Life as an atheist

I want to take a break today from the heavier topics of cosmic origins and theoretical physics to talk about something a bit more personal.

I received a message the other day from a friend of mine who roughly a year ago deconverted from Christian and is now a happy, well-adjusted atheist. Some elders from her old church decided to drop in on her at her home and tell her that she needs to turn back to God to save herself from her empty, depressing life. A brief quote from her letter:
These two morons didn't want to listen to what I have to say, but wanted to lecture me on what will happen to me if I "don't change my ways". And all they ever say about missing me is they miss me playing my violin, piano, and my singing (I'm pretty sure they miss my money too, but they won't say that). No matter how much I explained I was content and happy with my life, they still kept making it seem there is something not right with my life and that's why I'm so unhappy. Kept telling me if I would leave everything up to god it would get better. Nothing's wrong!!!!! Only thing wrong is they invaded my personal space by coming to my home!
This reminded me of a blog post I did a few years ago, called Happy atheists: a thorn for believers. Believers have such a myopic view of the world that they truly cannot imagine someone being happy and well-adjusted without faith. So they concoct rationalizations:
  • You're not really happy, only pretending to be
  • Deep down, you still believe in God
  • You just want to avoid responsibility for 'sinful' behavior
Being a happy, well-adjusted non-believer causes some cognitive dissonance for the insular minds of the devout. After all, if we don't need religion to live happy, moral, and fulfilling lives, what else do they have? Threats of eternal damnation? Pathetic.

My friend's letter came at a time of personal reflection as I spent the weekend with my girlfriend. I've felt happy for a long time, but these days I'm often in disbelief at how lucky I am to have such an incredibly good life. I have wonderful friends, a loving family, and I am in the most fulfilling partnership I could ever imagine with a beautiful, intelligent and loving woman. I have an occasionally annoying but adorable and sweet cat whom I cherish dearly, a fun and rewarding career, free time to pursue my passion for guitar, a small but loyal readership for this blog, and I've learned a great deal of fascinating things about the world through my love of popular science books.

Not that my life is perfect, of course. There are frustrations and challenges no matter what path you take. But never do I feel like I'm missing anything, like there is some God-shaped hole in my heart. On the contrary, I'm positively overjoyed to be liberated from the inane dogma and sophistry of religion.

And yet, many pious people will simply be unable to accept that. They'll insist that I'm hiding some deep emptiness, that I must either secretly believe and/or long to share in their spiritual experience. Nothing could be further from the truth. Perhaps they're in denial. Perhaps they're projecting because they've realized that religion can't save their friendships, their finances, their health, or their marriage. I don't know. There will be no convincing them, so it's simply not worth the bother. In the meantime, I'll be busy being happy.

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