Being religious is (sometimes) easier

Dear reader,

I was raised (loosely) as a Roman Catholic. I went to a Catholic comprehensive school in London on the weekdays and church on Sundays. Well, most Sundays. One time I snuck away with my brother and we bought comic books with the collection money. That was more fun than church! But over time I have become an atheist. As I grow older and spend more time thinking about life, I cannot bring myself to stay religious. The more I think about it, the less I am able to buy into believing something without evidence. I am a scientist at heart. Moreover, there are some aspects of the bible and religion that I believe are harmful. For example, threatening people with hell to make them behave in a certain way. There are many other things.

I walked away from religion. However, I can see how absolutely necessary it must be for some people to have religion in their lives. Having given up on religion myself I have moments of doubt about my choice because I think life could have been a bit easier if I was still religious. Here are some of the reasons:

1. If there is no God then what is the purpose and meaning of life? Anyone who ponders this question and has no religion is left with a huge question mark. I personally spend some time every day wondering about this. If you are religious, tada! this question is answered for you.
2. If there is no God, what happens to me when I die? It is daunting and unpleasant to think about this question, and imagine oneself underground, or being burnt in a furnace, with NOTHING afterwards. You will never get to see your loved ones again. How much nicer it is to believe that they will all be waiting for you in heaven. Or that you will have a bevy of attractive virgins, or attain Nirvana. (Well, now that I think about it, maybe having to deal with those virgins could be trouble...)
3. If you are religious you have an instant social network through your Church. Without church you may have to work harder to find friends. Loneliness is a bitch.
4. If you don't have a religion, you are completely responsible for your own life. There is no such thing as "leaving it up to God". If something bad happens (e.g. you lose your job), there is no-one to turn to but yourself. That can be a lot to handle. How much easier it is to trust God to do the driving! God will provide.
5. You are responsible for your moral choices and you must live with your conscience forever afterwards. There is no such thing as going to confession and being completely forgiven. I would love to have all my sins forgiven. But it's just not an option for me.

Despite all of these disadvantages, I have no choice but to be an atheist. I simply don't believe in any God, or Gods. But I do understand why many others are religious and I do not hold it against them (well, unless my rights are compromised...). It is more difficult for me now that I know that I am "alone" in the universe, than before when I was a believer.

Time for the "quote of the day":

The most spiritually splendid American phenomenon of my lifetime is how African-American
citizens have maintained their dignity and self-respect, despite their having been treated
by white Americans, both in and out of government, and simply because of their skin color, as
though they were contemptible and loathsome, and even diseased.
-Kurt Vonnegut

Take care of each other,

-Buford Twain

Views: 1

Tags: religion

Comment

You need to be a member of Atheist Nexus to add comments!

Join Atheist Nexus

Comment by Buford Twain on August 28, 2008 at 9:05am
Hi Barbara, thanks for your feedback. It's fascinating to hear what others think about this. We spend so much of our time on "trivial" things and so little time thinking about and discussing the big questions, it's a real paradox to me. When I originally posted this article on my blog some time ago I got quite a few comments. You can read what others were thinking here: click here for original blog post.

-BT
Comment by Barbara on August 27, 2008 at 2:29pm
Hi Buford. Your post really resonates with me, the question of whether or not people need religion is something I often think about.

However, I can see how absolutely necessary it must be for some people to have religion in their lives.

I find myself torn on how necessary for certain individuals religious belief may be. Is it really necessary, or is it just that it's become necessary to them because it's all they've ever known, and they're unaware of living any other way? It's the old nature vs. nurture question, I suppose. I'm inclined to give people the benefit of the doubt and think that just about everyone is capable of living contentedly without faith.

1. If there is no God then what is the purpose and meaning of life?...If you are religious, tada! this question is answered for you.

My pat answer now would be, it's largely what we make of it. I was actually more confused about the meaning of life when I thought there was a god - which god or religion or theologian's definition of a meaningful life do you follow?

2. If there is no God, what happens to me when I die?

Yeah, death is not a pleasant idea. It would be nice to engage in wishful thinking, but as you said, you don't have any choice but to be an atheist.

3. If you are religious you have an instant social network through your Church.

It can be hard to meet people, it's true. I can see this being a major motivation for more social people, or those with families, to join a church, but as a childless introvert I'd rather have friends who actually like me for me rather than because they feel reaching out to me is what their god would want. I would like to see more community organizations and gathering places that are unaffiliated with religion.

Your points numbered 4 and 5 describe the sort of religion based thinking that tends to aggravate me the most. I actually think they make very strong points in atheism's favor. How can a system of thinking that allows you to shirk your responsibility for your own actions be anything but harmful?

I've found more comfort and peace in accepting responsibility for my actions and trying to be cognizant of the positive and negative effects of my behavior than I ever did in just trying to trust in a god to either save me from myself or wash away my "sins". I'd like to think that other people would as well.

It is more difficult for me now that I know that I am "alone" in the universe, than before when I was a believer.

I'm glad you mentioned this, because reading about someone else's reaction to their loss of faith reminds me of how different we all are. For me, it was a great relief to come to grips with being "alone". A few weeks after I started describing myself as an atheist, I had this realization (on the sort of emotional level that I previously would have described as a revelation) that I was alone. No one was watching me! It's hard to explain to how freeing and affirming that one little concept was to me.

Good post, and I like the Vonnegut quote as well.

Support Atheist Nexus

Donate Today

Donate

 

Help Nexus When You Buy From Amazon

Amazon

MJ

© 2014   Atheist Nexus. All rights reserved. Admin: Richard Haynes.

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service