I can sleep late, or not, watch the morning news shows, go to any sort of gathering I want, or have sex. I can do it all happily, with no guilt, or shame.
I’m an Atheist.
Not a “He must be angry at god cause he didn’t get something” atheist, though most of us probably start out like that.
I’ve read many of the world’s sacred writings, including those said to be from god himself, heard the thoughts and counsels of many devout people, contemplated, listened, probed as deeply as I could for the answer to my questions; Is there a supreme creator being, who is it, does it care, and does it matter? On all counts, the answer for me was; No!
You can be a deeply devout person to something you call god, without there being such a thing on the other end of your devotion. I’ve known deeply devout people of various followings, and don’t doubt their sincerity of devotion. I have been a deeply devout person. So much so, that it pains me to see Christians, for example, who are satisfied parroting biblical sound bites, acting the part on the public stage with gestures and props, and claiming a higher standing in life over those who don’t do the same. At least the devout person is not pretending that they’re deluded.
If they were sincere, these followers who pretend to be devout would acknowledge the emptiness of their claims (that there’s no really verifiable god), but also live strong, righteously, and honestly on the merits of their act: devotion. That could be called faith, faith in devotion. “Faith without works is dead” the first work in spirituality is being honest and sincere with yourself and others.
Some non-theistic Asian religions accept the fact that there are several different acceptable paths to the personal fulfillment and salvation that practice of a religion offers. The path of devotion is one path. However, not everyone is of a devotional character, so studiousness is another path. You may not be of devotional character, and perhaps not studious, or even illiterate, then the path of works, or, just being nice to people is another. You may be introverted; therefore, the contemplative path may be yours, and so on. The god religions, theisms, only acknowledge one path, devotion, regardless of your innate type or characteristics.
Then there’s the matter of belief. While some espouse the idea of just belief “saving” you, it stands in opposition to the easily verifiable fact that belief will not save you in anything else in our existence. You can honestly and devoutly believe you can float and fly in mid air, but any who try plummet to the earth in unsatisfactory ways. Carry that over to anything else, even to scriptural assurances that if you drink poison, handle snakes, etc; and it’s easily apparent that belief doesn’t work enough to bet your life on.
Some religions claim that belief in a particular personality is the requirement for communion with god or a salvation, but that concept is usually tied to obedience, and obedience is usually connected to a spokesman for the religion. That’s a sticky situation because several spokesmen for the same god often disagree on some essential added particulars. With all that come the edicts of exclusivity. Someone put it best by saying (my paraphrase): “Many teachers will invite you to come, they will show you the light, and when you come they pluck out your eyes of reason.”
These are the god believing religions that demand you put blinders on and not look to the left or the right, upon any other possible source of knowledge, wisdom, or salvation, but to put your stock in what they tell you is there that you cannot see, though that’s all you’re looking for.
These religions will also claim to make you “better.” That runs the gamut from making you healthier, wealthier, and wise, because you are one of them, to making you morally superior. Some claim you cannot be moral at all, or that your morality has no value, unless you are one of them. They suggest that all of your righteous acts are “like filthy rags” according to one of their scripts. Yet few live any higher a morality than the average Joe.
They have the talk, but can’t walk the walk any better than anyone else. Ah, but wait, there’s an out for that. Christians say “I’m not perfect, just forgiven” as if that were a really good god authorized excuse for being selfish, inconsiderate, or harmful to others. Or they’ll say “I’m a work in progress” with a “ha, ha, I get away with it and you don’t” attitude for being indistinguishable from any jerk anywhere. So much for being religious or “in a relationship” with god making you a better person.
But, that’s for another post.