Friday, March 25, 2011

The Simple Life

It’s been almost two years since I decided that believing in God was, like, totally for squares, daddy-o, and I wasn’t going to do it anymore. My life has changed a lot since then. One thing I can say for sure is this: I like it. I like being atheist. There are many reasons, and today I’ll briefly explore one of them: it’s simpler.

The universe is a complex place. Understanding its finer points is a task far beyond my capabilities. But that’s okay! I know that there are many wondrous things out there that I will never comprehend, and I’m not the least bit upset about it. No one is making me try to fathom how the universe came into existence, or how time can get all distorted by gravity and such, or how consciousness works. There are answers to these questions out there, and I have some idea as to what they are, but their nuances are beyond my current knowledge, and perhaps the knowledge of anyone. Nonetheless, there is a key difference between life before and after my deconversion: I don’t feel any pressure to try to figure these things out.

Life as an atheist in the big city is pretty easy. This is especially true given the fact that I live in a very liberal city—Seattle. My recent relocation to said township has caused a lot of unrest in my life, but I’m grateful for the fact that I don’t need to worry about going to church or anything like that. I work hard enough as it is during the week; I don’t need to waste even more of my free time on the weekend participating in some cult-like mumbo-jumbo. No thank you, I’ll pass on that.

Back to my point: being an atheist is just less mentally taxing than being a believer. Even as I write that I can hear the rebuttal of the theist: “Ah! So you admit that you’re just pretending God doesn’t exist so you don’t have to follow His rules! Checkmate, atheist!” Okay, okay, I’ll address you in a minute. Life is just better if you can live it without worrying about breaking some kind of obscure tenet set down by ignorant men thousands of years ago. I don’t need to wrap my head around why God would allow terrible evil, or how God doesn’t need a creator but the universe does, or why people who claim to believe in justice and goodness can perpetrate horrific crimes against others. All of that stuff is still there, but as a godless person, I can safely live my life without trying to answer those unanswerable questions.

I feel like I’ve drifted around my point here, so I’ll just end with this: I’m not trying to say that we shouldn’t ask big questions or examine our lives. On the contrary, I firmly believe that we should look into our beliefs with care. What I’m getting at here is the idea that as a believer I was called upon to hold a number of contradictory and obtuse beliefs. I was never very good at compartmentalizing those things away; they always gnawed at me. As an atheist, I take time out for science and philosophy. But the time is my own. And if I’d rather just spend an evening playing video games, I don’t run any risk whatsoever of irritating a petty deity.

Argh, this post is confusing and random. Still, more posts more often! That’s my new motto!


  1. How do you feel about the disproportionately high number of people in the Seattle Area who claim to be theists, given the otherwise relatively liberal atmosphere?

    Having visited and spent time in the Midwest (NE) and the Southeast (NC), I can categorically state that theism does not seem as rooted in local culture...but it's still disturbingly acceptable to publicly proselytize, IMHO.

    Just another viewpoint from a recovering theist, down here in Olympia.

  2. Thanks for the comment, Nate.

    It is a bit of a conundrum how there can be so many theists in such a liberal area. I suspect the reason why is complex, as most things are, but a few factors spring to mind:
    -Western Washington has a high Armed Forces presence, and many of the soldiers here are transplants from other more Christian parts of the nation.
    -The fact that people feel comfortable being open with unique viewpoints means more people are likely to express those viewpoints. In a place where people have a voice, there tend to be more voices calling out, and thus it may seem as though there are more theists (but in fact it might be the case that there are fewer, and the ones who exist are just more outspoken).
    -A liberal atmosphere fosters fuzzy-wuzzy New-Age feel-good religion, in my experience. "Maybe God is the universe" or "Jesus just wanted everyone to love everyone else, that's all" are attitudes that are very liberal, but still cling to that theological framework. This being the case, it seems as though more people would be willing to embrace those attitudes openly. They don't have the final push they need in order to go fully into skepticism.

    Those are just some ideas. I agree that theism is not nearly as rooted in local culture as elsewhere. There isn't as much of a default assumption that a stranger will be Christian as there is in other parts of the nation.

  3. AS I was listening to the current discourse on the sex practices coming from the Senate and Congress I was appalled at the arrogance and stupidity of the male human beings who have the audacity to be concerned about such items as condoms and The Pill. Religion has made people turn into idiots. Get real!!The biggest racket ever invented, religion!