How does it feel to be an atheist?

Atheistic opinions and articles are easy to find. There are plenty of well known atheists who have written books debunking religious superstitions. I’ve never read anything that talks about what it feels like to be an atheist. Specifically, an atheist surrounded by religious people.  This is for people who “just can’t imagine what it would be like to live a life without god”.

It’s surreal being surrounded by people who believe (or profess to believe) in supernatural beings. These people base life changing decisions on concepts that an atheist believes to be fantasy.  To give yourself a chance to experience this, try the following exercise:

Picture a world where most of the people you know believe in Leprechauns. They sincerely believe that Leprechauns really exist. Give that a second to sink in. Now, not only do they believe in Leprechauns, they believe that the little folk are actually quite interested in human affairs. You can’t ever see these little people, but your entire family believes them to be real. People also believe that Leprechauns can hear your thoughts. Further, it is believed that sometimes the Leprechauns might answer your unspoken requests. This is generally accepted to be possible only if you’re a devout believer.

In addition to your family and colleagues all believing in Leprechauns, the leader of your country does too. He often talks about the grand schemes of the Leprechauns. He has gone to war and seemingly invoked the will of the Leprechauns to do it. He seems like a frighteningly stupid man and apparently is happy to seek counsel from small, shamrock loving, invisible creatures.

Finally, obviously, you DON’T believe in Leprechauns.

The feelings that you can imagine yourself having roughly approximate how it feels to be an atheist.

Another exercise that might give you an idea how it feels is to consider how you feel about religions other than your own. Most people these days are fairly “tolerant” of other religions. I’m suggesting you picture yourself converting to another religion. You will experience many instinctive reactions and internal arguments when you do this. Those apprehensions are probably the same ones atheists feel about your religion. Sure, you’re tolerant of other people’s beliefs but, put simply, you think they’re wrong. Not only do you think they’re wrong, you probably think they’re a little … challenged … for believing them.

You probably think that Scientology is a little wacky? Do the Mormons come across as being a little bit off kilter to you? Does the Wiccan religion seem like hogwash? Atheists feel exactly the same way about all those religions. They just feel that way about your religion as well.

There are many questions you, as a religious person, might want to ask when you find yourself talking with an atheist. In most cases, your answer to the same questions will involve God. Be aware that the atheist thinks you’re deluded. Your answer may as well have included references to Leprechauns.

Oh, and next time you hear George Bush speak about God, substitute Leprechauns or Zeus or Baal instead of God. Yes, the most militarily powerful man in the world has the adult equivalent of an imaginary friend.  That should give you a very clear picture of how atheism feels.


One Response to “How does it feel to be an atheist?”

  1. A Spiritual Orphan’s Journey » Blog Archive » links for 2006-11-19 Says:

    […] How does it feel to be an atheist? « Cathartic Relief This is one of my favorite pieces on atheism (tags: atheism, leprechauns, God) […]

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