Are atheists unhappy?
It is a common belief amongst religious people that atheists are unhappy, that we are missing out on God’s love, on eternal afterlife, or on enlightenment. From my 15-year experience with the Christians, I know that a great deal of them think that non-believers are either misled by the devil, or, as is a more common belief, that secretly we are all desperate and thirsty to let God into our hearts. So they make the assumption that we are empty souls waiting to be filled by God, so that we could be as happy as they are.
The Santa analogy is old, but it works well enough for this particular discussion. A child is dead certain that Santa is real. If I told him that I didn’t believe in Santa, he would probably feel sad for me that I might be missing out on the cool presents this year. (To be fair, Santa doesn’t care if you believe in him or not, he only cares if you’re a good or a bad person, therefore Santa > Dictator God). But I am not unhappy just because I don’t believe in Santa, even though you might feel that I am. In the end, it all boils down to what is true and what isn’t. I don’t care if believing in God would make me feel better, I am doubting that it would. But only on the basis of evidence (or the lack thereof) do I find myself an atheist, not on the basis of my personal preferences.
To answer the question, “Are atheists happy?”, I don’t think that I am entitled to answer it. There are happy atheists, and there are unhappy atheists. “Are Christians happy?” or “Are Muslims happy?” or “Are Buddhists happy?” I can’t answer those questions either. In the end, there are happy people, and there are unhappy ones, regardless of politics, and definitely regardless of religion.
But here are some of the many questions which I, being now an atheist, can answer satisfyingly, and without resorting to Bronze-Age myth, superstition or supernatural speculation. Why are flowers so beautiful? Why do fruits taste so good? Why do ostriches have wings? Why are cheetahs so fast? Why is the sky blue, and why does it turn pink or red? Why do bats look like mice? Why are their wings different from a bird’s? How do beavers know how to build dams? Why do we feel pain? What is the Universe? Where are we? And what are we? How did we get here?
Pale Blue Dot
Nature is a splendour in itself. My life is not purposeless, not an accident, not a consequence of Adam eating a forbidden fruit, not a result of my previous incarnation. I am here because my parents are here, and because their parents were here. Every living thing on this planet, or in this Universe, no matter how great or small, is equally a child of Nature. And ever since I became an atheist I never looked at things the same way again. For one, I have learnt to accept that man truly has no dominion over all animals. There is equal beauty to be found in every little thing, in every beast that walks the land, in every bird that sings of pain or joy, in every tiny insect that crawls and in every floweret that blows in the mighty wind. We are a part of nature, always have been and always will be. We are born of the animal kingdom, and there is nothing wrong or inhumane about that — it is something to be proud of.
“There is grandeur in this view of life, with its several powers, having been originally breathed into a few forms or into one; and that, whilst this planet has gone cycling on according to the fixed law of gravity, from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being, evolved.” – Charles Darwin
I am happy to be alive. And although one day I must close my eyes again for an eternity, life itself has given me more than enough.