Friday, July 31, 2015

How Atheism Can Lead to a Happier Life

A recent post in the blog site "Atheist Revolution" discussed the topic:  Would You Rather Be Happy and Wrong or Unhappy and Right?  Personally, I think that it's not only wrong to hold on to false beliefs just because they make a person happy, it's also unhealthy. I think that theism falls into this category. And because the delusion of god-belief is so predominant in places such as the U.S. and for that matter especially here in the Philippines, millions of people are living in a fantasy world. Sure,  there's a lot of subjectivity in deciding whether a particular  belief is true or false. But so many traditional religious tales, especially the Scriptures, are so patently absurd that there's really no room for debate about whether there is any truth to them. Yet believers accept them just because "it's in the bible". 

What's behind this mass delusion? Brainwashing, obviously (actually "socialization" as my sociologist cousin corrected me). Beginning at an early age, most theists have their beliefs instilled into them by their parents and religious leaders. So by the time they're adults, they are almost totally conditioned, Yet somehow, some of them (myself included) whether by exposure to new ideas or a by a traumatic event eventually lose our faith in these ridiculous notions and learn to accept the reality that there is no proof that a supreme being exists, let alone intervenes in our lives.

As for me, am I any less happy for losing the crutch of false belief?  Not at all. Delusions are in the end really mental burdens, and because atheism has enabled me to shed that load, it has also simplified my outlook on lifeand death too for that matter. There is no evidence for an afterlife which means of course that when we die, it's lights out forever. Well, that inevitability doesn't bother me in the least. As Mark Twain aptly put it:  "I do not fear death. I had been dead for billions of years before I was born, and had not suffered the slightest inconvenience from it". 

Was I happy when I was a believer? No. Belief in a God actually made life more difficult because it wasted my time by diverting part of my attention from my problems to this mythical entity who I hoped would help me, when I should have been fully focused on solving matters at hand instead.

The universe is indifferent to human needs and wants, and randomness happens in our lives all the time. But to the extent that there's no evidence for the existence of a God who manipulates our fates like a puppeteer and whom we must obey lest we be punished, this  is one less barrier in striving to achieve personal growth and happiness.

And that sounds right to me.   

6 comments:

Jack Vance said...

Thanks for the mention. I think you are right about it being unhealthy to maintain false beliefs. It isn't always easy to let go of them, but there is something freeing about living in accordance with reality.

Secular Guy said...

Jack,

You're welcome. And thank you for the inspiration that your post gave me to write mine.

Rick

Jack Vance said...

Bloggers inspiring each other has to be one of my favorite things about blogging! I know we're not supposed to have any sort of atheist/skeptic/secular community, but this sort of thing makes that tough to remember.

Secular Guy said...

Well, if atheist /skeptic/ secular bloggers inspire each other often enough maybe we'll wind up having a community by default. That wouldn't be bad at all.

TUCHARV said...

Since the underlying drive that all humans seem to have towards creating a deity is all about creating a "tribe" whose members agree that they will achieve some kind of existence beyond our inevitable deaths, it should be no surprise that those of us who are free of these "beliefs" still would benefit from some sort of "tribe". As long as said substitute for religion avoids having "rules" and does not exclude those who raise questions in a collegial way, let's go for it!

Secular Guy said...

Tucharv,

Thanks for your response. Personally, I'm not much of a joiner, but there's no denying the importance of connecting with other like-minded people.