It’s lonely being an atheist.  It’s really a believer’s world.  Just saying the word “atheist” puts people on edge.  Believe me, I know.  The reaction I receive the most, though it’s entirely illogical, is “do you worship the devil?”  Well see, the devil is a Biblical character, the evil counterweight to the goodness of God.  You can’t very well believe in the devil (let alone worship it) and not also believe in God.  So no, can’t say I do worship the devil.  Being an atheist doesn’t mean I champion evil and destructive forces in the universe; it simply means I don’t believe in God.  I can’t.  I genuinely admire people born with strong faith.  With the exception of extremists who like to use the Bible to justify all sorts of terrible things, most people who believe in God take great comfort in it.  I would love to have some force in my life to cling to in times of distress or uncertainty; the idea that some benevolent force is interested in my well being is truly lovely.  But the problem is, I just don’t believe it.  I tried for most of my youth to reconcile what I heard in church and confirmation classes with what I really felt, but it couldn’t be done.  I want to believe, but I don’t.  So where does that leave me?

A pet peeve of mine is being told I’m going to hell for not believing in God (gee, why would that bother me?).  I’ve developed a couple of responses to this that no one’s been able to refute yet:

1.  If you believe that God created everything on earth, then when I was made, God apparently left out the faith component.  Why would I be punished for something completely beyond my control and maybe even predetermined for me by God?

2.  So even if I live my life as best as I can, trying to always do the right thing and not harm anyone, I’ll still burn in hell with deeply awful people like Hitler just because I don’t get anything out of going to church?  How does that make sense?

Really, if a person could choose to live in a world with an all-loving, all-knowing creator rather than an empty, vaguely meaningless existence, who would choose to be an atheist?  Just as the Christians and Muslims I know (I don’t know any Jews or I’d include them, too) didn’t choose to believe in God, I didn’t choose not to.  So take it easy on us atheists.  We’re in the minority, we don’t have a cool best friend like Jesus looking out for us, and this is the final stop on our journey.

T

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