In my previous Faith vs. Belief post, I discussed the fact that an important reason atheism cannot be considered a “faith” is that nobody actually wants to be an atheist—people only become atheists because they feel they have to. We all take comfort in the idea of a God taking care of us and looking after things, and especially the idea that we will go to eternal paradise when we die. An atheist has to actively fight against these deep seated desires and instincts, to accept the cold, harsh reality that there is no God to love us and take care of us, and that when we die, we really do just die. This is why—despite the extreme objective irrationality of a belief in God—most of us just cannot let go of this belief. I know I couldn’t—it took me years to simply accept what the facts were telling me, and embrace the reality that there is no God, no afterlife, and no higher meaning to my existence. It was a very slow and painful process. But astonishingly, once I was finally able to let go of that last vestige of belief, I suddenly found I was happier than I ever was at any other time in my adult life!
How on earth could this be? It was certainly an enormous surprise for me! Although I believed in God, I never followed any established religion, so I wasn’t really subject to the sorts of restrictions they put on people. Yet the first thing that struck me was how much more empowered—and just plain free—I felt as an atheist. I was never aware of how restricted I was by the idea that I wasn’t really the master of my own destiny, and that everything, including me, was under God’s control. Before, I was basically just a pawn on God’s chessboard, but now I was able to make my life into whatever I wanted it to be, because I was in control. This was an important factor in making me feel confident enough to launch my own web site, and express myself—in any way I saw fit—to the entire world. Read the rest of this entry »