I believe in and pray to God simply because it gives comfort and hope and the feeling that there is something else out there supporting me.
I believe because I have to. I cannot go on the way I am. I am sick, I am miserable and I am hurting so badly. I believe because if I don’t I’ll be swept away.
You know what? I believe because I must. I believe because if I
don't, life will seem incredibly hopeless and shallow. Who
wants to live that way?
But until we are really truly in the throes of death, we never really know if what is taught and what is believed is all real. I pray it is and that's why I believe. Because if it is all true, I wouldn't want the alternative when I die.
These four testimonies illustrate two basic fear-based "reasons" for belief: the last one is your basic fear of h-e-double-hockey-sticks. That's a given. The other, illustrateing the first three, is a more existential fear: fear of personal responsibility, independence, moral autonomy.
The first bloke believes because he wants to think that someone is out there taking care of him. He doesn't seem to think he can do that for himself. Perhaps he hasn't yet discovered the many comforts offered in the real world? It's strange, because seeking comfort in a god is admired, but seeking comfort in the real world is considered shallow and indulgent. But if comfort is a good enough reason to believe in a magical, all-powerful man that lives in the sky, made a man out of dirt, and killed everyone on earth because they were gambling, then there should be a little more respect given to the many lovely comforts this world offers: books, movies, food, drugs, hobbies, friends, and family. So if someone says we need religion because it offers comfort, remind them that beer offers comfort too, but few people fly planes into buildings because of it. Well, not out of anger or righteousness, anyway.
The second poor fellow has become so deeply indoctrinated in one of the more immoral teachings of christianity, he's temporarily trapped. His adolescent angst is incorporated in his religion. He's afraid that without force, he will be "swept away." In what? A bad Madonna movie? Perhaps he's worried that his worthless, sinful nature, without god-belief, will lead him to commit terrible crimes. Maybe he should check the prison population statistics. Atheism could only help this guy--it could actually save him.
The next gal has the typical belief, that she would sink in an existential, nihilistic funk without god-belief. As if the reason to be a christian is to avoid being an unpleasant asshole. Newsflash: Ann Coulter, Bill O'Riley, Gene Cook..shall I go on? You can't blame sunny Chritsians for assuming atheists are depressing individuals, living lives of disillusionment and despondency, especially if you are one of those christians who knocks on my door at dinnertime.
But fear not, christians, I say. The best thing about being an atheist is not having to be afraid. Letting go of the fear of hell is the best thing I ever did for my state of mind. I actually became an optiminst precisely when I stopped believing in an afterlife. Who wants to spend eternity in heaven, when the bible makes it sound like an eternal Sunday morning in church? Anyway, there is great joy in the real world; joy without jesus and god. Joy in being your own person, in being independent, in having confidence in your personal moral judgement. Joy in love, beauty, experience, friends, family, food, and making fun of chritsians.
Thanks for listening, diary.