#7BadIdeas #1- Atheism

“Religion is a bunch of bullsh#t.”
-all of my liberal friends

ATHEISM. Yes, it’s difficult to believe in someone or something that you cannot readily observe or touch or communicate with. I, for one, have a personality rooted in what I can see, feel, or read about from reputable sources. I don’t automatically trust what people say. I assume a lot of it is nonsense and am correct 75 percent of the time. I only like to read nonfiction books, I don’t believe in ghosts, am most influenced by cold, hard facts, and don’t even trust my mirrors when I’m driving. I’m not too lazy to turn my head. Data and information that I (or more accurately, someone whom I trust) can measure is what I usually invest my faith in. That’s why the idea of God has always been so hard for me to imagine.

Further, religion seems so quaint and old-fashioned in our hyper-informed modern world. It made sense for folks living on the prairie in the 19th century or in small towns or ethnic urban neighborhoods until the 1960s. But nowadays, we live across the country and all over the world. We have never been more disconnected from our family members geographically. “Community” is a dying phenomenon.

“Religion seems so anachronistic. It reminds me of a t-shirt I saw a college kid wearing in the 2000s that said ‘VOTING is for old people.'”

So why not just stick with atheism? Why not proudly proclaim to be ruled by reason and logic? Well, as I’ve gotten older, I’ve started to look at life from a more pragmatic perspective. And I’ve found atheism to be deeply lacking. Specifically, I’ve struggled enormously my whole life with existential angst- frequently stewing in anger and depression- and during those times, atheism had nothing to offer.

And so, the pain of struggling to understand why the world is the way it is led me on a search for meaning. The hellish battle in my head for why we’re all here has long tormented me. Specifically, for decades I’ve been trying to figure out how an atheist makes meaning out of the world. And through that search, I came right back to religion and the Catholicism of my grandparents. I concluded that, generally speaking, when a person does not center his life around a concept like God, he inevitably fills that solipsistic worldview with self-interest or what he perceives as self-interest. His moral compass inevitably gets hijacked by the ego. From a practical standpoint, I came to the conclusion that atheism, agnosticism, and generally just checking out from religion are pretty terrible ways to live. I know. I did it for 40 years.

In the absence of a religion to frame how you look at the world, a person will inevitably succumb to the influence of the ego. It’s natural. It’s normal. And it may well ruin your life. Atheism or godlessness- in other words, not recognizing something greater than oneself- is a direct path to self-worship, narcissism, nihilism, depression, and ultimately, suffering. 

I’m not saying I don’t struggle with faith. My idea of God has evolved though. It’s something akin to the spirit or impulse of love for and kindness to others. The universal connection of every human being (love your neighbor) and the sense of fellowship with other humans that says we’re all children of God and we’re all in this together (love your enemies). What an amazingly brilliant idea. How could it have come from man?

I’ve also been doing something of a 40-year study comparing the lives of a large group of Catholic men and a large group of “secular” men. The Catholic men are all doing dramatically better than most of my lifelong friends who reject religion. They are generally married with good careers and stable families. After decades of observing these men, it’s clear to me that believing in God and ordering your life around God is a beautiful way to live. Religion offers structure, motivation, focus, an identity- important things you need to live a good life.

After all, what has gotten us to where we are as a society? What traditions, values, and institutions have enabled men and women to flourish like never before? Religion, Christian values, the nuclear family, marriage before children, basic common-sense concepts like these are scorned and undermined by the left at every opportunity. So much so that many of us have internalized that scorn and have an almost knee-jerk reaction to religion, viewing it as “a bunch of bullsh#t.” Not helpful.

And if the positive case for religion, and by this I generally mean Christianity, doesn’t convince you, how about the negative one? Where has atheism and more broadly, secularism, taken us so far? Low birth rates, high divorce rates, relentless competition between men and women, contempt and scorn for Christian values, a general erosion in confidence in all of our institutions, and loneliness, suicide, misery, at shockingly high levels in the West. Enough said.

To get by in life, I say whatever works. But it’s pretty clear to me, #AtheismHasFailed.

NOTE: This is the first in a series of ‘7 Bad Ideas That Will Ruin Your Life.’

Author: @dogma_vat

self-help, coaching, masculinity, religion, fatherhood, centrism, adhd.

7 thoughts on “#7BadIdeas #1- Atheism”

  1. ”when a person does not center his life around a concept like God, he inevitably fills that worldview with self-interest or what he perceives as self-interest. His moral compass inevitably gets hijacked by the ego. You make the statement but the reason you returned to religion is self interest. That’s how it always is. Just because you failed to find a meaningful life outside of faith, you have joined the herd to find solace. I, and many like me find complete satisfaction finding out own way in the world. You on the other hand, profess belief in something you don’t believe to have community. That is hypocrisy and lacks integrity.
    There is no meaning but what you make it. Searching for it inside of prearranged dogma is cheating yourself of possibilities. Spirituality comes in billions of options that are quite fulfilling outside the plug and play religions. It’s even true inside religion. Everyone just picks the parts they want to believe anyway. Your mind has now been hijacked by the herd.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Secularism is its own religion but it lacks any traditions, values, structure, community, basically, anything to offer.

      And those billions of ways to be spiritual? Good luck with that. There is a wisdom to religion, especially Christianity, that will help you order your life rather than fill it up with materialism, hedonism, and suffering.

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      1. Interesting you say that. I was a believer for most of my life. My observations are my own as I have yet to read any atheist books nor watch any videos. That was the idea of the common atheist. I steered clear of the experts and thought on my own. My mind has not been hijacked by secularism, but if you read through my blogs they are all original based on quiet observation. I am A-political and do not take sides. I critique what is observable in real life compared to what we are told. I am a very observant fellow, and you can see this for yourself without some apologetics chap looking over your shoulder to tell you what it all means.
        I came to unbelief after a long spell alone in the jungle that things are not as they are purported. The key to the mysteries is unbelief, not the other way around. For many years I reported the religious lines as though they were my own thoughts. After losing faith it was all quite clear I had been parroting others thoughts. Now I report what I have learned, not what I’ve been told. I am painfully aware of the biases and cognitive errors, and use due diligence to report accordingly.

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  2. And how miserable does that make you? Choosing atheism is a bit like choosing to be fatherless in the world. Left to your own devices.

    Do you have children? Do you have a set of values? How do you pass them on? Do you even want to pass them on or do you want to just let the thousands of ancestors of yours who struggled to survive only for you to say, “eff it, my line is OUT”?

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  3. Morality is doing what is right, regardless of what you are told.
    Religion is doing what you are told, regardless of what is right.
    Once, Christians had chalices of wood, and priests of gold.
    Now, they have priests of wood, and chalices of gold.
    I have children – two kind, compassionate, caring adults.
    I have a set of values – Do unto others, as you would have others do unto you. – which is neither original, nor exclusive, to the Bible. Do the greatest good for the greatest number. I passed them on to my children, and now to our grandson – who received a small award in college for his assistance to others. I not only told them to aid and be kind to others. I showed them how, by doing it myself. From empirical observation, our practiced moral values are better than many ‘Good Christians.’
    I certainly feel my/our moral values should be passed on. Some of my ancestors were deeply religious. Others were completely not, but I’m sure that all of them would agree and be proud of me, and the good I do. 😎

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I hear you and agree with most of what you say, however, I don’t condemn all of Christianity because some people abuse it or make it look bad. But let me ask you this question, beyond those phrases like “do unto others” how do you guide someone to resolve complicated moral issues? Do you ever talk with your children about morals? Is that enough to lead a person through every moral quagmire he or she might face? Not in my view.

      I grew up in an atheist household, and we had some discussion of morals but it was very infrequent. Until atheism offers me the discipline of continually working to be a good person, I decided I’m done with it.

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    2. And given that atheists or secularists tend to not marry or have kids at nearly the rates of religious people, how do you expect your values to live on beyond a generation or two?

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