and (for you) might open you up to the possibility of something more. I'm not trying to convert you or make you believe, I just feel like it's important to expand your mind. I once thought I didn't believe in anything either, but like I said, once little bit of light after another and I just couldn't deny it...the truth of spirit was right in front of me and it just made sense to believe. Much Love girl.

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  118. As everyone else has stated, thank you for writing this. I believe in something, but I don't know how much of a hand That something has in our lives. I think the beauty in life is not knowing, and your words are proof that there are people who question the universe same as me. It's very refreshing, thank you.

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  119. This world is so round and so full and so fantastic and such a place to speak. This life is so mysterious and so full of the possible and the plausible and the maybe and the yes and the no. Your post, and the comments that followed, are nothing short of heart warming... goose bumping.... skin tingling and COOL! What we believe/understand/decide/treasure/know and love is like water... life giving, essential, fluid and ever changing. How great that oxygen does not discriminate... how marvellous that we can choose... how brilliant that we can differ... how fanfriggingtastic it is to be who you want to be. PS - I believe in chocolate... anyone else know this faith? :-)

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  120. I myself am not a religious gal. As you said yourself, I as well teeter between non belief and Buddhist beliefs. I lost my best friend to cancer on the 4th of this month and have been thinking a lot about religion and if I were "a believer" if this experience would be any easier. For myself I have decided that it wouldn't be. I see god in many things in life and nature feels the most apparent to me. I feel that when I am in it, I feel my friend the most. Such a great post Danielle. So good to read. xo

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    1. I'm so, so sorry for your loss! I like to think of the fact that when we die, the atoms of our bodies break down to become one with the earth again. They feed plant life, which in turn feeds animals; the trees are fed by us and give the living oxygen. I lost my dad a couple of years back and it comforts me to think that he is part of our beautiful planet again. xxx

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  121. Oh Danielle, this was such a great post to read! It is something that I've been thinking about a lot.
    I was baptized evangelic, but I decided not to have a confirmation and have been a non-believer since. It's so true that there's basically no talk at all in blog-land about it. I'm from Germany, and I feel that religion isn't talked about as much around here [or in Europe generally] as it is in the US - at least I haven't found any German or European blogs with a huge "We Believe"-Section and videos from their church leaders posted... I even shy away from commenting on these kind of blogs because it can sometimes feel as though they're trying to convert you to their faith. I do accept their beliefs and I realize that it's just a huge part of their life they want to share, but it still makes me feel uncomfortable.
    Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts - and doing this so eloquently!

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  122. It's interesting that I read this today because I've been thinking a lot about this recently. I'm not really sure why.
    When I was very young (so young that I don't really have any memories of it) I went to an Episcopalian church with my mom.
    When I was about 15, I didn't have any memories of going to church much or knowing "what I believed in" and a friend asked me to go to church with her. She went to a Baptist church. I went. A lot of my other friends went there, so I started going regularly and then I found that much of the next 3 years of my life were spent at church. I liked the environment, being around all these people who believed, but I never felt at home. I never felt completely comfortable, I felt that everyone knew something that I didn't. Felt something, that I didn't. Once I graduated high school and moved on to college, my attendance grew less and less. Eventually I wasn't going at all.
    These days, I don't know what to believe. I think there's a part of me that definitely wants to believe in God, or a God-like being, but there's a large part of me that feels like there just isn't. Maybe it's that I too, believe too much in science. Can you believe in both? I don't know.
    Great post, I really enjoyed this.

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  123. I love this. I feel the same but often found it difficult to put into words. Very well said. You're a smart woman.

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  124. I identify myself as a believer. I am a Christian but I don't believe in religion, I believe in having a relationship with God. When I was in college, my faith was challenged. I studied other religions, even minored in it and through all the questioning and trying to understand my faith was renewed. I found that in most religions the underlying principle is love. Love yourself and love one another. It seems that so often love is completely taken out of the equation and replaced with hate. It saddens me when people claim to share my same beliefs, yet all they do is persecute others. It's not my place to judge or persecute. My job is to love and share the love I have with other people. I have struggled with many things in my life, depression, anxiety, self-loathing, and only when I have been in the presence of God have I found peace. I'm not always a perfect person, or a perfect believer, but it makes me feel good to know that there is something out there, higher than myself that has absolute faith in me and loves me no matter what I do or have done, even when I don't love myself.

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  125. Danielle,

    I really appreciate reading this post. I sometimes felt very "other" in the blogging world because I do not identify with any one religion. I was raised Roman Catholic, with CCD/PSR and confirmation much like you, and in my adult life am more than often identified by others as being Jewish. I get asked questions often actually about religion and my beliefs. People like to assume that you believe so they have you figured out, somehow I think it makes them feel more safe.

    I have tried my hat at many different religions. I hated the Catholic Church I was raised in as they denied my mother communion because of a divorce with my father, they were anti-gay and had ribbon campaigns to that effect, and because I am not straight...this was a major source of pain for me. In addition, a friend of my family died of AIDS and as a young girl I asked my pastor if he could be saved, and the pastor told me that he was going to hell because of who he loved. I could not get with any religion like that.

    Later in my life when things were harder I tried to go to a different type of church. A church that didn't focus on the scriptures but rather on outreach programs and discussions about how to live your everyday life with loving kindness. This church spoke much more to me and it was helpful to have a reflective space each week at a set time.

    Now that I have come to grips with not keeping the sabbath holy, I have started meditating and focusing more on my life here in the present. It is really helpful to have time to reflect and think about how your actions contribute to this world.

    What I found to be really interesting was the fact that so many non-believers commented...which means there are many of us out there! I thank you for bravely talking about what many people are afraid to put out there. It is a scary thing to say you are a non-believer, especially in a public forum.

    Thank you,
    D

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  126. i really appreciate you sharing this. i too am a non-believer. it's really never an issue for me. i have friends who are catholic, christian, atheist, agnostic, and like me... unsure. it's hard to live in a country though that places such high emphasis on religion when it comes to our political representatives. i live in NC and i'm sure you heard about the ban that was just passed on gay marriage here. the only real reason people could come up with for being for the ban, was that the bible says gay marriage is wrong. i have zero problem with people finding comfort in religion, but i have a HUGE problem when they use it to deny rights for other people, as though there way is the only way.

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  127. i don't consider myself an atheist and also not a believer. i have never been baptized and i think i turned out pretty well. deep inside of my i believe in the "big" values such as honestly, love and trust. i didn't need a bible to read in to tell me i have to live this way. i didn't need to go to church and pray to believe in mankind.

    i also get that feeling it is easily judged when you tell people you don't believe in such thing as god. not that much here in germany but i get the vibe that in america almost everyone believes. at least in blog land.

    so what i wanted to tell you: this was a great post and i can totally relate.


    katja

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  128. This is a great post. I am not a believer; I know there's a possibility that I'll turn out to be wrong, but religion has never spoken to me and I'll be surprised if I find myself in an afterlife. I have no hesitation saying that to people I know in real life, but it's easy for written words to be taken the wrong way so I mention it less often online - I don't want to inadvertently offend a religious reader when I'm not able to then go, "No, no, no... what I MEANT was..." Which I suppose is odd given that there are a lot of bloggers out there talking about their beliefs and not offending me.

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  129. i love this post, danielle! i'm always thinking about this as I am not even sure what I am. i know i believe in science since it's there and its solid and its proof. but i have a hard time believing in some ultimate deity who watches over all of us and judges us at the end. if i want something to happen, i don't pray for it. i do something about it. thank you for writing this.

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  130. I remember you tweeting that you were worried about posting this. Nothing to worry about!

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  131. Hi Danielle! I loved reading this post so very much. Your honesty is one of my favorite things about you :) Keep on, lady!

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  132. Hi! That was a great post and I can relate (as well as many other people), and it's so refreshing to see out in the 'blog-sphere.' I love that quote, it really puts life into perspective :)

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  134. i'm really grateful you posted this. i've been reading your blog for almost a year now and don't comment too often but i find your posts really inspiring and relatable. i live in phoenix and it's nice being able too see AZ from a different perspective and to find out about new places to go to here. thank you again for sharing!

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  135. Your post was amazing to read. I'm a believer and will always be a believer but I appreciate honesty and others opinions. You described perfectly how you feel and did a great job at it. I think a lot of times what happens is people bash each other instead of listening and understanding. Accepting that each other is different. What we can do is share our experiences etc with others... If they understand so be it if not well at least your tried and you can either pray (or not) that one day they will in their own time. Thank you for not bashing or pointing fingers at anyone. I appreciate that. When it comes to religion a lot of people dont know how to just listen and make their own mind up about it. Instead we bash the other. It's nice to read someone elses thoughts. And yes, you are right, at least live your life to the fullest with honesty and truth whether you believe or not. Either way you still get the most out of your time living.
    :)

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  136. Thank you for sharing the beautiful words from Ann Druyan, so touching.

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  137. I'm glad you decided to put this up. I remember last week on Twitter you were a bit apprehensive, but many of us told you to go along with it. I was also raised Roman-Catholic, and am unsure how I feel on the subject. I have faith in something. What it is, I don't know yet, but I'm okay with that.

    Last month, my fourteen-year-old cousin, Dominic, was killed in a freak jet-ski accident (I wrote about it on my blog, which was emotionally exhausting: www.shortgirllongisland.com/2012/05/may-angels-lead-you-in.html). For the first time in awhile, I spoke to God. The same God I would swear to, if he helped me pass a test, get out of trouble, or win concert tickets on the radio station - I only really turned to religion when I needed/wanted something, which in hindsight, is pretty shitty. Dom believed in God, so as I knelt before my cousin at his wake, I asked him (her/whatever) to keep Dom safe. I know, I was asking for something again, but this time it wasn't for myself. If there is an afterlife, or heaven, I just wanted to make sure he was on the VIP list. :)

    My boyfriend, Erich, feels the same way, and is also more science-minded on the issue. I would actually love to sit down with someone like Ann Druyan and just talk. Not to "convert," per-se, but to learn more. Educate myself. I am open to learning about things I am not familiar with, even if I don't agree with everything that is said. That is what makes us all different, and it is a beautiful thing.

    Also, I love how we all have varying beliefs, and (from what I could read in this 150+ comment posting) everyone is accepting of each other's views. We might have even taught each other something as we read, too. Thank you for bringing us together for this, I am grateful for the experience.

    Michele

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  138. This is a such a well-written post Danielle. You've hit the nail on the head for me and summed up how I feel perfectly.. even down to sometimes wishing that I had faith because that path looks easier. But, like you, I don't and I'm okay with that.

    Each to his own and we should all make the most of the lives we have no matter what our beliefs.

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  139. I too feel connected with this post as I am also a non-believer. I do label myself as an atheist. I live ad work in an area where the people around me seem to on the religious side. Being an atheist is just like this huge secret that I don't talk about, which as another user said, doesn't make sense because I quite often hear talk of religion.
    As someone who has only been reading blogs for about a year, I am always surprised to see so many of them carrying out their religious views on their blog. I don't understand religion as I never went to church a day in my life, (both my parents were raised in two different religions, so they didn't know what to raise me as).

    I could go on and on about this, but let me just say, you have moved in to the forefront of being my favorite blogger! Not because you have the prettiest, or most creative blog EVER (not that it isn't awesome), but because I feel like I can relate to you the most and that is what is most important.

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  140. I love this post. especially cause I have noticed that religion/god/jesus is mentioned on alot of american blogs and bloggers seem to put it in their 5 sentences long "about me" section. I'm danish and I only think Ive seen someone mention it on a danish blog a single time....
    I never understood why someone would need to define themselves through their religion or lack of... we are all "just" people!

    I love love love the quote at the end, how lovely and true!

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  141. Thank you Danielle for this post. Everything about this post resonates with me. Especially the quote, a brand new perspective for me, is inspiring me to do more research and continue living my life with this mindset. Yes, life is scary and yes it feels good to but your fear and sadness in the hands of something higher who knows what's up. But, for me, there is a flaw in that way of living that you have brought to my attention. What a fantastic way to live your life.. knowing the end is the end and to really appreciate everything you have now and feeling lucky to have the people in your life.

    MOST of all, however, thank you for creating such a great conversation between people from all kind of beliefs and cultures. I read every post here and it has blown me away that by you taking a chance and posting your perspective on the enormous world of blogs you have stirred up such a positive discussion between people who my or may not be a minority in their community. People often look at me like i am crazy when i tell the "I'm not sure." Obviously I'm not alone and i am dang proud of it now!

    Guess this is why you're an English teacher :)!

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  142. This entire conversation made me cry, from the post and through all the comments. I personally know I could never believe this way. I believe in God and that our Families will be together for eternity. I cannot imagine never being able to see my husband and beautiful daughter again. I think I just wish so badly for everyone to know what I know because it brings such joy and happiness to my life. Thankyou for being so open and sharing, I love your blog and it was good for me to see the other views there are out there. I never comment but I realized today why Mormons are so open about their religion, and it is because they want everyone to know what they know because it is so beautiful and inspiring.

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  143. You know, I was wondering what was up with so many bloggers touting themselves as "believers?" I thought I was just going to the wrong blogs! So nice to know that someone else has noticed, too. I just figured I should list "going to hell" in my "about" section, ha!

    Danielle, did you baptize Henry? I'm going to guess not, but it's something I've been struggling with, as my husband and I would prefer NOT to with our son (for similar reasons to those that you listed), but my family is Catholic and my husband's family is New Apostolic. Our families obviously feel differently than us.

    It seemed like the church was fighting to gain control over my little baby's soul as soon as they found out that I was pregnant, hitting me with questions about baptism, wanting to pray/bless me and the baby... it was so uncomfortable, and makes me even more steeled in my ways.

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  144. I got through reading about 20 comments, but my train is arriving at its station soon, so I've scrolled all the way to the bottom. This was definitely an interesting read - although, it was strange to find myself categorized as a "believer" (I mean, no offense taken though, just a new word for me), never really thought of it like that before. Most weeks I feel like I go to church more to sing with the choir than to actually be a mass, I'll admit that. I also like the community and family I've found at the church - I mean, that's not as intense as that sounds - we go camping, we have parties, we do jello shots, we babysit each others kids when we need to - they're just my friends. ::shrug::

    The way I see it - as long as we all take part in the "do unto others" thing, we're all going to be pretty okay.

    Can't believe how many comments you got on this - props to you for putting yourself out there.

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  145. I felt compelled to say thank you for this. It truly hit home for me in the best way possible. It is fantastic to see people (many like-minded) having a discussion like this in such an open, honest, and respectful way.

    Again, thank you for your honesty and thank you for the community you've created here.

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  146. LOVELOVELOVE you for being brave and honest. While my beliefs are different, I'm like you in the way that I respect all beliefs/religions/walks of life. I love that each of us are different and that we all hold different things close to our hearts. The world is so diverse and unique and special, and that's beautiful. I have friends from all walks of life with VERY different beliefs/lack-of-beliefs, and it makes life interesting, joyful, challenging, and thought-provoking. It teaches me to be more compassionate, loving, curious, open-minded, and appreciative. I love from them and they learn from me. Everyone's opinions and beliefs are important and should matter.

    (If there WAS one thing I wish everyone in the world believed in... it would be love. ALL love. Every love matters, and it breaks my heart that the world has such a strict view of what love should "look" like. I hope one day that changes.)

    You tweeted a while ago about writing this post, and ever since it's sparked such a desire to talk about my beliefs on my blog one day. I respect and admire you beyond words, my friend. Thank you <3

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  147. Thank you so much for this post! I feel like people who speak about their religious beliefs are always labeled as brave for doing so. But I think you are the brave one. I feel the same as you, although I do attend a Unitarian church. Mostly for the community, it is comforting to be around like minded people. Being from the south however I generally avoid the conversation because I'm tired of being told im wrong and not nearly as brave as you are! And great title too!

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  148. I'm so glad to see another blogger talking about their beliefs even though it's not the popular thing to do. I enjoy reading a lot of women our age's blogs but SO many of them have lots of religion thrown in which is fine because that is their space to express themselves and I wouldn't stop reading because of it. But I haven't found anyone else that openly speaks out about seriously questioning religion. Science is also my jam ;) although I wouldn't say I'm totally a non-believer I definitely have an amalgam of beliefs that don't fit comfortably inside the box of Christianity. One of my first blogs was about questioning and I was really scared to post it because a majority of my friends are strong believers...so thank you!

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  149. Thank you so much for posting this, Danielle! You've actually really helped me clarify my own thoughts on this issue, especially your remarks regarding atheism. It's also reassuring to know that other people aren't particularly worried about not having a clear position on this whole massive issue!

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  150. thank you so much for sharing your feelings on this. i relate very much to everything you're saying and have been on a journey that's quite similar to yours (just that i was raised by baptists). now i'm married to the son of a methodist preacher and my husband and i both are very much content, aware and gratefully living our non-religious life together. it hurts when i hear his father preach to his congregation about all the people who don't follow jesus being "in the dark"... i find it arrogant and intolerant and disrespectful. how can this man who sees us raise his grandchildren, this family full of love and spirit and creativity who cares so immensely to raise "good" aware thoughtful children, stand up in front of all those people and claim to know that we live in the dark? i wouldn't pass such judgment on him or any other jesus followers simply based on their religious affiliation. anyways. this is an important subject and i sincerely appreciate you bringing it up. thank you!

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  152. Thank you for being so open and vulnerable, Danielle. It seems like so many people appreciate that in a person - I know I do! This was a well written beautifully composed post.

    xo
    cortnie

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  153. Thank you so much for this honest and brave post. If I had to label my beliefs, I suppose they would be that of an agnostic atheist, but I really can't stand labeling anything I believe because it always varies. I'm not sure there isn't something out there, but I know I don't believe in the standard perception of God or in the practice of organized religion. I liked that you mentioned Buddhist beliefs because I have been very interested in the Buddhist philosophy of life since I took a Religions of the World class in college. I was raised Catholic as welland went to Catholic schools through the entire span of my education. I even attended a Jesuit university during my college years. Here's the difference between me and other people I've spoken to who have strayed from their religious beliefs, I never bought it. At 7 years old, I questioned everything I was taught. It just didn't make sense to me. It seemed outlandish and unrealistic. I didn't like these stories and if I was going to read about things I saw as fantasy, I would much rather read about witches, wizards, and undiscovered planets. I just never connected with my faith, but I could generate all the generic responses for my quizzes, projects, and homework expertly enough to win me the Religion award every year. Each time, I walked up to accept that award, I secretly laughed inside. I continued to attend these private schools for the extent of my education to appease my mom. When I was in high school, I developed a passion for Existentialist and realist writing and that passion has stayed with me. I loved college because I could explore more subjects even though I attended a private school. How could people really believe in their one true god or in their religion? There were religions and different faith bases all over the world and throughout history. This basically sealed the deal for me. My sister and I stopped attending church with our family at the age of 13. My mom respected our opinion and could tell it wasn't for us. I loved so many of the things you wrote. I cherish the life I'm living now in the present and if death means it all stops, so be it. There are so many things we can't explain. There are things that have happened in my life that I can't explain, but I always look at it with a scientific or logical approach.

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  154. I'm so happy to see non-believers represented in lifestyle blogs. In the past, I've made it a point to mention my beliefs in my blog, not because I want to be controversial, but because I want to represent my point of view. There sure does seem to be a lot of faith-based lifestyle blogs out there, but rarely do I find one mentioning a word about atheism, agnosticism, not-sure-ism. A voice I can relate to is nice.

    As an atheist, knowing that one life is all I have, I'm encouraged to be a better person and make the most of it for myself and the people I love. I love Carl Sagan, and he and his wife have a wonderful love story. My husband and I even worked A Pale Blue Dot into our wedding vows, because we thought it represented how we wanted to love each other: "It has been said that astronomy is a humbling and character-building experience. There is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world. To me, it underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly with one another, and to preserve and cherish the pale blue dot, the only home we've ever known."

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  155. This is such a good post. You have beautifully dealt with a topic I feel I often tiptoe around. Thankyou for speaking up for those of us loitering in the 'grey area'.

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  156. Honestly, I haven't really met many people who claim to be believers in Jesus in the blogging world. I loved reading about how you grew up and what you believe now. Thanks so much for sharing!!

    I always felt a bit of an odd one out in the blogging world. I believe in Jesus because I was partially deaf as a baby (about a year and a half old) and it was as if I heard conversations under water but worse. I had corrective ear surgery but it didn't really change too much and I talked the way I heard things which was terrible since my own mom didn't understand me and my brothers translated for her. At about 5 years of age I had a dream. Jesus hung out with me in a field or meadow of sorts. It is weird to describe but he was just talking to me. Now, I never heard of Jesus since I was deaf and such, but instantly he told me I could hear and speak and that he healed me. I woke up, rand downstairs to my mom and said, "Jesus healed me" perfectly. It astounded my speech therapist because she told my mom I was hopeless of getting better. It was indeed a miracle, so I always believed since the experience. I know many other people wouldn't understand or would be skeptic of such a miracle, but that's okay. God reaches and tries to reveal Himself to all people in some way. There is no rush.

    +Victoria+
    http://justicepirate.com

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  157. I just found you at the recommendation of another blogger friend of mine. My blog is still fairly new but I had to tackle the topic of religion today and she thought I might appreciate this post. And I did! Very much!

    http://autumnseden.blogspot.com/2012/09/these-are-things-that-keep-me-awake-at.html

    I am looking forward to getting to know you better.

    Autumn

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  160. So well put. Couldn't agree more. Sometimes I think that 'if' there is a God, He would be happy with me trying my best to be good to everyone.... and if He is not there then at least I can die knowing I never intended harm while on earth.

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