An Alternative To Freedom
In our ever-changing world of social acceptance, we’ve come to see shifts in attitude towards everything from ethnicity, to sexuality.
While these issues were seemingly simple hurdles to conquer for a society built upon innovation and progress, our species has proven time, and time again that we lack the will and cooperation to change worldviews at a reasonable pace. The difficulties that come with being part of a minority are sobering, and the threat of being demonized by your peers can be a grim reality for those unlucky souls in the wrong community.
The minority I’m speaking of, however, has nothing to do with the color of your skin, or your sexual orientation. Today, I’m here to discuss the last notable group to be outnumbered, but not yet exhausted of their will to fight socioeconomic trends:
That’s right. The one group on the planet who should reasonably not be threatening to anyone, is evidently last on the list of people who can share their beliefs (or lack thereof), in public.
While I usually would tend to drift off into a rant regarding religion, that’s not my aim here. Today, I want to ask the faith-based people who represent the majority of our small planet to briefly consider the possibility that humans are perfectly capable of leading morally-acceptable lives without having a god to call their own. While I understand that this sentiment is usually met with stiff opposition, I implore my religious and spiritual readers to at least suppress their urge to close out this page for a few minutes.
We’re not that different.
How can I compare myself to you? It’s simple. We’re all atheists when it comes to Thor, (I hope) and we all grasp what a silly idea it is to believe in the god of thunder, even if he does make for an interesting story. I can go as far as to say that we’re both atheists on the majority of the gods on planet Earth today. If you don’t believe me, allow yourself a moment to consider how many religions there are in the world. Think of all the organized, well-known religious denominations, as well as the lesser known tribal religions. Many of these have countless numbers of followers, such as Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Hinduism, and Buddhism (although technically it’s not a religion). From the perspective of an atheist, I understand that all of these people can’t possibly be insane, and that it must have an internal value to believe in god’s existence. That means that there are some rational people who choose to believe in god because they feel it brings purpose, and meaning to their lives. From the viewpoint of a devoutly religious individual, however, they have the misfortune of being able to only see the purpose of existence through the pages of their sacred text. This is to be expected, as one raised with such a tradition would naturally be inclined to revere, cherish, and cling to what brings them peace and understanding of the world around them.
As an atheist, I don’t have a sacred book to guide my life. I don’t have lessons through scripture, or the looming threat of punishment in the afterlife. That doesn’t mean that I’m a bad person, immoral, worship Satan, or that I eat children. It means that I have to appropriately measure all of my decisions in life so that I cause the least amount of damage. I don’t go out and kill people, or cause them bodily harm for no reason. I don’t steal from other people, since I have no right to the property of others. I don’t rape women, because that is a cruel, sick, and vicious way to treat them or obtain sexual release. None of these fundamental rules require a background in religion. That’s because morality exists without it, and is a more than conventional way for someone to live their life.
I don’t require prayers to obtain things in life. If you’ve ever spent a long time accomplishing a goal, whether that be studying for a test, working towards a promotion at your job, or something as simple as writing a new post for your blog, you grasp how much discipline, and determination it takes to achieve such things. Atheists have those same goals, and accomplish them every single day without so much as a thought about a divine being. How can this be, if you are a creature of god and have been granted blessings in your life that a non-believer shouldn’t? This is because prayer, however useful and righteous it seems, does little in the real world to further any cause. Yes, it will grant you a fleeting sensation of contentment, but in the end the probability of your prayer being answered is the same as flipping a coin. It either will, or it won’t. It’s my experience that in this situation, if it comes true- many individuals tend to have a restored faith that their god is listening, and this is proof of it. However, if it doesn’t work in their favor, the same individuals will acquiesce to the idea that it was god’s plan for their wish to not come true. Atheists calculate things rather than pray, because we understand the probability, or the likeliness of something to occur is a more practical approach to understanding whether or not your wish will be granted. If you desire a promotion at work, you may add up the amount of hours you put in, as well as the quality of the work combined with how much the managers like you. You may also think that asking for god’s blessing is an asset to your cause. Atheists can’t do that. We try to see how a manager would effectively grade our work, as well as how our quality stacks up against competitors. There is no third-party to intervene, and if we receive such a position it would be through the gracious regard of our superiors, as well as the sweat we put into the daily grind itself.
I have a challenge to all believers. Before you shut me down, know that you won’t have to sacrifice a thing.
When you wake up tomorrow, I want you to do one simple thing:
Go on about your day.
That’s it. You don’t have to do anything else. Not a single thing. Tomorrow, do every single chore you would usually do. Go to work just like you would any other day. Eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner the same way. Take a shower or bath, in the same manner. Talk to your friends, family, or co-workers the same way. Live your life in the same peaceful, wonderful manner that you’re already used to.
Leave God out of it. Don’t stop to pray for things, and don’t ask for blessings. Don’t thank him for your food, or for any simple victories. Don’t worry about a threat of a bad place in the afterlife, and don’t get nervous over what god will think. Calculate the probability of things, and use logic and a constant scale of morality to solve your daily woes and issues. I think you’ll find it’s easy to do if you simply feel as if you’re taking a day off from faith. Do this for one day, and you can return to your life with God on your side. I do ask that you undergo this task with some manner of discipline though, because if you’re just going to flake halfway through the day, then your fear of the unknown is clearly affecting your life.
When you go back to your life with god however, I request that you review your day off from him. You might be surprised to discover that nothing has changed. The world didn’t end, you weren’t stricken by a disgusting illness, and no horrible tragedies befell you. Now ask yourself, could you do this for two days? Three? Even a week? Could you live your life like this? Were you slowed down one bit by not having to worry about god? I think you’ll find the answer is “no”, and through this you will be granted a knowledge that few faith-based people have the privilege of understanding:
It’s possible to live a good life without god.
For those of you out there who are hesitant to accept my challenge, undoubtedly because you’re unsure if there will be negative repercussions, I beg you to reconsider.
After all, if your faith is half as unshakable as you claim it is, then you’ve got nothing to lose by humoring me, and your connection with God might very well be strengthened.
Blissful, but not content.
Overjoyed with sentiment.
All the world is a place…
…for your mind to waste.