Sometimes when I talk with others and the subject of atheism comes up, these same people are surprised to discover that I am not different than they are. I’ve actually been asked if atheism helps to solve life issues. Yeah, I’ve been asked that. No, it doesn’t. It’s just a personal conclusion that there are no gods. It surprised me that some people equated atheism with some sort of self-help program, Alcoholics anonymous, for example. No, the problems or issues a person had before becoming an atheist mostly exist afterwards. One that probably doesn’t is guilt.
By guilt I mean the guilt a person may feel when they are doing something bad in the eye of whatever faith they believed. I knew people that mentally punished themselves for missing church on Sunday morning because, well, they just didn’t want to get out of bed. Others find it difficult to not be themselves on those same Sundays. I mean, does anyone believe that this person who always seems cheery on Sunday morning is like that after church and the other six days of the week? Whether you’re Christian, Muslim, or Jew, you’re just a human being like everyone else on this planet. you’re no better or worse than anyone one else, generally and no one has any bragging rights to their religion or non-religion.
Just look at the Federal Bureau of Justice Statistics concerning the declared religion of those incarcerated. It’s interesting that those percentages are almost exactly adjacent to those that are not incarcerated. For atheists, that is right at three percent. That’s close to the number of atheists that have been polled in the U.S. So, atheists, generally, are no more law abiding that those that are believers.
What advantage is there being an atheist? Well, none that I have ever been able to determine. In fact, it can be a detriment to someone’s career and family because atheists, yes in the 21st century, are very much regarded as untrustworthy and worthy of disdain. So, in some places, right here in the U.S., it’s not necessarily beneficial to be an atheist. no, no one’s going to jail for just being an atheist, as what happens in some fourteen other countries on the planet – to the point of being sentenced to death – but that sentence here, as I alluded to, may come in other forms.
If there’s no advantage to being an atheist, why be an atheist? FOr me, a personal conclusion that I could no longer believe what I was hearing in church or reading in the text. It didn’t make sense to me, and probably never did, but like so many, I was afraid of leaving and standing on my own. Of course, a lot of people in the last few decades have left their church, but they’ve not given up the belief which went along with that church. So all of those, which in recent polls referred to as nones, doesn’t indicate non-belief of any kind, just that they no longer belong to a specific denomination. When I see other atheists cheer this percentage of nones, I tend to want to correct them.
So, no, atheism doesn;t cure any of your personal ills. If you’re a drunk, drug addict, wife beater before, you will still be that person. There is no conversion process other than the one an individual has determined for him/her self. some refer to the process as deconversion. but if a person was never consciously converted in the first place, then that is a misnomer as well. In other words, if you were born and raised in a Muslim family, you cannot deconvert because you never converted. Of course, if you’re not an atheist reading this, you will proabably find other that would disagree with what I just said.
That’s okay because there is no catechism of atheism. there is no holy text that everyone ascribes to. We are the products of our environment, the one we came from (religious) and the one that we exist in now (our personal choice). No one decides for us what is right or wrong and of course we do not believe that our moral or ethical conscience comes from many god. I don;t think anyone has to be a Christian, Muslim, or Jew to have the efficacy not to murder, rape, or steal. If it does take a religion to keep someone from being evil? Well, if you know that person, make sure they get some psychiatric help. Soon.
If anyone out there is thinking that atheism must be some sort of cure-all for the ills of humankind, and that’s why it attracts people. Well, no and anyone that became an atheist because they thought that way, let me tell you, they quickly retreated back to their religious conclave. I see it all the time on social media: former atheist. I find that strange because I don’t refer to myself as “former christian” even though some others may believe I am a lapsed Christian. I think it’s that those that use that description in the bio, are folks that thought there was something to being an atheist and when they discovered that there was nothing particularly special being an atheist, quickly reverted to their old, comfortable, belief system and of course, berate those of us that, throughout whatever each person has had to endure to be an atheist (for me, nothing) for remaining ourselves and not giving in to intimidation or anything else that someone might be, may have, had to overcome.
If you’re a person that, over time, has come to doubt your faith, all I will say is don’t worry about it, but also don’t burden yourself with that guilt. Maybe it’s time to move on. Be sure though that coming to atheism is about you, and not someone else.