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There is a school of thought which says that atheism offers no comfort to those who hurt, who mourn the unfairness of life, the proverbial “slings and arrows of outrageous fortune” and cling to religion on the chance that the next life will be a marked improvement on this one.  I submit that this is a mistaken concept, that there can be comfort in the absence of a deity and indeed, a demonstrably better existence in the one life we have.  The four points listed below give some expression to just where this comfort can be found.

One – No Judgment: If you’ve been a bad boy (or girl) or even if you’ve been a good one, but simply not a believer, you’ve nothing to fear from an angry Yahweh who would send you to everlasting torment in hell.  Being able to live your life day to day without worrying about the celestial judgment of an unseen god can certainly lighten one’s load.

Two – No Interference: With no deity there’s no interference, no meddling supernatural being who can frustrate your actions with a single careless move.  Your actions are your own, though this is no defense against Murphy’s Law or the well-worn maxim: shit happens.

Three – No Favoritism: It’s pretty clear from the bible that god plays favorites, even though he dumped on the Hebrews as much as he helped.  Still, without a god taking sides, there’s no chance that either the Sunnis or the Shia will have an unfair advantage in the Middle East, or the Protestants and Catholics in Northern Ireland (though that conflict is largely resolved), or Jews and Muslims in the vicinity of Israel.

Four – No Fate But What We Make: The fictional character Sarah Connor of the Terminator series of films made that proposal, and it’s an important one.  There’s no divine plan, no hidden long game for humankind to uncover and conform to.  Our lives, our planet, indeed, our reality is in OUR HANDS.  We can take it and improve on it or screw it up beyond all recognition or take a third, fourth of fifth path, but we are the actors.  We are the choosers of those paths and the authors of any plans.

Granted that there may be a problem with accepting the above propositions of comfort: they are all predicated on a person WANTING to own themselves and their lives, taking pride in their contributions to the world at large and not wanting to defer or shift their responsibilities onto someone else.  This is obviously the one stumbling point, because there are plenty of people out there who want their god to take the reins, to either guide or direct their behavior and be either the copilot or pilot of their lives.  For such people, the weight of having to accept culpability is too much for them.  They want unearned forgiveness or a scapegoat, if not bluntly someone to blame for their mistakes.  It seems as though such slackers have been a part of the world’s populace since Homo sapiens first emerged, and what can be done about them remains an unanswered question.

For myself and most if not all of us, I’m glad things are laid out as they are.  Certainly, cause-and-effect is muddled with a hundred-thousand external variables which can skew the results we want and frustrate goals and desires.  At least in the real world, as opposed to that of the bible, failure is not always immutably coupled to a death penalty or an afterlife which we cannot prove, foresee or control.  We can try again, change our minds or our approach, innovate a new strategy and with that perhaps find success.  We neither need nor want a god as a buffer or an excuse when things go south, any more than we require such a being to kiss-ass on when success is ours.

We own our failures.  We own our successes. We own our lives … and that is what counts.

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Comment was by Grinning Cat on November 3, 2022 at 5:35am

Michael, even if Baby Jesus* were to be real and unquestionably show up and make his** wishes known... BIG FAT HAIRY DEAL!

That deity would change from a hypothetical being to a force of nature, to be dealt with as appropriate. Just as we don't accept rain and lightning as deserved punishments, and meekly accept being wet and miserable, or having buildings burn down; we build roofs and lightning rods, and have fire departments. Might doesn't make right.

___

* Or a more obviously powerful adult Jesus, or some other god. Maybe Bart Simpson was right, and every week Christians are just making the true God [perhaps the Great Juju at the bottom of the sea?] madder and madder!

** His own, rather than his "spokesmen's".***

*** Yes, "man" is a false generic. ("Man being a mammal breastfeeds his young.") Used deliberately here. Funny how so often the various gods' spokesmen are indeed men, who conveniently maintain the power and privilege of their patriarchy because GodSaidSo.

Comment was by Loren Miller on November 2, 2022 at 2:57pm

Excellent point, Michael.  Thank you for bringing it.

Comment was by Michael Neville on November 2, 2022 at 2:38pm

There's one other advantage of there being no god or gods, there's no one to tell us what to do. I spent 20 years in the Navy, I had lots of people telling me what to do, sometimes ridiculous things, sometimes morally dubious things, and all too often things that I didn't want to do.  It's one of the parts of the military that I don't miss.

One thing we've all seen with religions is that "God's spokesmen" will tell everyone "do this because God wants us to" or, more usually, "don't do this because God hates that".  But close examination shows that it isn't a god saying that but rather the spokesmen saying it.  For instance, the supposedly celibate, elderly, male virgins running the Catholic have decided that Baby Jesus cries whenever a woman takes the Pill, even through there's no mention in the Bible about contraception.  To keep Baby Jesus tear-free, the Bishops who own abut 15% of all hospital in the US have declared that no contraceptives will be prescribed in their hospitals, even for reasons that have nothing to do with birth control.  This prohibition extends to non-Catholics using these hospitals.

In short, no gods means ignoring as much as we can what the self-appointed God's spokesmen want us to do or not do.

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