Monday, February 10, 2014

Atheists Cannot Experience True Joy

atheist parent atheist parent atheist parent
Atheists cannot feel joy, or so some Christians and other believers fear. Implicit in such a statement is that my family and I are suffering, wounded, lost, powerless, or living meaningless lives. I understand your fear there, People Who Practice a Religion, for I know where those beliefs begin. Your religion tells you that to be among the faithless is a fearful thing.

I remember sitting in the pews and hearing the priest tell me about hell, about how God knows my every thought, about how Hell is a place for the unbeliever, the sinner. I know the heart-clenching terror of even just imagining what it would be like to entertain doubt or of getting too close to a person who did not live the way of the church.  I remember laying awake at night literally fearful of the pain and anger in my brain because I did not want God to disapprove. I remember the regular infusions from the church, from a priest that I loved and respected, of the fear of sin and sinners. I remember honest dread and anxiety of even the thought of something outside of the true church teachings. And I recall lying awake at night in fear and panic of spirits and all things unseen.

Now, as a freethinker and a skeptic, my fears are the opposite. My fears now are for the confusion and alarm that belief in a deity brings to the good people of the world. It hurts me to see how religion can cause such states of joylessness for people that I care about. Yes, people who are truly good and kind, people who experience guilt and shame, who feel damaged inside without their god, people who fear that humans are inherently flawed or sinful. It breaks my heart to see dear people wrestle with these demons.

It is painful to hear dear friends struggle with intense feelings of anxiety, especially when faced with the big questions of meaning and death. Religions attempt offer good things on the other side, but not here on earth, not in this life. The churches tend to extend the promise of a lovely afterlife in a heavenly place while offering very little genuine comfort in this real life.

I know, it's an old drum I am banging.
I have a real problem with guilt and shame and I feel angry about it quite often.

Then I turn around and someone is suggesting to me that maybe I am lacking joy in my life.
REALLY?!  Joy?!

Please, do not feel fearful on my behalf. Do not extend an insulting offer of pity. Do not put the fears of your religion onto my life for I have removed them good and well myself.

And I promise that I am not offering this post loaded with any sarcasm or any disingenuous sense all. I offer sincere affection and respect for every human within my reach.

I assure you, I have chosen a very deliberate path in my life. I have never been more found!

My life and the lives of my children are full and joyful. We have a deep and meaningful connection with this earth, with the depths of the sea, with the heights of the atmosphere. We find meaning and awe in the wonders of biology, chemistry, physics, astronomy, anthropology, and rational thought.

Exploring the world through the lenses of scientific exploration and understanding brings the most sublime kind of connection. Understanding the knowable natural laws and cycles of our earth bring such awe for the grandeur of this planet. And understanding human nature gives me a deep love and hope for our species.

Bringing up freethinking children is a gift that I offer to the generations, it is my contribution to a wiser, safer, healthier, happier future of our species. Through my children and through my acts during my life I am making a difference on this planet.

I remember, as a girl, I read a Christian magazine that came to our home each month. There was a story about a weaver in a small village who felt that his life was meaningless. He struggled with that very human angst throughout the story until he went to the manger where a small child was wrapped up in a blanket of his making. He saw how important his work was.

It is a lovely story that has stayed with me for all of these years. When I read that story four decades ago I promised myself that I would always think of ways that my actions would have impact on the world around me even without my knowing it. As an atheist, I see that even more clearly now. As parents I'm quite sure that we all can see that more clearly. I know that I am weaving my small little blanket that will warm future generations.

So please, Dear Friends Who Worry and Fear, do not worry and fear! And Friends who Pity Me, please do not offer such things to me.

I am exactly where I want to be. I am exactly who I wish to be. I am living a life that I have chosen freely and with deliberation. I am living an informed life. I am living a generous and kind life, a highly ethical life. I have examined most of your belief systems and I am absolutely convinced that I am doing the right thing and I require no fearful inducements to consider any claims out there.

I am living with a joy that comes from having no weight of doubt or fear or sinfulness on my shoulders. I am living a life of atheist joy. 

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Your Life Has No Meaning



  1. Love this! You explain it so well!
    Just recentlyI was having this conversation with my husband!
    :) Danica

  2. Beautiful. Life is truly about loving one another. Life is not about pleading with some old man in the sky to please make things go your way... and simply sighing with a "well, that's God's will" when things go badly. It's the old extrinsic motivation vs intrinsic motivation--and in my view, religion is ALL about extrinsically motivating people to "be good" (along with controlling and oppressing people, but that's a different rant).

  3. I was raised Mormon, and my thoughts were actually like yours as a child. I always felt like even though I was a good child, did good deeds because I felt it was right, that I was still bad and doomed because I didn't have a testimony in the church, that I felt awkward and uncomfortable over the idea of praying, that there was just something missing. And ever since figuring out what I felt that way as an early teen, discovering there was more like me, that I'm not bad, doomed etc, I've never been more free in my life. I'm 27 now, and have yet to have doubts over this chosen life. In fact, despite being diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis, and having inferility problems due to PCOS, I'm happily married (to another Atheist...almost going on 11 years together!), and just have never been so fulfilled and content with my life. And it breaks my heart seeing friends my age, or older family, constantly struggling with their beliefs, wasting time on being angry at their god for things happening in their life, instead of taking control and making changes themselves. And just being free. That's my favorite word to explain how it feels to be an Atheist. Free. Free of control from unknown masters. And again, not once has this created burden on me, and I constantly feel joy and awe over life.

    Very nice blog entry! Great read.

  4. Years ago, someone said to me "if you never had a pet dog as a kid, your childhood wasn't a fulfilling one". I never had a dog, never wanted one and my childhood never suffered because of it so I felt quite offended! We don't have a dog now and don't ever plan on getting one, so the idea that my children will somehow have an empty childhood because we don't have a pet dog just seems utterly ridiculous to me. It's the same with religion for me, just because we don't have it in our lives, we're not missing out on anything!

    1. A perfect example of how no one can allow anyone else to define WHAT IS JOY?

      BTW, no pups here either. I expect to have to pay therapy bills for that one.


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