How can an atheist feel good?

Religion tells believers that God can help them in his own way, because of that, most believers can feel good about their lives and know that some divine power helps them to get through things.

Can atheist feel good in the same way as believers?

Posted: February 14th 2010

Dave Hitt www

Atheists aren’t capable of feeling good. We’re always hugely miserable.

A few days ago I was watching a good movie with an old friend. We were smoking our favorite cigars and sipping the single malt scotch she brought, and I was thinking, damn, this sucks. If only I could believe in god it would be great.

Every time we enjoy great food, the company of good friends, the caress of a lover, the scent of a flower, the warmth of a fire on a cold day or cold refreshing drink on a hot day, all we can think of is how horrible it is, and how it would be wonderful if we could only believe in a god.

Posted: February 24th 2010

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flagellant www

At Sunday School, I was taught things that seemed strange but were “articles of faith” that had to be believed. “God” was, after all, unknowable. The more I tried to understand, the more ridiculous the notion of a sky-daddy seemed. I spent some years grappling with the mass of superstition that I had been taught by “God’s spin doctors”. Eventually, my uncertainties about them – tenets as well as teachers – turned to derision. Let’s be clear: religious belief is delusional. Even if it is comforting, that doesn’t make it true. And, curiously, the specious, metaphorical pacifiers (dummies) and comfort-blankets do not compare to having a modern – rather than a pre-medieval – view of life.

Consider the matter of life after death; perhaps the idea of heaven helps you to feel good about your life. However, when I had life-threatening surgery, I felt good: I approached the process, putting my trust in the skill of the surgeons, not in “some divine power” that would help me. I had no doubt that death would be the end; I did not backslide and, had I been visited by a clergyman, I would have spent time trying to convert him, not listening to his claptrap.

As an atheist and a former believer, I feel good because I have managed to ditch all the nonsense associated with my earlier “beliefs”. And, while there are things about my life that I try to change, I don’t for one moment consider prayer; after all, prayer is talking to yourself…

You also ask “Can atheist[s] feel good in the same way as believers?” I think you are misguided if you think that believers feel better than atheists. Try some of these declarations from converts. (Note that there are currently 16 pages. That means hundreds of descriptions of how individuals have chosen a rational – rather than a superstitious – view of life.) For myself, I feel better than I did as a believer. If you were to experience the relief that comes with a non-superstitious, rational World-view, you would see what I mean. Try examining your beliefs to see if they are sound. Consider the “divine power” that apparently rules your life. Is it your comfort-blanket, your ostrich/sand thing, or your drug “fix”? Was the Haïtian earthquake a punishment from a loving god? Some punishment; some love. And so on.

I am lucky enough to have a pleasant life: close friends, a very important relationship, absorbing interests, and no material worries. During my many years, I have had difficulties that I’ve been able to overcome alone or with human help; I neither need an imaginary friend, nor belief in nonsense, to make my life meaningful.

Posted: February 22nd 2010

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Daniel Midgley www

In my former church, we used to tell each other that the church was the source of all our happiness, and that if we left, we would be crushingly miserable all the rest of our lives! Now as an atheist, I realise that that was just a big story, like all the other ones they told. The truth is, being an atheist has actually helped me to be happier.

Yes, religions tell us great tall tales about an afterlife, but they can also dish out a lot of guilt. Some give you hang-ups about your sexual behaviour, what you eat, drink, say or read, and how active you are in the organisation.

Being an atheist means I don’t have to worry about the presumed opinions of supernatural beings (whose opinions always seem to match those of the leaders, strangely). I can make my own decisions and take responsibility for my own thoughts, actions, and time.

Many believers also go through a crisis of faith every once in a while, and wonder if the god they believe in is really there. Not a problem for atheists! I’ve saved hours by not wondering if prayer works and not pondering The Problem of Evil.

Deconverting from your religion can be a difficult experience at first. Don’t worry. As an atheist, you can have a fulfilling, ethical life. Instead of spending time and energy worrying about gods, devils, or genies, you can enjoy what this life has to offer.

Posted: February 21st 2010

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Atheists must appear alien to you as most humans want to feel good and we, according to your view, are not doing the essential thing to feel good.

However, atheists are doing what makes them feel good, and that is not merely having no belief in god (this is not the fulfilling part anyway!), but in thinking clearly, in being courageous enough to realize that it is okay not to know all the answers regarding nature, but that the very quest to deepen our understanding of nature is what is paramount. We learn and grow in the process which are joys in themselves.

If I could see how this god could help me, then perhaps I would be sad that I am unable to court belief without extraordinary evidence. But I don’t see how the reliance on some divine entity is supposed to fire me up or comfort me. I have an impressive network of support and an ever growing knowledge base, and this unproven god is just superfluous. And since my support network evidently exists, I will gratefully continue to put my eggs in their baskets.

I have been given so much love as well as giving so much love back in my life, I am fulfilled in that regard. I am not greedy. I am not going to claw onto some unproven divine entity because I want more. I know when to say enough is enough, and this world, rich in every sense of the word, is enough material with which I can work.

Here’s a simple rule of thumb to help you get through things: accept reality first and then seek out support from real beings. Having the ability to identify what you need is an enviable skill and the success which is achieved from your asking the right people for help is admirable. It is a virtuous circle. Your life is filled with positivity and the promise for continued fulfillment. Not a bad state to be in, at all. Try it sometime.

Posted: February 21st 2010

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Paula Kirby www

As a former Christian myself, I would challenge the idea that most believers can feel good about their lives. Nearly all the Christians I got to know were every bit as harried and flustered by life’s ups and downs as anyone else: rather more so, in fact. When I was re-evaluating my beliefs, the fact that the calmest, sanest, most cheerful people I knew were not religious struck me very forcibly: after all, if there really were a loving god with whom we could personally spend time, and who wished to reinforce us with confidence in his loving care, you really would expect Christians to be noticeably more poised, calm, and well balanced, wouldn’t you? In my experience, the reverse was true.

And, since there is no reason to believe there IS such a god (after all, despite literally hundreds of investigations over the years, there is NO evidence to suggest that people who pray, or are prayed for, suffer fewer setbacks in life or deal with them or recover from them more successfully), we can probably explain this. Christianity teaches us firstly, that, no matter how hard we try, we are sinful and unworthy. That is hardly conducive to a confident, poised, balanced attitude to life, is it? And secondly, that we should have faith in God and trust, childlike, in his provision for us. Such an attitude, faithfully implemented, leads to passivity: so when Christians face troubles and difficulties, they are taught to pray about them and trust in God to provide the answer. That infantilises them and removes all power and responsibility from them to do anything themselves to improve matters. And all studies show that we feel far more stressed in situations that we cannot directly influence. So we really shouldn’t marvel that many Christians handle stressful situations LESS well than non-believers. (There is an online Christian Fellowship forum I occasionally used to glance into: it is just astonishing how much angst and fear and worry and tizziness gets poured out there, over things that most non-believers would just take in their stride without so much as a second thought.)

We atheists don’t believe in a divine being looking out for us, so we are free to face up to our difficulties openly and honestly, and to tackle them using everything available to us, whether that’s the best medical or financial advice, support from our friends and families, or simply sitting down and thinking things through calmly and logically and identifying the best way forward and then taking it. We don’t have to agonise over whether this suffering is part of God’s plan for us, or whether it’s some punishment for something we have or haven’t done. We don’t have to sit back and wait for someone or something else to sort things out for us, and we don’t have to feel guilty for taking matters into our own hands. We know that our own hands are all ANYONE has, even those who believe in a deity. We don’t have to sit back and wait for a (non-existent) supernatural being to sort things out for us: we can do it ourselves.

So my question back to you is, can a believer feel good in the same way as atheists? If you are a Christian, by definition you feel less in control over your life than atheists do over theirs. Relinquishing religion is a release from everything that holds you back and stops you living life – this one, short life, the only one we have – to the full. And no, I’m not talking about sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll. I am talking about being free to reach your full potential, to face life as a poised, rational, well balanced adult, and to reject meaningless myths that would hold you back and keep you in childlike dependency.

Posted: February 21st 2010

See all questions answered by Paula Kirby

Eshu www

Well obviously atheists aren’t comforted by the idea of a higher power helping them along, but that’s really not the only way to feel good. It’s not even the only way that believers feel good.

Isn’t it obvious that there’s a lot more that’s good in life than religious feelings?

Lynne Kelly said,
bq. “Some believers accuse skeptics of having nothing left but a dull, cold, scientific world. I am left with only art, music, literature, theater, the magnificence of nature, mathematics, the human spirit, sex, the cosmos, friendship, history, science, imagination, dreams, oceans, mountains, love and the wonder of birth. That’ll do me.”

Many atheists feel empowered by the freedom and responsibility they have without the possibility of divine intervention. We feel good

Posted: February 21st 2010

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Reed Braden www

You need to feel an invisible overlord watching your every move and monitoring your every thought in order to feel good? Well then, I’m sorry for you.

I, as an Atheist, feel good about life and the world around me simply by seeing life for what it is. My friends and family make me feel happy, my work makes me feel productive and my writing makes me feel fulfilled. Rather than projecting my happiness onto an imaginary friend, my Atheism allows me the opportunity to give thanks to the people and activities that really make me happy.

Posted: February 20th 2010

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