I remember when I began to have doubts about my faith. The world – according to Christianity – just wasn’t adding up.
At first, I tackled the problem by exposing myself to more religion. I attended more church, met more church people, and read more of the Bible.
Still, nothing made sense.
“It must be my church”, I thought, and spent another couple of years church shopping.
Things didn’t get any clearer. Seeing that God’s churches could disagree on so much made things worse. The world, according to the Bible, just didn’t add up.
So, I withdrew from church life. But I wasn’t done with religion. I was still trying to make make God fit into the evil and suffering within the world. I watched hundreds of hours of video and read countless articles on (what seemed like) hundreds of websites.
Still, nothing made sense.
Finally, after many years of this heavy lifting, I asked the unthinkable…
“Maybe there isn’t a god?”
And then I read and watched for another two months before I finally read The God Delusion.
In between chapters, I supplemented The God Delusion with even more articles and videos – this time with a heavy focus on debates between believers and unbelievers.
And just like that, the world started making sense.
Thinking about the unthinkable was – UNDOUBTEDLY – the hardest thing I’ve ever done. Nevertheless, I finally arrived at an answer that really made sense. There was no god.
Why was it so hard?
First, because in addition to letting go of god, I let go of my ideas around immortality. I saw my mind/my consciousness/my soul as nothing more than what my brain did. When my brain died, I recognized that my life would end and there would be nothing more. This, after 40 years, was an excruciating loss. There was a very real mourning period.
Worse, not only had I let go of my own immortality, but I also recognized the mortality of my family. In a very short period of time, I had to come to terms with one day losing my parents – forever. Even harder, I began to imagine what losing my wife or one of my children would mean to me. I felt such fear. Such sadness.
I was preparing myself for future losses in a reality-based way that I’d never had to consider before.
The permanent loss of loved ones was the hardest idea I’d ever had to deal with – I’m still amazed I was able to accept all of it.
Can you accept the seemingly harsh reality atheism offers? Why would you want to go any further down this path? After all, compared to what the rest of your life has taught you, what I am saying is pretty damn bleak, isn’t it?
Yes, sometimes religion is comfortable. Sometimes it will make you happy. But, if inter-mixed and underlying that shallow sense of comfort and happiness, you feel conflict between religion and reality, it may be because you are doubting the truthfulness of what you’ve been taught so far. Accepting faith may also be impinging on your mental freedom to explore the real nature of the universe.
Comfort and happiness versus freedom and truth. Is that the choice? Not necessarily.
Since becoming an atheist, I’ve become free to think deeper about the meaning of life, and I believe I’m closer to the truth of this world than I ever was when I held a belief in God.
But, to my surprise, I am also much happier and more comfortable than I ever was before. There is no more internal conflict because the world finally makes sense. I’ve also gotten past mourning my immortality and am probably better prepared than most for my death, and the death of my loved ones. In fact, I no longer dwell on death at all (except of course to share these experiences!).
And that’s why you owe it to yourself to push a little further – to think outside the box that religion has put you in. You are seeking a melding of comfort, happiness, truth and freedom.
Is today the day you finally allow yourself to think the unthinkable?