It’s kind of weird to talk about what’s great about being an atheist. It’s sort of like describing what you like about being human. It really feels as natural as that. But since we’re not all atheists, I think it would be helpful if I talked about it a little more descriptively.
This is my attempt at putting the experience into words. Hope you enjoy. These are seven things I love about being an atheist:
#1 I don’t have to avoid people because they’re “sinners”.
Before I became an atheist, I was a Christian. You don’t have to completely avoid non-believers as a Christian, but there’s still a kind of distaste for them that is instilled in you. You are commanded to not be “unequally yoked”.
“Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness?”
2 Corinthians 6:14 (NIV)
It seems to mean you shouldn’t be too close to non-Christians. The kind of language used to describe them is not flattering. They are called “wicked” and “unclean”.
There are also passages that really just condemn people for being people.
The Book of Psalms is full of what are basically death wishes for the “wicked”. And of course that’s where you find the infamous verses that call unbelievers fools.
Because of this I generally avoided “sinners”, except for the purposes of conversion.
If I was interacting with you and you were not a “serious” Christian, it was because I wanted to get some Jesus into you. I guess I thought too much “sin” would mess with my “righteousness”.
Now I try my best to be accepting of everyone.
#2 I am okay with deciding what to do with my life and being in control of it.
When I was a Christian I was constantly thinking about whether what I was doing was honoring God. I would doubt myself and rely on God for everything.
If you’re a Christian that last part probably sounds like a good thing. But if God doesn’t exist, how does it make sense to not take charge of your own life?
Christianity breaks you down to the point where you are okay with not being yourself. You are told to be humble, meek, obedient and devoid of self-interest in a way that leaves you vulnerable to so much abuse.
Now I’m free. I’m concerned with doing what makes me happy and helping others whenever I can.
And it’s great.
#3 I enjoy the small things in life.
Christianity took me out of the world that was right in front of me. My focus was on the supernatural – angels, demons, spiritual creatures and God. Even if I couldn’t actually perceive such a world, it was the one I paid the most attention to; at the expense of the world I could see.
Now I live in this world. The visible world. The only world that we know of.
I enjoy just living. I breath in and I breath out and I comprehend again and again what it means to be alive.
I can enjoy an interesting book, a nice meal, a good night’s sleep and feel at peace.
I am living.
#4 I question things more.
Just a few years ago, I didn’t think that I needed to know more than what the Bible said. If God exists and he has a plan for us, isn’t his will better than our own? Aren’t his thoughts above ours?
I was expecting God to come back at any moment and take us to be with him. Everything around me would perish so I thought that all that mattered was the unseen.
“So we do not focus on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”
2 Corinthians 4:18 (CSB)
“Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.”
Colossians 3:2 (ESV)
Sure I had to know and do certain things to live in the world, but these were all just necessary evils. My real purpose was to glorify God.
This seems innocuous when you’re a believer. Maybe even poetic and profound. But now I’m horrified by this worldview. I think it’s so dangerous to surrender yourself to something that you do not know; to trust that everything will just work out while you passively drift through life.
Now I play an active role in the now. I’m interested in learning about why things are the way they are. I ask myself things that would have seemed absurd and unnecessary before.
I value reason.
#5 I have less worries.
There are just so many things to worry about when you’re religious – a lot of it unreal.
Now that I’m an atheist, I don’t have to stress about finding the “right” interpretation of scripture, wonder if God hears my prayers, ask myself if demons are attacking me, wonder if I’m giving enough in church, question my salvation, try to reconcile biblical contradictions, ask when and how to fast, worry about whether I have committed the unforgivable sin, figure out ways to convert people, worry I’ve fallen away and so much more.
Now I have more down to earth worries.
And I’m glad.
#6 I am aware of issues that need to be dwelt with.
I also didn’t realize just how many problems there are in the world. And one of the reasons these things go unresolved is because most of us are blinded by the religious bubble. We wish for the salvation of heaven while we create hell on earth.
Pollution, war, disease, starvation; all these things persist because we are unconcerned. But we can do something about it.
I’m one of those delusional people who has hope for humanity.
And even if there’s no reason for me to do so, I believe the future will be bright.
#7 My eyes are open to a world I never saw before.
Since I was so concerned with making God happy, I didn’t realize just how much I was unaware of. There is so much to experience in the world – things to see, taste, hear, smell and touch. I don’t think one could ever exhaust all of it. But I had kept myself from going after it, because I thought it was all “worldly”.
“Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world.”
1 John 2:15-17 (KJV)
But how can it be a bad thing to live life in this world?
This world is all we have. We don’t know of a second.
So now I can see this world for what it is – reality. And it feels really good to live in it.
Being an atheist is truly awesome.