OK, so I wasn’t always atheist. I was raised in a Roman Catholic family. I’ve been baptized, had a First Communion and a Confirmation. I even got married in a Catholic church. For a time, when I was in Desert Storm in the Marines, I was more religious than at any other time in my life (you know the old ‘no atheists in foxholes’ bit).
So, I was thinking recently how easy it always was to ask God for support and guidance when I didn’t kow what to do. I asked him to watch over and protect me when I was in dangerous situations, and I asked him for forgiveness when I screwed up. Ultimately, I wasn’t living my life for me. I was living it for someone else. I made decisions knowing that I had the approval of God, so it must be right. Besides, even if I made the wrong decision or screwed something up, all I had to do was ask for forgiveness and all would be right again. What happens when something bad happens to me? “It’s all part of God’s plan.” What more needed to be said, right? Even if I didn’t want to accept that, I always knew who to be angry at. After all, God was ultimately responsible for everything that happened. How much easier could things be.
Now, this isn’t about why I became atheist. That’s a topic for another day. But since I came down on the side of atheism several years ago, things suddenly got hard. There was no guiding force to protect me when I was in danger. No ‘higher being’ to turn to for guidance when I was faced with difficult decisions. I was suddenly responsible for my actions in a way I never was before. I couldn’t claim that I was being guided by something or someone. I couldn’t justify my actions by claiming that it was part of the ‘big plan.’ I couldn’t confess my sins and expect the problem to go away. In short, there’s no longer anyone to blame or turn to when life just sucks. It’s my bag and I’m holding it. I’m expected to move forward and take responsibility for my actions, just like I teach my kids to do.
So, if you think being atheist is a cop out — the easy way out, think again. It’s, perhaps, more difficult than leaning on the crutch of religion. I was recently thinking about this. It would be great to be able to give all the credit and all the blame to someone who’s not around to defend him or herself. But no. I choose to face life head on, make my own decisions, and accept what comes my way.
Religion — that’s easy. Reality, not so much.