The happy atheist

I know quite a few atheists, agnostics, and Deists. There may be a few whose lives could be described as unfulfilled or unhappy, but no more than among my religious friends. (Of course, in both cases lack of fulfillment or unhappiness would be affected by other factors.) I think I personally would be described as happy, interested, and interpersonally easy-going. The angry, unhappy, get-off-my-lawn caricature of atheists just doesn’t fit.

That proves nothing about who is right, of course. But it does prove that (a) the sources of such misinformation are not truthful and (b) religion isn’t needed to live a satisfying and productive life. (An ethical life, as well, but I’ll leave morality/ethics for another post.)

Getting factual about this is relevant because a familiar sales pitch by religionists is the great comfort and happiness that comes from a religious faith. I don’t doubt that religion does offer that in some cases, though I suspect that at least some of the comfort is due to religious advocates’ spreading the word that horrid things are in store otherwise. If we spread the rumor that life without Jesus will be hard and unrewarding here and even worse in the hereafter, it’d be no wonder that people feel relieved to know there’s an antidote. Funny, though, that religions (and any number of cults) with diametrically opposed teachings promise the same solace. Sort of tips you off that the relevant factor here is psychological rather than theological, so much so that it is embarrassing that the word ending “logical” shows up at all in that comparison.

Considered against the world population over an unknowable number of centuries yet to come, most Christians I’ve heard on the matter don’t think anywhere near a majority will be “saved,” even among people who identify themselves as Christian. Will only a tiny minority see the Pearly Gates? (In the Bible, John’s apocalypse is sometimes cited as saying that only 144,000 will make it, but on closer inspection that interpretation is rather questionable.) Even so, so many more Christians’ future contains hell more than harps that, well, let me just say the percentages don’t look as good as the average state lottery. Try as I might, I can’t find any comfort offered by so dim a prospect. But it does suggest a great—shall I say comforting—sales pitch for unbelief: Throw off these unsubstantiated, superstitious tales. Be free from the fear of everlasting punishment. Relax, enjoy your life in this awesome universe, and the prospect of an unworried death!

About John Bruce Carver

I am a U. S. citizen living in Atlanta, Georgia, having grown up in Chattanooga, Tennessee, and graduating from Chattanooga High School. I served in the Electronic Security Command of the U. S. Air Force before receiving a B.S. degree in business/economics and an M.Ed. in educational psychology, both at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. I then completed a Ph.D. in clinical (and research) psychology at Emory University. I have two daughters and three granddaughters. An ardent international traveller, I have been in over 70 countries for business and pleasure. My reading, other than novels, tends to be in history, philosophy, government, and light science. I identify philosophically as a secular humanist, in complete awe of the universe including my fellows and myself. I am married to my best friend, Miriam, formerly of the United Kingdom and Canada.
This entry was posted in Atheism and other freethought, Life, living, and death, Pleasure, enthusiasm, and awe. Bookmark the permalink.

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