Being an atheist doesn't bring peace. Knowing you have a reason to live brings peace. Why be so preoccupied with death?
The upside of atheism
It's very freeing.
No worrying about what an imaginary bearded sky daddy might silently want of me, or how he's silently plotting to torture me. Instead I can just focus my energy on being a good person for its own sake.
No worrying if my life score card tally is high enough to rank entrance into the afterlife (the New System TM , Heaven TM , or realm du jour) in case I happen to drop dead. Now I just focus my attention on living a life worth living (call it showing appreciation for the gift of life, if you wish).
A lot less frustration and angst about the shiatty hand life has dealt me. I accept life isn't fair because it wasn't "made".
No trying to explain everything away by "such and such wasn't meant to be like that" because things weren't "meant to".
No trying to twist facts to match an invented history of the universe. Instead I am able to keep an open mind, always learning more and more about the universe, the marvel of natural selection, etc., etc.....
Love is a human invention. Only humans can love.
Other animals may have an equivalent, something that is reasonably translatable, but I think it would be presumptuous to assume it's the same as human love.
I do love God, but since by (my) definition God is not subject to human limitations, God does not love. I believe in this case the reasonable equivalent, what people would call "God's love" is far more than that. Like everything else in the realm of the infinite, it's something that mere human intellect (or emotion for that matter) can't even begin to comprehend.
beksbks said it best, really. It just is. I didn't choose to be an atheist because it had some particular hope that I liked. I didn't really choose to be an atheist at all, it was just the natural conclusion as I researched God and religion.
One upside is that I take personal responsibility for my own life, I don't just pray for a job, I go LOOK for one. I don't pray for my friend when they're in a terrible situation, I HELP them. As a JW (and I think this applies to most Christians), I honestly didn't care much at all about the state of our Earth because I figured God would make it all better soon. Now, I take responsibility for what I'm doing to this Earth, and how I can minimize the damage.
Believing in only things that are provable, to me, has helped me a lot as well, especially with a lot of the fears I had as a JW (like my house being taken over by demons). I feel that I'm able to reason on things a lot better and come to a more intelligent conclusion.
As far as "which god" I don't believe in...obviously I'm usually refering to a Christian God, but I don't believe in any god. I don't think that love existing means anything. If there is a God, and he's the one who put this love into us, what kind of hypocrite is he? He doesn't love us enough to protect us or help us at all. He didn't love the people in Haiti enough to prevent the earthquake. If he put the love into us, why doesn't everyone show that love? Why do some people turn into serial killers and rapists? If we should "love our neighbor", shouldn't God can't love us, his creations, enough to prevent us from going through terrible things?
Animals love, too. Look at the way pets love their owners, or watch a mama cat with her kittens. The affection and love is obvious.
Plus, I don't consider this a "cold dark universe". We live on a gorgeous planet, and have you watched videos about the universe? It's amazing. I had no idea when I was a JW. I can actually sit and stare in awe at the sky now. http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/cosmicvariance/2010/01/06/the-passage-of-time-and-space/ <---higly recommended
What's the point of living? The point is we now HAVE a reason to live. Before I felt that this life was just like a passage, a tunnel, into my "real life", something I had to get through. Now I realize this is my only chance and I better make something of it. It's very inspiring when you realize how short life is and then think about all you want to do in that amount of time. I went through suicidal tendencies a lot as a JW...now, I WANT to be alive, I want to experience this while I can.
Also, the Santa Claus argument is entirely valid, as is the Pink Unicorn argument. Why do kids believe Santa Claus exists? Their parents, or somebody, told them he does.
Why do you believe God exists? Besides all of the "I just feel there has to be something out there"...where did you get the idea of God?
Paul asked, "Why does it make you happy to believe that nobody loves you and all that awaits you is a cold dark grave?"
I didn't say that nobody loved me, or that I didn't love anyone. There may not be many, but there are a few, and I return the sentiment. I simply realize that "love" is not a tangible substance, as you seem to believe it is. Love is the biochemical emotional glue binding a social contract.
I also don't WANT to die but I recognize that like all who came before me and all who will come after me, I will. One thing I came to appreciate recently was that (almost) everyone who dies had plans for tomorrow. So I cherish the HERE AND NOW instead of wondering if my cloud in heaven will have "magic fingers." To quote Buckaroo Banzai, "No matter where you go, there you are." You really need to focus less on the fate of your non-existent "eternal soul" and more on the "eternal now." You are preoccupied with nonsense while the clock goes tick-tock, tick-tock and the day slips away.
Maybe it would be helpful for you to read Ecclesiastes without the Watchtower blinders on. It's almost Zen. It's only ten pages long.
I simply realize that "love" is not a tangible substance,
Uhhhmmmm Nathan you appear to have "love" on your pants............there, right there.
PAUL - Love DOES exist.
Hi Flipper, I do believe that too. Without it, there is no meaning to life (for me).
I do feel loved by many people but the thought of eternal death fills me with terror. The fact that we can die at any moment is terrifying to me. When I hear about things like the Haiti earthquake I feel terror. This world terrifies me. If I didn't have any hope for something better I don't think I'd make it through. That's why I'm trying to understand the mindset of an atheist. How can you be an atheist and still be at peace? Even though I believe in God, there are always those times of doubt. If I could be okay with atheism too, I'd have everything covered.
Wow, wow, triple WOW.
Are you sure your belief life is totally meaningless without others--as in, your happiness is 100% dependent upon others--isn't a stale leftover from your cult days? My congregation was a very unhealthy, enmeshed social unit--no interpersonal boundaries. For a while after I left, I couldn't envision being happy because my borg collective wasn't there to allow me to be happy. Then I figured out that was total bs.
And all that stuff about being terrified....wow....sounds like more leftovers. (I wrote about this...)
The upside of being an atheist is the same as the upside of not believing in santa claus. I am really glad I dont believe in him cuz at least I dont know a lie. I am certain of not beliving a lie and that feels better than not knowing if the lie is true or even believing the lie is true.